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Open Thread

Open Thread 24

The last Open Thread has screamed past 1000 comments, so time for a new one… (And for those who are wondering why there have been so few posts on BNC recently, well… there are reasons. I will post again soon[ish] to explain more, and discuss the future directions of this blog/website. Meanwhile, on with the productive discussion!)

The Open Thread is a general discussion forum, where you can talk about whatever you like — there is nothing ‘off topic’ here — within reason. So get up on your soap box! The standard commenting rules of courtesy apply, and at the very least your chat should relate to the general content of this blog.

The sort of things that belong on this thread include general enquiries, soapbox philosophy, meandering trains of argument that move dynamically from one point of contention to another, and so on — as long as the comments adhere to the broad BNC themes of sustainable energy, climate change mitigation and policy, energy security, climate impacts, etc.

By Barry Brook

Barry Brook is an ARC Laureate Fellow and Chair of Environmental Sustainability at the University of Tasmania. He researches global change, ecology and energy.

1,057 replies on “Open Thread 24”

Edward Greisch — To the extent that wind and solar cause fossil fuel generators to not run these are a step in the right direction. Here in the Pacific Northwest wind power means that water can be stored in the reservoirs against future hydropower needs. Maybe that is worth the aggravation when there is overgeneration in the spring.

It is the general case that natgas burners go in wherever wind obtains a solid foothold elsewhere in the USA. That isn’t good enough.

But my point is that the Pacific Northwest is hardly a niche. You weaken your case by overstatement.

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Tom Murphy is an associate professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego. – See more at: http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/

http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/11/pump-up-the-storage/

Pump Up the Storage

Is all about pumped hydro storage. Yes, you have more places to do pumped hydro than Iowa and Illinois do. But be more careful because EN will say that if Norway can do it, so can Iowa. Norway is 98% hydro already. The State of Washington isn’t.

If you say “niche,” EN will expand “niche” to include the whole world. That is the pitfall of greatest size. You can’t explain to most people that they should allow engineers to do the engineering. Have you worked as a design engineer in industry? If you have, you know that everybody wants to tell you how to do your job. They all think that they know more about it than any degreed engineer. Yes, I do have design experience in industry.

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On-site electrification notwithstanding, diesel for trucking is a yet-unsolved carbon dependency for all primary industry I can think of (if I can count a fishing boat as a truck). Perhaps synfuel is a logical next step, but fuelling a continuing global fleet of ex-diesel engines seems to invite a blackmarket in fossil diesel. My crystal ball is dark.

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Absolutely! I recall hearing of money-saving on refrigerant for mine trucks’ air conditioners. Propane worked reasonably well, until a spate of fires put an end to that.

With trucks costing the odd million dollars, it was a false economy. However, that does indicate the nature of the tricks and traps that lie ahead.

How about battery power for 300-tonne payload tippers? Duty 24/7 doesn’t leave time for charging, except possibly for flow batteries.

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“power for 300-tonne payload tippers? Duty 24/7 doesn’t leave time for charging”

Definitely a case for mine-site electrification– the tippers would be replaced by conveyor belts. Excavators and loaders can work off overhead lines. An underground advantage of removing diesels is that ventilation to clear CO etc is less demanding.

Electrification may benefit mines to the point of increasing world reserves. If you approximate the price of a mineral by the cost of extracting it, then the price of a mineral is currently dominated by the cost of diesel fuel used to extract it. If an electrified mine is cheaper, then it may be able to dig from deeper – thereby increasing its economic reserves.

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There are electric busses which use induction loops for charging while kneeling at stops. As Pullman has hills I am going to encourage the city to move to such units. There is plenty of opportunity for regenerative breaking.

This might work for open pit mine haulers.

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Singleton,

That reminds me of the wood chipper at a hardboard factory where I worked one summer. When a log was fed in, the demand meter immediately went to full scale then it dropped to a very low value after the long was chipped. That would be hard to accommodate if the device is a significant percentage percentage of the total load.

