Week in review: policy and politics edition

by Judith Curry

A few things that caught my eye this past week.

Policy analysis

The solution to climate change lies in unleashing the ingenuity of the market – not in top-down subsidies [link]  …

Jonathan Franzen in the New Yorker: Has climate change made it harder for people who care about conservation? [link]  …

Kloor discussed controversy surrounding Franzen’s article:”legitimate to question..“collective fixation on global warming as the mother of all environmental problems.””  … [link]

How does climate stack up against other worst-case scenarios?  … [link]

Breakthrough:  US-China climate deal underscored the need for substantial energy innovation [link]

“Do biofuel policies seek to cut emissions by cutting food?”  … [link]

Has Renewable Energy Finally Ended “the Great Clean Energy Stagnation”?  …  [link]

ICYM: Panel creates scientific baseline for debate about climate reparations. @NatureNews  [link]

ICYM: Have governments been shooting at the wrong target with CCS?  [link]

The way we give disaster aid to poor countries makes no sense.   [link]

Adventures in population growth   [link]

Many great suggestions for improving the #IPCC in @NatureClimate. But governments “have little appetite for change”: [link]

David Victor: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is becoming irrelevant to climate policy. By seeking consensus and avoiding controversy, the organization is suffering from the streetlight effect — focusing ever more attention on a well-lit pool of the brightest climate science. But the insights that matter are out in the darkness, far from the places that the natural sciences alone can illuminate.  [link]

Manipulation, and what’s wrong with it.[link]  …

US Politics

ABC News/Wash Post Poll: Climate change scores as a major issue for 2016 voters.   [link]

The tip of the climate spending iceberg  [link]

Voters want next president to favor climate policies, poll finds [link]

“More Americans Trust Fox News Than Obama On Climate Change, Poll Finds”  … [link]

Guardian surveys nearly 50 “green” companies; finds just three of them support Obama’s Clean Power Plan [link]

“Unhide the EPA Global Warming Tax” … [link]

Forbes: Obama Makes Global Climate Pledge, But GOP Has Other Ideas   [link]

New Republic: Republicans Are Attacking Climate Change Science by Comparing It to Religion   [link]

Companies hire #climate specialists to save billions http://buff.ly/1NkMvCJ %5Blink]

Energy

How Costa Rica went 75 Days using only clean electricity – @TIME   [link]

Turns out the world’s first “clean coal” plant is a backdoor subsidy to oil producers  …  [link]

Coal states in Germany: emission cap faces legal challenge and utility resistance [link]

China’s water-energy-food roadmap: A new global #chokepoint report  [link]

When water is political, how can a country like India overcome growing water-food-energy choke points?  [link]

India is not a resource-scarce nation, yet supply cannot keep up with prodigious demand. Why?  [link]

Beijing Shuts Down Coal Power Plants as Air Pollution Costs Economy  … [link]

Debacle: As Germany Adds 70 Gigawatts Of Green Electricity, Its Fossil Fuel Capacity Reaches New Record High!  [link]

Mexico pledges to take on short-lived climate pollutants [link]

Carbon capture: Can the UK hit climate goals without killing off heavy industry? @CarbonBrief  [link]

California Drought

California drought: what is scarce is wisdom, not water [link]

California’s insistence on trying to address the water crisis without touching agriculture is perverse [link]

Why Is Jerry Brown a Letting Big Ag. and Oil Gluttons Suck Up Most of California’s Water? | Alternet   [link]

How are #California’s farmers battling its long, painful #drought?  … [link]

How Growers Gamed California’s Drought  [link]

Florida

Rising Seas Bring Heavy Burden to Florida Coastal Economy. Can It Adapt? [link]

The political ecology of climate change in #Florida, must-read by Katrina Schwartz    [link]

Forget “bans” on talking about climate. These Florida Republicans are too busy protecting their coasts “If somebody gave you a house here, I bet you’d take it & just deal with the consequences.”  @WaPo  [link]

Big Money, Big Politics, and Big Infrastructure: Florida’s Saga Illustrates Climate Change’s Deep Challenges:  [link]

“The reality is that sea levels have been rising around Florida for thousands of years” [link]

Quote of the week

Chief climate negotiator for France on COPs: “an enormous global circus where people keep saying the same things” – [link]

522 responses to “Week in review: policy and politics edition

  1. Climate clowns to the left, policy jokers to the right, here I am, stuck with this weather with you.
    =============

  2. While Obama was behind Fox, Fox at 17% was behind academic scientists (45%), environmental groups(33%), mainstream media(22%), and Neil deGrasse Tyson(22%), so I don’t think they have much to celebrate.

    • Shoulda compared ‘me all to the Kardashians.

      Is it hot, Saturday, or violet?

      Jeesh JimD, I thought you were a STEM guy.

    • Don Monfort

      That is some very hilarious spin, yimmy. What does the leader of the free world have to celebrate? He’s way behind all of them and he is in charge of solving the alleged problem. Does he have the public’s trust and support on dealing with climate change, yimmy? Do they want him to make the cost of energy skyrocket? You are very entertaining, yimmy.

    • I would not have listed Obama for information on climate change. He gets his information from the scientists, so I would rather go to them directly. The ones who listed him probably don’t want to research the issue for themselves, so it is just who they trust. Same for the ones who listed Fox News.

      • You came to the same conclusion as I did about how the poll was conducted. Yes, they selected from a list. Sorry you didn’t understand what I wrote properly. I should not have assumed you knew anything about the polling method just because you were participating in the discussion on it.

      • Don Monfort

        little yimmy wrote:”I would not have listed Obama for information on climate change. He gets his information from the scientists, so I would rather go to them directly.”

        The obvious implication of your BS is that you are making up an excuse for the POTUS having been selected by only 11% of respondents. Well, like you they went for the scientists.

        The respondents to the poll didn’t list anybody, yimmy. The list was presented to them. They didn’t have to pick between scientists and your hero. If you had been a respondent, you could have chosen the scientists and your hero. Don’t you trust your hero, yimmy?

        I came to the correct conclusion, after I had read the poll. You came to an erroneous conclusion, without having read the poll, and a different conclusion after I rubbed your face in it. Case closed. Better luck next time, yimmy.

      • Don, yes they checked a list means they listed. You are playing with words here. I could have said checked instead of listed, but I didn’t know it would cause you so much confusion. I would not have checked Obama.
        As for Fox, you can convert

        But this is a primer for Judith if she wants to talk to Fox about climate.

      • That John Holdren is Obama’s Science Advisor tells you every thing you need to know on the President’s science chops. Right down there with his foreign policy chops.

      • That Jim D thinks checking off on a list is the same thing as listing tells us all we need to know about Jim D.

      • Don Monfort

        You think that Fox stuff is funny, yimmy? Still, they got 17% and the joker you are counting on to save the world got 11%.

        “Q:Which of the following do you trust as reliable sources of information about global climate
        change? Check all that apply”

        little yimmy”I would not have listed Obama for information on climate change.”

        Since listed is the same as checked, you would not have checked Obama.

        You didn’t have to chose between trusting the scientists and your hero, yimmy. We don’t believe that a dogmatic, hysterical alarmist like yimmy dee would not check his hero as a trusted reliable source of information about climate change. You didn’t know wtf the poll was on about, before you shot off your mouth. Your serial dishonesty has killed your credibility, yimmy. Now do you want to keep this up?

      • I don’t always brag about being traditional, but when I do, I also brag about being cutting edge:

        One of the top-ranked universities in Florida, Saint Leo is a Catholic, liberal arts school serving learners of all faiths.

        http://saintleo.edu/about.aspx

      • Jim D doesn’t always cherry pick, but when he does, he picks only Sour Cherry.

      • Let’s list them all, then:

        Q: Which of the following do you trust as reliable sources of information about global climate change? Check all that apply

        45% Non-government scientists and educators
        33% Environmental groups
        22% Mainstream media such as U.S. newspapers, broadcasters, and online media such as CBS, ABC,
        NBC, CNN, Associated Press, New York Times
        22% Scientist and Cosmos TV series host Neil deGrasse Tyson
        17% Fox News
        13% U.S. government
        11% President Obama
        11% Family, friends, or co-workers

        9% Social media
        6% Radio commentators Sean Hannity and/or Rush Limbaugh
        5% Business or industry groups
        5% Utility companies
        3% Entertainers and celebrities
        14% Don’t know / not sure

        http://polls.saintleo.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/SLU-Q-1-TABLE-Global-Climate-Change-National-Survey-Results_FINAL.pdf

        I’m not sure if this means Rush on Fox News Sunday is between 6 and 17%, but it clearly means that Obama is your friend.

        Interestingly, nobody mentions that environmental groups are more trusted than MSM and Neil the science demigod Himself.

      • All this about checking off lists versus listing off checks is plain idiocy (but to be expected here). If you have read the item, it was very clear what they did, but it seems I needed to spoonfeed it for clarity. Scientists were on the most checkmarked lists, as they should be, but it is a concern that only 44% of the people listed them as someone that they use as a reliable source.

      • Don Monfort

        Keep digging, yimmy.

        If you knew what the methodology of the poll was, why did you say you would not list Obama? Here’s the freaking question, yimmy:

        “Q:Which of the following do you trust as reliable sources of information about global climate change?
        Check all that apply”

        The pollsters provided a list for respondents to choose from. Respondents did not make up the list. Respondents were not asked to select the most trusted, or who they would go to first, they were instructed to “Check all that apply”. You didn’t read the freaking poll question, before you said that “you would not list Obama.” You only looked at the freaking poll question, after I called you on your freaking dishonesty. Everybody can see that.

        Do you still say that you would not list/check Obama as one of the reliable sources of information about global climate change, yimmy? Look again, yimmy. Survey says “Check all that apply”. Do you understand the freaking question, yimmy? Or are you going to play the fool, again? This is really entertaining. Thank you, yimmy.

      • Don M, you are just trying to be silly now. Checking a list doesn’t give you another list? What does it give you?

      • > If you knew what the methodology of the poll was, why did you say you would not list Obama?

        One reason may be because the question was about reliable sources of information about AGW, and that Jim D considers that “Obama” is not a source of information about AGW. That seems to be what Jim D’s saying here:

        I would not have listed Obama for information on climate change. He gets his information from the scientists, so I would rather go to them directly.

        Another reason would be that not checking a box could be interpreted a “is not a source of information about AGW.” Which means that the opposite of “is a reliable source” is underspecified. Which means the whole methodology is a bit moot.

        Another way to reach that conclusion is to look at the other questions, e.g.:

        Q: Pope Francis recently said protecting the environment is the responsibility of all Christians. Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree with this statement?

        http://polls.saintleo.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/SLU-Q-1-TABLE-Global-Climate-Change-National-Survey-Results_FINAL.pdf

        While Fan may applaud this question, this tends to show that the poll was for local consumption.

        ***

        Stay tuned. Auditors around the world will request all the data shortly.

      • Thank you very much, yimmy. I haven’t had this much fun at your expense for about two weeks.

        Am I being silly to ask you a simple and completely relevant question?

        Do you still say that you would not list/check Obama as one of the reliable sources of information about global climate change, yimmy?

        Do you understand the question, yimmy? You don’t have to list/choose only one source that you trust, yimmy. I am willing to pretend that list is the same as check. So why don’t you answer the freaking simple question, yimmy?

        I will help you, yimmy. It’s because if you admit now that you trust both the scientists and your hero Obama, you will be admitting that you did not read the freaking poll questions, before I called you on it. What will you do now, yimmy? Disappear, for a while?

      • Don M, if I want to learn about climate change, I go to the science, not the President. Perhaps you would do different, but that is just the way I approach scientific questions.

      • If I had just said “checked” instead of “listed” in my 2:03pm comment, your whole anger would have been avoided. You have a hair-trigger, Don.

      • That’s a lie, yimmy. You still won’t answer the poll question: Do you trust Obama as a reliable source of information about global climate? That’s a yes, or no question. You either check the box, or you don’t. The question doesn’t limit the inquiry to global warming issues that only scientists know about. It covers trusting Obama to reliably interpret and relay the information given to him by scientists. It covers trusting Obama to reliably convey information on policies related to global warming etc. Why you ducking and dodging, yimmy?

        If she deletes this one, I’ll report her to Springer.

      • Fess it, Jim D. Obama should be your go-to guy on every single thing you ought to know. Because. Otherwise, it would mean something. About you.

        The bottom line is that Obama News is less trusted than the Fox-in-chief. Normal, since Obama did not do much for you so far:

        http://whatthef***hasobamadonesofar.com

        (Replace the ***)

        Don Don manhandled you like a don. The best you can wish for is that Judy pulls you out of your misery and moderates you.

      • Don Monfort

        I know you are there, willy. I am not going to read and reply to your comments. You should be spending your precious time doing something more dignified.

      • Don M, I already answered that I would not check Obama on that specific question any more than I would check him for the answer to any scientific question. I would go to the source. It is trust but verify. It is not good practice to blindly trust a non-expert on a statement. In this case it is moot because I had already read up on AGW before the Obama administration, and I as sure as heck did not trust the previous President on that issue. This also extends to Gore, by the way.

      • Don Monfort

        OK, jimmy. We will take that as you finally admitting that you agree with the vast majority of folks who don’t trust Obama as a reliable source of information about global climate. So the next time you cite Obama, or some crap from huffpo, thinkprogress, the clowns at SkS, the activistas at Greenpeace et al, on some tidbit of climate alarmist propaganda, we will remind you that you claimed that you only trust the scientists as a reliable source of climate information. And we still know that you hadn’t actually read the survey, before you tried to put your spin on it. How would your huffpo have been rated on trust if it had been significant enough to be included in the survey, jmmy? That’s all.

      • You will see that I had read the survey because I added more information on the other choices than the linked article itself. For example the part about mainstream media being ahead of Fox. And, yes, I don’t use Obama’s quotes on science because he is usually just saying what the scientist majority do, and it is too generally well known to even use as a quote. It is like if he said the sky was blue. Do I need to quote him on that?

      • not credible

      • Jim D –
        With respect to the “Brainwashed Fox News Viewer” video, is this an ethical framing of the climate debate?

        “I have argued that the argument put forward by Balog in Chasing Ice is misleading, leading the audience to infer dangerous anthropogenic climate change from this iceberg calving event. If we judge this by the standards of ethical framing of the climate debate, I would say that this movie falls pretty short. Was it good theater? Definitely yes. Will it grab people and make them worry about AGW, will it change the tide of history? I doubt it; the Greenland glaciers are just too remote (I think people had a more visceral reaction to Hurricane Katrina). The good news (for everybody) is that Balog is much more likable than Al Gore in Inconvenient Truth.” https://judithcurry.com/2013/10/22/chasing-ice/

      • I have not seen Chasing Ice, but now I want to since it seems to have had such a profound effect on that person.

      • chasing ice was discussed previously on climate etc
        https://judithcurry.com/2013/10/22/chasing-ice/

      • Jim D –
        Under what circumstances is it appropriate to depict a change happening over a four year period as indicative of a long term trend, given the climate variability in Greenland?
        http://c3headlines.typepad.com/.a/6a010536b58035970c017d41a96489970c-400wi

      • If glaciers that have been there for centuries are lost in just 4 years, I would think it is quite impressive.

      • I would be impressed if the calf hadn’t been gestating for centuries.
        ==========

      • Jim D –

        If glaciers that have been there for centuries are lost in just 4 years, I would think it is quite impressive.

        It may be impressive, but the question is whether it is indicative of a long term trend and likely due to the activities of man, as was implied. Don’t the records show that Greenland was much warmer than today, for natural reasons, in the relatively recent past? See http://www.leif.org/EOS/2011GL049444.pdf page three. In the context of the last 4,000 years, is it appropriate to suggest that a recent four year period, impressive though you may find it, indicates a change of a type not seen before?

      • Don Monfort

        Do you believe that a glacier could be lost in four years, yimmy? Has it really happened? Do you have a freaking clue?

      • Don Monfort

        OMG! They sat around watching a freaking humongous glacier for years and finally caught on film the breaking off of a piece of ice the size of the tip of lower Manhattan. The TIP, folks! Narrator says probably nobody had ever seen the miracle and horror of such an event. He probably never heard of Pompeii, Hiroshima, Dresden, Fukishima etc. I wonder why nobody else ever thought of freezing their a$$es off sitting around in the Arctic for years to film an iceberg calving from a glacier.

      • Jim D –
        I understand that this was the largest calving event ever filmed, but why was it ‘horrible’?

      • Don Monfort

        You are not getting in the spirit of the propaganda, swood. You are supposed to imagine that it is actually the TIP of lower Manhattan that has broken off and fallen into the sea. Oh, the humanity! Why we are supposed to think that is a miracle, I don’t get.

      • You are not getting in the spirit of the propaganda, swood.

        If such a notion weren’t so preposterous I would almost be ready to assume that the creators of this video intended to exploit the ignorance of the general public as to commonplace glacial events as well as the extent to which such events represent an anomaly in the context of the last 4,000 years, simply in order to increase the sense of alarm. Of course, such a purpose could never be attributed to any respectable scientist since it would violate ethical rules concerning responsible advocacy in science, such as

        • Present information accurately, in clear, understandable terms, and
        • Point out weaknesses and limitations.

      • Sure, it is just evidence that things are happening along the lines expected. Perhaps now it will just stop happening and we can go back to normal, or is it more likely to continue and even accelerate, being joined by Antarctica? You can judge from the perspective of what the best science you can find for yourself says, and make your own predictions.

      • Don Monfort

        jibberish

      • Jim D –

        Sure, it is just evidence that things are happening along the lines expected.

        Don’t you think it would be appropriate to wait until the Greenland climate is at least showing signs that something unusual is happening?

        “Therefore, we conclude that the current decadal mean temperature in Greenland has not exceeded the envelope of natural variability over the past 4000 years…” http://www.leif.org/EOS/2011GL049444.pdf

        If somebody says that the sky is going to fall and that this will begin with a windy day, do you think that a windy day provides enough evidence start the alarm?

  3. The biofuels linked paper isn’t very impressive. The reason replacement crops are not planted elsewhere is that there is no elsewhere. Brazilian sugar cane won’t grow in Iowa, and Iowa corn won’t grow in Brazil. Yhe paper also misses that although 42% of the US corn crop goes to ethanol, it nets back 27% distillers grain used as cattle and dairy feed (high protein, high fiber) so the net impact on available food calories is fairly small. US corn is primarily used as animal feed, including what is exported.
    The argument whether corn ethanol is net CO2 positivemor negative has been going on for years, with papers both ways. Only thing new here is to throw food metabolism into that food fight. And by missing distillers grain, they got that part wrong.

    • David L. Hagen

      Ethanol mandates drive up food prices
      Impacts of Ethanol Policy on Corn Prices: A Review and Meta-Analysis of Recent Evidence US EPA

      Normalizing corn price impacts by the increase in corn ethanol volume, we find that each billion gallon expansion in ethanol production yields a 2-3 percent increase in corn prices on average across studies. . . .
      From 2000 to 2012, U.S. ethanol production increased by more than 700 percent, from 1.6 billion gallons to 13.3 billion gallons.

      11.7*2=23.4% increase to 2012.
      11.7*3=35.1% increase to 2012.
      43% of corn into ethanol by 2012.

      Carbon Accounting and Economic Model Uncertainty of Emissions from Biofuels-Induced Land Use Change; Plevin, Richard J; et al.
      20-45% coefficient of variation!

      • David Hagen (and others) — As folks might know, I’m in the ethanol industry (non-corn such as sorghum & cane). To date in reading Rud here at CE, I’ve not seen anything that I disagree with. Most notably, I agree that there should be no mandate above ~10% blending (which the Obama Administration is currently holding to). I believe that blending levels above ~10% (called the Blend Wall) should be market driven (e.g., octane requirements in turbo-charged engines).

        Seeing so much mis-information posted here at CE on ethanol, I decided to write a blog on it. Request: Could you and others “FACT CHECK” my blog (for incorrect statements you believe I’ve made) and then answer a question: Here in the U.S., what do you propose to replace ethanol with for octane automotive requirements? Lead?, MTBE?, Benzene?

        http://greenenergy.blogspot.com/2015/02/is-ethanol-being-forced-down-our-throats.html

      • Give me air!
        ========

      • Kim — Aww Come on, you can do better than that! Please give me at least one thing that I wrote where I need to do better research and re-think my opinion.

      • He’s going to replace corn ethanol with air.

        Lol. We’ll feed that field corn to poor people in the 3rd world. What farmer wouldn’t buy 100s of thousands of dollars worth of equipment and 100s of thousands of dollars worth of cornfield to get a cut of that guy’s $2 a day.

      • Yes, an oxygenator cheaper and easier on the engine and the environment. Let me wander with my unicorn through the rainbow to its end.
        ============

      • Well, no, JCH, hasn’t engineering reached the limits of oxygenation with air? Stephen understood the ironic use. I’ve got a better one than ethanol, somewhere over there over that there curvy prism.
        =============

      • Stephen

        In the EU and UK the legal limit of blending biofuels with petrol rose from 5 to 10 percent around 5 years ago.

        There is some rsistance to the 10 percent blend due to potential non compatibility with some engines. I have personally had trouble in two different cars with the 10 percent blend and seek out the pure petrol or at the most the 5 percent blend.

        Don’t know if there are similar problems in the States.

        Tonyb

      • Also, JCH, what farmer would lay out that sort of capital without a cut of the taxpayers’ and consumers’ wallets via mandates and subsidies?

        Well, some farmer’s would, perhaps not with corn; Stephen understands that the market is viable.
        ================

      • Yep, Tonyb, same ol’ same ol’ reciprocating, hydrocarbon gobbling demons over here. They’re everywhere.
        =============

      • Stephen

        Very surprised at the very low octane ratings you mention of 85

        In the Uk 95 and 97 and 99 are the fuels sold. You cant buy 85

        I have no idea whether 85 is good or bad for your car or the environment

        Tonyb

      • Tb, 87, 89 or 91 octanes are what is commonly available here, in my miserable little anecdotal locale. It is possible to find the higher octanes without ethanol; I’m not sure how much higher, given the penetration of the mandate to the market.
        ===================

      • There’s an oil burning gasoline steam engine in my neighborhood. The rings are worn and one head gasket is blown, so for the first five minutes the exhaust is primarily steam. Once warmed up and the water cooked out of the oil, it burns unscraped oil and the gas/air mix, much remaining as particulate in the exhaust.

        Good for Earth Day, the Fourth of July, and local athletic victories.
        ==================

      • Lol. I knew Joey Barton when he actually had a real job at the company that was ground level in the production of MTBE. Long time ago, but I believe he was a paid consultant.

      • An Eight Little Cannon Salute.
        ===========

      • tonyb kim, there are a couple of ways for figuring octane. The UK uses the method that produces the higher number to go with their kilometers per hour so their think they are getting something special for their 6 bucks a gallon :)

      • David L. Hagen

        Stephen Segrest
        Thanks for your enthusiasm for ethanol and starting to lay out the issues. The biggest issues are what you are missing.

        The greatest weakness of corn ethanol is that it is NOT sustainable from an Energy Return on Energy Invested basis (EROI/EROEI). With an EROI ~ 1, Ethanol has only 33% the energy return of 3 essential to sustain society and less than 10% the EROI of 10 effectively need to be productive. See Charles Hall, Energy and the Wealth of Nations, and especially the Special Issue of Sustainability Journal on EROI.

        Secondly, you are missing Methanol and the most effective fuel. See my thesis: “Methanol: Its Synthesis, Use as a Fuel, Economics and Hazards.” Univ. Minnesota, December 1976, 180 pp., 608 Ref., NTIS Publication No. NP-21727 (NTIS best seller for 3 years).
        See the Methanol Institute. China has already installed sufficient methanol from coal synthesis capacity to supply half its fuel (currently most to chemicals). It is now turning cheap US shale gas to methanol for export. Methanol is a premier auto and racing fuel.
        A 2015 review Techno-economic analysis for the synthesis of liquid and gaseous fuels based on hydrogen production via electrolysis finds Methanol as the leading candidate for renewable fuels.
        The only major “benefit” for Ethanol in the US is that it buys a lot of senate votes!
        So I recommend you compare the benefits of methanol with the inadequacies of ethanol.

      • David Hagen — I’m not a corn guy can agree with you that corn is not the future of ethanol.

        I’ll start reading about methanol (and asking CEs their opinion, including Robert Rapier who we both respect) and will check back with you.

      • Hi David Hagen — As I said, I don’t know diddley about methanol. But doing some basic Google Searches I see the following:

        While Ethanol and Methanol have about the same octane rating, could you comment on the following:

        (1) Methanol is less energetic than other fuels, with a stoichiometric ratio of only 6.4:1, as opposed to 9:1 for ethanol and 14.7:1 for gasoline.

        (2) The Lower and Higher Heating (LHV HHV Btu/gal) for Methanol is listed at 57,250 and 65,200.

        The LHV and HHV for Ethanol is listed at 76,330 and 84,530.

      • My question remains — If we just eliminate ethanol and the RFS, what do we replace it with? Lead? MTBE? Benzene? (methanol appears to be an inferior fuel in heating value to ethanol).

        Also, if the RFS is just eliminated, the EPA is going to have to react with something on fuel blending standards (to meet the Clean Air Act). As I discussed in my blog, this “something” could be even more restrictive than what currently exists (e.g., VOCs, MSAT).

        I hope folks are not mis-reading me. I think the Renewable Fuel Standard could/should be “tweaked”. What I am balking at is the ubiquitous “witch-hunt” of mis-truths on ethanol that is occurring.

      • David L. Hagen

        Stephen Segrest
        Please review methanol on $/mile basis. MeOH has about half the specific energy of gasoline compared to 2/3rds for EtOH. What counts is $/mile. MeOH has higher octane and higher efficiency and is much safer in a crash (less radiant flames) making it the preferred fuel for racing cars. Methanol can be made from natural gas, coal, or from solar energy with higher EROI than corn EtOH.
        Pragmatically China is establishing a major MeOH distribution system and >85% or 100% MeOH cars, NOT EtOH.

        I also recommend you reconsider MTBE as having much greater potential then environmentalist lawsuits suggest.

        While you are in the EtOH business, please recognize the poor EROI and economics of EtOH vs alternatives.

      • David Hagen — David, do you have a www link to methanol prices (time series)? e.g., that we could compare ethanol, benzene, etc. to methanol.

      • David L. Hagen

        Stephen Segrest See Methanex which posts its prices and historic prices. For prices before 1976 see my thesis. I expect Methanex prices are what the market will bear, and probably reflects the price of petroleum. I would welcome your analysis of that hypothesis. https://www.methanex.com/sites/default/files/methanol-price/MxAvgPrice_Mar%2027%202015.pdf

      • David L. Hagen

        See Fuel Freedom Foundation – thesis – break the petroleum monopoly by enabling cars to run on ANY fuel – methanol – ethanol or gasoline – e.g by requiring option of proven FlexFuel Vehicles. That will bring competition and let the market drive the change – methanol can be made cheaper / btu than ethanol etc. See also Turning Oil into Salt.

      • Hi David Hagen — I used your data to compare the price of 100% ethanol (E-100) to 100% methanol (M-100) for 2014 and 2015.

        I hope this chart shows up on Dr. Curry’s Blog:

        The Blue Line is M-100 which is clearly cheaper than ethanol.

        But, as I previously brought up, methanol is less energetic than ethanol (stoichiometric ratio, LHV, HHV). So we need to adjust the prices to be an “Apples to Apples” comparison.

        The pink line adjust the M-100 price for this. The green line is the E-100 price.

        The adjusted prices are comparable, with ethanol having a slight price advantage when averaged over 2014 and 2015. In the context of a 10% blending in gasoline — ethanol versus methanol would be a break-even wash in pump prices.

        Do you see anything I’ve incorrectly done in the chart?

        Question: From the EPA Website on Methanol, I see that they have not preformed a “cancer assessment” as to high uses of methanol (similar to that of benzene that is restricted to less than 1% blending). Do you know of any “cancer assessments” on high use of methanol?

        Thanks!

      • David Hagen — Well the graphic didn’t show up on ethanol versus methanol prices. Let’s try this:

    • David L. Hagen

      Still 800 million go to bed hungry. US ethanol policies make corn/food too expensive for most of them, consuming ~60%-70% of their income. The ethanol mandate kills.

    • David Springer

      Rud the 27% net back of distiller’s grain isn’t the same value as the 27% corn that went into it. Corn could have been directly consumed by humans. Distiller’s grain is recycled through livestock and conversion from feed to meat or dairy is inefficient.

    • Kim — Think of distillers grain as the Dr. Akins Diet for cattle (high protein). Maybe someone on this Blog can answer a question: Does a diet higher in protein and lower in carbs result in better/healthier meat for us humans?

  4. Has public education become the least essential and most anachronistic of government institutions? That seems to be what global warming alarmism has taught us.

    • Most essential, least flexible …

      The current model is well over 100 years old, designed to accommodate an agrarian population without books, libraries, or the internet.

  5. Many of the Arctic’s inhabitants treasure the traditional ways of life and embrace subsistence levels of economic development, but many others want to start businesses, contribute to the global development, and have access to the best the 21st century has to offer while staying in their home regions. (see link to arctic development)

    What is the consensus of opinion as to what constitutes, >a, “subsistence level of economic development,” for all of planet Earth’s inhabitants?

  6. The clean energy stagnation article misses two BIG things. It cites nameplate capacity, and never mentions capacity factor. Baseload FF is over 85%; wimd is maybe 25-30 depending on where. And it never discusses the needed backup generation. Nor the needed subsidies. Rather disappointing lack of comprehension of the big picture.

    • Here’s one area where the author only gets halfway there:

      The need for transmission network expansion to tap into and aggregate geographically disperse renewables;

      That’s only half the problem. Intermittent Renewables work differently than conventional synchronous generators increasing transmission challenges, (I’m working on a piece covering those issues.).

  7. Pingback: Week in review: policy and politics edition | Enjeux énergies et environnement

  8. A Time report on Costa Rica energy by Justin Worland could have provided some insight into this Central American country’s energy history, present circumstances, and future outlook.

    A “Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (English: Costa Rican Institute of Electricity) (ICE) is the Costa Rican government-run electricity and telecommunications services provider. Jointly with the Radiographic Costarricense SA (RACSA) and Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz (CNFL) form the ICE Group.” (Wikipedia)

    The hydroelectricity (70% of Costa Rica’s electricity) comes from Lake Arenal formed by a dam completed in 1979, impounding 35 square miles of former Rain Forest harnessing almost 6 feet of rain fall a year. Water flowing through its turbines is in part shipped West to irrigate Guanacoate State which receives no rain for 8 months out of the year and was known as the land-of-the-skinny-cow. Now it produces melons, bananas, plantain, pineapples. The fruits are graded with the highest grade shipped abroad and the lowest grade fed to livestock.

    Besides hydroelectricity, geothermal comprising 15% of electricity. Wind and solar combined generate 3% of Costa Rica’s electricity. The rest of electricity is generated via fossil fuels, mainly diesel generators.

    Costa Rica has 4.7 million people and they revere their 25% land set-aside for parks with rain forests. These parks with rain forests represents the main attraction for the tourist industry representing 1/2 of Costa Rica’s GDP. Citizens do not want any more of these set-aside parks to be flooded to make electricity.

    The State electrical generation/telecommunication agency ICE will not expand electrical generating capacity. Rather, to meet its burgeoning service industry economy, ICE will purchase power from private agencies whose main source will be fossil fuels.

    The referenced “renewable” sources in the Time’s article suffer from 6 months of intermittent monsoon cloud cover and steady winds only from December to April. Otherwise, no wind, no sun and no prospects of increased hydro-electric power. Electricity from geothermal is rather expensive as it has high maintenance costs.

    Transportation, particularly trucks of the 18 wheeler variety, are diesel. By my gauge of the age and painted over side lettering of the fleet I observed, most of the trucks accumulated their first million or so miles on the USA highways/by-ways before making their way South. Cars are growing in number as the citizenry gains wealth. As for trains? there are lots of mountains making such construction East and West problematical. The mountains run North and South. The agriculture of bananas and pineapple are mostly on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica for USA and European markets. Western agriculture is shipped to Pacific markets.

    Renewable energy, as defined by the Greenpeace, World Wildlife Federation, NGO groups of wind and solar are likely to become relevant when and/or if, large capacity electricity storage become a reality, just as in other parts of the equatorial regions of earth.

    Until then, ICE will purchase electricity from fossil fuel private companies who have no subsidies to build and otherwise remain in business.

    The Times article could have been informative, alas, just another iteration of the climate change meme.

  9. I guess that Germany’s plan is to use green energy with local fossil fuel stations as back-up. Their green energy capacity already is at the level of national demand, so their capacity is about twice the national demand. Either they are looking to export energy, or have a backup in case wind and solar are not providing enough. They seem to be playing it safe with reliability, while at the same time being able to reduce emissions a lot, even without nuclear.

