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On Can We Really Decouple Living Standards from Energy Consumption?

Nathan,

Increasingly greater percentages of the soon to be 10 billion world population experiencing standing room only, living on top of each other, diseased, in poverty, starving, a la India? More and more boat people? The remaining fauna and flora extinct, because of destroyed habitats?

June 13, 2015    View Comment    

On Can We Really Decouple Living Standards from Energy Consumption?

Darius,

From your lifestyle description, I deduce you use more Btus/yr, including for long distance travel, than you did 25 years ago, because many of the energy consuming activities you engage in, you likely did not engage in 25 years ago.

Make a complete activities, etc., list for a person 25 years ago (such as yourself), and a list for a SAME AGE person to-day (such as your son).

Add the energy for each activity item and for each good and service consumed, etc.

 

June 13, 2015    View Comment    

On Can We Really Decouple Living Standards from Energy Consumption?

Schalk,

Great article.

"Overall then, the US appears to be the shining light in the story of continued economic expansion despite declining energy consumption."

Japan and Europe have trade surplusses which increases their energy consumprion (and CO2 emissions), whereas the US has trade deficits which decreases its energy consumption (and CO2 emissions). The graphs need to be adjusted to reflect that.

Regarding the last two graphs, could you add 4 graphs, 2 for Europe and 2 for Japan, to see if the US experience is unique.

June 13, 2015    View Comment    

On A Look at Wind and Solar, Part 2: Is There An Upper Limit To Variable Renewables?

Joris,

It is not likely nuclear energy will become minimal, as Russia obtained worldwide orders for about 50 nuclear reactors, each 1000 MW and up, during the past 12 months. They will produce 50,000 x 8760 x 0.90 = 394 TWh/yr of world energy production of about 22,000 TWh/yr.

China and India are rapidly expanding their nuclear capacity, MW.

http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/368081/russian-gas-exports-and-western-encroachments-russia

June 5, 2015    View Comment    

On A Look at Wind and Solar, Part 2: Is There An Upper Limit To Variable Renewables?

Spec Lawyer,

The measures you list are the usual ones frequently seen in RE publications.

That list aims to show lay people how to fit RE into the existing power system.

In practice it is much more difficult, as Germany has found out. Fortunately, it is rich enough to afford its programs, whereas most other countries are not.

The 2-reservoir concept was proposed by a leading, Dutch doctor-engineer. It is planned to be implemented as a pilot program for $1.8 billion near Maastricht, the Netherlands.

You can be sure it is not nonsense.

In the future, energy storage would be essential to enable using weather-dependent, 100% wind and solar energy, after fossil energy becomes minimal.

NOTE: It is not likely nuclear energy will become minimal, as Russia obtained worldwide orders for about 50 nuclear reactors, each 1000 MW and up, during the past 12 months. They will produce 50,000 x 8760 x 0.90 = 394 TWh/yr of world energy production of about 22,000 TWh/yr. China and India are rapidly expanding their nuclear capacity, MW.

http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/368081/russian-gas-exports-and-western-encroachments-russia

The world already has a lot of experience with digging large, reinforced-concrete-lined tunnels.

The tunnels would be similar to those under the Alps, which are many decades old. A facility could have in parallel any number of such water storage tunnels. The chamber with T/Gs and pump rooms would have reinforced, half-cylindrical roofs. The Alps of Switzerland, France and Italy would be a natural, as some of the lakes could serve as upper reservoirs. It would be best to start while low-cost fossil energy at 5c/kWh is still available, instead of doing it with RE at 10 – 15 c/kWh.

http://euanmearns.com/flat-land-large-scale-electricity-storage-fles/

June 5, 2015    View Comment    

On A Look at Wind and Solar, Part 2: Is There An Upper Limit To Variable Renewables?

Darius,

Total capacity, MW, and power produced, MWh/yr, of those PUMPED storage facilities?

June 5, 2015    View Comment    

On A Look at Wind and Solar, Part 2: Is There An Upper Limit To Variable Renewables?

Engineer-Poet,

Thank you for this info.

He is a poorly-informed, opinionated person regarding energy issues. It is best to ignore him until he goes away. Hopefully, the TEC site curator will ban him soon.

June 5, 2015    View Comment    

On A Look at Wind and Solar, Part 2: Is There An Upper Limit To Variable Renewables?

Nathan,

My above storage comment does not rule out up to 50% worldwide nuclear for at least the next 200 years, especially if thorium plants are being built, as will be the case in China.

The thinking of most people is trapped by fitting RE into the existing power system, but the increasing needs of 10 billion people and decreasing fossil production, at least 70% of ALL worldwide energy consumption, makes it necessary to increase various renewables, energy storage and nuclear.

