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jai mitchell

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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #50 on: April 19, 2014, 09:10:56 PM »
Jai...

Let me know when you want to explain how the two charts we independently posted are in disagreement with each other.

They are not in disagreement with each other, they are based on the same source data.  I posted mine to show you how the data used to generate your graph grossly underestimates projected future wind and solar capacity addition to the global energy mix.

so much so that the 2008 report is now totally invalidated. 

the most recent EIA 2014 projections hold that there will be NO NEW SOLAR or WIND generation build in the U.S. after 2017.

http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/aeo/tablebrowser/#release=AEO2014&subject=0-AEO2014&table=16-AEO2014&region=0-0&cases=ref2014-d102413a

you can't make this stuff up!
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Shared Humanity

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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #51 on: April 19, 2014, 09:29:14 PM »
Your forecast chart shows a tripling of renewables from 150 billion kilowatt hours to 450 billion kilowatt hours from now until 2035.

In this same time frame, world wide electricity generation will go from approximately 2.1 trillion kilowatt hours to 3.2 trillion kilowatt hours.

As impressive as the increase in renewables is (and it is impressive) the growth in world wide electricity demand is 700 billion kilowatt hours larger. This gap is being filled by fossil fuels. In effect, fossil fuel generation will be increasing its capacity at double the rate of renewables.

CO2 emission rates will continue to grow rapidly. Can we avoid this? I suppose so. If we want renewables to fill the gap then tripling renewables in the next 25 years is not enough. We will need to increase renewable generation of electricity 10 fold in that time frame.


Shared Humanity

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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #52 on: April 19, 2014, 09:31:44 PM »
Oh! By the way, your Olympic Solar Champion chart was cute. It didn't really help to illuminate the conversation but it was cute none the less.

jai mitchell

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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #53 on: April 19, 2014, 09:38:05 PM »
Shared Humanity,

I will try to state this to you as clearly as possible. 

do you see what happens to the graph that I posted in 2015?  Do you see how the rate of growth is stopped and the growth levels off?  This is the underestimation that I am talking about.

Even though you think it is cute, the china graph I posted shows that not only has the amount of solar installed in the top 3 countries has more than doubled in annual capacity additions in 4 years, the countries themselves have changed.

This means that the global industry is growing at an exponential rate.  Not being held steady state as the EIA chart shows.

in other words, the annual energy installation rates for new renewables in 2035 will be much more than is shown in the chart.  Current installation rates and projected economic trends indicate this to be true.
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Neven

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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #54 on: April 19, 2014, 09:56:14 PM »
Try not to lose your cool, everyone. It's not worth it.
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JimD

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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #55 on: April 19, 2014, 10:47:00 PM »
jai

Quote
I have performed the calculations, with projections for future installation rates of renewables, the average energy produced by nuclear power plants, expectations for future decommissioning rates and efficiency gains.  The work is far beyond the scope of this forum.  However, the simple fact that we are currently building, on average 16 new nuclear power plants per year shows that it wouldn't take much more to reach an 85% reduction in emissions within the next 20 years.

Oh by all means you should share your calculations as they are very relevant here and address your credibility.  Technical work is well appreciated here so fire away.

A small point which you need to address about this part of the above quote.

Quote
However, the simple fact that we are currently building, on average 16 new nuclear power plants per year

I went to the web site of The World Nuclear Association and looked up all the planned nuclear power plants.  Now we both know that planned and actually built are two different things - especially with nuclear power.  However when I took the entire list of what was to be completed in 2013 - a total of 15 plants and looked them up it turns out that only 4 of them actually went on line in 2013.  The proposed numbers of builds for 2014, 15 & 16 are 16, 12 & 15 respectively.  I am sure completions will vary from the projections as usual.

In 2011 7 reactors started production and 19 were shut down.

Total nuclear capacity was higher in 2010 than 2011 or 2012 or 2013.

From the 2012 status report.  Not an indication of a nuclear Renaissance underway.

