What we need to do to stop global warming

Obviously, we need to stop the human enhanced extra greenhouse effect. There are a number of ways to approach this. Let me say right away that taking CO2, the main greenhouse gas of concern long term, out of the atmosphere is NOT one of the ways. Here’s why: It takes energy to put Carbon into solid or liquid form. You get energy back when you move the Carbon into a gas form (as CO2). That is something of an oversimplification but long term, large scale, it is correct. Since, for the most part, the greenhouse effect is caused by the the generation of energy for use, which causes the movement of solid or liquid Carbon compounds in fossil sources to gas Carbon compounds (CO2), it is not possible to solve this problem by adding energy demand to the system to put that Carbon back. Again, I oversimplify, but that is the big picture.

One approach may be to increasingly use “clean energy” such as nuclear, solar, wind, and so on, while we otherwise allow the fossil fuel industry to do whatever it needs to produce our energy, either in support of electricity generation or as stuff we burn directly in vehicles or buildings. That, however, is also NOT a viable approach.

There has been a sense among experts for quite some time now that there is only one way to address climate change: Keep the Carbon in the ground. We need to do everything we can, as quickly as we can, to keep the Carbon currently in solid or liquid form, or as gas trapped in the ground, in place.

So, the very first thing you need to do that is to NOT build more pipelines NOT drill more wells, NOT start up new coal mines.


Check out: The IKONOKAST Science Podcast. Excellent interviews with top scientists.

___________________

At the same time the other first thing you need to do is to STOP building any sort of new electricity generating plant that uses fossil fuels. No more coal plants, no more methane plants.

At the same time the other other first thing you need to do is to NOT build any more infrastructure that processes fossil fuel into usable products. No more refineries, etc.

And now, there is a current report that backs up this sense, and tells us how important it is to NOT do these things.

The rpeport is by “OilChange” but produced in cooperation with 350.org, Amazon Watch, APMDD, AYCC, Bold Alliance, Christian Aid, Earthworks, Équiterre, Global Catholic Climate Movement, HOMEF, Indigenous Environmental Network, IndyAct, Rainforest Action Network, and Stand.earth. Here are the bullet points (summarized here):

Key Findings:

  • The potential carbon emissions from the oil, gas, and coal in the world’s currently operating fields and mines would take us beyond 2°C of warming.
  • <li>The reserves in currently operating oil and gas fields alone, even with no coal, would take the world beyond 1.5°C.</li>
    
    <li>With the necessary decline in production over the coming decades to meet climate goals, clean energy can be scaled up at a corresponding pace, expanding the total number of energy jobs.</li>
    

    Key Recommendations:

    <li>No new fossil fuel extraction or transportation infrastructure should be built, and governments should grant no new permits for them.
    
  • Some fields and mines – primarily in rich countries – should be closed before fully exploiting their resources, and financial support should be provided for non-carbon development in poorer countries.
  • This does not mean stopping using all fossil fuels overnight. Governments and companies should conduct a managed decline of the fossil fuel industry and ensure a just transition for the workers and communities that depend on it.
  • I am being told by experts that I trust that these findings are probably substantially correct. These are experts who have made similar studies and are now reviewing this important report. If they produce any posts or articles about this, I’ll insert them here.

    <li>Ashley Braun  at DESMOGBLOG writes: <a href="http://www.desmogblog.com/2016/09/21/nations-embrace-paris-agreement-world-s-existing-fossil-fuels-set-exceed-its-goals">As Nations Embrace Paris Agreement, World’s Existing Fossil Fuels Set to Exceed its Goals</a>
    

    Meanwhile, you can download the report here, and read it for yourself. Pick it apart, tell us what you think.

    Share and Enjoy:
    • Twitter
    • StumbleUpon
    • Facebook
    • Digg
    • del.icio.us
    • Yahoo! Buzz
    • Google Bookmarks
    • LinkedIn

    140 thoughts on “What we need to do to stop global warming

    1. What if you use renewable (solar/wind/tidal.geothermal) energy to pull carbon out of the atmosphere? I realize any such energy should be used to replace existing carbon based energy systems, but just as a hypothetical as you did not address that above.

    2. In my understanding it’s theoretically possible to trap CO2 using clean energy, but thermodynamics will make putting CO2 back cost more energy than you get out of burning an equal amount. As such, any such plans would only become a good idea once the entire planet is run on nothing but 100% clean energy.
      So… very, very unlikely to happen considering current society. Maybe somewhere next century we’ll be ready to start undoing the damage, but for now we’re better off focusing on replacing fossil fuels with clean energy and not trying to trap CO2.

    3. “So, the very first thing you need to do that is to NOT build more pipelines NOT drill more wells, NOT start up new coal mines.”

      You can’t stop using fossil fuels until there is an alternative in place. Therefore, the first (and most important) thing we must do is build and deploy renewable energy. And it must be built and deployed fast.

      Which is why a carbon tax is a lousy idea compared to targeted subsidies and the governmental mandate of RE construction.

    4. I think the first thing to do is to invent economic power storage to solve the intermittentcy problem with wind and solar. Without that you cannot deploy renewable power on the scale necessary to decrease use of fossil fuels.

    5. “I think the first thing to do is to invent economic power storage to solve the intermittentcy problem with wind and solar. Without that you cannot deploy renewable power on the scale necessary to decrease use of fossil fuels.”

      Actually, actual use and new studies show that intermittency is not much of a problem, and that with the smart grid we all agree we need, solar and wind to grow to 80% of our energy generation needs without using any storage at all.

      http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/re_futures/

      http://reneweconomy.com.au/2015/german-grid-operator-sees-70-wind-solar-storage-needed-35731

    6. Bill McKibben presents a similar argument: “Recalculating the Climate Math”:
      https://newrepublic.com/article/136987/recalculating-climate-math

      Why is a carbon tax not a good idea? It’s not an either/or, and certainly carbon costs too little now. The money could go to developing clean energy. Aside from the godawful ruckus current powers that be would raise, it seems the best idea to get real costs front and center and raise revenue for progress.

    7. There is a handful of excellent solutions to the intermittentcy problem, and I think it is fair to say it will be solved as non fossil sources are further deployed.

    8. “Why is a carbon tax not a good idea? It’s not an either/or, and certainly carbon costs too little now. The money could go to developing clean energy. Aside from the godawful ruckus current powers that be would raise, it seems the best idea to get real costs front and center and raise revenue for progress.”

      Why?

      1) Because it is regressive. It hurts families.

      2) Because you can’t possibly make a carbon tax high enough to “get real costs front and center”. Say you double the price of gas and heating oil/natural gas, a very large hardship on today’s strapped households. Where does it get you? – it gets you back to four years ago when FF prices were higher than now and yet still these was almost zero impetus to mandate the construction of new RE infrastructure. Real costs front and center would mean gasoline would be $100.00+ a gallon. One study said the cost of mitigation up until only the year 2100 would be $1240 trillion (!) dollars. And that study is likely very conservative. I can’t even do the math with numbers that big.

      3) Because it does not “raise revenue for progress” – all proposed plans simply rebate a standard amount of money back to every person in the country. Which means almost no one will be getting back what they paid in carbon taxes. Which means almost everybody is going to hate the environmentalists who made the tax happen.

      4) Because it is relies on the supposed power of the free market to do something (unspecified) to solve the problem of AGW. But the hardship is on ordinary people – who can’t influence the decision makers at all. We can no longer rely on the supposedly free market for solutions – we need government mandates to do the job. Relying on the “free” market is what got us in this mess in the first pace.

      5) Because a carbon tax does nothing – absolutely nothing – to build infrastructure. Compare it to what I proposed: increased targeted subsidies for RE construction and government-mandated programs. Every penny of these things builds new infrastructure. A carbon tax – zip.

      6) Because raising the price of carbon does nothing to keep the price of RE low. Indeed, it does the opposite. We have a huge opportunity right now to develop commons ownership of RE, which would mean virtually free electricity and increased standard of living for all. Unless we just sit back and cede eternal profiteering to industry. If a homeowner can enjoy free electricity after paying off the capital investment of his rooftop PV, so can a nation.

    9. Gingerbaker,

      Your argument has the unusual property of being thought out and well articulated, compared to much of what we see. I applaud the goal. Still, I must ask the eternal question: What’s your plan for getting it done? (I refer as usual to the USA and it’s existing political, social, and economic parameters.)

      I await your reply. Handwaving and magical incantations are discouraged as elements of your proposal.

      I would also note that I am not sure if you are condemning free markets or “free” markets. Actual free markets would not have brought us to this point; what we have been experiencing is laissez-faire capitalism, which is the antithesis of free markets.

    10. Gingerbaker,

      1) Because it is regressive. It hurts families.

      There is a solution to that problem: Make it a progressive tax.

      2) Because you can’t possibly make a carbon tax high enough to “get real costs front and center”.

      If this were true, it’s tantamount to saying that it’s not possible to correct the damage done from having NOT paid the real costs front and center in the past. (If a nation cannot pay the current upfront costs, they certainly cannot pay the greater accumulated costs that were never paid in the past.) If this really is the case, then you’re saying that we’re all doomed — That we’re well past the tipping point and can’t fix the situation we’ve created.

      3) Because it does not “raise revenue for progress” – all proposed plans simply rebate a standard amount of money back to every person in the country.

      I think you’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater. If “all proposed plans” have flaws, the solution is not to avoid deploying a solution, but to formulate a plan that will bring about the desired outcome. Rebating a carbon tax back to the consumers is, well, obviously stupid, so those plans are out. Propose a plan that puts the money to an appropriate use…

      We can no longer rely on the supposedly free market for solutions

      Could we ever?

      5) Because a carbon tax does nothing – absolutely nothing – to build infrastructure.

      It certainly can, and easily — if the tax money is directed to building infrastructure!

      6) Because raising the price of carbon does nothing to keep the price of RE low.

      Yet it can keep the price of RE low — by subsidizing the development of RE.

      You said, “Compare it to what I proposed: increased targeted subsidies for RE construction and government-mandated programs.” But where are you going to get the funding for those subsides? (Wait for it…) carbon taxes!! It’s got to come from somewhere — you offered no source(s).

      So I get that there’s a dislike for the idea of carbon taxes, but not a real reason (yet) to be against them. And they certainly can be put to a very good, very needed use.

