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No, this is not bait and switch. I was not responding to monbiot, but to one of his main sources (yes, i began digging.)   HERE

Heavy emphasis upon why renewables can't carry the load. And yes, my argument has the benefit of brevity, and the current presence of reality undergirds how well it's constructed. Yes, 100%, 100% of the time, when renewables includes smart demand-side measures.

The drop in cost of PV is just one signal. No experts thought it would happen so quickly, though i was shown exactly how costs would come down while visiting a silicon cell factory in 1977. We wasted three decades.

And as far as transportation fuels? Ban the burning of fossils and see how fast the new technologies arrive.

But this is why i called for a diary. Fast breeders are promoted first as an energy source, with the side effect of eliminating waste, no matter what monbiot says.

PS. Who gives a shit that some people don't like to have windmills around. They are the ones who like to breath coal dust, or eat irradiated sushi. The facts are that most areas don't have enough wind, so wouldn't have windmills.

The real argument is simply, do you want a sustainable world or not. if yes, just get going to build out renewables, and the rest falls into place. prove me wrong?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Wed Dec 7th, 2011 at 03:56:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Yes, 100%, 100% of the time, when renewables includes smart demand-side measures."

I'm still intrigued as to what happens at night during a prolonged still period over most of Europe. Not a common occurence maybe, but one I have known several times in my adult life.

"We wasted three decades."

I sure won't dispute that, and am sincerely thankful that you never lost heart during all that time.

"The real argument is simply, do you want a sustainable world or not. if yes, just get going to build out renewables"

Well, surely you know that we all support that. I still haven't seen a credible rampup plan that credibly replaces everything within a decade though.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Dec 7th, 2011 at 10:11:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To your first question, storage.

The problem with nuclear for the transition is that I'm not sure I've seen a credible plan for rolling out new nukes in the necessary time period either.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Dec 7th, 2011 at 10:12:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A look at batteries and pump up storage.
Seems non trivial even if we cut the requirement by an order of magnitude. Which we probably can do.
by generic on Wed Dec 7th, 2011 at 11:57:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But the nuclear idea is also built around nebulous technologies that are, at best, unproved.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Dec 7th, 2011 at 12:19:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Traditional pumped hydro and modular pumped hydro are storage at the margin, as, indeed, is consumption-shifting at the demand side.

The "zero order" is the portfolio effects allowed by a subcontinent wide loose grid of electricity superhighways ~ night falls at different times across the continent, the wind is often blowing one place when it is not blowing another, diurnal patterns of onshore and offshore wind are distinctive ~ even with just wind and solar, a European sub-continent-wide portfolio is far more stable than any individual national portfolio would be.

The first order storage is turning off conventional hydro when the volatile renewable power portfolio is producing to current consumption and ramping up conventional hydro when the volatile renewable power portfolio is producing below current consumption.

Another first order storage for scheduled load is biocoal, which can be stored in the form known as a "pile of the stuff" ... a renewable biomass feedstock for biocoal has a fixed annual budget, but the amount that can be deployed in a day is driven by generating capacity, with the annual budget determining how many generation days are available to supplement the volatile renewable portfolio. In a steady state, that is likely best converted to electricity with direct carbon fuel cells, but as a transition, existing coal thermal plants that are presently obsolete due to the need to refrain from CO2 emissions provide a massive per day back up capacity.

If the first order storage falls short, then the storage capacity of the dammed hydro can be stretched by conventional pumped hydro.

And then if that falls short, then the modular pumped hydro, or ammonia energy storage, or one of the other pure energy stores come into the frame. There is ample technical capacity in existing storage technologies to cope with any shortfall in the first order storage capacities, so which of those to use is an issue of which is the least cost per stored kW over the storage period typically required.

If all you need is sufficient storage capacity to cover the time required to bring biocoal thermal up from cold to generating (in this setting, you do not have thermal plants as "spinning reserve"), ammonia would seem appealing, since its main generation would be for petroleum-independent fertilizer feedstock with the stored power a diversion from output of a energy consumer that is in any event already one of your consumption-shifting electricity consumers ~ that's a big part of the promise of the newer solid-state ammonia production technologies, that in reducing the fixed cost of ammonia production, you reduce the requirement to run the production facilities 24/7 and you have an industry that is far better adapted to have excess capacity that is brought online and taken offline in reaction to smart-grid electricity pricing.