Quote
As a result of insufficient new capacities coming online, the average age of the world’s operating nuclear fleet continues to increase and now stands at 27 years. Assuming a 40-year lifetime, 67 additional units or 35 GW would have to be ordered, built and commissioned by 2020, beyond the units already under construction, just to maintain the status quo. This is an unlikely scenario, although not entirely impossible, if China were to restart building large numbers of reactors....

....There are currently 59 reactors under construction with a total capacity of 56 GW. However:
• Nine reactors have been listed as "under construction" for more than 20 years.
• Four additional reactors have been listed for 10 years or more.
• Forty-three projects do not have an official (IAEA) planned start-up date.
• At least 18 of the 59 units listed by the IAEA as "under construction" have encountered construction delays, most of them multi-annual. Of the remaining 41 reactor units construction began either within the past five years or they have not reached projected start-up dates yet. This makes it difficult or impossible to assess whether they are on schedule or not.

Nearly three-quarters (43) of the units under construction are located in three countries: China, India and Russia.
......


So it would appear that to avoid a major decline in nuclear power generation going forward we will have to extend the life of the worst kind of plants well beyond their proper lifespan.  That sounds like a great idea.  It is also true that most of this construction we are talking about here are designs which do not meet the Gen 3+ or especially the talked about but essentially non-existent Gen IV designs.  One can make a sound argument that most of them should cease construction and not be finished.

http://www.worldnuclearreport.org/The-World-Nuclear-Industry-Status.html

http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/current-and-future-generation/plans-for-new-reactors-worldwide/

http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/global-nuclear-generation-capacity-falls-to-366.5-gw

http://www.nei.org/Knowledge-Center/Nuclear-Statistics/World-Statistics

http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Current-and-Future-Generation/Nuclear-Power-in-the-World-Today/
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jai mitchell

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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #56 on: April 19, 2014, 11:32:37 PM »
JimD

Thanks for your poignant response:

you said: 

Quote
I went to the web site of The World Nuclear Association and looked up all the planned nuclear power plants.  Now we both know that planned and actually built are two different things - especially with nuclear power.  However when I took the entire list of what was to be completed in 2013 - a total of 15 plants and looked them up it turns out that only 4 of them actually went on line in 2013.

Here is the site you mentioned - http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/current-and-future-generation/plans-for-new-reactors-worldwide/



So out of the 15 you cited - 10 are currently operational and the other 5 are pending approval or nearing completion.

This shows that you didn't quite get those numbers right.  It also shows that you decided implement a tactic that qualified the statement "online in 2013"  to play down the actual results. 

To state this shows that you are not acting in an honest fashion.

Quote
So it would appear that to avoid a major decline in nuclear power generation going forward we will have to extend the life of the worst kind of plants

In my calculation I said that we would have to increase the rate of construction of Nuclear from current levels 6-fold.  Not extend the life of current plants.  However, I did use in my calculation a conservative estimate that had all currently operating nuclear power plants decommissioned by 2030 (needed to be replaced by then).   

This is certainly a 20% overestimation.

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JimD

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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #57 on: April 20, 2014, 05:18:43 AM »
I performed the research before I wrote the post.  I used that site and then Googled each individual reactor to see if it actually went operational in 2013.  The following did NOT according to what I found.

Looks like my numbers are correct with the exception I meant to write that 5 not 4 were putting electricity into the grid. 

The below did not go on line in 2013.

•2013 India, NPCIL Kudankulam 2 (note your link says Dec 2014 and also indicates Unit 1 is not operational which I counted as operational)

•2013 China, CGNPC Hongyanhe 2 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hongyanhe_Nuclear_Power_Plant says not until Feb 2014)

•2013 China, CGNPC Ningde 2 (note your link here agrees with me)

•2013 Korea, KHNP Shin Wolsong 2 (here we agree)

•2013 Korea, KHNP Shin-Kori 3 (here we agree)

•2013 Russia, Rosenergoatom Leningrad II-1 (here we agree)

•2013 China, CGNPC Yangjiang 1 (your link agrees with me)

•2013 China, CGNPC Taishan 1 (this link says Jan 2014 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taishan_Nuclear_Power_Plant )

•2013 China, CNNC Fangjiashan 1 (here we agree)

•2013 China, CNNC Fuqing 1 (here we agree)


Quote
To state this shows that you are not acting in an honest fashion.

