Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

2050 pathways calculator

by Thomas Wed Oct 10th, 2012 at 01:49:44 PM EST

A wonderful toy.

The 2050 calculator allows you to design an energy policy for the UK taking into account carbon emissions from the entire economy, not just electricity generation - the goal of the game being to reduce total emissions by 80% or better.

A few examples:

"I like nukes, and I dont like hairshirts":
http://2050-calculator-tool.decc.gov.uk/pathways/411111111111111111144311114144412133112113113311213 2/sankey
this cleans up the economy without exporting pollution to other nations - Which, in my opinion is what the "industry" "Bioenergy imports" and "electricity imports" sliders do.  - It also does not require any lifestyle sacrifices. Very politically palatable, if you can get people to swallow 150 Gigawatts of nukes.

"I still like nukes, and I want to get rid of oil dependence altogether"
http://2050-calculator-tool.decc.gov.uk/pathways/411111111111111114144311114144412133112113113311211 1/story
- Where the previous path dealt with the oil consumption of airlines by running carbon sequestration plants off the excess output of the nukes, this one feeds the airlines.. 17% of the surface area of the UK plowed under and planted with energy crops.
Eh. Okay, not acceptable. Not acceptable at all.

A few more or less hilarious notes: It appears that driving insulation above the natural trend would be more expensive than just feeding the heatpumps more power. This is probably an artifact of the fact that you can only "buy" generating capacity in huge chunks, and once you have bought it, incremental increases in use are free.

The most expensive item in my "all nukes, all the time" plan to fix carbon emissions?: The electric car purchases necessary. This actually makes sense.
Shifting people to public transit makes the total cost of the policy much lower without any other changes.
http://2050-calculator-tool.decc.gov.uk/pathways/411111111111111114144311144144412133112113113311211 1/costs_sensitivity

I would like finer control of the "finance cost" slider, but I suppose one cannot have everything.

Play with it, and post some toughts! For me, the primary takeaway is that almost all plans for carbon mitigation I have run across are scaled wrong. Debating whether the UK should build 4 or 8 reactors, or whether we should stick some solar cells on rooftops misapprehends the sheer scale of the problem very badly - Only heroic engineering will work. Not tens of reactors, but a hundred. Not mere parks of ocean windmills, but a huge forest of them.


Display:
Need to fisk it to find the bad assumptions, then perhaps fiddle the source code...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Oct 11th, 2012 at 12:19:55 PM EST
by LondonAnalytics (Andrew Smith) on Sat Oct 13th, 2012 at 11:12:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I started playing with your version, and there is one thing I can't figure out now: how to de-carbonise heating with the available choices?

Another thing is the costs. I of course chose a maximum transformation of the transport sector, but even so, I get the longest bar (by far) for conventional cars and buses, while the column for rail is a stub barely longer than for bikes. Am I not allowed to go crazy in the anti-Beeching direction and plan electrified railways and trams and trolley buses everywhere? ;-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Oct 13th, 2012 at 12:01:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hah - caught me out! I'm in the middle of messing around with domestic heating right now!  More news on that shortly.  Consider it broken for now.

Yes, the transport thing is very crude. I might get around to improving that in early 2013. If anyone wants to contribute in the mean time, they're very welcome to.

by LondonAnalytics (Andrew Smith) on Sat Oct 13th, 2012 at 12:07:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo:
Am I not allowed to go crazy in the anti-Beeching direction and plan electrified railways and trams and trolley buses everywhere? ;-)

please do! it's sanity, that kind of 'crazy'...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Oct 13th, 2012 at 03:46:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would prefer a new generation of ultra light rail street-cars running on biomethane myself. If the Swedish bus fleet can run on it, so could street-car fleets, without the rolling resistance.

Take Edinburgh.

Trams are pretty heavy and not cheap, so it cost £ gazillions to reinforce roads.

Then there's the cost and visual intrusion of the cabling; the heat lost when carbon fuels are burnt; transmission losses and so on.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Oct 14th, 2012 at 02:22:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not a fan of bio-any-kind-of-fuel, on the grounds that planting over every square meter we can find with fuelcrops is not, in fact, good stewardship of the earth.

Doing something with the waste streams of food production is just good sense, but that does not scale - once you are planting crops solely to process them and burn them, the only green thing still associated with that policy is the chlorophyll in the monoultures killing ecosystems.  

