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Messages - Bob Wallace

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Re: "They want accessibility incorporated into car design and states to steer clear of laws that would prohibit the blind from one day sitting in the driver’s seat."

This sounds weird. This is Level 5 automation, which is not there yet. Although I would like to see Stevie Wonder laying rubber in a muscle car.

Right. In an autonomous car of the future, there won't be a "driver's seat." No steering wheel, no control pedals.  With voice commands, any seat could be the driver's seat.

But I think they are referring to the next few years, while full autonomy is gradually added to "manual" cars.  If a "vehicle operator" is required to have a drivers license, and that license requires a vision test, the blind will be unable to take advantage of the new technology.  New regulations are needed to re-define the requirements for a Level 5 autonomous car operator.

From Wiki-

SAE automated vehicle classifications:
Level 0: Automated system issues warnings but has no vehicle control.

Level 1 (”hands on”): Driver and automated system shares control over the vehicle. An example would be Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) where the driver controls steering and the automated system controls speed. Using Parking Assistance, steering is automated while speed is manual. The driver must be ready to retake full control at any time. Lane Keeping Assistance (LKA) Type II is a further example of level 1 self driving.

Level 2 (”hands off”): The automated system takes full control of the vehicle (accelerating, braking, and steering). The driver must monitor the driving and be prepared to immediately intervene at any time if the automated system fails to respond properly. The shorthand ”hands off” is not meant to be taken literally. In fact, contact between hand and wheel is often mandatory during SAE 2 driving, to confirm that the driver is ready to intervene.

Level 3 (”eyes off”): The driver can safely turn their attention away from the driving tasks, e.g. the driver can text or watch a movie. The vehicle will handle situations that call for an immediate response, like emergency braking. The driver must still be prepared to intervene within some limited time, specified by the manufacturer, when called upon by the vehicle to do so.

Level 4 (”mind off”): As level 3, but no driver attention is ever required for safety, i.e. the driver may safely go to sleep or leave the driver's seat. Self driving is supported only in limited areas (geofenced) or under special circumstances, like traffic jams. Outside of these areas or circumstances, the vehicle must be able to safely abort the trip, i.e. park the car, if the driver does not retake control.

Level 5 (”wheel optional”): No human intervention is required. An example would be a robotic taxi.

I suspect some in government don't really believe Level 5 is possible.  Although there already are Level 5 vehicles operating in restricted areas.

Policy and solutions / Re: The Hyperloop
« on: July 20, 2017, 09:09:26 PM »
I'm still having difficulty believing this is not a joke.  I bet the "verbal government approval" probably was.  As in, "Sure, Elon, you go right ahead! Ha-hah! ;D "

But as Musk said (tweeted), what he needs now is support.  So what better way to start the ball rolling than with a casual announcement, like:  Dad said OK!

I've dealt with government permitting agencies a few times.  Certainly not on this scale, but the process is the same. 

You spend some time with the people who will make the final decision, or at least with people who work for them and understand the regs and politics.  You lay out your idea, they critique, you adjust your idea if needed, and then they say "That's got a very chance of being approved.  Can't guarantee that, you understand.  But can't see why not."

Elon's built stuff like factories and rocket launch facilities.  I suspect he knows how the process works.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 20, 2017, 09:05:06 PM »
It's 54 miles from my house to the grocery store.  One way.  The first 3.5 miles are unpaved, mountain bike territory.  Then there's a 3,000' drop over ~ 10 miles. 

Riding my bike to town and bringing back two weeks worth of groceries is not something I'm going to be doing.  Especially with a bad knee.

Policy and solutions / Re: The Hyperloop
« on: July 20, 2017, 08:31:35 PM »
Sounds like Musk, via the Boring Company, is getting into the Hyperloop business after all.

Wanting him to release some cost figures for going underground vs. overground.

Imagine a straight route from SF to NYC that doesn't bother to go around the mountains or slow down to weave through them but just goes under at full speed.

Musk dreams big - very, very big.  But so far his dreams appear to be achievable when it comes to the other, non-'loop stuff.  That makes me suspect he might pull off very high speed underground travel.

Policy and solutions / Re: Boring, boring ol' Elon Musk...
« on: July 20, 2017, 08:23:27 PM »
From the same article...

Musk cautioned that there is "still a lot of work needed to receive formal approval," even while he is optimistic that a regulatory green light will be given quickly.

An Amtrak ride on the Northeast Regional line from Washington to New York currently takes three hours and 20 minutes,

Hyperloop, 29 minutes.

If Musk can pull this off it would be a huge game-changer.  I'd love to see his cost numbers. 

And the average boring speed for his drilling machines.  He talks about a dozen or so stations along the NYC to DC route.  Would Tesla use a number of machines and insert one (or two) at each station site?  A swarm of drills that could be extracted and reused could make digging one route fast.

Currently large drilling rigs finish their tunnel and then bury themselves in a permanent grave.  Tesla might take a more SpaceX 'recover and reuse' approach in order to greatly slash costs.

An advantage to smaller diameter tunnels is that the drilling rigs would be small enough to be trucked from site to site.  Put them (in sections) on a lowboy and 14' minimum underpasses would be no problem.

Very high speed subway.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 20, 2017, 08:10:53 PM »
Are you saying that I am a "hairshirt" Green because I ride my bike to work?

Here's what I wrote -

Seems like you're saying there's a category of "Hairshirt Greens".  People who intentionally downgrade their lifestyle in order to lower their carbon footprint.

