Week in review – energy and policy edition

by Judith Curry

A few things that caught my eye this past week.

Ice-based energy storage for peak load avoidance – here, now & economic [link]

Concentrator Photovoltaics: The Next Step Towards Better #Solar Power [link]

Interesting article about Bhutan: Zen approach to Himalayan warming [link]

A “Great Reversal” in China? Coal Continues to Decline with Enforcement of Environmental Laws [link] …

The Bronze Age, The Iron Age, The Solar Age @theecologist [link]

Unintended consequences.  UK energy companies more reliant on ‘dirty’ coal [link].

Energy storage market poised to take off over the next few years: [link]

We can’t ignore the air pollution crisis in Africa’s fast-growing megacities [link]

How a new battery revolution will change your life [link]

Homeowners could save up to 40% on electricity through #demandflexibility [link]

Microwaving oil sands bitumen to lower GHG emissions, save costs using American innovation [link]

Colorado joins the states fighting the #CleanPowerPlan. Will more than half the states end up challenging it?  [link]

Molten salt thorium reactors are nearing commercialization. [link]  …

American innovation! Oil industry waste water transformed into geothermal energy [link]

How oil and gas industry is using technology to save water [link]

Energy stocks top performers in college endowments – study [link]

Are artificial trees part of the climate solution?  New research from Georgia Tech. [link]

Strong language from the President on climate while in Alaska [link]. JC note: there are presumably better articles on this, but this is what I flagged.

Climate Change Stars In Obama’s Alaska Theater Of The Absurd [link]

This puts Obama’s statements on climate in an interesting light.  Eric Posner on manipulation. [link]

Amazing @eilperin story about how Obama’s visit affected the small Arctic town of Kotzebue. Here’s what happens when climate warrior @POTUS invades a tiny #Alaska Arctic town: [link]

How the next US president could expand Obama’s #climate policies — or dismantle them. [link]

Fukushima impacts:  Who killed Hamako Watanabe? [link]

BBC: Can we learn to live with nuclear technology? [link]

Cities are finally treating water as a resource, not a nuisance [link] …

174 responses to “Week in review – energy and policy edition

  1. Pingback: Week in review – energy and policy edition | Enjeux énergies et environnement

    • All serious advocates of nuclear energy are encouraged to invest 1.5 hours watching Galen Winsor’s video on Radiation Safety Before & After WWII.”. The link is shown on the above site.

    • A year or so ago on the Energy-from-Thorium forum (run by Kirk Sorensen from FLiBe energy), I suggested an additional safety measure for molten salt reactors that took further advantage of having a liquid fuel. If the reactor vessel was made like a bathroom sink with fuel pumped up from the bottom, injected beneath the surface level (as if coming up from the drain), the fluid would form a dynamically unstable “mound”, just like you get when you hold a garden hose underwater and aim it upwards toward the surface. As long as the pumps are running the mound keeps you at critical mass, with fluid constantly pouring over the sides of the sink into return lines, but as soon as the pump stops the fluid slops back to the surface level of the sink, well below critical mass. So cutting power to the pumps automatically stops the chain reaction.

      • I was invited to join the industrial group advocating Thorium reactors, but they were not interested in correcting basic flaws that were introduced in nuclear physics at the end of WWII. I urge you to watch Galen Winsor’s 1.5 hour video on Radiation Safety Before & After WWII

  2. Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness index “is built on the idea that wellbeing, and the physical, spiritual and environmental health of the nation are a better measure of wealth than bog-standard GDP.” GDP correlates closely with all indicators of “well-being,” and is far easier to measure and to compare between countries.

    • I guess we could see a new polítical party using the same happiness platform used by the government of Bhutan to get power?

    • There is an element of BS in Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness index. The king of Bhutan forced about 100,000 Nepali speakers whose families had been living in his country for about a century. They had been invited into Bhutan long ago to settle and farm in the swamps of southern Bhutan, which were sparsely populated at the time. The Nepali speakers were very successful farmers and well educated. The families were stuck in refugee camps in Nepal for decades before they got accepted in western countries.
      I don’t think those people benefited from Bhutan’s high happiness index. I suspect it is a myth cooked up to promote tourism.

  3. First impressions: Posner states that “I define manipulation in a relatively narrow way: the manipulator perceives that his addressee brings to incorrect assumptions to a transaction and does not correct them, or else anticipates and takes advantage of people’s propensity to make incorrect inferences. Whether this behavior is unfair or merely artful depends, I will argue, on what the manipulator is trying to accomplish.”

    Poser’s arguments that manipulation may be supportable seem to hinge on the manipulator genuinely believing that his actions will be mutually beneficial (or, by extension, contribute to the common good). But the manipulator’s beliefs might not be valid, or the actions he sees as beneficial might not be. For example, I am sure that there are people who genuinely believe that global warming is occurring and that is will bring serious harm. But this is an empirical question which has been disputed, particularly the assumption of net harm. Also, some who make this claim also advocate GHG emissions cuts as the best way to deal with the issue – something which is highly contentious, and is often outside their area of expertise, e.g. in terms of knowledge of alternative priorities and cost-benefit analysis. So a manipulator, by definition, is trying to make other parties, who might have different values and knowledge, to accept his, perhaps faulty, view of the world. I regard this as neither moral nor appropriate. [Haven’t yet read whole paper.]

    • Posner refers to covert manipulation by government, or “libertarian paternalism” – leading the populace to a particular understanding, (e.g. that AGW is happening, will be seriously harmful, and can be stopped by government intervention) by artful, deceitful and manipulative means, rather than presenting information in such a way that each individual can determine for themselves what they consider to be the case. He concludes that:

      “The government should feel free to use manipulation as long as the manipulative act advances aggregate welfare or achieves other publicly endorsed goals, whatever they might be. The analogous claim about coercion — that the government should use coercion to advance public goals but only for such purpose — is hardly controversial, and there does not seem to be anything different about manipulation, as long as the policy of manipulation is made clear and is open to public debate.

      “I believe that criticisms of libertarian paternalism is partly based on this misunderstanding that manipulation is worse than, or relevantly different from, coercion. It’s not. I think that the main source of uneasiness about libertarian paternalism is that it is not actually libertarian; it is just paternalism.”

      Having now read the paper, I stand my by assessment that use by government of such techniques and tactics is neither moral nor appropriate, and should not be countenanced either within government or without.

  4. Concentrator Photovoltaics: The Next Step Towards Better #Solar Power [link]

    They’re a little behind the curve, but the biggest problem for CSPV is clouds and other atmospheric diffusion.

    An option I like is using aluminized plastic film as the concentrator, inside a balloon made from transparent plastic, and flying it in the stratosphere. That avoids clouds as well as most turbulence. Of course, you’d have to do some extensive R&D to make the whole thing light enough, and provide cost-effective anchoring.

    But at that height, spread them out a bit and they can be over cropland, wilderness, ocean, just about anything, with little impact.

  5. “Can we learn to live with nuclear technology?” Silly question, billions have been doing so for years. As Steve Kidd says, the issue is not the technology but irrational fear of it – such as its banning in Australia, the country with most uranium and a major world supplier of it – and the fact that, as Peter Lang repeatedly points out, the costs of nuclear power have been pushed up enormously by safety standards and regulations which are totally out of proportion to those imposed on other technologies.

  6. “Treating water as a resource …” Interesting article, but not a totally new concept. For example, my Dubai-based landscape architect friend Laith Wark has posted on how the ancient city of Isfahan in Iran uses street water with plants in deep gutters to provide shade and enhance the microclimate. (Not to hand, I’ll ask Laith.)

    2.53 a.m., back to bed.

  7. “BBC: Can we learn to live with nuclear technology? [link]”

    Could the BBC learn to live without publishing alarmist twaddle about nuclear power? I doubt it. They go on to claim:

    “..after one of the most shocking incidents in nuclear power’s history,’..”

    Ummm… a shocking nuclear accident that killed zero people?
    Caused by a Tsunami that killed tens of thousands of people?

    Outrage did not not describe my reaction to such wilfully callous ignorance at the time, and the BBC has apparently taken zero effect to educate themselves since.

    In this matter I now regard them as beyond redemption. Perhaps they probably regard the loss of ancient temples at Palmyra as more of an irritation than than “Islamic State” randomly beheading human beings for no better reason.

