Climate change: The Critical Decade

Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by James R, May 23, 2011.

  1. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    Just make sure that they're low mercury, or mercury free.

    That particular mess is a timebomb just waiting to go off.
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  3. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    Quoting numbers from the beginning will always give you large percent gains.
    I didn't, I included right up to current rates and used the time frame where we have been building/installing them at good rates, and then I said double that in the next decade and double that again in the next and so that is a very agressive implementation. And no I didn't say we couldn't do that. I presume that we will.


    Doing that won't do much more than keep EVEN with our growth and that's IF we see 1% per year demand reductions, while our history shows the opposite, a 1/2% per year growth.

    They cost to much to retire that early even with higher gas prices.

    Yes there is, otherwise they would have much longer warranties.

    No they aren't, panels lose over time. They all do.
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  5. wellwisher Banned Banned

    During the last ice age, the earth was about 33% covered by ice. Since that time, the earth has been in a global warming cycle. The curve does fluctuate up and down but the longer trend is melting. Currently the earth is only about 10% covered by ice. Most of this ice melt occurred before human civilization. To a person of common sense, the present situation is just an extension of the same curve.

    If one wanted to know the real doom and gloom of global warming, just look at the historical data to see what happened in reality from 33% to 10% ice melt. This may be different than the spectacular speculation that currently sells. Don't get me wrong, I like entertainment too, but too many people assume this is reality TV.

    The data that allowed me to see the trick was when NASA showed that the poles of Mars were also melting, at the same time the poles on the earth were melting. I suppose humans are doing this also. A better theory would have to be connected to the sun.

    What I see happening in science is equivilent to a magic trick. Here is how the magic trick works. What we do is start with a large curve, plotted over millions of years. We then pick a small segment of that larger curve, and interpret that small segment apart from the larger curve, calling the smaller segment an independent curve.

    As an loose analogy of this special effect, say we begin with a sine wave. To make the magic trick work, I will pick a tiny segment that intersects at y=0 and is sloping up quickest to the maxima of the sine wave. Next, we will detach our perspective from the entire sine wave (large scale historical data) and base our theory on what appears to be that small straight line with maximum slope. The theory is no longer about a sine wave, but the magic of that fast linear curve. It is a good trick.

    What makes this trick work much easier is connected to fear/risk. This is the simplest way to narrow the mind, using the induced blood/brain chemicals associated with fight/flight, so you can't see the big curve. When the chemical potential of the fight/flight chemicals are active within the mind, the mind becomes linear. The brain is also wired to react on impulse, reflex and instinct, since there is no time to think. One needs stock answers. This makes the small curve look like the solution to fight/flight.

    If you can get past the fear so the blood/brain chemicals are different, this will allow the mind to expand beyond the small special effect curve. Next look at the larger scale data, from the ice age to the present. to see if the current trend is part of that larger curve.

    Science has always had a symbiotic relationship to magic, since most magic tricks require knowing about how the mind/sensory systems works. They also need science and engineering to create the apparatus onto which the illusion will be performed.

    I once saw a magician on TV make the Statue of Libery disappear. His trick was a technical feat, since he needed the entire auditorian to rotate so when the curtain was lifted, the statue was behind the entire audience. Without science such magic would be impossible. The fear and tiny curve help to rotate the stage so we can't see the larger curve.
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  7. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    All power sources need "subsidies" (if you are doing your books in neutral mode, they are entered as "investments"), and all existing ones get them and always have, because the benefits are largely externalized and the uncertainties in each individual case are great - it's all but impossible to set up a market to "buy" a power supply system.

    If coal wasn't given free use of the public environment to trash with mining and dump its waste in, fitted out with a transportation setup and electrical grid suited to its needs, and so forth, coal generated electricity would cost a fortune.

    Thermal solar is particularly handicapped thusly, because so much of its direct cost is up front and so little of it is externalized - compare the situation coal would be in if it had to pay for all the mining in advance and clean up its waste, or nuclear power if it had been required to bond against its risks as an industry and amortize its government supplied research and infrastructure development.