Quote

So it would appear that to avoid a major decline in nuclear power generation going forward we will have to extend the life of the worst kind of plants

If you think I was referring to anything you wrote with that statement you are mistaken.  I was referring to one of the links statements that many of the old existing plants are being extended well past their original operating lifespans.  I did not realize that part of the quote was not copied as I intended or you would not have misunderstood. 


   








   
   
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Neven

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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #58 on: April 20, 2014, 10:22:36 AM »
Quote
So it would appear that to avoid a major decline in nuclear power generation going forward we will have to extend the life of the worst kind of plants well beyond their proper lifespan.  That sounds like a great idea.  It is also true that most of this construction we are talking about here are designs which do not meet the Gen 3+ or especially the talked about but essentially non-existent Gen IV designs.

This, for me, is a very important point. I'm not against nuclear per se, but it has to be Gen IV. Why are they not building it?
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silkman

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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #59 on: April 20, 2014, 10:35:30 AM »
Neven has to be right.

It must be quite clear to everyone that nuclear power potentially has a key role to play in the transition to a low carbon world but how are we supposed to handle its legacy using current (30 year old) technology?

The numbers of reactors already on the ground or the drawing board are frightening from the perspective of managing their life cycles and decommissioning, politically, economically and environmentally.

Living not too far away from Sellafield I'm well aware of the challenges associated with the de-commissioning of the old Calder Hall plant - 8 times the cost of the London Olympics according to the Guardian (but not 8 times the fun!):

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/dec/01/sellafield-nuclear-clean-up-cost-rises

Climate Progress is also currently reporting on the problems associated with the de-commissioning of a plant on the US West Coast:

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/04/18/3425661/nuclear-power-plant-auction/

Finally, just consider the risks of all that spent fuel sitting around in holding tanks around the world for decades/centuries.

Does Jai really think this is a sensible course of action to take in pursuit of growth?

« Last Edit: April 20, 2014, 10:40:54 AM by silkman »

Neven

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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #60 on: April 20, 2014, 10:51:16 AM »
Quote
Does Jai really think this is a sensible course of action to take in pursuit of growth?

I don't agree with Jai on a couple of points, but this is clearly not what he thinks. If I read correctly, he maintains we absolutely need nuclear (in any form, but of course preferably the newer stuff) to stave off AGW disaster.

I'm more in the camp of efficiency, efficiency, efficiency + renewables (sure, a bit of nuclear, preferably the newer stuff as soon as it's out of the lab), supported by a completely new economic system. Going all-nuclear is just the same old thinking that caused the problem in the first place.

Jim is more in the camp of 'if it's civilisation, forget about it'.

I tend to agree with Jim, but feel it's my duty as a father of young child to be in the camp I'm in, and work for that. In 20 years I'll probably be in Jim's camp.

The camps overlap, but I just wanted to categorize a bit to show where we all come from.
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silkman

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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #61 on: April 20, 2014, 11:41:48 AM »

I'm more in the camp of efficiency, efficiency, efficiency + renewables (sure, a bit of nuclear, preferably the newer stuff as soon as it's out of the lab), supported by a completely new economic system. Going all-nuclear is just the same old thinking that caused the problem in the first place.


And energy efficiency doesn't seem to get enough airtime or investment.

Here in the UK a couple of years ago the Government launched the Green Deal, a rather complex plan to make loans to householders in order to improve the energy efficiency of the country's ageing housing stock. This was an excellent initiative in principle as here on the northern edge of Europe millions of folk live in leaky pre-war houses with nothing but a layer of mineral wool in the loft to keep their gas - fired heating in the box.

It had the potential to make a real difference to both quality of life and fuel bills but most importantly it would have saved a great deal of carbon - far more than the projected new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point.

It bombed because of its complexity and the fact that it just wasn't politically sexy and the resultant delay on carbon reduction commitments made by the utilities has decimated the insulation industry.