All plans have consequences, of course, but at least lithium mining operations mostly wreck salt deserts and the metal can, and should, be recycled.

by Thomas on Sun Oct 14th, 2012 at 06:32:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
  • What's your distinction between "streetcar" and "tram"? I'm not aware of a categorical difference.
  • What are you thinking of when writing "ultra light"?
  • Of course light rail (be it called streetcar, tram, light rail or whatever) is too heavy for existing pavement, that's why they have their own track in the road, not a 'reinforced road'. In fact, anything with capacity similar to that of light rail is too heavy for road pavement, as shown by the failure of such a system in Caen and the bankruptcy/sale of the manufacturer of a rival system.
  • Of course light rail is not cheap when compared to road vehicles using existing roads, but that's a pointless comparison because buses don't have the capacity (or comfort) of light rail (not to mention a heavy rail metro). That's why the Brazilian city of Curitiba, which runs a system touted by US American anti-light rail BRT advocates as a model, is projecting a proper metro system.
  • The visual impact of overhead lines is a regular theme of US anti-transit propagandists, but, on one hand, I think it is way overblown, on the other hand, there are now various catenary-free systems for the electricity supply of light rail, including ones employing on-board energy storage with batteries and supercapacitors.
  • The issue of carbon fuels can be addressed by changing to renewables in electricity generation. Transmission losses are dwarfed by the losses of the internal combustion engine (you can use your biomethane more efficiently by burning it in a biomass plant and powering an electric tram) and then there is the issue of regenerative braking.
  • No, you can't extrapolate from the Swedish buses example, biofuels don't have the potential to replace all conventional fuel used in transport globally, not even if displacing food production. (This has been a regular theme on ET, I'm surprised you even bring it up.)

So I maintain my preference for a system consiting of overlaid networks of electrified railways, metros, trams and trolley buses.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Oct 15th, 2012 at 04:03:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
anything with capacity similar to that of light rail is too heavy for road pavement

Let me correct myself: the issue is not weight itself, the issue is how the weight impacts the road in high-frequency fixed-guideway traffic. For any given cross section of the road, the weight of the wheels that pass several times a day always rests on the same narrow band of the road surface.

Modern trams have axle loads of around 8-10 t when fully loaded (with the CAF trams for Edinburgh at the high end of the spectrum). In contrast, the limit for road vehicles in most EU countries is 11.5 t/m for drive and 10 t for non-drive axles, and modern buses get pretty close to the first limit. So a bus rear axle weight is actually often higher than that of any axle of a tram. The failed 'road tram' system of Caen had an average axleload of 10 t (40 t on four axles, I found no data on mass distribution).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Oct 15th, 2012 at 03:05:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Firstly, I'm thinking of this sort of thing

Parry People Movers

Secondly, the issue for the foreseeable future is with heat losses from the carbon-fuelled power which provides the electricity.

It surprises me that burning gas in a power station to provide and distribute electricity to power electric trams is more energy efficient than gas-powered internal combustion trams would be. Do you have a source for that?

Thirdly, I wasn't suggesting bio-gas could replace conventional fuels on all conventional transport.

I was merely thinking that there is a role for simple solutions which can be rapidly implemented without vast cost and complexity.

I suggest that a new generation of really light street-cars/trams/whatever running on suitable track might be a good way of rolling out public transport rapidly, particularly in countries like Venezuela, Nigeria, and Iran who waste energy - and particularly gas - on a massive scale.

I don't see this as an alternative to heavy metro, merely as a complementary solution, since such ULR vehicles could presumably run over existing tram tracks as well as their own.

Finally, I think that in a 'for profit' and increasingly risk averse world simple and lightweight solutions are rarely put forward, or taken seriously when they are.

There's not much profit in either the vehicles or the supporting infrastructure.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed Oct 17th, 2012 at 07:54:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Parry People Movers

This is a small-capacity solution for low-frequented routes, in particular in rural areas; thus a replacement for a bus or a small branchline DMU (their webpage focuses on the latter comparison). It is not a replacement for high-capacity vehicles on busies routes and certainly doesn't eliminate the need for track construction, even if maximum axleload is just 5 t (they only claim that there is no need to dig below the road base).

I was merely thinking that there is a role for simple solutions which can be rapidly implemented without vast cost and complexity.

This can be implemented without vast cost and sensibly only on branchlines without passenger trains (or in threat of losing them) with track in relatively good shape. Due to its limited capacity, people mover sized ULR can only be complementary to normal trams, too (not just heavy rail). For such uses in cities and for uses on new lines in rural areas, the real question is then the (new) track, the construction of which will be neither cheap (compared to the cost of the vehicles) nor simple. While it will likely be cheaper than normal heavy or light rail, the ridership and ticket income will be lower, too. So the costs need to reduce to scale, and I am very sceptical about that, they need to prove it in practice.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Oct 18th, 2012 at 07:13:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It surprises me that burning gas in a power station to provide and distribute electricity to power electric trams is more energy efficient than gas-powered internal combustion trams would be. Do you have a source for that?