    I must be really getting old to be complaining about a wholesale abdication by BBC “science&environment” writers, of what I took to be fairly standard moral/ethical values in British public standards. But I’m certainly not expecting them to improve their standards before November/Paris.

  8. The “great reversal” link provides a desperate attempt to view China’s energy policy through rose-colored glasses. Sort of fun to read but at the end the author looks at the last 20 years of utterly no change in carbon intensity and concludes this will lead to 6 C change by 2100 and “an end to life as we know it.” A better result would be a 4 C change which would only lead to “an end to human civilization.” The 2 C change would of course be fine.

  9. On good sites around the world, renewables are now cheaper than fossil fuels.

    Bizarrely, the IEA says that new nuclear is also inexpensive, a conclusion strikingly at variance with the rampant inflation in construction costs around the world.

    Bizarrely, the Ecologist believes the impossible about solar power but from the same source, refuses to confer credibility to the source when it comes to conclusions about nuclear.

  10. “Ice-based energy storage for peak load avoidance”

    I notice there is no cost analysis, just warm fuzzies about the ice.

    • jim2: I notice there is no cost analysis, just warm fuzzies about the ice.

      They buy the supplemental energy for peak air conditioning at night instead of during the daytime peak demand. But I agree that a complete cost analysis would be worthwhile.

    • 19th century technology tomorrow. As you have noted, without a cost analysis, these kinds of articles have little meaning. The press corps is usually not up to that task or unwilling to go there.

      As more segments of the economy implement these shifting schemes, the cost-differentials will begin to evaporate. To have legs, these schemes must be economic at relatively small differentials. Making tons of ice, for instance is not the kind of thing one can economically do in an hour or two during a brief peak in solar or wind generation.

    • http://www.researchgate.net/publication/233917448_Cost-benefit_analysis_of_using_cold_thermal_energy_storage_systems_in_building_applications
      Why is this good? It’s ready to roll out now. Heat pumps though expensive to purchase are efficient and this reminds me of one. It looks like an air conditioning battery. Sun and A/C generally go together. Let’s go smaller. An icemaker in your refrigerator programmed to operate at 2 am to 4 am.

  11. “A “Great Reversal” in China? Coal Continues to Decline with Enforcement of Environmental Laws”

    I see there is no mention of China’s economic growth. The softening economy might account for less coal use.

    From the posted article:

    The economy:

  12. The parallels between Fukushima and global warming mania are chilling:

    I should finally add that, the most affected areas are experiencing radiation doses that are smaller than natural radiation doses in many areas of the world which have been inhabited since prehistoric times by healthy people. (See, “Who killed Hamako…)

  13. “How the new battery revolution will change your life”

    So far, a lot of news and awards, but no commercial installations. Maybe Ambri should research the hopium-air battery. It might involve a shorter development time.

    http://www.ambri.com/news/

    • Yes. CSM was short on research and long on hope. Ambri may be hopeful, but absence of operating commercial prototypes is not a good sign two years after opening a factory. And asserting low cost and long life without providing any details is another flashing red light to their story.
      I know the work of the Argonne group quite well, and so far the only thing of value is a more energy dense LiIon cathode licensed to GM for the second generation Volt. Little return on a large R&D investment.

  14. I figure if Obama doesn’t know if it’s going to be 6 or 12 degrees increase by the end of the century then he doesn’t know if it will be 0 degrees either. I mean, if you can be out by six whole bloody degrees…

    They’re all in the pay of Big Silly.

    • Mosomoso

      Big silly actually works for the dept of letspluckafigureoutoftheair.

      It is a very big department With counterparts in every western country and covers a lot of disciplines, but the climate industry is vastly over represented .

      Tonyb

      • Big Silly is behind everything: P2, Illuminati, Templars, Pope Junta, the Indian Cricket Board, Maurice Strong, any organisation like the UN with a name out of an old Superman comic…It’s obvious!

        At COP 21 there’ll be a special room for Big Silly rituals, where they poke eyes and go nyuk-njuk and burn a million in euro notes (renewable) to run one light bulb (CFL from GE, of course!).

        I’m warning ya, sheeple. It’s not Agenda 21 or Soros. It’s Big Silly!

      • bedeverethewise

      • Those who mock Big Silly will be noted and listed. Its power and reach are enormous.

        The same people behind Woodchips-to-Drax (burn, baby, burn), Swansea Bay Tidal (still an artist’s impression) and Timmy’s Geothermia (how we wish it was still just an artist’s impression!)…these are the same comic forces behind Miley’s twerking and Jon Stewart’s chortles at his own jokes.

        Big Silly can give you any sea level rise or temp increase you want, for any date you choose…provided it hasn’t happened yet. Such is the power of Big Silly.

      • BBC Adjudicator:
        Welcome to this weeks program of Q and A. Our
        subject tonite is ‘The Road to Paris’ and here with
        me a representative panel of experts will discuss
        urgent climate policies for a brave new world.

        I’ll introduce the panel …Token Medja political
        reporter, Hugh Green, token women’s gender issues
        and complaints representative, Naomi Wilde. token
        academic, contradictions epistemics philosopher,
        Paul Appleby, and climate scientist, James Malfuss.

        (Sounds of applause.)

        BBC A: We’ll start with you, James. Your take on policies?

        James Malfuss:
        Thanks Tony… Well, as a committed representative of
        concerned sillies against climate change I raise the
        issue of costs – how much to stop it? I mean we’re
        faced with all these doomsday outcomes but the
        climate’s still changing, Spring … Summer… Autumn
        … Winter, they say April is the cruelest month
        !
        Look, we’ve spent an estimated $1.5 trillion so far to
        reduce CO 2 emissions by about .1 % but to little
        avail. We need to spend more. Putting on my
        mathematics hat, ( puts it on) …I estimate, let me
        see, spend 10 x that amount to make it a 1%
        reduction multiplied by 50 comes to … hmm ..
        $75 000 000 and 000000… //ZZZ^^#?!!ZZ

        Dark screen.

        [Unfortunately there’s been a power blackout
        due to weather conditions and renewable
        technology experiencing some teething problems
        so you can only surmise what the other members
        of the panel would have had to say.]

  15. Ice-based energy storage for peak load avoidance – here, now & economic [link]

    Curious wording since the energy is actually “stored” in the atmosphere, and returned to the ice during operation.

    • IIRC office buildings in NYC have stored chilled water at night to cool during summer days for a long time?

      The neighbour down the street has an open system ground water based heat pump for heating during winter and cooling during summer. However, if everyone did that for all regions, some amount of imbalance would exists ( heat loss in areas which needed more heating, and heat gain in areas which needed more AC ).

    • Yes, I baulked at “energy store” since making ice is only of practical use for cooling not for, say, generating electricity. Unlike for example pumped storage http://www.electricmountain.co.uk/About which is more generally useful.

      However, on reflection, you _could_ run a heat engine between the ambient air during the day and the ice, and so extract work (and hence generate electricity). Also, that should make the cooling of the air _more_ efficient than if you just used it to melt ice. I can’t see any indication this is done, so presumably the effect is marginal.

      • Also, that should make the cooling of the air _more_ efficient than if you just used it to melt ice.

        Not without some really fancy technology. Air has to be cooled down close to freezing just to remove most of the humidity. That’s what usually takes most of the energy. Your losses from lack of perfect Carnot efficiency would almost certainly be more than the energy you save.

    • Here’s How you store and deliver “ice energy” with a small carbon hoofprint.

    • That story reminded me of a comment by Steven Rasey on a WUWT post.

      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/06/29/getting-energy-from-the-energy-store/#comment-1350844

      One metric ton of water (one cubic metre) can store
      334 million joules (MJ) = 317,000 BTUs = 93kWh
      How how must I lift that ton of water to get that much potential energy?

      Enthalpy of Fusion (ice) = 334000 J/kg
      Enthalpy of Fusion (ice) = 334000 m^2/sec^2
      If PotEnergy = mass * g * height
      and g = 9.8 m/sec^2

      height = PE / (m * g) = 34082 m
      So, freezing a mass of water during low demand is an “energy storage” equivalent to raising that same mass of water to a pumped storage reservoir 34 KILOMETERS in the sky with near 100% efficiency.[emphasis mine]…

  16. Good to see Europe starting more serious research on molten salt ‘slow’ breeders. More being done in China than anywhere else, with a 5MW pilot slated to start up sometime next year if it remains on schedule. The TransAtomic white paper is a good layman’s starting point for understanding the engineering issues that need to be addresses and tested, like salt composition, moderator composition, waste removal, metallurgy durability (Hastalloy welds), and so on. Nothing fundamental, at least not on the surface. Something the US national labs should be doing, but aren’t. US should shut the NIF immediately and divert those hopelessly wasted billions to molten salt breeders.

