Amherst, MA Presentation, March 7

I will be rolling out version 3.0 of my presentation on climate that has already been around the Internet and back a couple of times.  Called “Don’t Panic:  The Science of the Climate Skeptic Position”, it will be given at 7PM in the Pruyne Lecture Hall at Amherst College on March 7, 2013.  Come by if you are in the area.

Topics include:

  • What does it mean when people say “97% of scientists agree with global warming?”   This statement turns out to be substantially less powerful when one understands the propositions actually tested.
  • The greenhouse gas effect of CO2 is a fact (did I surprise you?) but it is a second, unproven theory of strong positive feedbacks in the climate that causes the hypothesized catastrophe.
  • The world has indeed warmed over the last century, but not enough to be consistent with catastrophic forecasts, and not all due to CO2
  • While good science is being done, the science behind knock-on effects of global warming (e.g. global warming causedSandy) is often non-existent or embarrassingly bad.  Too often, the media is extrapolating from single data points
  • The “precautionary principle” ignores real negative effects of carbon rationing, particularly in lesser developed countries.

Speaker Pledge

The tone of the global warming debate is often terrible (on both sides).  The speaker will assume those who disagree are persons of goodwill.   The speaker will not resort to ad hominem attacks or discussion of funding sources and motivations.

  • Daublin

    The pledge is a good idea, perhaps worth putting right up front.

    I often do ask myself, “how could anyone really believe____”. However, I can’t bear to sit through an hour of snipes and sarcasm.

  • netdr

    The alarmists do not understand that CO2 by acting like a blanket makes storms milder by spreading heat more evenly.

    Thermodynamics teaches us that by evening out temperatures wind speeds are slower.

  • Hmmmmm really? WHy does the IPCC disagree with you? Educate us. You know something I haven’t been reading about.

  • As the techinical skill narrows the more the scientist agrees with human made global warming.
    1. When compared with pre -1800s lev- els, do you think that mean
    global tem- peratures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?

    2. Do you think human activit y is a sig-nificant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?

    Results show that overall, 90% of par- ticipants answered “risen” to question
    1 and 82% answered yes to question
    2. In general, as the level of active research and specialization in climate science

    increases, so does agreement with the two primar y questions
    (Figure 1). In our sur- vey, the most specialized and
    knowledge – able respondents (with regard to climate change) are those who listed climate
    sci- ence as their area of exper tise and
    who also have published more than
    50% of their recent peer-reviewed papers
    on the subject of climate
    change (79 individu- als in total). Of these specialists,
    96.2% (76 of 79) answered “risen” to question 1

    and 97.4% (75 of 77) answered yes to ques- tion 2

    Results show that overall, 90% of par- ticipants answered “risen” to question
    1
    and
    82% answered yes to question
    2. In general, as the level of active research and specialization in climate science

    increases, so does agreement with the two primar y questions
    (Figure 1). In our sur- vey, the most specialized and
    knowledge – able respondents (with regard to climate change) are those who listed climate
    sci- ence as their area of exper tise and
    who also have published more than
    50% of

    their recent peer-reviewed papers
    on the subject of climate
    change (79 individu- als in total). Of these specialists,
    96.2%
    (76 of 79) answered “risen” to question 1

    and 97.4% (75 of 77) answered yes to ques- tion 2

  • The greenhouse gas effect of CO2 is a fact (did I surprise you?) but it is a second, unproven theory of strong positive feedbacks in the climate that causes the hypothesized catastrophe
    If the earth is 70% surface area water and water is a very strong ghg, how could it be anything else but a strong and fast feedback.

  • While good science is being done, the science behind knock-on effects of global warming (e.g. global warming causedSandy) is often non-existent or embarrassingly bad. Too often, the media is extrapolating from single data points.

    http://thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Hansen.jpg
    Extremes are happening now. In a warmer world influenced by global warming, there is nothing that isn’t effected anymore.

  • Conservatives understand this principle well. Its better to prevent something than to deal with it when it is too late. The economics are spelled out based on the science.
    The “precautionary principle” ignores real negative effects of carbon rationing, particularly in lesser developed countries.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/graphics.php?g=11

    Inaction vs action.
    The benefits of reducing greenhouse
    gas emissions outweigh the costs by trillions of dollars. Combining the
    results of the report
    by the German Institute of Economic Research and Watkiss et
    al. (2005) studies, we find that the total cost of climate action (cost plus
    damages) by 2100 is approximately $12 trillion, while the cost of inaction (just
    damages) is approximately $20 trillion..

  • gracco

    There you go, I thought that the water in oceans was a liquid.

  • Jeffery: It isn’t the job of others to educate you, at least, not in a discussion. Others bother to read before they comment. Perhaps you should, too. If you did, you would not be citing the IPCC as an authority.

