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According to Hughes Belin (2010), "Tout Brussels" gathered on Tuesday (April 13) for the presentation of 'Roadmap 2050', by which he meant the flamboyant occasion on which the European Climate Foundation (ECF) -- a so-called think tank -- unveiled still another green fantasy about how Europe could be decarbonised for little more than lunch money. As will be noted later, what we are be talking about here could necessitate deploying trillions of U.S. dollars, however the point is that once the investments proposed in the roadmap are carried out, and Europe's existing energy infrastructure is replaced with certain low carbon alternatives, electricity prices in the long term will supposedly be constant, and dangerous levels of climate change can be avoided. Put somewhat more technically, (discounted) short-term costs, though high, will be at least compensated for by (discounted) long-term benefits.
In case you have forgotten your theoretical welfare economics, the mathematical and economic details of this arrangement are straightforward, albeit tedious, and once we leave the classroom for the real world, we might encounter some very disturbing prospects. However the environmental correspondent of the influential Financial Times (UK), Fiona Harvey (2010), does not seem to be bothered by unanticipated and/or troubling occurrences, and apparently believes that not only will fossil fuel power stations be banished from the face of the earth, but nuclear facilities will also be eventually liquidated.
As I have attempted to explain to Ms Harvey and her colleagues for many years, in a dozen or so of my articles, the optimal power generation strategy features a host of renewables and alternatives -- and not just those mentioned in the Roadmap -- but also a moderate increase in nuclear energy, and in particular -- though not exclusively -- energy from the next generation of nuclear equipment (Gen 4) when it becomes available in a decade or so.
According to Ms Harvey, Mr Matthew Phillips of the ECF said: "When the Roadmap 2050 project began it was assumed that high-renewable energy scenarios would be too unstable to provide sufficient reliability, that high-renewable scenarios would be uneconomic and more costly, and that technology breakthroughs would be required to move Europe to a zero-carbon power sector. Roadmap 2030 has found all of these assertions to be untrue."
Well, Matt, with all due respect, as well as a profound understanding on my part that you could hardly do less than to praise Roadmap 2050 to the high heavens, I would like to emphasize that regardless of whether you and yours believe those initial assumptions you quoted, or not, they are not only true, but much truer than you, your friends and neighbours, and the ladies and gentlemen at the Roadmap launching site could possibly realize. Furthermore, the day after the Brussels extravaganza, I attended a seminar on coal in Stockholm, where among other things, during a lull in the proceedings, one of the speakers repeated to me some of the bunkum from the Brussels gig. In addition to waffle about Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), he mentioned the wind farms that could be placed in the North Sea, and solar farms constructed in e.g. Spain, with all of these connected by a super-grid, and as a result providing the kind of reliable power that conventionally is not expected from items like isolated wind and solar, where capacity factors could be extremely low.
I of course had no choice but to inform that gentleman, and some others, that Roadmap 2050 was one of the most grotesque misconceptions ever presented audiences of sober engineers, researchers and executives. What I did not inform him and the other speakers was that I understood why Roadmap creators and disciples supported such obvious nonsense, foremost among which was the fact that it would provide many jet setters with an abundance of interesting -- though socially unproductive -- work that might last until they began drawing survivors' benefits.
The Roadmap was also taken up by James Kantner of the New York Times (2010) in a short but informative article. That article deserves considerable attention, because according to Mr Kantner the cost of constructing the supergrid and providing facilities for reducing emissions by 80 percent was about 9.5 trillion dollars. Quite naturally, this is an informal estimate, and perhaps an exaggeration, but even so I suspect that in a seminar room or conference, it should be possible to classify an estimated cost of this amount as something so preposterous that it should never, under any circumstances, be considered. Here I want to mention that the Roadmap is very unlikely to be supported by engineers and economists who have nothing to gain financially and/or career-wise, and this is particularly true in France, where cost-benefit calculations are more or less routine. Of course in Sweden, engineers will show this bizarre 'Roadmap' deception an exaggerated amount of respect, because it would be a social and perhaps also an economic mistake to compromise their green credentials. Another organization that has indicated support for the Roadmap is the Stockholm Environmental Institute, which is a research establishment with a marked resemblance to what George Orwell called "a system of indoor welfare".