    11. Why?

      1) Because it is regressive. It hurts families.

      “Hurts families” does not equal “regressive”.

      2) Because you can’t possibly make a carbon tax high enough to “get real costs front and center”.

      Yes you can.

      3) Because it does not “raise revenue for progress”

      It does if it changes habits. If this were in any way true, then there would be no upside or downside to ANY regulation, therefore any regulation on anything would be equally unimportant, and fighting it would be pointless.

      4) Because it is relies on the supposed power of the free market to do something

      That isn’t why it WON’T work, it’s merely a problem with getting it to work.

      5) Because a carbon tax does nothing – absolutely nothing – to build infrastructure.

      No tax or action other than building infrastructure does, but you can’t pay for the work done unless you raise a tax for it.

      6) Because raising the price of carbon does nothing to keep the price of RE low.

      It’s not meant to. It’s meant to undo the distorting underwriting of costs of fossil fuels.

      Do you whine about getting the brakes checked on your car because it doesn’t stop your house being burgled???

    12. Greg Laden, you wrote: “There is a handful of excellent solutions to the intermittentcy problem, and I think it is fair to say it will be solved as non fossil sources are further deployed.”

      I’m not sure where your optimism on energy storage comes from. Except for places with the natural resources (such as large natural basins to use for pumped hydro), there is not energy storage solution on the horizon. And even if there was, the EROEI on such electricity systems makes them not worth the effort on a large scale. See, for example:

      https://bravenewclimate.com/2014/08/22/catch-22-of-energy-storage/

      1. To be honest, most if my optimism comes from post 2014 sources.

        This is a very dynamic area. Hard to Jeep up.

    13. Sure, flow batteries are nice. But I just have trouble imagining the scale of battery backup required for 7.1 billion people’s homes as well as industry and 100s of millions of cars and 10s of thousands of container ships and so on. (I have no idea if running industrial processes and container ships with batteries even remotely makes sense.) The materials requirements alone are phenomenal (as well as the CO2 footprint of digging up all those materials), not to mention the problem of EROEI.

      Decarbonization is such an enormous challenge. The use of batteries sounds like a bit player, at best. Certainly batteries for electric cars would be nice, but beyond that, I don’t know if it makes sense.

    14. The International Energy Agency has a post a little over a year old with graphic. Pumped hydro is far and away the most storage deployed. IEA states “the high capital costs of technologies remain a barrier to wide deployment” https://www.iea.org/newsroomandevents/graphics/2015-06-30-installed-global-capacity-for-grid-connected-storage.html It is good to do a detailed quantitative analysis of such storage options, eg how much will actually need to be deployed, for example, for a city of a few million people, depending on what other technology it is paired with, of course.

    15. I just have trouble imagining the scale of battery backup required for 7.1 billion people’s homes as well as industry

      I can help reduce it for you: The percentage of users that will require being “on battery” at any given point in time (in our very-decarbonized energy future) is small. For a sufficiently large grid, smaller yet. This is because at any instance of time, there will be a combination of available sun & available wind that provides a net surplus; only those areas that are both dark and windless (and without hydro, geothermal, etc.) will require some form of (temporary) storage to draw from.

      One of the nice characteristics of flow batteries is the potential of using simple organic molecules made of readily-available materials, which can be fabricated at great scale and will replace the need to “dig up materials” for batteries (i.e., metals).

      We have lost sight of the fact that fossil fuels are nothing more than a battery. A battery that was charged up from sunlight (the original source of the energy) millions of years ago. And we’ve been draining that battery at a FURIOUS rate. It will “go flat” soon… And it’s not recharging (in a practical sense). Petroleum is a liquid battery. And a poor choice compared to modern flow batteries.

      We’ve just gotten used to and spoiled by the fact that “someone else” charged our battery for us. It’s a one-time deal, though. And it’s running out. If we have gotten ourselves into a situation where we cannot sustain our energy use without this liquid battery, there will be much consternation and suffering ahead.

    16. Todd De Ryck and Stephen Williams

      Same old same old. We already have the “battery problem” solved when it comes to residential and most commercial applications.

      If you would like to provide some real numbers as to what your requirement of storage is for a mid-sized detached home, for example, we can have a real discussion.

    17. Brainstorms

      This is because at any instance of time, there will be a combination of available sun & available wind that provides a net surplus

      That is a huge and unwarranted assertion.

    18. zebra

      Same old same old. We already have the “battery problem” solved when it comes to residential and most commercial applications.

      Residential: on capacity, maybe, but every single home in the developed world will need a high capacity LiION battery installed and at present virtually nobody does. Second, however many hundreds of millions -> billions of LiION batteries are eventually installed will have to be charged which comes *on top* of other usage demand. I really wouldn’t call this ‘solved’. It’s just not true.

      As for commercial use, no you are flat-out wrong. By order of magnitude at least, probably more.

    19. If we are to have the remotest chance of decarbonising fast enough and deeply enough to avoid severe climate impacts, we need to stop telling fairy tales about how easy and cheap it is going to be and how nearly within our grasp it is.

      This pernicious misinformation is on a par with the lies peddled by the denial industry. It breeds complacency and policy intertia and so is a menace to those yet unborn.

      Please for fuck’s sake stop it.

    20. BBD,

      Come on, you just want to find something to disagree with me about.

      Show me the numbers. Show me the numbers for energy usage that a mid-sized detached home requires and must be stored.

    21. That is a huge and unwarranted assertion.

      It depends entirely on your geographic scale, which I was careful to not specify. The Earth clearly receives a net influx of solar energy…

    22. stop telling fairy tales about how easy and cheap it is going to be and how nearly within our grasp it is.

      No one’s asserting that it will be easy, nor cheap. Only necessary.

    23. # 24 zebra

      Show me the numbers. Show me the numbers for energy usage that a mid-sized detached home requires and must be stored.

      You – like most people – confuse domestic electricity use and regional / national actual demand. Hence the muddled belief that a battery in the loft will somehow fix renewables intermittency on a regional / national scale.

      What’s more, you have not accounted for the increase in demand that will occur as domestic usage is shifted to electricity and away from gas and oil for cooking and heating. Not to mention the electrification of personal transport on a national scale.

      If I took you at your word and looked at energy usage – per dwelling or per capita – rather than electricity usage alone, the situation becomes far worse.

    24. Brainstorms

      It depends entirely on your geographic scale, which I was careful to not specify. The Earth clearly receives a net influx of solar energy…

      This type of rhetoric is *exactly* what I am objecting to. Yes, it is trivially true that the wind and solar resource is vast. No it is not true that in an actual engineered system there will be at any moment a dispatchable surplus always sufficient to meet regional shortfalls in renewables output vs demand.

      No one’s asserting that it will be easy, nor cheap. Only necessary.

      Oh come on. People blither on about how cheap renewables are supposed to be all the bloody time. And there is a leitmotif running through the discourse that all we need to do is deploy, that all the barriers are political not technological – which is simply not true.

      What is *necessary* is to stop bullshitting ourselves about the true scale and difficulty of the engineering challenge.

    25. Clarification for #27:

      “You – like most people – confuse domestic electricity use and regional / national actual demand. Hence the muddled belief that a battery in the loft will somehow fix renewables intermittency on a regional / national scale. “

      Here, ‘actual demand’ is gross demand, including all industrial demand, public transport (rail, trams, electric buses), office HVAC, lighting and IT, street lighting including motorways etc. If it consumes electricity, it is part of the problem. Domestic usage is only a sector of total regional / national demand.

    26. BBD, I’m not one of “those people” who blither on about how RE will be unicorns and rainbows. I’m well aware of the technological as well as political roadblocks we face. It’s big, yes. Insurmountable? I do not think so, and we’d all better believe it’s not or we’re truly screwed.

      If you re-read my response to Stephen Williams, you’ll see that I’m countering his assertions that we can’t move from carbon-based to renewable energy. He makes the implication that an RE-based system requires that every building have (expensive, complicated, negative EROEI) batteries/energy storage systems, that this is impractical, and by implication, that we shouldn’t bother with this.

      My reply was to point out that this techo-impossible situation of his imagining is not realistic, that the scale of deployment of storage is much less than what he’s implying — and by implication, transitioning to RE is in fact practical and achievable.

      And I was not only not implying or stating that this would be cheap, I was not implying or stating that it would be fast — or easy. Only that is is far smaller in scale that he’s implying and that his argument that “we can’t do it” is wrong.

      And if we don’t engineer a system by which we can store or transfer energy as it is available/needed without a continuing dependency on large-scale burning of fossil fuels (which you seem to imply, but I hope that’s incorrect), then we’re screwed. In that case, might as well join the nay-sayers and burn the rest of the FF with abandon. “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die!”

      I don’t subscribe to that thinking any more than I subscribe to the thinking that an RE society is cheap, easy, and fast to implement. (But in a nod to your concern, I do appreciate that we can’t oversell it or engender complacency politically.)

      tl;dr: Don’t mistake what’s behind my push-back against Mr Williams.

    27. I just have trouble imagining the scale of battery backup required for 7.1 billion people’s homes

      About 15% of those 7.1 billion people don’t currently have access to electricity at all, and a significant proportion of the remainder do not have uninterrupted access. Very significant improvements can be made to these people’s lives by improving their access to electricity even if they don’t have anything like the level of access that those of us in the developed world take for granted.

      The unstated assumption in all of these arguments is that we need to maintain and extend a particular set of extremely energy-intensive living arrangements which happen to be currently fashionable in the US… I certainly don’t see that being viable, but fortunately, I don’t see it as being necessary either. Switzerland gets by just fine on less than half of the per-capita total energy use of the United States, and most of the world’s population currently manage with much less than that. For example, Uruguay is only slightly behind the US on the Social Progress Index, yet uses less than one-fifth of the energy, per capita, despite over 99% of the population having access to electricity.

    28. Brainstorms # 30

      If you re-read my response to Stephen Williams, you’ll see that I’m countering his assertions that we can’t move from carbon-based to renewable energy. He makes the implication that an RE-based system requires that every building have (expensive, complicated, negative EROEI) batteries/energy storage systems, that this is impractical, and by implication, that we shouldn’t bother with this.