(I'm not suggesting that term as Hairshirt Greens might find it offensive.  Nothing more appropriate came to mind.)

If you ride your bike to work because you find it pleasurable (or because of the exercise or because you lost your driver's license or to save money or because parking is a problem) then I wouldn't put you in the "hairshirt" category.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 20, 2017, 06:30:01 PM »

Optimistic realist greens?”

How about "Green Growth" fanatics, market fundamentalists, hypocrites?

Are you saying that I am a Green Growth fanatic?  Or a market fundamentalist?  A hypocrite?

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 20, 2017, 06:24:11 PM »
Well, I still wonder when the peak oil will be.

You need another word in that sentence.

Peak oil supply?  That's what people were worrying about.  We would hit a point at which the known oil fields start drying up and supplies run short.  The most extreme/doomers talked about the end of civilization and the few, the strongest returning to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

That's peak conventional oil.  We hit peak conventional oil a few years back.  We were pumping oil faster than we were finding new conventional oil.

All this concern went away, or was at least pushed far into the future, when we recognized  how much unconventional oil there was.  Conventional is pumping out of underground "pools".  Drill a hole - pump oil.  Unconventional comes from fracking, cooking oil sands, etc.

Peak oil demand?  That's what we are looking at now.  Sometimes in the next five years EVs should become cheaper to manufacture than same-feature ICEVs.  Electric buses should start to become common in our cities and towns.  There's a good chance that Tesla will have started converting long distance hauling to electric/battery.  There's a decent chance that the Hyperloop will start replacing air travel.  Very efficient heat pumps will be replacing oil furnaces. 

Five years from now we might hit peak oil demand.  Oil use for transportation may stop growing and begin to fall.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 20, 2017, 06:09:40 PM »
Green BAU realist - knowing it won't "save the world" but that it's the only way forward given greedy/selfish human nature and current weak governance. And hoping it will accelerate enough to make a significant impact. And pushing it on all fronts. This is you Bob, and a job well done.
(Should be careful though to avoid hinting that it sufficiently solves the fundamental problem, as it might lull some people who might otherwise be willing to make some deeper changes.)

Thanks, but the BAU part feels very uncomfortable.  There's nothing 'as usual' about destroying the fossil fuel industry and sending the internal combustion engine to the pages of history.

And won't 'save the world'?  What does 'save the world mean'? 

People are already dying because of climate change.  We're already losing buildings and infrastructure.  There's nothing we know that will stop that from continuing to happen and getting worse to some extent.

At the other end is causing the planet to become a very difficult place for people to live.  (I don't think it possible to wipe out all human existence.)

Where in between those two conditions do we set the saved/didn't save threshold?

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 20, 2017, 12:50:42 AM »
Define BAU as business as usual = we do not need to change our lifestyles. Economic growth, A/C, vacations in faraway places, big homes, cars, meat, having as many children as we want, no limit on personal wealth, etc.

Black BAU - what we have today, fossil fuels based BAU.

Green BAU - how to achieve BAU while avoiding climate change. Supposedly, through technological progress, renewables and EVs becoming so cheap and compelling that the entire globe is converted, we are saved without serious pain and sacrifice.

If that's what the words mean then I'm sort of a Green BAU.  But the "without serious pain" part does not apply.  We are already being hurt and the hurt will get worse.

I'm not sure that we'll avoid extreme climate change.  What I see is a route that could keep things from getting really extreme if we follow it. 

And I see us following the route, not going fast enough at this time, but accelerating.

Sacrifice?  That is not going to happen on any meaningful level now.  A few young (mostly) men may ride their bikes and feel all righteous but they won't be even 0.1% of the population.  Maybe later, if climate change starts to really, really hurt we might see a noticeable portion of the world's population start to sacrifice.  But that's likely to be too little, too late.

I have to say that I don't think the BAU part should be applied to the group I belong to.  I'm certainly not business as usual.  I'm more 'new business' in which crappy ways of doing things are replaced with sustainable ways. 

So?  I need a different term for me and those like me.  Optimistic realist greens?

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 20, 2017, 12:37:35 AM »
I take Green BAU to be transition to renewables from FF but no attempt at reducing demand for services.
- Crandles

So a Green BAU would be someone who might install solar on their house, purchase electricity only from a renewables-only provider, drive a PHEV/EV, pick the most efficient fridge/TV/water heater that met their needs.  But don't make a significant change in their lifestyle such as not watching TV, taking cold baths and walking/biking only?

Seems like you're saying there's a category of "Hairshirt Greens".  People who intentionally downgrade their lifestyle in order to lower their carbon footprint.

(I'm not suggesting that term as Hairshirt Greens might find it offensive.  Nothing more appropriate came to mind.)

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 19, 2017, 11:07:22 PM »
I'm trying to understand.  But when people use words "creatively" it's hard to figure out what they are trying to convey.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 19, 2017, 09:53:20 PM »
Coal and gas plants are not cheaper to run.  Their marginal costs are very much higher than wind and solar.  The marginal costs for CCNG and coal are higher than subsidized wind and soon unsubsidized wind should be cheaper.  The marginal cost for gas turbines is high.  Subsidized solar is cheaper.

This table was copied out of a leaked draft of the Bush/Perry study which is suppose to prove that the US should increase its use of fossil fuels.  The worker bees at the DOE aren't having any of that foolishness.