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Jim,

That is exactly the situation here in the New Mexico state of the U.S. They basically force the power company, Power New Mexico (PNM), to build solar systems and incentivate customers to instal roof-top solar systems.

When I talked to a state senator at a meeting on another subject, he asserted that we don’t need nuclear power since renewables can do the job. Another person I talked to had the same belief even though he was a retired physicist with a PhD. I’m not sure what it takes to get through to these people. It should be obvious that renewable systems deliver intermittent power.

PNM inserts informational material into envelops along with the power bill. Perhaps it would work to use the inserts to inform the public, perhaps by directing them to a special web site maintained by PNM. If only one percent of the customers read the material and only one percent of them became informed and contacted their state legislators, it might make a difference. I believe that I can get myself into a position to make such a suggestion.

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Edward Greisch: I would consider geothermal & especially hydroelectric power to be ‘low carbon’ energy sources which are very useful supplements to our energy supplies, in the regions where they are actually available.

The unreliables eg: wind and solar, have been far oversold in a way that makes them a harmful distraction. Any discussion of energy issues needs to emphasize this fact.

I doubt that wind is ever better than a useless distraction.

I think that solar can be a useful supplement in regions where air conditioning is a large energy use, so that electricity demand tends to peak when there is the most sunshine. Perhaps a detailed analysis will show this not to be the case.

Re: getting away from diesel trucks in mining operations. These two technologies would help.
http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2009/07/trolleytrucks-trolleybuses-cargotrams.html
http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2011/01/aerial-ropeways-automatic-cargo-transport.html

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Jim,

In California, the air conditioning load peaks AFTER solar systems deliver their maximum output. However, that is not true in all locations. At a meeting at Power New Mexico I was told that the two peak at about the same time.

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Hi Jim,
I have loved the trolley bus and trolly truck page on Low Tech magazine for years now, as it actually made me challenge my preference for trams. The engineer that developed the double-decker train once wrote papers showing how fast we could rig up trolley bus systems across Sydney in an oil crisis.

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Another election in Australia today, and still no power party that openly supports nuclear power? Somehow we need to go viral. Meme’s and posters and agit-prop. Creative, cranky, viral youtubing.
EG: We need someone like this guy appealing to the youth sector. He’s a youth political activist, speaking ‘youth’ on ‘youthtube’ with the weird, fast-paced visual and meme vocabulary of that genre. Check it out: It’s a Labor promo about medicare, so be warned. Political activism. But isn’t nuclear in the end political? I personally would support the Tom Blees notion of nationalising energy and the government just rolling out 115 reactors per year (worldwide).

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EN: NO. I am saying that the way to get everybody to agree is to get everybody to understand what science is and to enable everybody to calculate [numbers and math] what the correct answer is.

Confession: My dad was in the advertising business, so I know about that stuff.

EN’s video is exactly what scares me about EN. It is exactly what we don’t want to convince anybody of anything. What we have to do is teach everybody that science is about experiments, and what is an experiment.

EN: You are unable to hear what I am saying. That is not unexpected.

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Good! It’s mutual then. Please don’t talk to me any more.

Everything you say grates, and it has me reconsidering whether or not (as an activist) I even direct newcomers back to this website. I’m concerned that your…. whatever it is…. completely alienates newcomers who might just be asking honest questions. There’s just no need to be as rude as you are. You’re a thorn in the side of nuclear advocacy, and don’t seem to have any real experience in advertising or changing opinion. My wife’s a graphic designer. I run a graphic design firm. This is our game. People like you are not in it.

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From the comments policy: “A core goal is to seek timely, cost effective and technology-driven solutions.”

I invite EN to withdraw his comment a few up-thread which directly attacks Edward Greisch as a person, invites others to adopt a “cranky” attitude and offers comments on what type of person another poster is, before moving on the threaten (threaten who?) to actively divert others away from BNC, presumably because it is not an echo chamber for a single point of view.