Improving the energy efficiency of the UK housing stock would drive useful economic growth, improve health status and the quality of life for many in addition to making useful carbon savings but it's back on the shelf.

Why is all the attention on energy generation and the supply side when there are so many cheaper options to reduce demand?

Shared Humanity

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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #62 on: April 20, 2014, 02:26:50 PM »

I'm more in the camp of efficiency, efficiency, efficiency + renewables (sure, a bit of nuclear, preferably the newer stuff as soon as it's out of the lab), supported by a completely new economic system. Going all-nuclear is just the same old thinking that caused the problem in the first place.


And energy efficiency doesn't seem to get enough airtime or investment.

Here in the UK a couple of years ago the Government launched the Green Deal, a rather complex plan to make loans to householders in order to improve the energy efficiency of the country's ageing housing stock. This was an excellent initiative in principle as here on the northern edge of Europe millions of folk live in leaky pre-war houses with nothing but a layer of mineral wool in the loft to keep their gas - fired heating in the box.

It had the potential to make a real difference to both quality of life and fuel bills but most importantly it would have saved a great deal of carbon - far more than the projected new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point.

It bombed because of its complexity and the fact that it just wasn't politically sexy and the resultant delay on carbon reduction commitments made by the utilities has decimated the insulation industry.

Improving the energy efficiency of the UK housing stock would drive useful economic growth, improve health status and the quality of life for many in addition to making useful carbon savings but it's back on the shelf.

Why is all the attention on energy generation and the supply side when there are so many cheaper options to reduce demand?

Actually, increases in efficiency without altering the current economic/energy environment has the paradoxical effect of increasing fossil fuel consumption. Efficiency gains, particularly in the developed nations, will cause fossil fuel prices to decline, making them more affordable and  fueling growth in the developing nations.

This is called Jevon's paradox.

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

idunno

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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #63 on: April 20, 2014, 03:37:16 PM »
Realclimate has an interesting post about WGIII, which is actually about WGIII, from one of the authors...

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2014/04/mitigation-of-climate-change-part-3-of-the-new-ipcc-report/

TerryM

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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #64 on: April 20, 2014, 04:37:25 PM »

Re. Jevon's Paradox.
In Los Angeles County some decades ago a water conservation initiative was so successful that in order to keep the doors open the water district was forced to raise the per unit charged. Not only did Jevon not raise his ugly head, but the increased charges caused a feedback leading to even greater water savings.
In the situation you mention where better insulated homes lower power usage per home the supplying utility might raise it's rates (either to maintain it's bottom line or as a conservation matter), resulting in feedback that again decreases power usage. Jevon's in reverse if you will.
Not denying Jevon's paradox, just pointing to situations where it may not apply.
Terry


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I feel that I'm a guest of Neven's here and yelling at other invited guests can ruin the party for everyone.

Bruce Steele

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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #65 on: April 20, 2014, 04:53:15 PM »
Jevon's paradox,
SH  The price goes down
TM  The price goes up
With idunno in the middle

jai mitchell

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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #66 on: April 20, 2014, 06:49:13 PM »
Jevon's Paradox

Jevon's paradox is a favorite argument of the Malthusian cheerleading crowd.  A misappropriation of an outdated theory derived from the early 1800's at the beginning of the industrial revolution.  It is misquoted and misunderstood much like the mythical "law of averages" http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/law-of-averages, the "Laffer Curve" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laffer_curve and the 'free market'.

The Jevon's paradox, applied to efficiency gains under a growing technology development of a single fuel use like 1830 England and coal use, in the era of rapidly declining whale oil stocks, works to a degree.  However, in the more complex realities of climate change and the need to implement a non-free market restriction of fossil fuel use as our only solution.  The Jevon's paradox does not apply.

I hope that everyone here recognizes that we will not have an effective fuel switching policy away from fossil fuels without non-free market actions (i.e. carbon tax, international trade tariffs based on emissions, heavy subsidies of CO2 free-sources for energy consumption.)

We do need efficiency, efficiency, efficiency  Absolutely!  There is no way that efficiency alone can cause our energy supply to switch away from coal, oil and natural gas.  This must happen in an environment of non-free market policy changes.