    • There’s some confusion here.

      The NIF simulates atomic blasts for Lawrence Livermore and masquerades as a fusion facility in its spare time.

      The $20 billion wasted each year on global warming should be repurposed towards fission/fusion reactor research. That will give us a net benefit, a positive return on investment, unlike the global warming program and renewable subsidies. The global warming program and renewable subsidies have a negative return on investment and are simply a “green” method to flush money down the toilet.

  17. The BS of Atomic Scientists has been busy on the run-up to Paris.

    From article 1:

    Could this resistance to climate science be due to the lack of a widely accepted scientific consensus presented in congressional hearings and elsewhere—an “information deficit”?

    To answer this question, we recently assessed the content of congressional testimony related to either global warming or climate change from 1969 to 2007. For each piece of testimony, we recorded several characteristics about how the testimony discussed climate. For instance, we noted whether the testimony indicated that global warming or climate change was happening and whether any climate change was attributable (in part) to anthropogenic sources. The results suggest that Congress is not suffering from an information deficit. In fact, testimony to Congress—even under Republican reign—reflects the scientific consensus that humans are changing our planet’s climate.

    What scientists told Congress.

    http://thebulletin.org/congressional-testimony-surprising-consensus-climate8699

    From article 2:

    Today we’re only about halfway to the 2-degree mark, yet the climate is already haywire. Numbers such as 2 degrees and 350 parts per million (or ppm, which many climate activists have identified as a “safe” level for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere) have become enshrined in the climate debate. Meanwhile, though, civilization’s industrial machinery marches on. We’re already at 400 ppm of carbon dioxide, and it looks like we will blow by 2 degrees, too.

    In hindsight, though, the idea that even 2 degrees of warming would be tolerable is baffling. Homo sapiens have never lived in a world that hot. In an excellent series of special reports for CNN on what 2 degrees of global warming would mean, John D. Sutter lists some of the expected impacts: a melting Arctic, enormous wildfires, more intense hurricanes, water shortages, reduced crop yields, and animals and plants at risk of extinction. Even if warming can be held to 2 degrees, scientists predict that global sea level will rise by at least 20 feet as a result.

    http://thebulletin.org/two-degrees-climate-change-may-be-too-much8731

    • The conclusion of the first article is that the barrier in Congress is not an information deficit, because they are being informed of the scientific consensus in a representative way, and so the barrier must be coming from somewhere else, but they did not identify it. This would make for an interesting further study, but I think the barrier is fairly obviously the election funders. Anyway, if anything bad happens because of insufficient action, the scientists would be off the hook. It wasn’t for a lack of trying, because they can only take it so far.

    • The results suggest that Congress is not suffering from an information deficit.

      Maybe it has something to do with political pressure (from business and constituents) and ideology. it

  18. Next thing you know, the Brits will want to vote for Trump? From the article:

    A majority of British people would vote to leave the European Union in the wake of the migrant crisis engulfing the continent, a shock new Mail on Sunday poll has found.

    If a referendum were to be held tomorrow on whether to remain a member of the EU, 51 per cent of British people would vote ‘No’.

    The Survation poll for this newspaper suggests that despite the wave of sympathy for Syrian refugees following the publication of harrowing pictures of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, who drowned when his family tried to reach Greece from Turkey, British voters are opposed to opening the door to large numbers of refugees.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3223674/Britain-wants-quit-Europe-Shock-new-poll-shows-EU-no-camp-ahead-time-Cameron-prepares-face-Tory-rebels.html

  19. Comment in moderation.

  20. Good article on the state of the “oil wars.” From the article:

    The fiscal damage to national budgets is reaching a breaking point as surpluses have become deficits. Once stable nations face the possibility of having to drastically slash spending as this war has raged risking social instability.

    Saudi Arabia has figuratively blinked after going eye to eye with the smaller and more nimble players. The question now is how much longer will this war drag on until energy markets once again stabilize, allowing oil-producing nations to balance their budgets.

    No private company can continue producing oil at a loss for an extended period of time, and no sovereign nation can operate at a loss without eventually destroying its currency and economy—case in point: Venezuela. Last week the market’s dynamics significantly flipped for the first time in over a year.

    The public mistakenly believes that worldwide oil consumption has stopped growing through this pricing rout—it has not. Annual growth runs around one million barrels per year. It has been the overall increase in supply, not a demand decrease, which has been primarily responsible for driving prices down over 60 percent during these last twelve months.

    Saudi Arabia is the largest member of OPEC and the only producer that can truly curtail production (the other members ALWAYS cheat). It is currently hemorrhaging some $14 billion a month, and has just resorted to borrowing money for the first time in eight years—fighting a price war it cannot win. Their foolish gambit may have slowed, but cannot stop, North American producers.

    Frackers are innovating their way to lower break-even pricing using disruptive technologies. Some estimates say the fracking cost for some firms has dropped by more than $10 a barrel from a year ago, and will continue to drop even further. These innovations were something the Saudi’s never counted on when they made their decision to not restrict production last November.

    The Saudi’s recent move to borrow money is the canary in the coal mine, signaling their inevitable surrender.

    This breakdown in prices has been painful for the entire sector; it has destabilized many regions around the globe. The lasting legacy of this pricing war will be that in order to make deals that will provide needed new supply, future lenders are going to demand much more stringent and costly terms. This added risk premium will be built into pricing models, and, unfortunately, passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices at the pumps. The days of cheaper trips to the pump will likely be over by next summer, and those who bet against the return to higher prices will soon regret those SUV purchases.

    http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/09/05/saudi-arabia-loses-the-oil-war/

    • I think it is disingenuous to say that a short term (<5 year) national deficit is necessarily a problem for many oil producing nations such as Saudi Arabia and Russia. They've all undergone drastic price reductions in living memory and have built up massive sovereign wealth funds in response.
      I recently looked at Saudi Arabia – there are systemic reasons why they might be concerned. Since 2000, Saudi Arabia population has increased 50% (!), and the per capita GDP has also increased 50%. Their balance of payments is both heavily dependent on oil exports (90% oil and direct oil byproducts) while imports are very hefty (33%-ish of GDP).
      In contrast, Russia's numbers: population hasn't been growing. Imports are high in 2013, but exports are 50% oil and related products.
      Venezuela's numbers: roughly 16% export vs. GDP, with 10% imports at 2014 numbers, with 95%+ exports being oil. Venezuela, however, has not saved up much at all and so is the poster child for low oil price victimization.
      In any case, it is far from clear that low oil prices are here to stay. Historically, oil prices have fallen after periods of massive investment – with a lag of course. The shale oil boom in the US very much fits this description.
      Only if East Asia and 3rd world economic development has truly stalled, would there be a realistic possibility of long term low oil prices.

      • The Saudis also pay a steep stipend to their people for social stability.

      • Yes and no. Saudi Arabia pays a stipend to Saudi citizens, but the actual citizen composition of the population isn’t that high. I’ve seen estimates that at least 1/3 of the people living and working in Saudi Arabia aren’t citizens.
        Be that as it may, the stipend would only really be a problem if it were paid in foreign currency. As Americans are finding out with Social Security – the dollars owed will always be there, but not necessarily what those dollars will buy.
        More importantly, the Saudi SWF is about 90% of GDP, so even a 10% balance of payments deficit isn’t a problem for 5 years or more.
        Of course, whether Saudi Arabia is used to running massive balance of payments deficits is a different issue, and a good question.

      • Thanks for the links. The first one appears to support my economic conclusion: that Saudi Arabia has significant internal social demand and thus does not have the willingness nor ability to cut production to “manage” prices. It furthermore adds that Saudi behavior has traditionally not been that of a dominant producer. The main shortfall of that report is the failure to look at the overall Saudi GDP situation.
        The same can be said for the EIA report. While the Saudi government budget might have a titular deficit of only $38B projected for 2015, the reality is that the Saudi economy spent over $240B in 2013 on imports (33% of $740B GDP) with exports in 2013 being $300B or so (and oil at $100/barrel).
        $45/barrel oil would project to a $100B deficit for 2015 if imports don’t curtail dramatically, or put another way: 13.4% of GDP. Ouch.