C’mon, EN. This is a big world. Does adopting an uncompromising and aggressive stance invite a similar response?

I have previously recommended the book “I’m Right and You’re an Idiot – The toxic state of public discourse and how to clean it up”.

The main thrust of it is to demonstrate through many interviews with world-leading opinion makers that both getting angry (a.k.a. cranky) and making others angry does nothing to bring folks together. Anger forces us apart and diverts our efforts to defending our positions rather than bringing us together to find common ground and to develop solutions.

I’m jack of reading tit-for-tat assaults between the relative social outlooks of a graphic artist and engineers, of which I am one. Of course they aren’t identical. Chapter 2, with Roger Connor, author of “The Advocacy Trap” is one of more than 20 which explore what it is that invites animosity and thus prevents discourse and problem-solving. It is worth reading.

Being a professional engineer is in part about offering opinions which are absolutely technically correct. I and other engineers are thus prone to adopt an attack-dog stance when provoked. I have little to show for having done so on this site. I am trying to gather knowledge of how to open up communication channels rather than to close them and recently this earned me a negative response from EN because my chosen audience (Rotary clubs) or my choice of topic were not to his satisfaction. I’d prefer not to have read such a comment, but I move on. At least I know where I won’t be getting support. I actually applaud EN and wife for using their talents as graphic artists. A little approval for those who are doing their level best in whatever field would not go astray.

The book I referred to was written by one who is president of a Vancouver PR agency, with 40 years’ experience at the top of his craft. He is chair of the David Suzuki Foundation, founder of DeSmogBlog and author of “Climate Cover Up”. He is, thus, known to many who have been concerned about climate change for a number of years. He is also extraordinarily well positioned to say something sensible about how and why conflict can be avoided.

So, folks, can we please find ways to stop trying to damage each other and to focus on more worthy goals?

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singletonengineer: Thank you. To try to say it in a positive way: Our advertising has to be presentable on PBS, in school and in Sunday school. I prefer “Nova” but “Bill Nye the Science Guy” would be OK. “Sid the Science Kid” is at a too low level. It could be on “The Electric Company.” We need older adults as well as children to watch it. We want schools to adopt it as a free lesson.

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Hi Singleton,
I apologise if you heard me criticising your or your Rotary club talks. Sometimes these high-information nights are more personal and convincing because they are personal, like the difference between mass produced commercial movies and those live theatre productions you’ll never forget. You should have an influence! They’ll meet you personally, and not be sidetracked by silly Youtube commenters raving on about some conspiracy or other. Your strategy is high-information, low exposure, and that’s great for lasting impact.

Mine is purposely more superficial, more catchy. Low info, high-exposure. Repeated. Designed for the bored, uninterested middle. The non-political footy watching Big Brother audience. We should be working together. I’m after a catchy meme with just enough technical info to convince: for each of the Top 10 anti-nuclear myths. The hardest to debunk for the audience I’m after? Renewables. But I think I’ve got an angle even for that one, focusing on the Dr James Hansen soundbyte. A heading like,

“Did you know the world’s most famous climatologist said believing wind and solar can run the world is like believing in the Tooth Fairy?”

Probably a photo of him, or a photo of a Tooth Fairy (or Easter Bunny, as that was the other comparison. Depends on the quality of the images we can find).

Then what to include in the smaller type underneath? One paragraph, probably not even 100 words. Maybe not even 50! Then a link back to here. Done.

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EN, I would be happy to help with the writing and rewriting of your one-liners and their paragraphs.

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Excellent. If the muse hits for any of the top 10 most common anti-nuclear accusations, let me know. We’ll bury those other hatchets for now. Preferably under a layer of biochar! ;-)

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Barry Brook has already written some FAQs that we need to study first – and refer to in your texts. Someone more skilled at navigation than me could provide us with the link(s).

