To save the planet, this is what we have to do everywhere, all the time.

A huge amount of energy is spent going to the store. The grocery store, the hardware store, all the stores. The amount of energy spent to get an object to the store for you to buy is big, but this process is on average highly efficient. A train can hold a lot of objects, and pushing a train down the tracks is highly efficient. Also, we will hopefully eventually be running trains entirely on a combination of electricity delivered to the train indirectly, batteries, and bio-fueled generators on board. Delivering object for you to buy at the store is already efficient, but it will become more efficient with a relatively small number of (big) step.

But then everybody leaves their home and drives various distances to various stores. When I was a kid, there were two grocery stores in our neighborhood. One had no parking lot, the other had room for about five or six cars, but nobody drove to either one. We used those two wheel carts you drag along to the store (or laundromat). When you get to the grocery store, you fold the cart up and hook it to a push car, then, when you pack up your groceries, they go in that two wheeler and you drag it home. Everybody did that all the time. It was strange to drive your car to the grocery store.

I remember when my parents started to drive to get groceries. Instead of going to the store on foot (or more likely, sending one of the offspring to the store with a list), they would drive out to the edge of town to a large warehouse discount store that had sprung up, like a Cosco. Oddly, large suburban style grocery stores emerged, in my world, after these edge-of-town discount store. My parents would drive the station wagon out there, spend all day, come back and and fill the freezer and cupboards. Maybe once every six weeks. In between times, for milk and other perishables that you can’t freeze, it would be walking to the A&P. So that was all pretty efficient.

But today, tens of millions of Americans get in a car and drive a few miles to pick up some object or bunch of objects at the stores. The energy spent to do that is large. The total amount of energy we spend going to the store to get objects is probably less than the total amount of energy spent to get objects from producers (via warehouses) to stores, but not by as much as you might think.

One way to solve this is to not go to the store in a car and by an object. Order it on line. The delivery will be more efficient. Or, in some cases, go to the store on foot, bike, or public transit, get your your stuff in a big pile, and then have the store deliver it to your house. And, have all the delivery done by electric vehicles charged with energy produced without fossil carbon.

I envision a future in which we abandon mail boxes and replace them with small rooms with an indoor and outdoor access, some insulation and modest climate control, a place to put frozen stuff, refrigerator stuff, other stuff. That’s where the grocery store delivery service drops your stuff.

Or, if you are in need of new flat packed furniture, Ikea:

In a couple of years, if you buy a Malm bed at Ikea in Brooklyn and opt for delivery, Ikea will probably drop it off in an electric truck. The company is transitioning to zero-emissions delivery in New York, Los Angeles, Amsterdam, Paris, and Shanghai by 2020. By 2025, Ikea aims to do the same for every store worldwide.

“Climate change is no longer just a threat, but it’s a reality,” says Jesper Brodin, CEO of Ikea Group. “We see how that impacts our business, our customers, and our coworkers more or less everyday . . . We want to be a leader, and take action, and speed up our plans.”

The company had announced earlier this year that it would shift to zero-emissions delivery by 2025, but now plans to work more quickly in key cities.

But where do you get one of those nice delivery receiving futuristic mail boxes with the climate control?

Here you go:

Spread the love

30 thoughts on “To save the planet, this is what we have to do everywhere, all the time.

  1. I would love to see a study on this question.

    I push back a little on the idea that buying something from amazon and having it shipped directly to your home is more efficient than buying it at a local store.

    If I stop at the store on the way to or from work and buy my item, which was shipped to the store in bulk – versus a UPS truck driving to my house to give me an individually wrapped item – is that really more efficient?

    I am skeptical.

    My guess is the UPS truck is a wash with the trip to the store and the individual packaging is less efficient than the bulk packaging for the store.

    There is also the fact that you might buy 50 items at the store, versus 50 packages delivered over a week.

    Hopefully there will be some studies which address this question, so I don’t have to rely on my own personal anecdotal experience.

    Until then, I tend to buy stuff mail order when it is cheaper than getting it locally, but buy groceries and household stuff (paper products, mulch, lumber, etc.) for the home locally.

    1. I don’t think that the bar is appropriately set at stopping at the store that is between work and home.

      On the other hand, when you stop at the store, remember, the item has been shipped to a store. When you order the item, it is likely shipped from some warehouse.

      Anyway, the issue at hand here is not stopping at the store vs. shopping at amazon. The issue is walking to the store or taking the T, and having your stuff delivered.

      I do not recommend getting your mulch delivered. They’ll package it with your other stuff then all your stuff will smell like mulch.