  • Speaker Pledge

    The tone of the global warming debate is often terrible (on both sides). The speaker will assume those who disagree are persons of goodwill. The speaker will not resort to ad hominem attacks or discussion of funding sources and motivations.

    #########################
    I think you are being lazy and not doing your homework. If we are a discussion of the science, then proceed. Back up your statements.

  • Care to give something worth working with? Would you like to discuss fast feedbacks?

  • Rae

    How can anyone have a serious discussion on “climate change” without taking into consideration the massive amounts of aerosol spraying that is going on in our upper atmosphere for over a decade. It has taken away all of our rain in California and now on most days of the week the planes are spraying away our blue sky. I have watch the naval satellites where they spray miles and miles of grids out in the Pacific and break up all of our storms that are suppose to be moving onshore. By the time we get them the clouds and the storms energy has been zapped with this chemical spray they are using, and then we get no rain. Someone is clearly altering our jet stream and weather, so there is no way we can no any true science about this until we are able to factor in what it is they are spraying by the mega-tons each day in our country and in countries outside of the U.S. http://www.flickr.com/photos/40003627@N03/sets/72157627980192086/

  • netdr

    Actually since 1950 water vapor in the atmosphere has gone DOWN so how cane the puny warming of CO2 be amplified ?

    http://climate4you.com/images/NOAA%20ESRL%20AtmospericRelativeHumidity%20GlobalMonthlyTempSince1948%20With37monthRunningAverage.gif

    this is relative humidity but since temperature has changed less than 1 degree is is also absolute humidity !

  • netdr

    So the more a person is PAID by the climate change industry the more likely they are to believe in CAGW ???

    I do not doubt it !

  • netdr

    OK Since CO2 acts like a blanket to retard heat loss it spreads the heat more evenly.

    Thermodynamics says that the more even the heat the milder the storm. QED !

  • mas2

    I checked out the link, and they helpfully linked the two studies mentioned in your quote from it. The German Institute of Economic Research report linked describes the source of their numbers as – a model. Specifically, the WIAGEM model. Their description states, in part:
    “The model simulates economic events over a time span of 100 years (until the year 2100) for the world regions of Africa, Asia, Europe, Japan, Latin America, Middle East, and USA. The integration of an economic model with a climate model and an ecosystem model enables the quantification in economic terms of the effects of variations in the temperature and the sea level. By precisely modeling the energy markets for fossil energies and the potential replacement of these by renewable energy sources, it becomes possible to assess the effects of a transformation of the energy system.
    In addition, the model integrates the economic costs of changes in human health, the ecosystem, and spending on climate damages before and after the occurrence of extreme climate events. This allows a detailed estimation of the economic losses induced by climate change.”
    None of the assumptions underlying this model are explicated in any detail. Given the skeptical view of climate models, I cannot imagine the output of a combined climate/economic/ecosystem model will be seen as bearing any greater relationship to reality.
    I then checked out Watkiss et al. This paper is much more balanced; however the table on page ii, viewable at:
    http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29337/m1/3/
    lists as part of their summary some seriously disputed scenarios; the two that stood out to me were increases in malaria (recent studies show control measures have far greater influence on malaria than climate) and a 1.5C rise triggering the onset of the complete melting of the Greenland ice cap (recent studies have shown it is far more stable than that). I would be interested to hear if Watkiss has updated the analysis with the results of more recent studies.

  • mas2

    The only thing that graphic shows, is that as it gets warmer, it’s warmer than the old average more often. Shocker. I would have liked to see a temperature scale along with the sigma scale. Statistically significant does not mean practically significant (one of the first things I tried to drum into my students’ heads in the “How to lie with statistics” lecture).

    As an aside, Sebastian Wickenburg of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project noted some problems with the statistics used by Hansen. Interesting read:
    http://berkeleyearth.org/pdf/wickenburg-hansen-memo.pdf

  • Zachriel

    The lower atmosphere is saturated with water vapor with regard to the greenhouse effect. The upper troposphere, however, is relatively dry, so increased water vapor there would cause a significant increase in the greenhouse effect.

    Recent satellite data supports upper tropospheric moistening. See Soden et al., “The Radiative Signature of Upper Tropospheric Moistening”, Science 2005: “We use satellite measurements to highlight a distinct radiative signature of upper tropospheric moistening over the period 1982 to 2004. The observed moistening is accurately captured by climate model simulations and lends further credence to model projections of future global warming.”

  • Do you accept that the earth will more than likely blow on by 1.5*C?

    Sea level rising at 3ft/century for several centuries is a continual adaptation with no end for about 50 to 100 generations.

    A climate senitivity of 3*C for a doubling of earth’s co2 is just for fast feedbacks. Slow feedbacks are not included.
    Doubling of co2 gives 1.0*C and then add the feedback from water vapor which is a stronger ghg giving about another 2*C giving us the 3*C figure.