This shouldn't be surprising. The internal combustion engine has losses a gas turbine doesn't: air compression, piston movements. In addition, a diesel engine on a public transport vehicle is constantly revved up and down, while a power plant gas turbine is operated closer to the ideal range, thus practical average thermal efficiency differs from the maximum more. Electricity transmission losses are only a few percent.

Here is one source with a concise summary:

Trolleybus UK

The thermal efficiency (electricity out/fuel in) of modern combined cycle thermal power stations is essentially constant at around 60% (i.e. 40% gets lost to heat, not the 70% mentioned elsewhere), very large (marine) diesels do almost as well at around 55%, automotive diesels (bus engines) do about 40% at best but less at part load. In a diesel bus operating an urban duty cycle and unlike a trolleybus there are significant losses in fluid element automatic transmissions, while idling and moving at low speeds and operating at well below engine maximum efficiency levels, while burning fuel to regenerate particulate traps, etc. The efficiency of a diesel bus at the road wheels is a lot less than engine peak efficiency might suggest.

...Including all the grid, substation, overhead wiring, on-vehicle etc, losses, and regeneration gains for a trolley and all the transmission, cooling, idling and part load running losses, etc, for diesel, a diesel bus is somewhere around 25% efficient at the wheels based on typical MPG and a trolley around 40%.

For the "around 60%" figure for (combined-cycle) gas plants, here is the state-of-the-art in 2010:

CCGT: Breaking the 60 per cent efficiency barrier - Power Engineering International

GE, of course, announced the achievement of that lofty goal several years ago. But that turned out to be a little premature. These days, GE is a lot more conservative - by far the most conservative of the major OEMs - at least with regard to efficiency announcements.

Siemens and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Limited (MHI), on the other hand, are claiming an imminent victory. According to Carlos Koeneke, technical director at Mitsubishi Power Systems Americas, the company's J-class machine will provide in excess of 61 per cent by 2011. In the meantime, the Japanese company leads the pack with 59.1 per cent verified on an M701G2 gas turbine at the 1500 MW Tokyo Electric Kawasaki power station in Japan.

Siemens claims that it can match this figure. Fischer states the Siemens F class in combined cycle operation scores in the 58 per cent to 58.7 per cent range at ISO conditions 1-on-1 configuration. Recently they reached well over 59 per cent in Irsching 5 which is a combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plant in a 2-on-1 configuration based on two SGT5-4000F with a special optimized cycle design. In future, the coming H-class will offer above 60 per cent," says Willibald Fischer, programme manager for the Siemens SGT5-8000H. After undergoing heavy testing at the Irsching prototype plant in Germany the machine will be released on the market. The company is so confident of its numbers that it is virtually guaranteeing 60 per cent for current orders.

Note that the figure can be even higher if the plant supplies distance heating, too, and heating use is included in the efficiency number:

Austria's most efficient thermal power plant goes on line - Hand-over ceremony for the Mellach combined-cycle power plant - Siemens Global Website

In the opening ceremony held on June 22, 2012, Siemens officially handed the Mellach combined-cycle power plant (CCPP) over to the Austrian power provider VERBUND Thermal Power GmbH & Co. KG. The heat-and power cogeneration plant had already commenced operation in May 2012. With an electrical rating of 838 MW and an efficiency of 59.2 percent in straight power generation, the new plant surpasses the contractually agreed performance values. Thanks to the district heating output of 400 MWth, more than 80 percent of the energy in the fuel is put to effective use.

For the "about 40%" figure for bus diesel maximum thermal efficiency, here is a state-of-the-art number:

Scania Delivering 85 Ethanol Buses to Stockholm Suburbs; E95 in a Diesel Engine | OnGreen

The third-generation ethanol engine is an adaptation of Scania's 9-liter diesel engine with charge-cooling and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR). The engine delivers 270 hp (201 kW) of power and torque of 1,200 N·m (885 lb-ft), and offers a thermal efficiency of up to 43%, compared to thermal efficiency of up to 44% for diesel, according to Scania.

For transmission losses, here is an overall number which is a national average for the USA:

How much electricity is lost in transmission and distribution in the United States? - FAQ - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)

According to EIA data, national, annual electricity transmission and distribution losses average about 7% of the electricity that is transmitted in the United States.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Oct 18th, 2012 at 08:32:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ok, I've fixed the heating thing in my version of the model. Click on the colourful donuts in the bottom-left corner of the options, to change the heating fuel mixes for domestic (left) and commercial (right) heating.

To decarbonise heating, electrify it (some mix of resistance heating, air-source heat pumps, and ground-source heat pumps), and decarbonise electricity. Or switch people to solid-fuel, and make sure there's a lot of solid biomass. Add solar thermal too, according to taste.