  21. To blow or not to blow, that is the question. From the article:

    A lack of wind is making the US clean energy sector sweat, with consequences for investors from yield-hungry pensioners to Goldman Sachs.

    Electricity generated by US wind farms fell 6 per cent in the first half of the year even as the nation expanded wind generation capacity by 9 per cent, Energy Information Administration records show.

    The reason was some of the softest air currents in 40 years, cutting power sales from wind farms to utilities. The feeble breezes come as the White House is promoting renewable energy, including wind, as part of its Clean Power Plan to counter greenhouse gas emissions.

    http://www.cnbc.com/2015/09/01/financial-times-us-clean-energy-suffers-from-lack-of-wind.html

  22. Well, if this works out for economics, maybe it could then be applied to climate science. Gaia knows that climate math could use some sprucing up!

    Noah Smith argues that the field of economics frequently uses math in an unhealthy way. He says many economists don’t use math as a tool to describe reality, but rather as an abstract foundation for whatever theory they’ve come up with. (Jim2: Gee, that sounds eerily familiar!)

    http://science.slashdot.org/story/15/09/02/1451259/machine-learning-could-solve-economists-math-problem

    • The problem is that machine learning still requires a lot of human intervention. Machine learning isn’t like human learning – it is just the parameterization of certain types of models such that the actual model parameters in any given model can be automatically computed from a set of input data.
      The person using machine learning chooses the input training data, chooses the model, and chooses the “correct” output for said training data. The only difference between this and existing climate science or existing economics is that the models are standardized instead of custom created.
      The exact same possibilities for skewed results exists.
      Machine learning isn’t a magic wand.

    • As an economist who is not a modeller but has directed modelling and been involved with many modellers and modelling results, I’m astounded how often I found glaring errors which were obvious to me but overlooked by the modellers. The first essential is to understand that of which you speak. My cohort at LSE (1961-64) was the last for which A-level Maths was not a requirement. At the academic level, the discipline has become more and more mathematical, less about understanding real-world relationships and implications. Those who taught me at LSE were all advisers to government and/or business, the courses were rooted in the real world. Not so much in recent decades – graduates I recruited in the 80s and 90s said that they learned more from three months with me than in 3-4 years of uni. But the CAGW scene seems even more model-dependent.

  23. WTI price hasn’t changed much from last week. The year-out contango is up to $6 from $3 last week, placing a bit more pressure for oil to move to storage.

    9/4/15
    OIL 45.78
    BRENT 49.41
    NAT GAS 2.646
    RBOB GAS 1.4138

  24. From the article:

    Despite a reduction in well completions this year, Liberty Oilfield Services pumped 75 percent more fracks in the first seven months of 2015 compared with the same period last year. Its client list has doubled to about four dozen companies from last summer.

    Whereas drillers previously pumped 300 to 500 pounds of frack fluid per foot, they might now pump 1,500 to 2,000 pounds per foot, said Will Green, energy analyst at Stephens Investment Bank.

    “When people see these enhanced completions take place, the idea among skeptics was maybe you were pulling forward the resource” on the front end “and not benefiting longer-term well results,” he said.

    Read MoreSaudi Arabia hangs on with cheap oil—but for how long?

    However, he noted that in the final quarter of 2014, Concho Resources reported an 18 percent increase in average 30-day production rates in the Northern Delaware Basin in Texas and New Mexico from the previous year. At the same time, it saw a 75 percent jump in cumulative production over 180 days for wells that used enhanced completion methods.

    That means Concho not only achieved a much higher rate in the first 30 days, but a much shallower decline in subsequent production, Green said.

    http://www.cnbc.com/2015/09/02/frackers-change-methods-in-imploding-oil-market.html

  25. “Energy stocks top performers in college endowments”

    Got to be a contender for “silliest study ever” among Prof Curry’s links. The big conclusions was “Therefore, this study has shown that investments by college and university endowments in oil and natural gas company shares have produced the consistently highest returns of all their assets.”

    In other words, during the bull phase of a commodity cycle — stocks in that industry do very well. If oil prices don’t recover to the high $50s (WTI) next year, we’ll have bankruptcies in the industry. If they stay below $60, which they might for the few years — or a decade — the sector will return poor results.

    The study was conducted for Dr. Robert Shapiro, chairman of the economic consulting firm Sonecon, for the American Petroleum Institute. So the results shouldn’t surprise anyone.

    • Exxon and Chevron are partially commodity/hard asset plays. Owning oil and gas in the ground is owning a hard asset which can be an inflation hedge. It also hoped to have value in extremely distressed times same as with real estate. But there are other aspects of these stocks. A lot of what they do is transportation and exploration. They supply necessities same as grocery stores whose products are linked all the way back to farms. We could say they are farming energy and moving it towards the final consumers. Their good dividend yields position the stocks as somewhat steady profit makers. I wondered of the time frame of the study. From another study from around early 2013:
      http://www.energytomorrow.org/blog/2013/january/~/media/EnergyTomorrow/blog/earningspng.ashx
      The 10 year time frame lessens the chance of a cherry picked time frame.

      • Ragnar,

        Stocks in the oil and gas sector trade almost entirely on the basis of oil and gas prices, which account for most of the variation in their profits.

        The study covered 2004-2014, which was almost exactly the bull phase of the petroleum price cycle.

        No, ten years does not prevent cherry picking. Petroleum cycles are decades long due to long time required for investment in new fields to produce new supply, and for long lag between when investment drops and eventually production falls.

  26. The news about China is good news — and suggests that the scary RCP8.5 in the IPCC’s AR5 is not likely. Oddly it is often described at the “business as usual” scenario, the basis for hundreds of scary stories — likely only if you believe our future energy source is mostly coal.

    I pointed out the improbability of this — as clearly stated in the literature. The warmistas went wild, crying “China China China”. Foolishly, as usual. The world — and China — are moving away from coal. RCP should be considered an unlikely scenario (for many reasons).

    Data from the Energy Information Agency shows that world coal consumption fell by 98 million short tons, (1.2%) in 2012, following peaking in both poor and rich nations.

    North American use peaked in 2005; 2012 was down an astonishing 21% since then (USA use in Q1 2015 was down 24% from Q1 2005).
    Europe peaked in 2007, after 6 of its 9 largest coal-consuming nations peaked: UK and Poland in 2006; Czech, Germany, and Greece in 2007; and Turkey in 2011.
    Africa peaked in 2008 and Asia in 2011.

    … The results of the Chinese government’s effort to develop cleaner sources of energy can be seen in China’s coal consumption: down 1.9% in 2012, up slightly in 2013, down 2.9% in 2014, and down almost 8% in the first 4 months of 2015. Their economy continues to grow (grow fast, although slowing), while coal use decreases (not just slows).

    … China has been the largest driver of global commodity consumption, including coal. Excluding China, world coal use is flat for 5 years, up only 13% for 10 years, and up only 7% in the previous 25 years.

    The Energy Information Agency has not yet posted global coal data for 2013.

    • China is frequently mistaken when reporting coal consumption statistics. We would all be better off waiting for the revisions before writing at length about China and coal.

      • Thomas,

        The vast majority of economic reporting consists of writing about preliminary data subject to revisions. Revisions to even U.S. data are subject to large revisions.

        I doubt many will heed your advice not to even “write” about trends until the final data arrives.

        In any case, the trend away from coal is a global one — and China has strong reasons to continue its conversion away from coal.

    • From the article:

      Detailed understanding about what causes CO2 emissions to rise or fall in individual countries is complex. This post does not provide a unique and quantitative answer, but it does provide many pointers.

      Claims made about CO2 abatement by renewables advocates are likely overstated because they ignore system effects such as provision of load balancing services. The amount of CO2 abated by wind power in a country like the UK is also inconsequential in the bigger picture.

      The countries that have cut their emissions the most since 2008 are those stuck in recession. The strong economies have barely cut their emissions at all. Economic growth is likely the main driver in Europe that determines whether or not emissions will rise or fall.

      Improved energy efficiency is not expected to reduce emissions. On the contrary, efficiency is good for economic growth. Therefore, improved energy efficiency may actually cause emissions to rise and not to fall. Wind and solar are intrinsically inefficient. The negative impact this may have on economic growth may actually result in a greater fall in emissions than can be attributed to substitution of fossil fuels.

      http://euanmearns.com/co2-emissions-reduction-renewables-and-recession/#more-9962

  27. Where on Earth did Judith dig up this title?

    Molten salt thorium reactors are nearing commercialization. [link] …

    The opening sentence of the article it’s self says:

    “Researchers say they could build a prototype of a molten salt reactor, a safer, cleaner nuclear power option, in 10 years.”