      We’ll have to let SW speak for himself, but I didn’t interpret his comments in the same way that you did. I thought his meaning was that batteries are not a promising utility-scale storage technology (which may be true) and that alternatives must be found. I don”t see where he asserts that ‘we can’t move from carbon-based to renewable energy’ at all. I would agree with him that at present and for the foreseeable future, large-scale pumped hydro represents the best option for utility-scale storage. I would point out that this is extremely expensive to construct at the necessary scale and frequently the best locations from a hydrological POV are in ecologically sensitive areas (eg. N Wales and NW Scotland in the UK).

    29. zebra:

      I might be a good example of usage.

      I live in Minnesota and have a geothermal system with a heat pump. So I use electricity for all my heating.

      I also track my electricity usage and bills (for fun).

      I have two meters:

      1. One meter for the heat pump, my hot water heater and my electric mini-boiler (my off-peak meter which can be turned off by the electric company during peaking periods).

      2. A second meter for everything else – lights appliances etc.

      My annual usage for 2015 (last full year):

      1. Off-peak meter – 23,992 kWh.
      2. Normal meter – 8380 kWh.

      Average monthly usage:

      1. 1999 kWh.
      2. 698 kWh.

      Obviously this varies quite a bit from winter to summer.

      But feel free to take these numbers and apply them to a “real” conversation on power storage.

    30. BBD, he may not have explicitly asserted it, but the implication (that too many people could read into it, as I did) was that “well, batteries that you’d need for an RE society aren’t practical, so we can’t make an RE society”. Like you, I want to head off such defeatist thinking.

      I was actually following the thought Greg expressed immediately afterward in #14: The technology is changing & improving quickly. My add was this: “Moreover, it’s not necessary to implement batteries on such a large scale”. Localized, aggregated storage (which could be Li-Ion batteries, flow batteries, or things like pumped hydro storage or underground pressurized gas, or ever subterranean molten salt heat storage — all these exist now) will very likely be sufficient for neighborhoods.

      I, too, strongly favor pumped hydro. Any location that already has dammed reservoirs (and we have quite a few in California) can leverage elevation differences by cross-pumping between them. That would at least reduce costs through re-use rather than new construction.

      The point is that part of the transition from FF to RE will involve getting away from the current producing in lock-step with demand to producing when/as capable and buffering that with storage technologies — which will include distributed storage technologies of different sizes & types.

      I have UPS’s distributed in my house to buffer the utility company’s power; it’s not a strong analogy, but it’s somewhat illustrative: I don’t depend on the utility company to buffer their production for the times when it’s absent; I do that, locally. The technology in this case is lead-acid storage batteries. But really, that’s not too far from me buying a Tesla Li-Ion PowerWall unit to provide that capability house-wide. Which then means one more step to connect roof-mounted PV to keep it charged. Note that I can do this in stages, and in more than one dimension. That helps with the economics. If my condo HOA decided to do this on the scale of the entire condo complex, so much the better. Next step up in scaling would be the entire neighborhood — which involves the utility company. Etc. Incremental implementation.

    31. RickA,

      Without knowing about your construction, or what capacity things have, that tells us very little.

      But why do you have a “mini-boiler” and a hot water heater and a geothermal system?

      Is your house actually a spa, or what?

    32. The electric mini boiler is for the in floor heat in the basement. The geothermal heat pump uses a chill/coil (summer) or warming coil (winter) and forced air heating for the ground floor and 2nd floor.

      The hot water heater is one of those electric plastic water heaters which uses electricity, not gas, and heats the water using off-peak electric, and can hold the temperature drop to 1 degree over a 24 hour period (Marathon I think is the brand). That is pretty standard now and is used for showers, etc.

      No spa.

      Construction – 6 inch studs, spay foam insulation, 2007 construction, pretty energy efficient. 4000 square feet, 3000 above grade and 1000 in basement below grade.

      I gave you the numbers because using electricity to heat (in Minnesota) does use a lot of energy – so BBD is right that as we switch over from fossil fuel to just electricity, the electricity usage will go way up (as in my example).

    33. “If a problem has no solution, it may not be a problem, but a fact – not to be solved, but to be coped with over time.” RIP Shimon Peres A] I am no longer a believer in the “progress/technology will always deliver a savior” religion [ Exhibit A: Fusion power] B] I’ve seen zero data that convinces me that human energy needs -at current , or near future usage will see an overall drop- increased efficiency/alternate production does NOT lead to decreased use. As long as there is the a priori assumption that the answer is always “more” , there will always be a disconnect from the reality of finite resources.C] I believe the reality is that the only solution is on the consumption side of the equation- a solution which westerners , used to decades of outsized energy/pollution “privilege” will find impossible to accept so that D] cascading [and dire] climate ramifications will be the only impetus for effective policy change – all else appears to be simply soothing words – and those localized and extreme events will be seen as “manageable” well past the tipping point.

    34. Yes, I am claiming an RE-only approach is not practical. We need nuclear power as well. Atoms are the best batteries ever invented. Small modular reactors, such as NuScale, look good to go by the early 2020s. These reactors will be very good at load following wind and solar. I’m all for it. Decarbonization is too important to leave out nuclear power.

    35. Stephen Williams,

      Is someone preventing you from setting up one of these small modular reactors, whether for “load following” or any other purpose? If they do what you say, I see no problem selling a whole bunch.

    36. zebra:

      I have to review some papers to see the R value of my insulation – I cannot remember it.

      I have poured basement walls, with insulation on both sides.

      Again, I cannot remember the R value – will have to look it up at home tonight.

      My geothermal is a closed loop vertical system. Four wells, 180 feet deep.

      It works down to 10 degrees F below zero. At that point, I have to switch to my furnace backup heat source (required for dual meter set-ups anyway).

      Natural gas furnace heat only kicks in once or twice per winter.

      I put this HVAC system in assuming natural gas was going to go up in price – but it did the opposite – so my payback (which was supposed to be 10 years) is probably more like 15 now. Not a good deal – but I would do it again.

      The heat pump is totally quiet (no compressor for air conditioning outside).

      The construction below the basement floor – wirsbo tubing on insulation (on ground), with concrete poured on top.

      I will get back to you the R values.

    37. RickA,

      OK, don’t worry about the R-values; I’m just thinking in terms of a first approximation.

      What you describe approximates a “battery”, at least for the short term. You are using intermittent electricity of the kind that wind and solar would generate, and storing the energy as heat and cold.

      I have to go do some work, but I will get back and expand on the point.

    38. IIRC, in the US, as in EU, the commercial and industrial sectors account for over 60% of electricity consumption and residential is below 40%. This is why domestic energy storage is a marginal factor in coping with renewables intermittency.

    39. zebra:

      Well ok – I look forward to your further posts.

      Xcel in Minnesota does generate electricity with wind and solar, but also uses nuclear and coal – so some portion of my electricity is probably intermittent – however, xcel manages to get me a pretty reliable continuous stream of electricity from their mix of assets.

      As to storing heat and cold – ?? I look forward to your further thoughts.

      This is my understanding of how geothermal works for my system.

      The ground is 55 F year round (below the frost line). The heat pump takes water and pumps it down to 180 feet and back up and the round trip either warms the water up or cools it down (depending on the winter/summer season and which way the water is flowing). It captures the delta between the temperature of the water going into the ground and the temperature coming out and uses that delta T to heat or cool air (which requires electricity for the pumps moving water in the closed loop and for the heat pump and for the fan that blows air over the coil (hot or cold depending on the season).

      Supposedly by using the heat in the ground I am using less electricity than say direct electric baseboard heating.

      With that further explanation – I will let you do your work.

    40. BBD – I totally agree intermittency is an issue and that residential is a small part of the problem.

      More energy is used the higher the percentage of renewable – so we have to look at the total amount of energy used per kWh for the present system compared to whatever future system we want to compare today to.

      That is because you have to have baseload power stations running in the background ready to ramp up when the sun is down or the wind dies down, ready to cover when the intermittent issue kicks in – so you end up building and operating some conventional power source for some level of wind/solar – so it is like my having to have a backup furnace which is very rarely used, just for when xcel shuts me down or it gets to cold for geothermal.

      But I think you have the right of it on this thread.

    41. BBD, without looking them up, I can believe your figures. And industrial sites are in a better position for implementing (sizable) energy storage devices.

      Obviously, adding these “capacitors” to our electrical grid will cost quite a bit of money — they’re being added to a system that historically runs with next to no capacitance at all; it’s a demand-regulated system. More demand results in more generation being brought online. An RE system (solar + wind) must run at full capacity at all times (assuming little overbuild) that it is able to, hence significant capacitance is required to make it practical (due to the inabilities for any plant to produce constantly/continuously as FF plants can now).

      As SW points out, adding more nuclear (thorium would be the prudent choice here) would help by mitigating/delaying the need for such capacitance. But either way, it will cost to build up such.

      We can leverage some of our existing infrastructure, to mitigate the cost/stretch the conversion in a carbon zero-sum manner by using the liquid fuels delivery system to deliver bio-generated butanol, which can be used almost as a straight replacement for gasoline. That then allows the continued use until retirement of existing vehicles (including, likely, aircraft, but I expect them and ships to continue to use liquid fuels for practical reasons).

      Smart engineering & smart political choices will help a lot in developing incremental changes that allow phase-in over economically-viable periods. Along the way, jobs and positive economic activity…

    42. RickA,

      You say that your hot water heater will hold temperature for 24 hours. That’s a battery. You don’t need electricity to take a shower, you need hot water. It seems highly unlikely that with good software, you would ever run out of hot water.

      You also describe a pretty well-insulated house, although some of the design seems strange to me. But think about it– if you can keep water at 130F for 24 hours, you just need a bunch of those tanks and you can use that water to heat your house as well– with very little boost from your gas furnace in most situations.

      The point is, you are describing a system that is “almost there”. If you were hooked up exclusively to wind and solar, you would probably never experience any problem with your energy supply.

      And if you are burning gas to replace any of the energy supplied, you are getting about 3 times the benefit compared to having a coal or nuclear plant supply you with electricity– that is, you are paying 1/3 the price for the energy content of the fuel.

      Obviously, this is about new construction– for existing structures, retrofitting is more complicated and expensive. But it clearly can be done.

