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On Can Obama's Proposal to Reduce Total GHG Emissions by 26% be Achieved?

JE, dysfunctional carbon markets?  The current EU carbon markets are helping make Commercial Companies & Traders wealthier and provide Governments with additional tax revenues.  For each unit carbon credit bought/sold or traded Traders get generous commissions and Governments use the taxes for their political priorities.  California is an example in the U.S. of how Governments use carbon tax credit revenues for political policies/priorities not directly related to reducing the state’s carbon footprint.  In California the carbon tax revenues are being directed to and spent on other priorities such as affordable housing, reducing state deficit spending, the bullet train to somewhere, etc.  Since California is possibly planning to apply a new carbon tax to the consumption of petroleum motor fuels, a new added state gasoline/diesel tax, this will raise further revenues (and maintain this state’s fuel costs at U.S. record highs).  With the U.S.’s current-growing historic Federal debt, an ‘affordable’ carbon tax could help eventually pay this record government debt off in future years.  The question becomes: “When and would a Federal Carbon Tax regulation be feasible politically?”.

June 4, 2015    View Comment    

On Can Obama's Proposal to Reduce Total GHG Emissions by 26% be Achieved?

Hops, you could be right in that past development patterns could ultimately change in a more positive direction.  But, even if the cost of solar panels drops by another 50%, this expense only becomes a minor part of the total installed solar PV system expense/cost.  Other expenses such as the power inverters, controls, wiring, panels framing, and of course the labor expenses to install and maintain the solar PV systems will continue to inflate in future years.  This means that the costs of installed new solar PV systems will bottom out sometime in the future and then increase with inflation.

June 4, 2015    View Comment    

On Can Obama's Proposal to Reduce Total GHG Emissions by 26% be Achieved?

Bob, the major constraints in building most large projects these days are often regulatory in nature.  Yes, the Hoover Dam was constructed at an unprecedented rate compared to previous and current projects.  Unfortunately 112 workers were killed during construction, which led to current OSHA department and safety regulations.  These increased regulations have definitely improved workers safety, but have also led to extended construction schedules in many cases.  The major constraint to large projects today is most often the permitting process.  Back in the 1930’s the Hoover Dam permitting process just required general government approval by a very small number of Agencies and landowners.  I am sure you understand how this process has grown to near dysfunctional performance over the years.  The combination of the NIMBY crowd and other special interests have delayed many major projects numerous years and led to cancelling a large number of projects; even after the project originator made numerous concessions in order to hopefully satisfy the opposition and complete the project within a reasonably schedule and cost.

Agreed, achieving 26% carbon reduction 2005-2025 is feasible from an engineering-construction schedule perspective.  The challenge is more than just political leadership.  Many changes will be needed to the extremely numerous and redundant federal/state agencies-regulations, and the ability of NIMBY’s/special interests to tie-up projects in the permit/legal arena for numerous years; despite the potential benefits, both economic and environmental.

June 2, 2015    View Comment    

On Can Obama's Proposal to Reduce Total GHG Emissions by 26% be Achieved?

The challenge in the U.S. is that total renewable energy has only increased by 4% of total energy consumption over the past 10 years.  Lower carbon natural gas growth has exceeded total renewables by about 50% during the same period.  Despite the fairly generous renewables government subsidies and strong regulatory support over the past 10 years, increased natural gas production-consumption has been the dominate contribution towards reducing coal consumption and associated carbon emissions within the U.S.  Solar and geothermal growth since 2005 have been a very small fraction (<10%) of total U.S. renewables growth.  Geothermal growth is constrained by cost and available geotherm formations and solar must generally compete with lower cost (centralized) wind power.

The real challenge in Developed Countries in truly reducing their carbon emissions vs. Developing Countries is the fact that taxing fossil fuels energy related goods & services (carbon taxes, VAT’s, etc.) has led to increasing carbon leakage to countries such as China and India.  Agreed, some form of sanctions or government actions may be needed to prevent further increased carbon leakage and provide the incentives needed to eliminate current and future carbon leakage, which compromises the global-net carbon emissions of most Developed Countries' carbon reductin programs.

Your concern with possible environmental impacts on agriculture of water & soil shortages has another potential negative impact that could compromise renewables growth in future years.  Most of the increases of renewables in the U.S.have been due to increased biofuels production-consumption.  This, of course,  relies heavily on adequate agriculture soil, water and fertilizers.

June 2, 2015    View Comment    

On Can Obama's Proposal to Reduce Total GHG Emissions by 26% be Achieved?

Hops, there may be a growing ‘will’, but the problem statement or challenge is which ‘way(s)’ will actually make a significant difference within the next couple-few generations?  And, how do we overcome the growth in most nation’s populations and increasing living standards energy intensities; particularly in Developing Countries?

June 1, 2015    View Comment    

On Is Audi's Carbon-Neutral Diesel a Game-Changer?

Bob, the full lifecycle carbon emissions first come from the fabrication, construction, operation and maintenance of the new synfuel production facilities.  These facility development steps do consume significant fossil fuels beginning with the mining and conversion of metals and other raw materials into construction materials, parts and equipment-thru-the-finished facility construction.  It’s doubtful the synfuel production facility could actually operate solely on a 100% renewable power unless it operates only part-time (variable-intermediate wind/solar are the primary problem statement here); this of course substantially increases expenses and reduces thermal efficiencies of synfuel conversion reactors-equipment.  And supply chains (storage, transport, and fueling-sales) consume significant fossil fuels.  The final consumption of the pure synthetic petroleum diesel also likely generates significant carbon equivalent pollutants.  State-of-art diesel engines still generate (exhaust) significant PM, NOX, CO and VOC’s that have equivalent carbon emission factors greater than zero; or much greater than the equivalent emissions of an EV that could operate more efficiently on the same (but significantly less) renewable power the synfuel production facility is supposed to operate solely on.