    • Jimd

      What is your definition of green energy and what percentage of its total energy needs do you believe german renewables are currently supplying?

      Tonyb

      • The article defines it as hydro, biomass, wind and solar. Probably anything non-fossil, I would guess. It doesn’t say what percentage is supplied, because it is only about capacities. It is interesting that they have already built a green capacity equal to their demand.

      • Jimd

        This is the total sun hours of German cities

        http://www.currentresults.com/Weather/Germany/annual-hours-of-sunshine.php

        The lowest sun hours are during the times when power is most needed during the winter and of course during winter nights.

        The likelihood of renewables supplying all the countrys energy needs other than at sporadic times in the summer, is Low

        They do seem to be pragmatic in building energy from waste plants which are frowned on in other green oriented societies
        Tonyb

    • The “backup” power generation you refer is largely a coal-based, fossil fuel system that provides base load capacity 24/7/ 365. Germany is carrying, effectively, two generating systems… one real (fossil fuels)… the other a shiny, green ornament … which accounts for the fact that German residential electric power rates are 300% higher than US rates. Yeah, it’s true, Germany has a generating capacity more or less twice as great as demand. During the day both are running simultaneously, with half the capacity dissipated as waste heat.

      This is the insanity the US Greens insist we must embrace. Side note: since there is so much overcapacity during the day time there is now talk of German utilities charging negative rates for the excess… ie, charging green power sources a fee for accepting their electricity. Precious.

      • While your own invented method is insanity, I expect that the Germans have figured out how to do this properly.

      • michael hart

        +1 sarastro92

        Everybody is familiar with the “twofor” in supermarkets, i.e. two-for-the-price-of-one.

        Germany has part built a “onefor”, i.e. one-for-the-price-of-two.

      • We’ve actually got a question of fact here: do coal plants continue burning coal when they’re not supplying energy?

        Why not answer with links? (I would, but haven’t found any yet.)

      • michael hart

        AK, if you can think of a way of switching off a huge coal furnace and associated steam turbines etc at the flick of a switch, and back on again at a moment’s notice, then they would love to hear from you. And you could become rich.

      • This indicates that the Germans have a smarter solution than any of the skeptics could come up with here.
        http://energytransition.de/2015/02/how-germany-integrates-renewable-energy/

      • AK, if you can think of a way of switching off a huge coal furnace and associated steam turbines etc at the flick of a switch, and back on again at a moment’s notice, […]

        So how long does it take? An hour? (See Jim D’s comment above.) And, in an integrated system, how much pumped hydro does it take to fill in the difference? Or gas?

      • Jim D… Try reading the link Judith Curry provided above, “Debacle: As Germany Adds 70 Gigawatts Of Green Electricity, Its Fossil Fuel Capacity Reaches New Record High! ‘… My comments were reflecting these facts, namely that as green energy generating capacity explodes, so do fossil fuel based generating plants… that’s what the Germans have “figured out” … now it’s your turn to “figure out”

      • Part of Germany’s problem is that they have limited themselves after Fukushima by turning away from nuclear power. The fossil fuel increase would have been nuclear if they had stuck with it. This is a part of their energy policy that could have been better. There are safe nuclear options nowadays. France is mostly nuclear and even exports power.

      • JimD – Germany is doing some things well but nothing that is a game changer. They are doing a good job to minimize the problems, but they are not solved and going away. The author of the cited article is wearing rose colored glasses but he notes Germany has had to make modest changes and greater changes will be needed in the future. He emphasizes how Germany had extra high reliability levels before which facilitated the transfer. It was not said but that implies that some of that margin was lost. Germany is making the best of the situation as would we.

      • Basically, by not allowing nuclear energy, they are doing it with one hand tied behind their back, which I think is a needless constraint.

      • Jim D,

        Your ability to move in and out of reality is impressive.

        Your ability to recognize what is actually occurring in the German energy sector is considerably less so.

        Try to get this through your filters. Even the proponents of wind consider 20% of generation capacity the tops for wind. Solar will be lucky if it comes anywhere near that number in the next generation or two. But who knows, it is open to breakthroughs in technology. So as Germany closes its nuclear plants, how do you think they will generate electricity?

      • Germany is near 30%, aiming to go to 50% by 2030 according to the article.

      • AK asked:

        How long does it take? an hour?

        Hot start: <8h
        EWarm start: 48 h
        Table 5 and 6 http://www.rnp.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/RNP%20Coal%20Report%2010Aug16.pdf

        And the cost is about $100,000, per stop-restart cycle per unit.
        Table 8 from above reference. Also see photos of the thermal stress damage inside the boilers and the typical cycing costs for coal fireded plants (Table 2) here: http://www.powermag.com/make-your-plant-ready-for-cycling-operations/?printmode=1

        How much pumped hydro doe’s it take to fill in the difference?

        Land area required (km2) to meet the NEM demand with 1 day and 30 days of storage:
        Solar panels: 29,599; 2,872
        Total for solar panels and reservoirs: 29,863; 10,798
        Nuclear power station: 26
        https://bravenewclimate.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/peter-lang-solar-realities.pdf
        (more RE generating capacity but less storage capacity is required with 1 day versus 30 days storage).

        Note the miniscule area required for nuclear compared with solar and pumped hydro.

        Also note: this post was not intended to imply it is a realistic system. It is a limit analysis (or a book-end analysis) to help clarify some of the important issues for people who had not thought through them previously.
        For the

      • –snip–

        US and German citizens consumed in 2013 about 228 and 128 kWh, respectively.

        –snip–

      • Germany is near 30%, aiming to go to 50% by 2030 according to the article.

        The of cost of renewables is expected to continue to drop in the next 15 years and that should make it easier, right?

      • In the long term renewables are going down in cost, fossil fuels, especially for net importer countries, are going up unless the demand for them keeps dropping. It is part of energy independence for these countries.

    • As ever, ignoring the core of the issue

      Coal-fired plants (in Germany, either lignite or black coal) as “backup” in case wind and solar are not providing enough (your phrase, not mine) are only useful when NOT turned off. They are not controlled by ON/OFF light switches

      This means that CO2 emissions continue irrespective of whether the turbine output is being used or not, and at about the same rate

      Bluntly, not a model of redundancy to be emulated

      • As I mentioned above, let’s see what the Germans are doing to balance green and black energy before drawing any conclusions.

      • ianl8888, AK, captdallas,

        I’d like to know what proportion of the world’s electricity generation is off-grid? Can anyone give me a link to an authoritative source with this figure?

      • @Peter Lang…

        Not really. I’m much more interested in utility-grade solar. Off-grid may be important from a sociological standpoint, but, even if it becomes much more decentralized, IMO there’ll be a grid where there’s civilization.

      • AK,

        I agree. My gut feeling is that, globally, less than 5% of electricity is generated off-grid (in Australia it is 6%). But the fact it is such a small proportion is relevant, because it means that, applying the Pareto Principle, if we want to reduce the GHG emissions intensity of electricity, our focus should be on grid-connected generation, not on off-grid technologies. This chart spurred my question:

        http://grist.org/climate-energy/a-way-to-get-power-to-the-worlds-poor-without-making-climate-change-worse/

        Energy is responsible for 69% of global GHG emissions in 2010 according to IEA (Figure 1) http://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/CO2EmissionsFromFuelCombustionHighlights2014.pdf. Electricity and heat generation is responsible for 42% in 2012 (Figure 9). Transport (23%) and Industry (20%) combined are responsible for about the same as electricity

        We have proven technologies available to replace fossil fuel electricity generation. The only real problem is the cost. However we do not have proven technologies available to replace fossil fuels from transport or the emissions from industry. Therefore, we can achieve the fastest emissions reductions by replacing fossil fuel technologies for electricity generation with low emissions technologies. (It’s worth noting that programs to improve end-use energy efficiency will have negligible lasting effect; therefore, the effort must be on fuel substitution, not on end-use energy efficiency improvements.)

        Most existing fossil fuel electricity generation plants will be replaced over the next 50 years or so. The replacement will be with technologies that are fit for purpose, meet the requirements and are expected to supply electricity at lowest cost over the life of the plant.

        Therefore, we don’t need UN sponsored top-down regulations nor any government imposed top-down regulations or mandates to drive the substitution of fossil fuel by low emissions technologies. We just need to reduce the cost of the low-emissions technologies that are proven, fit-for-purpose and meet the requirements. The competitive pressures will do the rest. Thereafter, fossil fuels technologies would be replaced, over time with cheaper fit for purpose technologies without any need for government or UN intervention.

        Furthermore, as competitive pressures drive the cost of these technologies down, electricity will become cheaper compared with gas for heating and transport fuels. Therefore, electricity will substitute for some gas for heating and for some petroleum transport fuels. Electricity will be an increasing proportion of total energy consumption. Therefore, making electricity near zero emissions and cheaper could lead to a 40%-50% reduction of GHG emissions from energy in around 50 years.

        We need to focus 80% to 90% of our efforts on reducing the cost of electricity from the already proven, fit-for-purpose electricity generation technology.

      • johnfpittman

        Peter: “”Therefore, we don’t need UN sponsored top-down regulations nor any government imposed top-down regulations or mandates to drive the substitution of fossil fuel by low emissions technologies. We just need to reduce the cost of the low-emissions technologies that are proven, fit-for-purpose and meet the requirements. The competitive pressures will do the rest.””

        The real reason that a least regrets policy is opposed: it shows the economic futility of titling at windmills. Economics is the problem; economics needs to be the solution. Humans run out of money far faster than they run out of worthy things to do.

  10. Mark Jannot (Audubon’s Vice President of Content) responds …

    Friends Like These

    “Bird lover” Jonathan Franzen commits an act of extreme intellectual dishonesty.
    [ … ]
    There is no evidence that a robust climate movement has been or could become the soul-sucking force Franzen claims—one that reduces dollars, projects, mindshare, or whatever other metric of “indifference” to present-day conservation you could conjure. Apart from the fact that his contention defies actual measurement, it runs directly counter to what we’ve experienced here at Audubon since the release of that “dire prophecy” in the first place. Our Birds and Climate Report has energized our membership like nothing we’ve seen before, and has already inspired dozens of examples of real-world, on-the-ground conservation efforts on behalf of birds and their habitats today.
    https://www.audubon.org/news/friends-these/

  11. So, reading the item from the Energy Collective, Has Renewable Energy Finally Ended the Great Clean Energy Stagnation? (linked in main post), I find stuff like the following:

    Two years is a short trend. For renewables to truly compete with fossil fuels in a fight for global market share, wind, solar, biomass and other renewable energy sources will have to continue to expand at least 2.3 percent per year. That’s the compound annual rate of growth in global electricity demand forecast by the IEA’s latest central scenario (which, I might add, already bakes in some pretty ambitious energy efficiency goals).

    To drive actual consumption of fossil fuels (and not just fossil electricity’s share of a growing global market) downwards, renewables would need to increase their annual output (in terawatt-hours) faster than the demand for electricity is growing.

    And…

    100 GW of new non-hydro renewables was enough to increase annual generation from these sources by nearly 10 percent in 2014, but it would take 286 GW—or almost 3 times as much annual installed capacity—to sustain a 10 percent growth rate if the industry keeps expanding at a 10 percent rate through 2025.

    Indeed, the percent annual growth rate for non-hydro renewables has already declined from a peak of 19 percent in 2011 to 10 percent in 2014.

    Now I’ll hazard to present my best guess: renewables will follow a typical S-curve of adoption, continuing to experience strong compound annual growth over the next decade, but with a steadily declining rate of growth. Just as we’ve seen the compound annual growth rate decline from 19 percent to 10 percent from 2011 to 2014, this rate will continue to decline over the next decade or so.

    He’s wrong. His “best guess” is based on a totally incorrect perception of how such technology categories work.

    To use a biological analogy, if somebody made a prediction about a culture with a bunch of samples taken from several complete microbial ecosystems like this:

    Now I’ll hazard to present my best guess: bacteria will follow a typical S-curve of adoption, continuing to experience strong compound daily growth over the next few days, but with a steadily declining rate of growth.

    What would we think? Which bacteria? We’re talking about a bunch of different species, with different parameters, jostling for space and numbers, many of them depending on other species’ products. Or poisoned by them. Or both.

    Back to “renewables”. There’s wind. On-shore and off-shore. There’s solar. Concentrating thermal, PV (several types), and concentrating PV. All have potentially complex relationships with hydro. And with gas.

    Each individual technology may, indeed, “ follow a typical S-curve of adoption,”, but when you add the products of these exponential curves together, you get a mish-mash that’s almost impossible to analyze, much less predict.

    And speaking of predictions, Greenpeace Aces Renewable Energy Forecasts. Surprised?

    The wind numbers tell a pretty impressive story. They summarize five forecasts. Two come from the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook, widely recognized as the premier authority, claimed by the organization to be “the world’s most authoritative source of energy market analysis and projections,” and used by public and private sectors for policymaking, planning, and investment decisions. The Global Wind Energy Council, which speaks for the entire wind energy sector of over 1,500 companies and other organizations in 70+ countries, prepared one of the others. Greenpeace made the other two predictions. Its 2010 Energy Revolution scenario for cumulative installed wind capacity almost exactly parallels the actual growth curve (red line).

    The results for solar PV are even more dramatic, in terms of the future of renewables. This time, findings of two IEA-WEO studies are matched against two predictions from Greenpeace. Both IEA forecasts ended up being far too low, with the 2010 numbers more accurate thanks partly to new policy being implemented. Again, the Greenpeace 2010 Energy Revolution forecast comes out most realistic. In this case, though, actual statistics proved higher, nearly doubling the optimistic Greenpeace formulation.


    Naysayers wankling about costs of support structures, or storage requirements, should consider the enormous potential for synergies with existing hydropower installations. These won’t last forever, but between existing pumped storage capacity, the potential for expanding pumped storage using existing dams and their lakes, and the very large areas of existing lakes for use by floating solar PV, with its potentially much cheaper support structures, There’s plenty of room for growth.

    Solar installations have been doubling about every two years, these offer room for a decade of growth, with the cost perhaps coming down by a factor of 5.

    • AK quote:

      These won’t last forever, but between existing pumped storage capacity, the potential for expanding pumped storage using existing dams…

      Existing dams? I’m having trouble imagining how this would work. For example at Hoover, where do you get the water to pump into the lake? If you shut off the flow through the generators, there is not likely to be any water at its base to pump. There likely are some dams on estuaries which could work this way but maybe not that many.

      I really must be missing something here. Oh, This was in the politics and policy edition not the science and tech thread.

      • For example at Hoover, where do you get the water to pump into the lake?

        Good question. I was thinking of Lake Shasta, with its afterbay Keswick Reservoir (created by Keswick Dam). I thought I found a reference to pumped hydro storage at both Shasta and Hoover/Mead, but it may have been another project. Certainly, pumping from Keswick Reservoir would work for Shasta, even if the reverse pumping capacity isn’t yet present. (I’m going to keep searching, as time permits, till I find the reference I remember, and discover what it was really talking about.)

        For Hoover, use as pumped hydro storage might require constructing new dams for afterbays. However, AFAIK preliminary value could be gained, from smaller projects, by balancing it against reductions of the dam’s output.

        This would have the added advantage that no new transmission facilities would have to be built, as the solar power would simply take the place of hydro-power when available.

        I’ll note that Lake Powell, behind the Glen Canyon Dam, has a normal elevation of “3,700 ft (1,100 m) (max)”, compared to “1,219 ft (372 m)” for Lake Mead. It’s “the second largest artificial lake in the country, extending upriver well into Utah.” The creation of pumped storage between these two very large reservoirs, with a difference of around 728 meters, at the top of the range of head suitable for Francis Turbines, could potentially balance (daily) enough solar to supply all of California’s needs.

        I don’t know if that would be feasible, but it’s an interesting idea. Especially with recent advances in materials technology, such that large tubes to hold the 7-10 MPa involved might be quite inexpensive, compared to the steel used in the past.

      • AK,
        Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this secondary use of dams.

        Another issue would be throttling back the hydro-power because you were running windmills or solar. Substituting one low emission source for another doesn’t seem to hit the spot. I think you would want to run both at full bore and throttle back the gas and coal plants somewhere else. On the other hand, why would you throttle back the hydro?
        There’s also the issue of evaporation losses in the feed pond. Finally I think Kim has it, Unicorn burps at best.

      • On the other hand, why would you throttle back the hydro?

        Drought Impact on Hydropower Frequently Asked Questions

        California drought leads to less hydropower, increased natural gas generation

        And it isn’t just drought. Most hydropower in areas like California (not the Pacific Northwest, I suppose) has seasonal flows, and limits to how much energy they can provide each year. Solar (or other intermittent) power can extend that energy, allowing the season’s supply to last longer at a higher supply rate even without a drought.

        P.S. Searching for links, I got a huge number of references to a just-released report, whose author is unfortunately too unreliable to quote or link to. But I wouldn’t be surprised if, in just this case his numbers were on track.

      • jferguson…

        For example at Hoover, where do you get the water to pump into the lake?

        (Reprise) A good answer might be Lake Mohave, normal surface elevation “647 ft (197 m)”. This is more than 150 meters below Lake Mead at “1,219 ft (372 m)”. In fact, it’s 175 meters, compared to a nominal head of “590 ft (180 m) (Max)” for Hoover Dam.

        IOW, Lake Mohave could easily act as an afterbay for Hoover dam, allowing pumped storage with minimal extra dam construction.

        Given that non-reversible generating capacity already exists, the most cost-effective option might be to install modern pumps that could spin “dry” when no power is available for pumping, allowing them to provide a full-time spinning reserve. Or perhaps a high-efficiency method might be found to interpose them between the PV and the grid, so that even when the energy from the PV is being added to the grid, it’s accompanied by spinning reserve.

        I wonder if Planning Engineer is willing to comment constructively on the options here?

      • OOps! Missed another URL: should be Lake Mohave

      • I read the other day that all of the electricity generated by western dams is used to move water uphill.

      • AK,

        Regarding your thoughts about a pumped hydro scheme linking Lake Mead and Lake Mohave, here are some points that need to be considered before even starting a pre-feasibility investigaton:

        1. What is the maximum fluctuation in the level of Lake Mohave that would be allowed twice per day every day of the year?

        2. What is the maximum rate of rise and fall in water level that would be allows (environmental concerns)

        3. The distance between the two reservoirs to access the top say 0.5 m of Lake Mead is around 40 km. The hydraulic head is 175m. So the slope is about 0.004.

        4. Work out the diameter of the pipes (or tunnels) you need (follow this example: per hour http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/04/05/pumped-hydro-system-cost/ )

        5. Work out the head loss due to friction at say 2.5m/s flow rate.

        6. Work out the volume of water in the pipes or tunnels (e.g. 35 km long x 5 m diameter pipe = 700,000 tonnes

        7. Work out the power needed to accelerate that volume of water from 0 to 2.5m/s in say a minute. (Tot get a mental picture imagine 6 x 100 tonne oil tankers connected bow to stern with a tug boat in front towing them and trying to accelerating them from 0 to 10 km/h in a minute.)

        8. The sale price of the generated electricity would need to be about 4 times the buy price to break even. So you can forget solar PV for providing the power to pump because solar is only available in the day time when the market price is high. Pumped storage needs to be able to buy when the cost of electricity is low and sell at peak price. So it needs really cheap baseload power (like coal and nuclear) in the early hours of the morning and sell in times of peak demand.

        9. See this estimate: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/04/05/pumped-hydro-system-cost/ for a conceptual pumped hydro scheme using two existing hydro reservoirs in the Australian Snowy Mountains Scheme. The example (and the two referees comments) illustrate some of the issues to be dealt with at the pre-feasibility stage.

      • @Peter Lang…

        Those are actually valid questions. And I’m working on them, in my spare time.

        Unless, of course, somebody else takes ownership of the idea. But it does answer the original question.

      • So you can forget solar PV for providing the power to pump because solar is only available in the day time when the market price is high.

        Actually, for that volume of solar, pumped storage wouldn’t be necessary. Not until the capacity got so high that it was producing more than the total needed during the day.

        How much would that be? Three GigaWatts? Ten?

        Till then, you could install floating PV without the need for any balancing. (Except perhaps some way of spinning dry for spinning reserve. Assuming that modern inversion technology couldn’t properly simulate it, which I suspect it could.)

      • The distance between the two reservoirs to access the top say 0.5 m of Lake Mead is around 40 km.

        I think you mean the top of Lake Mohave.

        Work out the diameter of the pipes (or tunnels) you need

        Or, perhaps, a canal. That would (AFAIK) require blasting rock, rather than digging soil/sediment, although if digging would work, it would almost certainly be more cost-effective.

      • AK,

        Unless, of course, somebody else takes ownership of the idea.

        No need. You can see it’s not viable at first brush.

        As usual you ignored the link, didn’t you?

        Why don’t you stop wasting your time on your solar hope/wish/dream. It’s clearly not viable. Why don’; you focus on advocating for policies that demonstratably can succeed (i.e. nuclear) if we remove the regulatory impediments that have driven up the costs over the past four decades by a factor of 8 or so for the current generation of reactor designs? (there is also the potential to reduce costs for fission by a factor of about 100 going forward and then there’s fission. there’s no limit to the potential – we just need to remove the blockages. You could be far more productive and benefit society by being objective and rational.

        Why don’t you do some objective comparisons and work out for yourself what is the most likely technology to succeed and the risk of delaying progress on it, as you are intent on doing by continually advocating for technologies that are highly unlikely to succeed (as almost everyone has responded to your comments on many threads and who knows about the subject has attempted to explain to you – over and over again)

      • Yes. I meant Lake Mohave, i.e. the lake with the smaller surface area.

        No point going any further until you’ve answered the questions I laid out.

      • AK,

        You waste your time on the most ridiculous ideas – ideas that any engineer or rational person would dismiss after an initial look. And you continually avoid the elephant in the room, the technology that can provide most of the world’s power – nuclear power. Why do you think you have such difficulty with rational analysis?

      • […] – ideas that any engineer or rational person would dismiss after an initial look.

        So what’s the elevation of the bottom of the Colorado channel right under Hoover Dam?

      • AK – You asked for constructive comments. I mostly try not to say yeah or nay, but to discuss factors to consider recognizing that costs and drivers can change tremendously from project to project, by location and by politics. The discussions here have a lot of good information and I wont’ repeat all of that. One consideration is that if you pump 100 MWH of energy up a hill, you will not get it all back (70 to 80%). I’m mostly familiar with have a storage reservoir on top of a mountain/hill/high terrain and a quick fast drop to the turbines at the lower elevation. The generators can act as motor to push the water up the hill for storage. The longer you have to pump the more “resistance” so you want about as steep a drop as you can get. No experience and I have not reviewed studies of pumping water from low elevations to existing dams (may be cost effective in the future) but that would seem to have extra costs for pumping motors as different structures than the generating turbines. I think they’d have higher loss ratios as well based on the distances being sub-optimal.

        Pumped storage hydro has great electrical performance and it supports the power system. It provides system operators with flexibility. This is just memory and impressions. Compared to other conventional technology I think pumped storage projects have tended to come in way over budget. They work well and are certainly worth having once sunk costs are ignored (but maybe if there were do-overs some of them might not have been built).

        So keep in mind if you are comparing the costs of intermittent energy that must go into a pumped storage plant to conventional technology, you have to multiply the cost of the intermittent energy 1.25 to 1.5 to make up for pumping losses and then you have to pay for the pumped storage facility besides and they are not cheap.

      • Here’s a simple and obvious solution:

        1. Build desal plants
        2. Power them with nukes

        Kill two birds with one stone, instead of killing many birds and bats with wind turbines and solar toys.

      • One other thing to add on pumped storage that applies to a lot of uses of technology. Just because an entity does something it does not mean it makes sense for others to copy, or even that it made sense for them to do it to begin with. Here’s a recollection on one pumped storage facility. A Federal agency running a set of dams, decided to build a pumped storage unit. They would package that to their customers along with the low cost hydro they already provided. Left to their own subscribers would not have purchased the “enhanced” project services but rather kept the old arrangements. But that was not an option the customers got. Mixing the low cost existing power with the higher priced (but not worthwhile on it’s own) pumped services the agency still has a product that will be fully subscribed, but as far as benefiting customers, economically efficiency or being a net good – No.

      • Thanks Planning Engineer. More in a while.

        BTW, know anything about what’s going on in DC?

      • Danny Thomas

        Someone didn’t pay the bills?

      • I’m mostly familiar with have a storage reservoir on top of a mountain/hill/high terrain and a quick fast drop to the turbines at the lower elevation. The generators can act as motor to push the water up the hill for storage. The longer you have to pump the more “resistance” so you want about as steep a drop as you can get.

        Thanks. I guess I didn’t communicate clearly, was in a hurry. I’m thinking of pumping from the base of the dam to the top. I was expecting that an afterbay would offer water, if pumped hydro was already present.

        Unfortunately, I don’t have the information at my fingertips, what the channel at the bottom an arbitrarily chosen dam might be like, and how it interacts with its afterbay. For instance, could the Colorado channel be dredged enough that it would support the necessary backflow from Lake Mohave? Obviously, if it’s hideously expensive, it’s not feasible. But I have no way of knowing but to spend many hours researching, or suggest it and see if somebody knows offhand.

      • District decapitated by power plant explosion. Probably not a wind or solar plant; their energy sources aren’t dense enough to explode.
        ===================

      • Probably not a wind or solar plant; their energy sources aren’t dense enough to explode.

        Actually, I think they’re blaming an explosion at a power plant in Maryland. There was evidently a voltage fluctuation, and a lot of systems switched to backup. That might have caused an overage that made all the solar power drop off the grid at once. Maybe.

      • A power substation. One transformer blows and the center of worldwide power gets rolling brownouts. Hmmmmm.
        ==============

      • Planning Engineer

        From reports so far on the DC outage. Transformer outages happen. They cost million and can last 50 years or so. Good maintenance should check on them and have an idea of when they need replacing but occasionally one will slip through especially with pressure to save money by not replacing them while they still have some life in them. (My fear is the more money spent on expensive power sources the more we cut maintenance, testing, replacement on other parts of the system to help offset upward trending costs.)

        When I talk about reliability my main concern is the integrity of the bulk system. Can it hold together during disturbances. Losing localized loads from time to time is not directly connected to (and can be at odds with) bulk reliability. Dropping loads here and there can help the system get through disturbances and it’s risky to try to keep everything on almost no matter what. Having loads switch off and take ten seconds or a couple minutes to reconnect (versus near instantaneous switching) in order to make sure the oscillations have died down is often a prudent thing.

        This sounds like a local outage at the “distribution” level. Now I’ll agree the White House sounds important and I would expect that they would have enough local redundancy there to ride through most disturbance. But I see that as a “local” problem having to do with “distribution” reliability not the grid that is a large collective interest.

        I’ve mentioned before when people talk about great reliability in Germany, the references relate to “distribution” reliability not major grid reliability/ The concern with intermittent and renewable is at the bulk system level for reliability with large scale renewable penetration.

      • Two other tidbits. CNN says it impact 2,000 customers in the Washington area. That’s probably less than 1% of their customers on a terrible bad day for them. Not good for utilities, but those stats would be pretty good in most endeavors. Transformers are basically are wrappings of wire carrying high voltages and currents sitting in a huge tub of oil. When they go bad, they go bad.

      • AK,

        <blockquote< I guess I didn’t communicate clearly, was in a hurry. I’m thinking of pumping from the base of the dam to the top. I was expecting that an afterbay would offer water, if pumped hydro was already present.

        You certainly not communicating clearly.

        1. What dam are you talking about. What’s the hydraulic head when the upper dam is at minimum operating level and the lower reservoir is at full supply level?

        2. What’s the surface area of the smaller reservoir

        3. What’s the active depth of the smaller reservoir

        4. What’s the horizontal distance from the intake on the upper reservoir to the outlet on the lower reservoir

        5. What’s the purpose of the ‘canals’ you mentioned in a previous comment? Where do they run from to? What size (length, diameter, depth) are they? What is the flow rate along them? Whats the head loss due to frictional resistance? Are they horizontal for the full length? If not how will you pump water up them?

        6. What’s the annual evaporation rate in the area?

        7. What transmission line length to you need to join to the main high capacity transmission system (e.g. 500 to 750 kV).

        8. How much does the Lake Mohave fluctuate naturally? Does it ever dry up? if so how often?

        9. What’s your estimate of the capital cost per W of the pumped hydro scheme, solar generators and transmissions system

        My rough guess (in $/W):

        Solar generator system: 3-4
        Pumped hydro: 4
        Transmission: ?

        10. What’s you estimate of the capacity factor of the solar generators (through life) (I’d guess 15%)

        11. What’s your guess of the pumped hydro’s capacity factor? (I’d guess 20% if powered by reliable base load power supply (e.g. nuclear or coal) but 0% if running on PV (Because PV does not provide cheap power at off peak times).

        12. What’s you guess of the round trip efficiency? (my guess is 50% to 60% because of: friction losses in 40 km long pipes. negligible slope, evaporation losses, ground water leakage losses)
        http://www.azwater.gov/AzDWR/StatewidePlanning/WaterAtlas/UpperColoradoRiver/Hydrology/LakeMohave.htm

        13. Cost comparison ($/W average power delivered through life:

        Nuclear power plant ~$5000/W average
        Mohave pumped hydro project:
        solar power: $3/W / 15% capacity factor = $20/W average
        pumped hydro (powered by solar): $4/W / 4% capacity factor = $100/W average (I don’t believe the pumped hydro system could afford to buy any power from solar plants, so I believe the capacity factor would be 0% if using solar PV)
        pumped hydro (powered by baseload): $4/W / 20% capacity factor = $20/W average

        AK, no matter what reasonably defensible costs you like to assume the pumped hydro scheme makes no sense at all, even with reliable, cheap baseload power. With solar it’s ridiculous.

        The fact that you keep throwing up such ridiculous ideas without even doing any critical thinking about them at all is revealing. It’s revealing of the sorts of people who are so tied to their beliefs they find it impossible to think critically, rationally, and objectively.

        Every time you are asked about costs you dodge and weave, refuse to answer, make excuses that we don’t know what the future may bring, etc.

        Your comments on CE are a clear example of the sort of irrational beliefs and advocacy that has been blocking progress for 50 years.

      • @Peter Lang…

        More straw men. Since you’re so sure you know my plan is infeasible, you must know the elevation of the bottom of the Colorado channel at the base of Hoover Dam? I have yet to find it, or a bunch of other information I need to calculate the numbers you’re demanding.

        Basically, the way you argue is to twist any proposal (other than nuclear) into the most unfeasible shape you can, based on what’s left out. The result is a straw man, since obviously that’s not what I’m talking about.

        If you practiced reading with the slightest bit of sympathy, you’d have a pretty good idea of the answers you demanded. Your entire technique is a pointless exercise in straw man argument.

        I don’t have time to waste answering all your questions, but here’s a couple you should have figured out without your destructive straw-man junk:

        What dam are you talking about.

        Hoover. As you should have been able to guess from my question.

        What’s the hydraulic head when the upper dam is at minimum operating level and the lower reservoir is at full supply level?

        Don’t know yet. Call it 100m. At max, it’s supposed to be 180m.

        What’s the purpose of the ‘canals’ you mentioned in a previous comment?

        To allow water to flow from Lake Mohave back to the base of Hoover Dam.

        What size (length, diameter, depth) are they? What is the flow rate along them?

        For a gigawatt of pumping at 100m head, perhaps 1000m/sec.

        What transmission line length to you need to join to the main high capacity transmission system (e.g. 500 to 750 kV).

        Call it a kilometer.

        That’s all I have time to waste on your questions. Except for the evaporation rate, none of them were any help, since I already had them on my list to answer.

        Problem is, I’m still trying to come up with an estimate of feasibility, and all you contribute is nuisance questions, straw men, and ad hominem attacks.

        One thing I do know, still nailing down links, is that there’s room for at least a gigawatt of PV (peak) in the Colorado River system without the need for any pumped hydro to balance it. Maybe up to 4GW. Only after that would pumped hydro have to be added to the system.

      • For a gigawatt of pumping at 100m head, perhaps 1000m/sec.

        S/B: For a gigawatt of pumping at 100m head, perhaps 1000m^3/sec.

      • AK avoids addressing the key questions and avoids admitting the costs of his proposals are orders of magnitude above anything that any serious person would consider investing time in. Yet he spends all his time trying to justify his irrational beliefs and avoiding considering pragmatic options. It;’s a clear case of denial, behaving as a Ludite and intellectual dishonesty. Here’s another example of his dodging and weaving:

        More straw men. Since you’re so sure you know my plan is infeasible, you must know the elevation of the bottom of the Colorado channel at the base of Hoover Dam? I have yet to find it, or a bunch of other information I need to calculate the numbers you’re demanding.