Remote polar seems to be doing pretty well with wind.  And geothermal, where available, is very attractive because not only can electricity be generated at a reasonable price (compared to imported fuel) the waste heat can be used for building and greenhouse heating. 

Plus, closer to the poles, there tends to be more usable hydro.

The first places to go ~100% renewable will be more remote places like Hawaii where importing fuel has made electricity (and vehicle fuel) very expensive.  Islands are going to make good laboratories for 100% grids due to their smaller scale and isolation from other grids. 

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 19, 2017, 09:30:57 PM »
It feels like communication is less than desirable.  How about we define some terms?

BAU = Business as Usual.  Business as usual is to burn fossil fuels for electricity and petroleum for transportation. 

A "green BUA" would then be someone who uses less electricity and petroleum?

Someone else stated that "The green BAU is the view that everything will be OK because the free market has innovated and now we're saved by mass adoption of EVs and solar panels."

A move from FF to RE is not business as usual.  It's a transformation.

(And the free market did not innovate and give us affordable wind and solar.  Those arrived via market corruption - subsidies.  There is a huge difference between "free market" and "market forces".)

You stated - "I suggest (green BAU) includes many of the investors that caused (from my Bloomberg quoute above): An index of 40 publicly-traded solar companies, wind-turbine component makers and others that benefit from reduced fossil fuel consumption is up 20 percent this year.

Those are not BAU people.  They are investing in the transition away from fossil fuels.  (And accepting higher risk than one would encounter investing in established companies.)

I suggest we limit the term BAU to those who oppose change.

We come up with a term for those who advocate for a move to RE and EVs.  "Greens" might be OK, but the word green has been highly degraded in the US by the behavior of the Green Party.

A "non-green BAU is 'all about' getting all the oil an gas and coal we can as quickly as possible".

Why use the word green in the description of someone who supports fossil fuels (and, I suppose) opposes renewable energy?

Can you give us a better label?  Something that says fossil fuel advocate and renewable energy opponent.

What do we call the pessimists who seem to believe that we can't avoid extreme climate change?  Is "doomer" too harsh?

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 19, 2017, 09:05:29 PM »
The Hawaiian Public Utilities Commission has accepted a plan filed by the state's largest utility Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO), outlining how it will reach 100% renewable energy resources by 2040 — five years ahead of the state's goal.

In its statement, HECO said its utilities exceeded the state’s 2015 renewable energy target and indicated they are on track to exceed the state’s renewable energy targets in 2020, 2030 and 2040. The utility said it will attain a renewable portfolio standard of 48% by 2020 without imported liquefied natural gas — once again ahead of the mandated 30% goal.

The PSIP aims for the addition 360 MW of grid-scale solar, 157 MW of wind energy, and 115 MW from demand response programs.

I expect we'll see a continuing stream of similar announcements over the coming years as the cost of RE and storage continues to fall, concern over climate change grows, and utilities understand how they can get rid of costly fossil fuels. 

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 19, 2017, 08:25:32 PM »
I suggest it includes many of the investors that caused (from my Bloomberg quoute above):
An index of 40 publicly-traded solar companies, wind-turbine component makers and others that benefit from reduced fossil fuel consumption is up 20 percent this year.

Are you saying that investors in green energy are "green BAU" people?

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 19, 2017, 06:51:30 PM »
Green BAU = pro environment but still mostly Business As Usual

Who are those people?  I can't think of anyone.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 19, 2017, 05:56:30 PM »
What's the "the Green BAU"?

Policy and solutions / Re: Concrete - CO2 Villain or Solution?
« on: July 19, 2017, 02:23:11 AM »
up to 57% of the CO2 emission from the so-called calcination process in cement manufacturing, is re-absorbed when the cement is utilized in concrete construction in the Nordic countries.

I read that as concrete being only half as bad as we thought it was.  If we could use RE for the heat source during manufacturing we might be able to get concrete down to carbon neutral.

I'm not sure that Nordic has anything to do with the larger picture.  It's just where the study was run.  I don't see how location would increase carbon uptake unless heat is a catalyst.  And that suggests that things might be better in hotter locations.

Policy and solutions / Re: Concrete - CO2 Villain or Solution?
« on: July 18, 2017, 11:29:24 PM »
Much of the CO2 problem seems to come from heat processing materials.  Currently fossil fuels are used for the heat source.  I wonder if we could have electric furnaces processing the limestone?

...the major compound in portland cement is tricalcium silicate, which hardens like stone when it is combined with water. Tricalcium silicate is produced by combining lime with siliceous sand and heating the mixture to 1,500 degrees Celsius.

Of the total carbon dioxide emitted in cement manufacturing, 65 percent is released when the limestone is calcined and 35 percent is given off by the fuel burned to heat the tricalcium silicate compound.

Sant and his team showed that the carbon dioxide given off during calcination can be captured and recombined with calcium hydroxide to recreate limestone—creating a cycle in which no carbon dioxide is released into the air. In addition, about 50 percent less heat is needed throughout the production cycle, since no additional heat is required to ensure the formation of tricalcium silicate.

Aluminum smelters operate at 960 °C.  And they use electricity, not FF.