    1 Positive
    1.1 Carbon cycle feedbacks
    1.1.1 Arctic methane release
    1.1.1.1 Methane release from melting permafrost peat bogs
    1.1.1.2 Methane release from hydrates
    1.1.2 Abrupt increases in atmospheric methane
    1.1.3 Decomposition
    1.1.4 Peat decomposition
    1.1.5 Rainforest drying
    1.1.6 Forest fires
    1.1.7 Desertification
    1.1.8 CO2 in the oceans
    1.1.9 Modelling results
    1.1.9.1 Implications for climate policy
    1.2 Cloud feedback
    1.3 Gas release
    1.4 Ice-albedo feedback
    1.5 Water vapor feedback
    2 Negative
    2.1 Carbon cycle
    2.1.1 Le Chatelier’s principle
    2.1.2 Chemical weathering
    2.1.3 Net Primary Productivity
    2.2 Lapse rate
    2.3 Blackbody radiation

  • The only thing that graphic shows, is that as it gets warmer, it’s warmer than the old average more often.

    Interesting downplay and exactly the point.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Summary-of-Hansen-Nov-2011.html

    Above is the article that goes with it. It shows the temperatures as you point out get warmer. It also shows rare events for the 1950 to 1980 time frame becoming more common. 3 sigma events in terms of warming were .13% chance of happening during this time frame. Its different today.
    From Hansen:

    “The most dramatic and important change of the climate dice is the appearance of a new category of extreme
    climate outliers. These extremes were practically
    absent in the period of climatology, covering much less than 1% of Earth’s
    surface. Now summertime extremely hot outliers, more than three standard
    deviations (σ) warmer than climatology, typically cover about 10% of the land
    area. Thus there is no need to equivocate about the summer heat waves in Texas
    in 2011 and Moscow in 2010, which exceeded 3σ – it is nearly certain that they
    would not have occurred in the absence of global warming. If global warming is
    not slowed from its current pace, by mid-century 3σ events will be the new norm
    and 5σ events will be common.”

  • http://thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Hansen.jpg

    Back to the graphic. If you look at that white zone getting closer to our present time, You will see that we are spending less time in that normal zone of the 1950 to 1980 time period.

    The 3, 4, 5 sigma time zones have increased which represents the extremes of 50 to 80.
    The neg 3,4,5 sigma time zones are decreasing showing we are getting less of the cold temps compared to the past.
    This is one of many multiple lines of evidence showing a warming earth.

  • What can you find on specific humidity Net? Can you show me that specific humidity has gone dwon over the last 20 years?

  • Little do you know how the science community works. They are like animals to be right about the science. If they aren’t correct or someone can prove them wrong, they loose. You would be eaten alive with your rhetoric in their group.
    If you go into the article, the geologists had the lower scores of professionals. Annnnnd their bread is buttered by the oil andcoal industry.

  • Sources and explanation of person’s position they state is standard pracitce.

  • http://thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Hansen.jpg
    Compared to 1950 to 1980 with more energy in the atmosphere and oceans now we will have less energetic storms?
    What part of thermodynamics says that?

  • netdr

    Actual cost of climate change as of now is POSITIVE due to increased crop yields due to warming.

    Remember that records started in a little Ice age !

    Blaming CO2 for all storm damage is mentally challenged !

    Predicting future damage is dependent upon predicting temperature correctly and rainfall etc which current models can not do !

    The inability of climate
    scientists to predict climate even 11 years in their future proves that their
    level of understanding is very low !Why spend tens of trillions based on it ?

    AR4 model predictions .39
    ° C warming between 2001 and today.

    http://tiny.cc/zwa7x

    Actual COOLING between
    2001 and today.

    20001

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2001/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2001/trend

    http://tiny.cc/plt8q

    Least squares trend line; slope = -0.00610265 per year

  • netdr

    No I don’t believe it will warm by more than 1/2 degree C by 2100!

    The models have proven worthless so citing them is a waste of time !

  • john marvin

    How did the presentation go?

  • Ricahrd Lindzen isn’t that low. Good science is showing 1.5*C minimum and maximum with fast feedbacks at about 3*C. Slow feedbacks over the next several centuries will increase it a little more.
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/water-vapor-greenhouse-gas.htm

    How much does water vapor amplify CO2 warming? Studies show that water vapor feedback roughly doubles the amount of warming caused by
    CO2. So if there is a 1°C change caused by CO2, the water vapor will cause the temperature to go up another 1°C. When other feedback loops are included, the total warming from a potential 1°C change caused by CO2 is, in reality, as much as 3°C.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-sensitivity.htm

    Climate models have predicted the least temperature rise would be on average 1.65°C (2.97°F) , but upper estimates vary
    a lot, averaging 5.2°C (9.36°F). Current best estimates are for a rise of around 3°C (5.4°F), with a likely maximum of 4.5°C (8.1°F).