I'm now working on an algorithm for multi-fuel district heating, which will provide some balancing mechanism, and optimise across all the clean sources.

by LondonAnalytics (Andrew Smith) on Tue Oct 16th, 2012 at 09:42:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.
by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Oct 16th, 2012 at 11:51:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Blast. Thanks for letting me know. I've kicked the server. Force a refresh in your browser - it should work now.
by LondonAnalytics (Andrew Smith) on Tue Oct 16th, 2012 at 12:24:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The home heating works for me now (after a full browser restart - clearing the cache and refreshing did not suffice), but the commercial heating still refuses to electrify.

On the subject of electrification, when you electrify rail transport and move transport from road to rail and from diesel to zero-emissions vehicles, the liquid fuel use disappears (good), but there is no increase in electricity use (huh?). Now, the increase in electricity use shouldn't be 1:1, of course, since these modes are much more energy efficient. But it shouldn't be 1:0 either. (This bug is also in the government version.)

On a similar note, can we have separation between electrification of industry, greater energy efficiency of industry and capture and sequestration? The first is off-the-shelf technology. The second tends to be a combination of Oil E. Coyote forecasting and offshoring of manufacturing and heavy industry (which all viable pathways reverses). And the third is the illegitimate love child of a greenwashing exercise and an opiate haze.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Oct 16th, 2012 at 07:07:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
re commercial heating: that's weird. Yes, commercial heat pumps are misbehaving (though electrical resistance seems to be working now.) I'll take another look, probably by Friday.

You've got a very good point about splitting out industrial CCS from other industrial interventions.  It's a tricky thing, decarbonising industrial processes - for example, what we will do about things like emissions from clinker production for cement. Splitting out the CCS element in the model will help untangle how big an issue that is.

Energy efficiency of industry ... well, I've seen some good stuff in practice - Paris MinesTech and ECLEER do some great work in this field - particularly with heat recovery. And I know of one steel plant that cut 10% of its energy bill just with one improved computer heat flow model. So there is some real potential there.

There's a good economic argument to be made, I think, that industry has inevitably become excessive energy consumers, because the price they directly see for energy has effectively been subsidised, both by government tax breaks and payments to fossil fuel industries, and by the externalities of fossil fuels. And it's reasonable to believe that removing those subsidies would bring about energy-efficiency improvements in industry. But that doesn't tell us how much energy we'd save. I agree with you that a lot of industry forecasts on that question are to be treated with suspicion.

by LondonAnalytics (Andrew Smith) on Wed Oct 17th, 2012 at 01:54:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
LondonAnalytics:
There's a good economic argument to be made, I think, that industry has inevitably become excessive energy consumers, because the price they directly see for energy has effectively been subsidised, both by government tax breaks and payments to fossil fuel industries, and by the externalities of fossil fuels.

There is also that since they are big tech-centered bureacracies you get the combination of middle managers striving to increase their budget and striving to get the coolest machinery (and big is often manly). Both has meant that energy effiency has suffered in favor of energy wasting machines.

Friend of mine did a study for a big industrial company and found a number of energy savings opportunities. The most glaring one was that if they switched off (preferably automatically) the lights in huge areas were no one went except for maintenance (machines controlled form the controll room) they could save a couple of percentages of their electricity bill (which if implemented alone more then paid for the cost of doing the study).

I can't say how much can be saved. Should be studies out there though. Will have a look and post if I find one.

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

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Oct 17th, 2012 at 04:26:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by LondonAnalytics (Andrew Smith) on Wed Oct 17th, 2012 at 02:55:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a web interface on top of an opensource spreadsheet, and it lists its assumptions very openly. I can quibble with some of them, but my main "Eh, wait, what?" is their interest rate assumptions, as the only available settings are zero, 7 and 10. Which is respectively "So, economic crisis for the next 37 years?" "Way to fracking high" and "You are joking, right?". I would like to do the cost calculations with a sane interest paid - like 3-5%.
by Thomas on Thu Oct 11th, 2012 at 01:21:51 PM EST
On a business-as-usual trajectory, another 37 years of back-to-back crisis is not out of the question.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Oct 11th, 2012 at 02:45:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, there's lots of nonsense in the inherent assumptions. And the claimed transparency isn't really there either.

Smoke and mirrors.

That's not to say it's useless. But it's a tool that's more adept at misleading (as you've unwittingly found with the scenarios you've created), than informing.

by LondonAnalytics (Andrew Smith) on Sat Oct 13th, 2012 at 11:13:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It depends who's paying, doesn't it?