        Basically, the way you argue is to twist any proposal (other than nuclear) into the most unfeasible shape you can, based on what’s left out. The result is a straw man, since obviously that’s not what I’m talking about.

        If you practiced reading with the slightest bit of sympathy, you’d have a pretty good idea of the answers you demanded. Your entire technique is a pointless exercise in straw man argument.

        I don’t have time to waste answering all your questions, but here’s a couple you should have figured out without your destructive straw-man junk:

        But he’s addressed nothing of relevance. His responses do not answer the questiosn. And the reason is clear – he hasn’t a clue about pumped hydro. he knows nothing about it. And not only does he have no understanding of costs, he totally avoids dealing with the key issues I’ve raised – such as this (with cost for nuclear corrected):

        Cost comparison ($/W average power delivered through life:

        1. Nuclear power plant: ~$5/W average power delivered through life

        2. Mohave pumped hydro project:
        – solar power: $3/W / 15% capacity factor = $20/W average
        – pumped hydro (powered by solar): $4/W / 4% capacity factor = $100/W average (I don’t believe the pumped hydro system could afford to buy any power from solar plants, so I believe the capacity factor would be 0% if using solar PV)
        – pumped hydro (powered by baseload): $4/W / 20% capacity factor = $20/W average

        Summary (cost of average power delivered through life, $/W average)
        1. Nuclear: $5/W average
        2. Mohave pumped hydro powered by solar: $120/W average (optimistic)
        3. Mohave pumped hydro powered by baseload: $25/W average

        So what your Mohave pumped hydro proposal powered by solar power would cost around 25 times the cost of nuclear to provide reliable power supply on demand to meet user requirements. If powered by baseload power it would cost about 4 to 5 times the cost of the baseload power.

        You’d have to be innumerate to not be able to understand the significance of this.

        AK, no matter what reasonably defensible costs you like to assume the pumped hydro scheme makes no sense at all, even with reliable, cheap baseload power. With solar it’s ridiculous.

      • @jferguson…

        For example at Hoover, where do you get the water to pump into the lake?

        (Reprise 2) I don’t know if you’re still interested in this question, but I’ve been continuing my research, and discover that an actual feasibility study of some sort was conducted in 1978-1980. The original document appears to be a study by the U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Reclamation (1978): Hoover
        powerplant modifications. Special Report. 62 pp. It’s referenced in Paulson et al. (1980a) (below).

        I haven’t been able to track down an online copy of the actual USDI (1978) report (yet), but both of the references below offer context as part of their sub-ecological surveys of the implications of installing pumped storage with its intakes directly below Hoover Dam, and possibly some dredging of the Colorado Channel in the upper Black Canyon.

        Per Wiki:

        Lake Mohave is a reservoir formed by Davis Dam on the Colorado River, which defines the border between Nevada and Arizona in the United States. The lake lies at an elevation of 647 feet (197 m) near Laughlin, Nevada, Searchlight, Nevada, Cottonwood Cove, Nevada, and Bullhead City, Arizona, The Lake starts at the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River and runs to the Davis Dam. The lake and adjacent lands forming its shoreline are part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area administered by the U.S. National Park Service. Lake Mohave encompasses 28,260 acres of water.[1]

        Backflow from Lake Mohave to the upper Black Canyon can occur at water levels “greater than 630 ft.” [Paulson et al. (1980b)]:

        The proposed modification of Hoover Dam will alter the existing daily discharge regime, but because of water requirements downstream, the total volume of water discharged over an annual period will remain the same. To meet peak power demands with the proposed alternatives, the daily discharge cycle will be changed to longer periods of low flow (evening-early morning) and shorter periods of peak flow (midafternnon-dusk). The peak discharge rate will increase to 76,000 ft^3•sec^-1 (Table l), but minimum flows of 2000 ft^3•sec^-1 will be maintained with alternatives A and B when the elevation of Lake Mohave is below 630 ft. Since the water of Lake Mohave extends to the tail race of Hoover Dam when lake elevations are greater than 630 ft., minimum flows of 2000 ft^3•sec^-1 will be unnecessary and hence zero discharge at night may occur. With reversible pumped-storage (alternative C), some of the water used for generating during peak power demands would also be pumped back to Lake Mead at night at a rate of up to 25,000 ft^3•sec^-1. This will cause reverse flows in the river section, and could pull Lake Mohave water to the dam.

        Although the actual feasibility study and cost estimate(s) are probably contained in the (as-yet unavailable to me) USDI (1978) report mentioned above, it was apparently considered feasible enough to justify an ecological study of its effect(s) [Paulson et al. (1980a)]:

        The Water and Power Resources Service is presently investigating the feasibility of modifying Hoover Dam to increase the present capacity of 1,300 MW by at least 500 MW and probably 1000 MW. The following alternatives are under investigation (USDI 1978):

        (i)       the addition of one or more conventional hydroelectric generating units to Hoover Dam.

        (ii)       the addition of reversible pump-storage hydroelectric units to Hoover Dam.

        (iii)       the uprating of existing generating units at Hoover Dam.

        (iv)       any combination of the above proposals.

        Uprating of the existing generating units or addition of new units will require an increase in peak-discharge from the current level of 30-40,000 ft^3•sec^-1 to 49,000 and 62,000 ft^3•sec^-1. Operation of pump-storage units will require a peak-discharge of 76,000 ft^3•sec^-1 with periods of no flow and reverse flow. In order to accommodate the high peak-discharges and reverse flow, these power modifications could require dredging of Black Canyon below Hoover Dam to create a larger forebay. Disposal of dredge spoils from such activities would subsequently be made in the dead storage area of Lake Mohave.

        Probably a lot more information than you wanted, but having found it, I felt it would be in the public interest to share it, for you and anybody else interested in the answers to these questions.

        References:

        Paulson et al. (1980a) Influence of dredging and high discharge on the ecology of Black Canyon by Paulson, L. J., Miller, T. G., Baker, J. R., U.S. Water and Power Resources Service (1980) Lake Mead Limnological Research Center: Technical Report Series, 2

        Paulson et al. (1980b) Evaluation of possible temperature fluctuations from proposed power modifications at Hoover Dam by Paulson, L. J., Baker, J. R., U.S. Water and Power Resources Service (1980) Lake Mead Limnological Research Center: Technical Report Series, 3

      • AK,

        ) I don’t know if you’re still interested in this question, but I’ve been continuing my research, and discover that an actual feasibility study of some sort was conducted in 1978-1980.

        I am interested, but only if you can provide a link to estimated cost of electricity from an authoritative source or you can articulate your design concept clearly and the key design parameters and the basis for your cost estimate – like I did here for this concept (but not technically or economically viable, 8 GW, 400 GWh pumped hydro scheme in the Australian Snowy Mountains Scheme http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/04/05/pumped-hydro-system-cost/ ). If you cannot provide these, there is no point in continuing because we are just to talking past each other.

        The the Hoover dam ;pumped hydro addition – the 1980s study you referred to – has not been built demonstrates it is not viable, even back then (when pumped hydro was more economic than now) and even using cheap off-peak baseload power for pumping, let alone exorbitantly high cost solar PV power in the day time which would add a fact of four to the sell price. The idea of using solar power for pumping is ridiculous. I’d urge you to drop this solar idea if you want to be taken seriously.

        Here is a desk study of potential pumped storage sites in Australia: http://content.webarchive.nla.gov.au/gov/wayback/20140211194248/http://www.climatechange.gov.au/sites/climatechange/files/files/reducing-carbon/APPENDIX4-ROAM-report-on-pumped-storage.pdf . This study was conducted as part of a study into the viability and cost of 100% renewable electricity for Australia study http://webarchive.nla.gov.au/gov/20140211194248/http://www.climatechange.gov.au/reducing-carbon/aemo-report-100-renewable-electricity-scenarios which was a Greens Party demand a result of a political agreement between the Greens and Labor to form an alliance minority government to govern Australia in 2010. None of the 454 identified ‘potential’ pumped hydro sites is viable – even using low cost brown coal baseload power, let alone exorbitantly high cost renewables.

        BTW, I’ve given you this link http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/04/05/pumped-hydro-system-cost/ several times You haven’t yet said whether or not you have studied it, so we continue to talk at cross purposes. Can you please confirm if you read it? Because you haven’t said anything about it I suspect you haven’t read it and I interpret this to meant you are not genuinely interested in trying to understand how to do the analyses of pumped hydro and understand the reasons for the questions I’ve asked you.

        It’s is very easy to recognise if someone is genuinely interested in learning or simply trying to push a belief with no genuine interest in hearing whether or not it is viable.

        I read your post and now realise that Lake Mohave extends right up to the Hoover Dam power station tailraces (I hadn’t realised that before). I don’t know what rate water could be pumped out of that. That is critical information. The concept looks a lot less costly than what I first understood which was the water had to be pumped some 30 to 70 km from Lake Mohave. The key point I’d like you to recognise is if you want me to take you seriously you need to clearly explain your concept and the relevant input parameters needed for a simple back of an envelope estimate. And then you need to have a go at doing the estimate yourself and make the case it is worth looking into. I am absolutely convinced it is not worth taking seriously unless there is very cheap off peak power available and it is likely to be available for 40 years.

        I am not going to do the analyses for you; you need to lay it all out, then I may (possibly) be prepared to check it for you.

      • @Peter Lang…

        Fact is, I’ve been spending too much time on what is, at base, a personal project, and not enough on sleep, which I need for my day job. So I’m only going to address a few of your points, not to say that others don’t deserve answers.

        I am interested, but only if you can provide a link to estimated cost of electricity from an authoritative source or you can articulate your design concept clearly and the key design parameters and the basis for your cost estimate – […] If you cannot provide these, there is no point in continuing because we are just to talking past each other.

        Yes, well, I’m not nearly at the “here’s my proposal with cost estimate” stage yet. I’m still at the “sit around throwing ideas at the whiteboard and see which ones stick” stage. Hoover Dam, for instance, was jferguson’s idea, I was actually thinking of a slightly mis-remembered cross between Shasta and Oroville.

        Construction of the underground Edward Hyatt Pump-Generating Plant was finished shortly after the completion of Oroville Dam. At the time, it was the largest underground power station in the United States,[15] with three 132 megawatt (MW) conventional turbines and three 141 MW pump-generators for a total installed capacity of 819 MW.[6] The Hyatt Powerplant is capable of pumping water back into Lake Oroville when surplus power is available. The pump-generators at Hyatt can lift up to 5,610 cubic feet per second (159 m3/s) into Lake Oroville (with a net consumption of 519 MW), while the six turbines combined utilize a flow of 16,950 cubic feet per second (480 m3/s) at maximum generation.[23]

        Since 1969, the Hyatt plant has worked in tandem with an extensive pumped-storage operation comprising two offstream reservoirs west of Oroville. These two facilities are collectively known as the Oroville-Thermalito Complex.[24] Water is diverted into the upper Thermalito reservoir (Thermalito Forebay) via the Thermalito Diversion Dam on the Feather River. During periods of off-peak power use, surplus energy generated at Hyatt is used to lift water from Thermalito’s lower reservoir (the Thermalito Afterbay) to the forebay, which releases water back into the afterbay to generate up to 114 MW of power at times of high demand.[25] The Hyatt and Thermalito plants produce an average of 2.2 billion kilowatt hours (KWh) of electricity each year, about half of the total power produced by the SWP’s eight hydroelectric facilities.[26][27]

        My confusion resulting, IMO, from trying to assimilate too much too quickly without saving links.

        But the primary problem I’m throwing ideas at the whiteboard tying to solve is, AFAIK, one you consider a waste of time: how to make best use of the rapid exponential decline in cost of PV? You think it won’t continue, I think it (probably) will, thus justifying the time and effort I spend trying to explore possible plans and predictions of its deployment.

        I read your post and now realise that Lake Mohave extends right up to the Hoover Dam power station tailraces (I hadn’t realised that before).

        I actually hadn’t noticed the mention in Wiki either, but if I had I would have blown it off until I found the reference to actual water levels. I had actually read the blog post you linked to the first time, and one of the takeaway messages for me was that any pumped storage requiring miles of high-pressure pipe wouldn’t be worth my trouble investigating. (Dredging is “iffy”.)

        Anyway, I’ll repeat that I’m working far in advance of detailed plans/designs with the necessary parameters for good cost estimates, I’m still exploring, trying to find examples of them. Not that, If I find something that looks good, I won’t go ahead and do those estimates. Once I have a (hopefully) optimum design in mind.

      • AK,

        Anyway, I’ll repeat that I’m working far in advance of detailed plans/designs with the necessary parameters for good cost estimates, I’m still exploring, trying to find examples of them. Not that, If I find something that looks good, I won’t go ahead and do those estimates. Once I have a (hopefully) optimum design in mind.

        That’s fine. I’d just urge you to not over state the advocacy for something before you’ve done even the most basic reality check. It’s very easy to do a basic reality check without detailed design data. I’ve already done them for you, although I’d now roughly halve the cost of the pumped hydro component to say $2/W. My original estimate of 20% capacity factor is too high. I’d say 15% is more reasonable. So average cost of power generated from the pumped hydro would be around $13/W average. Add this to the cost of solar PV of about the same comes out at about $26/W. This is about 5 times the cost of nuclear.

        That’s the sort of sanity check you need to do before you waste time and sleep.

      • It’s very easy to do a basic reality check without detailed design data.

        All right, since you insist, let’s try this, just for the pumped part for now:

        Tumat 3 has:

        […] six 250 megawatt (MW) hydro-electric generating units, all capable of either generating electricity or operating in synchronous condenser mode. In addition, three of these generating units have 200 MW underslung pumps used to return water via the pressure pipelines to Talbingo Reservoir.

        I’m going to install 2 GWatts of pumped hydro in the existing facility at Hoover Dam, making the assumption there’s room, but allocating the same $100M for modifications that you used for the new power station. I’ll assume a factor ×15 for inflation, but given the similar head (180m vs. 150m) leave out your ×2 for height. (And I’ll round, and assume USD=AusD).

        •       Power Station Modifications:
                                $100M

        •       Generators :
                                $ 68M

        •       Turbines:
                                $ 72M

        •       Pumps (all 8 turbines):
                                $ 64M

        •       Transformers:
                                $ 16M

        •       Allowance for other:
                                $100M

        •       Project Management (10%):
                                $ 42M

        •       Total excl. Contingency:
                                $462M

        •       Contingency (20%):
                                $ 92.4M

        •       Total Estimated Cost:
                                $554.4

        Dividing $560M/2GWatts (rounding again) yields 28¢/Watt.

        Is this what you’re talking about, or have I done something wrong? It seems consistent with your ~A$744/kW=~60¢/Watt for Tantangara/Blowering , given that half your price is tunnel and cladding.

      • As long as I’m playing with numbers, and with back-of-the-envelope calculations, let’s try this:

        •       Solar Panels: 70¢/Watt

        •       Inversion technology: 10¢/Watt

        •       Support (floating): 5¢/Watt

        •       Transport and Setup 15¢/Watt

        •       Total: $1.00/Watt

        The top line is around what PV costs at the factory gate. The next is around what retail inversion costs on sale (whatever brand). Floating support is a little more complex:

        I’m assuming similar technology to the light closed cell foam you find packaging electronic gear. Cast, with the panel installed at the factory, stackable 40-50 high in standard shipping containers. Take them to the site, dump them in the water, latch them together and hook them up.

        I’m not allowing for much exponential price decrease here, yet, but enough learning curve and good efficiency design (based on parallels from shipping support) to bring the price (of support) down to close to commoditized shipping support.

        Now, I’m installing 2GWatts of floating solar power on Lake Mead, close to Hoover Dam. Just float it and tether it, no other installation costs.

        $2,000M, plus the $560M for 2GWatts of pumped hydro = $2,560. We use that pumped hydro to balance the solar, resulting in 500MWatts continuous. $5.12/Watt. In the ballpark.

        Or let’s put 2.67GWatts of floating solar in, at $3226.67M. Average output 666.67MWatts continuous at $4.84/Watt. Note that the peak could be as high as 3-4 GWatts, including the existing capacity.

        Note also, that soon enough the market will reflect the glut of power during solar peak, so with this system the limit would (probably) be the transmission capacity to deliver it to the customers.

      • So let’s assume we’re 4-5 years down the road, and PV prices have dropped by half: 70¢/Watt installed ($1.00-30¢):

        Now, I’m installing that same 2GWatts of floating solar power on Lake Mead, close to Hoover Dam.

        $1,400M, plus the $560M for 2GWatts of pumped hydro = $1,960. We use that pumped hydro to balance the solar, resulting in 500MWatts continuous. $3.92/Watt. And that assumes no drop in inverter prices.

        Or let’s put 2.67GWatts of floating solar in, at $2426.67M. Average output 666.67MWatts continuous at $3.64/Watt.

        These numbers may be wrong, but they show where I’m coming from.

      • A good overview of pumping in pumped hydro storage: Pumps and Renewable Energy by Joe Zwers

        Finally, the addition of an SSS clutch to a horizontally arranged PHS machine allows the motor to run freely without losses (aside from bearing friction, which is relatively low anyway) and thus provide synchronous condensing support. A spinning generator also adds electrical inertia to the local grid, something which static VAR compensators cannot. This is particularly important in areas that rely on large scale wind and solar farms for generating capacity, but which do not provide the MVars needed for grid stability.

        This is the approach taken at both the Säckingen and Wehr plants where using SSS clutches allows Schluchseewerk to operate its plants in three modes. When sending water to the reservoir, the pump is connected to the M/G and the turbine is disconnected. If the turbine was hard-coupled to the M/G, when the turbine was not in operation, part of the M/G’s power would go to keeping the turbine spinning instead of it all going toward driving the pump. To reduce the load, the water would need to be drained from the turbine, lengthening the time it takes to switch between generation and pumping. With the clutch, both the turbine and the pump can remain full at all times. In addition, there is less wear on the turbine seals, bearings and bushings since the turbine is not continually spinning when not needed.

        The second mode is generation, when the turbine drives the M/G and the pump is disconnected. Since the SSS clutch allows the turbine and M/G to synchronize at any speed, the switchover is fast and smooth.

        But there is a third operating state, when neither pumping nor generation is required. In this case, both the pump and the turbine can be disconnected from the M/G. The M/G can stay connected to the grid and synchronized to it, providing what is known as “reactive power” a key element of grid stability.

        By using pumped hydro storage, and configuring the plants to also provide reactive power, not only can utilities even out the fluctuations caused by adding renewables to the mix, but can boost the stability of their grid. And, as the two Schluchseewerk plants that have been operating continuously for more than forty years demonstrate, this configuration delivers long term reliability.

      • AK,

        These numbers may be wrong, but they show where I’m coming from.

        The numbers are hopelessly wrong, unsupported and not worth wasting time on. I’ve concluded you have no idea how to do any sort of cost estimate or reality check. I’ve given you references any you haven’t studied them. There are many places you can get highlevel cost estimates to do sanity checks on pumped storage and solar. You are not aware of them and don’t know how to do it. Soi it’s pointless.

        More relevant is the fact you are so totally opposed to evaluating the nuclear power option – which is about 5 times cheaper to provide power to meet demand and customer requirements and has far greater potential for cost reduction virtually indefinitely, no resource constraints and has been proving for decades it can provide a large proportion of the electricity for industrial countries. Solar fails on all counts. So your biased advocacy for solar is irrational and worse – it id delaying progress.

      • The numbers are hopelessly wrong, unsupported and not worth wasting time on.

        Well, let’s start with the “sanity check” you demanded for pumped hydro. I used your blog post, which you’ve recommended to me several times, as a model.

        I left out Access roads, Tunnels, Surge shafts, Steel tunnel lining, and Surface Pipes since I assumed they wouldn’t be needed to install at an existing dam site. Should I have included one of those? Can you explain why?

        I used a number similar to yours for modifications to the power station. Is there some other number I should have used?

        I used numbers similar to yours for the generators, Turbines, and Pumps. Given that the overall storage I’m estimating is 2/9 as much as yours, is that out of line? Can you explain why?

        Given the smaller power rating, I used about half your number for Transformers. Is there some other number I should have used? Can you explain why?

        I used half your number for “Allowance for Other”, given that the design I’m estimating includes no tunnels or surface pipes, and involves much less power. Can you explain why if you consider that innapropriate?

        I used the same ratio you did for “project Management” and “Contingency”. Is there some reason I should have used a higher one?

        I’ve concluded you have no idea how to do any sort of cost estimate or reality check.

        You urged me to use your estimate as a model, How do you think I should have done it differently?

        I’ve given you references any you haven’t studied them.

        Well, I studied your estimate well enough to notice that you apparently doubled the number of pumps, yet:

        The facility would generate 9GW peak power, for 3 hours per day from 6 hours of pumping at full pumping rate.

        When I do the math I get 4.5GW for the max pumping power, despite the fact that you appear to have pumps associated with all the generator/motor/turbine assemblies, rather than half as in Tumut 3.

        I was going to ask about that…

      • AK,

        It’s hopeless. You don’t have sufficnet understanding of the subject, you don’t know how to do the most basic of reality checks, you avoid what’s relevant and argue about trivial details. Most importantly, you are not willing to objectively analyse and compare the alternative – i.e. nuclear. That’s how zealots behave. Why do you think you refuse to consider the alternative?

    • “synergies with existing hydropower installations. ”

      Hydro-balancing is oversubscribed in Europe and North America.

      I.E. The Solar People, Wind People, even the coal and nuclear people look at a hydro resoruce and say ‘look…the hydro can balance’ for me.

      In the Pacific Northwest the original estimate was that hydro could balance something like 20GW of wind power. (we have 20 GW of hydro)

      By the time we hit 6 GW of windpower in the region we had ‘balancing problems’.

      Most wind advocates will use 3 parts wind to 1 part water in their projections. I.E. Pacific Northwest should be able to balance 60 GW of wind…the equivalent of California during a heat wave)

      In reality…at 1 part wind…3 parts water you end up with balancing problems.

      The Chinese are projecting 1 part wind – 2 parts water.

      In the pacific Northwest we are playing with load balancing with electric water heaters…

      IMHO Anyone who is using more then 1 part wind – 2 parts water in their ‘theoretical grid’ is smoking crack.

      • These unicorn farts are dense enough to see. Don’t get your nose any closer than your eyes allow.
        ==============

      • In the Pacific Northwest the original estimate was that hydro could balance something like 20GW of wind power. (we have 20 GW of hydro)

        Statements like that are always better for links. It may be obvious to you, but not necessarily to your audience.

        Such as this from May 2010: Think Twice: Why Wind Power Mandates Are Wrong for the Northwest

        The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), the Pacific Northwest’s federal power marketing authority, is charged with integrating the large influx of wind power into the electricity grid. In 1998, BPA’s wind generation was roughly 25 megawatts (MW). Today, it totals 2,780 MW. With the 20071 Oregon Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), which forces utilities to provide a certain percentage of politically preferred renewable energy[2], over 6,000 MW of wind power is expected to be on-line by 20133. In the last few years, BPA has integrated over 19 wind farms (comprising well over 1,000 individual turbines) alongside 5 new substations and 6 tap-lines to connect these new sources of power generation with the rest of the electricity grid4. Currently, BPA has one of the highest ratios of wind power to overall load of any federal power marketing authority in the United States. By the end of 2010, the percentage of wind power in overall energy generation will be approaching an amazingly high 30%. This high proportion of wind power might seem to be a successful outcome of renewable energy mandates, but it is necessary to understand that mandating increased wind generation has negative economic consequences for Pacific Northwest ratepayers while at the same time potentially negating any environmental benefits.

        Then, going on to 2011, there’s this: Wind Turbines May Be Shut Down in Pacific Northwest

        Wind farms up here in the Pacific Northwest may soon be shut down temporarily because there is no transmission capacity to move this green renewable power to where it is needed. A record snowfall in the mountains at the headwaters of the Columbia river system is about to begin melting and will send a surge of water down the river. Because this water cannot be sent over the spill ways without endangering already endangered Salmon and Steelhead fish it needs to be run through the turbines. There is just too much power for the regional markets and the existing transmission infrastructure to handle and thus wind farms are likely to be idled. What this exposes is the need for an improved Ultra high voltage long distance electric transmission network that is capable of moving surplus power from one region to another.

        So how does this compare, by analogy, with the proposals you’re using them to criticize?

        Let’s back up, and notice they were warned: Technical Analysis of Pumped Storage and Integration with Wind Power in the Pacific Northwest August 2009

        The burden of integrating wind power into the Pacific Northwest power grid has been imposed on existing hydroelectric facilities that were not designed for that purpose and already have many operating constraints (maintenance of flow rates, temperature controls, limits in dissolved gas concentration, etc.). This burden is likely to increase maintenance costs and failure rates of the equipment. The wind integration service needs from the existing hydroelectric system will soon exceed system limits due to the combined operational restrictions on the hydroelectric facilities.

        [..]

        It is therefore evident that new transmission interconnections and energy storage facilities will be required.

        PS [Pumped Storage] sites require two water reservoirs with different elevations so that energy can be stored in the upper reservoir and released when needed to generate electricity. When the elevation difference between the reservoirs is large, more energy can be stored using smaller reservoirs, smaller water conveyance conduits, and smaller physical equipment sizes, usually resulting in lower investment costs. A dedicated off-stream PS project will not have operational restrictions imposed such as those that occur on the Columbia River and hence can freely start, stop, reverse, and fluctuate as needed by the power system.

        By investing in the newest technology available, adjustable speed or ternary units, the PS project can not only supply load following, but can become one of the fastest response stations on the power system. It can offer frequency regulation whether pumping or generating, and can allow pumping at less than full load, thereby increasing the flexibility to integrate the PS project specifically with wind energy resources. The big improvement with the new technology is that frequency regulation and load following are also possible in pumping mode. A conventional PS project cannot provide frequency regulation or load following in pumping mode. This is a quantum change in favor of the new technology.

        The present transmission congestion and overload could be reduced by having a PS project located near the wind energy source. Storing wind energy, even a portion during critical times, could allow that same power to flow at a time when the congestion is reduced and/or the power is needed on other parts of the system. Studies for capacity and storage sizing and location of PS projects should determine what percentage of the wind energy needs to be reinforced by PS.

        And so on. Now, all this was almost “after-the-fact”, 2009 vs. 2010 for the “Think Twice” link above, and 2011 for when issues actually arose.

        But what I’m proposing is more thought out in advance. The floating solar will be right there next to the dam, so extra transmission capacity won’t have to be built at first, and when it is it will be for (at least somewhat) balanced supply. The same issues with hitting the ability of existing capacity to balance the output are already expected to require, first new pump/generating capacity, then more afterbay capacity. But the storage (dam) is already there, right next to the solar power source.

        I’m not talking about throwing several gigawatts of floating solar capacity into, for instance, Lake Shasta all at once. I’m talking about a gradual, phased, roll-out, along with scheduled installation of the new pumped storage and transmission facilities as the supply grows to need them.

        IMHO Anyone who is using more then 1 part wind – 2 parts water in their ‘theoretical grid’ is smoking crack.

        Including MHW and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers?

  12. A recent NY Times poll confirmed interest in electoral candidates who want to mitigate the impacts of “climate change” … until specific remedies such as energy taxes, subsidies and higher electric power rates are suggested.

    Then support for such candidates collapses.

  13. That trick where you use the shared categorisation with hydro as “renewable” to pump the tyres of wind and solar? An oldie, but a goodie.

    Why not have a categorisation of “self-stored” energy? It sounds nifty, sort of means something, and we could then lump coal, oil, gas, nukes and hydro together. (Geothermal would take a free ride in our category, but one can afford to be generous with a good power supply.)

    We could call wind and solar “dependent/ intermittent” and make them come across as itinerant hobos.

    Of course, once could simply look at real need and efficiency, but word games are more fun.

    • Think “exponential growth”. It’s actually hydro that’s dragging down wind and solar.

      What matters is growth rate, not current volume.

      • Reliability and affordability matter, don’cha know ?

        Factors much ignored by renewabubble propaganda

      • Reliability may matter, but so do hard limits, such as how much of a season’s water is behind a dam. Mix solar with an existing dam, and you have a fairly cheap way of extending it. Or, from the other perspective, you can use the dam’s pumped hydro capacity to balance the solar.

        Sure, a decade down the road, if solar’s going to continue its growth, new storage technology will have to be added to the mix. But by that time, solar will have had a chance to cut its price in half a couple times.

        Or consider mixing it with gas. Cheap generating capacity (CCGT). Less cheap fuel. But solar, when it’s active, cuts your fuel costs.

        Now, mix all three. Don’t do it at once, phase it in so you get maximum benefit from your CCGT while waiting for the solar to come down farther. Then, add the solar, in big chunks, balanced with pumped hydro, with gas in reserve. Little fuel cost, little fossil carbon emission, full reliability.

        And, AFAIK, fairly cheap.

    • Not far from your proposal Mosomo, for a power system there is a significant distinction between generating resources that are synchronous rotating machines and those using electronic emulation. Hydro, nuclear, coal, gas, thermal solar, geothermal are preferred resources in this classification providing among other factors much needed inertial mass. Solar PV and wind besides being intermittent do not provide other benefits associated with rotating in synchronism with the power system. For storage pumped hydro and compressed air operate in synchronism but not batteries.

    • Of course, [one] could simply look at real need and efficiency, but word games are more fun.

      Indeed. And very few, IMHO, could hope to match the word games played by those who put verbiage into the mouth of the UN’s head honcho, i. e. Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon (and/or his army of high profile bureaucratic lesser-lights, cf UNEP’s Achim Steiner, and WMO’s Michel <There. Is. No. Pause> Jarraud)

      One of Ki-moon’s more recent (but mercifully brief) stunts was to hype-up via video, no less, that which he (and/or his wordsmiths) had dubbed “a main goal of the UN”:

      “everyone around the world a very happy International Day of Happiness! The pursuit of happiness is serious business. Happiness for the entire human family is one of the main goals of the United Nations.”

      As I had noted in that post, it seemed to be of very little consequence that this “main goal” was (and, to the best of my knowledge, still is) conspicuously absent from any official UN documents.

      It is also perhaps worth noting (as I had in that same post) that – contra the UN’s very own survey results (and public promises) – only in the lofty world of UN processing could a bottom of the list “priority” [in this instance, “Action taken on climate change”] make it to a higher level with 3 associated “goals”!

      Furthermore, particularly considering that S. Korea is Ki-moon’s homebase, I, for one, am at a loss for words – other than sheer hypocrisy – to describe Ki-moon’s rather conspicuous sounds of silence on the matter of S. Korea’s planned increase in the number of coal-fired power plants.

      Some of which (although I cannot put my mouse on the specific notification at the moment) will even be (at least partially) funded by the latest and greatest UN’s multi-billion (albeit far from realized) dollar “Green Fund”.

      Amazing, eh?!

  14.  
    Why We Remain Heedless of a Solar Activity Record Defies Logic.

    What we now know about the sun explains everything about late 20th century warming. As it turns out, “the modern Grand maximum (which occurred during solar cycles 19–23, i.e., 1950-2009),” says Ilya Usoskin, “was a rare or even unique event, in both magnitude and duration, in the past three millennia.” [Usoskin et al., Evidence for distinct modes of solar activity, A&A 562 (2014)]

  15. The usual suspects on CAGW promotion.
    The article ranking risks to the earth is a fine example. Many words strung together to try and say that asteroids are a threat, but not a big one.
    The problem, of course, is that there is abundant proof that asteroids of dinosaur killing size definitely can and do hit the earth – we’ve got the craters to prove it – whereas the climate catastrophe exists entirely in a series of computer models which have yet to show any skill.
    Another fine example is the afore-much-discussed “growth” of alternative energy. The missing factor, of course, being cost: there is no mention whatsoever of how much the 100GW of installed solar+wind alternative energy has cost – and how much a geometric or exponential growth would cost even with the pie-in-the-sky cost reduction estimates. These aren’t small numbers.

  16. Danny Thomas

    AK,
    Re:”We’ve actually got a question of fact here: do coal plants continue burning coal when they’re not supplying energy?”
    “And constantly flipping the switch cuts the lifetime of its furnaces. So the company tries to keep the plant running at a minimum of 40-per-cent capacity, come rain or shine. ”
    (Best answer I could find) http://e360.yale.edu/feature/on_the_road_to_green_energy_germany_detours_on_dirty_coal/2769/

    • The Germans don’t switch them off entirely but can cycle to low production rates quite quickly. I linked that above somewhere.

      • Danny Thomas

        Jim D,
        Yes, it was stated they cycled down to a base of 40% in the article you offered and if I recall it stated that was improved from 60% before. I could find nothing about an “idle” state. I guess that capability doesn’t exist at this point with the technology.

      • No, coal can’t do that, but gas can, as far as I know. Better to replace coal with gas where you can. Cleaner too.