    43. Here is my own alternative energy reality. I’ve been entirely off grid for 30 years – ai present my electricity is over 95% solar [the balance supplied by a small wind generator and an 8kw propane genset] this is an 80A @ 24v system in a modest but modern energy consumptive household- kenmore frig, dishwasher, microwave , desktop, laptops, large boatbuilding shop etc. The Trace inverters, at 20yrs, are beginning to get glitchy. The genset has had one top end overhaul and is likely due another within a year. I am on my third set of lead acid batteries as of last winter. My point is that all these systems require maintenance and upgrades- none of which is cheap [despite all those promises of “battery breakthru!!”]. None of which is environmentally benign . My solar contractor estimates less than 8% gain in life/dollar/AmHr in 30 years monitoring batteries.

      My heating is supplied via a 12 panel solar array . a 450 gal storage tank and radiant tube heating in the house and shop. It does ok until the heart of winter- we can see many nights of double digit [F] below zero nights . My system will hold a nice 55 degree indoor….that is NOT comfortable – then its time to crank up the wood stove- or the simple wall mount propane heaters in the bedrooms.

      Again- there are heavy duty enviro impacts here – big stainless steel water tanks, lots of glass, lots of mining and trucking , petro based piping , burning wood etc …

      Stil, i am sure that my relatively small carbon footprint [home is 85% recycled, motorcycle for good weather transport, sailing as recreation ] is simply something, that exported to every other household on the planet will continue to ravage this earth….

    44. Zebra, the only hold up for small modular reactors was getting the process going in the first place. We have loads of experience with them on subs and aircraft carriers, but there hadn’t been much other demand for them in the past. The Obama Administration has been (somewhat quietly) working on changing this. As I mentioned previously, NuScale’s small modular reactors should start seeing action in the early 2020s.

      If you are interested, below is a study by Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems with NuScale and Energy Northwest which shows that small modular reactors can work well and economically with wind farms. As best I recall, the first pairing of a NuScale reactor and a wind farm is slated to start in 2022.

      http://www.nuscalepower.com/images/our_technology/NuScale-Integration-with-Renewables_ICAPP15.pdf

    45. “That is because you have to have baseload power stations running in the background ready to ramp up when the sun is down or the wind dies down, ready to cover when the intermittent issue kicks in – so you end up building and operating some conventional power source for some level of wind/solar – so it is like my having to have a backup furnace which is very rarely used, just for when xcel shuts me down or it gets to cold for geothermal.”

      The problem is, that is not what “baseload” is, and that is not how conventional power systems work. You can’t really turn them up and down. This has always been a problem.

      People need to remember, or if they don’t know it, learn, that there has always been a problem with intermittency. Some of that has to do with plants breaking or requiring maintenance, etc. Often that is quite unpredictable. For example, when a tornado warning is issued that included a certain area around a nuclear power plant, the power plant (depending on the plant) shuts down production as it powers down to a low level of operation, in order to avoid being hot if the cooling system shuts down. In a place like Minnesota, that is either 1/13th of our total power supply in state, or 2/13ths, depending on which of our two nuke plants is shut down. That does not happen very often, but when it does, can you imagine the havoc it causes?

      It causes no havoc. The system is designed to easily hand an unexpected shutdown of ca. 10 percent of its generation for several hours across a large state side area.

      A lot of intermittency happens on the demand side (thought that is not the proper term for it). Yet, we don’t see problems, almost never, because of this.

      There are at least four factors that handle this.

      First, big users are on a dial that the power suppliers can turn up and down. A descent percent of the demand can be turned down on demand by the power grid managers, as needed, or turned up.

      Second, various sources do have a certain amount of ability to turn up and down production. Ironically, these days, it is easier to turn town production with things like windmills, so they tend to take the brunt of these requirements. In other words, the power source everyone is worried about vis-a-vis intermittency is saving our intermittent asses all the time.

      Third, we have storage. We have had storage for many decades now, and we have been using it. Mostly pumped water.

      Fourth, the grid is large and interconnected. That smooths out a lot of variation.

      Here is the fallacy that I’m pointing out. When people talk about clean energy, they are asking it to dance backwards an in high heels. They are comparing the current system sans clean energy, a perfect system, where nothing goes wrong, demand and supply are always matched perfectly, no power sources vary unexpectedly, no demands drop or rise unexpectedly, all the electricity is produced near where it is used, etc. etc. to a future where there are all sort of issues of storage, transmission, variation in production, etc.

      But the truth is that the CURRENT system has variation in supply and demand, and all of that is in fact accounted for. Comparing a perfect ideal with a biased anti-clean energy view of a future is entirely wrong and unfair, bad reasoning, bad science, and bad engineering.

    46. Greg

      Conventional energy in developed countries is typically baseload (coal; nuclear) with gas on top for ‘load following’. The gas component of the mix is what gets turned up and down to match demand fluctuations in real time.

      There is also spare generation capacity available, sufficient to compensate for planned and unplanned plant shutdown. In addition, there is *some* grid-connected storage in place, although not much relative to daily demand.

      The problems arise when you try to integrate renewables (specifically, wind and solar) into the current system at scale. As we all know, W&S are not dispatchable. Both vary according to external factors outside human control so cannot be reliably matched to demand fluctuation like load following gas plant.

      Since the grid does not store electricity, only deliver it, a large scale W&S resource requires extensive buffering against intermittency and slew. Once the existing spare capacity in a given grid (or interconnected grids) is exceeded by the fraction of W&S in the mix, more storage or load following plant must be added.

      If the objective is to decarbonsise the electricity supply, then the backup must not be FF-based, so no new gas load following plant should be constructed. There is a FF lock-in of decades to consider. Intermittency and slew must be addressed with wide scale grid interconnection and large scale storage.

      At no point are bad reasoning, bad science or bad engineering invoked in this process.

    47. zebra

      BBD,

      You think that 37% (say) is “marginal”?

      It is marginal because short-term domestic buffering capacity – which is what we are talking about – falls far short of a solution to regional / national scale W&S intermittency. IMO this is being widely misrepresented by certain battery manufacturers to the detriment of public understanding of the real issues.

    48. BBD,

      So far, I haven’t even mentioned electric batteries.

      I’m pointing out, using some elements of RickA’s house and arrangement with his electricity supplier, that we can replace almost all of the FF used for heating with WS by storing heat.

      If we change a few features of his design, we can do the same with cooling.

      That’s a substantial improvement.

      With a plug-in vehicle of some kind, and solar panels on the roof, we can eliminate a large chunk of the transportation FF load.

      That is also a substantial improvement.

      Focusing on the residential sector is not at all trivial. You talk about engineering challenges, but you don’t seem to think in engineering design terms. I’m talking about optimization, where we match the desired output with the most appropriate input.

      I don’t know what your issue is about household electrical batteries. But I propose that we can shrink the requirements for a house battery to the point that it becomes a trivial factor.

      If you disagree, stop handwaving and show some numbers.

      Otherwise, we can move on to other sectors.

    49. Stephen Williams #51,

      All the studies and advertising are really unnecessary at this point. If it is a good product, people will buy them and use them appropriately– whenever they actually get to market.

      Right now, we need to be installing all the technology that already exists and is proven to reduce both FF consumption and energy consumption. That’s a political and economic and societal challenge, not an engineering one.

    50. If you disagree, stop handwaving and show some numbers.

      I’ve already pointed out that domestic electricity consumption is below 40% of the total for the US (and EU) and that this makes it something of a strawman when discussing W&S intermittency.

      You are the one handwaving, so you can provide the numbers to back up your claims.

    51. And zebra, when you can run an oven, a full suite of domestic lighting, a vacuum cleaner and a couple of notebooks on thermal storage, let me know. Then we can strawman a bit about electric batteries as well as thermal storage.

      You are being visibly disingenuous, IMO.

    52. With a plug-in vehicle of some kind, and solar panels on the roof, we can eliminate a large chunk of the transportation FF load.

      Not in mid-latitude winter you can’t. This sort of rubbish is corrosive to credibility and exactly what I was getting all exercised about upthread. Magical thinking (and BS) will not solve the decarbonisation problem, it will exacerbate it.

    53. BBD,

      Sorry, but you are ranting and not making an argument– except perhaps a kind of Nirvana Fallacy.

      Rick’s system eliminates the large amount of NG he would otherwise use for heating his house; the amount that he uses for cooking is trivial. If a large number of houses could do this, they could be supplied with biogas from landfills or purpose-built waste conversion facilities.

      That’s a big deal. {Burning a small amount of methane for heat or cooking is actually better than burning it to generate electricity as a backup for the same end use, even if it isn’t biogas.)

      If the house is built with installed LED lighting, which would probably be some 20% more efficient than existing LED bulbs, of course it could be supplied from even a low-tech battery.

      That’s a big deal, again, when you multiply it by many houses.

      And seriously, what sane person is going to use a plug-in vacuum cleaner dragging around a long cord when you can use a battery-operated one? (Which is charged by WS, like the plug-in hybrid in the mid-lat winter.)

      Greg and Brainstorms pretty much nail this whole business.

      -We have a system that exists only because of the bonanza (or curse) of fossil fuels.
      -It is a godawful inefficient kluge of a system. It is inelegant, and an embarrassment.
      -You and others apparently want to continue BAU for reasons I certainly don’t understand.

      The other day, I was able to spot the first US offshore wind turbines from a shore location about 20 miles away. It was an inspiring sight. It is painful and slow, but we might just move forward. It wasn’t that long ago that electric cars and LED lighting were an impossible dream.

      Maybe even SW’s small modular reactors will come into existence, who knows?

    54. Greg

      Your assumption that I don’t has caused you to miss my point, apparently!

      Which presumably was:

      But the truth is that the CURRENT system has variation in supply and demand, and all of that is in fact accounted for.

      Because it is based on dispatchable generation technology. Tinkering with demand-side management and small-scale buffering will not resolve the problem of W&S intermittency at large scale integration. As I keep trying to explain.

    55. (Which is charged by WS, like the plug-in hybrid in the mid-lat winter.)

      Mid-latitude winter, SPV output is marginal and there’s a 5 day wide-area wind lull caused by anticyclonic conditions affecting much of N Europe.

      What happens then?

    56. BBD, I did not suggest a resolution to the problem, so please don’t tell me that my suggested resolution to the problem is wrong.