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What is wrong with the movie “Pandora’s Promise:

What is wrong with the movie “Pandora’s Promise is that the camera never zooms in on the geiger counter closely enough for the student to observe the settings and read the meter. That makes the movie useless. We need a movie that teaches the student how to operate the geiger counter including how to diagnose and repair simple problems such as a dead battery. The student must be shown and instructed in how to log data and figure out what the data means. That way, the student can do his own Pandoras’ Promise study and actually understand where it came from. Then the student will have no doubt that trickery was not involved. When the student acquires his own data with his own instruments, he can become convinced that no other person lied to him about the data or the analysis. We need a supply of decently reliable but cheap geiger counters to do this.
The above method is how science is taught in schools that do a good job of teaching science. It is how I learned science as an undergraduate, not counting theory classes. We aren’t going to give everybody a degree in science, but we need to give everybody enough laboratory work so that they understand where science is coming from.

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“That makes the movie useless.”

Yup. Mr Subtlety and Tact at work again! Your problem is that you think we’re in a battle for their minds. We’re not. We’re in a battle for their hearts. I know it is shocking, but the average citizen just doesn’t care that much about the actual science: more than how many scientists ‘believe’ a certain thing and how well they present it. People ‘feel’ things today. They don’t think them. I might wish that people were objective enough to come here and get hit around the head by the iron fist of your absolutely dogmatic presentation of the data. But instead, the first time they get a whiff of your disdain for them, they’ll ignore every single thing you ever said, and just walk away. You’ll be wondering why they’re so stupid, and they’ll be wondering why you’re so rude. Classic communication ‘noise’. (Welfare term, not the physics. It’s about psychology here mate). I’m sorry this is so hard for you, I genuinely am. But, basically, you simply don’t know how to be nice.

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EN: I was trying to be nice and not mention your [EN’s rudeness] but that has become impossible. Every thing EN says about me is really about EN.

People cannot think and get correct answers with their “hearts.” Hearts cannot think either literally or figuratively. If people are emoting [being emotional] rather than thinking, then Homo Sap is going extinct without a doubt. To get the correct answers, answers that allow our survival, the brain must be trained and used to its maximum capacity. Primitive processes like emotions must be suppressed.

Eclipse Now is just the noise that makes rational communication a struggle here. EN is obnoxious, and a lot of other adjectives provided by EN apply to EN.

I have no disdain for people in general and I do not display any. EN uses the word “disdain” merely as a putdown of scientists and engineers in general. It is EN’s disdain, not anybody else’s.

EN: Learn your lessons. If you want to do a pure emotion web site, put it elsewhere. A pure emotion web site cannot save us from Global Warming.

EN is complaining that engineers and scientists MUST be in control rather than emotional managers if the project of survival is to succeed. SO sorry EN, you have to give up your “leadership” position if you want to survive.

EN may think he has an hereditary lock on leadership, but it isn’t so. In other countries, such as Japan and China, engineers are more likely to become the corporate leaders. As sales-led companies crash and burn, they will be replaced by engineer-led companies.

This comment was one I was trying to avoid.

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Geiger tubes went out of use 50 years ago, replaced by scintillators, though the word is used by some writers to suggest the ugly past. I suggest calling the instruments “gamma counters” as a term that says what it is in plain English.

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Edward, the science will be done by the scientists. And as long as those scientists get to monitor the climate and build the nuclear solutions, I’m happy. The feeling will be done by the feelies. And as long as they vote for policies that allow the scientists to do their work, I’m happy. But right now, my guess is there are far more “9/11 Troofers” and “Moon Landing was Faked” conspiracy theorists in Australia than there are people who even know what a breeder reactor is, let alone the decay chain on uranium and thorium pathways. Nuclear is just DANGEROUS, don’t you know? Don’t you watch the news? Fukushima, Chernobyl? Ringing any bells?