  2. Energy use is not the problem – it is the opportunity.

    Global warming is caused not by energy use, but by the burning of fossil fuels. If we move forward, and electrify everything that we now use the burning of fossil fuels to accomplish, we will have a new paradigm. The concept of being profligate with our energy use will be an anachronism of the fossil fuel age.

    Instead, we will find ourselves bathed in a million times more free energy that we could possibly use. And that is our opportunity – to increase the quality of life of everyone on the planet through the lavish use of clean energy which will not contribute to AGW.

    1. Deep decarbonisation will be extremely difficult and characterised throughout much or all of its process by tight supply vs demand. The essential ‘electrify everything’ policy necessary to grab the low hanging fruit of decarbonising the electricity supply is one example why demand will rise as capacity tightens during the transition.

      And then there’s the really hard mile – decarbonising the rest of TPE.

  3. As for the shopping, I am in the happy position of being pretty smug. I do most of it, by hand, on foot. Four journeys a week into town (about a mile either way, no more) with a maxiumum carrying weight of ~10kg divided equally between two heavy-duty reusable bags.

    1. Deep decarbonization will be a piece of cake – why would you think it would be difficult?

      Multiple studies have shown that we could achieve 70% RE even without storage. And now various storage strategies are enjoying the same cost reductions as wind towers and solar panels.

      It will take a lot of money, but it won’t be expensive. Because we already spend $1.5 trillion per year in the U.S. alone for fossil fuels. Because of the dramatically increased efficiency and longevity of RE, we will ultimately be spending a small fraction of our current per capita costs for energy.

    2. Deep decarbonization will be a piece of cake – why would you think it would be difficult?

      Okay, you know nothing whatsoever so there’s little point in any further discussion.

    3. You would replace the 1.5 trillion on fossil fuels with spending a lot of money to build the infrastructure and maintenance, and then people will again be paying money for energy on annual basis.
      If the renewable energy becomes cheaper on its own, then people will flock to it, and as you say it will be easy.
      If not, then it is not easy.

  4. In the UK you can do your supermarket shop on line and pick a convenient delivery slot. How that works varies, some supermarkets have pickers in store others do it at the depots. Either way the vans used have temperature contolled areas for refigereated and frozen items.

    I dont use the services, I usually shop when I am near a supermarket for some other purpose. We have a local Co-op where we can pick up the day to day necessities, Mr Jazz can pick up things at the station on his way home from work too. Having said that fruit and vegetales are brought at the local green grocer once a week and I do drive to do that, if I was healthier I’d cycle, but I just don’t have the energy to do that these days.

  5. I live in a small town and the Safeway is a block away. A better grocery store is far enough away nether my wife or I can walk there and back carrying groceries but we only drive there once a week and do a week’s worth of grocery shopping. If we want clothing, hardware or most everything else unfortunately it means driving down the highway (about 5 miles) to our one and only almost deserted mall , and nearby Home Hardware, Canadian Tire and Walmart. Bad decisions by City Council’s back in the 70’s doomed the city center – now we are trying to revive it but it will be a slog.

  6. “Deep decarbonization will be a piece of cake – why would you think it would be difficult?

    Okay, you know nothing whatsoever so there’s little point in any further discussion.”

    I see – you have no argument, then. Good to know.

    1. I see – you have no argument, then. Good to know.

      No, I know what I am talking about and so treat nonsense as nonsense. Deep decarbonisation will be extremely challenging. Just ask anyone who understands the topic and they will confirm this.

      I am completely fucking fed up with idiots making sweeping and incorrect statements about the energy transition problem. They are on the same page, intellectually speaking, as those peddling nonsense about low climate sensitivity.

  7. “Deep decarbonization will be a piece of cake – why would you think it would be difficult?

    Okay, you know nothing whatsoever so there’s little point in any further discussion.”

    The NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) implies it is you, BBD, that doesn’t know what you are talking about.

    “The central conclusion of the analysis is that renewable electricity
    generation from technologies that are commercially available today, in combination with a more
    flexible electric system, is more than adequate to supply 80% of total U.S. electricity generation
    in 2050 while meeting electricity demand on an hourly basis in every region of the United States. “

    -see : https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy12osti/52409-1.pdf

    “…we can build a global energy system by 2050 which sources 95% of its energy from sustainable sources …”

    see: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211467X12000314

    1. NREL:

      While the analysis was based on detailed geospatially rich modeling down to the hourly timescale, the study is subject to many limitations both with respect to modeling capabilities and the many assumptions required about inherently uncertain variables, including future technological advances, institutional choices, and market conditions. Nonetheless, the analysis
      shows that realizing this significant transformation of the electricity sector would require:

      […]

      – Establishment of mechanisms to ensure adequate contribution to planning and operating reserves from conventional generators, dispatchable renewable generators, storage, and demand-side technologies

      Jacobsen’s efforts, though as assumption-prone as NREL’s, at least explicitly acknowledge the scale of storage required for >80% renewables penetration in the US.