According to the Crown Estate's most recent work (see p5 on the PDF at the Project Finance link in the right sidebar), a WACC of 10.1% for offshore wind is about par for the course. (and I'd love to hear Jerome's view on that)

by LondonAnalytics (Andrew Smith) on Sat Oct 13th, 2012 at 01:07:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's probably a bit high, given that utilities would have a cost of capital of 8-10% and debt costs around 6%. Even a more aggressive owner with costs of capital at 12-15% will leverage 70 (debt):30 (equity) for an average cost of capital of 8% or so.

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Oct 15th, 2012 at 02:22:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ok... might have some time at the weekend to have a look at the spreadsheet. If several people list the doubtful assumptions, suggest adjustments to the values of the parameters and the size of the steps, etc... we may be able to have a useful discussion about the different pathways. At first glance, by maximising wind you can pretty well eliminate nuclear and meeting the 80% carbon target...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Fri Oct 12th, 2012 at 03:22:00 AM EST
Even this model can produce a nuclear and CCS-free scenario. Funnily enough, it can't produce a fossil-free scenario, because it always enforces some fossil fuels for industrial use - there is no synthetic hydrocarbon process in it.
by LondonAnalytics (Andrew Smith) on Sat Oct 13th, 2012 at 11:19:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One thing I can't find is any reference for thermal plants burning landfill-grade non-recyclables, whereas there is already a program to ramp this up in the UK. Perhaps it is subsumed in the "biomass" category, but it needs to be considered separately in a model. I for one would not plant crops for biofuels, but you can produce second-generation liquid fuels from any gasification technology. And that's about the only way you can sustainably drive your oil imports towards zero.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Oct 16th, 2012 at 04:42:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's buried in the "Volume of waste and recycling" option: EFW is an obscure set of initials that here stands for "Energy from waste"
by LondonAnalytics (Andrew Smith) on Tue Oct 16th, 2012 at 08:30:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I found the step size problematic, but the first linked spreadsheet seemed to demonstrate that the largest contribution of nuclear was to provide a robust stream of wasted energy. Going with energy conservation, electric transport, renewable generation and the minimum available amount of nuclear, (1), even with the largest values of industry usage available, settings of 3 for offshore wind and 1 for onshore wind and most other sources eliminated wasted energy. I wanted to minimize, not eliminate, wasted energy as having a small amount seemed to provide assurance that you really had enough.

I haven't played with the other spreadsheets yet, but financial considerations are largely the result of political policy decisions, even if we pretend TINA. The most sensible solution would be to build all of the infrastructure under a ZIRP. If it is ok for saving feckless bankers why is it wrong to use it to secure our energy future?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Oct 12th, 2012 at 09:51:52 AM EST
You can set fiscal cost to zero. The spreadsheet will do real cost calculations with a zero interest assumption - that setting is under cost sensitivity.

If you can put together a grid that does not have either backup gas or nukes in it, Id like the link, because I cant get there (how much backup gas the grid has is listed under story and area).

by Thomas on Fri Oct 12th, 2012 at 12:10:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thomas:

If you can put together a grid that does not have either backup gas or nukes in it, Id like the link, because I cant get there (how much backup gas the grid has is listed under story and area).

I can't see how they come to the conclusion that 146 GW of nuclear only needs:

2050 Pathways Calculator

Energy security

4 GW of pumped storage and 10 GW interconnection with Europe available for balancing electricity supply and demand.

If there are five cold, almost windless, winter days, then up to 1 GW of backup generation capacity will be required to ensure that electricity is always available.

While all-wind (same scenario, just switch nuclear to zero and both wind to max) needs:

2050 Pathways Calculator

4 GW of pumped storage and 10 GW interconnection with Europe available for balancing electricity supply and demand.

If there are five cold, almost windless, winter days, then up to 114 GW of backup generation capacity will be required to ensure that electricity is always available.



Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Oct 12th, 2012 at 02:53:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is a fleet of 80-100 reactors - individual ones going offline for maintenance/ect will not correlate in the same way a pressure system above the north sea will, so the storage systems only have to deal with demand side diurnal variations, not supply. There may be an assumption in there that electrifying transport and industry to this extent flattens those variations, as well. If that does not happen, option 4 (20 gigs of pumped) ought to cover it.  
by Thomas on Sat Oct 13th, 2012 at 02:30:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But of course you stack the deck to the detriment of intermittent sources when you insist on electricity autarky, rather than (balanced) trade. The European subcontinent spans at least three different basins with their own, largely uncorrelated, weather systems. So insisting on autarky for Britain is not a rational way to construct the European grid.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Oct 13th, 2012 at 02:52:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a fair point, and perhaps the interconnection slider ought to have a few more notches. However, the thing I like the most about this calculator is that it puts numbers on just how much electricity a clean economy needs. Because I keep encountering plans to combat carbon emissions that are assume "using less electricity" is a viable plan. Which forgets about all the other parts of the economy that has to be moved to the grid.