    57. BBD #63,

      “What happens then?”

      You could pay for electricity from some supplier with a thermal plant.

      You could just drive the car using the fuel engine.

      You could clean the floor with a broom if you are particularly fastidious and need it spotless every day.

      What’s the problem?

    58. What’s the problem?

      National-scale blackouts are the problem. There seems to be a persistent blind spot over *scale* in this discussion. You are down a rabbit hole at the domestic level but the issues exist at regional / national scale.

      Where does the energy come from under these real-world conditions?

      * * *

      You could pay for electricity from some supplier with a thermal plant.

      The point of decarbonisation is to decarbonise.

      You could just drive the car using the fuel engine.

      Fossil fuels are to stay in the ground.

    59. If we recognize that the energy density and usefulness (practicality) of liquid fuels will keep them around for needs such as aircraft, and abandon the wishful thinking of liquid hydrogen, then we’ll need a carbon-neutral liquid fuel for our RE future… (After all, carbon is still the most practical vehicle for carrying the hydrogen atoms we wish to oxidize for energy release.)

      Carbon-neutral means keeping the FF in the ground — but a neutral technology would pull CO2 out of the atmosphere and recycle it — by adding energy to break the C-O2 bonds. Obviously plants do just this as a matter of course: It’s what’s charged the FF battery we’ve been drawing on for 100+ years now. Until we get practical, large-scale synthetic photosynthesis working (assuming current R&D will eventually end up there), we have syngas to produce methane/methanol and biomass (such as switchgrass) to produce butanol.

      Existing plant life can provide the solar+atmospheric CO2 to produce butanol, and for syngas production, we can use S+W RE to provide energy input. Since BBD points out that Northern Europe is a poor choice for siting such plants, we can make good use of the Sahara for that… The result is carbon-neutral liquid/gas fuels, which could then be piped/tankered to Europe. (Not far-fetched at all: There are existing gas lines running from Russia and the Middle East to Europe already for just this purpose. We merely re-route, keep the ME FF in the ground, and bypass that part of the world. Finally.)

      Such non-FF carbon-neutral liquid/gas fuels will contribute to the progressive changeover from FF-powered energy sources to RE. One does not have to site all RE sources near their points of consumption.

    60. I just googled and found out that as of May 2016, Minnesota generated 21% of its electricity with renewable sources.

      That is really pretty good.

      It was my understanding that much more than 35% renewable and the existing grid starts to break down and will not work well.

      So it is my understanding that to use more than about 35% renewable will require a whole new grid design (which I am not sure we have invented yet).

      So a work in progress.

      Meanwhile, I think we should be building a bunch of nuclear power plants – those Nuscale modulare ones sound interesting.

      I think in Minnesota nuclear provided 22% of the total electricity – so about the same as renewable.

      I would like to see nuclear provide 50 or even 75% of the power in Minnesota.

      Much safer today than in the past, smaller footprint, baseload, no need for new grid, can locate anywhere (well anywhere you can convince the locals to let you put it) and it doesn’t generate CO2 emissions (or not many).

      It is more expensive than fossil fuels – but if we started building 300 reactors in the USA, I think the costs would drop dramatically.

      So, renewable is great and I think we should continue to invest in making it more efficient – but I think the easy path to lowering CO2 emissions is to go nuclear and double or triple our electricity generated by nuclear.

      Regional storage of waste and a couple of recycling nuclear plants sprinkled around to reuse the waste (the existing waste can generate a lot of electricity and it is just literally decaying away unused) would make the system even more efficient.

      I hope this is the direction we finally go, after enough people study this issue enough to realize that our current fear of nuclear is irrational (and counterproductive).

    61. Someone mentioned that households are “only just under 40% of the electricity” so they don’t matter. This ignores that households are also a high percentage of the electricity for cars, should they be 99% electrified, as well as businesses. Then, if we add commercial and business buildings to that, with electric cars, and houses, then suddenly what happens in or near roofs on which solar can be deployed, that is a lot of our energy use. Nationally, we can easily handle close to half of that need with just deploying existing PV and probably batter technologies, so for much of the year even in the northern tier, we can clearly handle a very large percentage of electricity and other energy demand with very little reason to change the grid.

      Then, certainly we need to change the grid. Of all the problems with clean energy, changing the grid has got to to be one of the easiest parts technologically and from an engineering standpoint, once we figure out how we want to do it. This is well within the range of existing institutional ability.

      For the cost and trouble of building ten or so nuke plants, and in a fraction of the time, we can rebuild our grid, I would estimate. And we know we need to do that and that it will work. Nuclear is much riskier from every point of view (especially economic) and unless one builds hundreds of plants, won’t make much difference. And we are not building hundreds of plants.

    62. RickA, Denmark gets more than 50% of its electricity from renewable energy sources, with wind power alone providing more than 40%. Its grid has no trouble with that at all. In other words, a grid exists already that can handle more than 50% renewables, and even a substantial amount of this supposedly so problematic intermittent wind power.

    63. Zebra #56,

      All the studies and advertising are really unnecessary at this point. If it is a good product, people will buy them and use them appropriately- whenever they actually get to market.

      Right now, we need to be installing all the technology that already exists and is proven to reduce both FF consumption and energy consumption. That’s a political and economic and societal challenge, not an engineering one.

      Your intentions are good, but I disagree. If the tools we have aren’t up to the challenge (and I think they are not), then social change is not the answer. And I don’t think our current tools can do the job. China, for example, is throwing everything at decarbonization. China is first in new nuclear power and first or second in new solar and wind. Yet China is nowhere near on schedule to meet the level of decarbonization needed. And then there is Germany, which hasn’t been able to reduce its CO2 emissions for 6 years running as it replaces its nuclear plants with lignite-burning plants.

      Around half the population of humans has limited or no access to electricity. This will not continue. A massive increase in energy use is occurring and will continue to occur for decades (which is why, of course, coal use continues to rise worldwide). We have to deal with that increase while decarbonizing. A very tough challenge.

      As Bill Gates says, we need an energy miracle.

      I think small modular reactors could be that miracle. The miracle comes from the fact that small modular reactors inherently lend themselves to be factory built. That is what we need for both large-scale deployment and economies of scale.

      NuScale is a great example. We have some 50 years experience with small modular reactors in subs and ships. There’s no good reason for NuScale (or some other company) to not be successful.

      Another exciting development (to me, anyway) is Thorcon’s approach to building molten salt reactors. Again, small and modular, can be factory built and deployed en mass, and they are using the reactor design that was tested for several years during the 1960s. Thorcon will be building its first factory in Indonesia.

      In this regard, I think RickA’s comment (#68) was right on.

    64. Marco #70, Denmark’s grid is part of a grid that is larger than Denmark itself. When talking about percentages of renewables, it is important to take the entire grid into consideration. Also on that same grid is a generous amount of hydro from both Norway and Sweden. As has been discussed, renewable penetration is far easier if one has substantial hydro to back it up. Unfortunately, hydro is already tapped out in most places.

    65. Stephen Williams,

      You are making a whole bunch of assertions but not creating any coherent argument. I have no idea what you are advocating.

      If you can build these reactors, someone will buy them. If between now and when you bring them to market, the US has built out a bunch of wind and solar, and the wind and solar aren’t doing the trick (which is your prediction), then someone will still buy them. If, as you claim, all 7+ billion people in the world are going to eventually have electricity, well then, there’s an enormous market for your product.

      So what exactly is your point?

    66. Zebra,

      I thought the topic as hand was: “What we need to do to stop global warming.”

      With that in mind, I asserted:

      1) Our current tools for decarbonization are not up to the job. (At least, not according to IEA predictions I have seen.)

      2) Energy consumption is going to substantially increase world-wide for many decades to come, making decarbonzation an even harder challenge.

      Hence the need for an energy miracle, of which I have named a couple. I am claiming that, without such a miracle, we simply will not succeed in decarbonization.

    67. Stephen Williams,

      Depending on how you define “decarbonization”, you may be right and you may be wrong. I happen to disagree.

      But you are replying to my suggestion about needing to deploy existing technology as rapidly as possible, and I don’t see, as should be clear, what your predictions have to do with that:

      1. If you are correct on your points, and your miracle happens, we are all set.
      2. If you are incorrect, and your miracle happens, we are all set.
      3. If you are either correct or incorrect, and your miracle doesn’t happen, we will have reduced FF production relative to what it would have been had we not deployed existing technology. So we will be better off, because at the least we will have bought more time for an actual technological miracle to come along.

      So the only logical course is to deploy.

    68. But you are replying to my suggestion about needing to deploy existing technology as rapidly as possible, and I don’t see, as should be clear, what your predictions have to do with that.

      I didn’t know that I was replying to your suggestion. As for deploying existing technology as fast as possible, I have no problem with that. I don’t know why you think I do. I did mention that I think batteries are a poor choice of technology (though I’m a fan of pumped hydro where it makes sense). Perhaps that’s the connection.

      I think China is now setting great example–using the “all of the above” approach advocated by the IPCC, IEA and others. Lots of nuclear, wind and solar while, at the same time, working on the energy miracles we need. That’s a good strategy. I wish the U.S. would follow it.

      Instead, the U.S. is shutting down perfectly good nuclear plants and trying (and failing so far) to replace them with wind and solar, much they way Germany is. I find this quite distressing and counterproductive. The Obama Administration is making some headway in correcting this, but the progress is too slow.

    69. zebra: Sorry, I meant to quote that first statement of yours in comment #78. I looked for a way to fix it, but I don’t see a way to edit comments.

    70. Greg Laden #52

      But the truth is that the CURRENT system has variation in supply and demand, and all of that is in fact accounted for.

      I’m not sure what that means exactly but it seems you’re saying that somehow the demand intermittency makes up for supply intermittency? That’s simply not so, it just complicates the whole energy supply chain!

      Various comments regarding electrical energy storage convey a sense that the authors of those comments have no idea as to the staggering amounts of storage required to buffer the intermittent renewables, wind and solar, sufficiently that they match demand i.e. become dispatchable. Perhaps have a gander at the Euan Mearnes – The Holy Grail of Battery Storage article. It would require a multi-year national committment at whole GDP levels. Then after a decade, repeat the cycle ’cause the last batch wore out!