Policy and solutions / Re: Concrete - CO2 Villain or Solution?
« on: July 18, 2017, 06:11:32 PM »
And now, in a new paper in Science, representatives of Reykjavik Energy and a team of scientists from a large number of universities, including the University of Southampton in the U.K. and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, show not only that the process of injecting carbon dioxide into basalt rock at the Iceland site works, but that moreover, the carbon dioxide is mineralized, or turned into rock, very rapidly. In two years, they report, over 95 percent of injected carbon dioxide had become mineral.

“We demonstrate that by using this method, you can permanently remove the CO2, store it in the rock, and the rock isn’t going anywhere, it stays there for geological timescales,” adds Edda Aradottir, who works with Reykjavik Energy and is also an author of the study. “So I would hope that other types of industries would be interested in this method.”

The finding could be quite important because of the ubiquity of basalt in the world. The researchers say that 10 percent of the rocks that make up continents are basalt, and so is “most of the ocean floor.”

Policy and solutions / Re: Concrete - CO2 Villain or Solution?
« on: July 18, 2017, 05:53:46 PM »
a team of MIT researchers, led by senior researcher Roland Pellenq, decided to take a closer look at the cement mix, going down to molecular level.  They questioned the standard calcium to silica ratio of 1.7, which is commonly accepted as the one resulting in the most stable and strong cement.

After conducting a series of experiments, however, the team established that the optimal calcium-to-silica clay ratio should in fact be 1.5. Not only that the final product has incredible mechanical resistance , which is double the one achieved with a ratio of 1,7, and it is much less prone to fracturing, but also the team estimated a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from the manufacturing process of up to 60%.

Policy and solutions / Concrete - CO2 Villain or Solution?
« on: July 18, 2017, 05:52:03 PM »
"The concrete industry is one of two largest producers of carbon dioxide (CO2), creating up to 5% of worldwide man-made emissions of this gas, of which 50% is from the chemical process and 40% from burning fuel." - Wiki

Is this fixable?  Or even as bad as is commonly believed?

Cement manufacturing is among the most carbon-intensive industrial processes, but an international team of researchers has found that over time, the widely used building material reabsorbs much of the CO2 emitted when it was made.

"It sounds counterintuitive, but it's true," said Steven Davis, associate professor of Earth system science at the University of California, Irvine. "The cement poured around the world since 1930 has taken up a substantial portion of the CO2 released when it was initially produced."

For a study published today in Nature Geoscience, Davis and colleagues from China, Europe and other U.S. institutions tallied the emissions from cement manufacturing and compared them to the amount of CO2 reabsorbed by the material over its complete life cycle, which includes normal use, disposal and recycling. They found that "cement is a large, overlooked and growing net sink" around the world - "sink" meaning a feature such as a forest or ocean that takes carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and permanently tucks it away so that it can no longer contribute to climate change.

Cement manufacturing is considered doubly carbon-intensive because emissions come from two sources. CO2 molecules are released into the air when limestone (calcium carbonate) is converted to lime (calcium oxide), the key ingredient in cement. And to generate the heat necessary to break up limestone, factories also burn large quantities of natural gas, coal and other fossil fuels.

 Through a process called carbonation, CO2 is drawn into the pores of cement-based materials, such as concrete and mortar. This starts at the surface and moves progressively inward, pulling in more and more carbon dioxide as years pass.

More than 76 billion tons of cement was produced around the world between 1930 and 2013, according to the study; 4 billion tons were manufactured in 2013 alone, mostly in China. It's estimated that, as a result, a total of 38.2 gigatons of CO2 was released over that period. The scientists concluded, however, that 4.5 gigatons - or 43 percent of emissions from limestone conversion - were gradually reabsorbed during that time frame.

"Cement has gotten a lot of attention for its sizable contribution to global climate change, but this research reinforces that the leading culprit continues to be fossil fuel burning," Davis said.

Adding basalt or olivine to the mix should increase CO2 absorption.  Basalt fibers are already added to some concrete in order to strengthen it.  Adding basalt fiber can reduce or eliminate the need for rebar (another CO2 source) and make the concrete less likely to crack. 

An advanced materials manufacturer in Calumet, Michigan, Neuvokas (Finnish for “resourceful”) blends purchased fiber and internally formulated resin at high speeds to produce lightweight basalt fiber-reinforced polymer that is cost-competitive with traditional steel counterparts and also preferable to ordinary fiber rebar. Similar in chemical composition to glass fiber, basalt fiber is stronger and highly resists alkaline, acidic, and salt deterioration. Basalt rebar can also tolerate higher temperatures and more abrasion. Lack of developed standards for the product have held up its general institution.

Here are some of the other advantages of the Neuvokas product:

100X increase in production speeds of basalt rebar compared to current FRP production,
Price parity with steel,
Immunity to rust,
Increased tensile strength,
7X weight reduction with basalt rebar, and
Capability of using 30% less concrete.

a team of MIT researchers, led by senior researcher Roland Pellenq, decided to take a closer look at the cement mix, going down to molecular level.  They questioned the standard calcium to silica ratio of 1.7, which is commonly accepted as the one resulting in the most stable and strong cement.

After conducting a series of experiments, however, the team established that the optimal calcium-to-silica clay ratio should in fact be 1.5. Not only that the final product has incredible mechanical resistance , which is double the one achieved with a ratio of 1,7, and it is much less prone to fracturing, but also the team estimated a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from the manufacturing process of up to 60%.

Stuff is happening at the idea level.  I've seen nothing on the actual implementation.

I started a new topic on cement.  Perhaps we can gather potential solutions and maybe someone can discover if any are being implemented.

