Week in review – energy, water & food edition

by Judith Curry

A few things that caught my eye this past week.

Policy analyses

MIT economist shows weakness in social cost of carbon [link]

Very good  article: How the war on coal is transforming the global climate debate. [link]

David Rose on climate policy, coal and solar energy in India [link]

Good overview on advances in global carbon pricing [link]

What would Ronald Reagan do about climate change? [link]

A few thoughts on the finding that CAFE standards yield little or no rebound effects [link]

Cutting soot and methane distracts from 2C goal, says Oxford scientist Myles Allen [link]

How do electric utilities make money? [link]

Fossil fuels

Coal exports: Is Obama Shipping Away His Commitment to #Climate Change? [link]

Riyadh can’t pump the gas it needs, so it has to rely on oil to produce electricity. [link]

What do we do with all these dead coal-fired power plants? [link]

Obama opens thousands more acres of public land to coal mining [link]  …

Can natural gas set us on a path to a safer climate or is a bridge to nowhere? [link]

Climate benefits of a #NaturalGasBridge ‘unlikely to be significant’ [link]

ExxonMobil CEO  on renewable energy: ‘We choose not to lose money on purpose’  [link]

Alternative and renewable energy

Very good overview – Meltdown or Mother Lode: The New Truth About Nuclear Power [link]  …

How corn ethanol is worse for climate change the the Keystone pipeline [link]

EIA: Renewable energy in the US. Hydro/wood/biofuels dominate. Wind/solar smaller but rising fast. [link]

The developing world is beating the U.S. at clean energy [link]

Overview of energy storage [link]

The heat is on, as Australia plumbs the depths #geothermal #energy [link]

Is there a limit to the amount of wind and solar a power system can handle? [link]

MIT Report: Climate change could mean lights out at some power plants [link]


Obama announces a new rule limiting water pollution: [link]

Obama’s new clean water rules; crushing disappointment to clean water advocates [link]

Did EPA Collude With Eco-Activists To Push A Federal Water Takeover? [link]

Desalination and wastewater recycling are 2 technological solutions to drought proven at scale in Israel [link]

The the Federal gov’t fuels the West’s water crisis by spending $1 billion to grow cotton in the desert. [link]   …

How to save California’s precious groundwater [link]

Managing flood risk [link]

Looking for Leapfrogs: Where’s the Evidence That Poor Countries Are Leapfrogging Fossil Fuels? [link]  …


France is making it illegal for supermarkets to throw away edible food: [link]

Drones, satellites, leveling and monitoring– how to increase #irrigation efficiency: [link]

EPA proposes restrictions on pesticide spraying at times when honeybees are pollinating: [link]



151 responses to “Week in review – energy, water & food edition

  1. O’Malley just said it: it’s not just the rich but global warming that is the problem. He even gives a nod to the teachers. Climate isn’t science — it’s politics that is caused by gas bags not gas.

    • He actually said the rich and powerful are the problem and climate change is an opportunity.

      • The rich and powerful are indeed the problem. They are behind the environmental and social policy groups that are trying to gum up US society in general and the US economy in particular.

      • …opportunity to raise taxes and grow government.

      • His view was more from the point of view of the bankers running the global economy off the rails in 2008 with their unsafe investments. Also income inequality where more and more of the national wealth is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, and they can now also affect the elections in their favor. Yes both sides, and the middle class majority loses out with no money to have influence. It is a mess, but it is the best congress money can buy. I guess.

      • …and, I thought California voters voted that way because they were Leftists, like the old retread Jerry Brown, the first openly Alzheimer’s governor. Oh wait… they are Leftists — no one buys their votes: the presidential election is over before Californians even go to the polls. Who would waste a dime on influencing opinion. If it serves the interests of the public employee unions, it’s the law!

  2. Willis Eschenbach

    The ludicrous models used to predict economic meltdown from climate get a thorough bollocking in the article on the “social cost of carbon” … outstanding.


  3. Nice to see the home energy storage idea starting to be taken seriously (energy storage link). I raised that here 2 years ago. Start with this and search my comments on that thread.
    The wrinkle now is that the power company could maintain the storage devices on the property rather than those being owned by the homeowner.

    • Right your no tech lead acid battery rambling. To get lead acid batteries to last their rated lifetime you have to limit discharge to about 70% meaning you need at least three times the capacity of your estimated peak demand.

      Until better hydrogen storage becomes available, just about any onsite or near site battery storage is going to be an expensive boondoggle.

      Now it you really want to show the world how well domestic car batteries can work, you start from ground up with all LED lighting and dedicated low voltage systems for all your electronic toys. Use direct solar for hot water, ventilation and refrigeration where possible and basically design your lifestyle around intermittent power.

      That is pretty much why solar will make its biggest splash in third world and off grid applications. If you do all the basics needed to be solar off grid prepared, your on grid costs would be so low it would be a waste of money.

      See, energy efficiency comes before alternate energies.

      • that should be limit discharge to 30%.

      • I was thinking more of the electric car batteries. See my comments on the thread I linked and also this slightly earlier thread where I was laying out my ideas.

      • JimD, Li is better than lead acid but still not going to be cost effective. Go that route and you will end up with $10 laptops and $100 hamburgers. Most of the alternate energy use greater than 20% of base is going to be third world or off grid. Then is is only cost effective for basic essentials from a third world point of view not an energy hog world point of view.

        Same with electric cars for the most part. You can build a light weight surrey type of vehicle but if you build for interstate speeds and all the safety regulations you just have an expensive toy, $100K Telsa.

        “Globally”, most have squat compared to a lower middle class developed worlder.

      • As I have mentioned before, this is something for the future. Prices will come down, especially with mass production. Give it a decade or two to mature. It could significantly impact future residential power use.

      • JimD, more likely options will change. That is what is a problem with trying to force implementation of what will likely be obsolete by the time it is installed.

        The Green Missionaries don’t get that and the ROW is getting less and less fond of having Green Missionaries tell them how to live.

      • captd, sure yes. This is only one way to get renewable energy closer to 100% penetration. There may be other ways people have not thought about yet, or storage at the generation site might become competitive with new technology. Many opportunities, but is not like we are short of ideas for this, so it will proceed one way or another at the level of local utility companies, and we will see what catches on by working best.

      • Curious George

        Jim D, how do economies of scale work?

      • CG, I am not sure what you are asking. Robotic assembly?

      • IMO Rud’s right: the only type of battery with serious potential for fixed storage is flow batteries. There may be a few temporary solutions using re-purposed auto battery technology, but that’ll only be due to temporary low (relative) costs due to volume (economies of scale) and learning curve. Longer term, as those factors come into play with flow batteries, they’ll become really cost-effective for fixed storage.

        Only vehicles, with their much different weight and mobility requirements, will benefit long-term from self-contained battery technology.

      • In regard to storage batteries, i would be prepared to make a small wager that the battery in your non electric motor vehicle was invented in 1859.

        There have been very changes to the design since then. “Maintenance free” (more or less), gel cells, tweaking to plate chemistry, and things of a similar nature, don’t change the fact that the lead acid automotive battery hasn’t changed much in the last 100 years.

        People have tried, and all sorts of conspiracy theories have been put forward to explain why lead acid batteries are still used in about 100% of motor vehicles.

        The devil’s in the detail, and the maintenance will get you. Mass production might not help you if a component of your battery is a rare earth. It might be that the more you use, the higher becomes the price.

        Energy density, efficiency, maximum charge and discharge rates, volume to weight ratio, are just a few things that vary from application to application.

      • Mike Flynn,

        I believe you would probably lose your small wager. Tesla uses a Lithium-ion battery quite fifferent from lead batteries.

      • different

      • ordvic,

        I specified the batteries in non electric motor vehicles, I think. I believe the Tesla uses electric motors for propulsion, so it doesn’t count.

        Have a look at the battery in your non electric motor vehicle – that is, yours, the one you own.

        If it’s lead acid, you would lose the wager. I specified a small wager in case you found a heap of old NiFe cells, or similar, and tried them out.

        You quickly find out why lead acid cells are used in ICE motor vehicles.

      • Mike, you’re right, reading comprehension on my part, sorry. You win :-)

      • JimD, “captd, sure yes. This is only one way to get renewable energy closer to 100% penetration.”

        The best way to get penetration of renewable energy is converting it into transportable energy, fuel for fuel cells. Instead of trying to balance loads , use processes to balance supply. You can get over 80% efficiency with co-processes. You need that because most of the conversions are only 50% efficient, but since transportable/transportation fuels are more valuable, you get a better return.

        Electricity is cheap. Road fuel isn’t. Blow off the Green Missionary fantasies and get real.

      • The best way to get penetration of renewable energy is converting it into transportable energy, fuel for fuel cells.

        Or, given the way solar PV is becoming exponentially cheaper, use it to drag CO2 out of the air and combine that with hydrogen to produce methane. Which can be burned in all the gas-fired power plants built in place of coal.