    Nevertheless, the necessary subsidies for solar - thermal being the cheapest - are so small compared with those already acceptable for (say) nuclear, or coal, that the amount is not the problem.
    Then neither are tax breaks, until we have to hand over the cash. Do your books as you please, but consistently.
    That also illustrates the urgency of the problem - failure to push alternatives as hard as possible will not simply leave us in our current state.
    So we are back to individual consumer retailed PV panels, the most expensive form of solar. Why are we comparing home generation with commercial supply? We don't do that with coal and nukes, when the subject is the "critical decade".

    Let's at least do better: in addition to noting that the buyer who pays cash would lose only the opportunity cost of investment - something like 2% these days, rather than 6 - and should also make some money selling power to the grid, in addition to getting superior reliability overall (from the mutual backup) and enjoy expansion possibilities as much of the overhead is sunk (prudent assumptions of both rising bought power costs and dropping PV panel costs are reasonable over a 30 year lifetime).

    The things were almost paying off over thirty years with the worst reasonable circumstances assumed.
  8. Spud Emperor solanaceous common tater Registered Senior Member

    I use about 240kWh per month - gas cooking, wood heater, solar hot water, no cooling (I'm in Australia so it gets hot but I LOVE it hot) and my 2kW system produces about the same.

    We had some pretty attractive incentives to go solar and a good feed in tariff so the system will have paid for itself in ten years. My motivation to go solar was not a financial one however. I'd have a bigger system but for space constraints and shade issues (trees).

    It's very affordable to install PV in Australia and the current uptake rates are high and accelerating.

    The cost of retail power is high and going up fast so it will always be an attractive option.

    Some good sized wind farms are going up too.
    If only we could harness the ocean's power. A huge percentage of Australia's population is in the coastal belt (the rest is a bloody big desert) and it's a lively ocean.
  9. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    Funny you should mention that...the reason I keep nattering about developing new tidal power technologies is because I read somewhere over 50% of people live within 50 miles of a coastline.
    Think about it- many of the worlds' largest cities are on the coast.
    (Mexico city and Beijing are exceptions that come to mind, but still...)
  10. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    People (the green movement, conservationists) will find reasons to object to tidal or wave power generation sites.

    Nobody wants power generation to occur in their backyard, but everybody wants the benefits.
  11. billvon Valued Senior Member

    "Costing too much" is relative. There are many vehicles which, if gas prices doubled, would simply be too costly to drive.

    Why? There is a clear advantage to having 20 or 30 year warranties, because some solar rebate programs require them, and thus they sell more panels with the 20/30 year warranty attached. Beyond those requirements 1) a solar panel producer doesn't get much benefit from extending warranties and 2) they simply have no concrete proof that they will last beyond 40 years, because 40 years ago they weren't making crystalline solar panels for anything other than exotic applications (i.e. space vehicles.)

    Your underlying point seems to be "switching to renewable energies would be hard." I agree, it will be. But we really don't have much choice. Cheap oil WILL run out, and at that point we will greatly curtail our use of it. This curtailment can come one of two ways:

    1) A massive depression due to lack of energy for trucking, aviation etc and the resulting wars over the remaining oil.

    2) A switch to alternative sources of energy

    with a continuum in between. Our choice. It would surely seem wise to choose option 2 while we still have time to implement it.
  12. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

  13. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    Actually I was talking about the other parts of the system which have FAR shorter warranties than the panels themselves.

    The panels are warranted for typically 25 years, but the warranty is always 90% first 10 years and 80% of rated power up to 25 years because it's well known that the output falls off over time, and at a fairly consistant rate.

    Except all the renewables you have mentioned are replacements for Electricity, which is produced primarily by Coal and NG, followed by Nuclear and Hydro, and very little by OIL.

    And we aren't running out of cheap Coal, NG, Nuclear or Hydro anytime soon.

    Last edited: May 30, 2011
  14. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    Coal companies restore the land now.
    They deal with their fly ash (they sell it as an ingredient in concrete)
    They now scrub their smoke stacks and remove mercury.
    The Grid is not designed for them any more than it is designed for large wind farms.

