The transition from fossil fuels to green energy

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The transition from fossil fuels to green energy

Postby TheVat on November 12th, 2020, 1:52 pm 

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/12/opin ... e=Homepage



Among the companies pledging bold emissions cuts are those that generate America’s electricity, which emit more than a quarter of the nation’s global-warming pollution. Yet, that same industry is about to make a strategic error that could render meeting its own goals far more expensive, if not impossible.

As they shut down costly and dirty coal-burning power plants, the electrical companies are planning to build 235 gas-fired power stations across the country, according to our analysis of figures compiled from commercial databases by the Sierra Club. The companies claim these are needed to replace the coal plants, and to balance fluctuations in electricity generation from rising levels of wind and solar power. This investment in new gas plants would exceed $100 billion.

If the plants are built, along with the pipelines to support them, they are likely to run for 30 or 40 years — long past the point that emissions from the electrical grid need to approach zero if we are to have a reasonable climate future.

The companies are portraying these new gas plants as a bridge to the future, since they have lower greenhouse gas emissions than coal plants. In fact, they are a bridge to a climate breakdown because their emissions are still significant. The companies ought to know that, but building chimneys is in their blood. They are behaving like smokers who really, truly plan to quit, as soon as they finish that last carton of cigarettes.

Now, it is true that gas plants play a critical role on the electrical grid at the moment because they provide nearly 40 percent the country’s electricity. But a major new report from the University of California, Berkeley, shows that the United States already has enough gas plants to support a transition to a far cleaner grid. To the extent new power is needed, wind and solar plants, coupled with large batteries, are generally cheaper options....
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Re: The transition from fossil fuels to green energy

Postby Serpent on November 12th, 2020, 3:52 pm 

Why is there so much preoccupation with how to fix "the grid"? It can't be fixed to anyone's satisfaction - perhaps not even the major shareholders'. The grid is the problem. Feeding, sustaining and constantly repairing it is far too expensive, and the maintenance costs will only increase with ever more extreme weather events.
The obvious solution has been staring us in the face for decades, but the big distributors don't want to hear about distributed energy or individual and community self-sufficiency. The only way green energy will ever work is if the systems are designed independently, to suit local conditions and needs.

I tried to find a comprehensive source, but all the top sources seem to be PDF format. Here is one that's available in plain text, but you have to ask. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/222669645_Distributed_energy_resources_and_benefits_to_the_environment
Here is the model I'd like every community to adopt. https://indigenouscleanenergy.com/2020-catalysts-program/about-the-program/
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Re: The transition from fossil fuels to green energy

Postby TheVat on January 29th, 2021, 12:05 pm 

https://www.nbcnews.com/business/autos/ ... s-n1256055

For a company of this size, this is a fairly bold timetable for retooling all the production lines.

I drive a high mpg car, a Honda Fit, and my mantra the last couple years has been that my next car will be an electric. Hoping that in five years or so, a comparable EV will be down in my price range.
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Re: The transition from fossil fuels to green energy

Postby Serpent on January 29th, 2021, 12:43 pm 

I guess. What a difference it would have made in 1985!
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Re: The transition from fossil fuels to green energy

Postby TheVat on January 29th, 2021, 4:16 pm 

Btw, I really liked your "the grid is the problem" post, which I should have thumbed up at the time.

Yes, more local energy, more homes and apartments and businesses that are somewhat autonomous, and so on. Local distribution would include a battery station that kicks in watts during trough hours.
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Re: The transition from fossil fuels to green energy

Postby Serpent on January 29th, 2021, 4:41 pm 

The other facet of this problem which tends to be glossed over is how much energy we waste. On polluting the night sky, killing birds and obscuring the stars. On illuminated advertising which serves nothing so much as a traffic hazard. On lighting empty offices and running superfluous, inefficient appliances.* On toxic social media, sending each other pictures of our lunch, and criminal money-shifting.** On making people sleepless and anxious with too much noise, too much distraction; reducing children's attention span and adult's ability to concentrate with chronic sensory overload.

Cut out the harmful deployment of energy first, then the wasteful usage, and nobody has to kick in extra wattage. I think that's how they calculate the requirements of these energy-independent communities: not peak load, but sustainable basic load.

*
Likewise, how many amps does a 1000w microwave use? Looks like a typical "1000 watt" microwave will require about 1700 watts of wall power. Dividing by 120 (volts), that would be 14 amps. For such a microwave, you better put in at least a 20 amp circuit.
Plus 2-7 watts on standby.
https://findanyanswer.com/how-many-amps-does-a-700w-microwave-use
Add the space-age dishwasher, self-cleaning stove, coffee-maker that's smarter than its owner, giant back-chatting refrigerator...
Every household can significantly reduce its draw on the grid as well as its electricity bills. First, find out where all the power is going, then decide how to use it more efficiently. A $25 kill-a-wall meter, passed around the family or community, can save thousands of dollars.
https://nerdtechy.com/best-electricity-usage-power-cost-monitor-reviews