    71. Hi Greg, regarding comment 71, On Sept. 14, 2016 USA Secretary of Energy wrote: “In conclusion, I appreciate the opportunity to discuss how nuclear energy is a vital component of the U.S. clean energy strategy. The Administration looks forward to working with the Subcommittee and other Members of Congress to ensure that our nation can continue to benefit
      from the significant contributions of nuclear power to our energy needs and efforts to mitigate climate change.” (14 pages) http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/091416-Secretary-Moniz-Testimony.pdf

    72. There are a couple ways to end global warming.

      A. Population control. Immediate restriction of birth. Negative population until the earths the population returns to 1750 numbers. As soon as population is under control the earth will self correct.

      B. Live like the Amish. No electricity. No cars. Take it a few steps further, no manufacturing. No dams. No reservoirs. No diversion of waterways. Live on the earth the way you found it.

      That’s it. That’s all the choices. Everything else is just more of the same wrapped in a web of false promises.

    73. Wow, in the midst of this section is a real discussion by interested and interesting people with specifics about solutions. Thank you, RickA and Zebra (and others).

      I’m inclined to agree with those who suggest we’re in trouble, but despair and apathy are laziness in disguise.

      I reviewed what I said about a carbon tax, and though I recognize it’s difficult to get parties not paying proper attention to what is real and what is not to do what’s best for all, I’m sticking with it as the direct way to stop giving fossil fuels a free pass for the troubles they have, are, and will be causing. Their costs need to be including in our energy. Working stiffs and the world’s poor need help, but destroying their and our futures is not the answer.

      On living like the Amish, that is not possible with our current population numbers:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_growth
      (Numbers below are Years Passed | Year | Billion)
      – 1800 1
      127 1927 2
      33 1960 3
      14 1974 4
      13 1987 5
      12 1999 6
      12 2011 7
      14 2025* 8
      18 2043* 9
      40 2083* 10

      No amount of ranting about how people should stop having babies is going to cut us down to size, and intolerance of humanity doesn’t work either. Empowering women and improving working conditions helps. Wars and pestilence, refugees, fear fire flood, not much to say about that.

      It’s a knotty problem, but hating on people doesn’t cut it.

      1. I do not think for a minute that recognizing the reality of a permanently changed earth is somehow despair and apathy masquerading as laziness. Instead, I [along with quite a few in the climatology circle] feel that we are getting our psychological ducks in a row – the grief work that will be needed here is as necessary as any other ‘hard science’ . To somehow imagine that the answer to this insanity is to create. invent. manufacture and consume more is IMHO at best the ‘bargaining’ stage of grief work and at worst, blind denial on a par with waiting for aliens or angels to rescue us.

        Every technological solution bandied about here and elsewhere blithely ignores any of the questions of the carbon footprint required to initiate all these “solutions”- the extraction , refining , transport , maintenance, workforce housing, food, waste treatment, to name a few. At the same time, consumption of energy, soil, fish species, and potable water is accelerating every second. If one is unwilling to look at this issue from a systemic point of view then the level of naivety is on a par with the doctor ignoring the ramifications of antibiotic use. I would also suggest that a certain arrogance is displayed to somehow “believe” that the human species gets a pass on behavioral consequences – we are not exempt from the same environmental/ecological impacts that govern any other species interaction …. and it might be time for us to see that all this celebrated ‘exploration’ has really been more the actions of just one more invasive species

        Yes- I will continue to support politicians who make climate change their number one priority. And who expand education and birth control Yes, I will continue to examine my life and my own carbon footprint – to wean myself of the urgency to purchase ‘new’ , to be conscious of the transport miles needed to supply me and mine. To limit my progeny to a single child . Yes I will still plant a dozen trees every year. But make no mistake. When the data keeps pouring in [400 ppm threshold crossed today, reservoirs found to contribute 25% more to methane atmospheric accumulation than previously thought] like it is pouring in, we best be adding real tools to our emotional batteries as well.

    74. Stephen Williams,

      I re-read your comment #72 where you quoted me…

      “right now, we need to be installing the existing technology…”

      and then replied…

      “I disagree”.

      Let’s assume that was poorly worded, and you were compressing “your existing tech will not work” and “we don’t need societal change we need more engineering”.

      You still aren’t making sense, at least to me. Either you know what you are talking about with your x-gen nuclear technology, or you are just another fantasist with a magic solution “in the next ten years”, over and over every ten years. If the former, we are back to my #77.

      But you are definitely unrealistic when you talk about “the US” doing or not doing things compared to China. You, and RickA, and all the other people who keep talking about it are perfectly free to pool your funds and build one of the pre- approved US nuclear designs, or buy and bring an existing plant up to current specifications.

      What exactly (and I mean specific. concrete, policy changes) would you like “the US” to do different from what it is currently doing?

    75. zebra, I can see how you could take “I disagree” as you did. But no where did I comment that would shouldn’t ramp up CO2-free sources of electricity as quickly as we can.

      But now that I’m thinking about it, I do think we’re not in a position (yet) of simply building up all the FF-free technology we have. We need a shared vision of what that should look like in the real world. I see several approaches being advocated. Some claim we need a decentralized grid with lots of local energy storage. Others claim we need a massive grid with a big overbuild of capacity to move electricity over long distance transmission lines (the likes of which the world has yet to build) to move electricity across the U.S. from sunny and windy places to places that get much less of both. (I’m thinking Jacobson, whose views are wildly popular with the left.) And I see utility companies confused about how to proceed.

      As for the US comparison with China, if I had the funds to implement my preferred policy, I would get it implemented, I would fund it. But I don’t. I suspect you don’t either. So I have to work the policy end (which I am doing as best I can).

      Right now, for example, many states have made it very hard for existing nuclear power to compete. Laws in place compel utility companies to choose wind and solar over nuclear power because nuclear power gets no credit for being CO2-free; whereas solar and wind can even make money with negative pricing because they are guaranteed that the government will pay a fixed amount per kW/h. So those who favor wind and solar have no need to pool their money to get wind and solar implemented as the government is paying for wind and solar regardless of if and when it makes sense.

      So, here in California where I live, the utility (PG&E) is actually shutting down a nuclear plant (Diablo Canyon) up to 40 years ahead of its life expectancy because the law requires them get 50% of electricity from renewables by 2030. Even large hydro gets no credit in California. So Californians will literally spend billions of dollars to replace one CO2-free source of electricity with another. This is utterly bizarre. We should be shutting down FF plants, not nuclear plants.

      We’ve seen this behavior many times in the U.S. Vermont Yankee was closed recently and was replaced by natural gas plants. Same with San Onofre in California. And so on.

      As for the policy changes I’m advocating, here are few:

      1) Stop shutting down nuclear plants early. Give them (and hydro) the same price guarantees as wind and solar. (This was recently done in NY, at least temporarily, and the change to the law stopped several nuclear plants from being closed. Nuclear plants do fine with a level playing field.) Illinois is facing the same issue right now.

      2) Streamline the NRC. Since it’s inception in the late 70s, very few nuclear plants have come online over the past 35 years. The approval process is onerous and inflexible. That’s why U.S. inventions such as molten salt reactors are being built in other countries. It would be impossible to get a molten salt reactor through the NRC.

      3) Put money into jump starting new nuclear technology, such as small modular reactors. This is not magical thinking. All you have to do is look at 50 years of small modular reactor experience in subs and ships. We just need to move the technology to land. If you think this is magical thinking, then I can’t understand what level of proof of concept you require.

      4) Number 3 above should have a goal of restoring U.S. leadership in nuclear power. The anti-nuclear power movement in the U.S. has had a number of unintended consequences. One is that the U.S. is far behind other countries such as France and Sweden in decarbonization. Another is that the U.S. has no role in how nuclear power rolls out across the world, which is worrisome to me, at least. More than a dozen countries are working with China and Russia on building nuclear plants in their countries, with more to come. I would much prefer those countries were working with the U.S.

    76. Stephen Williams,

      Look, you are just putting together a hodge-podge of talking points, but not making any sense.

      If SMR’s and other advanced tech are “just around the corner”, then ratepayers and taxpayers don’t need to bear the (enormous) expense of keeping rickety old plants running. There’s not enough capacity there to make a difference, if they are going to be shut down in a few decades anyway.

      That is why it makes sense to subsidize rapid deployment of both conservation and renewables of all kinds, since we can’t really predict when or if new tech will arrive. I’ve pointed this out over and over, and you obviously don’t have an answer. Either you have faith in “the nuclear future”, or you don’t. Which is it?

      It is also remarkably disingenuous to suggest that nuclear is in competition with wind and solar, when you keep saying wind and solar can’t supply that mythical “baseload”– so it’s actually between coal and nuclear and gas and hydro. It’s simple market dynamics; gas is crushing both coal and nukes– it isn’t Hillary or the NRC.

      Like all the other partisans, you have no realistic plan. This is the US, not France or Sweden– it will play out differently in different regions, and the Feds can only do certain things to influence the outcome. People here are familiar with my approach, which actually falls within the parameters of the Constitution. Meanwhile, you need to find some venture capitalists and convince them they can turn a profit doing what you suggest.

    77. that mythical “baseload”

      Baseload isn’t a myth. There’s a minimum level below which demand never falls, maintained by things like transport infrastructure (electric trains; streetlighting etc), 24-hour industrial process etc. I certainly agree that demand-side management may well lower baseload demand, but it will never go away. And it needs to be met, 24/7/365.

    78. zebra, it is disingenuous to claim that wind and solar should be subsidized yet nuclear power shouldn’t. In other words, I should not have to pay taxes to make solar and wind viable if the same is not done for nuclear. Nuclear power is not in the position to get zero dollars for the electricity it produces; wind and solar are because we tax payers are making it possible.

      The value of France and Sweden in this discussion is that they have already decarbonized using existing technology. They are decades ahead of the U.S. As best I can tell, you aren’t actually interested in decarbonization.

      So sure, if time is no problem, we can do it your way.

      By the way, I never said anything about baseload. I don’t know why you keep putting words in my mouth.

    79. I should not have to pay taxes to make solar and wind viable if the same is not done for nuclear.

      I can understand the sentiment, but that’s a decision for the voters, not the vendors.