There will likely not be enough materials to use batteries for all that storage, whereas there is plenty of water and space for building below-ground facilities.

June 5, 2015    View Comment    

On A Look at Wind and Solar, Part 2: Is There An Upper Limit To Variable Renewables?

Jesse,

"The capacity factor threshold implies that wind may eventually be able to provide on the order of 25-35 percent of a power systems’ electricity, while solar may top out at 10-20 percent in most regions."

But not at the same time, such as on a sunny and windy day, given the existing balancing and storage mode.

However, there is no upper limit with weather-dependent, variable renewable energy, if there is enough energy storage capacity.

Here is a scenario for the future:

NOTE: This presupposes there would be no fossil fuel and nuclear energy in the future. Currently, they, in addition to hydro, are used to:

- Balance the variable energy and

- Serve as energy reservoirs.

A large number of distributed renewable systems (wind, solar, tidal, etc.), located in suitable places, would more or less continuously pump energy into distributed energy storage reservoirs (hydro, battery, etc.) and society would drain energy, as needed, from these reservoirs.

For example: One hydro reservoir would be 1,000 ft or more below grade and wind energy would drive pumps to transport water from the lower reservoir to the upper reservoir located at grade level. The water from the upper reservoir would drive the turbine-generators located near the lower reservoir. Visible at grade level would be the upper reservoir and power lines. The lower reservoir would consist of a number of parallel, concrete-lined tunnels, about 50 ft in diameter, each about several miles long. They would be made with boring machines similar to those used to make tunnels through mountains, etc.

NOTE: World energy storage capacity with batteries would be limited due to a lack of suitable materials. This would not be the case with water-filled, upper and lower reservoirs.

NOTE: It would be good to start implementing such storage while there still is an abundance of low-cost fossil fuels at wholesale prices of about 5 c/kWh. To do it with renewables at 10 - 15 c/kWh would be so much more expensive.

NOTE: The tunnels would be similar to those under the Alps, which are many decades old. The chamber with T/Gs and pump rooms would have half cylindrical roofs. The Alps of Switzerland, France and Italy would be a natural, as some of the lakes could serve as upper reservoirs.

Other renewable energy systems, mostly solar, would be integral with buildings/building complexes to make these buildings/building complexes near-zero energy or energy surplus.

These buildings/building complexes would not have energy storage systems.

They would be connected to the grid so they could draw whatever little energy they need from the reservoirs.

Most of transportation would need to be electric. High-speed rail would almost entirely replace air transportation; any remaining air transport would be kept to a minimum by means of high taxes/passenger-mile.

June 4, 2015    View Comment    

On EPA's Blown Call on Ethanol

 

 

Geoffrey,

CAFE standards will further curtail 90/10 consumption.

Considering budget deficits and oil and gas gluts, subsidizing ethanol, 1st and 2nd generation, should have a much lower priority.

At present, the US is exporting excess subsidized 1st generation ethanol to Brazil.

There is no reason, other than political, for the US to have a subsidized 2nd generation ethanol program.

Here is another folly: exporting wood pellets to Europe.

CO2 Emissions of Exporting Wood Pellets to the UK: A 2013 study, published in Environmental Research Letters, analyzed the CO2 equivalent emissions of exporting wood pellets from the US Southwest to the UK.

A breakdown of the biomass lifecycle, according to GHG emissions, is as follows:

See Table 4, which shows 5 of the 7 CO2 emissions components.

- Pellet production accounts for about 48%

- Shipping the pellets across the Atlantic Ocean accounts for about 31% 

- Burning the pellets accounts for about 10%*

* Emissions due to combustion are about 1.8 kg of CO2/kg of pellets, or 1.8 lb CO2/lb of pellets.

That means the A to Z process of getting wood from the forest, turning it into pellets, transporting the pellets from the US to power plants in the UK, and burning the pellets, would release about 1.8/0.1 = 18 kg of CO2/kg of pellets. 

If the power production is at an efficiency of 30%, then 7,750 Btu/lb of pellets x 2.2 lb/kg x 0.30/(3,413 Btu/kWh) = 1.5 kWh/kg of pellets would be produced, or 18/1.5 = 12 kg of CO2/kWh for the A to Z process, if CO2 sequestering by regrowth would be ignored.

EVENTUALLY, 100% sequestering would, at the very most, offset about 2 of the 12 kg!!! Such an environmentally harmful way of having the UK, Germany, etc., meet their EU CO2 obligations should not even be allowed to exist by EU rules, and the US should not be aiding and abetting. However, some folks are making money.