    That's exactly what is done now, with the exception of gov research into nuclear, but that's water under the damn and means nothing going forward.
    The fact is our CURRENT subsidy structure strongly favors renewables.

    Then if that was the case one would expect them to be popping up like mushrooms after a spring rain....
    And yet the amount of CSP shipped has been going down, not up.

    And I do. ITCs are paid in the year the renewables are put in production and PTCs are paid based on production and we are turning over the cash every day of the year for both of these.

    You'd know if you paid attention to what others besides you write.
    We are discussing this because SE brought up consumer retailed PV panels.

    Most homeowners have to finance a purchase that big, that's why it's 6%.
    There is little to be gained based on "Superior Reliability" as the system as priced does not have any storage mechanism and the Grid itself is so reliable as to make this fairly insignificant benefit. In fact, the same weather conditions that can play havoc with local grid power can also wipe out a home PV system, so in this case, it's a toss up.

    You won't make any money selling power to the grid as I sized the system at half the size of the normal demand, so you are getting half from what you generate and half from the grid. I did it his way because this is by far the cheapest solution for the homeowner since the system only produces 3,800 watts max and frequently you will need more wattage than that, but when you do, you get the excess power from the grid, and of course for the 16 hours a day when your system isn't generating and for the days at a time when it is cloudy and your system isn't producing at all.

    An "Off Grid" solution, which has both the wattage and storage capacity to live off the grid would cost over 4 times as much as the one I mentioned and would never break even.

    Dropping PV panel costs over time don't matter since you have to buy them all up front. Rising cost of electricity does help, but not much over this time horizon.

    Last edited: May 30, 2011
  15. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    Yes but that's still not many in the global car market.
    In the US, the top two sellers were the Ford F-150 V8, and the second was the Chevy V8 Silverado and the 10th was the V8 - Dodge Ram, together selling ~1,000,000 vehicles a year, and trucks stay on the road 5 years longer than cars.

    As far as the Leaf and Volt....

    General Motors sold 493 Volts in April. (Down from the 608 in March).
    LEAF went from 298 in March to 573 in April, which is CLEARLY not "as fast as they can make them".

    In fact in the first 150 days, since December 2010 when plug-ins first went on sale, there have sold just 2,797 of these new "Electric" vehicles.

    To put that in perspective, even with the huge subsidy for the EVs ($7,500 per car (which will run out in a few years)) they sell that many, of just those 3 trucks I mentioned, every day of the year.

  16. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Agreed. However, we will need a lot more power for EV's, and one of the best sources of power for fossil fueled vehicles right now is natural gas - which will reduce the amount available for power production.

    Yes, it is. We have about 25 people on the waiting list for them here at QC. Only about 15 have been delivered. So yes, when there's a waiting list for them, they ARE selling them as fast as they can make them. They will come off reservation-only ordering in 2012, at which point they may be able to make them faster than demand.
  17. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    The ongoing subsidies of the existing and new (proposed) coal train routes in MN (including the new one through Rochester, MN, among others) - that aspect alone of the economic value of the government favoritism shown to the power companies's burning of coal - is last I looked greater than the State's wind power subsidy total. And of course hundreds of times larger than the thermal solar subsidy, which is essentially zero.

    Remove a couple of the larger of the ongoing, continuing coal subsidies - say, the free use of the public air and water for combustion waste dumping, or the tax breaks on all that coal train right of way, or the eminent domain advantages - and coal might disappear as a power source in my state. It would be considerably more expensive, for sure.
    Not until subsidized at at least comparable levels - several multiples of the current subsidy amounts.

    Installation of a DC transmission grid, say. Or storage subsidies comparable to nuclear's.
    No. The coal mining, for example, is pay (and only partially) as you go - as if the construction cost of the solar collector were assessed over its lifetime per joule as they were collected. If essentially the entire cost of collecting coal energy over the lifetime of a coal boiler, including the rehab cost of the public waters and mined out landscape, barring only maintenance costs of the boiler itself, were assessed up front, those boilers would be considerably more expensive.