My "no hairshirts" plan modestly decreases overall energy consumption, but electricity demand more than doubles.  Even the most aggressive energy conservation plan the calculator allows implies an substantial increase in electricity demand, and those settings would never, ever, be put into practice, because any government that tried would get evicted from office. So if you want a future based on renewables, scale your plans up. Rooftop solar is demonstrably not going to cut it.

by Thomas on Sat Oct 13th, 2012 at 07:46:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There's a huge assumption in there that there's no such thing as common-mode (aka common-cause) failure for nukes - only for wind.

Of course, we've had Fukushima; and we've had multiple hot summers where many French plants have been closed due to overheating rivers; and we've had systematic pressurizer cracks in PWRs; and we'll face systematic terrorist threats against nuclear plants. Then there's the risks of depending on a generation technology where all your fuel is imported. And so on ...

So we know common-mode failure can and does occur for nukes. The model pretends it doesn't. That's more convenient for the message it's trying to sell.

by LondonAnalytics (Andrew Smith) on Sat Oct 13th, 2012 at 11:32:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, the energy-security thing is so crude as to be effectively useless. Just ignore it.
by LondonAnalytics (Andrew Smith) on Sat Oct 13th, 2012 at 11:14:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The step-size on the supply-side has an extra hidden feature: if you, say, click on value 3 repeatedly, it will start stepping through in values of 0.1 rather than values of 1.

For example, see this dummy scenario - look at the top few values in the middle column.

I've added a set of tips in the bottom-right hand corner, that you can click on to see extra help. This helps open up some of these features.

by LondonAnalytics (Andrew Smith) on Sat Oct 13th, 2012 at 11:17:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is some weird stuff. I don't really understand how thermal solar hot water is such a radically expensive technology, but it blows my costs out of the water. I know, sunny England, but still...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Sat Oct 13th, 2012 at 10:06:26 AM EST
Oh, a lot of the central-forecast costs just reflect the prejudices of the UK government, and aren't particularly useful.

To take one extreme example: the implicit levelised cost of nuclear in the model, is less than the value of exports.

Which means that in any scenario, you can decrease the total cost to UK plc, by building surplus nukes.  Nukes for power export are programmed to represent net cash earners, effectively having negative whole system cost.

There are several reasons for this.  Insurance costs are included for renewables, but not for nuclear.  Nuclear central costs and plausible build rates are very optimistic. So levelised cost comes out at under 7p/kWh.  And the value of exports is set at 7.32p/kWh. (cells F99-O99, sheet VII.a)

by LondonAnalytics (Andrew Smith) on Sat Oct 13th, 2012 at 11:27:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
given that the smallest nuclear power initiative it lets you build is 26 reactors, a significant drop in cost is reasonable enough. Selling the surplus for a profit.. eh.. in any future where that the brits build that much nuclear, you are going to have to string some very long cables before you hit a customer that has not done the same thing.
by Thomas on Sat Oct 13th, 2012 at 01:50:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, the smallest you can build is 3.9GW, by using the repeat-clicking thing I mention above (level 1.1 on DECC, level 2.1 on my version). This goes up in units of 3.9GW up to 39GW (13 x 3GW plants) at Level 2 on DECC (level 3 on mine).

As to economies of scale, well, that's a matter of faith. The French showed diseconomies of scale, and there are good reasons to believe that a large new British nuclear programme would experience the same. Still, as such a thing isn't going to happen, it doesn't really matter.

As to cables to non-nuclear or nuclear-minority neighbours, Britain already has interconnectors to Ireland and to the Netherlands. Survey work for the putative new one to Norway is happening now. By the time the proposed Belgium interconnector gets built, Belgium will be non-nuclear or minority-nuclear. And should Britain genuinely try to build, say, 10GW of new nukes, then by the time they were commissioned, France may well be a minority-nuclear country too.

by LondonAnalytics (Andrew Smith) on Sun Oct 14th, 2012 at 03:05:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are some obvious glitches.

Biomass power plants burn coal, apparently. Also, liquid biofuel from biomass is apparently code for coal-to-liquids.

Decreasing livestock numbers increases oil imports! Obvious, really; biomethane etc fuels not only all the tractors and trucks to transport feed etc involved in animal husbandry, but a significant portion of the general vehicle fleet : really?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Oct 16th, 2012 at 05:50:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i can see biofuel as positive in the ag sector, to avoid transport costs of fossil fuels. that could apparently be achieved by dedicating 10% of farmland.

better would be electric tractors...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Oct 16th, 2012 at 06:16:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Biomass power plants burn coal, apparently."