    These calculations use data from sources like ice cores, paleoclimate records, ocean heat uptake
    and solar cycles, to work out how much additional heat the doubling of greenhouse gases will produce. The lowest
    estimate of warming is close to the models – 1.8°C (3.24°F ) on average – but
    the upper estimate is a little more consistent, at an average of around 3.5°C (6.3°F).

  • Ted Rado

    I hate to sound like a broken record, but there is no viable renewable energy scheme on a large scale. Backup schemes for wind/solar use as energy as they save (or close to it). How do you store energy when the wind blows, to be used when the wind/sun stops? The most elementary engineering calcs show that the whole thing is nonsense. Do the numbers!!!
    Thus the only thing we can do if CGW is true is to move north. The idea that we can somehow do away with 80% of our fossil fuels is nuts. We can replace electricity generation with nuclear, but the same people who are against fossil fuels are also dead set againnst nuclear. Also, what do we do for motor fuel? Don’t mention biofuels without doing a material and energy balance on their production!!
    Any scheme that is viable must address the whole package: energy generation, backup, storage, getting everyone on board (incl China and India) etc. Studies I have done show energy storage (hydraulic, compressed air, etc.) to be hopelessly inefficient and expensive. Backup schemes (open cycle gas turbines) are sufficiently inefficient so that fuel savings from wind/solar are lost when the backup is running (most of the time). Some one needs to do the whole thing, showing energy balances at every step, from wind mills/solar plant through backup, storage, retrieval etc. I have done much of this and it is clearly nonsense. It is of course theoretically possible (as is making gasoline from CO2). If we are willing to have monthly electric bills of several thousand dollars per month, and flood the Rocky Mountains with reservoirs, it can be done. Easier and cheaper to move north.
    People are beginning to realize all this. A study in the Netherlands showed no net savings in fuel from wind energy. A recent study of the impact of fluctuations of wind on Colorado power plants gave similar results. All sorts of ideas sound great until you hang numbers on them.
    Unless these problems are solved (which appear insoluble fo fundamental reasons), it matters not whether CGW is true or false. There’s nothing we can do about it except waste piles of money or go back to the stone age.

  • netdr

    Since water vapor has gone DOWN there is no amplification of CO2 warming in fact there is a negative feedback which lowers the amount of warming.

  • Zachriel

    netdr: Since water vapor has gone DOWN there is no amplification of CO2 warming in fact there is a negative feedback which lowers the amount of warming.

    That is incorrect.

    Soden et al, The Radiative Signature of Upper Tropospheric Moistening, Science 2005: “We use satellite measurements to highlight a distinct radiative signature of upper tropospheric moistening over the period 1982 to 2004. The observed moistening is accurately captured by climate model simulations and lends further credence to model projections of future global warming.”

  • Running a computer model is just a giant calculater to get the job done. By simulation only 6% purchases and auxillary generation needed.
    Germany now has 25% renewable power and will go for much much more.
    http://www.ieer.org/reports/NC-Wind-Solar.pdf

    K. Conclusion

    The important conclusion from all of the calculations is that a system with annual
    sales of 91 billion kWh can be run with 76% of total generation coming from intermittent solar and wind sources. The intermittent sources
    would be assisted by 2,000 megawatts of biomass generation or cogeneration, 2,500 megawatts of hydroelectric capacity, and
    1,500 megawatts of pumped storage. If such a system also has ice storage (in the summer), load control, and access to vehicle
    batteries, it can be run with some modest outside-of-system purchases and 2,700 megawatts of auxiliary gas-fired
    capacity. Purchases and auxiliary generation are needed for 6% of electricity loads. There were, in this simulation, 17 hours out of
    the 2,952 examined in which generation would fall short. These results were obtained with only three onshore windpower sites.
    The periods of shortfall would be reduced in a system with multiple wind sites distributed over a wide area (North
    Carolina has 200 mile long area in which mountain winds are strong, 320 miles of coastline and vast areas offshore).
    Also, the auxiliary power needs shown here would be somewhat smaller if carry-over power in pumped storage facilities were applied to needs in succeeding days.