That’s the level we’re dealing with. And I don’t care what you say, here in the real world they’re not going to read what you want them to read! But they can’t avoid a poster-heading that invades their eyes with a clever image. At first they’ll grimace. Some nuclear nut! But then they’ll see it again. What is it about? And one day, they might even walk up and read the 50 words under the heading and image.

One day, they might even tear off a tab.
And then they’ll meet you, and all will be undone.

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Edward G:

You wrote, ” I am saying that the way to get everybody to agree is to get everybody to understand what science is and to enable everybody to calculate [numbers and math] what the correct answer is.”

No!! It is not that simple!!

Often scientists disagree on what the correct answer is and have heated arguments even though they may be well versed in advanced integral calculus, statistics, chemistry, and physics. Moreover, there is a limit to what can be taught in the time available. We can’t all be like Samuel Johnson who is considered to be the last person who succeeded in acquiring all knowledge. We cannot all spend 16 years at universities after completing high school. Of course science and mathematics are important, but there are also other important subjects.

The ideal is to aim for a well rounded liberal education that includes enough math and science to understand the basics, but also to study history, economics, finance, psychology, sociology, ancient Greek mythology, literature, etc. Then, people will specialize in one of those fields considering their interests and abilities. That’s about the best we can do.

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DBB has given this discussion its name. For a moment there, I thought that “Rogerian” might apply to a certain regular on BNC.

A little Googling set me straight and I like what I found. Starting with the Wiki definition if Rogerian argument or Rogerian Strategy seems to be reasonable.

I am not attracted to the longer-winded descriptions of the process which introduce “step 5: find compromise” or similar. Compromise, to me, involves both sides hurting the same, as a very experienced policeman once defined the term to me when discussing options available to me after a neighbour put his cattle onto one of my paddocks. When I found out who it was, I was prepared to rip his head off. Compromise also, it seems to me, involves abandonment of some principles in order to achieve not agreement, but truce. Its sole positive attribute, it seems to me, is avoidance of wilful murder.

As far as I can tell, the primary Rogerian objective is to explore common ground, not so much as a step towards a “gotcha moment” where a painful compromise is offered and perhaps accepted. It involves genuine rapport between the parties, upon which further agreement can be built.

I’m new at this stuff. Maybe most of us are. Barry’s site rules suggest to me that he is well versed in the concept.

As I quoted upthread:
“Smashing heads does not open minds.”

If we are to reach the unwilling, it will, as EN holds, take more than simply more science and engineering.

My apologies for perhaps giving a pretense of getting my head around this middle path, but in essence it is what I try to follow with my talks to Rotary clubs and neighbours, where I must tread lightly or be frozen out of the discussion.

Among engineers and scientists, who should professionally be adept at considering diverse opinion, Rogerian argument is probably less usual – some folk will prefer to dig straight into the data and the theory.

It’s horses for courses, is it not?

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singletonengineer and DBB: Examine carefully who actually makes insults, is rude, etcetera. It is not the engineers. You are well aware that nobody can prevent another person from intentionally or unintentionally misunderstanding or making stuff up.

Rogerian argument is for diplomats, the ones who are on neither side, the peacemakers. The argument has to be political, not factual. If the argument is factual, it is a matter of science. I would never apply for a job with the State Department, and I don’t know any engineer or scientist who would. That doesn’t prevent me from choosing one advertising agency over another.

What is non-Rogerian here: The opponent is not other people. The opponent is Mother NATURE. Nature does not compromise, ever. Nature kills. We have a simple choice: Comply with Nature or die/ go extinct. It is as simple as that. How much time do we have? Very little.

Compare with the fossil fuel company advertising on TV. What are those ads like? Does the fossil fuel industry appear to be objectionable to the Sunday school teacher? No. There is nothing objectionable on the surface of ff industry advertising. FF industry ads appear to be “dignified,” and for good reason. Our advertising should be no less dignified. Don’t be a “knob turner,” an advertiser who gets people to change channels before the message is presented.