**https://computer.howstuffworks.com/internet/basics/how-much-energy-does-internet-use.htm
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Re: The transition from fossil fuels to green energy

Postby doogles on January 29th, 2021, 4:50 pm 

Is this the future for electric cars? Has anyone done the sums for including car usage into the equation of demand and supply of electricity?
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Re: The transition from fossil fuels to green energy

Postby TheVat on January 30th, 2021, 11:58 am 

Literally hundreds of studies. The mpg-equivalent of an electric passenger vehicle averages (when powered by conventional fossil fuel power plants) 80-120 mpg. This is even less of an issue now than decades ago when they were working this out. In my state, 70% of generation is from wind and hydroelectric, so the mpg-equivalent here is even higher.

The weird example in your photo is pretty uncommon. I've seen some charging stations out here, and they are drawing off the grid. It's also possible, given the lack of citation, that the generator is a backup, and the station does usually power from the grid. And more and more charging stations now also supplement their power with solar panels and a storage battery system. If this stuff wasn't viable, I really doubt you'd be seeing companies like Royal Dutch Shell and BP jumping into the game. Or GM!
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Re: The transition from fossil fuels to green energy

Postby Serpent on January 30th, 2021, 1:59 pm 

I question the origin and motivation of that poster.

We can't afford an electric car, and the only charging stations I know around here at the moment are at Walmart in Owen Sound outside the public library in Southampton, which is considerably farther away. Our solar panel/batteries couldn't feed a car - we're already using grid backup, even in peak hours, for the house and greenhouse. Cost about $3,000 for new batteries. Our failing ones were reconditioned when we bought them 19 years ago, so they've done okay.
Guess I won't live long enough to own a solar-powered vehicle.
Watched that airplane with great admiration, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/inside-first-solar-powered-flight-around-world-180968000/ - for the science, not for practical application.

Air travel and military aviation are horrendously wasteful and destructive. I'd be quite happy to see the air travel industry, and even more, the air cargo traffic, bringing endangered sea creatures from Asia to feed rich bastards in New York - decline to bare minimum of necessary congress. Think of all the socially and ecologically responsible uses for all those planes, runways, terminals and hangars!
Better yet - https://bigthink.com/technology-innovation/is-solar-power-the-future-of-airships
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Re: The transition from fossil fuels to green energy

Postby Serpent on January 30th, 2021, 2:21 pm 

My Bitdefender just went nuts, warning of a Trojan it detected on a web-page. This one and the two I just linked are all I had open. You might want to do a diagnostic.
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Re: The transition from fossil fuels to green energy

Postby doogles on January 31st, 2021, 6:14 am 

I'm not sure if your last Bitfender COMMENT is aimed at me, Serpent, but my Bitfender blocks me most times I enter this site. I've been ignoring the warnings, maybe stupidly, but I find I'm willing to take a risk to keep in touch with my morning dose of SPCF and you blokes.
.........................................................................
TheVat could be quite correct that the diesel unit in the poster is a back-up. I have no idea about the origin of that poster. Given that it could be a back-up, then the message inherent in the poster is that the current alternatives need back-up generation. Would anyone argue with that? We've had electricity 'blackouts' where I live for up to 3 days after floods or storms. I have a small petrol-driven back-up generator as a back-up for such circumstances.

As you all know, I'm quite sceptical about the role of carbon dioxide emissions in this global warming story. I would still love to see a modern-day repeat of Tyndall's experiments 160 years ago. We seriously need a direct experiment showing the quantitative absorption rate of infrared radiation by increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide. It's also about time that some scientists conducted an evaluation of the success of the carbon dioxide approach. After more than 20 years of efforts to modify it, the graph below is not even showing a blip as a result of 'all the King's horses and all the King's men' in attempts to slow down the curve. I liken the attempts as similar to those of Don Quixote.

Can anyone look at the graph below and show me any evidence at all that carbon dioxide emission reduction methods are working? There must be an invisible suit somewhere, but I can't see it. We need to investigate alternatives.

I'd be happy to see some serious attempts to tackle population growth and cloud engineering.

Getting back to the subject, I would support the construction of the 235 new gas-fired generating plants.

During the 11 years I spent in manufacturing, after I retired from the University, I realised how much the world depends on road freight to keep functioning. Fossil fuels can be converted to electrical energy 24 hours a day every day. The two main alternatives, wind and solar, are heavily weather-dependent at the moment. If a significant number of vehicles becomes reliant on electricity, and the main source of that electricity is wind or solar, I can envisage all sorts of problems.
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Re: The transition from fossil fuels to green energy

Postby Serpent on January 31st, 2021, 10:50 am 

doogles » January 31st, 2021, 5:14 am wrote:I'm not sure if your last Bitfender COMMENT is aimed at me, Serpent, but my Bitfender blocks me most times I enter this site. I've been ignoring the warnings, maybe stupidly, but I find I'm willing to take a risk to keep in touch with my morning dose of SPCF and you blokes.