" (I don't know about ag and cement.)" cements possible
The geopolymer site is a little treasure trove.

What I meant (but didn't make clear) is what sort of progress may or may not be happening in those areas.  There are additional concrete solutions, including adding basalt or olivine to the mix which apparently causes the concrete to absorb CO2 as it cures.

What I don't know is whether the concrete industry is beginning to utilize any low CO2 or CO2 absorbing mixes.


Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: July 18, 2017, 08:09:46 AM »
Bob: India can grow its share of renewables quite substantially for a long time without reducing its coal use. It's way far back in electricity per capita, and everyone is going to want air conditioning -- particularly as the climate warms up. Also likely they'll want a lot of desalination.

Then India is going to have to step up its RE programs.  Moving off coal will save them money and clean their air. 

I believe Green BAU, Bob's way, comes too late to save the world.

It's not about "saving" the world.  It's about minimizing the hurt we're going to experience. 

Many of us started, back in the 1960s, trying to get people to change their lifestyles in order to live lighter on the planet.  Success was, at best, very limited.  I have little hope that the world's population will become extremely worried about climate change early enough to drastically change their lifestyles. 

I operate under the assumption that if we stop CO2 emission growth soon and bring CO2 emissions down to about zero by 2050 (and figure out how to re-sequester carbon) we will be able to deal with the pain.  We'll lose some coastal cities and islands.  We'll have to move food production closer to the poles (or indoors/underground).  We'll have to do a lot of adaption and millions of us will die along the way due to extreme heat and famine.

What I see is an increase in RE installation over the next several years.  I would not be at all surprised if the planet was converting 4% to 5% of FF use to renewables per year ten years from now (2027).  That should put us FF free for grids ten years later (2037).  I expect transportation to morph to mostly electric in the same period, or sooner.  I think that there is a very good chance that the planet will be close to zero carbon for electricity and transportation by 2040.  (I don't know about ag and cement.)

I'm not worried about developing countries.  Why (aside from crooked officials being bribed) would a country with limited capital and a big need for electricity pay far more for a coal plant and wait most of a decade to get it running when they can install wind and solar for far less money and start having more electricity on their grids "later today".

Collapse?  Don't see that outside of some countries which will probably fail.  North Africa and the Middle East may see some bad times. 

I expect the world will continue to be more connected, not start isolating parts.  The RE grid works best if the harvest area is larger.  Wide spread grids can share deep storage and backup.

Will we grow food closer to cities or where it grows best (cheapest)?  With low cost, zero carbon transportation we may access our food far from where we live.  Will it be cheaper to grow some of our produce indoors/vertically with robots?  That's an unanswerable at the moment.  Same with factory grown meat.  Cheaper to grow further away and ship?  Or ship the raw materials and grow locally?

Over the next 20-30 years we're likely to see lots of changes in the way we collect and use energy.  As climate change ramps up the hurt that has already started we should see lots more push to get carbon fuels out of our lives.  A WWII effort?  I wouldn't be surprised if ten, fifteen years from now we were cranking out a Liberty Ship equivalent of turbines and panels each day.  We've got climate change and air quality pushing.  Cheaper electricity pulling.  That's a bunch of drivers coming together.

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: July 18, 2017, 12:14:50 AM »
No new coal capacity after 2027 means Indian coal use will peak shortly, then stay at level of the second-most in the world, and perhaps decline at a snail's pace as old plants shut down and are replaced by new, more efficient plants.

They might exceed that goal and start shutting down plants early -- would be nice. A large fraction of their capacity is new plants they've recently built, so those will have a strong incentive to be on for a while, if only to repay the lenders.

The plan covers two five-year periods beginning in 2017 and 2022. The first period allows for the completion of those plants already being built. But after that, the CEA is planning for zero new thermal power generation before 2027.

Plants now under construction will be completed by 2022.  That's peak coal consumption.  Or not.  The new plants are much more efficient and will allow the closure of inefficient plants.  India's coal use could peak before 2022 as efficient plants replace inefficient plants.

"(S)tay at level of the second-most in the world, and perhaps decline at a snail's pace" assumes that India slows their renewable programs after hitting peak coal.  One can't predict whether or not that will happen.  With the continued drop in the price of solar it's not clear why their solar program would slow.  And India has yet, as far as I can tell, started looking at wind resources above 100 meters.

All the wind maps and information I can find regarding India speaks of 80 meter hub heights.  As we've seen in the US at 140 meter hub heights there are vastly more wind resources with large areas where CFs of 60% should be achievable.   It's going to be interesting to see if India discovers a lot of onshore wind that they hadn't realized was waiting for the harvest.

We need very different lifestyles to combat climate change. 

However, if some become low carbon and their neighbours do not, life is harder so I am interested in town and country planning which makes low carbon living easy and pleasant.

We need a grid powered by renewable, low carbon sources (mainly wind, solar, and hydro).

We need electricity powered transportation - EVs, battery buses, electrified rail.  Charged from a clean grid.

We need better insulated houses/buildings heated and cooled by efficient heat pumps.  Powered by a clean grid.

None of this requires we change our lifestyles in any appreciable, certainly negative way.  In fact, our lives should greatly improve.  We'll have cleaner air and water.  Our roads will be quieter.  We'll spend less for electricity and on transportation.