      • AK, “Or, given the way solar PV is becoming exponentially cheaper, use it to drag CO2 out of the air and combine that with hydrogen to produce methane. Which can be burned in all the gas-fired power plants built in place of coal.”

        Screw the CO2 in the air or in the water. The hydrogen is the expensive part and Scardicrats are affeared of it, like most everything else. They would rather put bandages on their failing pets than get real. Back in the old days some natives had missionaries for lunch. The ROW is starting to get a taste for Green Missionaries.

      • Captain, you wrote “That is pretty much why solar will make its biggest splash in third world and off grid applications.”

        I’ve lived or worked in a few dozen third world locations, and visited a wide range of cities, towns, hamlets, camps, army bases….enough to give me a fair idea of how people live, and what they like to have. And to be honest, I can’t figure out why so many people think third world inhabitants can live with interruptible/unreliable power. I suspect many just think the third world’s typical inhabitant lives like Tarzan?

      • ferndandoleanme, “And to be honest, I can’t figure out why so many people think third world inhabitants can live with interruptible/unreliable power”

        Most of the people living with intermittent power are third world. Since they don’t already have a “standard” grid and logistics system, moving forward they can use more renewable options. Developed regions are stuck with infrastructure not designed with intermittent in mind. That makes the shift more complicated and expensive relative to what is available.

        Bangladesh is a good example of basic solar and China is a good example of more advanced HVDC transmission that can tolerate much more intermittent sources.

        It isn’t that they can or can’t live with anything it is that they are in a better position to use what is available now and grow with the technology.

      • Curious George

        Jim D – do you believe that a million small batteries plus a million converters are better than a huge bank of batteries and a powerful converter?

      • A British company has come up with sodium/ ion batteries using a new type of cathode


        It claims to be in talks with three big car makers about the product.

        I don’t know if anyone here can give a technical evaluation of its merits.


      • CG, one benefit of distributed storage is that downed power lines or transformer hits don’t instantly cut off whole neighborhoods, but both may have their merits. Bulk energy storage methods may become more efficient.

      • Do we want a few big batteries or many small ones? Super computers versus PCs. How can cellular phones be better than your old land line?
        What if the context is extreme weather? Iced power lines or branches falling on them? I remember that two day Summer stretch with no electricity.

    • jimd

      I well remember you talking about home energy storage and was trying to find your link to it just a few days ago.

      I do like the idea of home storage in as much until it comes along a lot of energy produced by renewables is wasted. Also, as sources such as solar can’t produce power at night it would be useful to be able to draw on the power it generated during the day by way of storage.

      As far as I can see it is still some way in the future as efficiency and cost effectiveness are distant bedfellows with regards to practical energy storage.


      • In the article, it is encouraging that at least one California power provider is looking into something like it with behind-the-meter storage. The time has come to think about it.

      • Tony, Planning Engineer and I have a possible guest post covering exactly this in process. Third of our planned ‘trilogy’. Judy accepted part two, solar, on Friday. Stay tuned.

      • Residential power generation and storage would be more efficiently addressed by thinking in terms of neighborhoods. Particularly if you are retrofitting into existing suburbs. The local mall or shopping center, office park, etc., typically has better opportunities to capture solar & wind and could cooperatively distribute to individual homes — but utilities don’t like this concept and can block it by control of their lines and right-of-ways. Having everyone install their own generating/storage capacity is far from an ideal solution.

      • Residential power generation is another step entirely. I was talking about centralized generation, but distributed storage. However, there are also forms of residential power generation, not at the level of individual homes, but in shared neighborhood solar farms.

    • What do we know we are getting? More wind and solar. That’s unfortunate but what do we do about it? Distributed battery storage using conventional lead acid. While much maligned, you can recycle them and doing that has already taken hold. If the choice was more solar or more batteries, which would we pick? The first is a problem for grid stability. The second is an answer and I think the subsidies would be better spent on batteries.

      • Storage would allow solar and wind to grow as a percentage of the total, especially in neighborhoods that have home storage. This also allows better utilization of the available maximum wind and solar resources because you don’t get wasted generation periods. If natural gas is used as a backup, it saves those limited resources longer too, and renewable biomass could also be used as backup which requires a lower rate of renewal than if it was the primary fuel.

      • Captain made the very relevant comment at 12.29 above that lead storage will only really work on a low voltage supply system with led lighting ec.

        Lead batteries could not possibly power the energy needs of a house and it’s occupants for a couple of days unless the elctrical system was set up properly. Even then it’s probably best to think of it as emergency supplies rather than as a full blown power source. Just Boiling a kettle of water for example would severely delete the storeD power.


      • climatereason
        Gary Tulie says:
        “The value of battery services in this calculation are considered to be that of arbitrage only. There are a number of secondary services which battery systems can be configured to perform which add value. 
        1. Avoidance of grid / generating capacity extension – If peak demand in a remote location is rising, and projected to exceed the carrying capacity of the current grid infrastructure, then local energy storage can defer or prevent the need for a grid / local generation upgrade. 
        2. Balancing services – energy storage can be used to rapidly respond to voltage or frequency variation or grid instability a service which can have considerable value. (consider the value of avoiding a major widespread power cut).
        3. Black start – many traditional generators need some power to manage their ancillary systems during start up. Energy storage can provide this.
        4. UPS – some users such as hospitals, air traffic control, data centres, banks, etc require or can benefit from UPS services.
        When several “revenue streams / services” are provided by batteries, their value greatly increases as compared to the pure arbitrage case.”
        1) Is the most interesting to me. Consider a dense urban core. It stores energy during off peak periods. It uses the batteries during peak demands. This reduces the distributions costs as the existing power lines are used more uniformly. Power line capacity suffers from some of the same problems as solar. Its capacity is not always used. So when there is little demand during the early morning, you still have to pay the power line costs. Ideally you’d have 100% utilization.
        2) I do not know this writer but he appears to think the balancing services can be provided by batteries. Not sure about the whole phase issue though.
        When we compare costs, it might be hard to quantify the value of a more distributed and resilient grid.

      • California is investing heavily in Lithium-Ion batteries both the government and business:


        There is a business alliance:


      • Here they write about lead acid battery reconditioning:
        Ever wonder what happens to all those old car batteries? Most are mined for lead ingots. I bet some are repaired.

      • Plug Plots Path From Forklifts to Trucks for Fuel Cells

        April 8 (Bloomberg) — Plug Power Inc., the best performer on the Nasdaq, is looking for new markets where its fuel cells can take on fossil fuels. First on the list: refrigerated delivery trucks and airport support vehicles.


        Growing demand for cleaner forklifts helped boost Plug shares more than ninefold in the past six months, the best return on the Nasdaq. The company expects orders to almost quadruple this year, to about $150 million. Those will go to companies including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Kroger Co. This year, Marsh expects to report positive income before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.


        Plug developed a hydrogen-powered system that works as a drop-in replacement for the standardized lead-acid batteries that drive many of the currently available forklifts.

        The appeal for warehouse managers is that fuel cells can run 24 hours a day, with short breaks to refuel with hydrogen when needed. Batteries need time to recharge, so either the forklifts are idle, or they each need a second battery, which take up valuable floor space, Marsh said.

        I’ve always been highly skeptical about the safety of hydrogen re-fueling in a passenger-car context, but for warehouse/factory floor forklifts, and perhaps other truck-type applications, it can probably be made safe.

        More importantly, if it can work for forklifts, it can work for fixed storage. Maybe even for homes, although I’m skeptical. No more so than I’d be for piped gas, I suppose, if it were being proposed for the first time.

      • You all really need to study up on energy density, power density, and cycle life of batteries. Any one of the three is possible. Two of the three is possible at very high cost. 3 of 3, good luck.

      • Like I keep saying, it is not happening tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean it should not be considered what is needed to make it practical. The need is there. It could be lucrative which should attract interest. There will be failures and successes as with any new industry.

      • Acme announces it’s going green and puts solar on its rooftop. If they also bought some batteries and put those in a shed, that would mitigate some of grid stability problems they are contributing to, plus allow more people to add solar before the grid tips over. Their gesture would would have more meaning if they pony up for the batteries. Batteries can offset the problems of wind and solar, but no one wants to pay for them.

    • Jim D, In Arizona two utilities recieved approval to own their own rooftop solar units to offset losses in revenue. Seen on the link provided on ‘How utilities make money.

  4. Pingback: Week in review – energy, water & food edition | Enjeux énergies et environnement

  5. Both ‘natural gas as bridge to low carbon future’ are revealing in their pathological imbedded assumptions. Just plain antipathy to fossil fuels, plus abject ignorance about how the grid works. Renewables are intermittent so not dispatchable. The only alternative to dispatchable base load fossil fuels is nuclear. Period. And no grid functions without a large majority of dispatchable base load. Double Period.
    Where natural gas is abundent and relatively inexpensive, it wins out over coal. Thanks to chemical composition and higher thermal efficiency, natural gas fired CCGT produces about a third the CO2 of modern USC coal, plus takes a year less to construct (3 versus 4) plus has a capital cost of about $1000/kw versus $3000/kw. But places like India and Japan don’t have abundant natural gas at any reasonable price (japan gas from LNG imports is ~$15/mbtu) so coal and nuclear are the only viable options. India has emphatically chosen coal. Japan has yet to make a choice. China is moving toward nuclear plus its own shale gas plus gas imports from Russia.