      • Backup generation is called contingency reserve. A portion of that must be instantaneously available. Gas plants can’t provide “spinning reserve” (the component that must instantaneously available) from a state of zero output but they can have minimums around 10%. They can do quick starts fast enought to provide the other component of contingency reserve. For reference http://www1.eere.energy.gov/solar/pdfs/50169.pdf

      • Note operating at 10% does not mean it uses 1/10 the fuel. There are lesser efficiencies at both ends of the opertaing range.

    • Thanks Danny.

      You might want to see Jim D’s link above for an alternate view of Germany.

      As I understand it, coal can ramp in under an hour, between the 40% capacity and somewhere close to 100%. This still means that substantial coal burning will continue. I guess as solar and wind increase their penetration, the coal will have to switch to gas, or they’ll have to add considerable pumped hydro (or other storage technology).

      My guess is they’ll have to invent a new financial risk allocation system to allow owners of plants with limited up-time to recover part of their capital costs in assurance payments.

      Unless, of course, storage technology finds a quick breakthrough. Which isn’t impossible but shouldn’t be counted on. IMO.

      • JimD, http://cornerstonemag.net/the-flexibility-of-german-coal-fired-power-plants-amid-increased-renewables/

        but,

        As long as money is not an object you can do anything you want. Some folks have money issues though.

      • More on Germany:

        More on Denmark:

        Cheap electricty is undoubtedly key for Grrrowth and happiness.

      • I don’t think anybody has claimed that cheap electricity is the key factor in determining economic growth and the happiness of the peeps, wee willy. That would be stoopid. Try to be a little less disingenuous, willy. A man of your former stature shouldn’t be spending the precious time he has left parading straw men on a freaking blog.

      • Those of you who are actually interested in making useful comparisons of GDP among countries and the relative prices of electricity, pork chops, potatoes, vodka, etc. you don’t just convert everything to dollars, euros, or whatever using the nominal exchange rates. You got to use Purchasing Power Parity. Google it. (Don’t tell wee willy.)

      • > I don’t think anybody has claimed that cheap electricity is the key factor in determining economic growth and the happiness of the peeps

        Of course you don’t, Don Don. Providing cheap energy is one of the reasons why energy is subsidized. If you prefer testimonies:

        America’s energy supply should be stable, diverse, and affordable.

        http://www.inhofe.senate.gov/issues/energy-environment

        Next time, scratch your own itch.

      • Good morning, Don Don:

        Prices of electricity and gas have increased for most of the last decade, road fuel for most of the past two decades. Price rises have impacts on industry, economic growth and inflation. Millions more households are in fuel poverty and spending on heating, power and motoring has increased by billions of pounds. There is little prospect of a sustained reversal in these trends. It is more likely that price increases will continue into the medium term at least.

        http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/research/key-issues-for-the-new-parliament/green-growth/energy-price-rises/

        Is the UK Parliement stoopid?

      • So why would these geniuses at the UK parliament ignore the subsidies elephant in the renewable room and instead propose an authoritarian solution as a result of their analysis. There’s a question willard might wonder well about.
        ===========

      • Willard is blind to the fact that renewable subsidies hurt the poor and fossil fuel subsidies help the poor. When will willard be poor enough to wonder well?
        ==============

      • According to Koldie, the elephant is at the left, in the image above.

        A quote:

        [M]ost energy sources are subsidised, and none more so than fossil fuels. Indeed in straight numerical terms, subsidies for oil, coal and gas far outweigh those for renewables.

        According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), in 2012 global fossil fuel subsidies totalled $544bn (£323bn; 392bn euros), while those for renewables amounted to $101bn. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) puts the total for hydrocarbons nearer $2 trillion.

        </blockquote

        Op. cit

      • > fossil fuel subsidies help the poor

        Koldie suddenly recalls the proper meme that exploits an idea that is intuitive but wrong:

        Finally, and somewhat counter-intuitively, they tend to increase the gap between rich and poor. The poorest in developing economies do not own cars or power-hungry appliances, so benefit little from cheap petrol and electricity.

        “In general, a very small proportion of subsidies reach the really poor,” says Mr Varro. “They are an inefficient and unfair way to help the poor.”
        In fact, according to the IMF, the richest 20% get six times the benefit of the poorest 20%.

        Ibid.

      • I hope nobody reads that article and finds out that way most of the fossil fuel subsidizing goes on in developing countries, wee willy. Your socialist buddies in your favorite country Venezuela, for example. They give away petrol to keep the masses in line. Mexico does the same, but it doesn’t keep the people from fleeing to greener pastures in the good ole U.S.A. You are wasting your precious time here, willy.

      • I think you may need to revisit what you don’t think, Don Don:

        In this paper, we attempt to derive and test the role of energy prices on economic growth. We first developed a two-sector endogenous growth model, based on Rebelo (1991). We modified the model such that consumption goods sector uses energy as an input along with capital. The model allows us to show that the growth rate of energy price has a negative effect on the growth rates of energy use and real GDP, consistent with the finding of van Zon and Yetkiner (2003), who studied a similar model by placing energy as an input in the intermediate goods sector. Following this, derived theoretical relationships between energy prices and economic growth and energy consumption were tested empirically using error-correction based panel cointegration tests and panel Autoregressive Distributed Lag (ARDL) approach. We applied this methodology on annual data of composite energy prices, GDP per capita and energy consumption per capita for fifteen countries for the period between 1978 and 2011. We found significant cointegration between energy prices and real GDP per capita as well as between energy prices and energy consumption per capita. Moreover, long-run elasticity estimates reveal a negative and significant impact of composite energy prices on both GDP per capita and energy consumption per capita.

        https://ideas.repec.org/p/izm/wpaper/1303.html

        If you could contribute to the knowledge pool by dispensing Denizens with your deep economic wisdom from time to time, Judy might appreciate more your man handling, Don Don.

      • Not going to waste time reading your comments, willy. Makes me sad to see what you are doing. Adios.

      • willard, “We found significant cointegration between energy prices and real GDP per capita as well as between energy prices and energy consumption per capita. ”

        Well, I stand corrected. The solution is more taxes. Here in the US we can tax the retail electric users, that would be average guy, and subsidized big corporate industry so everyone will be happier.

        “The burden shouldered by retail electricity consumers in Germany is not shared by the industrial sector. On the contrary – industry is paying less for electricity than it used to, because it pays wholesale prices, and wholesale prices have been pushed sharply down over the last few years thanks to Germany’s growing renewable energy capacity”

        Nothing like government by the industry for the industry.

      • > Nothing like government by the industry for the industry.

        Just for you, Cap’n:

        A new study from Princeton spells bad news for American democracy—namely, that it no longer exists.

        Asking “[w]ho really rules?” researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page argue that over the past few decades America’s political system has slowly transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy, where wealthy elites wield most power.

        Using data drawn from over 1,800 different policy initiatives from 1981 to 2002, the two conclude that rich, well-connected individuals on the political scene now steer the direction of the country, regardless of or even against the will of the majority of voters.

        http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/princeton-experts-say-us-no-longer-democracy

    • No, coal can’t do that, but gas can, as far as I know. Better to replace coal with gas where you can. Cleaner too.

      Hoo-ray!

      We agree. Gas is most importantly cheaper, cleaner, more flexible, and for those who think it matters, much lower in CO2 output than coal.

    • Thanks Danny. “The fundamental requirement for an energy source designed to be turned to when renewables can’t deliver is that it can be switched on and off quickly. But lignite plants are very slow to switch. Kerstin Schilling, information officer at Vattenfall’s Schwarze Pumpe lignite power plant, said it takes that facility up to eight hours to power up. And constantly flipping the switch cuts the lifetime of its furnaces. So the company tries to keep the plant running at a minimum of 40-per-cent capacity, come rain or shine. ”

      The greenies still won’t face reality … but no surprise…

    • It takes hours to start a coal plant once it’s switched off. Typical coal plant minimums are around 50%, so 40% for Germany is good. At 40% output the plant will not be at its max efficiency and will emit more Co2 per MW than at higher operating levels. This slide show has some concepts graphically though it does not address minimums that I’ve seen. http://www.slideshare.net/mobile/miguelmena2013/ece4762011-lect16

      • “At 40% output the plant will not be at its max efficiency and will emit more Co2 per MW than at higher operating levels. ”

        Key point. Sadly, few regular folk outside of CE will ever see or understand this.

  17. Australian Power Consumption Load Curves

    There are two distinct peaks on that winter diagram. In the morning — breakfast, showers, turns on the heaters etc – and then again in the afternoon and evening — when people come home and turn on the heaters, stoves, microwaves, washing machines and dryers.

    Without rearranging our biological clocks, or reforming our civilization, there’s no real possibility of ‘flattening out’ the two humps.

    Renewable power just cannot fill those unmovable daily time-slot requirements.

    http://joannenova.com.au/2012/05/a-nation-still-drawing-18000mw-in-its-sleep-cant-go-solar/

    • Small gas turbine plants are being used in the NE USA for peak demand and I suppose they could also be used in conjunction with a wind/solar dominated grid. But i mention every time I can that if we put the effort into clean nuclear fusion that we put into climate research we would be there already. Amazingly, even without incentive prize or government grants Lockheed Martin is claiming it will breakout a compact fusion prototype in 5-10 years.

      • Speaking of Lockheed Martin:

        In FY 2014, top awardee Lockheed Martin received $25.06 billion in prime contracts or 8.8% of total contract funds awarded by the DoD. Runner-up is Boeing with $16.86 billion (5.9%) followed by General Dynamics in third place with $13.66 billion (4.8%). Raytheon received $11.85 billion (4.2%) followed by Northrop Grumman, United Technologies, L-3 Communications, BAE Systems, Huntington Ingalls, and SAIC/Leidos. BAE Systems, #8 on the list, was the largest foreign defense contractor in FY 2014.

        http://www.bga-aeroweb.com/Top-100-Defense-Contractors-2014.html

      • I guess that explains this:


        Washington (AFP) – Most Americans’ incomes continued to fall last year, but the richest 20 percent saw theirs rise, a new Labor Department report showed Thursday.

        In fresh data that adds fire to a growing debate over income inequality, the department said that Americans on average saw income decline for the second straight year in the 12 months to June 2014.

        The average pre-tax income fell 0.9 percent from the same period a year earlier, to $64,432.

        But broken down into quintiles, those in the top 20 percent of incomes saw their money stream grow by 0.9 percent to $166,048 on average.

        http://news.yahoo.com/except-rich-americans-incomes-fell-last-220335392.html;_ylt=AwrBJR_C1B1VzXsAYUvQtDMD

      • Willard,

        Not that it has anything to do with climate, but do know what Lockheed Martin builds, right?

        If you want to discuss the F35, fine. I doubt it belongs at this forum.

      • If you can’t connect security questions with energy questions, timg, then you may not be pay due diligence to the foreign policy of your country. That Lockheed Martin gets more % of the DoD pie than Denizens are allowed every 1000 comments or so indicates that Ron Graf’s “without incentive prize or government grants” sounds like a moot caveat to me. Over the years, that’s billions upon billions of overhead cost, some of which may very well be reinvested in nuclear R&D.

        Speaking of which:

        Last week, Bill Gates wrote a post about needing “energy miracles.” He drew attention to some eye-opening statistics:

        60% of the federal government’s R&D spending is on defense. About 25% is on health. Energy spending? 2%.

        The US ranks 11th in overall percentage of the GDP that goes to energy research (Finland and China are the top two, respectively)

        R&D spending on energy isn’t just a government problem. It’s also a serious problem in the private sector. The energy industry invests less than half of one percent (0.42%) of its revenue on research. In contrast, the pharmaceutical industry puts 20.5% of sales into R&D, and aerospace and defense spends 11.5%.

        http://www.techrepublic.com/article/bill-gates-we-need-energy-miracles/

        Ron Graf would need to show that more than 2% of the budget is invested in climate for another claim of his to hold.

      • Willard – defense is a Constitutional mandate and given the bevy of fundamentalist Muslims in the world, I contend there is a definite need for it, not to mention China and Russia. There is no Constitutional mandate for “green” energy. The Constitution is the law, although the Government is ignoring it. But still.

      • http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/05/25/war-inevitable-paul-craig-roberts/

        The American public contains a large number of misinformed people who think they know everything.

      • ExxonMobil Does Irak failed to declare that constitutional mandate, jim2:

        The strength of our global organization allows us to explore for and capture all resource types, across all geological and geographical environments, using industry-leading technology and capabilities.

        http://www.exxonmobiliraq.com/business-opportunities.html

        The strength of its global organization may not alone allows them to explore for and capture all resource types,

      • That is incoherent, willy. I am worried about you.

      • On the one hand:

        “Of course it’s about oil; we can’t really deny that,” said Gen. John Abizaid, former head of U.S. Central Command and Military Operations in Iraq, in 2007. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan agreed, writing in his memoir, “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” Then-Sen. and now Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the same in 2007: “People say we’re not fighting for oil. Of course we are.”

        For the first time in about 30 years, Western oil companies are exploring for and producing oil in Iraq from some of the world’s largest oil fields and reaping enormous profit. And while the U.S. has also maintained a fairly consistent level of Iraq oil imports since the invasion, the benefits are not finding their way through Iraq’s economy or society.

        These outcomes were by design, the result of a decade of U.S. government and oil company pressure. In 1998, Kenneth Derr, then CEO of Chevron, said, “Iraq possesses huge reserves of oil and gas-reserves I’d love Chevron to have access to.” Today it does.

        http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/19/opinion/iraq-war-oil-juhasz/

        On the other hand:

        The U.S. war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest, a study released on Thursday said.

        http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/14/us-iraq-war-anniversary-idUSBRE92D0PG20130314

        You’re being played, folks.

  18. Read the Franzen link – great to see him relate the successful growth of Bald Eagle population. That issue led me to Blair King at A Chemist in Langley on birds. Prof Curry have you seen his two recent posts digging into the peer-reviewed science on bird deaths caused by wind vs fossil fuels and nuclear.

    It’s Steve McIntyre-esque work. He’s discovered substantive flaws in the primary science calcs being used by environmentalists to spruce wind energy.

    http://achemistinlangley.blogspot.com.au/2015/04/when-peer-review-is-not-enough-on.html

    http://achemistinlangley.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/wind-energy-and-avian-mortality-why.html

    • thx for these links

      • Vaughan Pratt

        Those who take those links seriously will no doubt reject out of hand the wildly different statistics in this link:

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/13/wind-farms-eagle-deaths_n_3915629.html

        The bottom line is that between three and four orders of magnitude more birds, of any species, die of other causes than die by being struck by a wind turbine blade. See e.g.

        http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2011/03/how-many-birds

        Those Don Quixotes among bird lovers who are tilting at windmills would serve the avian population better, by three orders of magnitude (!), were they to turn their attention to tilting at cats. Or four orders if they were to work on increasing the longevity of birds.

        Luke 12:6-7: Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.

        In chess a queen is worth about ten pawns. In renewable energy debates it’s a good question how many sparrows a bald eagle is worth.

      • Why can’t we have wind turbines that kill mice?
        ==============

      • This is really some low brow reasoning, doc;

        “The bottom line is that between three and four orders of magnitude more birds, of any species, die of other causes than die by being struck by a wind turbine blade. See e.g.”

        What would you think of a second amendment proponent making an argument like that? Your huffpo sensibilities would be mortified. You are going downhill, doc.

      • Cats alone kill thousands of times more birds than turbine blades. People against turbine blades are using a dishonest argument here just aimed at duping some people who they don’t expect to research the numbers for themselves.

      • JimD, “People against turbine blades are using a dishonest argument here just aimed at duping some people who they don’t expect to research the numbers for themselves.”

        Actually, people that bring up birds, desert tortoises, blue voles, etc. are providing food for thought for the warm and fuzzies that modify their “conservationist” morals to suit their agenda. There is a large group of conservationists that would rather have semi-wilderness areas set aside to remain as natural as possible without butt ugly wind farms, solar bird fryers, corn for non-drinkable alcohol and pulp wood for Danish and UK wood pellets.

      • captd, turbine blades won’t cause extinction. Climate change has a record of causing extinctions.

      • JimD, “captd, turbine blades won’t cause extinction. Climate change has a record of causing extinctions.”

        Man causes most extinctions, mainly by habitat loss and invasive species introduction. Dr. Cheese Whiz caused a number of “extinctions” by redefining extinction to micro habitats. So now we have a scientific oddity, rediscovery of extinct species. Who wooda thunk that some of Dr. Cheese Whiz’s extinct butterflies were just on a sabbatical?

      • captd, people have to decide for themselves whether they are concerned about extinctions. If so, be realistic, and don’t include wind turbines as a threat. That’s just misplaced politicking and can be exposed as such.

      • JiMD, ” If so, be realistic, and don’t include wind turbines as a threat.”

        As usual you miss the point. Potential endangerment of a species has been used as a tool to stop development fairly often in the past. While winds farms are unlikely to cause mass bird extinctions, they have and will kill endanger species like the California Condor and a few other raptors. I am pretty sure we could find a spotted owl or two killed by a wind or solar installation. If endanger species death is allowed with your alternate energy policy, but not for a hydro-electric project, you are playing favorites.

      • JimD is blind to his bias, but none are so blind as those that do not want to see. As for V. Pratt, I’m with you – anytime I want the truth I look for the Huffington Post. After all, any news org that gets the bulk of their articles for free from starry-eyed volunteers is gotta be worth some money. And Then There Was That whole lawsuit thingy when it was sold. You get what you pay for …

        I am also looking for windmills that dispatch mice and wood rats.

      • captd, I don’t like extinction fake facts being used for political purposes, whichever side does it. Genuine extinction is an issue. Fake extinction is not. That was the point.

      • “captd, turbine blades won’t cause extinction.”

        Because they are usually stationary. Right, yimmy?

      • Chipmunks are not just a dog’s breakfast anymore.
        ==============

      • JimD, “Genuine extinction is an issue. Fake extinction is not. That was the point.”

        You will never get rid of the politics. The best you can do is acknowledge the politics and try to move to a “normal” discussion.

        Wind and solar have a place in an energy portfolio but there are real financial and technological limits. Germany and Denmark subsidized industry at the expense of the average citizen because that fit their political and tax model. The US doesn’t have the same model and has different resources.

        Denmark for example has coal fired power plants that are over 90% efficient because they have state run heating systems. The US could do the same thing but we have anti-coal and anti-corporate advocates. Maximizing efficiency and R&D should be the rational goal, but politics isn’t really rational is it? .

      • Denmark and Germany are net importers of coal. It is an incentive for them to reduce coal usage for economic and security benefits. In terms of jobs too, it is a net gain to have home-produced energy. Being importers, they have a different balance to consider from coal producers.

      • JimD, “Denmark and Germany are net importers of coal. It is an incentive for them to reduce coal usage for economic and security benefits.”

        Right, that is why Denmark is planning to import wood pellets instead of coal at a higher cost per BTU. Let’s see wood pellets are around $250/ton and 165mBTU/ton and coal around $160/ton and 24mBTU/ton. That should boost Denmark’s cost per kw to around 50 cents. They may need to start importing cow dung from India.

      • captd, if wood pellets can be done in a sustainable way, that would be an improvement over coal, but some coal is also to be replaced by local renewable energy.

      • When it comes to cost, Boisvert, like most Americans, seems to consider all money spent on energy to be equal. Germans see the situation quite differently. A euro spent on electricity generated by traditional fuels such as nuclear and coal benefits a utility. But a euro spent on power generated by solar or wind enriches individuals and communities. This principle, known as democratizing energy, is a cornerstone of the Energiewende.

        http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/green-energy-bust-response-to-will-boisvert

        There is still hope Americans will one day pay due diligence to democratizing energy.

    • The most important issue with wind energy is the cost, the effectiveness at abating emissions and the abatement cost.

      Wind energy costs about four times more than the existing coal fired plants, that, due to government regulations which mandate wind power as must take, are forcing coal plants to increase their price for the electricity they are allowed to sell or shut down.

      Wind power is significantly less effective at reducing emissions than commonly assumed. When wind contributes 4% of electricity it is about 80% effective in Australia. Whey it contributes 17% of electricity it is 53% effective in Ireland. The existing legislation in Australia requires wind to generate around 15% of Australia’s electricity by 2020. At that stage, wind effectiveness at reducing emissions may be down to near 50% too.

      CO2 abatement cost is inversely proportional to the effectiveness. So, when effectiveness is 50%, the CO2 abatement cost is twice the abatement cost estimated if effectiveness was not taken into account in the analyses.

      When effectiveness is taken into account Australia’s renewable energy targets RET in 2020 could be costing 2 to 5 times the carbon tax, which was rejected by the voters in 2013; 6 to 14 times the current EU carbon price ; and more than 100 times the price of international carbon price futures out to 2020.

  19. What do conservative policy intellectuals think about climate change? Three categories: Adapters, Handwringers and Deniers.
    http://grist.org/politics/what-do-conservative-policy-intellectuals-think-about-climate-change/

  20. An application of Pareto Principle to climate policy

    I suspect, less than 5% of the world’s electricity is generated off-grid (in Australia it is 6%). But the fact off-grid generation is such a small proportion of total generation is relevant because it means that, applying the Pareto Principle, if we want to reduce the GHG emissions intensity of electricity, our focus should be on grid-connected generation, not on off-grid technologies. This chart (from a link in a recent WIR) spurred my question:

    http://grist.org/climate-energy/a-way-to-get-power-to-the-worlds-poor-without-making-climate-change-worse/

    According IEA, Energy contributed 69% of global GHG emissions in 2010 according, see Figure 1 here: http://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/CO2EmissionsFromFuelCombustionHighlights2014.pdf. Electricity and heat generation contributed 42% in 2012 (Figure 9). Transport (23%) and Industry (20%) combined contributed about the same proportion as electricity and heat.

    We have proven technologies available to replace fossil fuel electricity generation. The only real problem is the cost. However we do not have proven technologies available to replace fossil fuels from transport or the emissions from industry. Therefore, we can achieve the fastest emissions reductions by replacing fossil fuel technologies for electricity generation with low emissions technologies. (It’s worth noting that programs to improve end-use energy efficiency will have negligible lasting effect; therefore, the effort must be on fuel substitution, not on end-use energy efficiency improvements.)

    Most existing fossil fuel electricity generation plants will be replaced over the next 50 years or so. The replacement will be with technologies that are fit for purpose, meet the requirements and are expected to supply electricity at lowest cost over the life of the plant.

    Consequently, we don’t need UN sponsored top-down regulations nor any government imposed top-down regulations or mandates to drive the substitution of fossil fuel by low emissions technologies. We just need to reduce the cost of the low-emissions technologies that are proven, fit-for-purpose and meet the requirements. The competitive pressures will do the rest. Thereafter, fossil fuels technologies would be replaced, over time, with cheaper fit for purpose technologies without any need for government or UN intervention.

    Furthermore, as competitive pressures drive the cost of these technologies down, electricity will become cheaper compared with gas for heating and for transport fuels. Therefore, electricity will substitute for some gas for heating and for some petroleum transport fuels. Electricity’s proportion of total energy consumption will increase continually. Therefore, making electricity near zero emissions and cheaper could lead to as much as a 40% reduction of global GHG emissions from energy in around 50 years.

    Conclusion: the rational policy approach is to focus 80% to 90% of our efforts on reducing the cost of electricity from the already proven, fit-for-purpose electricity generation technology.

    • electricity will become cheaper compared with gas for heating and for transport fuels.

      I think it true to say that that the cost of energy will never decrease while we rely on fossil fuels because they are finite resources. The sooner we move away the sooner we will see the improvements in technology that will lead us on that path.

      • I should clarify that to mean the long term trend will always be up, not that there won’t be short term fluctuations in prices.

      • Joseph,

        I think you may have missied the main point I’ve been banging on about. there will be no progress until such time as those who Are most concerned about GHG emissions begin advocating for economically rational policies. As long as they keep advocating for irrational policies there will be no progress.

        By the way, the real cost of fossil fuels (i.e. after inflation) has been declining since we first started using fossil fuels. Furthermore, the cost of energy has achieved massive cost reductions each time we’ve made a transition from lower energy density to higher energy density fuels, Examples are: wind to wood to coal to oil to nuclear. Coal and oil to nuclear gives a factor of 20,000 increase in energy density to the current breed of pressureised light water reactors. it will be a factor of up to 2 mijllion when we move to breeder reactors like the IFR and many times more when we move to fusion. This is the future. Those who like to call themselves ‘progressives’ need to embrace it and start advocating for progress instead of continually advocating to block genuine progress.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        @PL: Furthermore, the cost of energy has achieved massive cost reductions each time we’ve made a transition from lower energy density to higher energy density fuels,

        By weight or volume?

        Or is this true for both?

      • Vaughan Pratt

        The reason I ask is that, if by weight, compressed hydrogen has three times the energy density of petrol: 142 MJ/kg vs. 44.

        This might explain why fuel-cell vehicles like the Hyundai Tucson carrying 5.5 kg of hydrogen have 1.5-4 times the range of battery vehicles, namely 1.5 times the range of a $105,000 car like the Tesla P85D and 4 times the range of a $29,000 Nissan Leaf.

        Not to mention a five-minute refueling time.

        Fifty litres of petrol (about 13 US gallons) weigh 38.5 kg or five times the 5.5 kg of hydrogen needed to transport the Tucson some 300 miles.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        @VP: 38.5 kg or five times the 5.5 kg of hydrogen

        Oops, that should have been seven times.

      • There are massive issues with hydrogen as a fuel. Forget it. The solution to transport fuels will be something like this: unlimited transport fuels (gasoline/petrol, diesel, jet fuel) from sea water and nuclear power: http://bravenewclimate.com/2013/01/16/zero-emission-synfuel-from-seawater/

      • **By weight or volume?

        Or is this true for both?
        Vaughan Pratt | April 5, 2015 at 3:57 am |

        The reason I ask is that, if by weight, compressed hydrogen has three times the energy density of petrol: 142 MJ/kg vs. 44.–

        Difference is tank weight is insignificant with petrol and tank weight of high compressed hydrogen is very significant factor.
        So 100 kg empty high pressure tank could weigh 107 kg when filled
        with hydrogen. Whereas with petrol an empty tank might weigh 5 kg
        and when filled weigh 55 kg.

        And also have the volume issue of the high pressure hydrogen tank.

      • There are massive issues with hydrogen as a fuel. Forget it.

        Issues certainly. Especially for vehicles. But “Forget it”? I don’t think so. Put it aside pending new information maybe. Forklifts, operated by trained personnel under corporate supervision, aren’t cars of course.

        But while I first dismissed H2 as too dangerous, a little research discovered it’s widely used in industry, stored at 300-350 bar. For fixed storage as part of a balancing system, it would appear to be fairly mature technology. Of course, recovering the energy via combusion would get fairly low turnaround efficiencies (50%?), and fuel cells aren’t anywhere mature yet, although the cost will probably come down dramatically with time.

        The solution to transport fuels will be something like this: unlimited transport fuels (gasoline/petrol, diesel, jet fuel) from sea water and nuclear power: [link]

        Probably. Something like. If solar, with compressed hydrogen load balancing, becomes cheaper would you switch to that? Or continue pushing nuclear?

        I think it will, obviously, which is why I concentrate on that technology.

      • Hydrogen stored at 5,000 PSI doesn’t sound dangerous at all.

      • As so often happens with those with little or no management experience they get diverted into discussing irrelevancies. They “can’t see the wood for the trees”. The purpose of my comment was to illustrate how applying the Pareto Principle shows clearly that virtually all our attention should be on removing the impediments that are causing the low emissions electricity generation technologies that are fit for purpose to be higher cost than fossil fuels. That’s where an experieced manager’s focus would be, not in getting sidetracked into arguing about trivia.

        Can I urge to stop avoiding the obvious. Apply the Pareto Principle:

        The value of the Pareto Principle for a manager is that it reminds you to focus on the 20 percent that matters. …. Identify and focus on those things.

        http://management.about.com/cs/generalmanagement/a/Pareto081202.htm

        Also, Pareto distribution: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_distribution

        As I said in my comment above:

        “…, we can achieve the fastest emissions reductions by replacing fossil fuel technologies for electricity generation with low emissions technologies.”

      • Fire the managers. Oh, we’re getting around to it, slowly.
        ==========

    • “…we don’t need UN sponsored top-down regulations…”

      The UN needs UN sponsored top-down regulations.

    • Jim Hansen agrees with Peter Lang. From Hansen’s letter:

      ======================================================

      To those influencing environmental policy but opposed to nuclear power:

      As climate and energy scientists concerned with global climate change, we are writing to urge you to advocate the development and deployment of safer nuclear energy systems. We appreciate your organization’s concern about global warming, and your advocacy of renewable energy. But continued opposition to nuclear power threatens humanity’s ability to avoid dangerous climate change.

      We call on your organization to support the development and deployment of safer nuclear power systems as a practical means of addressing the climate change problem. Global demand for energy is growing rapidly and must continue to grow to provide the needs of developing economies. At the same time, the need to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions is becoming ever clearer. We can only increase energy supply while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions if new power plants turn away from using the atmosphere as a waste dump.

      Renewables like wind and solar and biomass will certainly play roles in a future energy economy, but those energy sources cannot scale up fast enough to deliver cheap and reliable power at the scale the global economy requires. While it may be theoretically possible to stabilize the climate without nuclear power, in the real world there is no credible path to climate stabilization that does not include a substantial role for nuclear power

      We understand that today’s nuclear plants are far from perfect. Fortunately, passive safety systems and other advances can make new plants much safer. And modern nuclear technology can reduce proliferation risks and solve the waste disposal problem by burning current waste and using fuel more efficiently. Innovation and economies of scale can make new power plants even cheaper than existing plants. Regardless of these advantages, nuclear needs to be encouraged based on its societal benefits.

      Quantitative analyses show that the risks associated with the expanded use of nuclear energy are orders of magnitude smaller than the risks associated with fossil fuels. No energy system is without downsides. We ask only that energy system decisions be based on facts, and not on emotions and biases that do not apply to 21st century nuclear technology.

      While there will be no single technological silver bullet, the time has come for those who take the threat of global warming seriously to embrace the development and deployment of safer nuclear power systems as one among several technologies that will be essential to any credible effort to develop an energy system that does not rely on using the atmosphere as a waste dump.

      With the planet warming and carbon dioxide emissions rising faster than ever, we cannot afford to turn away from any technology that has the potential to displace a large fraction of our carbon emissions. Much has changed since the 1970s. The time has come for a fresh approach to nuclear power in the 21st century.

      We ask you and your organization to demonstrate its real concern about risks from climate damage by calling for the development and deployment of advanced nuclear energy.

      Sincerely,

      Dr. Ken Caldeira, Senior Scientist, Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution

      Dr. Kerry Emanuel, Atmospheric Scientist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

      Dr. James Hansen, Climate Scientist, Columbia University Earth Institute

      Dr. Tom Wigley, Climate Scientist, University of East Anglia and the National Center for Atmospheric Research

    • Saying “the only problem is cost [with respect to energy generation]” is like saying the only problem with sunburn is the sun.
      Cost is precisely the issue. So long as alternative energy is more expensive than fossil fuel – which it is, at a roughly 3x rate due to the capacity factor – it is going to be economically impossible to force any large numbers of people or nations to switch to it.

  21. I agree 100% with this statement by Dr John Constable “Our data shows that climate policies aren’t working. Why does that scare our opponents?http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/environment/climatechange/11511904/Our-data-shows-that-climate-policies-arent-working.-Why-does-that-scare-our-opponents.html

    An insurance policy is a good idea, but it has to be smart; the premium paid has to be proportional to the risk, and the policy has to offer some real cover. The costs of the current approach, however, are extreme, and the contribution to preventing climate change negligible. Far from being a denier (whatever that means) I see myself and others like me as taking climate change rather more seriously than those who are attempting to drive through a policy of command and control which is bound to fail.

    However, I strongly disagree with his advocacy for a carbon price. That won’t succeed. It is another top down, government imposed, boondoggle. It’s the opposite of what he claims he is advocating for.

  22. From the Katrina Schwartz article:

    “The canals that discharge floodwaters from urban areas into the Atlantic are gravity-driven – that is, they flow downhill.”

    Whew, thank goodness for that magnificent scientific insight. I always wondered what drove canals. Shoot, if we can finally figure out how canals work, why can’t we figure out how the climate works?

    I think I’ll become a warmist.

  23. “How does climate stack up against other worst-case scenarios? …”

    Climate change has always been the worst scenario, from cooling. There are plenty of examples in history. To be fixated on the imagined dangers of warming to the extent of disregarding the dangers of cooling, is unhinged.

    • An Extraordinay Popular Delusion and Madness of the Crowd. We’ve been here before, and some have survived.
      ===============

      • The essential task is to define and predict natural variability. We do not yet have a value for the level of our effect on the climate, or a clear picture of whether the effects would be detrimental or not. Nether are fully solvable without explanations for natural variability.