  • http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/figure-3-20.html

    As temperature goes up so does absolute vapor

  • Ted Rado

    You are quoting pie in the sky nonsense from renewable zealots. Ice storage? Are you kidding? Here is an example of the calcs one must make to shed light on the situation. These calsc are for wind power generation with hydraulic storage.
    Basis: To replace 1000 MW power plant with wiind plus storage.
    Input data: wind power capacity factor = 30% (western US)
    (This is % of nameplate generation that is actually achieved as a result of wind dying down)
    Water pump efficiency = 90% max
    Water turbine eff. = 95% max
    Pressure drop losses in ducts to
    and from reservoir, 15% = 85% eff. (guesstimate)
    Total eff. of electrical gear = 95%
    Overall efficiency of storage system = .9 x .95 x .85 x .95 = .69, or 69%
    Output data: Wind power required at 100% eff. = 1000/.3 = 3333 MW
    (This gives equivalent of 1000 MW continuous)
    Of this, 1000 MW goes to grid, the rest to storage
    Thus, required power to storage = 2333/.69 = 3381 MW
    Toat wind power required = 3381 + 1000 = 4381 MW
    Water reservoir requirements: Assume 2000 ft. elevation difference
    between high and low reservoirs. 1.0 KWH = 2,655,000 ft-lbs energy.
    Each reservoir must have 32,692 acre-ft. for one days storage. Total reservoir needed depends on length of time wind production is nil.
    Water pumping rate to high reservoir, max. = 20,000 CFS (9 million gpm)
    Water to turbine = 5,900 CFS (2.66 million gpm)
    Total electrical equipment required:
    Wind turbines 4831 MW
    Water pump motors 3381 MW
    Water turbine generators 1000 MW
    Total electrical equipment 8762 MW
    (plus associated transformers and switchgear)
    The largest wind turbines are 5 MW. Thus 966 wind turbines are required.
    Summary: To replace one 1000 MW thermal power plant requires:
    966 5 MW wind turbines
    8762 MW of electrical gear
    Has an energy efficiency of 69%
    Total reservoirs for each day’s storage = about 80,000 acre ft.
    This does not include losses in transmission to and from the storage system. If these are included, efficiency would drop another 10-15% and everything would need to be proportionately higher.
    In Germany, the wind power capacity fsftor is less than 18%.Thus all the numbers are much worse. You can have fun redoing these calcs using the German capacity factor and German storage elevations (as compared to the Rocky Mts.).
    These are the sort of calcs that must be made to evaluate a proposed scheme. Merely quoting somone doesn’t hack it. From these figures, it is clear that a total system is absurdly expensive, inefficient, and complicated. Even with free backup and no storage (existing situation), wind costs are well above conventional power plants. To justify going ahead, one must study the TOTAL system. Having people rattle of stuff without presenting these sorts of figures is a waste of time.
    It is certainly possible to do wind and storage if we are prepared to have electric bills in the thousands of dollars. Possible and economically feasible are two different things.
    Similar calcs can be done for solar, biofuels, etc. All bomb out when you hang real numbers on them. The idea that if we throw enough money at the problem some magical breakthrough will occur is a delusion. Find the breakthrough and only then spend big bucks. I would have thought that the Germans who are noted for their engineeing skills would know better. It apparently is all zealotry and politics swamping sound investigation.
    I would be delighted if you would point out where I have made an error.
    If you limit wind energy production to 30% of total demand (western US), only backup (no storage) is required. Now you must have 100% backup 70% of the time. As pointed out earlier, quick starting gas turbines have a lower thermal efficiency and hence much if not all of the savings from wind are lost. I have not included those calcs herein. You can have fun doing that study yourself. As pointed out above, Germany has a much lower capacity factor, hence the ineffiencies are worse. More calcs and less qouting would be a blessing.

  • Ted Rado

    The wind turbines required should be 876, not 966. Sorry for the error.

  • 28 billion possiblities looking for the best overall system design and the most economical with minimal storage. Read the rest of the article to find out the rest. Also you can open up the universtiy study from a link inside the article. Cheaper, cleaner healthier, more economically stable, much, much less fossil fuel, energy independence, etc..
    http://climatecrocks.com/2013/01/15/running-the-numbers-and-the-country-on-renewables/#more-13599

    The Delaware researchers evaluated 28 billion combinations of renewable energy and storage, modeled out over a theoretical four-year period using historical weather and electricity load requirement data. “At 2030 technology costs and with excess electricity displacing natural gas, we find that the electric system can be powered 90 to 99.9 percent of hours entirely on renewable electricity, at costs comparable to today’s,” the authors wrote. Senior author Willett Kempton has long pushed forvehicle-to-grid (V2G) systems in which plugged in electric vehicles can provide power back to the grid.

    The 99.9 percent figure can be achieved with, for example, 17 GW of solar power, 68 GW of offshore wind, and 115 GW of onshore wind. The most cost-effective solutions featured huge excesses of generation capacity—up to three times the load requirements at times—in order to minimize costly power storage additions. The authors wrote that “at 2030 technology costs, 90 percent of load hours are met at electric costs below today’s.”

  • Ted Rado

    I read the piece. He does not show the details of all the facilities required. For example, when the wind dies down and the sun sets, you need 100% backup. If you use hydro for storage and/or backup, you need to do the same sorts of calcs that I showed you. By the time you have 100% backup, and all sorts of costs for the peripheral schemes the author presents, equipment requirements are through the roof. Do the numbers for his scheme and present them as did.
    As I expected, the author that you quote is NOT an engineer. He is an economist. You need to list ALL the facilities needed. Fore example, he shows gas turbines running only a tiny percent of the time. Meanwhile, those turbines sit idle. List the max capacity of each energy source and then run the calcs as I did. Broasd brush conceptual stuff without the sort of details I presented are hogwash.
    There is no doubt that one can create a model that optimizes the combination of power sources. The question is, what are the total equipment requirements?
    P.S. I love non-engineers playing engineer. Very entertaining. That’s where all sorts of kooky schemes come from.