The warning was aimed at anyone who was also on the site at that time, because I wasn't planning to stick around a second longer than necessary. I do take them seriously, because I have lost a fairly new and not very cheap computer to a virus I picked up from the internet.

I have no idea about the origin of that poster. Given that it could be a back-up, then the message inherent in the poster is that the current alternatives need back-up generation.

Funny. "Seriously, You just couldn't make this shit up!"... only we don't exactly know which shit we're mocking.... Ya, that'll fly.

Would anyone argue with that? We've had electricity 'blackouts' where I live for up to 3 days after floods or storms. I have a small petrol-driven back-up generator as a back-up for such circumstances.

We live in the country, where repairs after a storm are low priority,
(Hydro linemen have to be lifted by ice-encrusted cherry-pickers - lucky, because their fathers had to climb icy poles - to re-string dangerous electric cables, along mile upon of of highway. Plus, millions of poles have to be replaced with newly-cut trees every ten years or so. The grid is not merely inefficient, unreliable, vulnerable to error and sabotage, hideously expensive and unsightly - it's a killer. Have you cottoned on yet that I dislike the grid?)
and, since the well pump is electric, we may have no water for days. We used to have a backup generator - loud, stinky thing that needed the garage door open lest it choke the operator. Now, we have solar panels and batteries, so the only way we know there is a power outage is if the toaster doesn't work. (High-draw, short-use appliances are plugged into the grid outlets.)

Can anyone look at the graph below and show me any evidence at all that carbon dioxide emission reduction methods are working?

What reduction? Greenhouse gases are still rising, in spite of a little dip (you might have not have noticed the cleaner air, but it was sure evident over the industrial cities https://www.insider.com/before-after-photos-show-less-air-pollution-during-pandemic-lockdown#after-once-traffic-dropped-during-lockdown-so-did-air-pollution-in-response-milan-is-thinking-about-introducing-a-plan-to-reduce-car-use-after-the-pandemic-to-avoid-a-rebound-according-to-the-guardian-2) during the first Covid 19 lockdown. Nowhere near enough to matter, especially when you factor in the forests that have burned and cut down in the last 40 years, plus the permafrost spewing ancient methane into the atmosphere. It's very probable that we're doing too little too late. I guess some of us are just romantics, who want to have tried to do something positive, rather than hasten the mass extinction.

There must be an invisible suit somewhere, but I can't see it. We need to investigate alternatives.

By all means, do!

I'd be happy to see some serious attempts to tackle population growth and cloud engineering.

A big definite YES and a shaking-in-my-boots no, respectively.

Getting back to the subject, I would support the construction of the 235 new gas-fired generating plants.

You'll have to engineer a lot of clouds to make up for that.

During the 11 years I spent in manufacturing, after I retired from the University, I realised how much the world depends on road freight to keep functioning. Fossil fuels can be converted to electrical energy 24 hours a day every day. The two main alternatives, wind and solar, are heavily weather-dependent at the moment. If a significant number of vehicles becomes reliant on electricity, and the main source of that electricity is wind or solar, I can envisage all sorts of problems.

What, like 20,000 plastic toys won't get to the McHappy meals in time for the little children to scatter under their grandparents' unsuspecting bare feet? Not to mention killing the rest of the world...
https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/great-pacific-garbage-patch/
The way the world has been functioning for the last century is insane - and not terribly functional. The whole system needs a major overhaul.
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Re: The transition from fossil fuels to green energy

Postby TheVat on January 31st, 2021, 11:33 am 

Look at the OP, the topic, and the forum we're in. This is not a GW contrarian thread. We have plenty of those elsewhere on the site. Back to topic, please.

Also, the 24 hour argument has been long superseded by facts, already discussed at SPCF - namely, storage batteries. You build surplus into green energy farms, then peak input hours provide charging of batteries as well as feeding demand of the moment, then that stored wattage is used during trough times. (e. g. nighttime) And there's also hydrogen storage, where the extra power is converted to cracked hydrogen, then usable at any time for fuel cells. Please keep up with the field, if discussing tech challenges.
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Re: The transition from fossil fuels to green energy

Postby Serpent on January 31st, 2021, 12:57 pm 

Besides, we're not limited to solar and wind - btw, I'm not a fan of the solar farms and giant wind turbines, either - in fact, nothing in a huge scale, no kind of grid, for all the same reasons.
Tides https://actionrenewables.co.uk/news-events/post.php?s=everything-you-need-to-know-about-tidal-energyand rivers https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/buying-and-making-electricity/microhydropower-systemsare independent of weather; so is geothermal https://www.thinkgeoenergy.com/minigeo-a-small-scale-off-grid-geothermal-power-plant-for-remote-areas/energy. And who can overlook algae? https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=algae+for+power+on big and small scale https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0961953415300052
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Re: The transition from fossil fuels to green energy

Postby doogles on February 1st, 2021, 7:29 am 

Serpent, I like your idea in principle about localised sourcing of electricity in areas where alternatives sources can be economically harvested with guaranteed continuity of supply. It's an idea worth promoting. And I think your list of possibilities is a good start.