------

Nuclear power.

how many nuclear accidents does anyone here expect to occur from France?

It can be done as it has been done if it is done correctly.  All of the ways that people assert as being their reasons against it are due to outmoded and irresponsible behavior.  I have significant nuclear power experience.  I used to be against nuclear power until only recently.  I  was against, not because of the inherent risks, the risks can be managed and their effects can be mitigated.  But because I recognized that there was corner cutting by people who would rather make more money than ensure safety, on a global scale.  I felt that we were not "mature" enough to implement nuclear safely on free-market principles.

I then realized that there is no other way. (besides the collapse of modern economy into a post apocalyptic new feudal system where for most of the population the average life expectancy is 30 years, abject hunger and poverty and for a few gilded few, there is a private personal resource of energy, health, militia and food.)  This is where our current trajectory is headed and it is absolutely insane for anyone to openly advocate for this as a solution.  We simply need to use nuclear, lots of it, to source the energy necessary to convert our economy and society to sustainable systems.  Relying on fossil fuels to provide that necessary energy will doom our children.

Advocating away from nuclear, and for free-market solutions is the same as arguing for global economic collapse and neo-feudalism.  It is absolutely fatalistic and completely unnecessary since using a combination of command economy directives, coupled with a massive push of government spending, going into the economy, will allow for a global reduction in fossil fuel emissions by 85% in the next 20 years (and prepare for the technological necessity of biomass carbon capture and sequestration (to effectively pull existing CO2 out of the atmosphere).

Any other "solution", one other than massive mitigation and command economy implementations is a non-solution, or wishful thinking.  We simply cannot reduce our emissions quickly enough using free-market principles.  This is especially true when one considers the collapse of the amazon and the emissions of methane from boreal peat.

of course, there is always Paraguay. . .  https://maps.google.com/?ll=-24.735138,-55.906506&spn=0.110853,0.209255&t=h&z=13

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Neven

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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #67 on: April 20, 2014, 10:13:52 PM »
We're not mature enough for it, but let's go all-out nuclear anyway. It's like giving a pack of razor blades to a toddler.

Imagine going all-out nuclear and societies still collapse (AGW unfortunately not being the only limit that is currently being bumped into). All of that waste lying out there, unattended nuclear reactors, etc.

No, thanks. It's Gen IV or nothing for me.
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jai mitchell

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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #68 on: April 20, 2014, 10:24:23 PM »
Neven,

Gen IV still produces nuclear waste.

Claims about thorium as not producing nuclear waste are complete fabrications. 

Nuclear waste is easily taken care of if we want to dispose of it.  Except it is too valuable to throw away.  We could easily bury it 1 km deep in subsea mud in the middle of the atlantic basin that has been stable for millions of years. 

That won't happen because we want to reprocess it.  Similar to what France is doing today.

If collapse happened today, the current nuclear makeup would poison much of the earth in several hundred years.

If collapse happens in 50 years and we work tirelessly to decommission our current nuclear energy systems and safely store the waste away in preparation for collapse then the collapse will happen in 30 years because of the extra CO2 being put into the atmosphere because of the removal of nuclear power.

In my view, fear of an uncertain doom is much less than fear of a certain doom.
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ktonine

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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #69 on: April 20, 2014, 11:46:49 PM »
Before I start, forgive me for not having read every comment in this thread.  If anything I write has already been said - I apologize.

What the IPCC doesn't want to say is that we have to end growth.  Not end fossil fuel use, or CO2 emissions, or population growth - but economic growth as it's currently understood.  They can't say it, they won't say it and the simple reality is that most people don't realize that's really what we need to be talking about.

Here's a simple scenario: Tomorrow we discover a device that allows unlimited free energy from the sun that has *zero* GHG emissions.  How long could we continue our current energy per capita growth rate? (approximately 2.3% annual growth)

Consider the thermodynamics:
Quote
"At that 2.3% growth rate, we would be using energy at a rate corresponding to the total solar input striking Earth in a little over 400 years. We would consume something comparable to the entire sun in 1400 years from now. By 2500 years, we would use energy at the rate of the entire Milky Way galaxy—100 billion stars! I think you can see the absurdity of continued energy growth. "

"...  If we tried to generate energy at a rate commensurate with that of the Sun in 1400 years, and did this on Earth, physics demands that the surface of the Earth must be hotter than the (much larger) surface of the Sun."