I can terminate this short contribution by noting several of the peculiarities associated with the Roadmap, both directly and indirectly. The one of particular interest to me has to do with hearing that the Roadmap was derived from some reports of the well known consultancy McKinsey. Unless I am mistaken, that organization submitted a strange estimate for something to a firm in Chicago for whom I worked as a kind of applied mathematician. Similarly, their approach to the particular issues associated with the Roadmap display some equally strange analytical techniques developed with the Swedish utility Vattenfall, which is one of the largest electricity generators in Europe, and also owns some coal mines. According to one of the speakers at the coal seminar that was mentioned above, Vattenfall is genuinely interested in increasing the amount of electricity supplied to the growing world population, while decreasing the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) accompanying this pursuit. In other words, they profess the kind of good Samaritan approach to their activities that was once practiced by Al Capone during his career as a very successful bootlegger and gang overlord in the 'windy city'.
As far as I am concerned, their principal interest is in making money, which includes confusing the general public in Sweden and elsewhere about the ability to reduce CO2 emissions with 'Carbon Capture and Storage' techniques -- which the brilliant MIT engineer Jeffrey Michel, who lives in Germany, calls a 'thermodynamic travesty'. They also accept the utility of cap-and-trade for reducing CO2 emissions. I regard cap-and-trade as a scam, and I think it necessary that everyone who reads this short paper should know that it was rejected by the economists who first proposed it, Professors Thomas Crocker and the late John Dales, and also the leading climate scientist and believer in (anthropogenic) global warming, Dr James Hansen.
When Roadmap 2050 was introduced in Brussels, in the background was Shirley Bassey's melodic rendition of 'History Repeating'. Considering the high costs and low benefits that it entails, having Ms Bassey's bellow her famous 'Goldfinger' would have been more appropriate.
Banks, Ferdinand E. and Lim Tai Wei (2010), Energy, Environment and Economic Theory. World Scientific; London, New York and Singapore (Forthcoming)
Belin, Hughes (2010). 'A heavy burden on EU policymakers'. European Economic Review.
Harvey, Fiona (2010). 'No tariff rises seen in switch to greener electricity'. Financial Times (12 April)
Kantner, James (2010). 'Europe urged to share power across continent'. New York Times (12 April)
For information on purchasing reprints of this article, contact sales. Copyright 2013 CyberTech, Inc.
Thanks for publishing this short article, EnergyPulse, but I think that a slight comment might be useful. I am NOT against 'decarbonization'. The voters evidently want it, and their wishes should be respected - at least in certain countries. Let me also mention that I am NOT an expert on this topic - in fact I'm hardly interested in it. But I know that an enormous amount of effort is being made these days to make fools of the television audience, and where certain things are concerned Fred Banks is nobody's fool. Let's make the assumption that 'decarbonization' is a good idea. What is not a good idea is to perform this activity at a maximum rather than a minimum cost.
Michael Hogan 6.2.10
As the leader of the project for the European Climate Foundation, and as someone with 30 years of experience developing and managing the operations of large power systems in different parts of the world (the last 20 of which were at very senior levels), I would be happy to respond to any specific concerns Mr. Banks has with the study. However I would note a few things. First, there are a number of details in Mr. Banks' contribution that lead me to conclude that he hasn't actually read the study but is relying entirely on a select set of media reports and on conversations with certain unnamed commentators - for instance, ECF is not a "think tank" and does not claim to be one but relied on a number of highly reputable consultants to conduct the analysis; and the study actually considers a broad range of resources but expresses a preference for no specific supply portfolio in 2050 (other than that the porfolio, whatever it is, be fully decarbonized and be demonstrated to be capable of delivering the same level of supply reliability as today's system). Second, while Mr. Banks appears to have spent a great deal of time on the study of economics, he has no obvious qualifications to comment authoritatively on the key analysis from which most of the the study's most important insights proceed, which is a first-ever detailed technical grid reliability study that answers many (but not all) of the crucial questions about how one would deliver at least the current standard of resource adequacy based on a wide range of possible future portfolios of decarbonized power supply. The contributors to the study in this respect - KEMA and Imperial College London's Energy Futures Lab - are eminently qualified to have conducted that analysis, and the industry representatives who participated as core working group members, including nearly all of the largest energy companies in Europe, have confirmed that the technical analysis that was performed is groundbreaking and robust. Third, Mr. Banks' contribution is oddly lacking in specific objections to actual findings of the study itself and in specific alternative suggestions to those actual findings. Such specific points about the actual study would make this discussion both more relevant (rather than having this become a debate about the accuracy, or lack thereof, of various media reports) and more useful both to Mr. Banks and to Energy Pulse's readers. Suffice it to say that Mr. Banks' apparently dearly held pre-conceptions about the economic and technically feasible solution set to a decarbonized power supply (which, to be fair, are commonly held pre-conceptions) are fundamentally and authoritatively challenged by the study's findings, and it would behoove him and anyone else interested in the topic to study those findings very closely - which, again, would start with actually reading the report itself.