Yeah, that's a silly thing. Solid-fuel plants are all much of a muchness in the model. So if you don't allocate enough biomass production / imports, then rather than scaling down the solid-fuel plant capacity factor, it just uses coal instead.  That's fixable. I'd add it to my TODO list.

by LondonAnalytics (Andrew Smith) on Tue Oct 16th, 2012 at 08:47:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eh.. Going by real world precedents, the model is 100 % correct on this point. "Biomass" power plants that cannot find enough fuel have a remarkable tendency to suddenly become coal fired.
by Thomas on Tue Oct 16th, 2012 at 01:16:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you've misunderstood the nature of the model.

It's not an economic simulator. It's a scenario simulator.

So if the user specifies N amount of biofuel plant in their scenario, that's what they should get. That's just a matter of good UX design.

by LondonAnalytics (Andrew Smith) on Tue Oct 16th, 2012 at 03:07:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In ascending order of realism:

I like wind, and I don't like hairshirts.

I still like wind, but I'm not optimistic about the political will of foreign powers to regulate international shipping and aviation.

I like domestic load balancing, I still don't like hairshirts, and I still don't believe that international shipping and aviation will be effectively regulated.

(In all examples, geosequestration is used as a proxy for "dig up less fossil fuels and export more electricity to cover fuel imports.")

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Oct 15th, 2012 at 02:34:09 AM EST
Higher energy costs and the diffusion of better technology will lead to more frugal energy use, independently of supposed consumer resistance or lack of political will : e.g. lighting consumption will be slashed by LEDs, without any policy encouragements. So I'm pretty aggressive about reducing per-capita energy consumption.

For example : why assume that energy consumption on commercial properties would double?  Is the population expected to double? I would expect it to be flat, at maximum, with enormous potential to decrease.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Oct 16th, 2012 at 04:32:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The idea is to not increase costs far enough and fast enough that it induces noticeable change in the consumption of goods. Because the first behavioral change you would notice if you implemented such a policy would be the voters telling you to vacate the seats of government. Convincing people to shift from car to rail for fulfillment of their transportation tasks is going to be politically quite difficult enough without having to simultaneously convince them to avail themselves of less transportation, heating, electrical appliances, etc.

As for new technology improving efficiency, that's cool. If and when that happens, we can just scale back our expansion plans, or stop replacing plant when its design life expires. But "unspecified technical change will make our life easier at some unspecified future date" is not a policy, it's Oil E. Coyote forecasting.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Oct 16th, 2012 at 04:55:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I'm talking about such hypotheses as  : Commercial demand for heating increases 50%, Commercial demand for lights and appliances increases 33%, that sort of "non-hairshirt" option : I just can't imagine the scenario that would lead to this, without talking about any new tech whatsoever (hint : LED lighting is not a future or cutting-edge technology, it's in full-scale deployment in commercial applications).

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Oct 16th, 2012 at 05:34:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree, serving heat and light in a more efficient manner is a growing sector in particular when it comes to industry and commercial properties. And there is a ton of money to be made. In Sweden some utilities are catching on and wants in, even though it undermines their core business, which imo says a lot.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Oct 16th, 2012 at 06:30:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The "I Like Wind Power" scenario involves a considerable re-industrialization of Britain. The simulation involved has no slider for "carbon embedded in imports," which means that it substantially understates the real magnitude of the problem. Onshoring the industry producing the industrial goods consumed by British society will internalize that energy cost (at least insofar as actual industrial production is more energy intensive than the current financial circle jerk).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Oct 16th, 2012 at 07:35:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... under the "I Like Wind Power" scenario, lighting and heating goes exclusively on the electricity budget, which is not where the residual carbon is under that model. Reducing it just means putting up a couple dozen (maybe a hundred-odd, tops) less offshore wind turbines, in a plan involving in excess of ten thousand turbines.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Oct 16th, 2012 at 07:48:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, carbon embedded in imports isn't in the baseline, and isn't in the legal targets, so it's not entirely awful to leave it out of a model of the UK's decarbonisation pathway.  The model does include embedded emissions that are exported.  So a suite of such models, if done for each country, would at least be consistent and globally representative.

Now, one can make a case that a given government does have some influence over the embedded carbon in its imports, through border tariffs and the like. But this is not an economic model, and doesn't model economic responses.

As for changes in industrial energy profiles as a result of the decarbonisation program itself, yes, that's a tough question. Of course, that sort of industrial forecasting is a nightmare in itself, let alone integrating it as just one component in an energy model.

There is a model option for "Growth in industry": to give a first-order approximation for the effect of onshoring turbine manufacture, and maybe (consequently) onshoring some steel and concrete production too, then set "Growth in industry" to A: (UK industry output more than doubles by 2050)

by LondonAnalytics (Andrew Smith) on Tue Oct 16th, 2012 at 08:54:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which I did.