TheVat, apologies for seeming to be contrary, but as far as I could ascertain, the main thrust of your OP was to draw attention to an article in the Washington Post criticising the construction of more gas-fired generators. The crux of that OP seemed to be in the paragraph "If the plants are built, along with the pipelines to support them, they are likely to run for 30 or 40 years — long past the point that emissions from the electrical grid need to approach zero if we are to have a reasonable climate future."

The assumptions made in that paragraph are that 1) emissions are the main cause of climate change, and 2) that emissions can be significantly reduced by reducing the use of fossil fuels.

I know that 1) is supported by consensus, but I personally believe the basic science is not yet good enough to support that, so I commented on that assumption. And I made the point on 2) that after more than 20 years of attempting to change the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration by aiming at meeting emission-reduction targets, the rate of increase of carbon dioxide per annum shows absolutely no significant change, even after the two bursts that followed the Kyoto Protocol and the Marrakesh Accord.

We'll let that be something for another day.

Apart from that, we've drifted off in this thread into alternative electricity sources, electric cars (EVs) and ways of conserving electricity.

One of the serious questions I did ask was whether anyone had done the sums on the gains from running electric cars compared with the extra demands and problems associated with the ability to keep up a supply of electricity. You responded that there were literally hundreds of studies.

I've been having an occasional browse today, but I'm having difficulty in finding scientific studies that incorporate the extra electricity generation costs and side effects to run EVs. I've found one or two but it may take a day or two to put something together.

One Polish study, comparing spark ignition, compression ignition, and EVs, found that more particulate matter was emitted on balance by EV use than the others. Apparently the main generator fuel in Poland is coal and 'lignite'. The carbon dioxide emission on balance was about the same. The local effects from the cars was minimal, but the pollution occurred in the vicinity of the generators. The particulate matter may stay in the area of the generators, but the carbon dioxide seems to permeate the whole global atmosphere.

I note that your State has 70% wind and solar. So on balance, EVs there would be less polluting. It seems as if the environmental gains from EVs may depend on a number of local factors.
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Re: The transition from fossil fuels to green energy

Postby Serpent on February 1st, 2021, 10:50 am 

doogles » February 1st, 2021, 6:29 am wrote:Serpent, I like your idea in principle about localised sourcing of electricity in areas where alternatives sources can be economically harvested with guaranteed continuity of supply. It's an idea worth promoting.

Not my idea. There were wind turbines on American farms in 1900.
Homesteaders and ranchers installed thousands of wind pumps as they settled the western United States. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, small wind-electric generators (wind turbines) were also widely used.
https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/wind/history-of-wind-power.php
There were several viable electric cars by the end of the 19th century. https://www.caranddriver.com/features/g15378765/worth-the-watt-a-brief-history-of-the-electric-car-1830-to-present/
There have been wind- and water-mills in operation for two thousand years or more.
They were abandoned as Mr. Edison's network and Mr. Ford's assembly line relentlessly followed the big business model of doing everything. https://edisontechcenter.org/HistElectPowTrans.html and buying up the patents of any potential competitors - not to develop, but to bury.

New-tech, low cost alternative energy production has been around for quite some time, as well.
In the early 1990s, numerous villages turned to solar power in parts of Africa where one might least expect to stumble upon an oasis of lights shimmering in the pitch-black night. Perhaps the most ambitious project of this nature, and one that is often cited, is a Zimbabwean project supported by UNDP through the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The initiative, jointly funded by GEF ($7 mn) and Zimbabwe ($400,000), installed some 9,000 solar power systems throughout the country in a bid to improve living standards, but also to curtail land degradation and pollution.
https://www.un.org/africarenewal/magazine/october-2006/solar-power-cheap-energy-source-africa

However, due to heavily financed and aggressively marketed climate change denial, little political will to promote any change that might upset Big Money or the troglodyte bloc of voters, implementation was always shelved. Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the White Hose, back in the 70's, when they were still quite a new thing. He had a practical (rather than rhetorical) notion of American energy self-sufficiency. https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-white-house-solar-panels-3322255

And I think your list of possibilities is a good start.

They're not 'possibilities'; they're currently available systems. A start could and should have been made decades ago. Now it's a mere readguard action - and feeble, at that.
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Re: The transition from fossil fuels to green energy

Postby doogles on February 2nd, 2021, 6:44 am 

Serpent, I obviously should have used the words "ideas you promoted", instead of "ideas", in my last post.

I liked your most recent post and the references you used, very much. You've made me feel quite ignorant. I've not encountered anything before about the early history of the practical development of electricity.

We've had windmills in Australia for a very long time, but as far as I know, they've only been used for pumping underground water from bores. Once again, it may be that such information never came my way.

