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On How Shale Reduced U.S. Energy Risks from Hurricanes

Geoff, hurricanes are a concern to more than just the energy industry. The heat that produces and drives these storms however is also available to produce energy through ocean thermal energy conversion. It in turn saps the energy on which the storms are dependant.

October 2, 2015    View Comment    

On Peak Oil is a Function of Oil Price

The takeaway from this piece is how sane is it to continue to invest in and pursue energy the cost of which inexorably rises as opposed to sources where the cost is inexorably falling?
September 21, 2015    View Comment    

On Broken Records: 2015 Hottest Summer, Hottest August, Hottest First Eight Months

James Lovelock, "with CO2 rising we can say in such and such a year it will be this hot.” It was a mistake we all made.

We shouldn’t have forgotten that the system has a lot of inertia and we’re not going to shift it very quickly. The thing we’ve all forgotten is the heat storage of the ocean — it’s a thousand times greater than the atmosphere and the surface. You can’t change that very rapidly."

We are seeing warming now because heat that was being sequestered in deeper water between 1998 and 2013 is now returning.

To return to more moderate temeperatures we have to produce energy by driving that heat back down to the depths and in that process converting some of it to productive use.

September 20, 2015    View Comment    

On Development of Carbon Pricing Could Benefit from a Two Hundred Year Old Idea

Adam, it seems to me all that is required is for fossil fuels to be saddled with the cost of their environmental externalities and mitigating energies should be subsidized to the same extent. The public (the market) would soon sort out which they want to support. Kind of like the way the horse racing industry adds or subtracts weight from a horse's saddle bag to try to make races more competitive. Currently the energy sector is like a mile long race in which fossil fuels have been given a 3/4 mile head start. Equalize the competition and I have little doubt clean energies will win hands down.
September 15, 2015    View Comment    

On Development of Carbon Pricing Could Benefit from a Two Hundred Year Old Idea

Adam when citizens have a direct stake in higher revenue from higher carbon prices, does this not make carbon virtually indispensable to an economy and thus the last thing the planet needs?

September 15, 2015    View Comment    

On Why Germany is Dumping Nuclear Power, and Britain Isn't

“Who says?”

Excellent article but on the question of who says, entrenched interests play a huge roll.

Innovation, by definition, originates from a small consituency with limited resources and faces a huge uphill battle on that basis alone.

One might assume from their responses to nuclear power that the Germans are more receptive to innnovation than the British?

September 9, 2015    View Comment    

On Are We Over-Air Conditioned?

Are We Air Conditioning the Wrong Thing?

An air conditioner removes heat from an enclosed space by using that heat to boil a working fluid and then dispersing the heat to a heat sink as that vapor condenses.  About 93 percent of the heat of global warming is accumulating in the oceans; mostly in the upper few hundred meters.

Ocean thermal energy conversion works on the same principle as the air conditioner. A boiled working fluid moves heat from the ocean surface to the deep where the vapor condenses and the heat is transfered.

In the late 70s a team from The Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, which advocated ocean thermal energy conversion, was concerned about the potential to start a new ice age.

Their analysis was 5 terawatts of power generated with this process would reduce ocean surface temperatures (and therefore the temperature of the atmosphere) by 1C each decade.

Since the stated objective is to provide energy while keeping the planet to a less than 2C temperature increase, this is the way to do it.

The potential exists to keep warming to zero this way and draw down CO2 levels in the same process.

 We can either condition the oceans to produce energy or consume a great deal of energy, producing more heat, conditioning our homes and offices?


September 9, 2015    View Comment    

On Nuclear Retirements Would Sabotage Clean Power Plan Carbon Reductions

Is the ultimate goal CO2 reduction or keeping to less than 2C?

Which ever it is, OTEC with supergreen hydrogen production is the only one that accomplishes both goals.


September 4, 2015    View Comment    

On Do We Have a Wicked Problem to Deal With?

The issue of climate change is immensely easy to solve. We simply have to pay heed to Nature's example. Even though carbon dioxide emissions continued to rise between 1998 and 2013, atmospheric temperatures did not. 

How this came about by the movement of heat to deeper ocean water can be replicated with devices that can produce energy with the same process.

A recent Citibank report "Energy Darwinism" says slowing global warming would save tens of trillions of dollars.

The study shows that the difference in climate damage costs between a low 1.5 degree C warming scenario and a high 4.5 degrees C scenarios is as high as $50 trillion. And even a 2.5 degrees C scenario costs $30 trillion less the 4.5 degrees C business-as-usual scenario.

A group from the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University was one of the earliest proponents of ocean thermal energy conversion. Their concern was it could start a new ice age. It was determined that 5 terawatts would reduce surface ocean temperatures, and therefore atmospheric temperatures, by 1C each decade.

Nature has demonstrated we could attain zero warming at zero cost because OTEC platforms would pay for themselves out of the $6 trillion/year the world pays for the energy it currently consumes.

OTEC could produce 86 percent of that market.

September 2, 2015    View Comment    

On Can Market Fixes Overcome the Declining Value of Wind and Solar at High Market Shares?

EP the much simpler and easier OTEC has never been tried. It would be the one that moves heat with the phase changes of the working fluid rather than in huge volumes of water. The main piping would be one order of magnitude smaller as would be the infrastructure necessary to support this piping.

This is the design that mimics natural events that brought about the warming hiatus.

I fully agree that a solid demonstration is necessary but there is almost as much inertia in this field with respect to the cold water pipe design as their is in the energy field in general.

Sunk costs make a whiteboard approach difficult.

August 31, 2015    View Comment    

On The Best Shot for Slowing Climate Impacts in Alaska and the Arctic

Durwood, the best shot at slowing polar climate impacts is to produce energy with the movement of the heat that would otherwise warm these regions from 2.5 to 4 times faster than the rest of the planet to deep water. This is how atmospheric warming stayed level for 16 years and is the lesson from Nature we need to heed.

August 29, 2015    View Comment    

On Implicit Climate Subsidy Exceeds Profits at 20 Top Fossil Fuel Companies

Where are the investors? Good question Joe. I am at a loss as to what the problem is. One colleague who has been at this for years says he gave up fighting the oil lobby, aka any organization of the governments controlled by them, a long time ago. Trillions of dollars and 100 million jobs held by them are at stake. They have chosen extinction for everyone as long as they profit from the exercise.

Giving up however isn't in my nature and I believe that in a democracy the will of those of us at risk to the actions of the 100 million profiting from the destruction of the planet, the minority, can prevail. I have published a number of articles in this forum and others as outlined here. 

Technically most OTEC efforts have been focused on bringing cold water near the surface to condense the working fluid vapor. This is costly because the pipes for a 100MW plant are about 10 meters in diameter and the cold water, which can contain CO2 in concentrations as high as 900 ppm, will release the gas at the reduced pressure.

The heat pipe is one order of magnitude smaller, overcomes the environmental issues, reduces atmospheric warming, icecap melting and tropical storms and may be the renewable energy with the lowest levelized capital cost. Overall a lot of wins with one technology but why we are not moving ahead with it keeps me up most nights.

If you have any thoughts, I would love to hear from you.

August 14, 2015    View Comment