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: July 17, 2017, 10:47:00 PM »
India needs no extra coal power stations until at least 2027, according to the government’s latest draft National Electricity Plan.5

The plan, released by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) for public consultation, makes no room for further generation capacity beyond the 50GW coal fleet that is under construction.

The plan covers two five-year periods beginning in 2017 and 2022. The first period allows for the completion of those plants already being built. But after that, the CEA is planning for zero new thermal power generation before 2027.

This would put India on course to far exceed its pledges to the Paris agreement, said Siddharth Singh, associate fellow at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi.

Narendra Modi’s government has promised to get 40% of  its electricity from non-fossil sources (renewable and nuclear) by 2030, with finance and technology sharing from wealthier countries.

The CEA proposal would mean the non-fossil share would increase to 53% as early as 2027, up from 31% today, without relying on international support.

In India, where solar photovoltaic prices dropped to a historic low this week, according to a separate analysis by another nonprofit group, Carbon Tracker. Renewable energy is growing so quickly that the nation is on track to be eight years early in reaching its 2030 goal: for clean energy to supply 40 percent of the nation's installed electricity. If the nation's new draft electricity plan is implemented, India will reach 57 percent renewable energy by 2027, the analysts said. India canceleed four coal-fired "ultra-mega" power projects last year, in the face of cheaper renewable energy and slowing of demand growth.

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: July 17, 2017, 06:38:39 AM »
India plans on being off coal by 2027.  They recently canceled construction of a very large coal plant.

Will they make it by 2027?  Hard to say, I'd guess they'll miss the target a bit.  But if India gets off coal by 2035 we should be in great shape (when it comes to coal).  Here's who burned coal in 2016 (numbers in MTOE, million tonnes oil equivalent).

The Big Boys
China   1888
India   412
US   358
Japan   120

Over 50 MTOE
Russian Federation   87
South Africa   85
South Korea   82
Germany   75
Indonesia   63

Over 20 MTOE
Poland   49
Australia   44
Taiwan   39
Turkey   38
Kazakhstan   36
Ukraine   32
Other Europe & Eurasia   23
Vietnam   21
Other Asia Pacific   21

Over 10 MTOE
Malaysia   20
Canada   19
Thailand   18
Czech Republic   17
Brazil   17
Philippines   14
United Kingdom   11
Italy   11

Spain   10
Netherlands   10
Other Africa   10
Mexico   10
France   8
Chile   8
China Hong Kong SAR   7
Bulgaria   6
Israel   6
Romania   5
Pakistan   5
Greece   5
Colombia   5
Finland   4
Other S. & Cent. America   3
Austria   3
Slovakia   3
Belgium   3
Portugal   3
Hungary   2
Ireland   2
Sweden   2
Denmark   2
Iran   2
United Arab Emirates   1
New Zealand   1
Argentina   1
Uzbekistan   1
Peru   1
Belarus   1
Norway   1
Bangladesh   1

Fossil-fueled lawn tools don't have any pollution controls, and pretty much can't. That's why we should get rid of them ASAP. Which was decades ago; we're just a little behind the curve on this one.

California has put some limits on small internal combustion engines.  If you're looking at lawnmowers, etc. online you'll see "CARB compliant" or "Not CARB compliant".  Or can't be shipped to California.

Policy and solutions / Re: Nuclear Power
« on: July 17, 2017, 01:29:18 AM »
I have a feeling that solar and wind, along with energy storage, are not economically feasible in many parts of the world. But maybe I'm wrong, and I hope I am.

Go to this page -

and explore the US and International maps.  That will show you the best (most economical) mix of renewables in each area at this point in time.  The mix will probably change as prices for technologies will drop at different rates.  But the maps show what could be done now.

How bad for the environment are gas-powered leaf blowers?

“A consumer-grade leaf blower emits more pollutants than a 6,200-pound 2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, according to tests conducted by Edmunds'...”

(H/t to “Talking Tesla” podcast episode #93. :) )

Yes, but compare based on annual hours of operation.

I'm not advocating the use of fueled leaf blowers.  Just good science.

What I would advocate for is battery powered leaf vacs connected to shredders/hoppers.  Just quietly suck them up and turn them to mulch.

Policy and solutions / Re: Nuclear Power
« on: July 16, 2017, 09:23:23 PM »
Compared to fossil fuels nuclear, wind and solar are all great when it comes to carbon footprint.  Wind and solar numbers decline as turbines and panels become more efficient.  And as the grid uses less FF. 

Nuclear is tried and tested.  But it's proven to be too expensive.  Were we to repower our grids with nuclear the additional cost of electricity would cripple economies.  Wind and solar make the cost of electricity cheaper.

"Projections that incorporate wind and solar as our main source of power forecast technologies and efficiencies that don't yet exist. "

No, I've read several 80% wind/solar to 100% wind/solar studies and none use "don't yet exist" technologies.  Most of the studies are out of date as soon as they are published because wind and solar efficiencies have already improved since the paper was written and costs have fallen.

I've never see a "mostly RE grid" study that uses technologies or efficiencies not already demonstrated.

" I just feel that an energy source that depends so much on weather, geography, and R&D might not be the best path for us."

Local weather patterns may change.  That could mean that in a few places we might have to change the blades on wind turbines or add more solar panels to the system.  In a few extreme conditions we might need to relocate the turbines or panels. 

Most likely we would never move turbines due to changes in wind speeds.  Those changes are not likely to be abrupt.  Worst case, we'd continue to use the current turbines but not replace them at that site when they reached the end of their useful life.  We'd install the replacements is a windier spot.