I found your post quite enlightening. Thank you.
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Re: The transition from fossil fuels to green energy

Postby Serpent on February 2nd, 2021, 11:33 am 

No problem! There is a ton of information out there, freely and readily available.
Here is a very approachable source, close to home.
https://bravenewclimate.com/about/
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Re: The transition from fossil fuels to green energy

Postby doogles on February 5th, 2021, 7:21 am 

Thanks again for the reference Serpent. I must admit that nuclear comes over as being high on my list of desirable methods of generation of electricity, but apparently the initial capital costs are high and there is still a high prejudice against it.

I've had a bit of a look around at the literature but had trouble finding a single article doing the sums on electric vehicles over spark- or compression-ignition vehicles. The information is fragmented, and not 'readily available'.

I mentioned a Polish study in a previous post. The study suggested that the amount of carbon dioxide and particulate matter produced during the extra electricity production for vehicles, would increase in the area of generation if the country in question used coal or lignite for that purpose. The website is Comparison of the environmental impact of an electric car and a car with an internal combustion engine in Polish conditions using life cycle assessment method (infona.pl).

The sort of sums I was looking for, were those that presented figures for current electricity production in, say, the USA, plus the increased demand for electric vehicles. I found a 2014 reference where an engineer did the sums on the proposition that all vehicles suddenly became electric -- Electric vehicles: How much energy would we need to fuel them? (slate.com). Although the situation is quite hypothetical, the figures seem somewhat plausible. For example, at that time, the annual energy production from gasoline use in vehicles was in the order of 4400 terawatt hours, whereas electric vehicles would generate 1100 TWh. The author, Ryan Carlyle, went further to discuss the generation of the energy required and the extra cost of electric cars etc. He concluded "This means electric vehicles are a pretty crummy way to reduce CO2 emissions, given the current U.S. power mix. You can do three times as much good per dollar by fitting coal plants with carbon capture systems. Not to mention even better alternatives like replacing coal plants altogether with nuclear, wind, or combined-cycle gas plants. Mass rollout of electric vehicles is only worthwhile in tandem with massive increases in renewables generation. Perhaps in the future we’ll get there."

I found another site, where a number of people questioned these conclusions -- and so they should. There are multiple perspectives to be considered.

Ryan Carlyle, above, mentioned combined-cycle gas plants, wherein natural gas is used in combination with steam.

This site -- Electricity in the U.S. - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) -- lists the percentage use of a variety of methods of generation in the USA in March 2020 if anyone is interested; renewables accounted for 17% in 2019. Nuclear energy was the source of 20% in 2019.

Shale gas apparently has advantages over Synthetic Natural Gas (19.1 vs 162.2 gCO2-eq /MJ and 38.8 vs 343g/MJ) -- Zent et al (2019; Comparison of techno-economic performance and environmental impacts between shale gas and coal-based synthetic natural gas (SNG) in China - ScienceDirect)

This paper probably explains why the USA is keen to proceed with new gas-fueled generators. In a subsection of two paragraphs titled Why Has Shale Gas Extraction Been Proposed?, Few et al (2017; Energies | Free Full-Text | The Impact of Shale Gas on the Cost and Feasibility of Meeting Climate Targets—A Global Energy System Model Analysis and an Exploration of Uncertainties | HTML (mdpi.com) explain that 1) the emissions from shale gas generators are about half that of coal, 2) The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) (U. S. Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions, 2013; U.S. Energy Information Administration: Washington, DC, USA, 2014.) claimed that between 2007 and 2013, CO2 emissions in the USA were reported to have fallen by 11%, 3) The International Energy Agency (Energy Technology Perspectives; International Energy Agency: Paris, France, 2014) -- Gas turbine can provide flexible supply and act as a back-up for renewables and 4) President Obama described fracking as a “bridge” to a clean energy future in his Presidential Address in 2014.

The authors conducted a broad scale investigation of the downside of Shale gas and concluded "In summary, provided fugitive emission rates can be controlled, this analysis suggests that global shale gas availability would not make a significant (positive or negative) impact on the cost and feasibility of an energy system transition consistent with the 2 °C goal, nor significantly affect the cost-optimal decarbonisation pathway globally. However, unsurprisingly, any forced exploitation of shale gas even where uneconomic compared to conventional sources of gas could lead to higher global mitigation costs. These findings should be taken in the context of the uncertainties already outlined, whilst also noting that they derive from one global energy systems model only."

At face value, one could be forgiven for promoting more alternatives. But if these alternatives depend on battery storage for continuous 24-hour supply, then maybe the following factors should be taken seriously.
This article for example suggests that lithium resources for batteries could have a limit -- As Tesla Booms, Lithium Is Running Out (forbes.com). I'm sure there are articles articles out there that will show the opposite.