May 5, 2015    View Comment    

On Is Audi's Carbon-Neutral Diesel a Game-Changer?

Robert, what Audi’s claimed carbon-neutral diesel does is substantially help support the justification and attractiveness of existing-proven alternatives such as electric vehicles (EV’s).  Even if one assumes that 100% renewable energy is used to produce the synthetic ‘petroleum’ diesel, this laboratory scale demonstration project clearly does not include the 'full-lifecycle' energy and carbon balances compared to alternative fuels/technologies.  As you accurately imply the ‘net energy value’ of this synthetic diesel is horribly negative compared to most alternatives including biodiesel and EV’s.  These fuel/energy sources are and will be far more efficient, cost effective, and carbon-neutral then synthetic diesel production from new-future Commercial scale facilities.

May 5, 2015    View Comment    

On Why Have U.S. Energy Policies Stopped Reducing Carbon Emissions? - Part 1

Internet or Scandinavian?

April 28, 2015    View Comment    

On Why Have U.S. Energy Policies Stopped Reducing Carbon Emissions? - Part 1

Mr. Edo, let’s put some facts together the ‘anti-nuclear cult’ either doesn’t understand or won’t acknowledge:

·         The radiation leakage from each Nuclear Reactor is insignificant compared to average exposure to X-Rays, CT Scan’s and natural Radon gas.  Refer to EPA data on natural and manmade radiation risks.  If the health hazardous truly led to 10,000’s of annual deaths, why hasn’t this issue become a regulatory priority of the EPA or NRC

·         The greatest health hazards to most Developed Countries’ populations are lifestyle decisions, including smoking (and the-to-be included recent e-cigarettes and recreation ‘weed’ consumptions), obesity, diet (high sugar, cholesterol, fats, etc.), lack of exercise, alcohol, drugs, etc.  Refer to CDC data on the greatest health risks

·         Carbon-14 has been produced naturally by cosmic radiation in the stratosphere since the beginning of the Earth.  It is found everywhere and throughout history; i.e. millions of years before Nuclear reactors were developed.   Studies completed by the CDC find that diesel motor exhausts to be far more hazardous than C-14. Historically, most manmade C-14 has been produced by past atmospheric nuclear weapon tests then existing power plants.

·         As far as water usage, if you analyzed other boiler-generation steam cycle/turbine technologies commonly found in all Coal, Natural Gas and Petroleum Power Plants, you would understand the water use of Nuclear is very similar.

·         Nuclear waste is a problem statement in the U.S. primarily due to ‘political’ decisions made over the years.  It begins with prohibiting ‘reprocessing’ spent fuel rods as is commonly done in many other countries.  Also centralized storage has been chronically blocked at Yucca Mt. despite the need and $10’s millions of wasted investment over the years.

·         And lastly, without expanded Nuclear Power the feasibility of substantially shutting down U.S. Fossil Fuels Power generation and associate carbon emissions is effectively zero.  Refer to my past analyzes on this subject: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

April 28, 2015    View Comment    

On Why Have U.S. Energy Policies Stopped Reducing Carbon Emissions? - Part 1

Moving our continued discussion to the top is a good idea.

Can you provide references for the molten salt systems/data you are basing some of your comments on.  The last time I analyzed actual Solar Thermal storage the efficiency was a small fraction of the primary power generation; mid-day.  As I am sure you probably understand, the efficiency is affected by the molten salt storage temperature, the molten salt steam boiler operation-efficiency, the pressure-temperature of the overall steam Rankine cycle design & operation, and the steam turbine-generator efficiencies.  While solar thermal radiant heat concentration systems can heat the salt or produce steam up to 500o-600oC, the stored heated molten salt will generate (boil) steam at significantly lower temperature/pressures.  Power generation/efficiency is directionally proportional.

It does sound like you and I are in general agreement as to the potential use of molten salt storage with future Nuclear Power, which will give these new plants significantly greater variable power generation output capability compare to current baseload units.

April 28, 2015    View Comment    

On Why Have U.S. Energy Policies Stopped Reducing Carbon Emissions? - Part 1

Mark, what we are debating here appears to be one of the major issues and complexities that are going to make individuals States’ abilities’ to develop adequate compliance plans for the developing EPA Power Sector carbon regulations somewhat of a nightmare.

April 28, 2015    View Comment    

On Why Have U.S. Energy Policies Stopped Reducing Carbon Emissions? - Part 1

Joe, my point is that supposed Green States like CA appear to be increasingly relying on low-zero carbon power imports from other states that must sometimes balance their in-state power supply-generation from higher carbon sources such as Coal Power needed/used within AZ.  Refer to EIA data Table 5.  I find it difficult to justify the actions of States like CA that shutdown their own zero carbon Nuclear Power capacity due to relatively small (real) safety concerns and/or local environment impacts.  In CA I understand part of the reason they shutdown or are shutting down their coastal Nuclear Plants’ Units has to do with the assumed environmental impacts on using off-shore water for cooling.  One might argue this is a potential form of carbon leakage.  This will become much more evident as States are forced to develop their EPA Power Sector carbon reduction compliance plans.  

April 28, 2015    View Comment