If you need longer term storage, modular pumped hydro is attractive ~ the limit of power stored per metric ton of water is determined by the rise, and while the rise is constrained with conventional pumped hydro to the original fall of the river that was dammed, the modular pumped hydro can take advantage of substantially higher rises, with the pipe and the upper reservoir entirely passive, and with all of the active equipment down by the lower reservoir down in the valley, where its easier to get to for maintenance.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Dec 7th, 2011 at 01:52:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well - the current problem is that power cuts are likely regardless, for economic reasons rather than practical ones.

So the 'still night' problem has to be seen in the context of non-sustainable technology that still can't guarantee reliable power to all of the population.

During the last freeze in the UK it literally became impossible to buy heating oil, and gas stocks were getting close to the bone.

So it's false to imply that only renewables suffer from practical supply issues.

Now, you can argue that Good Nukes™ might solve some supply problems. But the history of nukes has been one of heavy subsidy and practical underperformance.

So it's reasonable to ask if giving similar subsidies to sustainables might not improve supply reliability, rather than degrade it.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Dec 7th, 2011 at 10:23:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Political reasons, surely?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Dec 7th, 2011 at 12:19:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Economics is politics by other means

- Migeru

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Dec 7th, 2011 at 07:52:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Well, surely you know that we all support that. I still haven't seen a credible rampup plan that credibly replaces everything within a decade though.

The credible plan is not a "credible plan," rather the evidence that the entire supply chain ramp up of wind and PV has already made. To do it ALL in a decade might take something in rather short supply around this globe, mainly visionary political willpower. China did it in 5 years (though it will take another 5 years to reach European quality standards.)

If you ask SKF (bearings) or Winergy (gearboxes) or The Switch (generators/full power controllers) if they could quadruple production in 6-8 years, they will tell you with the right political conditions, their answer would be yes. What they'v already accomplished gives the answer some weight.

(PS. Nuclear supply chain issues are much worse. Currently there are two forges worldwide capable of producing a modern single containment vessel, which would take some effort to expand to the necessary scale. Could they build 4-8 in China in the next six years? Probably. Probably not with uniform steel.)


I sure won't dispute that, and am sincerely thankful that you never lost heart during all that time.

Given the noticeably rising anger (sometimes unwarranted) of some of my comments in the past six months, i'm not certain i haven't already lost heart. I am aware of suffering huge depression for the past year.

Regarding Storage. If the idiocracies running the world spent half as much money on storage as they do chasing CCS, we wouldn't be having this debate. It's a whole lot simpler to compress air with nighttime wind and store it in empty gas wells or parliament buildings, for just one of the host of technologies ready at breakthrough stage.

Again, the energy solution is in the mix of so many technologies. And using the existence of already built conventional fuels as the transition period.

The decision for society is rather to face up to and admit the high costs of the externalities. Once that decision has been reached, game over, success. Until then, game on as we try to keep away from being trampled by dinosaur hooves, and crushed by dinosaur bodies falling over on us.

Society might also have to make some adjustments in lifestyle, but i'm not talking about wearing cardigans under our hoodies in the dark.

So yeah, my LP vinyl seems to be stuck on 100%, 100% of the time.

Ramp up plan? Bremerhaven.




"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Wed Dec 7th, 2011 at 11:45:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Wed Dec 7th, 2011 at 11:55:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gratuitous picture of the same turbines from below :)

Take heart, CH. Wind and offshore wind are mainstream now.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Dec 7th, 2011 at 12:02:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"China did it in 5 years (though it will take another 5 years to reach European quality standards.)"

What? Are you suggesting that all Chinese electricity production now comes from renewables? Or at least all baseload production?

I never heard any such claim and would be extremely surprised (thought thrilled, of course). If it's not the case, we're back to my question of how long to replace, at the very least, every single coal plant.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Dec 7th, 2011 at 03:48:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, wind production in China is only 1.5% of total, if you can rely on their stats. China is a long way from replacing coal, if they don't have to replace their population first.

I had meant that China built a huge renewable supply chain in 5 years. China went from 2.6 GW at the end of 2006 to over 52 GW middle of 2011. Which is really something.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Wed Dec 7th, 2011 at 06:02:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cyrille:

I'm still intrigued as to what happens at night during a prolonged still period over most of Europe. Not a common occurence maybe, but one I have known several times in my adult life.

The same happens as when all the nuclear plants are shut down for safety reasons at the same time. (With half the Swedish reactors being off-line at the same time a couple of times, all does not look all the unprobable.)

Solar, wind, coal and nuclear are all base-load technologies - hydro, oil and gas are top-load technologies.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Dec 7th, 2011 at 02:39:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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