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Paddy

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Resilience to disasters
« on: October 17, 2017, 09:33:07 PM »
I was just thinking about what a horrible last few months the USA has had in terms of assorted disasters (Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma; the California fires; and on a different front the nevada shooting) and then I had a look at this list: List_of_disasters_in_the_United_States_by_death_toll . They really don't rank very high [total financial costs are a very different matter, of course, and there's likely a great deal of indirectly attributable mortality for the fires and all the hurricanes that doesn't get counted... however, I'm getting sidetracked). Also, perhaps because I'm British, I was also thinking about smaller disasters here in Europe with even smaller impacts (Hurricane Ophelia, fires in Spain and Portugal).

High income nations generally don't experience massive death tolls from hurricanes or similar events any more. Low and middle income nations do to an extent (the deaths in south asian flooding in particular dwarf the total deaths across all the above american events put together).  But even so, the total mortality worldwide attributable to natural disasters is a fraction of what it was back in 1900; just about all the world is more resilient to such disasters than it used to be.

What I'm wondering is... how can we improve this further? It seems likely we'll need to, as some events in particular seem scheduled to increase (particularly heat waves, floods, fires, droughts, and major hurricanes). So I thought I'd start a general thread on the topic of building resilience to such disasters, partly those related to climate change, for people to post thoughts, ideas, and examples of helpful policies.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2017, 09:41:48 PM by Paddy »

Bob Wallace

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Re: Resilience to disasters
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2017, 04:55:57 AM »
The 27MW San Fermin solar plant in Puerto Rico four days after Hurricane Maria swept the island.  This farm was designed to withstand  250-260 kph (155-162  MPH) winds and the panels are mounted two meters off the ground to keep them above potential flood waters.


89 MW of Puerto Rico’s 125 MW of utility solar came through with only minor damage.  That’s 70% of the total.  At least one farm that was poorly designed got wiped out.

Many wind turbines are designed to withstand Category 3 hurricanes.  From the pictures I've seen from Puerto Rico (Cat 5 direct hit) some, not all, of their wind turbines lost blades.  I didn't see anything that looked like turbine or tower damage. 

I think each community where this sort of extreme weather is possible should have at least enough solar generation and enough batteries in a storm-hardened building to keep essential services going.  Hospital/clinic, police, water, and outside communication.  A storm-hardened survival core.

Smaller wind turbines that can be tilted down and secured before the storm arrives might be a good addition.

Paddy

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Re: Resilience to disasters
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2017, 10:38:58 AM »
In terms of power plant vulnerability to disasters, I think the general rule is "anything but nuclear" (looking at Fukushima).  I don't know how the other individual types would stack up, however, and obviously the risks entailed by nuclear in this regard depend both on the details of the plant and local degree of risk.

I imagine one advantage of renewables post-disaster would be that a supply chain of fuel doesn't have to be in place (looking at the oil shortages in Puerto Rico, for example).

TerryM

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Re: Resilience to disasters
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2017, 02:25:12 PM »
Hydro dams will always be vulnerable to catastrophic loss due to flooding, but has anyone looked at the problems that floods might pose in terms of rapid silt buildup in hydro-reservoirs?
Terry

Tor Bejnar

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Re: Resilience to disasters
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2017, 04:14:21 PM »
I did a quick internet search and came up with this 2013 article:
Dams with significant siltation problems
Quote
The siltation is a rather minor problem for many dams but may reduce by decades the possible long life of 50 % of them and may be a key problem within few years or few decades for over 10% of large or small dams.

The cost efficiency of various solutions for siltation mitigation has varied greatly and it is not easy to optimize their choice because the local data are never the same and the likely siltation rate itself may hardly be known precisely before some years of dam operation.

The key problems are:

–       The loss of storage, especially for irrigation or drinkable water

–       The damages to turbines of hydropower plants

–       The impacts to the river, especially downstream of the dam.
...

Some dams have a mitigation plan to wash out at least some of the near-the-dam silt. 

I recall visiting (in 1974) a desert rain-water catching tank (~50,000 gallon capacity, or something like that) [for cattle use] that had a metal 'roof' on the ground catchment area.  The tank was 3/4 full of silt and sand, and the US Forest Service didn't know how to clean it out.
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Bob Wallace

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Re: Resilience to disasters
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2017, 07:25:29 PM »
We might need to remove silt from some dams.  As we improve technology it's possible we could see autonomous, RE powered dredges operating on a somewhat continuous basis removing silt and pumping it onshore for distribution on fields.  Silt is often some farmer's topsoil.