    • Rud, I left them a comment under the article about natural gas. I tried to be kind and polite, but as you write, they don’t seem to know much about the issue.

    • But you don’t need electricity when you live in a cave.

    • Rud, I found this enlightening and helpful thanks. Couple of questions.

      1. What do say about those predicting China will reach ‘peak coal’ in the next year or two? Is that credible?
      2. I understand the situation you describe for India and Japan. Africa’s a mighty big landmass but is it possible to say something similar there?

      Those could be hard I guess.

      • RD, wrote about that question in my first book. In 2012, coal experts were predicting peak Chinese coal would come around 2020, just based on the nature of their coal reserves. They are already importing from Australia and Indonesia, so this seems plausible. And their shift toward nuclear and CCGT in the newest 5 year plan supports that. ‘Peak anything’ is not precise enough to pick a specific year. So whether 2017 or 2022, it is probably soon for China. Hence their clever Obama ‘deal’ for 2030.
        I have not researched African coal enough to be able to comment. Plenty in South Africa. Do not know about the rest of the continent. But, only six countries hold 85% of known coal reserves: US, Russia, China, Australia, India, South Africa. In that order. US is near 2x next best Russia. There is debate about potential Pakistan lignite. China presently produces ~2x the US and ~8x Russia. So China should hit peak coal production first, before any other coal abundant country.

      • Mediterranean Region Set for Sharp Rise in Energy Demand
        According to Karbuz, the brunt of the growth will fall on Southern Mediterranean states, many of which are already exploring new energy options, including shale gas, renewables, nuclear and new offshore exploration.
        This growth could see greater demand for coal across the region, putting many countries at odds with growing pressure to reduce emissions from power generation from global actors. While Northern European countries could find some obstacles with environmental pressure coming from Brussels – in accordance with European Union climate change goals – southern countries may not have as much trouble approving new coal projects.
        Still, they may find some resistance when it comes to financing new coal projects, as a number of international lenders and financial institutions have moved to reduce their exposure to coal investments in recent months. That will leave many to boost existing and potential hydrocarbon options, as well as – as in the case of Morocco – move significant resources towards renewable energy efforts.

      • Rud: thanks. What I was also wondering about Africa I guess is whether there are cheaply exploitable natural gas fields, meaning they can skip coal. I know Freeman Dyson’s talked about this, in his optimistic way. (Informed optimism in his case, normally, I should add.)

        One motivation for the question is knowing how hot one should get under collar about the capital bans for new coal projects from the World Bank, UK’s DFID and no doubt others. It seems outrageous to me to prejudge the issue like this. But perhaps China will step in, as it has with financing Pakistan’s coal-fired plans. Or perhaps gas, with or without fracking, will make the whole question moot? But not in all areas of Africa presumably?

        Sorry, thinking out loud but I wish more people were talking about how the “War on Coal” may be completely the wrong frame in the most needy continent.

  6. After reading the nuke article I decided to see what amount of private funding goes to nuclear today as opposed to the article written in 2010. I typed private funding for nuclear power 2015. I ended up reading four links. The first link privided is the US Nuclear power policy that details all the spending and various funding projects most of which cancelled out. There is a chart at the bottom. The second link I read was about the dept of eneregy (DOE) handing out $3.5 mil to four companies general atomics, ge hitachi, gen4energy and westinghouse for research that mostly looks like materials related research. The third article was the DOE providing two large utilities with funds to develope small modular reactors (SMR) $226 mil to NuScale and $452 mil to Babcock and Wilcox. The fourth article is about the US helping China build two molten salt reactors.

    My conclusion is that Nuclear energy is a long way off and just replacing what we have now will be a challenge. Unless things change, and money pours in, that energy is a ways away. In fact even if they did pour the money in on the timescale of what alarmist climate scientists are telling us it will be too little too late. Opps sorry we were late for the disaster party. That leaves the idea that climate sensitivity is more robust than consensus believed it was is the only hope.

    In the meantime California is launching itself headlong into an anti-carbon future starting with Schwarzenegger’s global initiative kicking in this year already raising the price of gas by .60 cents a gallon and just getting started according to Lundberg survey. It is investing in solar and renewables and battery storage not to mention the high speed train (hardly green that one). All these efforts will supposedly amount to less than 1% of human impact on climate change.

    So all this indoctrination, politcal fighting and energy poverty will have all been a big waste of time.

    • My conclusion is that Nuclear energy is a long way off and just replacing what we have now will be a challenge. Unless things change, and money pours in, that energy is a ways away. In fact even if they did pour the money in on the timescale of what alarmist climate scientists are telling us it will be too little too late. Opps sorry we were late for the disaster party. That leaves the idea that climate sensitivity is more robust than consensus believed it was is the only hope.

      Huh? The annual increase in absorption is 120% of the annual increase in emissions. Which means emissions will end up in the 460-480 PPM ball park, right before we run out of fuel. So if you are talking about being to late to stop a CO2 warming disaster, you have forever, and that is generally considered sufficient time.

      But that isn’t the only issue. We have about 50-70 years until the fossil fuel runs out. If we downsize the EPA we might to be to get 100 years of fossil fuel.

      So we have plenty of time to develop a molten salt or liquid metal reactor. (and can put a bounty on environmentalists if we need more time). The molten core high temperature reactors can use the Brayton cycle and only produce half as much waste heat (those big cooling towers) as a conventional reactor or a coal plant.. I’m surprised the waste heat doesn’t get more attention because it is a problem.

      • I was talking in consensus science terms. If we are already past their previous so called tipping points by their reasoning waiting another 20 or 30 years for other technology to ramp up is way too late. Now if you’re right then bring it on.

        That brings us to the article about what Reagan would have done. Usually I suspect these articles would probable mischaracterize Reagan but in this case I think the guy might have something there as Reagan truly believed in innovation above all else.

      • ordvic | May 30, 2015 at 2:34 pm |
        I was talking in consensus science terms. If we are already past their previous so called tipping points by their reasoning waiting another 20 or 30 years for other technology to ramp up is way too late. Now if you’re right then bring it on.

        Goofy global warming predictions:

        Can’t find any global warming predictions that came true so I guess they are all goofy.

        The “too late” tipping points started before 2000 and we past a bunch of them. It is way too late to do anything about climate change. We should oppose any political candidate who suggests taking action on climate change and get congress to specifically forbid the executive branch from taking any action on climate change. Taking action now when we are far beyond the tipping points would be a complete waste of time and money. Only a fool would blow a lot of money (trillions) for little or no gain.

      • If we are past what tipping point? I was glad to see PA explain we are running out of fossil fuels. My own estimate of peak co2 is 630 ppm, but the peak is a function of the economy’s ability to accept high energy prices, as well as population growth and the ability to build replacement energy sources.

        I give this a lot of thought, and lately I’ve concluded the best option is to throw the kitchen sink at the combined problems. This includes action to slow down population growth, develop nuclear, get renewables to take up a reasonable amount of the load, and encourage efficiency measures.

      • fernando – can you do all that without a world level totalitarian government?

      • fernandoleanme | May 31, 2015 at 10:13 am |

        I give this a lot of thought, and lately I’ve concluded the best option is to throw the kitchen sink at the combined problems. This includes action to slow down population growth, develop nuclear, get renewables to take up a reasonable amount of the load, and encourage efficiency measures.


        Well, gee…

        The human population gets more than $1 trillion in benefits in farm/fish/forest from increasing CO2 per year. The analysis above of 45 crops estimated a $140 Billion/year benefit just from 1960-2010 for those crops. Congress should require by law that a study be performed of the gross external positive benefits of increased CO2 since 1700. We need properly researched and reviewed (peerily) data on this phenomenon for making reasonable policy decisions.

        There has been a feeding frenzy looking for negative externalities. This needs to be balanced by a 10 year 2 billion dollar research program on the positive externalities of more CO2. Scientists whose studies show the greatest benefit from more CO2 should be given priority for further grants under the program.

        The governments of the planet have embarked on a crazy anti-plant nutrient crusade. We need to accurately research and document what it is costing us in terms of benefits.

        But, back to your view fernandoleanme:
        1. “Throw the kitchen sink”. If you are damaging your kitchen to solve a problem you could be over reacting or may have misunderstood the problem.

        2. “This includes action to slow down population growth, develop nuclear, get renewables to take up a reasonable amount of the load, and encourage efficiency measures”.

        Well, my list would be a little different.
        1. Use social persuasion, carrots, whatever to limit the increase in global population. Reducing the rate of increase is probably a good idea. Any approach used should not be coercive.