      That said, personally, I think we should be furiously developing & deploying wind, solar, and thorium reactors. All three have what should be sufficient (profit) motivation for industry to get behind that themselves — without government subsidies. Not that subsidies wouldn’t help our predicament…

    80. BBD,

      Your demand is not my problem.

      If you want to run a 24/7/365 aluminum smelter, you can get together with others who have similar needs– like a server farm, whatever. You can then either buy one of Stephen’s SMR units, and supply your co-op internally, or contract with a company that owns an AP1000, or a hydro dam, or a coal plant that meets the EPA’s standards, and so on, to buy their product.

      So, there is no “baseload”. It is a nonsense term made up by utility monopolies. Demand is whatever demand is. It’s like a distillery looking at last year’s sales figures and saying there’s a “baseload” for single-malt Irish whiskey. It’s not the responsibility of beer drinkers to make sure the supply is maintained.

    81. Your demand is not my problem.

      And

      Demand is whatever demand is.

      I hope I don’t need to be explicit about how daft you are being.

      Demand is what it is, as you say. Hence baseload. The problem you are having is one familiar to all deniers – cognitive dissonance.

    82. I can understand the sentiment, but that’s a decision for the voters, not the vendors.

      That’s what I’m afraid of. If voters make engineering decisions, we’ll end up trying to implement “free energy” or some such.

      I too am big on thorium reactors (specifically, LFTRs), but I think uranium molten salt reactors should come first (such as the sort of reactors Thorcon and Terrestrial Energy are working on).

      In the meantime, though, AP1000s will do just fine.

    83. Stephen,

      I just explained why it is not “disingenuous” (I think you mean “unfair” or something) to subsidize one and not the other.

      France made a decision to build a socialized (socialist) electricity infrastructure, based on nuclear. Nothing wrong with that. But it ain’t gonna happen in the US, so it is an absurd comparison, both because it is socialist and because we have States with considerable independence.

      Here, States (some of which have economies larger than many Nations) get to decide what is in their best interest. So, California, or Massachusetts and Rhode Island, can choose to take advantage of their particular resource base– promoting solar or wind, for example, because it creates local jobs. If you don’t like it, move to Texas…oh wait, they are big on wind too. But there are some States where they are in fact building nuclear plants, if I recall correctly, and I expect they are not equally promoting wind and solar. Likewise, some States are promoting coal, and some natural gas, and so on.

      So, what you need is a plan to reduce CO2 production, that the Federal government can actually implement, not “my favorite technology is best and if I don’t get my way I will obstruct everything else.” If you are sincere about the end goal, that is, and not a false-flag Fossil Fuel troll.

    84. BBD, Brainstorms,

      You are not answering the point.

      Demand comes from the customers. It isn’t a law of nature that there be aluminum smelters, or server farms, or anything else, that require a perfectly consistent electricity supply. It’s just a matter of price and profit. If you want single-malt, you pay the price, which happens to be much more than that for beer.

      Do you disagree?

    85. but I think uranium molten salt reactors should come first

      You’ll get too much political pushback on that idea, I’m afraid. Just the word “uranium” will set voters twittering (literally).

      Aside from a little-known name that doesn’t trigger NIMBY knee-jerk reactions, thorium reactors have a politically-palatable characteristic going for them: They consume the fissile material they breed as they breed it, leaving nothing practical behind with which to build bombs. (Which is exactly why the DOE foolishly shit-canned it in 1973. Idiots!)

    86. Demand comes from the customers. It isn’t a law of nature that there be aluminum smelters, or server farms, or anything else, that require a perfectly consistent electricity supply.

      You can run an aluminum smelting plant and server farms with an unpredictably fluctuating electricity supply? We should be told.

      There are perhaps case studies you could share?

    87. Zebra, no state in the U.S. can just “go nuclear” without getting the feds involved… “Considerable independence” does not equal “license to do anything they wish”.

    88. More to the point: De-carbonizing the U.S. (or the world, for that matter) does not mean “every man for himself” style of production and consumption independence.

      The goal does not involve making every house, business, and industrial plant an “energy island”. We still need/want a grid, for many reasons.

    89. BBD 100,

      ??

      It is not a law of nature that server farms exist. It is a law of nature that server farms require continuous electricity supply.

      You really don’t get the distinction? If you want that premium product (super-reliable electricity), then you either build your own supply or pay a premium compared to less-reliable sources.

      Single-malt, beer… get it?

      So of course we want a grid. A grid is like a trucking company or UPS; it transports the product to your house. That doesn’t mean that everyone uses the same product.

      Single-malt, beer… get it?

    90. Single-malt, beer… get it?

      This is not meant to be flippant, just a pause for thought:

      When industry externalises the cost of its private energy plan, you won’t be able to afford fancy beer.

    91. A grid is like a trucking company or UPS; it transports the product to your house. That doesn’t mean that everyone uses the same product.

      That is a poor metaphor. It implies that your envisioned electrical grid will carry 220 VAC along with 48 VDC, some AC at 50 Hz, some at 60 Hz — cafeteria plan for all! Pick whatever flavor of electrical energy you wish, and it will be delivered to your home!!

      Um, no.

      A grid is like the municipal water system, or the gas company’s gas system. It transports “the product” to your house. That means that everyone uses the same form of the product, such as 110 VAC at 60 Hz. It does not mean that everyone shares the same electrons, I’ll spot you that much.

      Enjoy the rest of your single-malt… Though it seems you’ve had enough of it today already. (That was meant to be flippant.)

    92. You’ll get too much political pushback on that idea, I’m afraid. Just the word “uranium” will set voters twittering (literally).

      True. Nonetheless, the DOE has recently invited Terrestrial Energy to continue to the second round of procuring up to a 1.2 billion loan guarantee for Terrestrial Energy’s Integral Molten Salt Reactor. So I have hope. And, as I mentioned before, Thorcon is skipping the U.S. altogether to get started. I hope to see Thorcon’s reactors going in other countries not too long from now.

      I’m actually very heartened that prospects for nuclear power in the U.S. appear to be picking up. There are the loan guarantees to NuScale for small modular reactors that the Obama Administration has made, and there is the recent Obama Administration task force on advanced nuclear power, whose report looks very promising:

      http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2016/09/f33/SEAB%20Nuclear%20Power%20Task%20Force%20Draft%20Report%20(final).pdf

      And then there is Hillary Clinton’s statement to Scientific American recently:

      Meeting the climate challenge is too important to limit the tools available in this fight. Nuclear power—which accounts for more than 60 percent of our zero carbon power generation today—is one of those tools. I will work to ensure that the climate benefits of our existing nuclear power plants that are safe to operate are appropriately valued and increase investment in the research, development and deployment of advanced nuclear power.

      Trump has also said positive things about nuclear power, but what he would actually do in office is impossible to predict.

    93. Hmm. The “.pdf” extension to the task force report got stripped from my comment. Just add it to the link to see the report.

    94. Trump has also said positive things about nuclear power, but what he would actually do in office is impossible to predict.

      Why, Trump would have a meltdown, of course…

    95. Brainstorms,

      I don’t drink hard liquor, and (unlike some we’ve seen commenting in the past) I don’t CUI. I attribute your confusion, by the way, to just being inattentive and writing too fast.

      You made an extremely important point at 105, although you mangled the language– you meant to say “when industry internalizes the cost of 24/7/365 electricity” the cost of their end product will go up. Absolutely correct; that high-quality (single malt) electricity is currently an externality, paid for by everyone else. (Who could get by with beer, and even brew some in their basement.)

      We are all aware of the concept when we talk about CO2 or SO2, but ignore the fact that other costs are shifted or socialized as well while profits are privatized. That leads to wasted resources; the aluminum company or the server farm doesn’t have to be as efficient to compete.

      You missed or didn’t understand or ignored my earlier comments. The idea is to optimize the system.

      -Nuclear plants are the optimal source, if hydro is unavailable, for aluminum smelters and server farms.
      -Wind and solar, with minimized backup mechanism, are optimal for well-designed houses, as well as many other applications.
      -It may be, if Sweden has it right, that an optimal source for cities is burning trash in a co-gen system, and creating biofuel for buses from the organic waste.
      -And so on, depending on regional geography as well of course.
      -Then, in each case, the properly internalized costs will drive advances in end-use efficiencies.

      But anyway, none of this works if you don’t have a strong disincentive for creating CO2. Repeating all the specious talking points for any one technology v the other is just avoiding the tough nut. And delaying action, which we can’t afford.

    96. Curtis Goodnight,

      Well thought out and well articulated. Perhaps you could take some comfort in the history of our species– we have decimated our environments in multiple cases, and then established cultures that were to some degree sustainable. Australia and the Americas come to mind as obvious examples. And certainly, it was through developing new technology that those cultures could be successful after the abundant fauna had vanished. Maybe we will work it out sooner this time?

    97. #105 was me, zebra. Started early today, did we? 🙂

      My meaning was that industry externalises the cost of its private power network by increasing the price of its products. So that we pay for the private power networks of industry anyway. Apart from being nonsensical and self-defeating, your proposal also begs the question of whether it would render many enterprises unprofitable.

    98. BBD 113,

      Didn’t start out early enough on the coffee, in fact.

      But you just agreed with me, much as you don’t want to acknowledge it. And calling it nonsensical and self-defeating is not an argument.

      What do you disagree with about what I said? Something concrete, not insults.

    99. -Wind and solar, with minimized backup mechanism, are optimal for well-designed houses, as well as many other applications.

      Only with wide area grid interconnection and very large scale storage. All very expensive, very big and necessitating state-led infrastructural projects all the way.

      As usual, underneath much of the wishful thinking surrounding W&S is that old rugged self-sufficiency microgrid fantasy. It doesn’t scale.

    100. But you just agreed with me, much as you don’t want to acknowledge it.

      No, I didn’t. Don’t do that, zebra, it’s naughty.

    101. What do you disagree with about what I said? Something concrete, not insults.

      What you propose just rearranges the deck chairs and might even cost *more* than building a better grid with more storage which will be required anyway. It’s pointless. And stop pretending that I am insulting you. It’s insulting.

    102. BBD,

      You are just going back to stuff answered earlier.

      We’ve covered the “5 days with no sun or wind”. Your only reply was the Nirvana Fallacy.