  • This person I am quoting has quite a few more toys to play with than you do. And much better at it than you are. YOu throw a mere 4 or 5 numbers at me and that is suppose to discredit a a computer system trying 28 billion possiblities.

    Run the calcs as I did? Children can do what you do. A gas turbine sitting idle is a perfectly good thing. This article is about the cost, not about the engineering. If you choose to read, you can see the cost comes in below today’s prices of electricity.

    You have really not presented a single detail. If you read through some of the material, it does provide a cost per kwh of construction of the different technologies.

    http://ac.els-cdn.com/S0378775312014759/1-s2.0-S0378775312014759-main.pdf?_tid=3f252778-8e02-11e2-842c-00000aab0f6b&acdnat=1363415287_7dd62426f6603a1a9d5728dbca5d3056

    6. Conclusions

    Here we simulated fluctuating power input to a large regional electric system, seeking the least-cost combinations of renewable generation and storage to provide sufficient power for load. Unlike many prior studies, we do not employ storage in order to balance generation capacity more closely to loaddwe only care about reliably making load at the least cost.

    We find that 90% of hours are covered most cost-effectively by a system that generates from renewables 180% the electrical energy needed by load, and 99.9% of hours are covered by generating almost 290% of need. Only 9 to72 h of storage were required to cover
    99.9% of hours of load over four years. So much excess generation of renewables is a new idea, but it is not problematic
    or inefficient, any more than it is problematic to build a thermal power plant requiring fuel input at 250% of the electrical
    output, as we do today.

  • Lance

    Jeffery,

    So, in your mind, the numbers are obvious and it is only the evil fossil fuel interests “suppressing” the rational move to renewables?

    Are you that naive and gullible?

    Do you suppose that the boards of public utilities, that are responsible for making decisions to supply our nations energy needs, are so corrupt or stupid that they don’t see the “obvious”?

    The sad thing is that you are not alone in your delusions. Luckily the climate scare is running its course and the big scary “climate crisis” won’t be available as an emotional bludgeon to force the hand of regulators for very much longer.

    Good riddance. You and the rest of the delusional, politically motivated “Mother Jones” brigade will have to come up with a different scheme to dupe the populace into going along with your, Malthusian left wing eco-fantasies.

  • Ted Rado

    Jeffrey Green
    You state that power needs can be met 99.9% of the time with wind and solar. That is indeed true if you generate excess power when the wind blows and store it for later use. Those are exactly the calcs I presented earlier. The problem is in the huge amount of equipment needed for standby and storage. How can you have 99.9% without lots of storage? Please list all the facilities needed to accomplish this.
    The idea that one can minimize the effects of the intermittent nature of wind by including a large area is certainly true and has been considered for a long time. The problem is that transmitting power over long distances is ineffiecient. A DC transmidssion scheme to get power from western Oklahoma to Tennessee more efficiently is under study. That is also expensive to do. Even with a wide era, there will sttill be days when there is a calm.
    I am totally unimpressed by the “billions” of computer runs. I was in the business of developing rigorous simulation models for complex, extensive chemical operations. One can write a model that says anything you want. GI – GO.
    It should be a simple matter to list ALL the facilities needed for the proposed scheme. Then we could evaluate it.
    As I pointed out earlier, it would indeed be possible to design a totally wind (or solar) powered system with storage. That’s not the issue. The total amount of facilities required becomes absurd.
    I don’t understand how, with wind facor at 30% or less, and solar at ubder 20%, you can satisfy the power requirement without storage. Please explain. Do you know of a place where the wind never stops?
    The total cost must include the maximum size required in each category, regardless of how long it is used. If you need 1000 MW backup 2% of the time, you still need a 1000 KW backup system. If backup was required 70% of the time, you would need the same thing.
    I liked your statement that backup power turbines sitting idle is a good thing. Where does the money come from to pay for this, including standby labor, maintenance, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. If you know how to build expensive equipment, let it sit idle, and make money at it, you are a genius.
    Many years ago, a chemictry prof wrote a paper to the effect that there was no hydrocarbon shortage. The world is full of carbonceous rock. This can ne heated to drive off CO2, which is reacted with H2 to make CO, which together with more H2 can be converted into gasoline. While theoretically possible, the energy need is astronomical. More recently, it has been proposed to make gasoline from CO2 and H2 in a sililar way. Again theoretically possible but absolutely absurd. Perhaps your economics prof is related to the above-mentioned chemist?
    Without numbers, in a manner similar to my prevoius post, these discussions are meaningless nonsense.
    Thanks for letting me know that a child can do what I do. It will save his father the cost of going to engineering school.