Remember, this is independent of the technology used and results in *zero* GHG emissions.

Wind, solar, nuclear -- these are band-aids to steer us clear of immediate disaster, but it needs to be understood they are not *the* answer.  The answer is recognition and acceptance that we have to fundamentally change our expectations for the future. Throwing off our addiction to fossil fuels isn't enough; we need to understand that energy consumption - regardless the technology - cannot grow much longer.

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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #70 on: April 21, 2014, 02:24:11 AM »
Wind, solar, nuclear -- these are band-aids to steer us clear of immediate disaster, but it needs to be understood they are not *the* answer.  The answer is recognition and acceptance that we have to fundamentally change our expectations for the future. Throwing off our addiction to fossil fuels isn't enough; we need to understand that energy consumption - regardless the technology - cannot grow much longer.

This I think comes back to the bottom line - why do we need so much energy in the first place? Why are we so fixated on finding "alternative" means of producing energy instead of using less energy?

This is especially salient a point when we consider that a lot of the energy usage is consuming other finite resources and still undermining the future of current and future generations. Why do we need our air conditioning and central heating? People lived tens of thousands of years without such things. Why do we need plastic salad forks freighted half way around a planet from China? Why do we need clothes and shoes that are falling apart in weeks when they used to last for years?

So why are we so fixated upon the shiny bauble of modern stupidity that we have somehow convinced ourselves represents civilisation and progress?

Until we understand and resolve that - even if we were able to resolve the "energy problem" - we would just bounce from problem to problem until one of them tripped us up.

There are metrics of progress that we are ignoring - durability, repairability, functionality, efficiency, etc etc

But no, we want to plaster nuclear power plants everywhere... or solar panels or wind turbines - what do we really need?

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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #71 on: April 21, 2014, 03:12:58 AM »
This, for me, is a very important point. I'm not against nuclear per se, but it has to be Gen IV. Why are they not building it?

Lack of national funding?  It's not cheap, developing gen4 technologies in this day and age, and unlike the first time around there's no assurance of paying customers when the R&D is done.  Gas is cheap and renewables are coming on strong....

At this point, I kind of feel like 'why bother'.  Best case scenario is it takes 10-15 years to develop the technology, a good 10 years to build the industry, and *then* you can start pumping out the plants.  IOW, by the time we can start deploying gen4 reactors the climate battle will already have been lost. 

If we had the technology now *and* it was cost competitive with wind/solar I'd be a major cheerleader for it.  As it is, however, I think it's just a distraction.



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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #72 on: April 21, 2014, 08:28:48 AM »
Before I start, forgive me for not having read every comment in this thread.  If anything I write has already been said - I apologize.

What the IPCC doesn't want to say is that we have to end growth.  Not end fossil fuel use, or CO2 emissions, or population growth - but economic growth as it's currently understood.  They can't say it, they won't say it and the simple reality is that most people don't realize that's really what we need to be talking about.

Here's a simple scenario: Tomorrow we discover a device that allows unlimited free energy from the sun that has *zero* GHG emissions.  How long could we continue our current energy per capita growth rate? (approximately 2.3% annual growth)

Consider the thermodynamics:
Quote
"At that 2.3% growth rate, we would be using energy at a rate corresponding to the total solar input striking Earth in a little over 400 years. We would consume something comparable to the entire sun in 1400 years from now. By 2500 years, we would use energy at the rate of the entire Milky Way galaxy—100 billion stars! I think you can see the absurdity of continued energy growth. "

"...  If we tried to generate energy at a rate commensurate with that of the Sun in 1400 years, and did this on Earth, physics demands that the surface of the Earth must be hotter than the (much larger) surface of the Sun."