Michael Hogan European Climate Foundation
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.2.10
Professor Banks answers Mr Hogan as follows.
Mr Hogan should make ABSOLUTELY AND TOTALLY CERTAIN that neither he nor any of the distinguished consultants at his disposal ever finds themselves in a seminar room or conference with Mr Banks. At the same time I want to say the same thing to Mr Hogan that I said to a friend in the financial community who informed me of a paper on nuclear energy which he said that I would not like. My answer was that I probably would not like it - I would love it. When I saw that paper - probably prepared at considerable expense - I knew at once that its author was hopeless where the subject of nuclear economics was concerned.
I don't remember Mr Hogan taking part in this forum before, but I have some advice for him. There are a dozen or more people who regularly contribute to EnergyPulse with articles and comments who could cut him off at the knees. Micheal, let me tell you now before you climb up on your high horse, they take no prisoners.
You use the expression a "decarbonized power supply". If you are talking about somewhat more nuclear and a lot more renewables and alternatives, then we are on the same wave length. But if you are talking about e.g. CCS and cap-and-trade then I will simply say to you that you have come to the wrong forum, and you are going to hear some things about that sort of foolishness that neither you nor your distinguished consultants want to hear.
Jack Ellis 6.2.10
I have some knowledge of the technical, economic, political and societal challenges associated with using renewable resources. Based on what I've read here, I'm skeptical of claims that any large economy can be "de-carbonized" in a short period of time at reasonable cost and without unacceptable social disruption. If the task can't be accomplished at reasonable cost, the public will oppose it, which means no politician in his or her right mind is going to support it.
I plan on reading the Roadmap 2050 report and providing some observations about it's technical, economic and political feasibility. Please check back in a few days. Perhaps then we can all have an informed debate.
Jim Beyer 6.2.10
According to the study, they assume the energy use goes from 3250 TWhr/yr (2010) to 4900 TWhr/yr (2050). Is this reasonable?
They are assuming no more than 30% nuclear, with options of 20%,10%, or even 0% nuclear.
They assume 1 MW of backup is needed for every 7-8 MW of renewable (solar/wind).
I dunno, dudes....
Michael Keller 6.2.10
OK Hogan, I'm game. Where can we get a copy of your whiz-bang report?
I must admit, however, to up front to a bias. Given the stupefying amounts of CO2 naturally produced, strikes me as odd (actually, more like completely irrational) to set a target of "zero" carbon for mankind.