This is the sort of work that could be part of our dispatchable load.  Run when there's abundant energy and not when demand is stretching supply. 

It could even operate only half of the year, in the spring and fall.  If we build enough wind and solar to cover the high demand seasons of winter and summer we'll overbuild for the low demand seasons.  Activate the dredge seasonally.

TerryM

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Re: Resilience to disasters
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2017, 09:54:58 PM »
We might need to remove silt from some dams.  As we improve technology it's possible we could see autonomous, RE powered dredges operating on a somewhat continuous basis removing silt and pumping it onshore for distribution on fields.  Silt is often some farmer's topsoil.

This is the sort of work that could be part of our dispatchable load.  Run when there's abundant energy and not when demand is stretching supply. 

It could even operate only half of the year, in the spring and fall.  If we build enough wind and solar to cover the high demand seasons of winter and summer we'll overbuild for the low demand seasons.  Activate the dredge seasonally.


I'd inquired locally why dredging hadn't been continued at a silted lake and was told the dredged silt was considered hazardous waste, and that disposal was expensive. I don't know if this is an unusual situation or not. The lake is a natural one in Southern Ontario.(Puslinch Lake)


I recognize that having a reservoir morph into a marsh is probably far from the minds of those facing rising waters, but recurring floods might drastically shorten the lifespan of some very expensive infrastructure.
Terry

Bob Wallace

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Re: Resilience to disasters
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2017, 10:32:12 PM »
I suppose it would depend on what is upstream of the dam.  If there are old mines that are leaching hazardous chemicals, for example.

Close by here we're in the process of reopening a small river that was completely silted out of existence due to bad timber harvesting years back.  Local farmers are eager to get the removals to spread on their fields.  There should be a lot of good organics mixed with sand which helps with the local clay soil.

Archimid

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Re: Resilience to disasters
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2017, 12:17:03 AM »
I  echo Bob Wallace assesment. I have three neighbors with solar panels, after Maria 2 are intact and one lost 2 panels and it is already repaired. I read on the news that the wind turbines lost their blades, but they have already been replaced and are up and running.

I think that diversification is the key to resiliency. Climate change presents so many different threats, including some that are unexpected that the best bet is having diverse and redundant power, water and food sources.
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Bob Wallace

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Re: Resilience to disasters
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2017, 02:31:55 AM »
The wind farms are back up and working?  Got any sort of a link for that?  It would be good for pushing back against the anti-renewable forces.

I wonder about people who live in hurricane prone areas but don't have much money.  I wonder if it would be affordable to build one room hardened against major storms. 

A large enough room to shelter in and live out of while the destroyed parts are repaired/replaced.  Perhaps protect the kitchen and a bathroom, at least a toilet.

Ferrocement is a building technique that can be easily learned and requires only very basic tools.

Stock the saferoom with at least a very basic survival energy and water system.  At least a solar lantern or two.  Or a enough of a solar system to charge some batteries and a cell phone.  A simple filter system and bleach to clean up water for drinking and cooking.
--

I was just listening to someone being interviewed on the radio.  She has lost the roof to her house twice in storms.  She and her family are now living without shelter. 



Martin Gisser

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Re: Resilience to disasters
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2017, 02:46:50 AM »
The wind farms are back up and working?  Got any sort of a link for that?  It would be good for pushing back against the anti-renewable forces.

2012 news from world master in disaster resilience:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/jenniferhicks/2012/11/06/cubas-two-wind-farms-survive-hurricane-sandy/
Quote
Cuba's Two Wind Farms Survive Hurricane Sandy
[...]
Both of those wind farms were hit by hurricane Sandy with wind speeds of up to 110 miles per hour and neither of them had any major damage and continued to provide electricity for the local grid.
[/quote]

Bob Wallace

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Re: Resilience to disasters
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2017, 03:33:58 AM »
Yeah, but Sandy was a lot weaker storm.  There was little to no damage to the coastal wind farms in Texas a few weeks back.

Some wind turbines are engineered to withstand a Category 3 hurricane but Maria was a Cat 5.

I've seen one or two pictures and while I suspect they were 'worst case' images there still were a lot of blades snapped off.  Getting new blades to the island and installed this soon would be surprising.

Archimid

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Re: Resilience to disasters
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2017, 03:34:48 AM »
Bob Wallace it is in spanish, but they said the farm survived without material damge and it is ready to provide power for up to 30k people

https://www.metro.pr/pr/noticias/2017/10/13/finca-viento-santa-isabel-lista-dar-energia-electrica-30-mil-hogares.html
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Bob Wallace

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Re: Resilience to disasters
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2017, 04:23:02 AM »
Thank you very much.  I had been reading about how PR's wind farms were destroyed and just accepted that as factual.