Policy and solutions / Re: Nuclear Power
« on: July 16, 2017, 07:24:42 PM »
First, and the most obvious, what will emissions look like when we move completely from fossil fuels and rely on energy storage?

The lifetime carbon footprint for solar and wind will be much smaller than it is today.  And it's really small already.  Most of the carbon emissions from the wind and solar industry come from the grid use of fossil fuels and transportation's almost total use of FF.  As we move to electricity powered transportation and a 100% RE grid all that  carbon stays in the ground.

Second, and an issue that should be taken more seriously, how will volatile and unpredictable weather from a warming world affect wind and solar.

Studies have suggested that we should see little change in wind resources on a global level.  In some places winds may become weaker or stronger but that can be largely dealt with by changing turbine blade length/design. 

Solar panels will produce a little less electricity in hotter weather.  The amount of area needed for solar panels will likely be more than offset by increases in panel efficiency.

Something I'm observing here at the southern end of the PNW is that there seems to be less coastal fog in the summer.  I don't know if that is extending further north, but if so then solar is going to be more productive in this limited area. 

I stuck that in as an indication that things will vary, improve in some places, be degraded in others.  Overall things may not be heavily impacted.

BTW, offshore wind turbines are designed to withstand a Category 3 hurricane.  These things are not fragile.

Since this is the nuclear thread, we might want to think about impact to nuclear energy.  There's the obvious problem of raising sea levels and more frequent flooding.  That means we should expect increased outages from poorly sited reactors. 

And as temperatures rise cooling will become less efficient, lowering output.  Plus temperature required shutdowns will increase.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 16, 2017, 07:10:10 PM »
This is something that I want to dig into a bit more...

Meanwhile, construction of coal plants continues to boom around the globe and CO2 levels in our atmosphere continue to accelerate upwards.

The issue is not how many coal plants are being built, but the net change in the number of coal plants.  And any change in efficiency.

The US, for example is building essentially no new coal plants (one or two are being completed).  Significant numbers are being closed.  China is building some supercritical coal plants while closing thousands of inefficient coal plants (and cancelling several coal projects).  Germany built some supercritical coal plants and is now in the process of closing many more inefficient plants. The UK recently stopped burning coal.  Coal won't disappear overnight, it will be a gradual process.  And the process is underway.

The author says...

It's hard for me to see any sign of good news for our future climate or oceans in BP's latest energy data. There is no sign of a turning point in our dependence on fossil fuels.

You're not likely to see signs of good news if you do your best to minimize what has been accomplished and if you ignore what is building.  Look at the leaders.  Don't minimize the progress being made by adding in the laggards and averaging out progress.

It's like one person reporting that their is a hole in the dam and the hole is getting larger every day with no signs of its growth being stoppable.  The author is watching the water level behind the dam and reporting that the water level has barely dropped.  If you want to know where we will be in the near future look at what is changing now.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 16, 2017, 06:56:45 PM »
Jeeze Bruce

If you're link can be taken at face value, all the happy, "everything just keeps getting better everyday, in every way" messages need to be stood on their heads.
The claims that renewables are making increasing progress apparently need to read that new renewables lag new fossil fuel installations.
That the G20 and the development banks are spending and lending more for fossil fuel installations than for all other's combined is hard to spin into a hopeful message. The charts he's produced showing both gas and oil to be racing ahead of hydro, wind, solar and biomass - at increasing rates - indicate that things aren't just getting worse, they're getting worse at a rapidly increasing rate.

I'd love to read Bob Wallace's take on this. Bob?


PS The above is in reply to Bruce Steele's message just upstream and his link to:

So far I've just glanced at the article.  What hit me first is his lumping all fossil fuels together.  Yes, we haven't cut our overall fossil fuel use very much, but the replacement of coal with natural gas is a major move.  NG allows grids to incorporate more wind and solar without adding storage.  NG is very dispatchable.

Second, we're very short years into affordable wind and solar.  Very short years.  To expect a major global decrease in FF use due to wind and solar growth would be naive.  Wind and solar are far from reaching their probable growth rates that we will see over a roughly 20 year span once they finish their growth rates.  That's when we see serious FF declines.

Third, some countries have not yet started getting off fossil fuels at a serious level.  Germany, Denmark and a few others are pioneers but they are still out in the wilderness creating trails for other countries to follow.  Denmark is now producing around 60% of its electricity with renewables and has one of the very lowest wholesale costs of electricity in Europe.  Germany produced over 30% of its electricity with renewables in 2016 and its wholesale electricity prices are lower than France's with their paid off nuclear plants.

Other countries will look at what is happening with the pioneers and that will encourage them to accelerate their efforts.

Obviously oil use isn't down.  With the tiny number of EVs and PHEVs on the world's roads we should expect to see no appreciable impact on petroleum use.  It will take a couple more years for EVs to be selling millions of units per year and, perhaps, five or so years before we start seeing a change in petroleum use.

The article is a summary of what hasn't happened yet.  It ignores what is happening. 

Policy and solutions / Re: Nuclear Power
« on: July 16, 2017, 06:32:02 PM »
nuclear might be expensive with no carbon tax. but very reasonable should carbon taxes be applied.

If coal was required to pay its full cost paid off nuclear would be much cheaper than paid off coal.  New nuclear would probably be a little cheaper than new coal.