    Note that it is “researchers claim” and “build a prototype” not “reach commercially viable”. Researchers invariably makes such wild and unrealistic claims. Proponents of a technology almost always overstate the case foi the technology they believe it. And researchers are not competent to estimate how log it takes a new technology to become commercial viable.

    Here is a much more realistic and knowledgeable assessment of how far away the new breeds of reactors are from becoming commercially viable.

    Molten salt fast reactor technology – an overview
    http://euanmearns.com/molten-salt-fast-reactor-technology-an-overview/

    And here’s the authors short bio:

    Hubert Flocard

    A former student of the Ecole Normale Supérieure (St Cloud) Hubert Flocard is a retired director of research at the French basic science institute CNRS. He worked mostly in the theory of Fermi liquids with a special emphasis on nuclear physics. He has taught at the French Ecole Polytechnique and at the Paris University at Orsay. He was for several years a visiting fellow of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and he spent a year as visiting professor at the theory department of MIT (Cambridge). He has worked as an editor for the journals Physical Review C and Review of Modern Physics (APS, USA) and Reports on Progress in Physics (IoP, UK). He has chaired the nuclear physics scientific committee INTC at CERN (Switzerland). When the French parliament asked CNRS to get involved in research on civilian nuclear energy, he was charged to set up and to manage the corresponding CNRS interdisciplinary programme. He still acts as a referee to evaluate research projects submitted to Euratom.

    • China and the US DOE are collaborating on a molten salt rector.
      http://fortune.com/2015/02/02/doe-china-molten-salt-nuclear-reactor/

      • Yes, I realise that Harrywr2. But they are decades from being economically competitive, i.e. commercially viable. Did you read the link in my previous comment. We could discuss this much more if you’d like. It’s a great topic to debate on this forum.

      • Even Euan advocates for more research into MSFRs. It’s pitiful the US isn’t engaged in a moonshot effort to develop these. The neighborhood-organizer-in-chief seems more concerned that more cops aren’t getting killed.

      • Jim2,

        I suggest the greatest priorities for research funding are:

        1. develop and licence small modular reactors – not for the USA market but for small to medium grids elsewhere. This is where all the growth in electricity generation and CO2 emissions will come from in the decades ahead. The potential market is huge for low cost small modular reactors. The key for USA to grab a large slice of this market is to get the costs down and for USA to maintain its technological lead.

        2. Research the true impacts of low-level radiation and then, progressively over time, raise the allowable radiation limits and reduce the regulatory impediments that are making nuclear power many times more expensive than is justifiable on a rational and objective analysis of the evidence.

      • The West has gotta have low cost and efficient energy
        to survive. Sensible priorities from Peter Lang.

  28. Another twist in what may become a Trump juggernaut. I’d like to see someone ‘splain the black response, Ricky. From the article:

    For all the talk about Donald Trump allegedly driving minorities away from the Republican Party, could he actually bring people in?

    trumpA SurveyUSA poll released Friday shows in a hypothetical matchup with Hillary Clinton, Trump is ahead 45% to 40%.

    But digging into the racial breakdown of the respondents is revealing. For example, the poll finds 25% of black respondents say they would vote for Trump over Clinton.

    How impressive is that? Let’s look at the last several presidential results for Republicans.

    When President Obama was running for re-election, despite a sputtering economy that was impacting blacks the worst, Mitt Romney was able to only muster 6% of the black vote, according to the Roper Center at the University of Connecticut.

    http://www.theamericanmirror.com/shock-poll-trump-receives-25-of-black-vote-in-general-election-matchup/

    • My guess is that blacks’ perception might be that illegal immigrants are taking jobs they should be getting.

    • Boy you guys are missing the obvious racial politics. Romney only got 6% because a liberal black man was his opponent. In the last 40 years the black vote has drifted between 85 and 90% Democrat in national elections. The last two elections were outliers, due to straight up identity politics.

      Make the Republican candidate Ben Carson and you’ll get above 25% of the black vote, Perhaps even as high as 50%, especially against the wilting old white man or woman the Democrats will likely end up nominating.

      Identity politics. It’s what’s for dinner.

  29. If you build it, they will hack …

    The multi-thousand-dollar laser ranging (lidar) systems that most self-driving cars rely on to sense obstacles can be hacked by a setup costing just $60, according to a security researcher.

    “I can take echoes of a fake car and put them at any location I want,” says Jonathan Petit, Principal Scientist at Security Innovation, a software security company. “And I can do the same with a pedestrian or a wall.”

    Using such a system, attackers could trick a self-driving car into thinking something is directly ahead of it, thus forcing it to slow down. Or they could overwhelm it with so many spurious signals that the car would not move at all for fear of hitting phantom obstacles.

    http://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-think/transportation/self-driving/researcher-hacks-selfdriving-car-sensors

  30. Props to the Met Office. Looks like they have taken to heart the idea that scaremongering isn’t good for climate science. From the article:

    The actress, a Greenpeace activist who that morning had taken part in a protest against Shell’s plans to drill for oil in the Arctic, warned that if the drilling went ahead, the world would be a staggering 4C hotter by 2030.
    She said: ‘If they take out of the Earth all the oil they want to take out, if you look at the science, our temperature will rise 4 degrees Celsius by 2030, and that’s not sustainable.’
    Ms Maitlis did not challenge her.
    In his first tweet, Prof Betts asked: ‘Who briefed Emma Thompson? Clearly not someone who actually knows about climate science.’
    He added: ‘Has it occurred to scaremongers like Emma Thompson that exaggerating climate change could drive more migration unnecessarily? Irresponsible.’
    Other scientists were equally critical. Dr Ed Hawkins, at Reading University, told this newspaper: ‘Climate change poses substantial risks to humans and ecosystems, but what Emma Thompson said about the timescales of predicted warming was inaccurate.’
    In his blog post, Prof Betts points out that the authoritative UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gives a ‘wide range of estimates of the speed of future warming’ – but none of them is anywhere near 4C by 2030.
    He adds that under the highest scenario for future emissions, ‘the earliest time of reaching 4C above pre-industrial was around 2070, and the latest sometime after 2100’.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3223826/Met-Office-boss-slams-Emma-Thompson-BBC-scaremongering-claim-world-s-temperature-rise-4C-2030.html

  31. A purge coming in the American Political Science Association (APSA)?

    https://ricochet.com/stalinism-american-political-science-association/

    Maye the universities and colleges of this country should start building co-op re-education camps for errant conservative professors. Consider is a sabbatical with barbed wire comrade.

    • Wow! Obviously the powers that be can’t stand any whiff of political neutrality. I hope the freedom fighters can win in court!!

  32. An overview of the current state of affairs. Long and optimistic article from New York Mag. Reading blogs like this and only listening to the Republican talking points, you miss out on what is really happening in the world.
    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/09/sunniest-climate-change-story-ever-read.html

    • OK, JimD. Are you feeling well?

    • Jim D: An overview of the current state of affairs.

      I sent it to a friend of mine who likes to read that sort of thing. To anyone with some knowledge it’s exaggerated to the point of absurdity.

      • I find nothing to argue with in the article. It is open and tells it like it is.

      • Jim D: I find nothing to argue with in the article.

        That I can believe. I get my information from the peer-reviewed literature, and that article is full of exaggerations. To the author’s credit, he does note that Hansen’s recent warning that global sea level rise may be occurring at three times the previously estimated rate does not have a lot of support among sympathetic colleagues.

    • As a engineer, its hard to have a conversation about the practicality of proposed green “solutions” when many folks want to BELIEVE so hard that the dumbest stuff will work.

      For instance, on September 6, 2015 at 12:38 pm AK proposed this gem relative to concentrator photovoltaics:

      “They’re a little behind the curve, but the biggest problem for CSPV is clouds and other atmospheric diffusion.

      An option I like is using aluminized plastic film as the concentrator, inside a balloon made from transparent plastic, and flying it in the stratosphere. That avoids clouds as well as most turbulence. Of course, you’d have to do some extensive R&D to make the whole thing light enough, and provide cost-effective anchoring.