This picture has been showing up as an example of how badly wind turbines were destroyed.  After reading your linked article I did a little searching.  It turns out that the image has been floating around the web since at least 2013.

From your link (Friday, Oct 13...

Quote

Pattern Energy, which operates the 101-megawatt Santa Isabel Wind Farm project, today announced that windmills are ready to power 30,000 homes.

The company reported that the facilities were not damaged by Hurricane Maria on the island last September 20 and are ready to start generating energy.

https://www.metro.pr/pr/noticias/2017/10/13/finca-viento-santa-isabel-lista-dar-energia-electrica-30-mil-hogares.html


From an anti-wind site -

Quote
Turbine devastation in Puerto Rico. Punta de Lima wind farm has 13 Vestas 1.8 megawatt turbines. Many blades were destroyed. Pattern Energy developed and owned the Santa Isabel Wind Farm, with 44 turbines, where no damage occurred.


At least they were a bit more honest than this site -

https://patch.com/massachusetts/falmouth/massachusetts-politicians-ignore-puerto-rico-wind-turbine-damage


Here's a video of  Punta de Lima which shows some damaged blades and some turbines which appear in good shape.



Bob Wallace

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Re: Resilience to disasters
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2017, 04:25:09 AM »
People might want to give this artical a quick read -

Quote
Puerto Rico contains two large-scale wind farms (totaling over 120 megawatts) and small-scale single turbines along the coasts.

Puerto Rico lost 120 megawatts of land-based wind turbine power in one storm.

Hurricane Maria wiped out almost every wind turbine on the island.

https://patch.com/massachusetts/falmouth/massachusetts-politicians-ignore-puerto-rico-wind-turbine-damage

I left the following comment.  It's being held for moderation.  It will be interesting to see if it gets published.


Quote


The picture at the top of this article has been floating around the web since at least 2013.  It's usually used to talk about some very large number of abandoned wind turbines somewhere in the world.  No one has ever revealed the location these hundreds or thousands of wind turbines.

(I suspect the picture is from a Southern California wind farm which ran into financial difficulties and was never finished.  For some legal reason it took years to clean up the site.  A falling out of partners or something.)

On Friday, October 13 the following news was published...

"Pattern Energy, which operates the 101-megawatt Santa Isabel Wind Farm project, today announced that windmills are ready to power 30,000 homes.

The company reported that the facilities were not damaged by Hurricane Maria on the island last September 20 and are ready to start generating energy."

https://www.metro.pr/pr/noticias/2017/10/13/finca-viento-santa-isabel-lista-dar-energia-electrica-30-mil-hogares.html

Another report -

"Turbine devastation in Puerto Rico. Punta de Lima wind farm has 13 Vestas 1.8 megawatt turbines. Many blades were destroyed. Pattern Energy developed and owned the Santa Isabel Wind Farm, with 44 turbines, where no damage occurred."

http://www.ililani.media/2017/09/puerto-rico-hurricanes-irma-maria.html

Seems to be a credibility issue with the above article.

TerryM

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Re: Resilience to disasters
« Reply #15 on: October 19, 2017, 06:27:57 AM »
I  echo Bob Wallace assesment. I have three neighbors with solar panels, after Maria 2 are intact and one lost 2 panels and it is already repaired. I read on the news that the wind turbines lost their blades, but they have already been replaced and are up and running.

I think that diversification is the key to resiliency. Climate change presents so many different threats, including some that are unexpected that the best bet is having diverse and redundant power, water and food sources.
I think diversity is essential. Any one huge facility can be put out of commission, a dozen small ones have much better odds of survival.
Terry

Bob Wallace

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Re: Resilience to disasters
« Reply #16 on: October 19, 2017, 07:50:23 AM »
Size of the array might not be what is important.  Distributed generation means that individuals are less dependent on the 'long lines' staying intact in a disaster.

If each community had some solar and wind of its own they wouldn't have to wait for the power lines to be restored. 

numerobis

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Re: Resilience to disasters
« Reply #17 on: October 19, 2017, 02:35:05 PM »
What natural disaster can cause a solar panel to fail that wouldn’t cause other energy sources to also fail?

The only one I can think of is hail, but even hail tends to be quite localized.

TerryM

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Re: Resilience to disasters
« Reply #18 on: October 19, 2017, 09:42:58 PM »
Living on islands in "hurricane alley" may will become more dangerous as we progress toward the storms of our grandchildren.
Local energy farms with some interconnectability seem preferable to a centralized energy source that is reliant on vulnerable transmission lines. Transportation of energy, food, water, people, and goods, will become increasingly difficult to maintain in the face of increasing storms, so each local needs to build upon it's self sufficiency.