        2. Develop high temp (molten salt/liquid metal) reactors. I am concerned about waste heat and using passive safe Brayton cycle reactors would address this by reducing waste heat 50%..

        3. Renewables today are symbolic and simply move the pollution to China so it has to travel 6000 miles (5959.8 miles from Peking to San Jose) to get back to us. We should wait 10-20 years until they are more efficient and less resource intensive.

        4. Research better storage solutions and energy implications of grid changes.
        We are playing games with the grid that could bite us. The other issue is current renewables are a joke and it is clear the grid 20 years from now will have a different composition than the green agenda wants. Adding cheap efficient storage to the grid makes it more resilient and mitigates a number of problems.

        5. Implement known upgrades needed to grid to harden it. EMP upgrades alone are estimated at $2 billion. The money should be taken from global warming programs which are a complete waste of time and used to reduce known grid vulnerabilities.

        So there is no doubt more CO2 is beneficial.

      • After reading the politico article on the war on coal I am now beginning to see the light on how the politics will shape up and indeed be glad I’m old. Republicans are always fighting yesterdays battles and always looking like curmudgeons, doddering old fools out of step with the realities of modern life. Instead of embracing modern technology and championing a way forward to an energy renaissance they are still in their caves burning lumps of coal. To think these troglodytes are the only hope against complete big government control of our lives … pathetic.

        Let’s say hypothetically that we actually go into a downturn in temperatures over the next decade and people got tired of the global warming cabal. You’d think that would all but wipe out leftist control freaks hanging on to their credability with a thread. Well even if that did happen the right wingers will still be sitting in thei caves singing their Jesus songs around lumps of coal and greenpeace will still be heroically winning on the ground the war against big coal.

        The only way for any kind of liberty can be preserved is for a new leader to step up and champion innovation, out ahead of everyone, as suggested by that article about ‘what would Reagan do’. I don’t see that leader or anything remotely like that going on today. If anything it is progressives like Bill Gates and Elon Musk that are carrying that mantle. I’d probably join that philosophy if I didn’t know it comes in a package of big government coersion as we are witnessing in the climate change world led by state control freaks like Lewendowsky, Oreskes, Bloomberg and Obama.

      • ordvic said:
        “I’d probably join that philosophy if I didn’t know it comes in a package of big government coersion as we are witnessing in the climate change world led by state control freaks like Lewendowsky, Oreskes, Bloomberg and Obama.”

        You left off Soros, Buffett, Gore, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and Mark Zuckerberg.

      • ordvic | May 31, 2015 at 1:30 pm |
        After reading the politico article on the war on coal I am now beginning to see the light on how the politics will shape up and indeed be glad I’m old. Republicans are always fighting yesterdays battles and always looking like curmudgeons, doddering old fools out of step with the realities of modern life. Instead of embracing modern technology and championing a way forward to an energy renaissance they are still in their caves burning lumps of coal. To think these troglodytes are the only hope against complete big government control of our lives … pathetic.

        This is a misinterpretation.

        Given the level of MSM distortion it isn’t very surprising.

        1. There is nothing wrong with burning fossil fuel – the amount of CO2 generated makes it net beneficial and we want to burn fossil fuel until we permanently stabilize the CO2 level around 460 PPM. Throwing the over $1 trillion in annual benefit we have earned with the fossil fuel burned since 1900 is stupid and senseless.

        2. Conservatives were working on the real problem – that fossil fuel is limited and will become increasingly expensive – and were working to get alternate solutions in place to replace fossil sources with new technologies as they became economically viable.

        3. Social Progressives don’t give a damn about disrupting the economy, impoverishing Americans, and wiping out the middle class and view that as a feature or benefit not a problem. They are clearly using 1984 as a planning guide and attach labels like “wise” or “smart” to each stupid, senseless wasteful misguided plan they invent. This puts their opponents – if they used the social progressive terminology – in the unenviable position of arguing that “smart” is dumb and wasteful.

        The technologies that they are pushing are resource intensive and only a marginal improvement over fossil fuels from from a pollution/resources standpoint at a huge increase in cost. They require huge subsidies and major grid modifications to be practical.

        Only by distorting the science can they create a problem that justifies their solution and their time frame. Only by outright lying can they make their solution look reasonable and economical.

        4. We have about 20-30 years to start a sensible transition to a mostly non-fossil fuel economy. The technologies we deploy will push fossil fuel aside on the basis of cost. They won’t need subsidies, there won’t be a significant economic cost, the transition will be seamless because new facilities will use the new technologies on the basis of the economics and replace fully depreciated and retired facilities. It isn’t going to hurt to burn fossil fuels as long as we can find some to extract cheaply. More CO2 will simply slow the return to CO2 PPM levels in the 300’s and the reduced plant growth that goes with it.

        5. We do have to look at the social progressives tactics that they used to push the climate change fraud and criminalize enough of their tactics to prevent a repeat of “climate change” on another policy dispute. Civil actions to recover damages from the environmental groups and their backers should be allowed. Draining activists resources will reduce their ability to commit future fraud.

      • PA
        While you paint a fairly realistic picture, it may not be what is viewed as reality in future politics. I don’t pay much attention to politics these days as I don’t have a TV and I get most of my news from Drudge. However I’ve followed it long enough in my life to know the narrative is controlled by the left. As long as that remains the case reality comes through a curved lens. If you don’t think these characterizations of conservatives as being flat earther anti-science types holds sway I think you’ll have a rude awakening.That they are also anti-woman, homophobic, racist and xenophobic only adds to their flavor. Granted there is polarization and changing of the guard does occur but over the long term liberals win their battles (like health care) by sticking to the long term strategy where the incrimentally get what they want while conservatives see themselves get more and more marginalized into obscurity.

        At this time the Rebulicans may have the most power they have ever had minus the White House. What will beome of it? If history is a guide probably nothing. There have been temporary changes like Reagan or Gingrich but in the long run they are losing the war. I’d like to think some great sea change could happen but I won’t hold my breath.

        Now suppose greens are successful in routing big coal and the grid becomes unreliable who do you think will get the blame? Of course the conservatives for opposing renewables.

    • The challenge with commercializing GEN IV nuclear is materials science and fuel cycle economy of scale.
      The main challenges in materials being high heat, neutron embrittlement and corrosive coolants.

      The ‘demonstration’ reactors were all demonstrated decades ago…building one that last 60 years means tweaking various materials..waiting for candidate materials to complete a few years of accelerated aging at Idaho national labs makes it look like ‘nothing is happening’…what is happening is the materials are all undergoing multi-year accelerated aging.

      Fuel cycle economy’s of scale are going to happen until simeone is in a position to order 100’s of whatever the new fuel cycle is. Not going to happen in the US b before 2020.

      China and India’s ‘end state’ grid will need something like 3000 GW a piece.
      There is plenty of room for ‘try’ 100GW+ of every conceivable technology and still manage to achieve economies of scale.

  7. From the war on coal article:

    Duncan’s group started a Twitter meme warning that Americans could end up #ColdInTheDark, and even Bloomberg suggested to me in a recent interview that the Club’s leaders seem to want Americans to wear loincloths and live in caves.

    • jim2

      bear8ing in mind the increasing obesity of Americans (and many others in the West) the mental image of Americans in Loincloths is something I want to get out of my head before I go to sleep


    • Good point that!

    • Emperor’s new clothes showing, Sierra guerilla war on coal
      with a little help from its friends in Cheaspeake Natural Gas.

  8. From the article:

    Sage Grouse To Kill U.S. Oil, LNG Boom?

    According to a Reuters article, “The plan would…allow wind farms and solar panels, which have been shown to harm sage grouse populations, in the bird’s habitat, although it would steer (oil & gas) projects outside of habitats given high priority for protection.”

    After all, the liquefied natural gas (LNG) market, on the commodities front, is gaining tons of traction. Just today, the FT published a look at how LNG exports will finally be hitting the Gulf of Mexico – and the huge impact this portends. “LNG is expected to surpass iron ore as the second most valuable physical commodity after oil this year, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs, who predict it will top $120bn,” reads the article.


    • The oil and gas industry has a smaller footprint per btu than wind or solar. WUWT?

    • Why exactly are renewable energy sources given exceptions to habitat rules?

      If they are going to let the renewables in they should be required to allow resource extraction as long a it kills fewer of the grousy things than renewables.

    • It’s all political PA.

  9. David Wojick

    The MIT critique of SCC is good as far as it goes but it misses the obvious glaring criticism. These models have to project both climate change and economic damages from today’s emissions a full 300 years out in order to to get their numbers. 300 years!

    How can the federal government (or anyone) take this seriously? 300 years ago George Washington was not even born yet, but now we can see 300 years into the future? The absurdity is obvious, yet there it stands as the basis for federal policy.

  10. From the article:

    The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday announced long-overdue changes to how much corn-based ethanol and other biofuels are blended into American gasoline and diesel, proposing increases that fell short of targets set by Congress and prompted criticism from both supporters and opponents of the Renewable Fuel Standard.