    And nuclear is specifically and by law exempted from bonding for risk - it has been granted liability caps, exemptions from certain kinds of damages, and favorable official risk assessments, while being protected from the private market by government created industry-wide risk pools. Neither does it have to pay back government-furnished research and investment, not even the ongoing and current stuff, not even the interest - even though the government is currently in debt, and paying interest itself on all that industry subsidy.
    No, you don't.
    Over a thirty year time horizon, rising electricity costs are a major factor - the profit on the sellback juice goes up very quickly, almost directly with the rate, for example.
    Last edited: May 30, 2011
  18. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    Please post ANNUAL subsidies provided to Coal companies by MN, because I couldn't find any in the state budget.

    In any case, you don't look at subsidies as gross amounts, but the only fair way to look at them is on a PER kWh basis, and on that basis coal has zip subsidies compared to wind or solar.

    The grid wasn't subsidized.

    Except there is no justification in doing so. And it's not going to happen so the question is, do you just like to bitch about the decisions made in the past?
    Do you think anyone cares what was done or not done before?
    It's what's happening NOW and in the future that matters and NOW the subsidies are all in favor of renewables.

    But we aren't building new nukes so who the fuck cares?
    Again, why do you harp on things that have NO impact?????

    Of course you do. When you install a home PV system you buy all the panels up front. You could of course add more over time, but the best prices are when you size ALL the components together, so it saves you nothing to add more later as then your inverter won't be large enough, and two smaller inverters will cost more than one larger one.

    Not really, electricity prices have actually been less than the CPI since the 80s, so over time the cost of electricity is not a sure thing to rise very much, indeed if as you keep saying as we deploy this rediculously cheap Solar Thermal and phase out the expensive Coal and Nuclear it should lower prices (isn't that what you've been claiming?) . In any case, the problem for the home PV buyer has to first pay the 10+ years of having bills ~3 times as much. So yes, over time they can in fact save money if they live in the house long enough to do so.

    There is little to no sell back juice.
    I speced a system that would produce ~1/2 the power a house needed.
    Doesn't make much sense to produce much more because you have to buy it at night and cloudy days and the power company typically only pays you based on NET delivery over a month. (even with a system that tracks by TOD, the PEAK time is several hours past the solar peak, so you would still be selling cheap electricity and buying more expensive electricity)

    To build out a system that will put out more power than you use would cost over twice as much, giving you very high initial costs (~ 6 times your electric bill) and potentially take even longer to pay back.

    Last edited: May 31, 2011
  19. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Your inability to detect a subsidy unless an official bureaucrat labels it for you, "subsidy for such and so" in an official budget, is noted, and all of your assertions regarding the costs of various power sources considered accordingly.
    If we aren't talking about where to put our investment in future power sources, what are we talking about?
    We are amortizing a fixed cost. The higher the CPI, the faster the PV system pays off and the greater the marginal value of expanding it by increments - if juice prices track the CPI at all.
    Depends on your usage pattern and storage setup - set things up so that you are buying cheap and selling expensive, if you can; otherwise, since you are overproducing at off peak price hours, you are just selling cheap and buying what you would have bought anyway.

    Unless your usage pattern tracks the price fluctuations exactly, you will have some power to sell or a greater than "average" price advantage from the PV setup - one of the two. Pick the most advantageous.

    The takehome is this: we are comparing the most expensive, inefficient, dubious source of "renewable" power we can find (private home commercial installation of PV panels without storage) and it still almost makes straight economic sense compared with the current setup.
    Last edited: May 31, 2011
  20. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    No, your inability to find the line item, even when provided a link to the detailed state budget, that shows where the state pays a subsidy for coal is noted.

    I think investment decisions are mainly made at the local level but one of the considerations they is that we have HUGE in place Federal subsidies for Wind and Solar (both thermal and PV), and that those subsidies are good for 10 years from the time the source is put in production.
    More to the point, because the subsidies are based on Investment Tax Credits and Production Tax Credits, there are also no actual CAP on the subsidies.
    Still, even with those in place and NO PTC or ITC available for Coal or NG and the looming threat of Carbon Taxes, we are still building/installing more Coal and NG plants. We even have a lot of nuclear in the planning stages, though I doubt more than half the projects will actually move forward.