      But at that height, spread them out a bit and they can be over cropland, wilderness, ocean, just about anything, with little impact.”

      So, how do you start a conversation with someone who can’t fathom that four or five Km of cable has a bit of weight and some electrical resistance? And that stratospheric winds can generate huge forces on large tethered objects. And that one must space the anchors (and reels and control systems and inverters) as far apart as the cables are long in order to prevent tangling of the cables. Which then limits you to about one concentrator for every 25 square Km. So in the state of Georgia you would be limited to about 6,000 concentrators to serve 10 million people. And of course you would have to close the world’s busiest airport along with every other airport in the state.

      But these are simply details. We have engineers to take care of details.

      • Excellent comment. Unfortunately, AK will not understand it.

      • Great point. The “environmental fringe” often argue against the status quo with alternatives that are immature and impractical or even less than half baked schemes. Sure if they worked well we should change the status quo and the benefits would be wonderful-but they don’t. When they don’t have to do anything and their ideas won’t be put to the test, they can critique the status quo with impunity. It’s easy when someone else has the job of taking care of the details.

      • But the politicians will listen to people like AK then “will” these systems into existence. After that they will walk away into a plum “consulting” job and not take one consequence for the rape of their countrymen.

      • So, how do you start a conversation with someone who […]

        Has ideas you haven’t thought of and don’t like?

        Why with a great load of straw-man arguments. Obviously, whatever ridiculous and unworkable notions enter your mind, if any, must be what I’m talking about.

        […] who can’t fathom that four or five Km of cable has a bit of weight and some electrical resistance?

        Of course it does. And since I spent thousands of paragraphs, with pictures drawings and calculations, you know exactly what designs I have in mind to deal with the issue.

        And that stratospheric winds can generate huge forces on large tethered objects.

        How do “stratospheric winds” stack up against surface winds? Here, “sci”guy54, show us what somebody who comes to a scientific blog claiming a handle like that can do: What is the typical maximum wind force on, say, a 10m sphere at a height of 35 Km, based on maximum normal stratospheric wind speeds? How does it compare to wind at the surface during, say, a thunderstorm? This might help. But don’t forget the effects of turbulence, which AFAIK (and mentioned in my original comment) is much reduced above the very lowest statosphere.

        And that one must space the anchors (and reels and control systems and inverters) as far apart as the cables are long in order to prevent tangling of the cables. Which then limits you to about one concentrator for every 25 square Km.

        So if the cables are 20m long, our 10m spheres could be spaced at about 20% zenith coverage. Of course, they (cables) would have to be strong enough to resist the wind force on all the spheres in their local structure, not just the one(s) they’re attached to. And light enough so each balloon could carry its own lengths of cable.

        But these are simply details. We have engineers to take care of details.

        Engineers do. “We”? I doubt it. Real engineers I know don’t say “it can’t be done” based on straw man arguments. They ask “how could it be done?”

      • First you have to have a good reason to spend the money to do something like that. We don’t.

      • We don’t.

        You mean you don’t. Right now. 20 years from now, depending on how materials science and technology progresses, somebody with capital to invest might. According to the calculations I’ve done, no real “breakthroughs” wold be required, just routine technological progress.

      • Engineers should be the ones who realize most how much can be accomplished in 15-35 year time scales, especially with a worthy goal. Imagine comparing today’s technology with 1980’s. That’s what we would look like to someone in 2050.

      • Imagine how a telephonics “engineer” in 1995 would have responded to some visionary description like this:

        Sprint Spark combines 4G FDD1-LTE at 800 Megahertz (MHz) and 1.9 Gigahertz (GHz) and TDD1-LTE at 2.5GHz spectrum, TDD-LTE technology (2.5GHz), and carrier aggregation in the 2.5GHz band. These spectrum assets, technology and architecture are designed to deliver a seamless customer experience via tri-band wireless devices. Tri-band devices, named for their ability to accommodate multiple spectrum bands, support active hand-off mode between 800MHz, 1.9GHz and 2.5GHz, providing data session continuity as the device moves between spectrum bands.

      • AK – the free market is more than adequate to handle any future energy needs. The only problem is government impediments. Once the government takes an APPROPRIATE regulatory role, there will be no energy problem. And until ACO2 is proved to be problematic, no money should be spent and no regulations created to curtail it.

      • AK – the free market is more than adequate to handle any future energy needs.

        The “free market” is a myth. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a libertarian (of sorts), and that myth, and the realities behind it, mean a lot to me. But until a few decades ago, “free markets” were always fenced off behind walls of tariffs and import/export strictures, in the service of “national policy”. And since WWII, there has been massive regulation of that “free market” in even the most “capitalist” countries. Again, mostly in the service of “national policy”.

      • Right and good points, AK. I’m also more libertarian than anything else. That’s why I emphasized appropriate regulations.

      • Great, AK. If this idea will “fly” on its own merit, then I suggest you take it to some venture capitalists and have at it. Enjoy your well-earned rewards.

        If you are suggesting that it would only get a fair chance through the use of implied governmental force, then I would say that it must appear, prima facia, to be a non-starter to other engineers and investors also.

        On the other hand, I would not want to discourage anyone from seeking a new technology. True innovation, though, is difficult and fraught with unpredicted difficulties and unpredictable consequences. But much of what gets thrown against the wall is purely seconda fascia.

      • AK: What is the typical maximum wind force on, say, a 10m sphere at a height of 35 Km, based on maximum normal stratospheric wind speeds?

        First let me clarify: you are proposing a 35 km long cable? From the surface into the stratosphere? What is it made of? What is its mass, electrical resistance, and wind resistance? With sun, wind, and rain as they generally are, how long is this cable proposed to endure?

      • First let me clarify: you are proposing a 35 km long cable?

        Read harder.

      • AK: 20 years from now, depending on how materials science and technology progresses, somebody with capital to invest might.

        Depending on progress, it might work. I thought that you were proposing something real soon.

        Twenty years now we might have small scale fusion, a large program of construction of hybrid and thorium reactors, and strict Sharia law throughout Europe. It all depends.

        But at Paris there will be demands for immediate action. The best immediate action is construction of enhanced, enlarged, refurbished etc flood control and irrigation works, and continued diverse energy R&D. In my state of California, the citizens have directed extra $billions into solar farms, wind farms, and the bullet train to nowhere, while neglecting their flood control and irrigation works. That puts them now in the paradoxical position of hoping that the winter of 2015-2016 will bring torrential rains sufficient to cause even more $billions of property and crop damage.

        20 years from now, depending on progress, it might work. That’s 20 years of global alternations between flooding and drought, almost everywhere. So I think your proposal belongs in the long-term R&D basket with everything else, while humans devote much more than they are now doing on projects with a more likely high payoff soon.

      • If you are suggesting that it would only get a fair chance through the use of implied governmental force, then I would say that it must appear, prima facia, to be a non-starter to other engineers and investors also.

        Just like the railroads were non-starters in the 19th century US? Have you studied the history of subsidies for their roll-out? Most were in the form of land that the railroad added great value to, but there were cash subsidies as well.

        There’s actually somebody already working on balloon concentraters. I’m trying to guess at how the technology will develop over the next few decades. Taking ideas, identifying problems, finding solutions, looking for what new problems those solutions produce, etc. I do it because I enjoy it, and I talk about it because, AFAIK, some readers here like to read it. (Of course, it does have policy implications.)

      • AK: Read harder.

        the 35 km altitude of the spheres was a direct quote from you. Are you now claiming that they are not tethered?

      • AK: So if the cables are 20m long, our 10m spheres could be spaced at about 20% zenith coverage.

        In this case, what is the significance of the wind at a height of 35km?

      • AK wrote:

        “Just like the railroads were non-starters in the 19th century US? Have you studied the history of subsidies for their roll-out? Most were in the form of land that the railroad added great value to, but there were cash subsidies as well.”

        I’m fairly familiar with that case. Southern brokers were making fortunes brokering commodities brought to their ports by way of various river systems. Northeastern money wanted that action and used federal taxes, mostly generated from the southern states, and court-ordered land seizures to get east-west railroads built from the bread-basket to them. As a nation, we were randomly lucky that their greed was beneficial for the majority. This time not so much.

      • In this case, what is the significance of the wind at a height of 35km?

        The cables are lateral connections between adjacent balloons, which make up a large raft. Which is why they have to resist wind force on more than one balloon. Actual anchoring against that wind force isn’t specified, both because I have several approaches in mind and because I want to see what other problem solvers might come up with if I don’t prejudice them with my ideas.