      Try a literature review. Jenkins & Thernstrom (2017) is a good place to start (emphasis mine):

      Becker et al. (2014) determine the optimal mix of wind and solar capacity to supply 100% of U.S. electricity while minimizing energy storage requirements. The authors conclude that the minimal storage capacity necessary to ensure demand is reliably met would be sufficient to store 15-30% of U.S. annual electricity demand, or roughly 8-16 weeks of storage.

      The “100% wind, water, solar” scenario for the U.S. described in Jacobson, Delucchi, Bazouin, et al. (2015) and Jacobson, Delucchi, Cameron, et al. (2015) also envisions total energy storage with a power capacity that is two and a half times the current U.S. installed generating capacity, with a collective capability to store more than seven weeks worth of total U.S. electricity consumption. This is in addition to substantial power-to-hydrogen production and the capacity to store enough hydrogen to meet another 5-6 weeks’ of current U.S. electricity demand.

      Keyword in the last sentence is ‘current’ demand. But of course the necessary ‘electrify everything’ approach guarantees substantial increase in demand going forward. The NREL stuff points out that if demand increases then all bets are off. One of many assumptions built into the modelling for that project.

      Like I said, deep decarbonisation will be extremely challenging. Nor is there any realistic decarbonisation pathway that reads like ‘lets keep adding W&S but no storage until we get to >70% then we build nation-powering mountains of the stuff in a decade to get us to 100%’. That is, as I said, bollocks. Storage must and will scale with variable renewable capacity.

      Stop parroting the boosterism and think critically. That is what will be required to make this happen.

    1. Mark Z. Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi say it is you, BBD, who doesn’t know what you are talking about:

      No. See my previous comment. You clearly haven’t read Jacobson. And you’ve just fucked yourself terminally. I knew this would be a waste of time.

    2. Sheesh. You’re original claim was
      “Multiple studies have shown that we could achieve 70% RE even without storage. ”
      That second evidence you posted says storage in the link itself.
      Perhaps you should try reading thru Jacobson’s before claiming it has no storage.

      Or are you now dropping that point and arguing something else?

  8. “And you’ve just fucked yourself terminally. I knew this would be a waste of time.”

    And you are pulling out excerpts that do nothing to contradict the various studies central claims nor to contradict my assertion of 70% Re without need of storage. Good grief, you are trying to argue that J&D are scaling for 2018 demand in 2050? Absurd.

    Right now there are 100 cities getting 70% of their electricity from RE without storage. German and Dutch grid operators doing the same. Studies have been done which say this could be done on a large scale.

    But we don’t need to go without, since the cost of storage is falling about the same slope as the cost per watt of wind and solar. Every day that goes by, deep decarbonization becomes an easier and even cheaper proposition.

    You are way too light on argument, and way too heavy on pompous insult. As ever. You are out of step with consensus. And such a thoroughly unpleasant character I daresay this blog must be one of your last allowable sanctuaries for posting.

    1. And you are pulling out excerpts that do nothing to contradict the various studies central claims nor to contradict my assertion of 70% Re without need of storage.

      Nope. NREL is explicit about the need for storage. I quoted. Please, read.

      All of what I said.

      You are out of step with consensus.

      Nope.

      See previous comments and links.

  9. “Sheesh. You’re original claim was
    “Multiple studies have shown that we could achieve 70% RE even without storage. ”
    That second evidence you posted says storage in the link itself.
    Perhaps you should try reading thru Jacobson’s before claiming it has no storage.

    Or are you now dropping that point and arguing something else?”

    Read it again. The second reference is not talking about supplying only 70% of our energy needs, it is talking about supplying more. There is nothing self-contradictory here.

    As for your previous point about costs. That $1.5 trillion for FF’s is * per year*. Year in and year out. The question then, is how much would a brand new shiny 100% Re system cost the U.S.?

    And the answer, incredibly (Twenty years of debate and you would think this would be the first question people asked, right?) , is we do not know for sure. Jacobsen and Delucci published a paper saying to 100% electrify California would cost $1.0 trillion dollars. California uses 1/6th of all American energy.

    It will likely cost more than $6 trillion to 100% electrify the U.S., because California gets a LOT of sun. Let’s be conservative – let’s say it will take $10.0 trillion. That’s 6.66 years of current fossil fuel expenditures. That will buy a system where most of the components will last many decades. Wind turbines appear to have a 60 year lifespan. PV panels appear to have degradation rates that lead to 100+ years of useful life. They could be optimized for much longer lifespans.