      • […] explanations for natural variability.

        natural variability” is a natural feature of almost all hyper-complex interconnected non-linear systems. It doesn’t need “explanations”, it should be the default assumption.

      • Interconnected with what to cause the changes where and when they occur?
        Maybe the assumption at fault is that it is internal. Because if it is solar driven and you know what the sign of the relationship is with say ocean modes, then you have a very good measure of the real effects of increased greenhouse gases.

      • Interconnected with what to cause the changes where and when they occur?

        Interconnected within itself. A “climate” isn’t a thing. It’s a whole bunch of things that act on one another in complex, non-linear ways.

        Maybe the assumption at fault is that it is internal.

        The default assumption should be that there’s internal variation. IMO that such variation should be effectively scale free, although that’s certainly open to question.

        Application of network theory to climate is still in its infancy, IMO.

        Unlike most of the real-world networks in which nodes and edges are well defined, nodes in climate networks are identified with the spatial grid points of underlying global climate data set, which is defined arbitrarily and can be represented at various resolutions. Two nodes are connected by an edge depending on the degree of statistical independence between corresponding pairs of time-series taken from climate data, on the basis of similarity shared in climatic variability.[1][3]

        Before it can actually function as a maturing science, nodes will have to have been identified on the basis of specific effects on the system, such as the Himalaya/Tibetan Plateau Complex, or the South China Sea.

        But, AFAIK, it’s a general feature of evolving dynamic systems that can be represented by such networks that if you follow the value of one simplistic metric (e.g. “average temperature”) it will show pseudo-random variation without needing any external “perturbation” or “forcing”.

      • AK said:
        “The default assumption should be that there’s internal variation.”

        I do not see any grounds for making such an assumption, let alone be stating that one should make such an assumption. Trying to explain variations in one part of the system by changes in another part is never going to add up. If it did it would have happened already. The scale of short term changes in North Atlantic Oscillation states can never have an internal explanation, there’s nothing else internal moving at such scales to force it. Multidecadal global variations like the ~69yr AMO envelope is hardly what one should assume would occur in a well thermally damped system full of self regulatory negative feedbacks and thermostatic controls. The default assumption should be that there would be essentially no climate change if it’s strictly internal variability, and far less regional weather variability.

      • The default assumption should be that there would be essentially no climate change if it’s strictly internal variability, and far less regional weather variability.

        Sheer ign0rance. Willfully blind, since I offered links.
        https://www.google.com/search?num=100&biw=1600&bih=789&q=complex+nonlinear+systems+for+dummies&oq=complex+nonlinear+systems+for+dummies

      • AK said:
        “But, AFAIK, it’s a general feature of evolving dynamic systems that can be represented by such networks that if you follow the value of one simplistic metric (e.g. “average temperature”) it will show pseudo-random variation without needing any external “perturbation” or “forcing”.”

        And that leads to the assumption that climate makes weather and a change in climate will effect weather extremes. Except that weather extremes contrary to the change in climate always occur, such as little ice age type temperatures in winter episodes since 2009. And there’s nothing that can account for that besides a change in an external forcing.

      • AK said: “Sheer ignorance. Willfully blind”

        That is how I feel about assumptions of internal variability, simply from study of the variability in a long regional temperature series such as CET. There is nothing in the climate system that will force e.g. a short cold winter episode, no reason for the North Atlantic Oscillation to spontaneously dive negative on its own accord.
        Rational analysis of meteorological data at the noise level, immediately questions assumptions of internal variability, if anything it suggests the need to search for an external driver at the scale of weather variability.

    • “Climate change has always been the worst scenario, from cooling.”

      Correct. The great expansion of Homo Sapiens Sapiens occurred entirely within the current interglacial. Prior to that HSS was cowering in caves avoiding savage cold and apex predators. Warm is good. Not too many people vacation in Greenland, Iceland, Antarctica, or the Arctic but Hawaii gets pretty crowded.

      • I’ve got the first journal of ‘Equatorial Cities’ archived. It features floating cities modeled upon the jellyfish.
        =====================

      • The comment section deteriorated into a food fight over whether to inject jellyfish DNA into humans or the other way around. I resented the offhand flinging around of lobster.
        ================

  24. AK said:

    If solar, with compressed hydrogen load balancing, becomes cheaper would you switch to that? Or continue pushing nuclear?

    I think it will, obviously, which is why I concentrate on that technology.

    If we are going to store energy we’ll use the least cost way to generate, store and then supply it. That certainly won’t be with solar power. That’s the most expensive way. The least cost way is to store baseload power in off peak times (i.e. at night when the sun doesn’t shine). Solar power is totally uneconomic as has been pointed out to you many times. You seem to be totally incapable of doing the analyses to work it out for yourself.

    New 20 MW solar power stations near Canberra, Australia: $186/MWh plus various escalation factors locked in for 20 years. That’s six times the cost of baseload power now and escalating over time. http://reneweconomy.com.au/2012/frv-to-build-20mw-solar-pv-plant-after-winning-act-auction-50595

    And 417 MW in South Africa for an average of $199/MWh.

    This report by the ARENA agency of the Australian Government says:

    Only 2 per cent of Australia’s population live in off-grid areas, however over 6 per cent of the country’s total electricity is consumed in off-grid areas. Around 74 per cent of that electricity is generated from natural gas and the remainder is mostly from diesel fuel; making it Australia’s most expensive electricity due to the underlying high gas and diesel prices in the remote areas. However, due to lower levels of coal generation, the off-grid market has the lowest average emission intensity of all of Australia’s electricity markets despite only 1 per cent of electricity is generated from renewable sources. An estimated 15,575 GWh of electricity was produced in 2012 by off-grid generation in Australia; supplied from a total installed off-grid generation capacity of approximately 5GW.

    Much of the off-grid electricity market has experienced an increase in demand in recent years associated largely with expansion in the mining industry. In general, the off-grid electricity market has also experienced an increasing interest in renewable energy as a potential means to reduce the costs of electricity.

    https://www.arena.gov.au/files/2014/12/ARENA_RAR-report-20141201.pdf

    The take home messages are:

    1. Despite the remote areas having very high electricity costs, still only 1% of their electricity is generated by renewables. This demonstrates that even with the subsidies available renewables still are not cost competitive with diesel and high cost gas. Clearly there are cost and fit-for-purpose issues.

    2. “the off-grid electricity market has also experienced an increasing interest in renewable energy as a potential means to reduce the costs of electricity” – read: if the government pays us enough we’ll install some solar to keep them off our backs. The fact industry in remote areas has not taken it seriously to date demonstrates it is not cost competitive even compared with high cost diesel.

    Surely, if you are capable of objective research and analysis, these points should get through to you, AK, no matter how wedded you are to your hopes, wishes and beliefs.

    • If we are going to store energy we’ll use the least cost way to generate, store and then supply it. That certainly won’t be with solar power.

      Sheer denial.

      • Gad, I hope we can store up enough solar energy to impact the next glaciation. We shouldn’t go down without a fight.
        =============

      • AK,

        That’s the sort of argument you resort to when you are faced with facts that confront you beliefs and are so blatantly obvious you can’t deny them – so you stick your fingers in your ears and scream “Denier!, Denier!, Denier!, La !La La! La! La!

        This is not the first time.

      • What “facts”? The fact that you aren’t even willing to consider the possibility that an exponential price decrease that’s been going on for decades might continue?

        When somebody declares “this won’t happen” about a continuation of an existing trend, that’s denial. Maybe it won’t, maybe it will. IMO it will. Probably.

      • Many years ago I was watching the Rose Parade and they made a big deal that the Southern California Edison float was powered by solar power. It was perfectly true but quite misleading. The float was driven by a battery that operated for under six hours per year. I later had a professor who worked for them and he said it was his idea. It took like 6 months to charge the battery with solar, but it was in fact solar powered.

    • 1. Despite the remote areas having very high electricity costs, still only 1% of their electricity is generated by renewables. This demonstrates that even with the subsidies available renewables still are not cost competitive with diesel and high cost gas.

      More denial. Of the role of exponential increases (in installed base) and decreases (in cost) in the evolution of the economy.

      And it all boils down to a constant stream of straw-man arguments. Of course, almost any argument that some future class of technology is “unfeasible” or even “not cost-effective” is a straw man. This is because it’s almost impossible to predict what new and synergistic technology will arise, or become sufficiently mature, to change the equation.

      Such predictions are almost always made on the basis of current technology, usually projected without any real imagination. Thus, they’re usually wrong, and clearly straw men.

      • John Vonderlin

        AK,
        I found the “Has Renewable Energy Finally Ended “the Great Clean Energy Stagnation”? article interesting and insightful. Perhaps you can answer a question I have that rarely gets addressed in analyses of renewables, that is their viability under varied future economic scenarios. Think back to December 19, 1980, when the Prime Rate hit 21.5%. With the present Prime Rate at 3.25%, the lowest since 1954, money is cheap and a large capital outlay for a 5KW PV installation (+=$15,000) may only cost $50 a month in interest. What would happen to the exponential growth of this type of renewables if the interest cost was $100 a month? Or $300 a month if we returned to those horrible times of the late 70s and early 80s? Likewise, would government subsidies, that are essentially given with the borrowed money of our National Debt, continue in any form under that high interest rate scenario?
        I also wonder about the low-hanging-fruit aspect of the present growth. While the high energy use homes were initially attracted to solar, we lower users found super-insulating and appropriate landscaping (deciduous suburban forest) to be the answer, effectively eliminating the future feasibility of solar at any likely price.
        Locally, here in the Bay Area, the best nearby wind farm locations have been exploited, with concerns about noise and visual pollution, as well as bird deaths, serving as a growing impediment to their expansion.
        While I have hopes that renewables will prosper and grow, putting one’s hopes of exponential growth on future technological innovations should be tempered by the realization that this is probably the most favorable of times, economically, environmentally and socially, for them. I see tough times ahead, not a continuation of the honeymoon.

      • @John Vonderlin…

        To start with your comments about rooftop (I assume) PV:

        What would happen to the exponential growth of this type of renewables if the interest cost was $100 a month?

        IMO rooftop PV is a “hothouse flower”, nurtured by not only subsidies, but a variety of impositions on local power operators.

        I also wonder about the low-hanging-fruit aspect of the present growth.

        Solar has (AFAIK) been on its price decline curve since long before the current subsidies became common. As I see it, there are several issues:

        If solar continues its price decline curve, it will quickly become the cheapest form of energy, by an order of magnitude. This, in turn, has the potential to support a much more comfortable lifestyle, worldwide, than today. So the question becomes: if solar continues its price decline, how? What will the market be? How will the issue of support structure costs, inversion/conversion to grid standards, surface availability, and so on be met?

        Obviously, there are many factors that might, potentially, interrupt that curve. But to project that the current situation will continue until it interrupts the exponential increase in install base would, IMO, be f00llish. It might, but there are many players in the economy with incentives to keep this curve going. (Including me.)

        Take support structures, for example. The current costly type of support structures, especially for utility-grade PV, is a legacy of times when the PV itself was pretty expensive. Economies of scale have tended to drive the cost of that legacy technology down, relative to innovative alternatives.

        But as the balance changes, those innovations become more attractive. While prototypes and early adoption might be similar in cost, at least some of the innovations (IMO) have the potential to become much cheaper with economies of scale and learning curve.

        Floating solar is an example. The support structures for shipping electronics, for instance, cost pennies in volume. With learning curve and economies of scale, I’d expect a similar cost for fresh water support for floating PV. PV currently costs about 50-70¢/watt, perhaps $50-70/square meter for 10% efficiency.

        With a 10-fold decrease in price, that would be $5-7/square meter, with the support structure costing perhaps 10¢.

        Another example of innovative support structure is 10-100 concentrating solar using plastic film. Again, this is still in a prototype/early adoption stage, with considerable scope for price reductions from learning curve and economies of scale.

        Or take surface availability. The nature of available surface area will certainly have to change as (and if) solar PV’s exponential growth continues. If it doesn’t, the exponential curve will taper off, as Jenkins suggests. In fact, as I suggested in my critique there are many products operating in parallel, and one or more may start to taper while others continue or even accelerate their growth:

        Each individual technology may, indeed, “ follow a typical S-curve of adoption,”, but when you add the products of these exponential curves together, you get a mish-mash that’s almost impossible to analyze, much less predict.

        I think we’re seeing the early exponential part of the growth curve for floating PV, popping into view like a mushroom after growing in the (relatively) dark for a few years.

        So I describe what I see as the potential for floating solar, which may well pick up the main load of exponential growth in PV for a while, just as rooftop did.

        Locations behind dams, especially dams intended for pumped hydro, are ideal. They reduce evaporation, cost much less to support, and are right there next to the pumps and transmission systems that take their output.

        As the install base grows, changes will be needed. Increased installation of modern reversible pumping technology at dams like Shasta, with existing afterbays. And later, addition of new dams or other containments for dams like Hoover, to provide afterbays de novo.

        At some point, that exponential increase will probably taper off, as available fresh-water dammed lake surface starts to fill up.

        Meanwhile, more far-sighted developers will (IMO) put effort into similar support structures suitable for open ocean surface. And for still salt water such as the Salton Sea.

        Synergies will become clear, such as, perhaps, combining off-shore wave motors to both provide energy and still incoming waves sufficient that salt-water floating PV can be deployed behind them.

        Bottom line, IMO, there’ll always be new low-hanging fruit, as technologies advance.

      • We could have little carbon life forms cleaning all the surfaces.
        ===============

      • @ John Vonderlin

        “……….putting one’s hopes of exponential growth on future ……..”

        AK is a big fan of predicting the future by assuming ‘continued exponential change of (a variety of seemingly desirable things).

        For example: “If solar continues its price decline curve, it will quickly become the cheapest form of energy, by an order of magnitude.”

        He is of course correct. In fact, if the cost of photovoltaic cells continues do decline at an exponential rate their cost will quickly become zero, for all intents and purposes. If it continues.

        I certainly HOPE that his optimism is justified by future observations, but I note that examples of continued exponential changes in physical ‘stuff’ are pretty thin on the ground.

        Of course even if photovoltaic cells were free, 24/7 photovoltaic power on the grid would NOT be free. Although I haven’t done any actual research on the cost breakdown for the various subsystems required to deliver photovoltaic baseload power, I suspect that even if photovoltaic cells were free the cost of 24/7 solar on the grid would STILL be comparable to or more expensive than coal/gas. It certainly wouldn’t be cheaper by an ‘order of magnitude’.

      • @ AK

        “When somebody declares “this won’t happen” about a continuation of an existing trend, that’s denial.”

        A ten year old budding philanthropist desired to contribute to an orphanage, but being young, had few resources.

        Nevertheless, determined to help, he delivered a grain of wheat to the orphanage on new years day and promised that as he became older, and wealthier, he would continue the tradition, doubling his contribution (increasing it exponentially) each year.

        And so he did.

        The second year, two grains. The third year, four grains.

        And so it continued for 30 years. Three decades. On the 30th new years day he delivered, as promised, 1,073,741, 824 grains of wheat (a little more than 76 tons) to the happy orphanage.

        “What “facts”? The fact that you aren’t even willing to consider the possibility that an exponential price decrease that’s been going on for decades might continue?”

        In the case of the orphanage, the gift has been increasing exponentially, as promised, for three decades. Should the orphanage director reasonably assume that it would continue for three MORE decades, anticipating the delivery on the 60th new year of a little better than 82 billion tons (around 120 times the world’s annual production of wheat)? Would he be in ‘denial’ if he considered continuation of the trend to be unlikely?

      • > This is because it’s almost impossible to predict what new and synergistic technology will arise, or become sufficiently mature, to change the equation

        and

        > … solar, with compressed hydrogen load balancing

        Glib techno-junk

        Try to grasp the situation – if one wishes our mega-cities to survive, then an affordable, 24/7/365 RELIABLE and scalable energy source must be in place *before* we vandalise the existing grids

        Pious hope of technological rescue while cities flounder in riotous paroxysm is insufficient

        It’s this sticking point that distinguishes the adults from the perpetual comic-book adolescents

      • AK, it is clearly you that is in denial. You keep avoiding the key issues and the solid evidence. You dodge around them. You won’t deal with them. You keep saying I am using strawman arguments when I’ve provided facts and authoritative references. There is no end of sources to show renewables are totally uncompetitive without huge government subsidies. The nonsense you keep asserting has been repeated endlessly for the past 30+ years. It’s just cultist belief in fantasy.

        It is you that is in denial. You have nothing to support your beliefs. Virtually all your statements include the big IF –
        • IF the storage problem can be solved and be near free, and
        • IF transmission could be reduced to near free, and
        • IF prices of solar with storage and transmission and network management costs all included become competitive with fossil fuels without subsidies, and
        • IF the material requirements decrease by a factor of 10 or more, and
        • IF the land area required could be reduced by orders of magnitude, and
        • IF ERoEI can be improved by orders of magnitude, And
        • IF per capita energy consumption stops increasing at the rate it’s been increasing for the past 200,000 years or so (e.g. man forgoes further improvements in human well-being and desires to explore beyond the Earth’s gravitational field)

        So, IF all your IF’s turn out to be correct, then solar may possible become viable. However, any ratioanal person would not bank on it. Would not take the risk.

        You are clearly in denial and an example of the sorts of people that have been blocking progress since the Industrial Revolution – a real live Luddite !

        The Luddites were 19th-century English textile workers who protested newly developed labour-economizing technologies from 1811 to 1816. The stocking frames, spinning frames and power looms introduced during the Industrial Revolution threatened to replace the artisans with less-skilled, low-wage labourers, leaving them without work.

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

      • @Bob Ludwick…

        In the case of the orphanage, the gift has been increasing exponentially, as promised, for three decades. Should the orphanage director reasonably assume that it would continue for three MORE decades […]?

        No, of course not.

        Would he be in ‘denial’ if he considered continuation of the trend to be unlikely?

        Probably. If he assumed it would stop right then.

        Backing up…

        I certainly HOPE that his optimism is justified by future observations, but I note that examples of continued exponential changes in physical ‘stuff’ are pretty thin on the ground.

        Last time you made a comment like that, I referenced an interesting paper: Statistical Basis for Predicting Technological Progress by Bela Nagy, J. Doyne Farmer, Quan M. Bui, Jessika E Trancik SFI WORKING PAPER: 2012-07-008

        Forecasting technological progress is of great interest to engineers, policy makers, and private investors. Several models have been proposed for predicting technological improvement, but how well do these models perform? An early hypothesis made by Theodore Wright in 1936 is that cost decreases as a power law of cumulative production. An alternative hypothesis is Moore’s law, which can be generalized to say that technologies improve exponentially with time. Other alternatives were proposed by Goddard, Sinclair et al., and Nordhaus. These hypotheses have not previously been rigorously tested. Using a new database on the cost and production of 62 different technologies, which is the most expansive of its kind, we test the ability of six different postulated laws to predict future costs. Our approach involves hindcasting and developing a statistical model to rank the performance of the postulated laws. Wright’s law produces the best forecasts, but Moore’s law is not far behind. We discover a previously unobserved regularity that production tends to increase exponentially. A combination of an exponential decrease in cost and an exponential increase in production would make Moore’s law and Wright’s law indistinguishable, as originally pointed out by Sahal. We show for the first time that these regularities are observed in data to such a degree that the performance of these two laws is nearly tied. Our results show that technological progress is forecastable, with the square root of the logarithmic error growing linearly with the forecasting horizon at a typical rate of 2.5% per year. These results have implications for theories of technological change, and assessments of candidate technologies and policies for climate change mitigation. [my bold]

        But thinking about it, I may have misunderstood your issue, and you my ideas: I’m not saying exponential growth will go on forever. But, if you compare with the S-shaped growth curve (from biology) as Jenkins did, the early part strongly resembles exponential growth.

        The key question is when it will switch to the more linear phase, then begin to level out. IMO we have at least an order of magnitude to go. I’d expect taper-off to start somewhere around 2-3¢/watt.

        For 1-sun PV, it’ll probably commoditize at around 5-10 times the cost of 1-mil plastic sheeting.

      • Don Monfort

        A while back, I read a few of this AK characters comments and found him to be just a more belabored iteration of jimmy dee. You don’t lose anything by skipping the AK BS, as jimmy dee can always be counted on to be along in a minute or two with the same crap in a more condensed version.

      • @ianl8888…

        Glib techno-junk

        Meaning you don’t understand.

        Try to grasp the situation – if one wishes our mega-cities to survive, then an affordable, 24/7/365 RELIABLE and scalable energy source must be in place *before* we vandalise the existing grids

        I said nothing about “vandalis[ing] the existing grids”. That’s purely your straw man.

        Pious hope of technological rescue while cities flounder in riotous paroxysm is insufficient

        Blah blah blah…

        It’s this sticking point that distinguishes the adults from the perpetual comic-book adolescents

        Looks like projection to me. Why not try a psychiatrist?

      • @Peter Lang…

        You keep saying I am using strawman arguments when I’ve provided facts and authoritative references.

        Your “facts and authoritative references” are straw men because they’re not relevant to the discussion.

        You are clearly in denial and an example of the sorts of people that have been blocking progress since the Industrial Revolution – a real live Luddite !

        Looks like projection to me. Why not try a psychiatrist?

      • AK states his case as follows’

        More denial. Of the role of exponential increases (in installed base) and decreases (in cost) in the evolution of the economy.

        And it all boils down to a constant stream of straw-man arguments. Of course, almost any argument that some future class of technology is “unfeasible” or even “not cost-effective” is a straw man. This is because it’s almost impossible to predict what new and synergistic technology will arise, or become sufficiently mature, to change the equation.

        I’ll respond to these two paragraphs separately

        More denial. Of the role of exponential increases (in installed base) and decreases (in cost) in the evolution of the economy.

        The exponential increases from installed bases are from a very low base. And they are supported by huge subsidies – many times the value of the energy they supply. Most numerate people reco9gnise that growth rates from small bases are no indication of future trends. Especially since the costs are hugely subsidised and many times too high to be competitive. Furthermore, rational people take into account the many factors that mitigate against renewables.

        However, AK, what you continually dodge (i.e. deny) is the fact that nuclear has a far greater capacity to reduce costs than solar, can be rolled out much faster, has huge ERoEI advantage (meaning nuclear is sustainable whereas solar is not), requires and order of magnitude less materials per unit of electricity generated over it life, requires far less transmission, and no storage.

        Can you not see that it makes no sense to keep wasting time and money on solar given that nuclear is a far superior option in all important criteria (the most important of which are being fit-for-purpose and the cost of electricity with all system costs included).

        And it all boils down to a constant stream of straw-man arguments. Of course, almost any argument that some future class of technology is “unfeasible” or even “not cost-effective” is a straw man. This is because it’s almost impossible to predict what new and synergistic technology will arise, or become sufficiently mature, to change the equation.

        Of course it’s not possible to predict the future. But you can apply past experience and technology life cycles and time lines as a useful guide. Then you apply risk analysis. Clearly, those who are capable of doing this do not invest in solar except where it is hugely subsidised. The fact the mining industry in remote, inland, high isolation regions where diesel and nature gas prices are very high, demonstrates how unsuitable solar power is where industry depends on a reliable and least cost electricity supply.

        AK, you argue: “it’s almost impossible to predict what new and synergistic technology will arise, or become sufficiently mature, to change the equation.

        AK, Why don’t you argue to pipe hydrogen from the Sun?

      • Why don’t you argue to pipe hydrogen from the Sun?

        What for?

        Maybe we can build an artificial sunspot, nail it down with a planetoid like Ceres, and use it to extract a few thousand terawatts directly from that big nuclear reactor in the sky. Which are then beamed to Earth (or wherever) via microwaves.

        Of course, it won’t happen next year, so we need something to tide us over…

      • Can you not see that it makes no sense to keep wasting time and money on solar given that nuclear is a far superior option in all important criteria (the most important of which are being fit-for-purpose and the cost of electricity with all system costs included).

        I can’t see that. I agree that solar shouldn’t be pushed in ways, or on a schedule, that makes energy more expensive.

        But nuclear had massive subsidies during its early growth, for purposes of national security, and IMO solar (and perhaps wind) should also get such subsidies, to get them up and running. For purposes of national security. (To avoid the risks of nuclear proliferation. What do you think of Iran’s government? ISIS? With nuclear?)

        If they (solar and wind) really can’t compete, then even with the subsidies, they won’t be able to keep up their exponential cost declines, and will die on the vine.

      • AK says:

        Your “facts and authoritative references” are straw men because they’re not relevant to the discussion.

        Clearly, you have diverted the discussion so far off what is relevant that you don’t even understand what is “relevant to the discussion”. I’d urge you to reread my comment that started this discussion: https://judithcurry.com/2015/04/04/week-in-review-policy-and-politics-edition/#comment-690435 , instead of blabbering about your fanciful beliefs. (I also responded to one of your comments in that thread and separated it out since your comment was off topic for that sub-thread; this new thread started here: https://judithcurry.com/2015/04/04/week-in-review-policy-and-politics-edition/#comment-690501 )

        My comments are entirely relevant to the discussion. Solar cannot make a significant contribution to cutting global GHG emissions for the many reason’s I’ve pointed out in comments above; e.g. here: https://judithcurry.com/2015/04/04/week-in-review-policy-and-politics-edition/#comment-690627. Nuclear power can make the largest and fastest contribution of any technology over the next 50 years or so. Therefore, most of our effort should be directed to removing the regulatory and other market distortions that are causing nuclear power to be far more expensive than it could be and impeding progress.

        Can I urge to stop avoiding the obvious. Apply the Pareto Principle:

        The value of the Pareto Principle for a manager is that it reminds you to focus on the 20 percent that matters. …. Identify and focus on those things.
        http://management.about.com/cs/generalmanagement/a/Pareto081202.htm

      • The solar PV cost curve is mostly due to social engineering – not real world engineering: i.e. subsidies whether install, feed-in tariff, or forced supply economics.
        As the fundamental performance curve is not improving to a significant degree, your assumptions are accurate in the ass-u-me sense.
        And I speak from hands-on experience: I work directly with the scientists who research new PV technologies. 2 of their companies have failed in the past 2 years, 1 bought out for 1/15th of its venture capital raise, the other an outright bankruptcy. The ongoing subsidies of 10 and 20 year old solar PV technology is the culprit; these companies failed because it was abundantly clear that it is better to sell what’s available now and subsidized than it is to develop better technology, then wait 20 or 30 years for all the subsidized installs to reach end of lifetime.

      • cu1ie

        The solar PV cost curve is mostly due to social engineering – not real world engineering: i.e. subsidies whether install, feed-in tariff, or forced supply economics.

        Here’s an Australian example of your “forced supply economics

        Australian government legislation forces electricity utilities to pay a penalty of 2 to 3 times the cost of baseload electricity if they do not purchase the amount of renewable energy they are required to buy under the Renewable Energy Target (RET) legislation. The RET requires Australian utilities to purchase about 26% of our electricity from renewable energy by 2020, of which about 15% would have to be from wind farms. In 2012-13 wind supplied 2.9% of our electricity. This has to be increased to 15% by 2020 – a ridiculously optimistic requirement. If it is not achieved the utilities have to pay $65-$93/MWh for every MWh shortfall below their target. All this gets passed on to the consumer of course. At present the RET alone increases electricity prices to consumers by about 4%. That will increase to about 20% by 2020. But there are other much greater costs of the requirements as well.

        If a liable entity does not surrender the required amount of certificates, it must pay a shortfall charge of $65 per certificate to the CER. However, because the cost of a certificate is tax deductible and the shortfall charge is not, the effective price for the shortfall charge is around $92/MWh, depending on the liable entity’s marginal rate of tax.

        https://retreview.dpmc.gov.au/sites/default/files/files/RET_Review_Report.pdf

        The CO2 abatement cost with the Small Renewable Energy Scheme (mostly solar PV) is about 6-14 times the EU carbon price and 100 times the international carbon futures to 2020: https://retreview.dpmc.gov.au/56-cost-abatement

      • My comments are entirely relevant to the discussion. Solar cannot make a significant contribution to cutting global GHG emissions for the many reason’s I’ve pointed out in comments above; […]

        As applied to your assertion that “[s]olar cannot make a significant contribution to cutting global GHG emissions”, all your statements are straw men. They depend on current technology. Current prices. Current ways of doing things. In fact, your emphasis on current stuff is precisely what one would expect of a Luddite.

        Of course, if I made the claim that solar PV wouldmake a significant contribution to cutting global GHG emissions”, I’d be guilty of the same thing. All I’m doing is pointing out the plausibility. Estimates of relative probability are value judgements (of a sort).

      • @ AK

        “I’d expect taper-off to start somewhere around 2-3¢/watt.

        For 1-sun PV, it’ll probably commoditize at around 5-10 times the cost of 1-mil plastic sheeting.”

        In my area there is a coal fired plant that produces 1600 MW, 24/7. It employs ~ 250 people, full time. It (or a similar plant) delivers power to my home for ~0.10$ kw-hr.

        Our level of insolation (northern VA) averages ~0.5 kw-hr/day/ft^2. To replace our coal plant with a PV array with 20% total conversion efficiency, sun to grid, requires around 4e8 ft^2 of PV cells (an array ~ four miles square. 10,000 ac). 1 mil plastic sheeting is ~0.008$/ft^2. For PV cell material @ 5x to 10x plastic sheeting that would be 0.04–0.08$/ft^2, or 16-32 million dollars. This does NOT include any other costs associated with acquiring a four mile square tract, installing the PV material, collecting the electricity, converting it to AC and stepping it up to grid levels, factoring in enough excess capacity for cloudy weather, storing enough energy to ride through nights/clouds, maintaining/cleaning the collectors, replacing failed modules, or any other costs of operating the facility. Only the raw cost of the PV cells.

        Postulating for the sake of argument that the cost of the actual photovoltaic cell ‘sheeting’ exponentially decreases to zero and considering only the cost of 10,000 contiguous acres and the ‘stuff’ required to install the cells in a facility capable providing 24/7 base load power, delivering the output of the facility to the grid, and staffing and maintaining the facility so that it continues to provide 24/7 power indefinitely, what would you anticipate the cost of the PV electricity to the customer to be, factoring in a nominal profit to the PV plant operator?

      • […] considering only the cost of 10,000 contiguous acres and the ‘stuff’ required to install the cells in a facility capable providing 24/7 base load power, delivering the output of the facility to the grid, and staffing and maintaining the facility so that it continues to provide 24/7 power indefinitely […]

        Straw men. Are you willing to look at your comment and consider why? Or will you do into denial like Lang?

      • Solar has (AFAIK) been on its price decline curve since long before the current subsidies became common.

        And I would point out that the dramatic price decline is a recent phenomena and believe it probably wouldn’t have happened at all if the world had not made it clear that they collectively were interested in moving away from fossil fuels through commitments such as the UNFCCC Kyoto protocol and other actions by individuals countries over the years, especially China..

      • And I would point out that the dramatic price decline is a recent phenomena […]

        Nope.

        Been going on for decades. I’ve posted links before, won’t bother again for a blind ideophile. Try and find something reputable saying it hasn’t been.

      • @AK
        You said: ” They depend on current technology. Current prices. Current ways of doing things. In fact, your emphasis on current stuff is precisely what one would expect of a Luddite.”
        As I noted – the development of solar PV technology is actively being impeded by the subsidy of present and past technology product.
        Secondly, the numbers quoted above aren’t assumptions because the entire existing install base will be producing for decades. It is equally safe to say that installations in the next 3 to 5 years – *at a minimum* – will be of a similar technology level.
        If you’re installing a product which is 50% subsidized now – which is roughly the typical subsidy level – it is exactly the same net cost-efficiency to the user as a product that is TWICE as efficient but unsubsidized.
        You’re literally replacing technology with cost.

      • As the fundamental performance curve is not improving to a significant degree, your assumptions are accurate in the ass-u-me sense.

        If cost decreases, performance/$ can increase despite no increase in “the fundamental performance curve”.

        AFAIK PV cost at the factory gate is declining at around 50% every 4-5 years, just as it has for decades.

      • The problem, of course, is that despite the supposed improvement which you cite – the cost of solar PV is still 3 to 5 times greater than equivalent fossil fuel generation due to the capacity factor issues. If backup costs are added in, the equivalent cost increases even more.
        It will take many, many decades – even assuming the false improvement numbers you cite – to reach balance. As someone who actually knows something about the technology, I can safely say that there are very much hard physical limits to how much better solar PV and improve.

      • It will take many, many decades – even assuming the false improvement numbers you cite – to reach balance.

        Whistling past the graveyard.