Remember, this is independent of the technology used and results in *zero* GHG emissions.

Wind, solar, nuclear -- these are band-aids to steer us clear of immediate disaster, but it needs to be understood they are not *the* answer.  The answer is recognition and acceptance that we have to fundamentally change our expectations for the future. Throwing off our addiction to fossil fuels isn't enough; we need to understand that energy consumption - regardless the technology - cannot grow much longer.
That's an interesting conversation. Our power consumption is limited our planet's ability to radiate heat away from the surface. I performed a similar rudimentary calculation using Stefan-Boltzmann and posted it as reply #77 in the "Better Tomorrows" thread (I'd put a direct link here but I don't know how to do that). In a nutshell, I showed we can radiate up to about 21 PW and keep our current average temperature if we can get CO2 down to about 180 ppm. That's a factor of 1000 greater than we currently use. You might think that reducing CO2 to such levels is beyond our current ability, and you'd be right, but so is generating enough power on the surface to affect our global temperature by radiative imbalance. Power dissipation scales with the fourth power of temperature (conversely temperature scales with the fourth root of power output). At the power generation levels where that becomes a problem, CO2 drawdown should not be.

Also interesting about this conversation is how they dismiss the Star Trek future at the outset, but consider growth into a future civilization that can command enormous (~20 PW) power levels, which IS a Star Trek level civilization. Well, maybe not as exactly envisioned by the television series, but those kinds of power levels are mind-bogglingly large, and growth throughout the solar system is well within the means of such technology that can generate those types of power levels.

tldr; Radiation constraints due to increased power generation (from zero emissions sources) aren't an imminent concern.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2014, 08:54:43 AM by prometheus »

prometheus

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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #73 on: April 21, 2014, 09:27:09 AM »
Actually, I'd like to make a modification to my previous post about CO2 sequestration. I said that it is beyond our current ability to execute, but I'm not so sure of that after a little further research. My original point still stands (indeed, it's strengthened) that a very energy rich civilization can draw down atmospheric CO2, but I didn't realize that many mineralization reactions that turn CO2 into CO3 are actually energetically favorable (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_capture_and_storage#Mineral_storage). We have the ability now, if we were to put our minds to the task, of drawing down atmospheric CO2 allowing us to grow our own room for additional power dissipation.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2014, 09:32:44 AM by prometheus »

icefest

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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #74 on: April 21, 2014, 10:37:26 AM »
@ Prometheus (apt name, for the discussion IMHO)
Your calculation was the first thing that popped into my head when I read ktonine's post.

Here are the calculations you posted on "better tomorrows" click on the bolded name and date to get linked to the post.

At the risk of going off topic, does dumping the heat at sea level make any difference?
I'd imagine that one watt released as low level heat at sea level has a larger effect that 1 watt of solar irradiance due to both albedo and the absorption spectra of the atmosphere.
(ie, the surface warms up more than the heat-radiating edge of the atmosphere)
I very much agree with almost all you said.

I don't quite agree with this.
Another prospect is putting large solar power stations in Earth orbit (produced on the moon because of its much shallower gravity well) for power to be beamed down to the surface using microwaves.

Both extra-orbital solar and nuclear increase the earth's energy budget.  This is not equivalent to that amount of extra sunshine but at a much larger warming potential. This is because ~all energy is converted into low level heat.

Assuming world total energy use keeps climbing, we will reach a point where we cause global warming via low level heat generation.
Yes, you're right. Let's look at a simple calculation to see roughly how much energy we can generate on the surface (or beam to the surface to be used and dissipated here) before the temperature rises dangerously again. The reality will be somewhat different than this simplified model, but this will give a rough estimate. First assume (not unreasonable considering the level of technology we're talking about that might even create the problem you brought up) that the atmospheric CO2 level has been brought down to ice-age levels of about 180 ppm. We know that that equilibrium climate temperature is about 8 degrees below Holocene levels, not including recent rises due to AGW. So this is what we have to work with, what we can safely create with our own energy generation. I chose this level because we still know plants can live effectively at this concentration of CO2.