    The EPA’s update makes no change to the actual proportion of biofuel that must be blended into gasoline or diesel fuel. Oil and gas trade groups, boating organizations and some automakers have argued that the market has hit a “blend wall,” or a limit to how much ethanol can reasonably be implemented due to infrastructure and mechanical limitations, as well as what opponents portray as waning consumer interest.

    “EPA accepted the arguments that the blend wall is a legitimate barrier,” says Wally Tyner, agricultural economics professor at Purdue University, adding “EPA attempted to find a balance between proponents and opponents of the RFS.”


  11. Just like many global warming stories my sense is that the links to the debate on clean water rules exaggerate the true impacts of what is being discussed. Both sides are playing to emotions. Major gains have resulted from efforts by the EPA and the states over the last 40 years but that is not highlighted.

    I have lost contact with the officials enforcing water pollution rules since the early 1970s, but I am sure those closest to the action would have a more measured response to what is at stake.

  12. Great selection of articles, I’m only a third through what I want to read. Great article how wind and solar energy are self limiting. I had not thought of explaining it that way, but it’s very effective. Good article on how utilities make money,but it only applies to the investor owned model. The U.S. also has municipal and member owned utilities. Since municipal, cooperative and investor owned are so similar, that may suggest that it’s not the model. Coops and municipal come at the need from the consumers end but since they all perform similarly (considering thdifferences in the areas they serve) when you look at conventional utility approaches that may suggest the regulatory model works. Whenever regulation tries to tinker with things you do see changes. In California whenderegulation changed the model for IOUs to allow competition shortages occurred and prices went up. The large Municple LADWP kept using traditional utility approaches and did well. If cities, coop members or PUCs want their utilities to operate as traditional utilities if we’ll run they will likely get similar results as that model,has provided. If they want cutting edge stuff, to be green innovators, to place othe vales way above economics and reliability they will get different results. It’s the incentives not whose calling the shots.

  13. “Cool Planet’s process uses wood chips, agricultural waste products or other nonfood organic matter, heating them in a pyrolysis unit to temperatures as high as 500C. The vapors that are emitted by the heated biomass are channeled through a proprietary catalyst and then condensed into a biofuel that Bolsen says is molecularly identical to conventional fossil fuels.”

    “Further, according to Bolsen, the organic matter left over from the process can be enhanced and sold as a soil additive that retains moisture so well, it allows farmers to reduce their water use. This biochar product, which the company has branded CoolTerra, decomposes very slowly, which means it can lock carbon into the earth – and keep it out of the air – for hundreds of years, he said. This effect is why the company labels the whole production process “carbon negative.””


    I suppose CoolTerra could be applied to a crop field the same as granular fertilizer is. This would be low tech, as are wood chips. Rewind to 40 years back. We heated wood in a sealed test tube over a bunsen burner. Looked like charcoal was left over. We removed that and lit the accumulated gas. It exploded.

  14. Almanac public TV with John Abraham:
    They were optimistic about Solar and what we in Minnesota are going to get from it.

  15. “Obama’s new clean water rules; crushing disappointment to clean water advocates [link]”

    Every river has tributaries collecting surface water and some ground water. This water carries whatever is small enough or soluble to the mighty and not so mighty rivers of our nation. The Mississippi River, before humans crossed it’s fords, dammed it passage, use to regularly flood surrounding country side with silt that renewed the fertility of these bottom lands. Soil erosion caused by rains on the prairies made topsoil landing down stream. The River estuaries became the homes and nesting sites for all sorts of creatures large and small. All this was good.

    And then man, first by horse and wagon, steamboat, sodbusters and now to industrial farms, urbanization, new and useful inventions (and not so useful pollutants) trickle into these tributaries and then into the rivers and then into the ocean. Stewardship of this resource does fall in part in a regulatory way to governments but to a large extent to individuals. Note the sign painted on the curbside storm sewer: “Don’t pollute, watershed for….” Don’t dump stuff you don’t want into the storm sewer because this contaminant will flow to the local watershed which may be your local drinking water source. All this is also good.

    Now. How to enact rules and regulations that make sense. The permitting process is fraught with all the bureaucratic mis/malfunction of governments: expensive, lengthy, punitive, hard to revise and ultimately, don’t work very well. To EPA, and in particular the Executive branch and some legislators, the rule making process seems to view its role always as needing a hammer because everything looks like a nail.

    What does seem to work, educating the public (think the concept of recycling for recycling’s sake; i.e. the thrifty Puritan ethic) regarding watershed protection. Then promote manufacturer’s of fertilizers and herbicides to re-engineer their products to stay put in the soil on which they are applied. Identify large pollutant sources and fund remediation; i.e., Lake Erie died in large part because of Detroit’s waste water/sanitary sewer system was decrepit and needed to be rebuilt from scratch. Once Detroit solved (well mostly) its sewer system, massive amounts of nutrients no longer poured into Lake Erie, nutrients which had fed the algae bloom which used up the Lake’s oxygen which the fish needed to live. Also, removing Standard Oil of Ohio (SOHIO)’s exemption from refinery discharge came after one of the Cuyahoga River’s fires, burning a rail trestle crossing the river and other headline grabbing incidents helped improve Lake quality.

    Mandating your local farmer to obtain permits, hammer him/her with litigation and fines, regulations unable to timely respond to changing farm technology and practices is not only counter productive, such rules and regulations only helps lawyers and government bureaucrats who really don’t need any help at all.

  16. Study on rebound effect looks bogus.
    For one thing, due to a personal interest, I looked at 1990 motor vehicle fuel consumption in 1990 vs. 2013 and did a per capita calculation.
    The change in per capita motor fuel consumption – despite significant CAFE improvements right before 1990 which theoretically should be increasing actual mpg on the road – was 3%. In 25 years!
    Unless average mpg was static which they should not be due to the CAFE regulations, then people clearly are driving more than before despite consumption being similar.

    • That is how the SUV Industry got started. ‘Light Trucks’ were exempt fron the CAFE rules thus that market went from 9.7% in 1979 to 47% by 2000. Typical govetnment actions that failed to address the ‘problem’. It wasn’t until 2012 that new rules came into effect that now includes SUVs.

      • I had considered that, but there is a clear gradation during this period of light truck CAFE increases – which is not mirrored in the passenger vehicle side.
        Also given that in 1990, many vehicle on the road were from previous years – i.e. worse CAFE mpg limits – it seems incorrect to assign all the (lack of) improvement to SUVs. There should have been improvement right from the start of 1990 – the SUVs didn’t go mainstream right away.

  17. “Very good article: How the war on coal is transforming the global climate debate.”


    “It’s a lot easier to throw ourselves in front of bulldozers to stop something than it is to shut something down that’s already part of the community, paying taxes, generating power, providing jobs,”

    Yes, it’s much easier for community organizers to kill jobs and increase the cost of power before anyone realizes that that is exactly what they are doing. Funny to see some of them admit that tho, it being one of the core progressive political tactics of our day – lie about your goal, and disguise the intended consequences from the stupid voters.

    I wonder if they have hired Jonathan Gruber as an adviser yet?

  18. Comments about articles on coal.

    1). With the shutting down of coal-fired power plants, the coal companies are still mining it to ship overseas. In short, the problem of emissions is transferred elsewhere and added to the atmosphere too.

    2). Forgotten in the debate is China’s $46 billion loan to Pakistan to develop a large coal field and build eight new coal-fired electric power plants!. That will offset or swamp any ‘gains’ made in the US and Europe where such plants are being shut down. In short,problem will get worse, not better.

    3). The winners in the effort to shut down coal-fired power plants are the lawyers courtesy of Michael Bloomberg.

    George Devries Klein, PhD, PG, FGSA

    • This is the utter hypocrisy of the environmental/social progressive agenda. They will invariably insist on taking “green” actions that look good but will harm their stated goal.

      The E/SPs have a love of empty symbolism that is difficult to understand. This is one of the reasons I believe environmentalism/social progressivism is caused by mental illness or defect.

      It is absolutely clear beyond any doubt, none, not any, zero, zilch, nee, nada that shipping coal halfway around the world to China and burning it under relatively uncontrolled conditions does massively more damage to the environment than using it to generate power in the US.

      The social progressives are out to impoverish the US and don’t seem to be as interested in their stated goals as they really should be.

      • The social progressives are out to impoverish the US and don’t seem to be as interested in their stated goals as they really should be.

        For some reason, I doubt that most of them even know what “their stated goals” are! I don’t.

  19. Peter Lang

    It looks like there are many interesting links on this post. I haven’t had time to read any of them yet. However, I just received an email that may be of interest (perhaps it is already included in the links). Excerpt:

    68GW wind, 76GW solar, 50GW storage, 5GW nuclear to supply a peak load of 71GW at the same reliability level as now ie 199GW installed capacity to supply 71GW of load

    “Mark Jacobson claims we can get 100% of our energy and power needs from renewables but he is still working on the grid reliability solution according to his web page.