This is a far worse boondoggle than the US corn-to-ethanol program, which, on an A to Z basis, is about CO2-emission neutral, but is derided by the EU.

http://www.forgreenheat.org/issues/docs/TomdeHaan.pdf

http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/287061/us-corn-ethanol-program

http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/2225851/economics-and-co2-emissions-montpelier-district-heating-plant

 

 

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June 4, 2015    View Comment    

On EPA's Blown Call on Ethanol

Geoffrey,

The capital cost of just the processing plants to produce the mandated 16 bg/yr of cellulosic ehtanol by 2022 would require $96 billion, at $6 capital cost/gallon.

http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/287061/us-corn-ethanol-program

Why spend that kind of money if the product cannot be sold? At present, the US is exporting first generation ethanol to Brazil, i.e., the US total production exceeds what can be blended into gasoline to make 90/10 gasohol. 

The US has about 500 million gasoline engines, about 250 million are cars. I expect my lawn mower, snow blower, and leaf blower to start.

Regarding corn ethanol, the first generation process uses only the starch of the corn kernel to produce ethanol, yielding about 2.8 gallons per bushel. The second-generation process uses the cornhusks.

Currently, the husks are used to reduce soil erosion and to maintain the productivity of the soil, which reduces the use of fertilizers and other chemicals. Using the cornhusks for cellulosic ethanol would require increased use of fertilizers and other chemicals, some of which likely would end up in rainwater run-offs.

http://www.agriculture.com/crops/renewable-energy/ethanol/POET-announces-pilot-cellulosic-ethanol-start_192-ar4381

Current production of cellulosic ethanol is minimal, but that will change in the near future:

- Dupont is completing a 30 million gallon per year plant near Nevada, Iowa; production to start in 2014; capital cost over $200 million ($6.7 capital cost/gal); will use biomass from within a 30-mile radius; 30 million gal/190,000 acres = 158 gal/acre from stover, plus 150 gal/acre from corn kernels, for a total of 308 gal/acre.

http://biofuels.dupont.com/cellulosic-ethanol/nevada-site-ce-facility/

- Abengoa, Spanish, is completing a 25 million gallon per year plant in Hugoton, Kansas; production to start in 2014; received a $132.4 million US-DOE loan guarantee; will use biomass from within a 50-mile radius; $5.30 capital cost/gallon.

http://www.abengoabioenergy.com/web/en/acerca_de/oficinas_e_instalaciones/bioetanol/eeuu/kansas/index.html

- Poet & DSM, is completing a 20 million gallon per year plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa; production to start in 2014; received a $100 million US-DOE grant and $20 million as financial incentives from the state of Iowa; $6 capital cost/gallon.

http://poet-dsm.com/liberty

 

 

June 2, 2015    View Comment    

On A Look at Wind and Solar, Part 2: Is There An Upper Limit To Variable Renewables?

Clayton,

To set up, with subsidiies, homeowners to charge their EVs with their wall-hung TESLA units with "excess/free" wind energy that might otherwise be curtailed (actually a very small percent of all wind energy IS curtailed) would cost about $7000 per homeowner, at the expense of those who are providing the subsidy.

More such schemes and the US would soon be uncompetitive

SHIFTING AWAY FROM LOW-COST FOSSILS TO EXPENSIVE RE

The more we shift to expensive RE, the more we shift the US wholesale price of the energy mix on the grid from the current 5 c/kWh (kept low because of an abundance of inexpensive, domestic natural gas) to about 10 - 15 c/kWh.

That trend of increasing wholesale prices would be more visible, if many of the RE changeover costs were actually charged to the US energy system. Instead, they are "socialized" by POLITICIANS by means of taxes, fees, surcharges, feed-in tariffs, bond issues, grants, etc., because they do not want to be blamed for raising the cost of electricity and harm their re-election chances.

NOTE: A perfect example of such deceptive follies is the wood chip-fired, Montpelier District Heating Plant in Vermont, a money-losing project based on taking from deluded and plucked Peter, to do favors for well-connected and well-off Paul.

Those various costs, due to increasing RE in the US, will have a MAJOR impact on making much more expensive ALL goods and services, not just energy, as is already happening in Germany, although many of its RE proponents and politicians blame it on other factors; somewhat like Miss Piggy: MOI?

In fact, rich Germany, THE economic engine of the EU, has experienced slowing economic growth, due to the growing expense of its ENERGIEWENDE, during the past five years. The economies of poorer EU countries are significantly affected by the German economic slowdown.

Germany and other EU countries losing part of the very lucrative Russian market and throwing billions each year into a black hole, a.k.a., Ukraine, is an additional headwind.

http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/338781/high-renewable-energy-costs-damage-germanys-economy

http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/368081/russian-gas-exports-and-western-encroachments-russia

 

June 2, 2015    View Comment