  • JP

    Concerning the costs of “renewable” energy. Germany has led the way in reducing its fossil fuel burning power plants as well as its nuclear power plants. The resultant cost of energy in Germany has gone up so quickly and in such a short time that many German residents have purchased wood burning stoves, and illegally harvest trees to fuel their stoves. You won’t find the stories in the MSM, but for the last 2 winters over 800,000 German homes have had their power shut off for non-payment (ie utility costs have soared to such a level that the customers cannot any longer afford to pay them).

    Concerning renewable energy – Europe is the future. And the future knows how to cross an ocean.

  • Its called thinking outside the box. Interconnected utilities. We have isolated fiefdoms all over the Unted States. ONce we can transport the energy easier to fill in the holes. If you read the article they do have storage in the calculations.
    Of course you can’t see it. because you can’t see therefore it can’t be real? Not so.
    There are multilple studies showing the larger the geographic area the more reliable the power becomes across the area served. Different seasons have different intensities of wind and sunlight. Some areas may easily go 100% such as the southwest United States and others may have to rely longer on fossil fuels.

  • I don’t read mother jones. I’m not sure where you get the idea I talked about suppression of renewables. Looks like you have a real hard on for environmentalists. Good luck with that.

  • Ted Rado

    Jeffery
    I read the Delaware thing. There are no engineering numbers. They consider H2 storage, for example. How much electrolysis equipment is needed to make the H2? How do you store the H2, which for practical purposes cannot be liquified? How do you convert the H2 back to electricity? What is the efficiency of all these steps, and what are the production plant requirements? What is the overall (as well as step-by-step) efficiency of these operations? Clue: I have long ago done all these calcs, in a manner similar to the hydro storage case I presented earlier, and the result is that it is nonsense. Any scheme that is put forward must be accompanied by such calcs.
    As to the Southwest having 100% wind/solar availability, I presume the sun never sets in Arizona? Electricity production figures for wind are 30% of nameplate max in the Great Plains, and 20% for solar in AZ. Corresponding figures for Germany are 18% and 8%. Thus, the facilities must be several times as large as the grid power requirements and the excess energy stored (I presented figures earlier). A larger geographical area is better, as the wind might be blowing in one part when the other dies down. No question. The problem is that there will be times when the wind dies down all over, so that the same power rate from storage is required, hence the same size facilities. The sun sets all over the US within a few hours. Also, transmitting power over long distances is inefficient due to inductance losses. This is why power plants are near the consumer rather than all in one place some distance away.
    Some of the Delaware stuff is hilarious. The idea that all the electric cars hook up to the charger and put juice back into the grid as a means of srorage is surely a joke?
    If you are really serious in your interest in renewable energy, I suggest you study it in more detail and do some of the calcs I have done for the various schemes. Much of what is in print is zealotry and propoganda (on both sides of the debate). I have studied all the proposed schemes in detail and they are all totally impractical, both engineering wise and economically, or result in even more fossil fuel consumption rather than less. Much of this work, particularly at universities, appears to be a ploy to get USG grants. This is intellectual dishonesty on a massive scale. I personally know someone who was making $200K/yr studying compressed air storage of energy with government money, which anyone knowledgable in thermodynamics can show to be nonsense. He laughed all the way to the bank. This sort of thing is going on all over the country. Do a few calcs, and only then spend big bucks.
    Long distance transmission of power can be done much more efficiently as DC. This has been tried on a commercial scale many years ago, and never put into large scale use.. It is proposed to transport wind energy from Western OK to Tennessee in this way. The capital costs to do the conversion from AC to DC and back again would be substantial.
    Again, everything is POSSIBLE. No question. What is FEASIBLE is something else. Do the numbers rather than merely quote a paper which is a bunch of pie in the sky nonsense. Thinking “outside the box” is fine, but it must be followed by engineering calcs to determine its feasibility. It seems that very few proponents of the various schemes are willing or able to do that. They simply hope that somehow a way to implement the idea in a practical way will appear out of the blue.

  • Lancifer

    Ted Rado,

    Jeffery has no intention of checking out the many sensible things you point to in your thoughtful reply. His mind is made up that 1) We face a climate catastrophe from CO2. 2) There are viable alternatives to fossil fuels. 3) All that stands in the way of replacing fossil fuels with “renewables” is for fossil fuel interests to stop subverting the political process.

    All three of these are complete nonsense but he earnestly believes them all to be true. He isn’t a technically or scientifically skilled person and relies on the information he gleans from places like “RealScience”, Grist, Mother Jones etc.

    To but it bluntly, he is a gullible, politically motivated “activist”.

    God save us from the good intentions of these ninnies. (And that’s coming from an atheist!)

  • Lancifer

    “I don’t read mother jones. I’m not sure where you get the idea…”

    Oh, so wrote an article for them but you don’t read Mother Jones?