      • @AK
        You said: “Whistling past the graveyard”
        If you mean the graveyard of development of truly better solar PV technologies, then we are in full agreement.
        Here’s a partial list of failures in Solar PV development just in the past 5 years:
        http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Rest-in-Peace-The-List-of-Deceased-Solar-Companies
        Many of these were far spectrum speculative, but a number had actual proven technologies which were swamped by cheaper and less efficient volume coming out of China.
        Ultimately it is far more profitable to sell junk now than it is to ramp up new $400M solar PV production lines along with concomitant marketing spend to overcome top line price differentials.

      • c1ue,

        Have you ever seen a list of solar successes, where success means they are economically viable without any subsidies?

        If so how many, what’s the total value of them and what proportion of global electricity to they supply?

        Every claimed solar success I’ve seen is around 5 times the cost of conventional power to meet the same requirements.

  25. The Florida articles are interesting. Thanks for posting the links.

    Sea level rise is often presented as the one, incontrovertible danger to humans that will result from global warming this century. And Florida is America’s “canary in the coal mine” for sea level rise.

    The problem for catastrophic predictions is that the 3+/_ mm/year rise isn’t accelerating and could be seen as simply an extension of post-ice age rise. Of course, this is subject to confirmation by the most recent papers, but the tidal gauge data in the southeastern United States that I’ve examined has not accelerated.

    An apparently related issue is the encroachment of salt water into Florida’s aquifers. However, groundwater withdrawals have increased significantly as the South Florida population has expanded. (see, for example: http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2014/5088/ ) If groundwater pumping exceeds rainfall/recharge, brackish water will take its place, regardless of eustatic sea level. Even surface water withdrawals/diversions can have an impact, as when 20th century agricultural diversions disrupted the water cycle of the Everglades. Florida is actually responding to these problems, but the solutions will take years to fully implement.

    Coastal erosion also is assumed to be obvious evidence of sea level rise’s threat to coastal communities. Yet much of the Florida coastline consists of barrier islands that have been significantly altered by human development. Barrier islands naturally move over time under the influence of tides, shore currents, and storms. However, the natural shifting of beaches and barrier islands has been heavily altered by surface infrastructure and also by sewer pipes, seawalls, dredged channels, beach replenishment projects, etc. Again, evidence of sea levels rise’s impact on coastal erosion in Florida suffers from a bad signal-to-noise ratio.

    Sea level is not fixed across time or geography. For example, sea level heights between Nova Scotia and Florida vary by about 40 cm. Will global warming change this situation? Probably, yes, but in which direction? Some recent research has suggested an accelerated rise in sea level along the Atlantic coast, but only north of Cape Hatteras ( http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v2/n12/full/nclimate1597.html%3FW). These sea level increases are likely driven by changes in the AMO and coastal winds/currents that are difficult to predict. (e.g., http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014JC010305/full ).

    Additional research should help clarify these questions. In the meantime, improvements to coastal infrastructure and management policies seem like a reasonable response to me.

    • Anyone who stands still on the beach during the next 50 years will get their feet wet. Smart people will head for 10cm higher ground.

      • 3.28 mm per year – thanks to the little red 2015 rocket:

      • Make it 4.00mm/yr, then that is 20 cm in 50 years. So what? This level of alarmism is unprecedented!

      • Thus, our analysis implies that the argument presented by Houston and Dean21 is invalid. In fact, by simply visually inspecting the projections from the earlier IPCC Third Assessment Report and Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), it is clear that only small rates of acceleration were predicted by the IPCC models for the period from 1990–2010. Hunter and Brown28 calculated an average acceleration in the central projection of the IPCCs AR4 A1FI emission scenario (including scaled-up ice sheet discharge) of 0.002 mm per year2 over the period 1990–2010 (see the value plotted at 2000 in their Fig. 1, ref. 28), which agrees closely with observations from altimetry and GMSL reconstructions, over this period. The recent projections, from the IPCCs AR5 representative concentration pathway (RCP) 8.5 (which we use here, see Methods), very closely resemble quadratic curves and have near constant accelerations of ~0.064, 0.096 and 0.136 mm per year2 over the period 1990–2100, for the lower, central and upper projection range, respectively. These accelerations are larger than the acceleration observed in the altimetry and GMSL reconstruction over the period 1990–2010, but are still within the (66% confidence) uncertainty range (see Table 1 in ref. 28). Therefore, it is intriguing that arguments persist that because only small accelerations are presently evident, the IPCC sea level projections must be wrong, when in fact the observations over the last 20 years agree closely with the Third Assessment Report and AR4 projections and are statistically consistently with AR5 RCP8.5 projections. Further, as we showed above, it will take time before accelerations that exceed 0.1 mm per year2 are detected for the upper RCP8.5 projection (that is, P2). …

  26. John Vonderlin

    AK,
    While I can’t find anything in particular to disagree with what you said, my main question remains unanswered. To repeat it: under a high interest rate regime, something a number of conservative economists, precious metals purveyors, and general doomsayers have been predicting for a long time, what happens to renewables that require large capital outlays to build their systems? Under that scenario I believe that renewables will be kicked in the gut. Harking back to the 21.5% Prime Rate in 1980, look at what happened to housing construction starts, another type of project that requires a large capital outlay to bring it “on-line.” In 1978 there were 1,369K SFD starts. In 1982 there were 631K, less than half. This same possible scenario would apply to any sort of renewables project that required a large capital outlay before payback begins. I believe that is all of them.
    In comparison, already-built fossil fuel plants can be expanded, updated or re-tooled to use a variety of fuels with nowhere near the expense per unit of output.
    I’m just surprised, that in all the analyses I’ve read this very real possibility is not mentioned or modeled as to its effect at different levels of interest rate rise. Could this be a case of “Hide the Incline?”

  27. On the AMO – Solar activity data border line
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/SUN-and-AMO.htm

  28. Unhide the EPA global warming tax.

    To see the future, see California.

    $2.40/gal. = USA national average cost of gasoline
    $3.16/gal = California cap and trade average cost of gasoline

  29. John Vonderlin

    AK,
    I was just researching the Floatovoltaics you mentioned. While I can’t imagine them ever sticking a large system on Shasta Reservoir close to the dam, it obviously has a potential in places where land is extremely expensive (Like Napa County where there is a small system on a winery’s pond) Because a cynic is a skeptic who has all the facts, I’ll remain just skeptical at this point. That’s mostly because nowhere, including the websites of the top manufacturers of this technology, is there any mention of their comparable price. When I went to the FAQ page on one of their websites it said “Under Construction.” It’s been four years since their first project. Not a good sign.
    The cost is also a huge issue with oceanic systems. Salt water is the universal solvent, as I’m well aware of from extensive experience. We used to joke that adding the word “marine” to your product guaranteed at least a doubling of price.
    The twenty foot change in water level one Japanese project was touting their system that floated on a reservoir could handle, certainly wasn’t coming in the form of a series of twenty five foot waves. Dealing with salt water’s incredible solvency powers and its propensity to get rough with those who rest on its surface requires big bucks to solve problems not encountered on land systems.
    In short; combine the high costs of the systems, the inevitable environmentalist opposition to polluting the viewscape, as well as potentially the drinking water with the toxics in the panels, the highly probable coming increases of the cost of interest on the initial capital outlay, and the surety of diminishing governmental subsidies, I’m thinking Floatovoltaics aren’t likely to lead any exponential growth as you opined.
    I was an early adopter of PV at my off grid ranch in the mountains more than three decades ago, buying my panels from Real Good Solar Company, when it was just a small store in Willits. It has great value under niche circumstances. But, I view those who hype it as a panacea for our energy needs as having their heads in the clouds and to have been staring at the sun too long to see the many shadows in the Big Picture.

    • While I can’t imagine them ever sticking a large system on Shasta Reservoir close to the dam,

      Why not?

      • Well, for one thing, it would destroy the entire ecosystem of the reservoir. Many fisherman will be quite angry Boaters and jetski-ers won’t be pleased, nor will swimmers.
        I also wonder what happens to the water quality when there is a mass biological die-off. A significant part of wetlands’ filtering effects on water is due to biological activity.

  30. johnvonderlin

    AK,
    Here in the Golden State, we like our viewscapes. Minimizing visual impacts is an important aspect of the environmental assessment of any project. Being very familiar with the Shasta area, (My brother was a Federal Power Engineer who worked there decades ago and several of my other siblings live in Redding.) I can assure you that covering a huge area of a beautiful lake/reservoir sitting beneath a mystical mountain with a God-awful grid of ugly technology would be an act of war in many enviros’ opinion. If built, the first local that accidentally plowed his speed boat through three hundred yards of panels would be hailed a hero.

    • Well, according to one set of statistics the All-American Canal has well over 5 square kilometers of surface area. Covering that (5 square kilometers) with floating solar power probably wouldn’t offend many. At 20% efficiency and 25% capacity factor (probably low for the Imperial Valley), that would amount to 250 MWatts of floating power. (Average. Peak 1.25 GWatts.) And there’s generating capacity right there, so building extra transmission facilities wouldn’t be necessary. (Although they might have to be upgraded.)

  31. AK said:

    As applied to your assertion that “[s]olar cannot make a significant contribution to cutting global GHG emissions”, all your statements are straw men. They depend on current technology. Current prices. Current ways of doing things. In fact, your emphasis on current stuff is precisely what one would expect of a Luddite.

    I’ve refuted many times on this and previous threads this assertion you keep making. Let’s try to lay it to rest once and for all. It is wrong! Clearly you have ignored the dozens of times I’ve shown that the projected cost of electricity from solar power does not decline to even close to the projected cost of electricity from nuclear power over any reasonable projection period (2020, 2030, 2040, 2050) even with highly optimistic and unrealistic learning rates for solar and zero assumed for nuclear. I’ve provided many authoritative references on this. Clearly you don’t read them, or you ignore what you don’t like, or you’re simply dishonest. It is you that is continually repeating your strawman argument based on your belief, hope, wish that solar can be cost competitive and can provide a significant proportion of global electricity at some unspecified time in the future. You completely ignore that nuclear is far cheaper now, and fit for purpose now, and has far greater potential for cost reductions than solar. You also ignore, or don’t realise, that the solar power and RE advocates have been making the same arguments for the past 35 years as you are making now. Those arguments are no more supportable now than they were 35 years ago.

    It is you that is in denial. You have nothing to support your beliefs. Virtually all your statements include the big IF –
    • IF the storage problem can be solved and be near free, and
    • IF transmission could be reduced to near free, and
    • IF prices of solar with storage and transmission and network management costs included become competitive with fossil fuels without subsidies, and
    • IF the material requirements decrease by a factor of 10 or more, and
    • IF the land area required could be reduced by orders of magnitude, and
    • IF ERoEI can be improved by orders of magnitude, and
    • IF per capita energy consumption stops increasing at the rate it’s been increasing for the past 200,000 years or so (e.g. man forgoes further improvements in human well-being and his desires to explore beyond the Earth’s gravitational field).

    IF all your IF’s turn out to be correct, then solar may possibly become viable. However, any rational person would not bank on it. They would not advocate we take the risk.

    You’re advocacy to continue to waste time, money and resources on solar, and your continual diversion of debate away from rational policy options to discuss your pet belief in irrational policy options shows you have been poorly trained. You continually demonstrate you have not learnt how to think rationally. You are blocking and delaying progress – like the Luddites.

    The Luddites were 19th-century English textile workers who protested newly developed labour-economizing technologies from 1811 to 1816. The stocking frames, spinning frames and power looms introduced during the Industrial Revolution threatened to replace the artisans with less-skilled, low-wage labourers, leaving them without work.

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

    • Can be summed up in those immortal words, known to every child and parent around the Christmas tree: Batteries Not Included.

    • If you don’t like my posts, don’t read them.

      • Lovely stuff. Powerful imagination. Unique insights. I always read your comments, well, usually.
        ===========

      • Thanks. What don’t you read?

        I’m not trying to make people agree with me, only think about what I’m saying.

      • Sometimes I completely ignore the climate blogs. I know, hard to believe.
        ============

      • Your like a spoilt child. You can’t admit when you are clearly wrong.

        10 signs of intellectual dishonesty: https://judithcurry.com/2013/04/20/10-signs-of-intellectual-honesty/ Many are relevant but here’s three in particular:

        4. Avoiding/Ignoring the question or “ . . . and let’s not forget about . . .” Anybody who refuses to admit that their argument is weak in an area and, worse still, avoids answering difficult questions in that area is being intellectually dishonest. If they don’t ignore the question, these people are easily recognised from their efforts to change the subject.

        5. Never admitting error or “I am/We are right – regardless of your evidence”. These are the people who will never admit that they are wrong – ever – regardless of clear evidence that demonstrates their error. See Sign #1

        8. Destroying a straw man or “You might say that, but how do you explain . . . ?”. Usually a case of shifting the subject and attacking the opponent’s position on that, unrelated or remotely related, topic. This is usually employed in an effort to avoid a question (Sign #4) or when the speaker/writer doesn’t have the knowledge to address the issue.

      • I read your stuff too pretty regularly, Peter, but nobody’s perfect.
        ===================

      • Kim, I agree nobody’s perfect. However, there is no need for intellectual dishonesty. AK repeatedly displays the signs of intellectual dishonesty. I don’t like dealing with dishonest people, let alone on important policy issues that are costing the world trillions and seriously delaying and damaging the prospects for improvement in human well-being.

      • I’ve never met a person I couldn’t learn from. They all knew themselves better than I knew them.
        ====================

      • Kim,

        Good point.

      • Your like a spoilt child. You can’t admit when you are clearly wrong.

        Clear to you, because you can’t admit that some of your basic assumptions even could be wrong. Could be. Sheer denial.

        And between your constant straw-man arguments, and ridicul0us ad hominem‘s, nothing you say is worth paying attention to. Accusing a technophile like me of being a “Luddite” is the height of doublespeak. Or perhaps ign0rance.

      • “I’m not trying to make people agree with me, only think about what I’m saying.”

        There is a joke in them there words, but I will not pick the low hanging fruit. It’s undignified.

      • Accusing a technophile like me of being a “Luddite” is the height of doublespeak. Or perhaps ign0rance.

        No it’s not double speak because you have denonstrated repeatedly that you want to talk only about impractical solutions and you continually divert discussions away from practical solutions. You have shown continually that you are incapable of objective analysis, rational analysis and haven’t the faintest clue how to do even the simplest cost comparisons between alternatives. You continually avoid answering questions about costs and you misrepresent costs and relevant assumptions (such as projected learning rates). No matter how often I correct you and point out your errors, you just ignore that and then repeat it again in a later comment or a later thread. Therefore, I argue pointing out your continual intellectual dishonesty is not ad hom because I’ve already addressed the relevant issue (repeatedly). It’s a statement of fact and justified because you continually mislead and make disingenuous comments even when the relevant facts have been pointed out to you repeatedly.

    • AK,

      Clear to you, because you can’t admit that some of your basic assumptions even could be wrong. Could be. Sheer denial.

      That is pure projection. Everything you said in that comment is about yourself.

      • Accusing a technophile like me of being a “Luddite” is the height of doublespeak. Or perhaps ign0rance.

        You’ve completely discredited yourself for my target audience. I’ve saved the links. From now on, any time you spam my comments with your garbage/nonsense, I just have to link to to those comments of yours.

        As for anybody willing to take you seriously after that, who cares what they think?

        Ya know, I wonder. Do all nuclearphiles call anyone who disagrees with them “Luddites”? Is it like CAGW fanatics calling anybody who disagrees with their socialist agenda “deniers”?

      • AK,

        Accusing a technophile like me of being a “Luddite” is the height of doublespeak. Or perhaps ign0rance.

        You’ve already tried that line. Why do you keep repeating yourself and keep avoiding the relevant issues – like cost comparisons of your thought bubbles versus proven, pragmatic options that are pointed out to you?

        I explained why you are a Luddite here: https://judithcurry.com/2015/04/04/week-in-review-policy-and-politics-edition/#comment-690941

        And you’ve avoided addressing the key issue: i.e. your Mohave pumped hydro proposal powered by solar power would cost around 25 times the cost of nuclear to provide reliable power supply on demand to meet user requirements. See the details and respond here: https://judithcurry.com/2015/04/04/week-in-review-policy-and-politics-edition/#comment-691189

        AK, clearly it is you that is the denier, the zealot, the Luddite. You can;t let go of your loony belief no matter how clear the facts. You can’t provide any costings to show your loony belief is in the ball park of being practical and economic. And your silly comments about pumped hydro demonstrate you haven’t the faintest idea what you are talking about.

      • Ya know, I wonder. Do all nuclearphiles call anyone who disagrees with them “Luddites”? Is it like CAGW fanatics calling anybody who disagrees with their socialist agenda “deniers”?

      • AK,

        You demostrate you act like a Luddite because you spend all your time trying to block progress – by diverting attention from pragmatic achievable policies to ridiculous sci-fi thought bubbles. When challenged to provide cost estimates for your thought bubbles you dodge and weave and resort to name calling (e.g. calling arguments and evidence you can’t refute “strawmen’ or denial, etc) – or any other trick to avoid addressing the key issue.

        Your ridiculous idea of the solar powered pumped hydro scheme at Lake Mahove is a classi. It’s some 25 times more costly than nuclear power to provide the same power supply. You’ve demonstrated:

        1. You haven’t a clue what you are talking about, but that doesn’t stop you blabbering on

        2. You don’t understand costs and relative magnitudes

        3. You are incapable of admitting you are wrong, no matter how balatant the evidence

      • 1. You haven’t a clue what you are talking about, but that doesn’t stop you blabbering on

        2. You don’t understand costs and relative magnitudes

        3. You are incapable of admitting you are wrong, no matter how balatant the evidence

        Projection.

      • Your ridiculous idea of the solar powered pumped hydro scheme at Lake Mahove is a classi. It’s some 25 times more costly than nuclear power to provide the same power supply.

        You still haven’t gotten back to me with an answer to my question:

        So what’s the elevation of the bottom of the Colorado channel right under Hoover Dam?

        If you know the answer, why not admit it? Perhaps because it would defeat your “point”? And if you don’t know, how can you know “[i]t’s some 25 times more costly than nuclear power to provide the same power supply”? Really? “25 times more costly” if you can put your pump intakes here?

      • Then spout a bunch of arm-waving, straw-man BS in support?

      • That’s real projection, AK, It describes exactly what you are doing.

        On the other hand, I’ve provided simple, rough cost estimates for your Mohave solar powered pumped hydro scheme – ~25 times more than nuclear to provide the power (but nuclear would be more reliable and better-fit-for purpose).

        I’ve asked you repeatedly for your estimate but you haven’t provided it. You haven’t even been able to answer the most basic questions about the scheme you are proposing. You’ve demonstrated you have no understanding at all about pumped hydro.

        And importantly you keep wanting to talk about your sci fi beliefs and dodge discussion about pragmatic policy options. You are a progress blocker. A Luddite.

        I reckon most people, and probably even you, recognise you are totally out of your depth, have been shown to be completely wrong and unable to admit it. A clear sign of intellectual dishonesty.

      • AK,

        You still haven’t gotten back to me with an answer to my question:
        So what’s the elevation of the bottom of the Colorado channel right under Hoover Dam?

        AK, It’s your scheme. I asked you the questions to provide the basic concept and design parameters needed to do the estimate. You haven’t managed to do that. Sop you turn around and ask me to do it for you. When I asked I assumed you had some understanding of pumped hydro, the scheme you proposed and the input parameters needed. You have demonstrated you have no understanding whatsoever. It’s reasoable for me and other readers to assume this applies to anything you write – i.e it’s all BS, you read it somewhere, you’ve accpeted it because it says what you want but you don’t have the competence to do reality checks on what you read.

        It also seems you never read the link I gave you which would have provided you with some guidance.

        And you still haven’t admitted that your si fi thought bubble is at least an order of magnitude more expensive than the nuclear option.

      • And you still haven’t admitted that your si fi thought bubble is at least an order of magnitude more expensive than the nuclear option.

        The more you argue without providing any real substance, the more I become convinced it’s much cheaper and you know it.

        Talk about intellectual dishonesty.

        Sooner or later, I’ll get an answer to my questions, then be able to come in with an estimate. I’m perfectly willing to admit it might be too high. Meanwhile, every time you spam this thread with your straw-man arguments, you just make my case.

      • AK, this question you asked me demonstrates how ignorant you are:

        how can you know “[i]t’s some 25 times more costly than nuclear power to provide the same power supply”? Really? “25 times more costly” if you can put your pump intakes here?

        You clearly haven;t a clue. You haven’t attempted to understand the back of an envelope calculation I did in an earlier comment. It’s more than enough to demonstrate that your idea is ridiculous. No need to go any further. Even if your scheme was 25% more expensive, let alone 25 times more expensive (all else equal), we wouldn’t look into it any further. (you comments demonstrate you don’t understand this either.

        BTW, your question is irrelevant. If you think it is relevant you need to explain why, and not as a half baked, incomplete throe away sentence. You need to explain:

        1. the active volume of the smaller reservoir.
        2. The minimum hydraulic head between top and bottom reservoir (i.e. when top reservoir is at MOL and bottom reservoir at FSL)
        3. the horizontal distance between intake in top reservoir intake and pump station on bottom reservoir.
        4. Are the penstocks and power/pump station to be located underground or on the surface
        5. Allowable fluctuation per day and per hour in the smaller reservoir
        6. If you are planing to use Lake Mohave as the lower reservoir, how do you plan to get the water up from there to the lower reservoir at the rate needed to maintain pumping for the maximum time? If you are proposing a canal, how will you push the water up the canal at the required rate?
        7. What flow rate do you want in the penstocks (pumping and generating)?
        8. What diameter penstocks?
        9 What steel thickness to support the pressure (static and dynamic)

        There are just a few questions you should have been able to state up front before you said anything.

        Alternatively, you could have done a simple calculation like I did and then, wisely, said nothing.

      • AK,

        The more you argue without providing any real substance, the more I become convinced it’s much cheaper and you know it.

        I’ve given you a cost estimate with enough substance to show your idea is ridiculous. You haven’t even read the link I gave you near the start, let alone read anything about pumped hydro schemes and the costs of them.

        No one who knows anything about hydro would have made the ignorant comments you made initially let alone kept digging themselves deeper and deeper into a hole like you are doing demonstrating your ignorance.

        It’s your proposal. Your advocating it. I asked you for your cost estimate. You didn’t answer. So I did a simple calculation. You haven’t been able to do any cost estimate yourself, let alone show your scheme is cheaper than nuclear power to provide the same power with the same reliability.

        Any intelligent, honest person would have admitted near the start they made an off the top of their head comment outside their area of expertise. From then on they would have asked questions and thanked the person who answered them for what they’d learnt. But not you!!!

      • There are just a few questions you should have been able to state up front before you said anything.

        You’re as bad as the Climategate scientists:I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”.

        AFAIK, there’s no rule at this blog against proposing ideas that haven’t already had an engineering study done. If you don’t think discussion is warranted, don’t discuss them!

      • AK,

        Strawman!!. I never said anything nor proposed a

        rule at this blog against proposing ideas that haven’t already had an engineering study done.

        All I’ved been doing since you showed you don’t know what you Are talking about, can’t admirt when you Are clear.ly wrong (even when wrong by orders of magnitude) are intellectually dishonest, is exposing this for all to see.

        I despise people who are dishonest, and you are a classic example.

        All these comments of yours ignore the important relevant issues. They are part of a pattern demonstrating your intellectual dishonesty. Your inability to admit you are wrong. Your attempts to diver discussion away from pragmatic policy options to ridiculous sci fi thought bubbles – a clear example of diversionary and delaying tactics. Clearly aimed at blocking progress. Clear demonstration of Luddite behaviour. :)

      • Your attempts to diver discussion away from pragmatic policy options to ridiculous sci fi thought bubbles – […]

        How’s this for a “pragmatic policy”? Do a full, honest engineering study of the capacity of the Colorado River hydro-power system to absorb:

        •     Solar PV (floating or not) without adding pumped storage or new transmission capacity

        •     Solar PV (floating or not) with added pumped storage at existing dams

        •     Solar PV (floating or not) with added transmission capacity at existing dams with existing or added pumped storage.

        A quick look suggests to me that an added 1-4 GWatts (peak) capacity could be added without adding pumped storage or new transmission. A look at pictures of Hoover dam suggests that cheap pumped storage could be added between the bottom and top of the dam. Or perhaps with some dredging of the Colorado channel through the Black Canyon. IMO worth taking a look at, using documented elevations and studies of the channel bottom.

        […] – a clear example of diversionary and delaying tactics.

        Sure. As if voters in California are going to accept new nuclear in the next 2 decades. California is a perfect opportunity to test the ability of solar PV innovations like floating solar PV and integrated power management (such as cheap pumped hydro at existing dams) to meet growing power needs effectively.

        While learning curve and economies of scale haven’t had a chance to apply yet, the cost of floating support could probably already be made tiny relative to the exponentially decreasing cost of PV. Adding floating solar at appropriate dams could:

        •     Provide peaking power they can’t support due to drought.

        •     Help to separate power management from water management.

        •     provide power for desalination, using the hydropower to provide daily balancing of the solar. For instance, adding a GigaWatt peak solar PV at Hoover Dam could (potentially) provide full-time power for 250MWatts of deslination. At 10,000 joules (watt-seconds)/cubic meter, that’s 25,000 cubic meters per second of fresh water. Over 750 cubic kilometers of water each year.

        Worth doing an engineering report?

      • By real engineers that is. Not you.

      • AK,

        How’s this for a “pragmatic policy”? Do a full, honest engineering study of the capacity of the Colorado River hydro-power system to absorb:
        • Solar PV (floating or not) without adding pumped storage or new transmission capacity
        • Solar PV (floating or not) with added pumped storage at existing dams
        • Solar PV (floating or not) with added transmission capacity at existing dams with existing or added pumped storage.
        A quick look suggests to me that an added 1-4 GWatts (peak) capacity could be added without adding pumped storage or new transmission.

        You clearly don’t understand what “pragmatic” means. It means cost effective and likely to be achievable given all the real world constraints. You’ve not considered the costs and not considered the real world constraints. You’ve done nothing except continue to throw up ridiculous thought bubbles. And you continually avoid considering pragmatic policies – like nuclear.

        Luddites work to delay progress. You advocate for ridiculous policies and avoid considering pragmatic policies. You work to delay progress. You behave like a modern day version of Luddite.

        The first thing the engineers would do if asked to investigate your proposal, apart from laugh, is a back of an envelope study of the revenue versus the expected long run marginal cost (LRMC) of the scheme (as a component of the existing system). The utilities, engineers and planners would be doing such studies from time to time on any potential projects that could be viable. Any scheme that was close to viable would be re-evaluated fro9m time to time. However, it would have to appear to be worth the effort to spend the money on pre-feasibilty investigations before anyone would r e-analyse it. Clearly your science fiction ideas are not considered worth investigating or it would have been done and republished by the authorities (not by some science fiction geeks).

        I gave you a rough calculation of your proposal and compared it with a pragmatic alternative – nuclear power. The nuclear power option is about 25 times cheaper than the solar powered pumped hydro option and about 5 cheaper than pumped hydro using average baseload power prices. It may be a little better using off peak power prices from baseload plants, but still nowhere near economic.

        If you had any sense of what is pragmatic, any engineering judgement, any sense of responsibility, you wouldn’t spend all your time trying to delay progress by throwing up ridiculous science fiction thought bubbles.

        I haven’t seen anyone write on CE that better fits the names “Luddite” than you.

      • Clearly your science fiction ideas are not considered worth investigating or it would have been done and republished by the authorities (not by some science fiction geeks).

        If you really believed that, you wouldn’t be making all the effort you’re making. IMO you’re afraid it is feasible, and that somebody qualified will do the “back-of-the-envelope” calculation then pursue it.

        Somebody qualified, that is, for anything but making straw-man arguments against proposals he doesn’t take the time to understand. My experience with engineers is mostly limited to software development, but in that experience they can be grouped into two categories: those who want to solve problems, and those who are part of the problem. Like you.

      • Peter and AK, this discussion has degenerated into mudslinging, and I’ve seen this same discussion many times before. Time to end it.

      • Typical marred couple.

        H/t Ring Lardner.
        =============

  32. New article on a campaign to confront the 2016 Republican candidates on their climate stance.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/06/steyer-climate-2016_n_7012828.html

    • Don Monfort

      Thank you so much for that, jimmy huffpo. Yes, it’s the same filthy rich Democrat clown who blew $70 MILLION trying to smear Rebublican candidates in the last election. Climate is a significant factor for a very small minority of voters, who are radical green little screaming mimis. The filthy rich Democrat clown can spend another $70 MILLION and gain about 37 votes. How much is that per vote, yimmy? The filthy rich democrat clown is trying mightily to make a small fortune out of a large one. Keep em coming, yimmy. Very entertaining.

      • Maybe he’ll have better luck with back-to-back warmest years.

      • It could be a problem for Republicans if 80% of the young voters, who support climate action, see for themselves that these candidates are just BS’ing on climate, raising questions about their other decisionmaking capabilities.

      • The Mad Coal and Cow Baron.
        ===========

      • “It could be a problem for Republicans if 80% of the young voters..blah..blah..blah”

        You mean like what happened when the filthy rich Democratic fool spent $70 MILLION in the recent disastrous election for the Demos?

        When those selfish little clowns find out that climate action costs them money they could be spending on herb and skateboards, they will vote a straight denier ticket.

        Keep em coming, yimmy. Free entertainment.

      • I think the reason that the Republicans are concerned about young voters is that they tend to show up for the Presidential races, even if they don’t care much about mid-terms.

      • Two puppet shows for every poppet.
        ==========

      • So, basically, JimD is saying the young voters are dumb enough to believe the campaign nonsense. I guess that’s the best the left can do now. Why not lower the voting age to 6 and announce the end of mandatory education? Everyone can play hooky and eat candy at the amusement park all day. Yeah, that’s the ticket ..

    • John Vonderlin

      Jim D,
      I drive by Mr. Steyer’s “TomKat Ranch” every few days on my way to my various coastal environmental projects. While I’m not the greatest fan of Mr. Steyer, hats off to him for putting his money behind causes he believes in. Comparing him to his political opposite, the pasty-faced, dual citizenship gambling parasite, Sheldon Adelson, a self-interested rightwing big money man previously behind such hypocritical rightwing losers as “The Newt,” makes him look pretty good.
      If you want to see how the 1% live try Google Earth using “TomKat Ranch San Mateo” or LeftCoast Grassfed. Then cruise the nearby coastline, south and north, my own nearly private Paradise. Life can be just as good for the rest of us 99%ers.

      • Unlike the Kochs, he seems to not gain anything financially from his investment in politics except the hope of a better environment. It is just being a humanitarian.

      • Danny Thomas

        Jim D,

        Gotta tell ya. W/R/T your comment about Koch (and I’m not a fan) and recalling this: https://judithcurry.com/2015/02/27/week-in-review-45/#comment-678943
        no matter the reasoning it seemed a double standard to this observer. Disappointing, but recognizing you owe me nothing. Just wanted to point it out.

      • I just think there is a big difference between philanthropic donations and what I might call self-interested ones. You can disagree with people making this distinction. It is up to you.

      • Danny Thomas

        Jim D,
        “Philanthropic donations”? I believe the number was somewhere near $74 million of his personal funds used to affect political outcomes. Why? Because the politicians whom he supported fell within his comfort zone. If he has the right to do so, then so do others.
        The Forbes question: “You’ve given more than any other donor this election. Why invest that money in electoral politics rather than advocacy or philanthropy?” Giving pledge, fine, but political influence is a different story.
        http://www.forbes.com/sites/katiasavchuk/2014/11/03/billionaire-tom-steyer-on-money-in-politics-spending-74-m-on-the-election/
        Not stating I’m comfortable with those kinds of influences being allowed, but if one side is able to do so then so should the other. Otherwise, it’s a double standard.
        So if that’s the standard, I disagree IMO.

      • He is an environmentalist and puts his money towards the policies that help the environment, which helps everyone. This is why it is philanthropical. He has enough money that he isn’t looking to make more by doing this. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett also have this type of mindset, and may even give the majority of their earnings away for causes that help large numbers of people either directly or via an improved environment. I know skeptics don’t like greenies who care about the environment, and especially the rich ones.

      • Danny Thomas

        Jim D,
        Just like AGW’ers don’t like Citizen’s United?
        Politics, IMO, is not philantrophy. Philantrophy is philantropy. Politics is politics. Equating the two is questionable.
        Gates and Buffett giving their money away via the Giving Pledge (Steyer too) is different:
        “WHAT WILL PEOPLE PLEDGE TO?
        The pledge does not involve pooling money or supporting a particular set of causes or organizations. The pledge asks only that the individual give the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes or charitable organizations either during their lifetime or in their will.
        The pledge does not solicit support for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation or any other specific cause or organization. The pledge encourages signatories to find their own unique ways to give that inspire them personally and benefit society.
        http://givingpledge.org/faq.aspx

        Note: philanthropic or charitable………..not political. Different. Sorry.