Rogerian argument
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“Rogerian argument is a conflict solving technique based on finding common ground instead of polarizing debate.[1][2] Baumlin describes the Rogerian Argument: “The Rogerian strategy, in which participants in a discussion collaborate to find areas of shared experience, thus allows speaker and audience to open up their worlds to each other” and in this attempt at mutual understanding there is the possibility, at least, of persuasion. For in this state of sympathetic understanding we recognize both the multiplicity of world views and our freedom to choose among them – either to retain our old or take a new.[3]

Contents [hide]
1 Origin
2 In practice
3 References
4 External links
Origin[edit]
American psychologist Carl R. Rogers described his “principles of communications”[4][5] as a form of discussion based on finding common ground. He proposed trying to understand our adversary’s position, by listening to them, before adopting a point of view without considering those factors.[1][2][5]

This form of reasoning is the opposite of Aristotelian argumentation, an adversarial form of debate, because it attempts to find compromise between two sides.[1][5]

In practice[edit]
This type of discussion is extremely useful in emotionally charged topics since it downplays emotional and highlights rational arguments.[2]

Young, Becker and Pike identified four stages:[5]

An introduction to the problem and a demonstration that the opponent’s position is understood.
A statement of the contexts in which the opponent’s position may be valid.
A statement of the writer’s position, including the contexts in which it is valid.
A statement of how the opponent’s position would benefit if they were to adopt elements of the writer’s position. If the writer can show that the positions complement each other, that each supplies what the other lacks, so much the better.”

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It might be simpler put …

It’s tempting to call the author of a damn fool theory a damn fool, but you would better find common ground in that both of you want a theory that works.

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We can, perhaps should ask, where is the common ground ?

Well, they are in the business of selling energy and we could wish them well with that, it is just their use of fossil carbon that we want eliminated.

Considering their immense power to control opinions and governments, it may be more politick to suggest a change in their energy sources than a fight to extinction.

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Sounds like the writer is quite the negative one. Sure, RE is impossible now. But no one knows the future. I assume, though, that by the time a thousand nuke plants get built, even more than (4x) that in RE capacity will be built. By then, even batteries, which are the most efficient type of storage, will be made dirt cheap in machine automation.
In 35 years, solar should be covering the Max amount of land it would ever need to cover – 1%.
This is a guess based on solar’s increasing growth curve and It’s decreasing prices.
So, nothing is “impossible”, just quite unlikely until the machines get busy.

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Thanks Fire. I’m not here to posit anything, I just provided the link out of interest…because I’m interested and so survey the literature.

On the issue of renewables eventually making it, there is also this interesting recent link.

http://www.resilience.org/stories/2016-08-18/some-reflections-on-the-twilight-of-the-oil-age-part-iii

I find this one most interesting because the writer (who seems to be well on top of the issues) computes that a minimum ERoEI required to maintain modern society is about 30:1. This is well above the 10:1 that is normally considered as a minimum, as calculated by the best known world expert in this field, Prof Charles Hall and his associates.

If the 30:1 calculation is correct that knocks out nearly all energy sources as ‘solutions’ and pushes along the agenda that dramatic societal change has to happen…. and this priority overshadows the issue of energy generation.

All this does not combat advances in renewable technology, but it does cause us to think about hard limits.

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Fire of Energy,
if there were 100 Tesla Gigafactories pumping out cars, the world would run out of lithium. Batteries the answer? Maybe for a limited transport sector, but not for powering up our grids overnight!

http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Is-There-Enough-Lithium-to-Maintain-the-Growth-of-the-Lithium-Ion-Battery-M

Dr James Hansen said the world should build 115 reactors a year*
http://goo.gl/Xx61xU
(Note: on a reactors-to-GDP ratio the French *already beat this build rate back in the 70’s under the Mesmer plan. 115 reactors a year should be easy for the world economy. France did it faster with older technology, and today’s nukes can be mass produced on an assembly line. Also, GenIV breeders are coming that can eat nuclear waste and covert a 100,000 year storage problem into 1000 years of clean energy for America and 500 years for the UK with today’s levels of nuclear waste).