      Why do you object to server farms bearing the cost of an uninterruptible electricity supply, and passing that on to the people who can’t live without “the cloud” and other such amenities?

    103. We’ve covered the “5 days with no sun or wind”.|

      No you didn’t. You didn’t answer that question at all. This is a bit of a thing with you, isn’t it? False claims.

      Why do you object to server farms bearing the cost […]

      I don’t. I pointed out that since the cost will be passed back to the rest of us, it makes no difference. Since you keep on with this nonsense, I’m also curious about how the actual engineering is going to work. Does industry build a nuclear plant and then relocate en mass to surround it, cost and waste and planning consents be damned? Or does industry pay for a second, private grid of HVDC connectors spanning the nation? Can’t you see how silly this all is?

    104. BBD,

      You are not making sense on either point.

      1. There’s no such thing as industry passing the cost on to “the rest of us”. The people who use the product pay for the product. How can you not understand that?

      2. The engineering is trivial. Industries that need that kind of electricity supply already have it, in the form of burning coal if they don’t have access to hydro. So you replace that capacity with nuclear. Again, how can you not understand that?

      The only difference is that you don’t force consumers of residential and commercial electricity to subsidize the industrial user. Either it is privately owned by the users, or contracted for by the users.

      None of these concepts are new or difficult to implement; we already do some form of all of them. It’s just that we do it in a distorted system as a result of FF availability.

    105. 1. There’s no such thing as industry passing the cost on to “the rest of us”. The people who use the product pay for the product. How can you not understand that?

      Because it’s nonsense. If all or most industry is paying for a private energy network then all or most industrial production will increase in price. This will make *everything* more expensive for *everyone*. The effect will diffuse into the economy as a whole – service industries will pass on elevated IT hardware costs to their customers; construction industry will stick it to home buyers and businesses alike, etc etc.

      2. The engineering is trivial.

      No it isn’t. You have completely dodged the question I asked you at #119.

      This is getting tedious.

    106. BBD,

      I think your understanding of how electricity works is on a par with RickA’s grasp of climate physics. I answered your #2 question very clearly; if you need something explained please let us know what it is.

      If you understand #2, then you would see how bizarre your statement in #1 is. Nothing I said implies that “all or most” industrial production requires expensive 24/7/365 electricity. Lots of manufacturing is just done on one or two shifts at the most, and does not represent a special demand level.

    107. Lots of manufacturing is just done on one or two shifts at the most, and does not represent a special demand level.

      But it *does* require guaranteed dispatchability during the ~12 hour working day. The infrastructure necessary to provide that is wide-area grid interconnection and large-scale grid storage. Given the mess you make of arguments about energy I really don’t think you are in a position to pretend that I don’t know what I am talking about.

      I answered your #2 question very clearly; if you need something explained please let us know what it is.

      No, you didn’t. You were wittering about petrol and thermal plants but these things are to be phased out. That is what decarbonisation means.

      So I ask you again: in NH midlatitude winter, during several days of widespread wind lull caused by anticyclonic conditions and when SPV output is marginal, where does the energy come from?

      And hint – the answer is not ‘from somewhere else’ unless that somewhere else has a large-scale dispatchable surplus – something that can only be guaranteed if every interconnected region has substantial grid-connected storage.

    108. As evidence that BBD is mostly just trolling here:

      http://www.bbc.com/news/business-36683543

      BBD claims to be a Brit. If that’s the case, BBD has been able to select sources for his energy just as I have described– it certainly sounds more advanced than what I have here in the USA. BBD does not have multiple wires or gas mains running to his residence, which he suggests would be necessary to implement the system that I have proposed. The reality is– it’s an app.

      There may well be problems as described in this article, but the problems have nothing to do with physical engineering, just the usual sleazy-type business practices with which we are all too familiar.

      So BBD, until you can make a cogent argument on a concrete physical basis as to why we can’t have different sources matched to the most appropriate end-use, I’m not going to waste my time.

      If the sun stops shining and the wind stops blowing, a thermal plant can supply the energy. It may come at a premium price, for that short interval, but again…what’s the problem? The goal is to minimize CO2 production; nobody thinks it can be completely eliminated in the short to medium terms. To suggest that as the goal and invoke the NIrvana Fallacy is a waste of everyone’s time.

    109. You’ve moved from an argument that we don’t need storage and that baseload is a myth to one which requires natural gas as a hedge against renewables variability.

    110. BBD,

      I didn’t “move” anywhere. I’ve been saying exactly the same thing all along. Other than the Nirvana Fallacy, you have no argument.

    111. So BBD, until you can make a cogent argument on a concrete physical basis as to why we can’t have different sources matched to the most appropriate end-use, I’m not going to waste my time.

      As far as I can tell now, your grand proposal is to build a grid capable of fully supporting industrial baseload but with a differentiated tariff structure that charges industry substantially more for its electricity. But this cost will then be passed back to the consumer, in full, since we all live in a manufactured world these days (in developed economies). The elevated cost of industrial output would diffuse throughout the entire economy. The idea that only some people would be affected by the elevated cost of manufactured output is risible. So, where is there *any* advantage in what you argue?

      It seems to me that all this is a smokescreen to cover the fact that you were wrong about baseload and about the need for large-scale storage but won’t directly admit it.

    112. BBD,

      Nope. I said nothing like that.

      Why don’t you tell us about your Brit system and what the source is for your electricity? It sounds like it contains elements of what I am suggesting. Or are you living in mom’s basement and don’t buy the energy yourself?

    113. “If the sun stops shining and the wind stops blowing, a thermal plant can supply the energy.”

      And what happens when the thermal plant is broken. Or it shuts down. Or runs out of fuel?

      If unreliable means we can’t use a system, then we can’t be using any power at all.

      What happens when the weather is so warm there’s no cooling water?

      What happens when there’s a storm surge and Hinkley has to be shut down to stop it being flooded (Why this is a good idea: see Fukushima). What happens when warmer seas mean that jellyfish swarm and block the water intake?

      BBD thinks we must keep at 60% of power from coal/gas/oil, because he thinks that renewables are unreliable. But his only case for that is an appeal to authority from which he WILL NOT be budged.

    114. “-Nuclear plants are the optimal source, if hydro is unavailable, for aluminum smelters and server farms.”

      Their use, however, is a tiny part, and mostly sorted currently.

      And to be clear, we’ve spent too much time pissing about listening to deniers and obfuscators (especially paid for politicians spouting delay tactics) to wait until we can roll out safe nuclear in places that will remain safe for the required lifetime of the plants.

      Hinkley is ALREADY at risk of flooding, and they’re building another one there, ignoring climate change causing flooding and bigger storm surges over the next 50 years.

    115. BBD thinks we must keep at 60% of power from coal/gas/oil,

      No, I don’t. That is a lie as I told you the last time you made this grossly false claim.

      So you knew and said it anyway, which makes you no better than RickA.

    116. And to be clear, we’ve spent too much time pissing about listening to deniers and obfuscators (especially paid for politicians spouting delay tactics) to wait until we can roll out safe nuclear in places that will remain safe for the required lifetime of the plants.

      Hinkley is ALREADY at risk of flooding, and they’re building another one there, ignoring climate change causing flooding and bigger storm surges over the next 50 years.

      Those plants are designed for 1-in-10,000-year flood events. and new plants must take into account climate change impacts on ocean levels. I think thou doth protest too much.

    117. “Those plants are designed for 1-in-10,000-year flood events”

      Ah, but do you know HOW they’re designed for that? THEY ARE SHUT DOWN AND SHOULD NOT LEAK. Not that they continue operating. That a 1-in-10,000 year event would cause the failure of the containment.

      Not to mention we’re getting one-in-a-thousand-year events happening three times in a decade ALREADY.

      And, yes, Hinkley has had to be shut down and sealed several times due to floods to date.

      I think you know too little, and do not care otherwise.

    118. “” BBD thinks we must keep at 60% of power from coal/gas/oil, ”

      No, I don’t. ”

      Yes you do. When asked over at Eli’s for your assessment of the power structure we’d have to have, you gave that one.

      Admittedly you were merely parroting an industry body, but you agreed with them as that being the only acceptable situation, and no industrial body saying we could do 100% renewables was acceptable, so there MUST have been something very compelling in the argument for 60% fossil fuels.

      Please stop whining about lying to hide your own. It’s sad.

    119. And, yes, Hinkley has had to be shut down and sealed several times due to floods to date.

      I think you know too little, and do not care otherwise.

      I’m not sure how you know what I do and don’t care about. Are you psychic?

      But I would like to learn about Hinkley being shut down and sealed several times due to flooding. Can you point me at some info on that? (I did some searching but didn’t turn anything up as yet.)

      I’d also be curious to know how you learned that “they” are “ignoring climate change causing flooding and bigger storm surges over the next 50 years.” What evidence do you have that these issues are being ignored?

    120. Wow

      Yes you do. When asked over at Eli’s for your assessment of the power structure we’d have to have, you gave that one.

      You are the most appalling liar. Go on, quote me and link to the comment. I’m waiting.

      * * *

      GTL

      If Wow is unable to substantiate his lies, is there any chance of a spot of moderation? Since he mentions Eli’s place, I will point out that Eli had to ban him eventually for the same nonsense (he was sockpuppeting over there as ‘blogger profile’).

      I’ve had enough of his lies for one life.

    121. We can bring global warming under control by curtailing the release of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping “greenhouse” gasses into the atmosphere. We can contribute to this global cause with personal actions. We can help immediately by becoming more energy efficient. Reducing our use of oil, gasoline and coal also set an example for others to follow.

      1. Jane, unfortunately, personal actions to reduce one’s own greenhouse-gas emissions won’t really help. Over 3 billion people live in energy poverty and you can bet they don’t plan to stay in energy poverty. The generally accepted predictions are that energy use is going to double within a few decades.

        That means we need an energy miracle if we are to ameliorate global warming. We have such a miracle if we are willing to use it–the energy stored in atoms. Gen IV reactors and small modular reactors that can be factory built might be that miracle if we can conquer radiophobia.

    122. “You are the most appalling liar. Go on, quote me and link to the comment. I’m waiting. ”

      And three times you’ve demanded links from me and when supplied, ignored them entirely.

      Tell me, why should I expect this to be any different?

      I’m waiting….

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.