    I have successfully modeled his 100% renewables scenario for ERCOT http://www.ercot.com including the reliability calculations. The gold standard for reliability is meeting an LOLE <= 0.1 days per year. This is simply the sum of daily probabilities of not meeting the load each day for a year (not necessarily the peak demand hour each day). LOLE means loss of load expectation. There is an IEEE LOLEWG (loss of load working group) meeting this summer at the end of July in Denver I will be discussing the consequences of moving to extreme renewables, such as the destruction of the reserve margin calculation. My 100% renewables case for ERCOT is posted here: http://egpreston.com/100percentrenewables.pdf Inside this document is a link to the computer output report in text form. Yes, it was run with ancient Watcom Fortran 77 code LOL. But it's a really fast number cruncher.

    Gene Preston PE, PhD"

    I know Gene Preston from email. He is a highly competent electricity system analysis and highly regarded expert in "Loss of Load Probability Analysis"

    If I had time I could do a rough calculation of the cost of electricity from such as system. However, I've done such an analysis for Australia and compared the mostly renewables scenario with a mostly nuclear scenario. Both reduce CO2 emissions intensity of electricity by about 90%. However, the capital cost, cost of electricity and CO2 abatement cost are 2 to 3 times higher for the mostly renewables system than the mostly nuclear system (these are summarised on Figure 6 here http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi= .

    There are many authoritative studies and web tools that show similar results.

    • Mmmm.

      Just an observation – but storage has to be quoted as GW/GW-H.

      A 50 GW/0.83GW-H system would provide 50 GW for about 1 minute. A watts rating is how much power can be stripped from the batteries instantaneoualy but the duration W-H is needed to know how deep the energy buffer is.

      • Peter Lang


        I agree. That’s why I quote my Tantagara-Blowering Pumped Hydro scheme as capacity as 9 GW (average), and energy storage capacity as 400 GWh (for around $15 bn :)

        Want to know more about it? http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/04/05/pumped-hydro-system-cost/ :

      • Peter Lang

        PA, I should have mentioned. I haven’t read Jacobson’s report or whatever it is. He may have stated the energy storage capacity. My bold was an extract from the first sentence of the email I received – like a heading or summary.

        I’ve read sufficient of Jacobson’s nonsense in the past to know I won’t bother wasting time on it unless someone wants to do a proper critique and asks me to be involved. martin Nicholson and I critiqued the “Zero Carbon Australia by 2020 – Stationary Energy Plan” a few years ago. Jacobson was advising on that. Our critique is here: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/08/12/zca2020-critique/

        “7 Conclusions
        We have reviewed the ―Zero Carbon Australia – Stationary Energy Plan‖ by Beyond Zero Emissions. We have evaluated and revised the assumptions and cost estimates. We conclude:

         The ZCA2020 Stationary Energy Plan has significantly underestimated the cost and
        timescale required to implement such a plan.

         Our revised cost estimate is nearly five times higher than the estimate in the Plan: $1,709 billion compared to $370 billion. The cost estimates are highly uncertain with a range of $855 billion to $4,191 billion for our estimate.

         The wholesale electricity costs would increase nearly 10 times above current costs to
        $500/MWh, not the $120/MWh claimed in the Plan.
         The total electricity demand in 2020 is expected to be 44% higher than proposed: 449 TWh compared to the 325 TWh presented in the Plan.

         The Plan has inadequate reserve capacity margin to ensure network reliability remains at current levels. The total installed capacity needs to be increased by 65% above the proposed capacity in the Plan to 160 GW compared to the 97 GW used in the Plan.

         The Plan’s implementation timeline is unrealistic. We doubt any solar thermal plants, of the size and availability proposed in the plan, will be on line before 2020. We expect only demonstration plants will be built until there is confidence that they can be economically viable.

         The Plan relies on many unsupported assumptions, which we believe are invalid; two of the most important are:
        1. A quote in the Executive Summary ―The Plan relies only on existing, proven, commercially available and costed technologies.‖
        2. Solar thermal power stations with the performance characteristics and availability of baseload power stations exist now or will in the near future.

      • Your plans use pumped hydro and thermal storage. I understand why only max throughput is quoted.

        It looks reasonable from just a casual glance.

        From \Jacobson’s piece:
        “Drastic problems require drastic and immediate solutions,” said Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering. “Our new roadmap is designed to provide each state a first step toward a renewable future.”

        Well, that isn’t good. When your proposal tells outright lies that is usually a bad sign. The article reads like a marketing blurb. Doesn’t mention demand side throttling or battery storage. He is using 5% geothermal and 4% hydro for his base generation apparently.

        It is premature to call him a liar and a fool before reading his plan in detail, so I will wait on calling him a liar and a fool until after I have read his plan. However it is going to be pricey. Claiming nonexistent “drastic problems” as a justification usually means a 2X-5X increase in cost.

      • Hi PA,

        In response to my comment you said:

        Well, that isn’t good. When your proposal tells outright lies that is usually a bad sign.

        However, I think you were meaning to refer to Jacobson or perhaps to Ellison et al. If you meant to respond to one of my posts then you may have misunderstood what my posts are. I posted links to three of my posts, but these are mostly critiques of others work. I think your cxomment was probably meant to be addressed to the studies I critiqued Here are my four posts I linked:

        1. Critique of ‘Zero Carbon Australia – Stationary Energy Plan’ which Jacobson was advising on https://bravenewclimate.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/zca2020-critique-v2-1.pdf That’s Nicholson and Lang’s critique of that ridiculous proposal (that weas enthusiastically endorsed by Australia’s climate academiocs, politicians and many electricity industry insiders who should have not have endorsed it)

        2. Critique of Ellison et al. ‘100% renewable electricity for Australia’ http://bravenewclimate.com/2012/02/09/100-renewable-electricity-for-australia-the-cost/

        3. ‘Renewable or nuclear electricity for Australia – the costs’ http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=

        4. Tantangara-Blowering pumped hydro scheme (not a viable option, just a concept I used to to explain to the BNC audience some of the key issues we have to address in pref-feasibility studies): http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/04/05/pumped-hydro-system-cost/

      • Peter Lang | May 30, 2015 at 10:38 pm |
        Hi PA,

        In response to my comment you said:

        Well, that isn’t good. When your proposal tells outright lies that is usually a bad sign.

        However, I think you were meaning to refer to Jacobson or perhaps to Ellison et al. If you meant to respond to one of my posts then you may have misunderstood what my posts are.

        Context is everything.

        I quoted from Josephson’s proposal:
        “Drastic problems require drastic and immediate solutions,”

        This is simply untrue. The CO2 level isn’t going to exceed 480 PPM so from a CO2 standpoint we have all the time in the world. The real limitation is the availability of fossil fuels and the 50-70 year supply based on known reserves.

        We need to study whether burning all the available fossil fuel is good enough or whether the government should provide incentives for further exploration to either buy us more time, increase the CO2 growth benefit, or simply irritate social progressives.

      • http://thesolutionsproject.org/infographic/#md

        Well, Mr. Josephson shows Maryland with 60% offshore wind and still 1.2% of land occupied by renewable energy.

        The energy will cost 12.6% more but he claims we will be saving money.

        No mention of storage. Marylanders will apparently just wisely accept power outages when green energy isn’t available and simply deal with it.

        http://thesolutionsproject.org – everyone on the “Team” page is a clown except for Mark Josephson.

        There is something strange about the Solutions Project. It doesn’t appear to be a serious effort at providing accurate numbers and real solutions and seems oriented toward lawyers and poly sci majors.

      • … and Leonardo DeCaprio Oh My!

  20. dougbadgero

    Among my limited skill sets, I have been a beekeeper for nearly 30 years. The recent mania over honeybee losses is a good example of the environmental movements fear mongering, or ignorance. The loss of 20-40% of colonies is pretty normal in any given year. Back in the 1980s with the introduction of two parasitic mites into the U.S. the honeybee colony population dropped, but what we see now is just normal variable losses IMO.

    Colony collapse disorder is just the loss of a colony due to multiple simultaneous stressors. It is not new.

    • Doug, honey was being called liquid gold over a decade ago when our NSW forests were in drought. Lots of Beemageddon talk, of course.

      Now the bees swarm and honey is cheap. Mind you, it would be nice to conserve our eucalypt forests by regulating but still encouraging forest industries and having sane fire policies.

    • Doug, Thanks for that information, this is the first time I heard that. Before I only heard the scare stories.

  21. Big Oil must be delighted by the Politico propaganda piece against coal. It’s like Pepsi getting torn apart by anti-sugar crusaders while Coke looks on in glee…having funded the mob of angry moralists.

    Now Norway has made the courageous decision to disinvest in coal. Give those Norwegians a gold Chevrolet Impala and giant stetson for services to oil! They’re good ol’ boys, ja.

    What next? Will Coca Cola disinvest in Pepsi?