But, if you put a price on carbon, nuclear still has to compete with wind and solar, and nuclear can't.  Some paid off nuclear plants are cheap to operate but they won't last forever.  At refurbishing or replacement time it's over for those plants. 

We own one family car that normally serves for many small city trips, therefore my wish for some kind of electric car. But every now and then we go on long trips, and there is no charging infrastructure anywhere here, so I need a gasoline backup. But if a gasoline generator can charge the battery, then there is really no need for a full hybrid with its cost, weight and maintenance.

A PHEV might be the best option for you.  With something like a Chevy Volt you could drive an electric most of the time but have the fuel range you want for longer trips.

You might want to look at the data for how often you take trips that would be outside the range of an EV.  If the number is low then consider renting a car for those trips.  Every year we'll see more and more rapid chargers open which would extend your EV range and lower the need to rent an ICEV.

When ICEVs first took to roads drivers used to send drums of gasoline ahead by horse and waggon when they wanted to take an excursion beyond the existing fueling infrastructure.  It didn't take long for enough gas stations to open so that people could go most places.  (Might have to strap on a couple of jerry cans for some trips.)

This, too, shall happen with EVs.  Tesla is far ahead of the rest of the industry.  It's been possible to drive most places in the US in a Tesla for a couple of years.  Western Europe looks well covered.   (Scroll down page to see maps.)

This year, 2017, Tesla is doubling the number of Superchargers available for their customers.  And as Model 3 sales move into the 500,000 per year (and higher) range we'll see many more chargers installed.

The rest of the auto industry is lagging behind Tesla.  Mostly they seem to be waiting for someone else to build the chargers their EVs will need.  And no one is likely to build an extensive charging system if there aren't EVs on the road to use them.  (This game of "No, you go first" is likely to result in Tesla taking a larger and larger share of the car market.)

Policy and solutions / Re: Nuclear Power
« on: July 15, 2017, 12:10:24 AM »
The carbon load of closing is (I imagine) fairly fixed.  If you can extend the life of a reactor that would mean more GWh of electricity produced and lower the per GWh average.

The problem for nuclear is that many of the paid off plants are financially struggling.  The wholesale price of electricity barely covers the cost of operating the plant.  If the plant spends a lot of money refurbishing then they may not be able to pay the bill.

This is a something that I think few, very few, people saw coming.  The unaffordability of new nuclear has been obvious for a few years as we watched the cost of NG and wind falling.  But it didn't occur to anyone that I've encountered that paid off reactors in good repair might be priced out of the market.

Policy and solutions / Re: Net metering policies
« on: July 14, 2017, 04:40:55 PM »
Net metering is not a workable system.  It's good for utility companies when there is little end-user solar on the grid (lowers the peak and lets them avoid purchasing very expensive peak supply). But once the peak is flattened it puts utilities in the position of having to accept low value supply and repay with more expensive power.

Virtually all automakers (except for Tesla) are asking China to slow down electric car mandate

I bet BYD is not part of the 'virtually all'.  BYD is a battery company that makes EVs.

Policy and solutions / Re: Nuclear Power
« on: July 14, 2017, 08:02:01 AM »
Hansen needs to learn more and pontificate less.

France is replacing the 17 reactors they plan on closing with wind and solar.  France is already installing the RE in order to be ready for reactor closing.

France has higher wholesale electricity prices than Germany.

Aside from  that France did not build nuclear in order to lower their carbon footprint.  France built nuclear because they were using a lot of oil to generate electricity and OPEC started jerking the world around.  Now France's reactor fleet is wearing out and it doesn't make sense to replace them with more nuclear since the cost would be so very high. 

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: July 13, 2017, 07:51:20 PM »
China and India are installing a lot of renewables.  Poland is beginning to.  Progress may be bumpy over the beginning years but as wind, solar and storage costs continue to fall the move away from fossil fuel should accelerate.

This was the first battery powered lawnmower that I've seen that was really affordable.

I'm holding out for Makita to drop their price.  Their mowers use removable batteries so I could battery share with my other Makita stuff (drill, sawzall, weedwhacker).

Policy and solutions / Re: The Hyperloop
« on: July 13, 2017, 06:30:05 PM »
Air suspension was tested but did not support the pod high enough off the bottom of the track.

Now the design has changed to include an aluminum 'strip' down the bottom of the tube for levitation with linear acceleration motors used every 50 to 75 miles to boost speed.  The rest of the time the pod would be coasting.

Policy and solutions / Replacing Oil with Batteries - the Small Stuff
« on: July 13, 2017, 06:25:07 PM »
Amazon is selling a battery powered lawnmower for $101 with free shipping.  (Limited to Prime members, those who pay an annual membership fee.)

The Sun Joe cuts a 14" swath and has enough battery for about 25 minutes of cutting.  It's pretty light (<30 pounds).  All that should make it a great option for those who have small yards. 

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 13, 2017, 02:44:38 AM »
Tumbling oil prices brought on by a glut of global oil has forced the industry to slash about $2 trillion in investments

Or - investors are now seeing a large chance that EVs and other battery powered vehicles will cause a demand decay which could mean that money spent now to find new oil sources will never be repaid.

If you're watching Henry's Model T sales rising rapidly year after year do you invest a bunch of money in a new buggy whip factory?

Has anyone seen a recent, rational argument from the auto or oil industry about how ICEVs will win out over EVs?

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