    That's the point, they haven't, they have gone down in comparison. But regardless of what happens in the future, what you miss is that it is already 3 times as expensive per month, for ~10 years to replace about half your power with PV, and then another 10 years or so till you break even and that is what tends to limit how large a system someone is likely to put up to start with.

    Most localities don't have time of day pricing for residential customers, so you pay the same per kWh 24/7.
    For the places that do have TOD pricing, there is a slight overlap in peak prices and solar peak, but the biggest peak in demand comes after the sun goes down for much of the year and so there is little benefit in this plan.
    I didn't price in any kind of storage system, but all of them are very expensive per kWh of storage and so you can't really expect to make money with this strategy.

    Not really. The power companies today make the most favorable conditions imaginable for private home production of PV energy.
    Indeed the buying back of energy at the RETAIL price is a huge subsidy to the home energy producer. One that wouldn't exist if/when the amount of home produced power was more than a pittance.

    Still, considering the huge losses in the generation/distribution of power from central locations and the now fairly low prices for high quality panels and their long life expectancy the home production of ~1/3 of typical home's electrical needs in sun friendly locations could indeed reduce our incremental demand for power needs for residential energy which accounts for about 33% of our electrical demand.

    Last edited: Jun 1, 2011
  21. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    Not really.
    Power companies rely on NG to fill in for peaks because the fuel is more expensive but the generation equipment is comparatively cheap and they can be started up fairly quickly and shut off when not needed. But if we up our baseload by 10% for EV charging they will fill that demand primarily with Coal (and possibly nuclear) not NG.

    Well then all that means is they simply didn't plan on making many of them.
    The FACT is, in 150 days they have sold the equivilent of ONE days sales of just 3 models of V8 trucks, so your "they are selling them as fast as they can make them" falls a bit flat, since car companies can obviously build cars much faster than 18 friggin cars a day.

  22. billvon Valued Senior Member

    NG peakers are quite different than NG combined cycle plants. Peakers are simple, inefficient, cheap plants intended to run only during peak demand. Combined cycle plants are extremely efficient, generate base load (because they are hard to throttle up/down rapidly) and are a lot more cost effective when run at a constant power output. California has quite a few of these that run around the clock.

    ?? They plan on making a lot, but they also realized that demand would greatly outstrip supply as they got up to speed. And having a tsunami and earthquake destroy most of their output for a month didn't help them.

    Fortunately they are moving production to a US factory, which will help them manufacture more cars, get them to customers more quickly _and_ insulate them from region-specific disasters.

    They are building them faster than 18 cars a day (they're around 140 a day now) and they are selling them as fast as they can make them. Both are facts that you can verify pretty easily if you care to.
  23. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    Mainly because California won't allow coal plants (though they import power from coal plants from other states). ~48% of our electricity is from coal, about 18% from NG. But those numbers hide the fact that Utilities far prefer Coal over Gas. When you look at Utility use of Coal vs Gas it's ~4 to 1 ratio, but when you include all producers, including industrial users, it's only 2 to 1, because CC gas plants are used much more by industry. But, if we go to EVs, they are going to be recharged by power from Utilities and that is dominated by Coal power.

    Well they started production in Dec 3rd of 2010, and by mid April they had delivered 5,300 vehicles world wide, which is still only about 40 per day.

    I'm sure they can build 140 a day, more even (I read one report that said they had actually built about 10,000 of them by April, or about 80 per day), but as I pointed out, just 3 US trucks averaged 2,800 per day, so that sorta puts those numbers in perspective.

    The other thing is that the cars are probably the most heavily subsidized consumer product in history, and it's being subsidized by almost every country that they are being sold in. But you have to rememeber that the subsidies either run out because of time or based on units sold, so the real question will be; How do the sales hold up after these large subsidies run out?

    Last edited: Jun 1, 2011

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