    • Not sure I follow as oil is primarily used for transportation and coal for electricity.

      • Big Oil means gas as well as oil. Just ask Exxon, Chesapeake, BP, Chevron, Shell, Gazprom Boone Pickens etc. Wind = gas, presumably as a “bridge” or “transition”…but they can yank the other one, can’t they? In a world full of fossil fuels and crumbling cartels, you preach green even if, like Germany, you have to use the “shock” of Fukushima and some shallow anti-nuke sentiment to get back to coal. (Apparently they don’t like the idea of depending on that nice Mr Putin if their solar panels at 50+ degrees north aren’t quite doing the trick.) Mind you, can’t blame coal for having a few tricks of its own.

        Chesapeake pushed all those millions (25 and wanted to give more) at Sierra for a reason. Big Oil is in a commercial war with coal and nukes. We’re all buying into it when we should all be allowing them to compete with one another to our advantage.

        The Politico article is an advertisement, complete with steam-for-smoke against blood red sunset, concerned mums with asthmatic kids, sick fishies and financial hard-heads gone green. The only thing missing was an Obamaesque reference to “folks”.

  22. David L. Hagen

    Concentrated Solar with Thermal Storage
    Thermal storage enables concentrated solar to provide dispatchable power. Now to further reduce the costs.
    World’s biggest solar tower storage plant to begin generation this month

    US company Solar Reserve is currently putting the finishing touches to the 110MW Crescent Dunes solar tower and storage plant in Tonopah, Nevada. With 10 hours of storage, it will deliver a block of power each day to service Las Vegas between noon and until 12am or 2am. . . .Georgis noted that Crescent Dunes will have 110MW capacity and 10 hours of storage. That is the equivalent of 1,100MWh of storage. “There is no battery solution that can be installed within 10 times the price of what we offer with this technology,” he said. . . .
    In Chile, a major plant is to be built for mining customers, and like those in South Africa, the plants are being pared with large scale solar PV.

    The Copiapó CSP-PV hybrid project will feature two 130 MW solar towers with 14 hours of molten salt-based storage, that will be combined with a 150 MW PV plant. That will provide 260 MW of 24/7 baseload electricity.

    • If it’s molten salt that must mean they heat it up to over 500C ?

      • /humour on


        Why don’t they just use CO2? I hear it traps, stores, and accumulates heat better than just about anything in the known Universe.

        There’s plenty of it about too. Over 350 ppm in the air, and you can get more just by setting fire to stuff like coal, or oil.

        Seems like a win-win situation to me!

        /humour end

      • David L. Hagen

        ordvic Yes.
        “Molten salt storage is less efficient than battery storage—only about 70 percent of the energy used to heat up the salts becomes electricity again, whereas batteries can be over 90 percent efficient. So Halotechnics will need to offset that inefficiency with low costs.”
        “Halotechnics had previously been focused on developing new energy storage materials for solar thermal technology (see “Cheap Solar Power at Night”). It has a $3.3 million grant from ARPA-E to develop materials that could store heat at temperatures of 1,200 °C, which would make it possible to shrink the number of mirrors used at solar thermal plants to generate electricity.”
        Molten Salts Might Provide Half-Price Grid Energy Storage

      • That’s interesting, they want to store the heat rather than the electricity.

  23. The phrase “social cost of carbon’ is so telling. If was anything other than purely hypothetical, it would satisfy long-standing legal concepts of ‘damages’ i.e it would simply be the ‘cost of carbon’ and there would have already been lots of litigation to prove it.

    Instead we get ‘social cost of carbon’: the damages claim you win without ever having to litigate and prove your loss.

    Pace Mosher, language matters.

    Still trying to get over that recent IMF paper completely mischaracterising ‘subsidies’ to the fossil fuel industry:
    1 – presume as many awful consequences of climate change as you can
    2 – presume a $figure on those consequences
    3 – presume fossil fuel industry is directly responsible & should pay $figure as part of its running costs
    4 – presume that, since $figure is not being paid, this is a kind of financial relief or benefit to by the fossil fuel industry
    5 – mischaracterise a presumed financial benefit as a ‘subsidy’

    Damages – causation and nexus – will be the undoing of climate alarmism. There’s a reason it never get litigated. Cos it’s junk science all the way down.

  24. Normative Science
    It is easy — and wrong — for scientists to become stealth policy advocates

    • One of the commenters seemed tho have completely missed the message.:
      Clint Alexander
      January 24 2013 AT 5:16 PM
      “It is important to be aware of stealth advocacy in science, to the extent it impacts misrepresenting evidence. However, we have reached a critical time in human history, and there is a need to fight fire with fire, as James Hansen has so brilliantly done”.

      Although reading the rest of his opinion, He seems to disagree with Dr. Lackey in general.

    • Robert T. Lackey Presentation.Use and Abuse of Science in Water Resource Management and Policy

    • Lackey is right.

      We don’t tolerate child abuse or spousal abuse. It is time to end science abuse.

      Watching data get twisted and tortured by global warmers is just sickening. Time has come to criminalize this abuse of data.

      1900 was not the peak of environmental perfection in the history of the planet. Pretending it was is wrong. Normative science “value-driven policy construct” substitutes policy advocacy for real science.

      We are paying for a values-free objective accurate presentation of research results. Anything else should earn a temporary debarment. Knowing misrepresentation or research misconduct should result in legal action for fraud.

  25. Peter Lang

    Re: MIT economist shows weakness in social cost of carbon:

    I agree with Pindyck’s criticisms of the IAMs, and especially about discount rate selection and damage function. However, what he want’s is far worse. He wants a group of experts to decide policy. But who appoints the experts? I’d suggest Benny Pieser, Bjorn Lomborg, Bob Carter, and others who have some common sense.

    The only rational solution to reducing global GHG emissions is no regret policies – i.e policies that deliver net benefits whether GHG emissions are increasing or decreasing the consequences and/or probability of abrupt climate change. Examples of policies that are ‘no regrets’ and reduce GHG emissions are:

    1. Remove the unwarranted impediments on nuclear power; these are making nuclear far more expensive than it should be, delaying progress and causing around 1.3 million avoidable fatalities per year.

    • David Wojick

      Peter, what do you claim is killing 1.3 million people per year and how would building nukes prevent it? I am skeptical. How many/much nukes are we talking about, built where?

    • http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20928053.600-fossil-fuels-are-far-deadlier-than-nuclear-power.html#.VWsUrULaxhE

      Yet again, popular perceptions are wrong. When, in 1975, about 30 dams in central China failed in short succession due to severe flooding, an estimated 230,000 people died. Include the toll from this single event, and fatalities from hydropower far exceed the number of deaths from all other energy sources.

      Nuclear is the safest form of energy. The few deaths mostly come from mining. Using used fuel would cut deaths to virtually zero.

      • David Wojick

        If you want a complete transition to all nuclear that is just ridiculous.

      • I would satisfied with a partial transition to all nuclear.

        Nuclear is far superior by any objective standard to expensive, large-footprint, high-resource, animal-killing renewables.

      • Peter Lang

        Thanks PA. I agree. However, fatalities from nuclear are virtually zero now. As I said to David Wojick in another comment replacing all coal with nuclear would save about 1.3 million fatalities per year

        22,000 TWh of electricity generated by coal
        fatalities per TWh from coal (world average) = 60
        Fatalities per TWh from electricity per TWh = 0.09

      • Peter Lang

        David Wojick,

        If you want a complete transition to all nuclear that is just ridiculous.

        It’s important to specify time frames. It’s also important to understand how long it takes to make major technology transitions. See some examples here: {I cant find the reference I want to post. It has adoptions curves (transition periods) for canals, railways, cars planes and electricity generation technologies for UK, USA, Europe, Japan, China (from my recollection).

        I suggest the world can replace more than 80% of coal fired electricity (plus some fossil fuels for heating) by nuclear powered electricity by 60 to 100 year from now. This can be done without top down command and control policies. What is required is for USA and EU to remove the impediments that are blocking the world from having cheap nuclear power. For some insight into what has caused nuclear power to be so expensive and to have had a negative learning rate for the past 40 years, contrasting with all other technologies have had a positive learning rate, see: The cost of nuclear power plants – What went wrong? http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter9.html

        See how learning rates for nuclear compare with other technologies: http://eea.epri.com/pdf/epri-energy-and-climate-change-research-seminar/2013/2013_08.pdf

        Regulatory ratcheting and learning rates for nuclear

        The development of nuclear has been slowed by costly regulatory restrictions:

        Negative estimates have even been reported for technologies when they have been subject to costly regulatory restrictions over time (e.g. nuclear, …

        Schrattenholzer (2001) survey the evidence for energy technologies, showing that, in line with the more general results mentioned earlier, unit cost reductions of 20% associated with doubling of capacity has been typical for energy generation technologies, with the exception of nuclear power.