This article sounds far more serious to me from a USA political and self-sufficiency perspective -- unless alternative battery technology is discovered -- See Supply Chain for Lithium and Critical Minerals Is ... Critical – ClearPath -- "In 2018 the U.S. Department of the Interior published a list of 35 critical minerals: minerals that are critical to the economic and national security of the United States. ... . Although the U.S. is a leader in producing beryllium and helium, it relies entirely on imports for 14 of the minerals, including bauxite, the primary source of aluminium, and tantalum, which is a capacitor in some electronics. By contrast, China is by far the leading producer of critical minerals, dominating production of 16 of them.7 etc." The article also lists the dependence on some unstable African countries for supplies.

I can see the serious side of becoming dependent on renewables that require battery storage for continuity of supply, all the more so if a country's traffic becomes predominantly electric and another country is in a position to hold that country to ransom on supply of essential elements for batteries.

The dependence on other countries for these essential elements would sway my thinking very much if I were a politician.

But where are the studies of the effects on the environment from the mining alone of these 35 critical elements, along with the energy requirements to do the mining? Where are the studies on the costs and energy usage to do the processing and refinement of the elements, and the actual manufacture and replacement of the batteries? I imagine there are figures around for all of these and for the costs of repair and maintenance of exposed solar and wind farms (from storm and tempest etc), but they are hard to find and it would take a thesis-size undertaking to investigate all of the computations and permutations of the available data.

It seems to me that in view of all of the above, particularly the information relating to dependence on other countries for supply of essential elements, that gas generation of electricity may be the best gap filler and reliable source pro tem, pending the development of new battery technologies, or finding the capital for, and the acceptance of nuclear.

(Note! For the first time, my links to references have not come through to the Preview. I have underlined them in case anyone wishes to copy and paste them into Google or Google Scholar.)
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Re: The transition from fossil fuels to green energy

Postby Serpent on February 5th, 2021, 10:00 am 

Can't help you on the specifics, I'm afraid. I'm no expert on electric cars - have never taken a great interest, since they're way out of our price-range.
Given that, a couple of comments:
I've never thought all the cars on the road should be replaced with electric ones - I don't think all the cars should be on the road at all.
Any study that bases its calculations on coal generators is right off the table, afaic. Coal needs shutting down, asap - preferably four decades ago.
I can see how a Chernobyl or a Fukushima might put people off nuclear power, even if it's only one in a thousand. Just as a major oil spill might put some people off deep ocean drilling. Is that prejudice, or justifiable fear?
I'm not exactly a fan of fracking, either.

Who says everybody has to be going everywhere all the time? By motorized vehicle, rather than leg-power?
Who says we need to waste all that energy on carrying stuff from one place to another and making garbage?
Who says all the cities of the world have to be lit all night?
Who says every 'demand', whether from habit or greed or indoctrination, has to be met?
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Re: The transition from fossil fuels to green energy

Postby TheVat on February 5th, 2021, 10:49 am 

Found this, and many other sources, in literally fifteen seconds of Google search....

https://cars.usnews.com/cars-trucks/what-is-mpge

This, from Doug, seems incorrect....

I've had a bit of a look around at the literature but had trouble finding a single article doing the sums on electric vehicles over spark- or compression-ignition vehicles. The information is fragmented, and not 'readily available'....


Quite readily available, in fact.

As you see from the cited article, the mpg equivalencies range from around 100 to 130.

In addition to the cited article, the EPA and various European agencies, have sponsored hindreds of others studies of mpg equivalencies.

There's also the rather obvious point that, as economies shift to non-fossil fuel sources, that carbon footprint shrinks farther with an electric. A gas-powered vehicle, sui generis, retains the carbon footprint throughout its lifespan on the road.



Moderator note: this is an engineering thread, looking at how to shift away from fossil fuels. Climate change disputes (please see our forum guidelines) generally go in PT forum. So, enough digressions for now.

Also, lithium is an atomic element, which can be recycled. And several alternative battery technologies are currently in development, easily googled. I will remove posts claiming disingenuously that no such research can be found. Period.
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Re: The transition from fossil fuels to green energy

Postby Serpent on February 5th, 2021, 1:17 pm 

Understood. Just the electric cars, then. Still an interesting topic, now that i start looking around.

https://www.geotab.com/white-paper/electric-vehicle-trends/
This article is on topic, but more speculative: it suggests a technology-curve, where early-model electric cars become obsolete as batteries, range, price and production are improved. I would then expect a plateau, where the EV's begin to outlive the ICE's.
https://www.autoweek.com/news/green-cars/a1836906/will-electric-cars-serve-you-longer-gas-and-diesel-cars/
Here is a useful map: charging stations popping up all over the place - I'm pleasantly surprised by Central America and China. The biggest factor, of course, is the source of the power generation - that remains relevant in all things electrical.
https://www.plugshare.com/
And now, this:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/kensilverstein/2020/02/10/solar-powered-electric-vehicle-charging-stations-are-just-around-the-corner/?sh=2e4dc2cb320f
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Re: The transition from fossil fuels to green energy

Postby doogles on February 6th, 2021, 8:08 am 

Oo Ow! Disingenuous? I must be coming of age. I'm 89 and never been labelled disingenuous before in my life. It's a new experience for me. I feel obliged to defend myself.