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Also, Fire of Energy, consider this. Eco-modernists have analysed it, and remain dismayed about the potential for intermittent, unreliable renewables because the storage would bankrupt any nation that tried to do it!
EG: If wind and solar provided just a third of Germany’s power it would cost so much money to buy just one week of storage that you could instead nuke the entire grid. Backup a third of the grid for a week, or nuke the entire grid for 60 years! If Germany was 100% renewables, the storage would cost 3 times as much for one week. It gets worse. German winters often cut renewables for many weeks at a time. Two weeks storage is 6 times as expensive, and three weeks is 12 times as much as nuking the entire grid! Remember, that does not even include buying and maintaining the wind and solar farms in the first place! Point 2 below
http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/issues/renewables/the-grid-will-not-be-disrupted

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By the time everyone finally come to their senses about nuclear, battery tech should have improved to the point of being cheap enough for smaller scale entities to invest in. By that, i mean nuclear should be a bit less expensive due to more public acceptance. But that probably ain’t happening.
Also, nothing wrong with a few extra powerlines, lest the RE people really want to fail. About winters, is the same point i try to get across – if they want 99% renewable energy without nuclear, then they MUST integrate powerlines over rather long distances (AND get the batteries 5 – 10x cheaper) . However, i live in California and am already used to a bunch of long distance lines (it should be no big deal from an enviro point of view).
Eventually, the solid state PV/battery grid will be almost as cheap as a full on nuclear one. The cost reductions from machine automation will only be countered by either large scale recycling requirements or large scale security requirements (chemical from solar and fission wastes are, too me, far less of an issue, though).
I mean, it will be quite awesome to see others make a new battery for less than what Tesla will, and which lasts much longer (and Tesla is already starting to make batteries for 80 – 90% LESS ENERGY costs than previous battery manufactures )! It’s this that revived my hope in full on solar.
Sometimes, i think that nuclear is just too much for most all entities to want to deal with, governments afraid of security and the opposition from the public in general, etc. If i was smart (i mean, to be rich enough to make money off of electrical generation) solar would be easier than nuclear. Isn’t that’s why it’s growing? When costs go down just 30% there well be no more need for PV subsidies (except psychological), and exponential growth will continue till “too much” land is covered. This is why i believe the big money will soon be into making batteries much more practical than they are today (i guess utilities will demand that).

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It seems unlikely that renewables, even if storage were free, would ever cost as little as nuclear. Renewables have to be overbuilt by a factor of four or five, even with storage, to provide reliable power. That, combined with the far greater quantity of concrete and steel required for renewables, runs the cost up.

Power lines are not so quick to build as one might suppose. Often they are opposed on environmental grounds, not infrequently by the very same people who oppose nuclear power. That can easily delay construction by 10 years. Acquiring the right of way is not an easy task either.

Regarding batteries, it is unclear that lithium is the way to go for huge amounts of power storage. Lithium is currently the way to go for electric and hybrid cars because of power and energy density considerations which are far less important for storing huge amounts of power for non-mobile applications. So, at the present time, we really don’t know what battery technology would be best for power distribution systems.

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I agree that nuclear would be FAR easier at this time, however i must argue that point about a hundred gigafactories causing peak lithium. We have enough lithium in the oceans to power 1000 full on 10 billion person planetary civilizations (living at rather high standards). I did the math (and we only need to power one)…
Since lithium is but a very small part of actual final battery costs, and with the proven more efficient manufacture, we could easily absorb the extra cost of ocean extraction (and that, too, would become cheaper once overtaken by necessity).

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