Communities near the shoreline need robust ports, and redundant roads, bridges and other linkages to nearby communities. Land locked communities need networks of interconnectivity so that if one pathway is destroyed, others are still available.
I'm not convinced that this would require more infrastructural expense than building large robust facilities, which will still be subject to destruction or failure when the perfect storm hits.


The growth of huge mega-cities seems to be the direction that many of the less affluent regions have evolved. Staying away from this trend would be better for everyone involved, but without the incentive of a vibrant, self sufficient, small community, with access to work and some hope of sustainability, the poor will continue to crowd into slums that are probably the least likely to stand when the SHTF.


Rather than spending on large, hopefully resilient cities, an emphasis on smaller, interconnected communities, that together can weather whatever storms are on the horizon, might be a better way forward.


Terry
PS:
Without debt forgiveness PR has little to look forward to. It's not fair to this generation to punish them for the sins of their fathers, and their fathers were probably no more than victims of our fathers greed.

Archimid

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Re: Resilience to disasters
« Reply #19 on: October 21, 2017, 05:23:22 AM »
backup diesel generators are not meant to be used 24hrs a day for 30 days straight.  I've been seeing many reports of generator failure in hospitals, elder care homes and even the cellphone industry is warning of a collapse of communications due to generator failure and costs.

Emergency diesel generators are powerful but expensive machines that requiere expensive maintance and tend to fail when they are needed most.

A hybrid diesel generator/batteries approach might give critical facilities more resiliency. Bateries only serve the energy requiered and generators can charge the batteries when needed.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2017, 05:41:14 AM by Archimid »
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numerobis

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Re: Resilience to disasters
« Reply #20 on: October 22, 2017, 03:28:36 AM »
Certainly batteries allow generators to avoid ramping up and down so much.

The mainline diesel generators that provide our power in Nunavut keep falling over on themselves; they don't have the excuse of being only meant for backup power.

Sigmetnow

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Re: Resilience to disasters
« Reply #21 on: October 24, 2017, 03:17:45 PM »
 And when they say, "It would cost too much to improve resiliency":

A reminder:
Weather and climate disasters have cost [the U.S.] *half a trillion* dollars this year.
That's just one year, in one country.
     https://mobile.twitter.com/ericholthaus/status/922533958272847872
Image below.
People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

Sigmetnow

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Re: Resilience to disasters
« Reply #22 on: October 24, 2017, 03:27:14 PM »
Also this:

“A Government Accountability Office report released Monday said the federal government has spent more than $350 billion over the last decade on disaster assistance programs and losses from flood and crop insurance. That tally does not include the massive toll from this year's wildfires and three major hurricanes, expected to be among the most costly in the nation's history.”

Government Accountability Office says climate change already costing U.S. billions
https://www.cbsnews.com/amp/news/government-accountability-office-says-climate-change-already-costing-u-s-billions/
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Paddy

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Re: Resilience to disasters
« Reply #23 on: October 24, 2017, 05:33:54 PM »
And when they say, "It would cost too much to improve resiliency":

A reminder:
Weather and climate disasters have cost [the U.S.] *half a trillion* dollars this year.
That's just one year, in one country.

Correction: That's just ten and a half months. The year is not over yet.

ghoti

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Re: Resilience to disasters
« Reply #24 on: October 25, 2017, 05:37:49 PM »
There was a bit of a discussion about whether or not wind and solar can survive major hurricanes. There have been posts claiming it can and it can't. There have also been posts pointing out that some of the images of destroyed wind turbines and solar systems weren't actually from the recent hurricanes but from past events.

Clearly if the systems aren't built to withstand major hurricanes they aren't likely to survive them. The NWS has a video surveying the massive damage to everything in Puerto Rico. It does include footage of destroyed wind turbines with labels indicating where in Puerto Rico they are. They also show massive damage to solar installations though it is interesting that in one of those shots you can see massive solar that is intact. They focus only on the destroyed but clearly large solar installations also survived.

https://climatecrocks.com/2017/10/25/national-weather-service-puerto-rico-damage-assessment/

Bob Wallace

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Re: Resilience to disasters
« Reply #25 on: October 25, 2017, 06:07:08 PM »
Here's a picture of the San Fermin solar farm taken from a drone a couple of days after Maria tore up the island.  The farm was designed to withstand  250-260 kph (155-162  MPH) winds and the panels are mounted up to two meters off the ground to keep them above potential flood waters.