Sorry TheVat, I may not have expressed myself clearly. I'll have another go.

I found many articles (popular magazine stuff) on the economic and green advantages of electric vehicles. I agree that there are hundreds of them and they all confirm that such vehicles are far more economic and greener at the level of use. I have no problems with that. That information is everywhere. I had to wade through them looking for primary research that balanced the sums of the local economic and green benefits, over the green and economic losses and gains at the point of electricity generation. I was interested in the larger picture of their use based on serious research rather than popular magazine journalist spin (Spatial thinking?).

I found a few primary articles such as the Polish one, and the article by Few et al that I discussed. It was hard work finding them. I don't have much faith in second-hand journalism. These papers did the sums on every aspect of EVs, not only local driving pros and cons, but the pros and cons associated with the generation of the extra electricity. That's what I was interested in. I like to check primary research evidence if possible.

Don't forget that your OP centred around a New York Times journalist's opinion on the construction of 235 new gas-fired generation plants in the USA. "If the plants are built, along with the pipelines to support them, they are likely to run for 30 or 40 years — long past the point that emissions from the electrical grid need to approach zero if we are to have a reasonable climate future."

I don't know whether you skimmed through my post or not, but the research and conclusion, by Few et al, suggested that gas-fired generators had questionable advantages.

Electric vehicles became a sort of developing issue in this thread, and that raised the problem of a need for more electricity generation. After researching the bigger picture, as distinct from your New York Times journalist, I see the building of gas generators as a national security measure in the USA until such time as they can guarantee supply of materials necessary for massive battery production as a corollary of renewable electricity generation. That opinion of mine has nothing to do with climate.

The other opinions in this thread seem to indicate a firm belief that electric vehicles, renewable sources of electricity and battery storage is the way to go. I must admit that when I did the sums to get an overall, rather than a local picture, I was somewhat convinced of that myself, with a reservation that nuclear is worth consideration, in theory.

As I said, the information that swayed me to support the gas-fired form of generation as a pro-tem measure, had nothing to do with economy or climate.

It was the information that the USA does not have home access to all of the ingredients required for battery production -- lithium, cobalt, aluminium, vanadium, nickel, phosphate, sulphur (sulfur), and manganese -- that changed my thinking. Would any members of this forum disagree that a good supply of batteries is essential for renewables to become a reliable 24-hour supply of electricity?

Apparently the USA does not have good economic resources of lithium and is economically dependent on other world sources. Yes, recycling is feasible but there have to be plenty of old batteries. In a growing demand, fresh raw materials are required.

This article -- Cobalt Data Sheet - Mineral Commodity Summaries 2020 (usgs.gov) suggests that the USA imports over 70% of its cobalt.

Aluminium does not seem to be a problem.

This article -- Vanadium: The metal we can’t do without and don’t produce - MINING.COM -- contains some critical comments -- "With vanadium demand set to soar, it is a valid question as to where new vanadium supply will come from. There are currently no North American reserves, a situation that is and should be deeply alarming to politicians on both sides of the 49th parallel.
A critical or strategic metal is defined as one whose lack of availability during a national emergency would affect the economic and defensive capabilities of that country. The United States and Canada, are completely dependent on recycling (mostly through recovery from spent catalyst from oil refining operations) and imports for 100% of their vanadium supply.
Consider what happened to the rare earths market in the 2000s, when China, which produces 90 percent of REEs, restricted exports, causing prices to spike around the world. Rare earths are used in everything from cell phones to wind turbines to missile guidance systems. With just three countries – South Africa, China and Russia – controlling the supply of vanadium, there is a high risk of that supply either being cut off due to a political or trade conflict, or for the price to suddenly jump."


That's enough on the supply of essential elements.

As I said, I'm interested in the big picture and researched evidence rather than second-hand journalist spin, and it was this information about the apparent dependence on other nations by the USA for supply of the necessary materials for engineers to manufacture large batteries that swayed my opinion.

I'm interested in seeing the USA stay secure and strong as a nation, because here in Australia, we are very much dependent on the USA as a nation to back us up if ever we are invaded by any other nation. In my opinion, we do not have the resources and defensive capacity to defend ourselves.

I see the building of gas generators as a national security measure in the USA until such time as they can guarantee supply of materials necessary for massive battery production as a corollary of renewable electricity generation. President Obama saw it my way in his 2014 Presidential Address as I noted in my last post. I can rationalise why the USA government wishes to push ahead with them. In one sense it boils down to a balance between national security and a slowing down of conversion to renewables. I see it as a case of being realistic.
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Re: The transition from fossil fuels to green energy

Postby TheVat on February 6th, 2021, 5:10 pm 

Looking at what I said was disingenuous (or seemed so), I see I was talking about the battery technology. What I found disingenuous, as someone who has followed storage tech, was the notion that lithium batteries are the sole means of storing peak output. No scarce metals are at issue with other storage, like hydrogen. Hydrogen is produced with excess power, then used to produce power (via either fuel cells or turbines) during off-hours for wind/solar. And there are other storage options, including batteries that use sodium, halite, iron, and other readily available minerals. Should the speculated lithium or vanadium crunch happen, the power industry has many other options to diversify its off-hours storage. Professing unawareness of these may not be disingenuous in intent, but it did make me wonder if you were a newbie to the world of green energy. I know quite well you're not a newbie to life, or many areas of scientific inquiry on which you seem to have done due diligence.