    Did they just pick your article out of the air?

  • Ted Rado

    Lucifer
    Thanks for your comments. I got interested in the AGW thing many years ago. As you know, this is a subject of much controversy. In due course, it became clear to me that it doesn’t matter whether AGW is true or not. There is no viable large scale alternative to fossil fuels other than nuclear for electricity. Thus, if AGW is true, our only alternative is to move north. Another requirement to make renewable energy effective is to get the Chinese and Indians on board. They have made it clear that they will not stop their fossil fuel powered industrialization programs. Thus, if we outlaw fossil fuels, industry will move overseas and CO2 generation will not be reduced.
    When I first started looking at renewable energy, wind power with hydraulic storage looked good. The prairie where the wind blows is adjacent to the Rocky Mountais where we could build high reservoirs. No new technology is needed. We know how to pump water, build reservoirs, and hydroelectric plants. When I hung numbers on it, it fell apart (as I described earlier). In a similar manner, other schemes fell apart as well.
    Standard practise in engineering is to take a technical proposal at face value (assume it will work as proposed) and do material and energy balances. Then capital and operating costs and economic analysis. In this manner, bad ideas are screened out before lots of money is wasted, and efforts can be concentrated on those schemes which have merit. For some unknown reason, the USG and others don’t want to do this. The result is billions of wasted dollars and a diversion of R&D effort into uselless projects.
    Unfortaunately, all of the studies I have done (wind, solar, energy storage schemes, batteries, biofuels, tidal power, electric and hydrogen cars, etc.) show everything that has been proposed to date is completely impractical. Until a scheme is worked out that appears to be workable, all major construction and R&D should stop. We should stay with engineering studies only until a scheme appears that looks good on paper. I surely do not wish to discourage people from proposing new ideas. I merely suggest they be evaluated in the time proven engineering way.
    In the distant future (hundreds of years) fossil fuels will become scarce and expensive. At that time, cities, industry, and our way of life will have to change. Studies on how to live in a fossil-fuel-free environment will need to be done. Perhaps small cities with short range, low speed, electric cars and trolleys, rail for long distance travel, etc. will become the norm. All electricity will be nuclear based. I would love to see studies of this type rather than chasing pie in the sky schemes to perpetuate our current life style without fossil fuels. At the moment, these schemes appear to be all nonsense, for fundamental reasons that new inventions cannot circumvent (basic laws of physics). We can replace elctricity generation with nuclear, but what to do for transportation fuels (and other uses for fossil fuels) remains a mystery.
    I would love to see more input to the discussion on a sound emotion-free basis. Others may have ideas different than mine, or perhaps I have made an error in my calcs. Most of what I get is zealotry and insults, or quotes from some pie-in-the-sky paper. Do you know that it has been proposed to mount windmills on huge kites that will be up where the wind is strong? The USG is reported to have set aside $100K to study this. I am serious! Isn’t ot lovely to be a US taxpayer?

  • Lancifer

    Ted,

    I have also been studying the AGW, alternative energy issue for many years. I teach math and physics at IUPUI (Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis) and have worked as an engineer for an aerospace company.

    Setting aside the claims of catastrophe from CO2 for the moment, you are correct that there currently exists no large scale alternative to fossil fuels for electricity generation or transportation. Nuclear (fission or perhaps fusion) is the obvious long term answer to the question of what humans are going to use for energy when the fossil fuels run out. Luckily that isn’t going to happen for at least 50 years and more likely over 100 years from now.

    I was initially excited about the idea of using hydrogen, from hydrolysis, generated from nuclear power as a transportation fuel, but, as you are no doubt aware, there are very intractable problems with transport and storage of hydrogen. Liquid hydrocarbon fuels could be synthesized but again this would be much more expensive than current fossil fuels.

    If the current idiotic focus on “green” energy based on fear of CO2 could be set aside there could be reasonable and rational discussions of planning for the (eventual) transition away from fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are going to be our main energy source for decades to come and once that is realized there can be policies and infrastructure in place to deliver these fuels efficiently and economically.

    Unfortunately folks like Jeffery are quite plentiful and these people have the ear of government, at least the current US administration.

    The best we can hope for is congressional gridlock. Also that the EPA will be reigned in from it’s eco-activist mission to hobble the US energy economy in the name of “saving the planet”.

  • joe_dallas

    J Green – I just finished reading your exchange with Ted. Having an engineering background, i can attest that the fact that technological limitations are going to prevent the efficient conversion to renewable energy in the near term future.

    A dead giveaway is your citation of skepticalscience. Skeptical science is an advocacy website, and as with any advocacy website, you should be leery of using such a site for unbiased data. That is true for any advocacy group regardless of which side of the fence you believe is correct. FWIW – if someone is unable to recognize some of the many pieces of misrepresented data (at skepticalscience for example) then they certainly lack the ability to understand the science.