      • Realistically, however, when it comes to putting CO2 in the atmosphere affecting the environment, there is only a route through politics to help this problem. You can be idealistic and just fund grassroots campaigns, but you also have to be pragmatic to be effective on problems like this that are wrapped in a layer of politics in some countries at least.

      • Danny Thomas

        Jim D,
        And that’s fine, as that’s how “politics” is done. But chastising C.U. while praising the Steyer approach is a double standard.
        I personally don’t care for either as money buys influence. And I don’t have the money to buy influence. But the rules the SCOTUS has ruled is the “law of the land” is what it is. So if it’s okay for Steyer to do his thing, it’s okay for the other side to use their “voice” in exactly the same manner.

      • We would be in a better situation without Citizens United, but that is the playing field now and you lose if you just step off the pitch.

      • Danny Thomas

        Jim D,
        Ah! Common ground.
        I’m not a fan of the C.U. ruling (feel it’s detrimental to “the little people” {me}), but only asking for the recognition that it is the law of the land. With that understanding then it’s no different for C.U. to fund that which they support than it is for Steyer to do so. Fair is fair if we like it or not.
        Don, my perception is Jim is about as reasonable as it comes and I enjoy interacting with him (and you) as perspectives are important in this bigger conversation. But each of us sometimes need a “perspective check” (me especially) and I think Jim has come around to that in this thread so must give him credit for doing so. Most (from my short time of involvement) wouldn’t be willing to indicate a modification of their “platform” so I gotta give props where due.

      • I don’t equate supporting the fossil fuel industry for the few to saving the environment for everyone, and find it strange that you see an equivalence.

      • Danny Thomas

        Jim D,
        We’re talking philanthropy vs. politics. Koch and Adelson influence politics with their money. They alternatively donate for philanthropical causes. Steyer is using his money to buy political influence for causes he supports (right or wrong is not the discussion). That is completely different than philanthropy. If Steyer gave his money for research, or to Greenpeace even then fine. But buying political influence, no matter which side you personally are on, is an equivalence. And if you’re CHOOSING to differentiate because you’re on Steyer’s side (no matter the cause) then that’s on you, not me.

        Starting to think maybe Don was accurate.

      • As I mentioned, some environmental problems are wrapped in politics, and it is not so easy to separate caring for the environment which is a form of philanthropy, from doing something effective to benefit it. If you read the article, his tactic is to make more voters aware of Republican views on climate change policy because polling suggests they are in the minority.

      • Danny Thomas

        Jim D,
        Polling matters not. Politics is different than philanthropy. If it’s acceptable for Steyer to put forth his political agenda, no matter the content, it’s equally acceptable for those on the opposite side to do the same. For you to couch it in any other way is (props to Don) disingenuous. On this one sir, you are off base. Politics and philanthropy are two different playing fields. Steyer giving his money to research or Greenpeace is fine. Politicians are fair game on both sides. I erred in my attempt to give you credit for modification of your view. From this, I’ve learned. While I (and pretty much everyone here) “cares for the ‘environment'”, we individually differ on the climate discussion. That is different when it comes to the politicians one supports as more than climate is involved in the discussion of the politics. And I believe this is something of which you are aware. Have a great evening Jim D.

      • You have to see it from the environmentalist perspective. If you see industry doing something to the environment, whether it is acid rain, ozone, methane or other things, you need to change policy to avoid that, because industries won’t do anything if left to themselves. You can’t separate environment from policy that easily.

      • Danny Thomas

        Jim D,
        Trust me that my glasses are not rose colored. All I’m advocating is equal footing. Not all is “rosy” on either side, but not all is “evil” on only one.
        Not sure if you saw the Hufpo about Steyer calling out Koch for a debate using the old “settled science” statement. But if you did, do you agree that all the associated science is settled? Steyer can call out Koch and those piles in Michigan (and I think there may be some in Canada too, but I’m not sure) are are pollutive, no doubt, but Steyer is stating a falsehood that the science is settled. I see no clean hands and self interest all around.

      • Steyer does see the science as settled enough to act on it, and so do many. This is why he puts his money on the policies that stem from it. You have to understand that these people and most of the public don’t see any contenders to emitted CO2 doing this to the climate. The skeptics have made a very poor case for an alternative, especially as they don’t even agree with each other on one, which is why CO2 is so far out in the lead and pulling away at this point.

      • Danny Thomas

        Jim D,
        Steyer is in no position to state that the science is settled. Even I can see it’s not, Dr. Koonin says not:”The idea that “Climate science is settled” runs through today’s popular and policy discussions. Unfortunately, that claim is misguided. It has not only distorted our public and policy debates on issues related to energy, greenhouse-gas emissions and the environment. But it also has inhibited the scientific and policy discussions what we need to have about our climate future.”, Dr. Curry says not.
        Steyer is a politician: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Steyer
        “Steyer sold his ownership stake in Farallon, but still owns an investment, although his aides said he no longer earns profits. Some of the coal mines and coal power plants they invested in will continue to operate for as much as 30 years. For example, Farallon made tens of millions of dollars from developing the Maules Creek coal mine in Australia, which is opposed by environmentalists.”

        His hands are no more clean than Koch. He’s a political backer with an agenda.
        Exxon has invested billions in LNG. Shell did this today: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/09/business/dealbook/royal-dutch-shell-bg-group.html
        So they’re in the process of changing their zebra stripes. You gonna stand up for them too?

      • Danny, you are telling people that they can’t judge for themselves what the science is saying. This is like Judith telling the APS that they can’t judge the science for themselves. Science is a judgement call, and everyone is entitled to their opinion based on the weight of evidence that they have seen.

      • Danny Thomas

        Jim D,
        That is not what I’m saying. He has a poly sci education. He’s no scientist. His right to a voice is no less, nor no more than that of anyone else and that includes Koch. Stating “the science is settled” is politics, and it’s what Steyer is doing. Again, you rail against C.U. and are a cheerleader for Steyer. I happen to equate them in standing, not one over the other w/r/t their right to speak out. I’m not talking of my personal agreement as that’s moot.
        Jim, it is what it is, and from this observer you’ve picked a side and prefer to mute the opposite as you don’t care for their politics/industry. You have a double standard. That’s disappointing. Have a great night.

      • Danny, he has just judged the science the way most of the scientists have, not just climate scientists by the way. You can have a skewed opinion crafted by sites such as this, and you need to cast your net wider. Something like 3/4 of the American public also want a climate policy, and in the end that is what counts. They think it is settled enough, and they say now is the time for doing something and quit discussing whether or not to do anything.

      • Danny Thomas

        Jim D,
        I refer you back to the original comment of yours: “Made even worse by the Citizens United decision, which rules that money is speech, with the consequence that as far as elections go, if you have less money, you have less speech. Money calls the shots.”

        This is not a discussion about policy or not. It’s about a voice. You’re stating Steyer can do what he wants with his money as it’s for “good” but are against folks like Koch and C.U. doing the same.

        If you group in Steyer equally (shouldn’t be using the money to “call the shots” as more money is more speech) then I’d be fine with it. You’re not. You’re indicating how “bad” the C.U. decision was while cheerleading for Steyer. I’m stating (and I cannot be more clear) that each are equal. Equally good, or equally bad or however you wish to frame it. You’re not. Again, it is what it is.

      • Like I said, the Supreme Court made the rules. You can disagree with the rules, but you lose if you don’t play the game at all. Steyer plays the game as a rich environmentalist up against the rich industrialists who have already been on the field for several elections. If we, as poor non-influential people, have to play elections by proxy, I back the rich environmentalist team. It is not ideal, but that is the way it is. They represent the priorities of more people, including me, so it is a clear choice.

      • Danny Thomas

        Jim D,
        “I back the rich environmentalist team.”
        And I back “the American team”.

      • You linked the article by Steyer against the Kochs. He is very much for the average American that according to polls has a very different viewpoint from the Republican congressional bloc when it comes to whether climate policies are needed.

      • It is fair to criticize anti-science views like those of Inhofe and co. The Republicans up for election are a special breed when it comes to en bloc thought processing.

      • Danny Thomas

        Jim D,
        I’m not sure how many times I have to repeat, or how many ways. It’s fine for Steyer to use his money to his ends. It is equally acceptable to those on the other side to do the same. The issue I have is chastising one side for doing so while embracing the other. It’s a double standard.

      • No, I am judging how people are using their money. Whether to support the majority view of the scientists and American people, or the minority interests and their needs.

      • Danny Thomas

        JimD,
        Exactly. And that’s my point. Who are we (you or I) to decide? There are self interests all around. It seems you’ll forgive Steyer his “transgressions” (after all his money came from fossil fuels), and won’t give others (Koch) the same opportunity (ever heard of BEST?). The SCOTUS decided it was a free speech issue and resolved it. We live with it.
        This kind of thinking is the root of the GW/skeptic contentiousness. So in this case, the fault isn’t on the skeptical side.
        It’s up to the public to decide, not having decisions made for them (us).

      • The fault is on the righty SCOTUS, but given what they have done to the elections, people have to figure out how to play the system back into favoring the majority over the minority in them.

      • Danny Thomas

        Jim D,
        The “righty” SCOTUS? Question, does that apply to Obamacare?

      • We will see. They have another ruling there soon where they have a great chance to make healthcare too expensive for millions of full-time working people if they want to be right wing.

      • Danny Thomas

        Jim D,

        I’m sure you’re accurate and Pew is skewed incorrectly in some way. Sure wish folks would talk with you first: http://www.people-press.org/2014/05/06/supreme-court-favorability-rebounds/
        Please stick to science, I’m not so sure politics is your forte’.

      • You are not reading that graph correctly. This looks like the lowest rated Supreme Court in history to me, and I am not surprised.

      • Danny Thomas

        Jim D,
        Which graph?


        Looks like Dems see it 63% to 54% favorable vs. Reps.
        How far left does it need to be to satisfy you?

      • It was the long-term graph that goes back to the 80’s. Not so good when you compare them with previous SCs.

      • Danny Thomas

        Jim D,
        Unlike you do with science, you’re only arm waving w/r/t politics. I see you offer nothing to substantiate your views of this “right wing” SCOTUS. Next up seems to be same sex marriage and it looks like the leanins are towards the left.

      • They might be relenting, and perhaps that will help their sagging popularity. We will see. The Voter Rights repeal wasn’t much good, and everything is 5-4. Highly divided.

      • Danny Thomas

        Jim D,
        You didn’t answer. How far left does the SCOTUS have to be to satisfy you?

        A) Roberts became chief in 2005.
        B) Obamacare ruling in 2012
        C) Same sex will be when?

        Again, how far left do they have to be to satisfy you?
        Voting rights is one example.
        Pew survey was 2014.

        More Americans (not just you):

      • To me the upcoming Obamacare decision is a make or break for my opinion of them. If they don’t like full-time workers getting affordable healthcare, this is their chance, and it might be 5-4 one way or the other again because 4 of them sure don’t like it.

      • Danny Thomas

        Jim D,
        I see. Past matters not. Only that they chose to satisfy you in the future.
        Obamacare benefits me personally (I fit a category).
        Based on what I understand from this, if the next Obamacare issue doesn’t pass and same sex does having lost on the voter rights the SCOTUS hasn’t done the job as far as you’re concerned, huh? All because, it won’t be balanced and fair and ruling out any concern for “legal” issues.
        While I respect your backing up your science, I have zero respect right now for your politics. As it goes with the AGW/CAGW discussion if it’s not your way, it’s the highway. Sometimes, things don’t go the way we wish politically. Good reason to toss out the baby with the bathwater.
        I give you (soft, as after all it’s a survey) data………..you give me hand waving and feet stamping if you don’t get your way. Seriously?

      • The upcoming Obamacare decision will show how activist they really are. They did it right (just) with the first Obamacare, but that was closer than it should have been. I am just not confident in them being as politically neutral as they should be when they make judgments based on what I have seen so far.

      • Danny Thomas

        Jim D,
        What matters is the law, not what you want nor what I want. I get it. You want what you want. If it’s not that, it’s wrong. Damn the law.

      • Danny Thomas

        Jim D,
        I’m trying not to look at this from “an environmentalist” view or “an industrialists” view. What I suggesting is it be looked at from a “persons” view. As this discussion relates to Citizen’s United vs. Steyer what I’m suggesting is they each are due an equal voice. That’s just how it works. Part of the problem is you denigrate C.U. and are a Steyer proponent. It’s more of the same and will not lead to solutions only to further entrenched divide.

      • I disagree with your statement that Steyer doesn’t benefit from his political posturing.
        His investment fund is significantly, if not heavily, invested in green tech.

      • Steyer made big money in Fossil Fuels so now he can afford to buy indulgences from the church. Some of the believers find this, well, believable.

      • John Vonderlin

        Jim D,
        Your statement may be wrong at the edges, though I think his main “profit-seeking” is now in a different area than financial.
        c1ue,
        You wrote: “His investment fund is significantly, if not heavily, invested in green tech.” Are you referring to Farallon Capital Management, the hedge fund he started and sold his ownership stake in a while ago? While he still has a sizable investment in it, a consultant is quoted as saying he no longer receives profits from it. Do you have a citation to prove your suspiciously fuzzy claim of “significantly, if not heavily?” I think your politics may have deluded you significantly, if not heavily.
        That said, he is an ambitious man who has turned his success in financial manipulation to another arena of manipulation, politics. Shades of Casablanca. I am shocked, apparently you are too.
        While Wikipedia has an extensive and heavily-linked article (negative and positive) about him, I’d note that he and his wife have been active philanthropists locally, nationally and internationally, and have joined a number of other uber-rich people in signing “The Giving Pledge,” a promise to give away half of their wealth. Next time you’re bored, take a minute and visit their website to see if any of your favored billionaire political moneymen are pictured there.

      • @John Vonderlin
        Perhaps you can reconcile how one can have a “sizable” investment in a fund yet still not reap financial benefits from it.
        If Mr. Steyer has says, $500M in Farallon and Farallon is invested 25% in green tech – are you seriously trying to say that he won’t benefit should green tech stocks be politically assisted?
        Be that as it may, there has been talk in the past about Steyer, Farallon, and green tech: http://www.billionairechronicles.net/could-green-tech-billionaire-benefit-from-legislation
        There is no question whatsoever that the legislation Steyer has funded support for benefits green tech companies greatly – the only question is the extent of the link between green tech companies, Farallon or other financial entities, and Steyer.

      • Mr. vonderful and little jimmy are apparently unaware of the Adelson family and Koch family philanthropic foundations.

        Adelson and the Koch bros. have money coming out of their ears. They will give away far more money than they will gain in the remainder of their lifetimes. Making the nasty assumption/accusation that they are making political donations to enhance their profits is sleazy and un-American.

      • Don, I don’t think the Republicans are particularly interested in the environment, and neither are Koch and Adelson. Koch has that peculiar Smithsonian Museum exhibit that talks about Man’s effect on the future without even mentioning fossil fuels, that some may regard as a disinformation campaign. What’s good for them is not good for everyone.

      • Danny Thomas

        Jim D,

        I don’t care what these billionaires do with their bankrolls, only wishing to point out the double standards.
        As Don mentioned: Adelson:”Adelson Keeps His Politics Out of His Philanthropy

        While Adelson has famously bankrolled Republican candidates with huge sums, his philanthropy isn’t especially ideological. You won’t find big checks being cut to the places the Cato Institute or the Heritage Foundation, at least through his philanthropic entities. In fact, in 2012 the Adelson Family Foundation didn’t make a single grant to any kind of clearly ideological group.
        http://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2014/5/29/what-are-sheldon-and-miriam-up-to-eight-things-to-know-about.html
        And Koch: http://www.kochfamilyfoundations.org/foundationsdhk.asp

        Politics and philanthrophy are not the same. Calling out one w/o calling out the other for attempts to purchase political influence is a double standard.

        Putting a halo on Steyer because he supports politicians that support a cause you support is disingenuous. Differentiation is called for here.

      • You are disgusting, jimmy. Take your huffpo BS and shove it.

      • Danny is new here, but he it hasn’t taken him long to catch on that the “D” in jimmy dee stands for disingenuous. The cause, and little jimmy dee, are killing the cause.

      • I don’t see the big difference between politics and philanthropy. Either can hope to change the world. Donations to either can have elements of altruism or self interest. Nor do I see supporting “fossil fuel” as necessarily less worthy than supporting the “environment”.

        Fossil fuel is a means not an end. While some see its use as inherently evil, others recognize it as a means to bettering the lot of humanity, aiding the least advantaged, a driver of economies, and a great boon enabling a higher quality of life. (See the Morality of fossil fuels). Defending fossil fuels can be a shorthand way of defending various ends. Critics focus on the evil and self centered ones. In different cases that approach may be more or less correct.

        Environmental protection on the face is an end but it can also be a means for other goals. Environment as an end lacking workable or well defined means to support that end triggers skepticism from some and support from others. As with fossil fuel people can promote environmental concern for charitable or selfish reasons. Clearly the use of fossil fuels has some environmentsl benefits at times and at least in some cases the environment is promoted to the detriment of our environment. What people say they are promoting and what they are doing can be very different.

        Gore/Steyer/the Kochs, I’m not highly informed across the board here,but I don’t think we an expect it to be clear to all that some are noble and the others selfish. Maybe defenders of the environment are just better at PR than defenders of our energy future. Finding some morally superior may come iform a view of the world as divided between good and evil more so than being mostly populated by flawed humans muddling through.

      • Planning Engineer,

        Defending fossil fuels can be a shorthand way of defending various ends. Critics focus on the evil and self centered ones. In different cases that approach may be more or less correct.

        From my perspective fossil fuels should be defended and supported because of the massive benefits they bring to human well-being, all over the world and especially to the poorest people and poorest communities. There is not valid justification for denigrating fossil fuels or increasing the cost of them by government or UN interventions.

        However, if these concerned about GHG emissions want to advocate to make other alternatives cheaper, more reliable and more secure than fossil fuels, I fully support that. But, that must be done by reducing the cost of the alternatives and demonstrating they are a better fit-for-purpose and lower cost than the fossil fuels – in free markets!.

        Those who haven’t read this they may find it an eye-opener:
        Humanity Unbound: How Fossil Fuels Saved Humanity from Nature and Nature from Humanity cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/humanity-unbound-how-fossil-fuels-saved-humanity-nature-nature-humanity

      • Planning Engineer

        I’m with you there Peter Lang. I don’t know where we’d be without dense energy from fossil fuels and all considered it’ seems an overwheming net benefit to me.

      • @Jim D
        You said: “What’s good for them is not good for everyone.”
        That, in a nutshell, is precisely the problem whether the cause is fossil fuel profits or green energy subsidies.
        Whether Koch or Steyer – these individuals contribute to political campaigns for their own reasons which may be ideological, financial, tax-strategic, personal quirk or more likely, all of the above.
        However, the reason we are supposed to have public discourse is so that everyone can understand and decide whether any specific cause, legislation, or whatever is worthy of societal support.
        The issue I have with climate science is that it is being used to drive a clear political agenda even when the science is anything but clear as to the benefits to all but a few.

      • Little jimmy dee wants to add 12 more justices to the SC, all appointed by the huffpo politburo. Let’s get some homeys with their pants on the ground and a couple of illegal aliens so that the SCOTUS better reflects our society. Don’t forget the tranny.

      • Danny Thomas

        Don,
        I’m just looking at the numbers. Jim D says “far right” SCOTUS while indicating a lack of representation of those who espouse issues he holds dear. Yet when I look at Pew (no skin in the climate game from what I can tell) I just don’t see it. All I see is hand waving and his issues with “leanings” yet the survey results show more Dems are satisfied with the SCOTUS than are Reps? I just don’t get it. And I lean left socially.

      • FWIW Part I

      • FWIW Part II

      • Danny Thomas

        Joshua,
        Those charts are indications of the political leanings of the justices. We know Roberts is a conservative, and Ginsberg is a liberal. These tell us nothing about the rulings or how “America” perceives them. The come from the Pew link I provided, and offer only the political views of the justices.
        The business I was last in had a requirement to put the “best interest” of my clients ahead of mine. If these (all of them) justices cannot do the same when it comes to interpretation of the law they should be disbarred.

      • Related:

        http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/10/13/sunday-review/ebb-and-flow-on-the-supreme-court.html?ref=sunday-review

        Related and somewhat surprising to me (given the court under the previous chief justice):

        Not too many years ago, scholars could reasonably speak of the U.S. Supreme Court as being among the most activist in American history. Both empirical and normative scholarship were driven by the sense of a Court that was aggressive in the assertion of its own supremacy and active in the exercise of the power of judicial review. The Court under Chief Justice John Roberts cannot be viewed in the same way. The Roberts Court has issued its share of controversial constitutional decisions, but a rarely observed but important feature of the Roberts Court is its unusual restraint in the exercise of judicial review. By some measures, in fact, the Roberts Court can thus far be called the least activist Supreme Court in history. This article demonstrates that the Roberts Court is deserving of that title and investigates some features of the exercise of judicial review of the current Court compared to its recent predecessors. In order to illuminate the development of judicial review in the contemporary Court, the article examines a series of snapshots of recent constitutional decisionmaking by the U.S. Supreme Court, comparing illustrative two-year periods of judicial review decisions by the Burger Court, the early Rehnquist Court, the late Rehnquist Court, and the Roberts Court. The article also provides an in-depth examination of the coalition of justices that have characterized the Court’s exercise of judicial review and the tendencies of the justices who have served on that Court. During that period, the Court has become less likely to strike down federal laws but importantly it has become far less likely to invalidate state laws. Although the willingness of modern conservative jurists to strike down statutes is notable, the declining ability of the liberals on the Court to form majorities willing to strike down state laws has been particularly important to the creation of a restrained Court. The evidence suggests that the return of judicial activism on the Supreme Court is likely to depend on the appointment of more liberal justices to the Court.

        http://scholar.princeton.edu/kewhitt/publications/least-activist-supreme-court-history-roberts-court-and-exercise-judicial-review

      • Danny Thomas

        Joshua,
        Thank you for what I perceive as a reasonable evaluation as opposed to that which you (or I, or Jim D) may desire. I’m definitively left socially and find this court to be middle of the road. Some that I don’t care for (voter rights) I lose. Some (Obamacare, same sex) I don’t. But I do respect the law of the land and take my lumps and move on.
        This is not about me (apologies to Peter Davies) or Jim D. It’s about the rulings. A typically 5-4 court is about as “middle of the road” as one could hope for.
        (Presumably, Jim D won’t care for this at all.)

      • Danny, you seem to be expecting jimmy dee to engage in an honest discussion. He’s a rank ideologue. Period.

        “The upcoming Obamacare decision will show how activist they really are.”

        Really. The Obama Congress passed a law by hook-or-crook that plainly says that the federal subsidies would go to people in sates that set up their own state insurance exchanges. The Obama-ites did it that way to force the states to set up their own exchanges, or the recalcitrant Republican govs. who didn’t would expose themselves to condemnation for depriving the people of their state of the subsidies. See that clown Gruber for confirmation. It was a coercive measure that backfired on the nimrods.

        Now if the SCOTUS correctly rules that the law means what it actually says and intended, they are royally screwed. Too freaking bad. Too clever by half. Go back to community organizing. Chicago needs a lot of help. Bankrupt this decade.

      • Danny –

        This court has more conservative justices, some of whom are on the extreme right of the political spectrum and who never venture anywhere near the more moderate range. I would say that in contrast, the liberals are more in the moderate range (obviously, someone like GaryM would call the entire court except maybe Thomas and Scalia immoral flaming lefty progressive who can’t think critically – so these determinations are inherently subjective). The excerpt I quoted makes the point that the libz have a harder time putting together a majority vote than the conz. That seems like pretty much a straight up fact. However, the makeup of the court probably reflects the makeup of the citizenry.

      • Danny Thomas

        Joshua,
        Yes they lean conservative. States rights. But they overturn few federal laws (Obamacare included……so far). Thomas is as right as it gets, and Ginsberg is as left. But 5-4 is about as “moderate” as one could hope for (presuming moderation is desired). As far as the record goes, they’re seemingly pretty middle of the road. No one should expect to have all decisions go their way. Based on Jim D’s postings he does, and that’s unreasonable. And if a decision goes counter to his desires, it’s apparently “wrong” not taking the law in to account. As my perception of the CAGW/AGW meme, if it’s not “our way” it’s “the highway”. If one doesn’t go their way they’re just wrong. And this is a big (probably the biggest from this observer’s view) part of the climate discussion. Compromise is a bad word. Even if it’s to the benefit of “the cause”.

      • > Making the nasty assumption/accusation that they are making political donations to enhance their profits is sleazy and un-American.

        Unless there’s something special about the Koch Brothers, Don Don, you just assumed/accused c1ue of being sleazy and un-American.

      • You are being disingenuous, willy.

        clue said:”Whether Koch or Steyer – these individuals contribute to political campaigns for their own reasons which may be ideological, financial, tax-strategic, personal quirk or more likely, all of the above.”

        That is not an accusation, wee. And clue is obviously not attacking, or whining about anybody making political contributions. It looks to me that he is defending the right of all to put their money where the mouths are.

        Think back to the time before you got hooked on climate alarmism, willy. Weren’t you a better human being? Why do you stoop to this kind of crap?

  33. I urge those who are concerned about reducing global GHG emissions and also concerned about improving human well-being worldwide to stop avoiding the obvious. Instead, apply the Pareto Principle to policy options analysis:

    The value of the Pareto Principle for a manager is that it reminds you to focus on the 20 percent that matters. …. Identify and focus on those things.

    http://management.about.com/cs/generalmanagement/a/Pareto081202.htm

    From an earlier comment:

    …we can achieve the fastest emissions reductions by replacing fossil fuel technologies for electricity generation with low emissions technologies.

    We need to focus 80% to 90% of our efforts on reducing the cost of electricity from the already proven, fit-for-purpose electricity generation technology.

    Read the full content of the comment about the application of Pareto Principle to climate policy analysis here: https://judithcurry.com/2015/04/04/week-in-review-policy-and-politics-edition/#comment-690435

  34. William McClenney

    Left a thoughtful post at the final link in JC’s main post and it soon disappeared.

    http://www.energypost.eu/interview-chief-climate-negotiator-france-paul-watkinson-cop21-will-solve-everything/

    Good to see censorship and the delete key are alive and well in the eu.

    • Can you re-post your “thoughtful post” here, or didn’t you keep a copy of it?

  35. This is pretty good :) Sweet, as a matter of fact!
    From the article:

    Laurence H. Tribe, the highly regarded liberal scholar of constitutional law, still speaks of President Obama as a proud teacher would of a star student. “He was one of the most amazing research assistants I’ve ever had,” Mr. Tribe said in a recent interview.

    Which is why so many in the Obama administration and at Harvard are bewildered and angry that Mr. Tribe, who argued on behalf of Al Gore in the 2000 Bush v. Gore Supreme Court case, has emerged as the leading legal opponent of Mr. Obama’s ambitious efforts to fight global warming.

    Mr. Tribe, 73, has been retained to represent Peabody Energy, the nation’s largest coal company, in its legal quest to block an Environmental Protection Agency regulation that would cut carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s coal-fired power plants — the heart of Mr. Obama’s climate change agenda.

    To many Democrats and professors at Harvard, Mr. Tribe is a traitor. “The administration’s climate rule is far from perfect, but sweeping assertions of unconstitutionality are baseless,” Jody Freeman, director of the environmental law program at Harvard Law School, and Richard Lazarus, an expert in environmental law who has argued over a dozen cases before the Supreme Court, wrote in a rebuttal to Mr. Tribe’s brief on the Harvard Law School website. “Were Professor Tribe’s name not attached to them, no one would take them seriously.”

    Mr. Tribe dismissed the criticism and said that his brief and comments reflect his views as a constitutional scholar, not as a paid advocate for the coal company. “I’m not for sale,” he said. “I’ll say what I believe.”

    “I feel very comfortable with my relationship with Peabody,” he added. “Somebody wanted my help and it happened to coincide with what I believe.”

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/102566237

  36. AK,

    It seems you are avoiding addressing what’s relevant and prefer to keep diverting the discussion – e.g. asserting that my replies to your comments are ‘strawman’ arguments. But I am pointing out what is relevant – like the costs of your thought bubbles. But you don’t address the issue. You just avoid addressing it. Why do you do that, AK?

    Since you keep ignoring this comment I’ll repost it here.

    “AK avoids addressing the key questions and avoids admitting the costs of his proposals are orders of magnitude above anything that any serious person would consider investing time in. Yet he spends all his time trying to justify his irrational beliefs and avoiding considering pragmatic options. It’s a clear case of denial, behaving as a Luddite and intellectual dishonesty. Here’s another example of his dodging and weaving:

    More straw men. Since you’re so sure you know my plan is infeasible, you must know the elevation of the bottom of the Colorado channel at the base of Hoover Dam? I have yet to find it, or a bunch of other information I need to calculate the numbers you’re demanding.

    Basically, the way you argue is to twist any proposal (other than nuclear) into the most unfeasible shape you can, based on what’s left out. The result is a straw man, since obviously that’s not what I’m talking about.

    If you practiced reading with the slightest bit of sympathy, you’d have a pretty good idea of the answers you demanded. Your entire technique is a pointless exercise in straw man argument.

    I don’t have time to waste answering all your questions, but here’s a couple you should have figured out without your destructive straw-man junk:

    But he’s addressed nothing of relevance. His responses do not answer the questions. And the reason is clear – he hasn’t a clue about pumped hydro. he knows nothing about it. And not only does he have no understanding of costs, he totally avoids dealing with the key issues I’ve raised – such as this (with cost for nuclear corrected):

    Cost comparison ($/W average power delivered through life):

    1. Nuclear power plant: ~$5/W average

    2. Mohave pumped hydro project:
    – solar power: $3/W / 15% capacity factor = $20/W average
    – pumped hydro (powered by solar): $4/W / 4% capacity factor = $100/W average (I don’t believe the pumped hydro system could afford to buy any power from solar plants, so I believe the capacity factor would be 0% if using solar PV)
    – pumped hydro (powered by baseload): $4/W / 20% capacity factor = $20/W average

    Summary (cost of average power delivered through life, $/W average)
    1. Nuclear: $5/W average
    2. Mohave pumped hydro powered by solar: $120/W average (optimistic)
    3. Mohave pumped hydro powered by baseload: $25/W average

    So your Mohave pumped hydro proposal powered by solar power would cost around 25 times the cost of nuclear to provide reliable power supply on demand to meet user requirements.

    You’d have to be innumerate to not be able to understand the significance of this.

    AK, no matter what reasonably defensible costs you like to assume the pumped hydro scheme makes no sense at all, even with reliable, cheap baseload power. With solar it’s ridiculous.”

  37. Politics is just getting people to do what you want by ordering them to do it with the stick of law.

    Philanthropy is just getting people to do what you want by buying their cooperation with the carrot of money.

  38. Danny Thomas

    Aw. Come on.
    “You can’t cordon yourself off from air or from climate.”
    “….the issue of asthma is “a personal issue for me”
    “There was a clear political component to Tuesday’s announcement:”
    “a coalition of deans from 30 medical, public health and nursing schools has pledged to train their students to address climate change’s health impacts.”
    “Jackson noted that there is clear evidence that climate change contributes to “the movement of pathogens and vector-borne diseases. But it is still difficult to predict the time and place where disease will occur.”

    Climate changed “air” is now causing asthma. It’s no longer safe to breathe?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/04/07/white-house-to-explore-how-climate-change-makes-you-sick/

    • This one is insidious. A miasma of misinformation. How much truth dies in this fog?
      ============

      • Danny Thomas

        Kim,
        I fear the answer to your question lies here:“There was a clear political component to Tuesday’s announcement:”

  39. AK,

    You mean like encouraging people to think about things you don’t want them to?

    Strawman again. You know that’s not what I meant. So agaion you demonstrate your intellectual dishonesty and that you purpose in life is to block progress by diversion to arguments about irrelevant subjects.

    Luddites like you are blocking progress. If not for the success of Luddites like you at blocking progress, global emissions would be 10% to 20% lower than they are, the world would be richer, more people would have electricity and be healthier. That’s the effect anti-nuke advocates like you achieve by continually diverting discussion and advocating for ridiculous science fiction policies, as you do continually.

    Thanks for providing ongoing opportunity to demonstrate how dangerous and damaging to human well -eing the Luddites are.

  40. “Jackson noted that there is clear evidence that climate change contributes to “the movement of pathogens and vector-borne diseases. But it is still difficult to predict the time and place where disease will occur.”

    Isn’t that great? That way if you can locate a region with an elevated instance of disease, any disease, you can blame it on climate change. Ca-ching!!