    At least one recent study showed that we would be saving $25 trillion by 2050 alone if we went 100% RE. And that, IIRC, doesn’t even consider medical savings, or the reduced costs of mitigation and adaptation.

    One study of adaptation costs put the world-wide bill, merely until year 2100 at $1240.0 trillion. That is 1.24 Quadrillion bucks.

    So, yeah, going RE is going to save us a ****ton of money.

  10. “Nope. NREL is explicit about the need for storage. I quoted. Please, read.

    All of what I said.”

    They are talking about 80% of energy, not 70%.

    And just what did you say?

    You said it was going to be extremely difficult. That to claim otherwise was “knowing nothing”.

    The NREL study *you* just quoted says 80% by 2050 is achievable 24/7 with existing technology. 80% by 2050 not “deep decarbonization” to you?

    Jacobson and Delucci have published numerous peer-reviewed studies showing that we can do better than 80%, we can do 100% on a slightly longer time-frame. 100% not deep enough decarbonization for you?

    Everybody is wrong except BBD, is that it?

    1. Jacobson’s 2015 paper relies on increasing the maximum output of hydroelectric facilities by a factor of 16, without installing any new plants, and without increasing the nameplate capacity.

      When this was pointed out by Clack and Caldeira, Jacobson sued them and the journal PNAS, claiming they ignored his explanations(authors thought he was lying after the fact) since withdrawn. You are then left with Jacobson’s followup that uses more solar storage. I’m not sure if anyone has taken a deep look at that one yet, but I suspect it has similar problems.

    2. Jacobson and Delucci have published numerous peer-reviewed studies showing that we can do better than 80%, we can do 100% on a slightly longer time-frame. 100% not deep enough decarbonization for you?

      Everybody is wrong except BBD, is that it?

      You’ve already tripped over yourself horribly on this. Why on earth are you doubling down? Try reading the sources you cite instead of shouting and flapping your arms.

      I pointed you to Jenkins and Thernstrom as it is a literature review – in other words it brings together multiple published sources all of which contradict your nonsense claim. Do you not understand that you cannot build to 70% or 80% renewables without scaling storage as you go? Try reading the literature. So this rubbish you keep repeating about “we can do better than 80%, we can do 100% on a slightly longer time-frame” is totally beside the point. Which was that your claim of 70% renewables without storage is bollocks. Something you have yet to admit and walk back.

      FFS, do some reading, starting with the sources you yourself are throwing around. From J&S17 (op cit):

      The “100% wind, water, solar” scenario for the U.S. described in Jacobson, Delucchi, Bazouin, et al. (2015) and Jacobson, Delucchi, Cameron, et al. (2015) also envisions total energy storage with a power capacity that is two and a half times the current U.S. installed generating capacity, with a collective capability to store more than seven weeks worth of total U.S. electricity consumption. This is in addition to substantial power-to-hydrogen production and the capacity to store enough hydrogen to meet another 5-6 weeks’ of current U.S. electricity demand.

      That storage capacity is cumulative. It is not all added at once when renewables exceed 70% of the energy mix.

      What is it with people on the internet? Spout bollocks, won’t read, won’t accept it when their bollocks is shown to be bollocks, won’t STFU and learn…

    3. You said it was going to be extremely difficult. That to claim otherwise was “knowing nothing”.

      It will be extremely difficult, and to peddle the idea that it will be a piece of cake isn’t just ignorant, it’s dangerous.

    1. Yes.

      Solar only works year-round in the tropics and subtropics. In the temperate midlatitudes, you get a big drop off in winter so either you overbuild solar capacity to compensate and curtail hard during peak summer insolation (shitty economics, won’t fly) or you build out wind and rely on that when seasonal solar output is low.

      But if you do that, wind and solar eat each other’s lunch in the summer, which is more bad economics and puts a hard upper limit on the level of investment likely available for wind capacity.

      Let’s say somehow you get it built though. If you rely on wind in the winter then it must be backed up against multi-day, regional / national scale lulls – which do occur, irrespective of what some maintain. LiION batteries are okay for smoothing transient variability – up to a few hours – but emphatically not for the thousands of GWh necessary to substantially take over from a regional / national scale wind fleet for days. The only way of doing that is very large scale PHES, which will be extremely expensive and take decades to build (hence the pushback against the ‘70% with no storage’ crap).

      But constantly people witter about ‘cheap storage’ – heedlessly glossing over the fact they’ve confused very short term battery storage with the multi-day backup necessary to powering a developed economy with a very large W&S component in its energy mix.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.