        But the vision I have in mind is of very large rafts of balloons, each with its own concentrator, each supporting short cables to adjacent balloons. AFAIK the raft would have to be anchored against lateral forces on all sides, as stratospheric winds can blow from all directions. Of course, if there’s some part of the globe where that isn’t true, it might make things easier.

      • AK: Actual anchoring against that wind force isn’t specified,

        So you do have 35 km tethers, you just don’t want to address their attributes and the problems that they have to overcome.

      • So you do have 35 km tethers, you just don’t want to address their attributes and the problems that they have to overcome

        That’s one option. Not my favorite at the moment. But note: the cables, if any, and the balloons that hold them up (in those options) could be separate objects from the actual solar devices.

        My very rough calculations suggest (to me) that the forces involved in carrying the cable and resisting wind in the troposphere and lower stratosphere would be much larger than those involved in the raft of balloon solar modules.

        There are developing technologies, however, that suggest actual towers, presumably floating in the ocean (which IMO would be cheaper than land) would actually be more cost-effective. Consider that the needed material for a bottom-supported tower declines exponentially with rising height, and the stronger your construction materials, the slower the decline, so the lighter the base would have to be relative to whatever’s needed at the top.

        Speaking of “cables”, have you looked at the strength/weight figures for the latest ultra-high-strength fibers? Or those somewhat weaker but much cheaper? And you might want to look at the latest in tensegrity structures. And consider the impact of how dynamic force control on tension members (at microsecond response times) could change how very large structures are designed.

      • What about immediate agreement that takes place over an extended period of time. Countries aren’t going to reduce their emissions overnight so addition of new low carbon sources will be incremental. By the end of the first round the technology should have improved enough to go even further.

    • The article makes the point that the Republicans are the world’s only political group solidly against doing anything about climate change, and by not calling it a treaty, the UN are crafting a way to bypass any need for a Senate vote. Of course, Republicans will see this as even more evidence of a great global conspiracy against them.

      • stevenreincarnated

        There are many ways to avoid the complications of a democracy. Tanks are my preferred method, but I suppose exercising the machinations of a bureaucracy would work as well.

      • Have you forgotten that elections have consequences, yimmy? Every one of those Republicans in Congress and also the Democrats who vote with them on climate issues were elected by the people. And you support the UN consipiracy to thwart U.S. democracy. Shame on you, yimmy.

      • For the Republicans, knowledge is optional and not a prerequisite for being elected. I know you like HuffPo, so here is one on that subject today.
        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/know-nothing-candidates_55ef45eae4b093be51bc94c7

      • You know what you can do with huffpo, yimmy. Can you explain why your hero didn’t do anything meaningful about the greatest threat faced by mankind, when he had solid majorities of brilliant Democrats in both houses of Congress? And you are still not going to see substantive action, little yimmy. Must be very frustrating.

      • Jim D: For the Republicans, knowledge is optional and not a prerequisite for being elected.

        Tut, tut, tut. You are not claiming that Democrats are knowledgeable are you? How many of them are aware that with or without CO2-induced warming, floods and droughts will continue in alternation everywhere they have ever occurred in alternation?

      • And you are still not going to see substantive action

        I would call the EPA rules a substantive first step. And it’s important because it will encourage other countries to do something about their emissions. China and the US have also been working together on this issue.

        Trying to pass a climate bill and health care was too much to do during an economic slump. And I think it was the right time to do health care reform.

      • And I think the bill they were thinking about involved carbon trading. I don’t think the evidence shows this is the most effective way to reduce carbon emissions. So in another way I am glad they didn’t push the issue harder.

      • That’s very smart of you, yoey. The EPA rules will allegedly result in a one one hundredth of one percent reduction in the problem. So if the other big CO2 producers follow suit, what will that amount to, yoey? I will help you:

        Next to nothing!

        Which is very close to what we want, until there is convincing evidence that AGW is a serious problem.

        And yes, the utter lack of healthchare in the U.S. was obviously the greatest threat to mankind, so it deserved priority.

      • The EPA rules will allegedly result in a one one hundredth of one percent reduction in the problem.

        It’s global problem and it’s going to require everyone to get on board. The US can’t do it by itself. The US is leading by reducing it’s emissions significantly through this rule. China has already followed suit. I expect a significant agreement this year because of these steps.

      • And like I said it is just a first step. I think a gradual approach is the best one anyway.

      • You are really berry berry smart, yoey. Faced with the greatest threat to mankind, we should take a gradual approach. We wit you on dat, yoey. But don’t you remember, the first step was taken long ago. Kyoto! Accomplished exactly squat. It’s hard to believe you characters are really convinced it’s the biggest threat facing mankind. You all need to up your game. You are failing miserably.

      • the biggest threat facing mankind

        It’s a threat that we should and can do something about. I don’t think it is the only issue that should be dealt with, though. After all politics is primarily about dealing with current circumstances rather than those off in the future. So climate change should be a priority but it isn’t the only priority and never will be.

      • You all need to up your game. You are failing miserably.

        Since they were looking for a global agreement the major stumbling block was China. And things have changed now that China seems to want action. You make it seem as though the US has been the problem.

      • Jimd

        Huffpo is presumably a satirical magazine along the lines of The Onion?

        I am not sure what your point was in linking to that article, which didn’t really say very much, but from over here the democrat candidates look every bit as bad as the republican ones.

        Presumably someone will take a lead in the large Republican pack, but the choice for p democrats seem very limited, surely Hillary Clinton is unelectable after her email shenanigans, not to mention that she doesn’t have a sparkling career record. Surely someone else will come to the fore?

        Tonyb

      • “China seems to want action”

        Don’t believe ebberyting you read in fortune cookie, yoey.

      • tonyb, Huffington Post is left-leaning and, as you see, finds the current crop of Republican candidates somewhat below par in policy specifics, but at the same time quite entertaining. The fact that the Tea Party are now, after only five years, seen as part of the problem in Washington and there is a successful looking new outsider rebellion against them, is ironic. Trump and the Republicans deserve each other for the level of policy “debate” that they have engaged in over the past few years. The TP and right-wing media made it look like anyone with a few slogans and a loud voice could succeed without defining a policy, so Trump took them up on it, and it is working.

      • Regarding the Hilary emails, it is overblown. We hear more about the contents of the emails as a result of this Republican “investigation” than anyone outside the senders and receivers would have without it, and arguably this publicity is where the damage to their security comes from. There have been no documented leaks of important information from them during Hilary’s tenure, so at this point what difference does it make to coin a phrase.

      • Jimd

        Hillary Clinton was guilty of considerable deceit and obfuscation.

        Here is the left leaning Guardian take on this. The negative comments speak volumes

        http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/sep/08/hillary-clinton-apologizes-private-email-server

        How can she be worthy of being POTUS in light of her deceit without even considering her mediocre track record when in office?

        The candidates on both sides appear lack lustre. There seem to be lots of republican candidates, many of whose talents currently elude me, but very few democrat ones.

        Tonyb

      • She used a private email server because she thought it was safe for her unclassified email that was supposed to use that address. No documented security problem came from it. I think that Wikileaks was a much bigger deal than this with thousands of State Department communiques from 1966-2010 being released to the public. The witch hunt is disproportionate to what actually happened as a result of her email. It has no historical consequence unlike other famous leaks that did in fact happen and had consequences with agencies having to admit to clandestine programs and protect overseas agents.

      • “Regarding the Hilary emails, it is overblown.”

        Stick with that story, yimmy. It’s working perfectly. I hope she gets the nomination.

      • JimD. The Dimowits and Redimowits are pretty much indistinguishable at this point.

      • The Republicans are falling over each other trying to move to the intolerant right at the moment, which does not bode well for their relevance to the main population on issues that matter to them.

      • Sorry, yimmy:

        http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/09/08/trump-leads-clinton-in-head-to-head-poll

        There are a lot of things the folks are tired of tolerating. Up on top of the list with illegal immigration and cop hating are smarmy self-aggrandizing career politicians, especially the habitual liars.

        But look on the bright side, yimmy. As long as this email SCANDAL stays in the news, it will take attention away from all that FOREIGN MONEY sloshing around in various Clintonista bank accounts.