        Professor Bernard Cohen showed in 1990 that regulatory ratcheting had increased the cost of nuclear by a factor of four up to that time. Regulatory ratcheting since then has probably doubled the cost of nuclear energy, for a total cost increase of a factor of eight. Reducing regulation and licencing costs and delays will not greatly reduce the cost of the current generation of reactors. But it can greatly reduce the cost of future designs, and the operating costs. It can greatly increase the learning rate. It will take decades to take full effect on the cost of electricity, but that explains why it is so important to get on with it.

        Bernard Cohen (1990) ’Cost of nuclear power plants – what went wrong’

      • Peter Lang | May 31, 2015 at 9:50 pm |


        Professor Bernard Cohen showed in 1990 that regulatory ratcheting had increased the cost of nuclear by a factor of four up to that time. Regulatory ratcheting since then has probably doubled the cost of nuclear energy, for a total cost increase of a factor of eight. Reducing regulation and licencing costs and delays will not greatly reduce the cost of the current generation of reactors. But it can greatly reduce the cost of future designs, and the operating costs. It can greatly increase the learning rate. It will take decades to take full effect on the cost of electricity, but that explains why it is so important to get on with it.

        Perhaps we need a new paradigm. For new installations regulation cost should be limited to a fixed dollar cost per kw of generating capacity set by congress. Renewables and nuclear would have the same regulation cost per kwh. This would level the playing field. A new regulation would require removing or modifying other regulations.

        The liquid metal and molten salt technologies can’t really melt down or release a lot of radioactivity outside the plant so regulating them like a PWR is quite frankly stupid

        Whether regulating the current generation PWRs like a old style PWR is another discussion. It might be helpful a some point to discuss the most expensive nuclear regulations.

  26. The price of oil is notoriously difficult to predict. It is subject to fundamental supply and demand forces of course, but also to techological, meteorlogical, and political forces; confounding price prediction.

    Now, due to Obumbles idyotik (lack of) policy in the Middle East, ISIS now threatens a good portion of the worlds supply of oil.


    Oil is still around $60. The Saudis have embarked on a fight for market share which has halved their incoming money. Other producing countries are ramping up oil production as they can – a losing proposition for all. The rig count went down again this week, after it appeared to stabilize the week before. The dollar resumed its upward march, putting downward pressure on the price. The contango languishes around $2, somewhat favoring oil to storage, but still no backwardation which would signal aggressive buying of current production.

    Inventories are down:

    US Production is up:

    • Also, gasoline production has ramped up for the Summer driving season. Once fall arrives, inventories could even climb and WTI prices go down.

    • Jim2 — And what should Obumbles policy to ISIS be in Iraq and Syria?

      • CIA spies. Help the enemies of ISIS. Special forces.

        Mount a coordinated surprise bombing attack on neighborhoods known to be the most dense with the most militant Muslims. Bomb the Imams that foment terrorism against the West and if the fundamentalists persist, bomb the mosques. Do that anywhere in the Muslim world where terrorism against the West or where there are pro-ISIS pockets.

  27. Whoops… Jim Webb just entered he Demo race. Obviously, the next president will be a Democrat given he voting demographics of he country going forward but at least now we know it won’t the disaster of a Hillary administration or a Democrat from Baltimore appointing the country’s next Supreme Court justices. Webb may have some issues — what with TailhookGate (oh my gawd!) — but what I think is a real issue is, what is Webb’s stand on climate change: human-caused or it’s the sun, stupid? Otherwise, cheers to Webb and having a little Cherokee blood in the White House.

    • If you go by the press, it seems to me, O’Malley has a much greater chance of forming a challenge against Hillary than Webb. Webb is a non-starter.

  28. The biggest welfare recipient of them all???!!!
    From the article:
    Los Angeles entrepreneur Elon Musk has built a multibillion-dollar fortune running companies that make electric cars, sell solar panels and launch rockets into space.

    And he’s built those companies with the help of billions in government subsidies.

    Tesla Motors Inc., SolarCity Corp. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp., known as SpaceX, together have benefited from an estimated $4.9 billion in government support, according to data compiled by The Times. The figure underscores a common theme running through his emerging empire: a public-private financing model underpinning long-shot start-ups.

    “He definitely goes where there is government money,” said Dan Dolev, an analyst at Jefferies Equity Research. “That’s a great strategy, but the government will cut you off one day.”

    Tesla and SolarCity continue to report net losses after a decade in business, but the stocks of both companies have soared on their potential; Musk’s stake in the firms alone is worth about $10 billion. (SpaceX, a private company, does not publicly report financial performance.)

    Since 2006, SolarCity has installed systems for 217,595 customers, according to a corporate filing. If each paid the current average price for a residential system — about $23,000, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists — the cost to the government would total about $1.5 billion, which would include the Treasury grants paid to SolarCity.
    “Government support is a theme of all three of these companies, and without it none of them would be around,” said Mark Spiegel, a hedge fund manager for Stanphyl Capital Partners who is shorting Tesla’s stock, a bet that pays off if Tesla shares fall.

    Tesla stock has risen 157%, to $250.80 as of Friday’s close, over the last two years.

    The $1.3 billion in benefits for Tesla’s Nevada battery factory resulted from a year of hardball negotiations.


    • Musk gets sensitive about his government handout. Characterizes traditional mining tax rules as subsidies to make himself look better.
      From the article:

      According to the article, Musk’s three companies, Tesla, SolarCity and SpaceX, “have benefited” from a total of about $4.9 billion in government subsidies. Musk said that the article was misleading and did not accurately portray the situation.

      Musk said that “none of the incentives are necessary, but they are all helpful,” referencing incentive packages some of his companies received to build factories in states like Nevada. He said that the reason these incentives exist is because “voters want a particular thing to happen, and faster than it might otherwise occur.”

      “That is all that these incentives achieve,” he added.

      The incentives that Telsa and SolarCity receive are a tiny, tiny, pittance compared to what the oil and gas industry receives every year,” he said.


  29. A very educational Climate Etc thread, thanks all. The article on the War on Coal is as Judith says also highly informative.

  30. The link on coming energy storage is a joke. It presumes CPUC mandates can just be ‘made so’ to borrow a Navy phrase. NOT. See essay California Dreaming in ebook Blowing Smoke. The hopeful ignorance displayed in that link is beyond belief.

  31. Let me start out by saying that Nicholas Kristoff is not one of my favorite columnists, nor is the NY Times a favorite either. However, this piece:


    really resonates with me.

    Water is critical to life on this planet. How we generate the energy to assure an adequate supply of water to feed the world is a tertiary consideration.

  32. To All,

    Interesting Reuters news report today, “U.N. climate deal in Paris may be graveyard for 2C goal,” at http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/06/01/us-climatechange-paris-insight-idUSKBN0OH1G820150601.

    Among the notable comments in the report are the following.

    The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) outlined scenarios last year to stay below 2C that could require cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions lasting decades, at rates of three or even six percent a year.

    Such cuts would be unprecedented in modern history: neither the 2009 international recession nor the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union cut economic activity enough to drive emissions down so fast, the International Energy Agency says.

    Cuts of that magnitude may require yet-to-be developed technologies that could, for example, extract carbon dioxide from the air.

    “It will not be a piece of cake,” said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founding director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, who encouraged the EU to adopt the 2C goal and says it is still achievable.

    “It would be perhaps comparable to what the United States did in the Second World War – they changed their economy to producing tanks rather than automobiles,” he said.

    I hope this is useful.


    • Their time would be better spent figuring out what is wrong with their stock buy-back strategy.

  33. Also this may be of interest. The practicality of a 2 C limit is questioned.
    To me the bigger question has always been not whether to have such a limit, but whether such a limit is achievable. My own view is that it is because there is natural sequestration that helps out. To cap at 450 ppm (2 C) only requires (according to my estimate method) cutting global emissions to about 25 GtCO2 per year, or by about 33% from current rates preferably by 2050. It does not need zero emissions. At 25 Gt/yr the balance between emissions and sequestration leaves it steady at 450 ppm (according to my estimate). This is much less aggressive than the proposed 30% by 2030, 80% by 2050, etc, that is currently being encouraged.

  34. http://www.the-american-interest.com/2015/06/01/can-big-oil-go-green/

    An amazingly insightful analysis by Water Russell Mead at The American Interest on our energy future.

  35. Exxon, Chevron opt out of European Big Oil’s climate huddle
    The biggest U.S. oil producers have dismissed the prospect of joining their European peers in forging a common stance on climate change, with Exxon Mobil’s CEO saying he doesn’t intend to “fake it.”
    Climate models that seek to predict the outcome of rising temperatures “just aren’t that good,” Tillerson said, reiterating a position he has publicly advocated at least since his promotion to CEO in 2006. The company is wary of making efforts to reduce emissions that may not work or that will be deemed unnecessary if the modeling is flawed, Tillerson said.
    “Mankind has this enormous capacity to deal with adversity. Those solutions will present themselves as the realities become clear,” he said. “I know that is a very unsatisfying answer for a lot of people, but it’s an answer that a scientist and an engineer would give you.’’