But if actual industrial production doubles, then it's not totally out of the ballpark to suggest that the electricity consumption by the support functions (offices, mess halls, etc.) would increase by 33 %, which is the assumption that eurogreen objected to.

On that note, it may be worthwhile to separate use of synthetic lighting and appliances for commercial properties from efficiency of synthetic lighting and appliances. Or it may not, since the annual TWh budget for commercial lighting and appliances is definitely on the low end of the scale.

I'll also second the call elsewhere for an incorporation of electricity-based synthetic liquid fuel and gas plants into the model - that's proven technology that can be rolled out on an industrial scale, and offers the option to use untapped solar and wind reserves to substitute for liquid fuels in those uses that cannot be electrified.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Oct 16th, 2012 at 09:19:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree that lighting is becoming such a small thing that it's not worth separating out.

Yeah, synfuels have to be one of the next big things in it.  First, I'll get multi-fuel district heating working; then I'll have a look at syn fuels.

If anyone can point me at some references for efficiencies and costs, I'd really appreciate it.  I'm in discussions with the team for the original DECC model too, so will pass these on upstream too.

by LondonAnalytics (Andrew Smith) on Tue Oct 16th, 2012 at 09:36:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
oops, yes I overlooked your imaginative doubling of the UK's industrial capacity... good luck with that. Off a low base, for sure.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Oct 16th, 2012 at 10:46:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't have hard numbers, but I think a doubling is roughly in the right ballpark for reshoring enough industry to get the net embedded energy in the foreign trade to zero. Certainly a plan that builds 50-60 thousand wind turbines will increase domestic industrial production substantially above trend.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Oct 16th, 2012 at 11:43:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The electricity demand from commercial operations is fairly unpredictable on this time scale because it depends rather a lot on how power hungry the various gadgets that get adapted in this time span are.
Sure, all the existing tech will use less power just through better engineering, but assuming this means homes and businesses will use less juice overall is dicey. This is a long enough period of time that the odds of entirely new toys and tools seeing wide adoption approaches unity.

Not entirely sure it matters, since once I pick the options to electrify industry, transport and heating, the variations between the various options on this point approach noise in the system anyway.

by Thomas on Tue Oct 16th, 2012 at 01:37:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
eurogreen:
lighting consumption will be slashed by LEDs, without any policy encouragements.

It is true that no further policy encouragements are necessary since light bulbs are already being phased out. But phasing them out (in effect ban them from being sold) was a political decision.

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

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Oct 16th, 2012 at 06:27:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, and governments fell all over the EU when that happened. I remember now.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Oct 16th, 2012 at 08:26:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
David Cameron's energy team unable to explain price pledge | Environment | guardian.co.uk

Confusion over David Cameron's commitment to forcing energy companies to place customers on their lowest tariffs deepened on Thursday, with neither the energy secretary nor the energy minister able to explain its meaning.
[snip]

The Guardian can confirm that Davey knew nothing about Cameron's pledge before it was made.

Energy minister John Hayes was summoned to the House of Commons to answer an urgent question from Labour. He was unable to confirm Cameron's announcement, instead saying the government would legislate to "help" get the best deal. "There are a number of options that are being considered, for example [the April agreement] which will be evaluated to see if we should make legislation binding," Hayes told MPs. "This is a complicated area and we will discuss it with the industry, consumer groups and the regulator in order to work through the detail."

Asked whether he knew what was going to be announced, Hayes said: "Of course we understand what the prime minister was considering because we have been debating and discussing the provisions of the energy bill for months."

The shadow energy secretary, Caroline Flint, said Cameron's intervention had thrown the government's policy into "confusion" and "caused chaos" in the industry.

The idea that you can keep energy prices down through competition between retailers is richly comical, of course, and a mere sideshow, but this does illustrate the deep disarray of the UK government's energy policy :

Neil Bentley, deputy director general of the CBI, which is urging the government to end its feud over energy policy and back the green economy, told the Guardian: "We are seeking policy clarity like everybody else. If competition is to work, consumers have to have a choice of tariffs. I'm not quite sure where the prime minister was coming from."

The confusion over Cameron's announcement comes as infighting over energy reached the "quad" - Cameron, George Osborne, Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander - that runs the coalition. The chancellor is believed to be seeking to limit investment in renewable energy and promote a new "dash for gas", while the Liberal Democrats are seeking a new carbon-cutting target for 2030 to be included in the forthcoming energy bill, due in November.

Which reminds me : how come we don't get a shale gas button in the model? Or a perpetual-motion-machine button, while we're at it?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Oct 18th, 2012 at 08:45:19 AM EST


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]

Top Diaries