  33. Jim D,

    The article makes the point that the Republicans are the world’s only political group solidly against doing anything about climate change

    Absolute nonsense for many reasons

    First there are many political groups in many countries that do not support wasting money on the $1.5 trillion global climate industry http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2015/07/30/377086.htm

    Several countries pulled out of Kyoto Protocol, and the large majority of countries have never signed on to any UN climate deal.

    At least 99% of the global population does not support wasting money on fighting climate change.

    Second, as I understand Republicans are opposed to stupid policies that would make zero difference to the climate but would cost the an enormous amount of money And therefore, cause a great deal of avoidable human suffering that could have been mitigated by rational use of available resources.

    • In other countries, they mean that the do-nothings are minorities divided among the parties, and only in the US is it a de facto party platform where if you don’t support it you are essentially out. They put a lot of pressure on their representatives to fall in line in this area. No other country has such a party.

      • Jim D. You are talking complete nonsense. You are simply making stuff up. You haven’t a clue what the situation in in other countries..

      • The Chinese won’t cut CO2 emissions one iota due to any climate deal. There agreement with the US meant business as usual for them.

      • Peter Lang, read the article. That’s what I am talking about. Argue with the author.

      • jim2, according to the article, China is doing a lot more than many people here may think. They have several major renewable projects.

      • How to sleep at night, your conscience should be keeping you awake. From the article:

        China has been praised recently for its investments in renewable energy. And the credit is well deserved as China’s commitment to renewables dwarfs that of the U.S. and other industrialized countries. From 2010 to 2012 alone, China’s renewable electricity growth was double that of the U.S., and it is continuing to grow.

        But all the accolades are distracting us from the reality that fossil fuels dominate China’s energy landscape, as they do in virtually every other country. Today, fossil fuels account for 87 percent of all energy used in China. And the focus on renewables also hides the fact that China’s reliance upon coal is predicted to keep growing.

        http://www.climatecentral.org/blogs/chinas-growing-coal-use-is-worlds-growing-problem-16999

      • jim2, your link was from January 2014, and back then, that was the way people were thinking, but it has evolved a lot since then as my link states. Also note that it is Republicans who are now reaching out to these countries saying don’t deal with the US on emissions, even as they continue to say that China isn’t doing anything so we shouldn’t.

  34. From the article:

    Natural Gas: The ’20 Bcf Per Day Tsunami’ Has Arrived – 10 Years Earlier Than Some Expected
    Sep. 9, 2015 6:30 AM ET | Includes: DGAZ, GAZ, UGAZ, UNG
    Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. (More…)
    Summary

    Northeast region natural gas production passed the 20 Bcf/d milestone in August.

    The region’s resource base is sufficient to support production growth at a brisk pace for another decade.

    In the next three years, growth rate will be limited essentially by the market’s capacity to absorb new production.

    http://seekingalpha.com/article/3496576-natural-gas-the-20-bcf-per-day-tsunami-has-arrived-10-years-earlier-than-some-expected

    • Also from the article … a warning to prognosticators …

      In January of last year, I posted a note “Marcellus Shale: A 20 Bcf Per Day Natural Gas Tsunami” (Seeking Alpha, January 16, 2014) flagging that expectations with regard to natural gas production growth from the Marcellus/Utica region were overly conservative. The article is an interesting read as it allows to compare macro expectations dating few years back versus the actual outcome. It also highlights the danger of using a backward-looking mindset to predict the future.

  35. New knowledge, from the article:

    Abstract

    Producing gas from shale gas reservoirs has played an increasingly important role in the volatile energy industry over recent years in North America for considerable volume of natural gas stored in the reservoirs. Unlike conventional gas reservoirs, the gas flow in shale reservoirs is a complex multi-scale flow process and has special flow mechanisms. Most importantly, the shale gas reservoir contains a large portion of nano pores. The study of flow in nano pores is essential for accurate shale gas numerical simulation. However, there is still not a comprehensive study in understanding how gas flows in nano pores.

    In this paper, based on the advection-diffusion model, we constructed a new mathematical model to characterize gas flow in nano pores. We derived a new apparent permeability expression based on advection and Knudsen diffusion. Acomprehensive coefficient in characterizing the flow process was proposed. Simulation results were verified against the experimental data for gas flow through nano membranes. By changing the comprehensive coefficient, we found the best candidate for the case of Argon with membrane pore diameter 235 nm. We verified the model using different gases (Oxygen, Argon) and different pore diameters (235 nm, 220 nm). The comparison shows that the new model matches the experimental data very closely. Additionally, we compared our results with experimental data, Knudsen/Hagen-Poiseuille analytical solution, and existing researcher’s work. The results show that this study yielded a more reliable solution. For shale gas simulation where gas flowing in nano pores plays a critical role, the results from this work will made the simulation more accurate and reliable.

    https://www.1petro.org/conference-paper/SPE-167179-MS?sort=&start=0&q=nano+pores&from_year=&peer_reviewed=&published_between=&fromSearchResults=true&to_year=&rows=10#

  36. For Tony B … some info.

    Sadly, in another iteration of the anger that is the wind beneath Donald Trump’s wings, many readers insist that GOP leadership has no intention to block Obama on Iran. If that is so, it is passing strange. The national-security threat here is grave. Plus, how much credibility can Republicans have (maybe I should just end the sentence there) in complaining about Obama’s disregard of federal law if they won’t even follow the law they themselves enacted just four months ago?

    “Surrender . . . Then Play-Fight ” is Republican leadership’s shameful approach to “governing.” The quotes around “governing” are intentional. After voters, having trusted the GOP’s 2014 campaign promises to block Obama’s agenda, gave Republicans control of both houses of Congress, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) notoriously said that the party’s primary objective was to show the public that it could “govern.” As I countered at the time, this was gibberish. Governing is principally an executive exercise. Presidents govern, while legislators prescribe. Prescribing law and monitoring the administration’s execution of it are crucial functions, but they are not governing, because lawmakers are powerless to carry out policy.

    Worse, the “show we can govern” tripe is just a rationalization for capitulating to Obama. GOP leaders said they must prove they can overcome legislative gridlock and (all together now) “get things done.” Perforce, the way a legislature “gets things done” is by helping the president do the things he wants to do.

    Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/423679/corker-cardin-congress-obama-iran-nuclear-deal

  37. Also from someone at the Cato institute, no less, this favorable view of Trump’s foreign policy relative to the Republican establishment that now includes the Tea Party. Basically, even if he doesn’t know much in detail, he is much less warlike, and thinks of the finances, so he would probably only attack people who have the oil to pay for it.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/doug-bandow/is-donald-trump-the-best_b_8101448.html

  38. From the article:

    We don’t have to keep buying new gadgets. In fact, we should insist on the right to keep old ones running.

    Who hasn’t experienced a situation like this? Halfway through a classic Jack Lemmon DVD, my colleague Shira’s 40-inch TV conked out. Nothing showed up on the screen when she pressed the power button. The TV just hiccupped, going, “Clip-clop. Clip-clop.”

    This was a great excuse to dump her old Samsung and buy a shiny new TV, right? But before heading to Best Buy, Shira gave me a call hoping for a less expensive option, not to mention one that’s better for the environment.

    We ended up with a project that changed my view on our shop-till-you-drop gadget culture. We can fix more technology than we realize, but the electronics industry doesn’t want us to know that. In many ways, it’s obstructing us.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/we-need-the-right-to-repair-our-gadgets-1441737868

  39. How long is Obumbles going to kowtow to these people?
    From the article:
    Al Qaeda Mag Urges Attack on Koch Brothers, Buffett, Bloomberg
    by ROBERT WINDREM and TRACY CONNOR

    A notorious al Qaeda magazine is encouraging lone-wolf terrorist attacks on U.S. economic leaders, including Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg and Warren Buffett.

    The list in Inspire magazine also included industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch, internet entrepreneur Larry Ellison, and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. A prominent economist was also on the list but asked that his name be withheld. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke was named, though not Janet Yellen, who succeeded him.

    Also pictured was Jim Walton, one of the heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune, although he was misidentified in the caption as his late father, Sam Walton. Several other names on the list were misspelled.


    The slickly produced magazine article begins with a photo illustration showing blood-spattered pictures of several of the leaders next to a dripping gun. Its stated goal is to derail the “revival of the America Economy.”

    http://www.nbcnews.com/business/economy/al-qaeda-mag-urges-attack-koch-brothers-buffett-bloomberg-n424386

  40. moderation