As for relying on popular magazines, I was offering a brief and accessible summary on EVs, not relying solely on that magazine. Much of the data comes from agencies like the US EPA, DOE, and their considerable science resources and sponsorship of research.
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Re: The transition from fossil fuels to green energy

Postby doogles on February 8th, 2021, 7:21 am 

TheVat, thank you for your response. Re, "Much of the data comes from agencies like the US EPA, DOE, and their considerable science resources and sponsorship of research." It's the actual primary research itself that those bodies are using, where I would look for answers. When people say that "the evidence is out there", it's that research evidence that I would like them to show me.

In order to get a more complete overall picture, I asked in a previous post, "But where are the studies of the effects on the environment from the mining alone of these 35 critical elements, along with the energy requirements to do the mining? Where are the studies on the costs and energy usage to do the processing and refinement of the elements, and the actual manufacture and replacement of the batteries? I imagine there are figures around for all of these and for the costs of repair and maintenance of exposed solar and wind farms (from storm and tempest etc), but they are hard to find and it would take a thesis-size undertaking to investigate all of the computations and permutations of the available data." It turned out to be a rhetorical question, so I had a cursory look myself.

I found a couple of articles (not primary research) involving mining and the use of fossil fuels in the manufacture, delivery and installation of wind turbines during a further attempt to get a much larger, balanced picture of the sums involved in the attainment of 'green' energy. See for example, To Get Wind Power You Need Oil - IEEE Spectrum and mec_fact_sheet_wind_turbines_0.pdf (mineralseducationcoalition.org)

Your latest post, TheVat, prompted me to check some more on Google Scholar under the keywords of sodium ion batteries. I found a number of reviews such as this one -- Eshetu et al (2020; Electrolytes and Interphases in Sodium‐Based Rechargeable Batteries: Recent Advances and Perspectives - Eshetu - 2020 - Advanced Energy Materials - Wiley Online Library). The message in all of them is that the technology is still under development. So, with increasing USA usage of electricity, and until such time as the new technologies come into practical everyday use, some extra generators will need to be constructed. Shale gas seems to be the most readily available at the moment to me.

One thing is now obvious to me. Exploration of the sums involved to get a picture of the size I have in mind, is obviously out of the question in a chat forum such as this, so I'll leave it there, except to add that I have to admit that I had been quite naive about the new developments in battery technology until your last post prompted me to investigate more widely.
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Re: The transition from fossil fuels to green energy

Postby TheVat on February 8th, 2021, 5:10 pm 

I said there's a variety of storage options, not that it all rested on sodium.

As for needing energy to build windfarms, this seems self-evident. Any power source requires energy for fabrication. Wind power is now considerably cheaper than any other source, partly because fabrication and installation have fewer costs and lower maintenance than fossil fuel plants. Obviously we will always need acrylic resins or other polymers for blades, so it's not like all use of oil will cease. But the carbon footprint, once that oil is in the form of durable blades, etc, will be a small fraction compared to getting those windborne gigawatts from fossil fuel. Wind is progressing not because it's perfect or sublimely virtuous, but because it makes economic sense.

As for estimation of costs, again, the IEA, EPA, DOE, et al, have plenty of research available to get some ballpark figures.

Green energy doesn't need Scare-quotes around it. It's a lower carbon strategy, that after some decades, may lead to manufacturing bases that approach zero carbon. For example, once it's possible to smelt aluminum with green electricity (as has been done in Oregon and Washington with hydropower), then your fabrication footprint decreases for those parts made of aluminum. There are hundreds of steps like that going towards very low carbon systems of energy harvest. I've never said that we get there overnight.

If you want someone to "show you the evidence, " maybe some retired engineer will pop in and do the hod carrying for you. Most people here, I would suspect, have somewhat busy lives, and competing interests, and they will point to some sources and leave it at that. From there, it's up to you.
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Re: The transition from fossil fuels to green energy

Postby Serpent on February 8th, 2021, 6:09 pm 

I like the idea of geothermal energy. Of course it has a start-up cost like every other generating facility. More expensive than and not as clean as a wind turbine, but doesn't kill birds; dependable independently of weather. Less expensive than a nuclear plant; easier to maintain; can be installed at any scale from a single family home to a metropolis; has no deadly waste product.
http://css.umich.edu/factsheets/geothermal-energy-factsheet
Of course, the car would still need a lightweight, durable, inexpensive battery.
I accidentally downloaded a huge PDF fact-sheet, which i will study at leisure and may quote later.
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