    • I’m tellin’ ya, this new infestation of disinformation on the body politic is highly contagious.
      ==============

  41. It seems Japan has realised flirting with unreliable, intermittent generation is bad policy. They are intending to raise the proportion of baseload generation. I expect the rest of the developed wold will soon get over their obsession with irrational, ideologically driven policies too.

    Japan electricity mix and emission reductions under review
    The government has announced that it wants base-load electricity sources to return to providing 60% of the power by 2030, with about one third of this being nuclear. Analysis by the Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth estimated that energy costs would then be reduced by JPY 2.4 trillion (USD 20.0 billion) per year compared with the present 40% base-load scenario. At the same time, it was reported that 43 coal-fired power projects were planned or under construction, totalling 21.2 GWe, to take over from some of the expensive gas-fired generation run on imported LNG. Present coal-fired capacity is about 36 GWe. The new plants are expected to emit 127 million tonnes of CO2 per year, adding 34% to the 2010 pre-Fukushima emission levels from power generation. The government is considering a target of 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 level by 2030, which might be achieved with 45% of electricity generation being nuclear and renewables. However, energy mix and greenhouse gas targets are still not firmly decided.

    Japan NP http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Countries-G-N/Japan/

  42. I looked at Venema’s post on cool biases and didn’t understand the irrigation one. I think Christy did a detailed study of California stations and concluded that irrigation raised nighttime temps because wind is calmer and humidity was increased. I think he said the daytime bias was small. In any case, Venema’s post has no real data I could see to back it up.

  43. Link doesn’t work for me for Adventures in population growth…

  44. AK,

    Here are some other ways to do a simple reality check of your idea of solar powered pumped hydro energy storage.

    Hydro plants like Hoover dam generate power during times of peak and intermediate demand. They are not needed during low demand times because the baseload plants generate power cheaper. Peak and intermediate load is during the day – i.e. at the same time as the solar PV is generating power. You can only store power from solar when they are generating – i.e. during the day. But that is when the hydro is generating not pumping to store. So you can see why solar power pumped hydro is a ridiculous idea.

    Another way to do a reality check. Solar energy costs >$200/MWh (system costs included). The owner of the solar plant could sell the energy for $200/MWh to a utility or sell it to a (gullible, incompetent) owner of a pumped hydro scheme for that price. The pumped hydro owner might decide to buy power and store it every second day and use it to generate on the other days (or buy during the peak solar generating time and sell in the afternoon and evening. For simplicity assume the every second day scenario: he needs to sell the power for >4x what he pays for it, i.e. >$800/MWh, plus the revenue he lost on the days he was pumping instead of generating – add another $200/MWh; total >$1000/MWh. He couldn’t sell any electricity at this price.

    I hope these simple common sense reality checks plus the ones I’ve provided previously on this and other threads may persuade you to:

    1. Do common sense reality checks before advocating for technologies like solar power; and

    2. When the evidence is overwhelming that nuclear is far cheaper than renewables, be willing to start looking into it objectively; and

    3. Recognise that the same sort of advocacy you are doing for renewable energy projects has been going on for decades – it is effective at making people believe (wrongly) there is a bright future just around the corner, and they then enthusiastically pass it on to others. What you and they (inadvertently?) are doing is delaying progress.

    This is the point I’ve been trying to make to you all along.

    • Peter Lang – I think your third paragraph (like most everything you write) is on target, I will think some more on your second paragraph on the incompatibility of solar and pumping. I think it hypothetically could work well if you can clear the other hurdles (which are huge at this time and I include yours on cost an my previous on accommodating incorruptible generation). Imagine a 50 MW solar with a 100 MW pumped storage dam. My memory may be playing tricks but I think it would be common that a 100 MW would pump at a rate of 50 MW. Where water is not abundant the hydro is usually only used for around the 4 peak hours. (So not in the Pacific North West US for example, but many other places in the US) For this hypothetical system lets say that’s 3 to 7 PM.

      Starting in the morning the solar would start up and could be pumping until maybe 2. On non-sunny days if there was not storage the system could pump with purchased power. The solar is going to maximize at 50 MW around noon and start to decline as the afternoon goes on. During the transition you could fed the solar to the grid and until the sun goes down, the diminishing solar contribution would help with the peak. At night if the system economics were good you could pump with off-peak energy. Again, I’m with you on a host of other problems, but except for the time near but before peak where you switch from pumping to generation, I don’t see a problem. I will think more on how big a problem that might me. But thinking of some typical load/generation curves I like the behavior where the storage is consuming solar early, then the pumping stops before the generation starts (there should be a lot of CTs then to take the swing) and then the hydro starts generating with a little solar help to it peters out (again a lot of CTs in this period). It seems this would fight rather than contribute to the duck curve problem. At this time though I am with you that the costs are prohibitive and other answers likely superior.

      • spellchecker – incorruptible generation. Ha Ha, I’m afraid sometimes it”s anything but.

      • Planning Engineer,

        Thank you for your comment. I greatly appreciate your contributions here – I think they are invaluable for informing CE readers about important issues that are highly relevant to climate and energy policy analysis.

        I will think some more on your second paragraph on the incompatibility of solar and pumping. I think it hypothetically could work well if you can clear the other hurdles (which are huge at this time …

        Starting in the morning the solar would start up and could be pumping until maybe 2. On non-sunny days if there was not storage the system could pump with purchased power.

        I really don’t think it is anywhere near viable. It is cheaper to sell directly to the grid rather than to store in pumped hydro until the installed capacity of solar is sufficient to generate nearly all the electricity. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I am trying to make the major points. The link in last paragraph of this comment throws some light on this.

        Regarding the part of your comment I’ve quoted, any solar power generated can be sold to the grid at the available price or sold to the pumped hydro plant for the same price. The cycle efficiency of pumping and generation is commonly about 75% to 80%, so about 25% to 33% of the power is lost. That alone raises the breakeven sell price for the power by 25% to 33%. On top of that you have to pay for the plant (capital, financing and operating costs). A rough rule of thumb is that the sell price needs to be about 4 times the buy price for a proposed pumped hydro project to be viable.

        Pumped hydro can buy power at off peak rates at say midnight to 6 am and sell at peak times for much higher price. This can be viable if suitable pumped hydro sites are available. The fact not many are being built shows that few are viable even at off peak prices. PV price is around 10 times higher than the off peak prices. There’s no way it can be viable when it has to buy power at shoulder price (day time) instead of off peak price (early hours of the morning).

        On top of this you have only a few hours where the PV is providing sufficient power for pumping. That means the capacity factor of the plant will be even lower than is normal for pumped hydro plants (e.g. 10% to 15%). This makes it even less viable.

        Could I urge you, AK and other readers to consider this simple analysis I did a few years ago: http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/08/16/solar-power-realities-supply-demand-storage-and-costs/ . The intended purpose was to explain the important, relevant issues and concepts to people who have limited understanding of them. Point to note: I am not arguing it is a realistic scenario – for example, it is a ‘limit analysis’: i.e. all the electricity to meet the 2010 demand of the Australian National Electricity Market is generated by fixed array PV at a single location and the power is stored in pumped hydro reservoirs. The reason for this approach was to keep the analysis and the explanation simple and because I had access to 2 years of power output data at ½ hourly intervals from a utility owned and commercially managed PV array.

      • Peter – my understanding of the current and likely economics are pretty much the same as yours. I understood you to make an operational argument that was divorced from ecomic considerations. My take was that was uneded clutter n your otherwise sound appeal.

      • Planning Engineer. Thank you. I accept that. It didn’t help to clarify. Thanks for the feedback. Much appreciated.

  45. Cost Of Solar PV Will Fall To 2 Cents/kWh In 2050, Says Fraunhofer Study

    “In a few years, solar energy plants will deliver the most inexpensive power available in many parts of the world. By 2025, the cost of producing power in central and southern Europe will have declined to between 4 and 6 cents per kilowatt hour, and by 2050 to as low as 2 to 4 cents.” These are the main conclusions of a study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems commissioned by the German think tank Agora Energiewende. In view of these conclusions, “plans for future power supply systems should therefore be revised worldwide”, says Patrick Graichen, Director of Agora.

    According to Agora Energiewende, which describes itself as “an independent German think tank dedicated to research on the future of the electrical power system”, the Fraunhofer study “uses only conservative assumptions about technological developments expected for solar energy. Technological breakthroughs could make electricity even cheaper, but these potential developments were not taken into consideration.”

    […]

    According to the study, “most scenarios fundamentally underestimate the role of solar power in future energy systems.” The study shows “that solar energy has become cheaper much more quickly than most experts had predicted and will continue to do so,” says Dr. Patrick Graichen, Director of the Agora Energiewende in a press release. “Plans for future power supply systems should therefore be revised worldwide. Until now, most of them only anticipate a small share of solar power in the mix. In view of the extremely favourable costs, solar power will on the contrary play a prominent role, together with wind energy – also, and most importantly, as a cheap way of contributing to international climate protection.”

    • Key Insights at a Glance

      1.           Solar photovoltaics is already today a low-cost renewable energy technology.

      Cost of power from large scale photovoltaic installations in Germany fell from over 40 ct/kWh in 2005 to 9ct/kWh in 2014. Even lower prices have been reported in sunnier regions of the world, since a major share of cost components is traded on global markets.

      2.           Solar power will soon be the cheapest form of electricity in many regions of the world.

      Even in conservative scenarios and assuming no major technological breakthroughs, an end to cost reduction is not in sight. Depending on annual sunshine, power cost of 4-6 ct/kWh are expected by 2025, reaching 2-4 ct/kWh by 2050 (conservative estimate).

      3.           Financial and regulatory environments will be key to reducing cost in the future.

      Cost of hardware sourced from global markets will decrease irrespective of local conditions. However, inadequate regulatory regimes may increase cost of power by up to 50 percent through higher cost of finance. This may even overcompensate the effect of better local solar resources.

      4.           Most scenarios fundamentally underestimate the role of solar power in future energy systems.

      Based on outdated cost estimates, most scenarios modeling future domestic, regional or global power systems foresee only a small contribution of solar power. The results of our analysis indicate that a fundamental review of cost-optimal power system pathways is necessary.

      • Once again, you demonstrate your inability to do even basic reality checks. You believe anything that supports your beliefs.

        How do you justify advocating for solar and avoiding a serious, objective analysis of the nuclear power option?

      • How do you justify advocating for solar and avoiding a serious, objective analysis of the nuclear power option?

        How do you justify demanding any sort of analysis from me when you’ve already completely denigrated my analytic capabilites?

        The numbers are hopelessly wrong, unsupported and not worth wasting time on. I’ve concluded you have no idea how to do any sort of cost estimate or reality check. […] There are many places you can get highlevel cost estimates to do sanity checks on pumped storage and solar. You are not aware of them and don’t know how to do it. Soi it’s pointless.

        More than once:

        It’s hopeless. You don’t have sufficnet understanding of the subject, you don’t know how to do the most basic of reality checks, you avoid what’s relevant and argue about trivial details.

        You build inherent contradictions into your polemic: your ~A$744/kW=~60¢/Watt for Tantangara/Blowering vs. your claim that “I’d now roughly halve the cost of the pumped hydro component to say $2/W.” You haven’t explained what was “wrong” with the way I used your Tantangara/Blowering estimate as a model. So what possible use would similar analysis that I “don’t know how to do” be WRT nuclear power?

        I know quite a bit about the technical aspects of cost reductions in solar power, because I’ve researched them, but little about nuclear. But, as a nuclear advocate, you do know. So why don’t you do that analysis?

        Start with a 1GWatt advance technology nuclear power plant somewhere very close to Hoover Dam, so no additional long-distance transmission facilities have to be built, and tell us how it could work, with and/or without new pumped hydro facilities at the dam. Do the cost/benefit analysis you think is so important. You’re the “expert” on the subject, or at least enough of an advocate to have studied it.

        Show me!

      • AK, you haven’t a clue and you’ve demonstrated it repeatedly. You can’t even do the most simple or basic reality checks.

      • Cost of power from large scale photovoltaic installations in Germany fell from over 40 ct/kWh in 2005 to 9ct/kWh in 2014. Even lower prices have been reported in sunnier regions of the world, since a major share of cost components is traded on global markets.

        Germany has the second highest priced electricity in EU, it’s CO2 emissions intensity is one of the highest in EU and rising as it builds 10 new coal fired power stations. Any rational person with capacity to do reality checks would ask how can you quote be true? You clear ly don’t even ask your self such questions. You’re a joke. When confronted with the facts, you dismiss them as strawmen arguments.

  46. AK,

    But the primary problem I’m throwing ideas at the whiteboard tying to solve is, AFAIK, one you consider a waste of time: how to make best use of the rapid exponential decline in cost of PV? You think it won’t continue, I think it (probably) will, thus justifying the time and effort I spend trying to explore possible plans and predictions of its deployment.

    I’m saying this:

    1. the rapid learning rate from low base that renewables (and many other technologies before) have demonstrated is not an indication that it will continue. The experience of other industries and the resource constraints suggest renewables cannot make a significant contribution to global energy supply, therefore they cannot make much contribution to reducing global GHG emissions.

    2. Renewables (with system costs included) are much more expensive than nuclear. And renewables do not have the same enormous capacity to reduce costs as nuclear does. I see no persuasive evidence that renewables can become cheaper than nuclear power for providing a large proportion of electricity in a grid; in contrast nuclear has been demonstrating it can and is fit for purpose.

    3. I doubt renewables can be cheaper than nuclear (except in small niche markets, which are irrelevant for the main game). Therefore, they are not viable and cannot do the job.

    By advocating for renewables without objectively comparing the option, nuclear, you are causing others who know little about the subject to continue to hope for anything but nuclear and to not give it proper, objective, consideration. So they keep delaying progress believing the RE advocates’ twaddle. IMO it is irresponsible to continually advocate for high cost renewables because you and they are delaying progress. This is my main point I am urging you to consider.

    How do you justify advocating for high cost RE and avoiding a serious, objective analysis of the nuclear power option?

      • AK,

        Put up or shut up yourself. You haven’t ever dealt with the issue of cost of renewables versus cost of solar. I’ve done it dozens of times from many authoritative sources. You’ve never shown any of them Are wrong. You invariably avoid addressing the question.

        So, put up or shut up!

      • AK, you haven’t yet admitted your solar pumped hydro thought bubble is ridiculous. The fact you advocate such nonsense, and continue to advocate it even after being shown how ridiculous it is, is an example of the tactics the RE zealots use.

      • AK, you haven’t yet admitted your solar pumped hydro thought bubble is ridiculous. The fact you advocate such nonsense, and continue to advocate it even after being shown how ridiculous it is, is an example of the tactics the RE zealots use.

        You haven’t responded to my challenge to “put up or shut up”. (I responded to yours, tho I suspect you’ll find excuses why it doesn’t count.)

        I did an analysis based on your Tantangara/Blowering estimate (which you’ve linked repeatedly and challenged me to use as a model) which came up with 25cent;/Watt. About half what you got for Tantangara/Blowering, which seems to me to make sense given that both designs rely on existing reservoirs, and yours includes a long tunnel while mine doesn’t.

        You won’t even say what you think is “wrong” with it, just “you don’t understand” sort of comments.

        Perhaps I do understand. Perhaps you’re one of those “engineers” who manipulate your estimates in support of a political agenda (nuclear power, and perhaps what it implies). I’ve run into a few of those in my career, [AK SNIP].

        Anyway, I don’t do that. My “pumped hydro thought bubble” was based on cost estimates drawn from your Tantangara/Blowering estimate, although they were mental models till you pushed me to write them down. Actually came out a little better than I’d been thinking. I was thinking more like 40¢/Watt.

        If you think so much of nuclear, why don’t you provide a cost/benefit analysis for a nuclear plant near Hoover Dam? Looks like low-hanging fruit to me: you could put it out away from scared (sub-)urbanites, not have to build transmission capacity, and help reduce the energy dependence on precious water. Or put it by the Salton Sea, use it to run a desalination plant. And maybe pump the result to LA?

    • I get value from both of you, especially when you tangle. Sorry about the blood and the bruises.
      ==================

      • All I get from AK is a reminder of what RE zealots are like. They refuse to look objectively at the facts (like the relative costs, viability, fit-for-purpose and sustainability of renewables versus nuclear). As always with anyone I have a discussion with I start off thinking it is possible to have a rational, objective discussion. But AK, is just another example showing it is not possible with zealots. No mater how often and from how many authorititative sources the comparative costs are provided, he refuses to even entertain that he could be wrong. Then he pulls bits and pieces out of carious comments or paragraphs puts them together in some nonsensical way and asks some irrelevant, silly question.

        That’s the approach the anti-nukes and RE zealots have been taking for eh past 30 years or more. Misinformation, distortions, and dishonesty.

  47. Nuclear power is the least cost and fastest way to substantially cut GHG emissions from electricity

    1 Energy supply requirements

    The most important requirements for energy supply are:

    1. Energy security (refers to the long term; it is especially relevant for extended periods of economic and trade disputes or military disruptions that could threaten energy supply, e.g. 1970’s oil crises [1], world wars, Russia cuts’ off gas supplies to Europe).

    2. Reliability of supply (over periods of minutes, hours, days, weeks – e.g. NE USA and Canada 1965 and 2003[2])

    3. Low cost energy – energy is a fundamental input to everything humans have; if we increase the cost of energy we retard the rate of improvement of human well-being.

    Policies must deliver the above three essential requirements. Second order requirements are:

    4. Health and safety

    5. Environmentally benign

    1.1 Why health and safety and environmental impacts are lower priority requirements than energy security, reliability and cost:

    This ranking of the criteria is what consumers demonstrate in their choices. They’d prefer to have dirty energy than no energy. It’s that simple. Furthermore, electricity is orders of magnitude safer and healthier than burning dung for cooking and heating inside a hut. The choice is clear. The order of the criteria is clearly demonstrated all over the world and over thousands of years – any energy is better than no energy.

    2 Nuclear better than renewables

    Nuclear power is better than renewable energy in all the important criteria. Renewable energy cannot be justified, on a rational basis, to be a major component of the electricity system. Here are some reasons why:

    1. Nuclear power has proven it can supply over 75% of the electricity in a large modern industrial economy, i.e. France, and has been doing so for over 30 years.

    2. Nuclear power is substantially cheaper than renewables

    3. Nuclear power is the safest way to generate electricity; it causes the least fatalities per unit of electricity supplied.

    4. Nuclear power is more environmentally benign than renewables.

    5. ERoEI of nuclear is ~75 whereas renewables are around 1 to 9. An ERoEI of around 14 is needed to support modern society. Only nuclear, fossil fuels and hydro meet that requirement.

    6. Material requirements per unit of electricity supplied through life for nuclear power are about 1/10th those of renewables

    7. Land area required for nuclear power is very much smaller than renewables per unit of electricity supplied through life

    8. Nuclear power requires less expensive transmission (shorter distances and smaller transmission capacity in total because the capacity needs to be sufficient for maximum output but intermittent renewables average around 10% to 40% capacity factor whereas nuclear averages around 80% to 90%).

    9. Nuclear fuel is effectively unlimited.

    10. Nuclear fuel requires a minimal amount of space for storage. Many years of nuclear fuel supply can be stored in a warehouse. This has two major benefits:

    • Energy security – it means that countries can store many years or decades of fuel at little cost, so it gives independence from fuel imports. This gives energy security from economic disruptions or military conflicts.

    • Reduced transport – nuclear fuel requires 20,000 to 2 million times less ships, trains etc. per unit of energy transported. This reduces shipping costs, the quantities of oil used for the transport, and the environmental impacts of the shipping and the fuel used for transport by 4 to 6 orders of magnitude.

    There is no rational justification for renewable energy to be mandated and favoured by legislation and regulations.

    2.1 Nuclear cheaper and lower emissions than renewables
    Renewables v Nuclear: Electricity Bills and Emissions reductions by technology proportions to 2050

    The CSIRO ‘MyPower’ calculator shows that, even in Australia where we have cheap, high quality coal close to the main population centres and where nuclear power is strongly opposed, nuclear power would be the cheapest way to reduce emissions: http://www.csiro.au/Outcomes/Energy/MyPower.aspx

    MyPower is an online tool created by CSIRO that allows you to see the effect of changing the national ‘electricity mix’ (technologies that generate Australia’s electricity) on future electricity costs and Australia’s carbon emissions.

    Below is a comparison of options with different proportions of electricity generation technologies (move the sliders to change the proportions of each technology). The results below show the change in real electricity prices and CO2 emissions in 2050 compared with now.

    Change to 2050 in electricity price and emissions by technology mix:

    1. 80% coal, 10% gas, 10% renewables, 0% nuclear:
    electricity bills increase = 15% and emissions increase = 21%

    2. 0% coal, 50% gas, 50% renewables, 0% nuclear:
    electricity bills increase = 19% and emissions decrease = 62%.

    3. 0% coal, 30% gas, 10% renewables, 60% nuclear:
    electricity bills increase = 15% and emissions decrease = 77%.

    4. 0% coal, 20% gas, 10% renewables, 70% nuclear:
    electricity bills increase = 17% and emissions decrease = 84%.

    5. 0% coal, 10% gas, 10% renewables, 80% nuclear:
    electricity bills increase = 20% and emissions decrease = 91%.

    Source: CSIRO ‘MyPower’ calculator

    Points to note:

    • For the same real cost increase to 2050 (i.e. 15%), BAU gives a 21% increase in emissions c.f. the nuclear option a 77% decrease in emissions (compare scenarios 1 and 3)

    • For a ~20% real cost increase, the renewables option gives 62% decrease c.f. nuclear 91% decrease in emissions (compare scenarios 2 and 5).

    • These costs do not include the additional transmission and grid costs. If they did, the cost of renewables would be substantially higher.

    3. Conclusion:

    Nuclear is the least cost way to significantly reduce the emissions intensity of electricity.

    The difference is stark. Nuclear power is far better.

    But progress to reduce emissions at least cost is being thwarted by the anti-nuclear activists.

    • Since you’ve invited me to “put up or shut up”, let me address some of your weaker points:

      1. Energy security (refers to the long term; it is especially relevant for extended periods of economic and trade disputes or military disruptions that could threaten energy supply, e.g. 1970’s oil crises [1], world wars, Russia cuts’ off gas supplies to Europe).

      And what about real security? A major dependence on nuclear requires world-wide proliferation. How do you propose to prevent somebody like ISIS or Al Qaeda from grabbing (military) control of reactors and using them for terrorism?

      2. Reliability of supply (over periods of minutes, hours, days, weeks – e.g. NE USA and Canada 1965 and 2003[2])

      Pumped hydro, backed by gas turbines, can provide similar reliability. Especially given the risks of earthquake, or political wind-shifts, to nuclear power plants.

      3. Low cost energy – energy is a fundamental input to everything humans have; if we increase the cost of energy we retard the rate of improvement of human well-being.

      Solar power costs have been cutting in 1/2 ever 4-5 years. Assuming they continue to do so, within a decade solar power will be far cheaper than current nuclear technology. AFAIK there’s no good reason to expect any nuclear technology to follow a similar cost-reduction curve, although it’s certainly not impossible.

      The biggest issues, then are the risks of nuclear and the fact that solar power will probably soon be cheaper than nuclear, even with storage.

      One more issue: solar is already quicker to roll out than nuclear. Most of the hurdles to solar are political/permitting, and those could be modified with sufficient will. Nuclear certainly finds substantial obstacles in its way, but AFAIK even with those roadblocks removed it would be 5-10 years for a nuclear plant to be built.

      Solar can (in technical terms) be rolled out in 3-6 months.

      From a policy standpoint, the optimum approach would seem to be this:

      •         Pursue a nuclear option as a future fall-back, in case solar ceases its rapid cost decrease. Primarily through R&D, with an appropriate level of pilot plants. Reevaluate 10-15 years down the road.

      •         Pursue innovative solar technology, especially floating and other mobile approaches. Pursue the “low-hanging fruit” WRT locating solar near existing hydropower installations, where it can potentially add substantial generating capacity without the need for new transmission capacity.

      •         Pursue innovative storage technology, including the “low-hanging fruit” involving using existing advanced pumped hydro technology at existing dams, where actual project costs could potentially be as low as 25¢/Watt.

      •         Pursue an aggressive policy of anti-bureaucratic clearing of regulatory deadwood and other hurdles, for all sorts of fossil carbon-neutral energy.

      There you go. You’ve made your arguments, which I don’t buy. No need for me to waste time on them. I don’t disagree with what you’ve said about nuclear, but I still call BS on your solar straw men. You have consistently refused to consider any path that would include the exponential price decrease in solar PV over the next 10-20 years.

      The policy I prefer would involve an aggressive pursuit of cost reductions and regulatory streamlining in both nuclear and solar, along with storage technology, which could potentially add value even with nuclear baseload. Let solar have its chance, then reevaluate in 10-15 years.

      • There is no easy solution, or even a hard one, to the power density problem.
        ===========

      • AK,

        but I still call BS on your solar straw men. You have consistently refused to consider any path that would include the exponential price decrease in solar PV over the next 10-20 years.

        That’s incorrect and I’ve corrected you on that statement many times before and yet you keep repeating it. That’s seriously dishonest.

        If you’d bother reading what I’ve written and referring to the references before making such blatantly disingenuous statements, would keep repeating them. The CSIRO projected costs are for 2030 and 2050 and assume optimistic cost reduction rates for renewables and none for nuclear.

        You still have not admitted that your solar powered pumped hydro scheme is ridiculous.

      • There is no easy solution, or even a hard one, to the power density problem.

        Perhaps. Perhaps it isn’t really a problem. Long-term, of course, there’s Space Solar Power.

        In the meantime, if solar power with storage can be gotten for $3.50/Watt by, say, 2022, I suspect nuclear will be dead. Plenty of fresh water, and perhaps the people of California will decide taking some of it away from boaters is better than risking nuclear.

      • AK,

        And what about real security? A major dependence on nuclear requires world-wide proliferation. How do you propose to prevent somebody like ISIS or Al Qaeda from grabbing (military) control of reactors and using them for terrorism?

        And you resort to pulling out the proliferation furphy – anti-nuke scaremongering about nuclear power plants producing bomb making materials. You must have been told a hundred time that’s a furphy, yet you keep repeating it.

      • The CSIRO projected costs are for 2030 and 2050 and assume optimistic cost reduction rates for renewables and none for nuclear.

        You mean the “calculator”? I don’t see a link to the code. (I’d have to study it for a while before accepting it anyway.) What I do see is this:

        eFuture allows you to adjust only a limited set of these within a limited range – in order to keep things simple. This is a range of values that are reasonably possible and where the results of the simulation calculation are reasonably valid.

        If it isn’t the calculator, what reference are you referring to? If it is, what’s their “range of values that are reasonably possible” and why should I accept it?

        Does it include, for instance, $1.00/watt installed floating solar by 2017?

      • Yep, Peter, it is a delusion, with just enough grounding in reality to make the apparition truly horrifying.
        ===============

      • […] anti-nuke scaremongering about nuclear power plants producing bomb making materials. You must have been told a hundred time that’s a furphy, yet you keep repeating it.

        I’ve understood nuclear technology since I was in grade school. (Both my parents worked on the Manhattan Project.)

        I don’t need any “experts” to tell me about the risks of proliferation.

      • AK says:

        In the meantime, if solar power with storage can be gotten for $3.50/Watt by, say, 2022, I suspect nuclear will be dead.

        All AK’s beliefs rely on the most preposterous ‘IFs’. This is an example. Solar is 2 to 5 times the cost of nuclear. It’s over $200/MWh with all system costs included. On a comparable basis solar is 2 to 5 times the cost of nuclear. And, not fit for purpose, not sustainable and uses about 10 times more materials per MWh supplied through life.

        Policy analysts also need to include in policy options analysis an estimate of the risk that renewables will not be able to deliver the benefits claimed by their proponents. We know nuclear can provide around 75% of electricity in an advanced industrial economy because France has been doing it for over 30 years. But renewables have not demonstrated they can or will be able to. Many practitioners think they will not. An estimate, in LCOE equivalent terms, of the risk that renewable technologies do not meet the hopes of the proponents is $54/MWh.

        With the risk of failure included the total LCOE for the two options are:

        No nuclear = $203/MWh
        With nuclear = $101/MWh

        Therefore, the LCOE of the ‘no nuclear’ option is 2 x higher than the ‘with nuclear’ option. And emissions would be 3.2 times higher.

        The risk that renewables will not be able to do the job is the major risk that those concerned about GHG emissions should be most concerned about, not the costs of nuclear waste disposal, decommissioning, accident insurance etc. all of which are negligible compared with the LCOE and the risk that renewables do not deliver the benefits claimed by their proponents.

      • With the risk of failure included the total LCOE for the two options are:

        No nuclear = $203/MWh
        With nuclear = $101/MWh

        Therefore, the LCOE of the ‘no nuclear’ option is 2 x higher than the ‘with nuclear’ option. And emissions would be 3.2 times higher.

        More straw men? What are the assumptions those numbers are based on?

        Anyway, given the risks of nuclear proliferation, perhaps many voters would prefer the higher option. Especially since it’s probably going to come down lower than nuclear within a decade.

        Meanwhile, while we’re waiting for solar to come down, a full pursuit of the nuclear option seems warranted. As long as it stays within the appropriate borders. Texas yes, California no.

  48. Nuclear power cheapest electricity with largest emissions cuts by 2050

    The lowest cost way to generate our electricity and reduce emissions by 2050 is with a large proportion from nuclear power.

    Here I use the CSIRO ‘eFuture’ calculator to compare two scenarios to supply electricity to meet the projected electricity demand on the National Electricity Market (NEM) in 2050 as well as cut CO2 emissions. The two scenarios are: 1) nuclear power not permitted and 2) nuclear power permitted. ‘eFuture’ determines the generation mix that gives the least cost electricity for that scenario using the selected inputs. The scenarios compared here use the default (central estimate) for each user selectable input. The two scenarios are compared on the basis of CO2 emissions intensity and wholesale cost of electricity.

    CO2 emissions for nuclear not permitted are 80 t/MWh versus 25 t/MWh with nuclear permitted. That is, if nuclear is not permitted emissions would be 3.2 times higher than if nuclear is permitted.

    The table below lists the LCOE (wholesale price) with nuclear not permitted and with nuclear permitted; the third column shows the ratio ‘No/Yes’ (nuclear not permitted/permitted)’. Cost items of common interest are itemised. Costs are in $/MWh.

    Item No nuclear With Nuclear No/Yes Ref.
    LCOE from ‘eFuture’ 130 85 1.5 1
    Accident insurance 0 0.1 2, 3
    Decommissioning 0.15 0.01 4
    Waste management 0 1 5
    Transmission, 50% penetration 18.5 2 6
    Total LCOE 149 90 1.8

    Policy analysts also need to include in policy options analysis an estimate of the risk that renewables will not be able to deliver the benefits claimed by their proponents. We know nuclear can provide around 75% of electricity in an advanced industrial economy because France has been doing it for over 30 years. But renewables have not demonstrated they can or will be able to. Many practitioners think they will not. An estimate, in LCOE equivalent terms, of the risk that renewable technologies do not meet the hopes of the proponents is $54/MWh.

    With the risk of failure included the total LCOE for the two options are:

    No nuclear = $203/MWh
    With nuclear = $101/MWh

    Therefore, the LCOE of the ‘no nuclear’ option is 2 x higher than the ‘with nuclear’ option. And emissions would be 3.2 times higher.

    The risk that renewables will not be able to do the job is the major risk that those concerned about GHG emissions should be most concerned about, not the costs of nuclear waste disposal, decommissioning, accident insurance etc. all of which are negligible compared with the LCOE and the risk that renewables do not deliver the benefits claimed by their proponents.

    In this example, the cost of renewables (an optimal mix of technologies) in 2050 is about twice that of nuclear. The analysis assumes optimistic cost reduction rates for renewables and no cost reduction for nuclear.

    I’ve provided all the references previously, you haven’t studied them, discussed them or queried, the, so no point posting them again. But I can if you say you’ll adopt an object research approach to studying them.

  49. System effects in a low carbon electricity system (in $/MWh)

    At 10% penetration:
    Nuclear =2.4
    Solar PV = 36

    At 30% penetration:
    Nuclear =2.1
    Solar PV = 56

    Linear projection to 50% penetration:
    Nuclear =1.8
    Solar PV = 76

    Linear projection to 90% penetration:
    Nuclear =1.2
    Solar PV = 116

    http://www.energyinachangingclimate.info/Counting%20the%20hidden%20costs%20of%20energy.pdf

    At 90% penetration, the system costs would be about 100 times higher for renewable energy than for nuclear (based on the above). However, it could be much higher when you consider the cost of the transmission network needed to get peak power from the sunny side to all the consumers on the dark side of the planet (every second of every day).

    System costs are one of several costs that must to be added to the LCOE of renewables to make the LCOE of renewables and nuclear comparable. Other significant costs are the risk (expected value) that renewables cannot do the job by 2050.