From the Stefan-Boltzmann law, F = oT^4 (where 'o' is the Stefan-Boltzmann constant = 5.67E-8, T the temperature in Kelvin, and F the radiated power density in W/m^2). So the  radiated power of Earth's surface at 279 K (8 degrees before present) we get
F = 343 W/m^2, or 1.75e17 total W (W/m^2 multiplied by Earth's surface area)

For a temperature 8 degrees above that:
F = 384.69 W/m^2, or 1.96e17 total W
difference = 2.1e16 W or roughly 21 peta watts

So, if we lower the atmospheric CO2 level to about 180 ppm, we can keep our current (well, pre-AGW) temperature by expending up to about 21 PW. Our current global power output is about 17 TW, so this roughly a factor of 1000 greater energy generation than current levels. Quite a bit of room for growth before this itself becomes a problem. :)
Open other end.

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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #75 on: April 21, 2014, 12:52:13 PM »
Prometheus, Icefest - 1000 times greater than our current energy output sounds like a *very* large number ... and it is.  But at 2.3% annual growth that would barely take us 300 years.  That is the whole problem with exponential growth -- you reach unimaginably large numbers in a relatively short time.


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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #76 on: April 21, 2014, 04:18:13 PM »
More on limits to how much longer we can grow: http://fora.tv/2011/10/26/Growth_Has_an_Expiration_Date

(Thanks to Fred Magyar at RealClimate for the link.)
« Last Edit: April 21, 2014, 04:28:58 PM by wili »
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

prometheus

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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #77 on: April 21, 2014, 04:35:21 PM »
@ Prometheus (apt name, for the discussion IMHO)
Your calculation was the first thing that popped into my head when I read ktonine's post.

Here are the calculations you posted on "better tomorrows" click on the bolded name and date to get linked to the post.

At the risk of going off topic, does dumping the heat at sea level make any difference?
I'd imagine that one watt released as low level heat at sea level has a larger effect that 1 watt of solar irradiance due to both albedo and the absorption spectra of the atmosphere.
(ie, the surface warms up more than the heat-radiating edge of the atmosphere)
Thanks icefest, I'll be sure to do that in the future. And a short answer to your question (so as to not venture too far off topic for too long) it does make a difference depending on where the energy is released. I assumed, and so does ktonine, that all of the excess energy is deposited into the lower atmosphere to be released as heat and radiated away as IR. The only solar radiation that matters for the heat budget is that which is absorbed by the surface and re-radiated as IR since our atmosphere is mostly transparent to the visible spectrum that constitutes most incoming and reflected solar radiation.

Prometheus, Icefest - 1000 times greater than our current energy output sounds like a *very* large number ... and it is.  But at 2.3% annual growth that would barely take us 300 years.  That is the whole problem with exponential growth -- you reach unimaginably large numbers in a relatively short time.
Yes, technically you are right, and 300 years really isn't that long in the grand scheme of things. My point isn't to disagree with the physics, but rather point out that such power levels don't just represent our current civilization times 1000, but are in fact a whole different operating regime. What we can and will be able to do with that level of power - assuming we ever actually get there - is completely beyond our current ability to predict. It's hard to make predictions about that kind of future in the same way people in 1700 couldn't predict our current way of life or the things we've been able to accomplish in recent history. Our current paradigm of growth, growth, growth may no longer even be en vogue well before we ever reach that point, and developments will occur between now and then that will alter our course in ways we can't foresee. So I don't think simply extrapolating exponential growth far into the future is very illuminating, notwithstanding the kinds of conversations you have with people when you bring it up. ;)

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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #78 on: April 21, 2014, 04:55:21 PM »
Jevon's paradox,
SH  The price goes down
TM  The price goes up
With idunno in the middle

It is a paradox.  :o

Although idunno seems to have staked out a position consistent with his name.   ;)

idunno

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Re: IPCC WGIII Report
« Reply #79 on: May 15, 2014, 08:22:04 AM »
Further evidence that the IPCC reports are watered down by governments, such as Saudi Arabia...

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2014/may/15/ipcc-un-climate-reports-diluted-protect-fossil-fuel-interests