Michael Hogan 6.2.10
To Mr. Banks, I really would suggest you read the report before you presume to judge it (it's available, along with all of the back-up material, at www.roadmap2050.eu). The only high horse I see around here is the one you're sitting on. I've spent 30 years in the gas & power industry in a wide range of senior roles, backed by extensive training and experience with the bluest of blue chip energy companies, so while I keep an open mind I will take a back seat to no one when it comes to evaluating what it takes to deliver reliable electricity at an affordable cost, including the economics of nuclear power (I was trained by and worked for several years in GE's nuclear business in the 1980s and have been an unbiased and knowledgeable observer of the nuclear industry ever since). To respond to your specific concerns, the report tests a wide range of nearly-zero-carbon supply mixes by 2050 (none of them is actually zero carbon for reasons that you will no doubt understand once you read the report), focusing on 3 supply mixes ranging from 40% coming from a mix of renewable sources and the balance from nuclear and fossil-with-CCS, to 60% from a mix of renewable sources and the balance from nuclear and fossil-with-CCS, to 80% from a mix of renewable sources and the balance from nuclear and CCS. There was a sensitivity evaluated with 100% from a mix of renewables, but that case was not studied in great depth. Because the study was not an attempt to forecast a least-cost outcome or to optimize the supply mix along any other dimension, but rather to test a representative range of decarbonized supply mixes against standard industry reliability and cost metrics, one should not read too much into these specific supply mixes. We did run sensitivities in each case assuming no fossil-with-CCS, which means (contrary to the comment from Mr. Beyer) that we considered the possibility of nuclear supplying up to 60% (and if you're interested, 40% from renewable and 60% from nuclear came out at a materially lower cost than 60% from a mix of renewable and fossil-with-CCS, though 60% from nuclear (or from any other single resource) is in practice a nonsensical scenario). To the rest of you, I would first urge the same thing - that you read the report before you presume to judge it. To Mr. Keller, we haven't set a target of zero carbon for mankind (by the way, I really hope you don't start down the road of dismissing anthropogenic CO2 emissions based on their quantity relative to the natural global flows of CO2 into and out of the atmosphere - that would seriously dent your credibility in this conversation). We've set a target of 95-100% reduction in CO2 emissions from the power sector compared to 1990 levels. That is an eminently achievable objective and "table stakes" for delivering any meaningful level of GHG abatement from the rest of the economy. To Mr. Beyer, it's actually 1MW of backup for every 7-8MW of total installed capacity, not 7-8MW of renewable capacity, and we did not ASSUME that ratio, it was the ratio that emerged from KEMA and ICL's resource adequacy optimization of the grid solution. That analysis has been critically reviewed by a number of Europe's top grid specialists and will be published in the next couple of months as a peer-reviewed paper in the journal Energy Policy. To Mr. Ellis, I am glad to hear that at least someone is prepared to reserve judgment until they've read the analysis (which is reported in Volume 1 of the report).
Jack Ellis 6.2.10
It's a lengthy report but my initial reading of the executive summary has raised a few questions that I will try to answer by reading further. I note them here so that others can comment on whether I might be focusing on the wrong things:
1) Setting aside increased electricity use from replacing fossil fuels with electricity for heating, transportation and industrial processes, the report appears to assume significant reductions in per-capita use of electricity. California, which arguably has some of the most aggressive energy efficiency programs and energy efficient building codes in the world, has only been able to drive growth in per capita electricity use to zero. I believe Europeans already use less electricity per capita than Californians. Are reductions of this magnitude realistic?
2) The report also suggests a reduction on the order of 50% in energy use per unit of GDP (price increases of 15% offset by 20-30% reduction in cost per unit of GDP). Have those figures been reviewed by manufacturing and process experts to see whether they are feasible? It's not just a matter of technology. Theoretical limits may also prevent these kinds of efficiency gains.
3) Both of the above factors assume relatively modest increases in the real price of electricity, or perhaps modest increases on top of the likely price trajectory for electricity absent decarbonization. This seems to fly in the face of conventional wisdom that electric demand has very low price elasticity. While I disagree with the conventional wisdom, I'm wondering whether a 15% increase really will elicit a 50% reduction in consumption (elasticity of -3).
4) The report suggests hydrogen could be put to a variety of uses. Producing hydrogen from renewable electricity is pretty expensive, and if that hydrogen is then used to produce electricity in a reversal of the process, it is a highly inefficient round-trip process.
4) An observation rather than a question, and I'd like to do a sanity check on the expenditure estimates but 7 trillion euros spend over 40 years seems very reasonable for a 10 trillion euro economy.
5) I'm skeptical of estimates that only 1 MW of backup capacity will be required for each 7-8 MW of total installed generating capacity. That's the standard today for conventional generating capacity that has little uncontrolled variability. Even assuming 3 MW of nameplate capacity from renewable energy is required to provide the same amount of energy that 1 MW of conventional capacity can produce, the estimates seem a bit optimistic. A study currently being conducted by the California ISO might help confirm or refute the 1 for 7 or 8 estimate.
6) Energy supply diversity is a worthy objective and also worth paying somewhat more. Particularly when it frees governments from undue political pressure. The national security implications of being less reliant on Russian natural gas are obvious.
7) Another comment: it's hard to overestimate public opposition to transmission lines, towers for wind machines and large amounts of land turned over to solar PV collectors. I know plans for a UK offshore wind farm in the North Sea and associated onshore transmission infrastructure has already provoked a public outcry and at least one objection from an MP. In this respect, Europeans are not that much different from Americans.
8) Like Dr. Banks, I have my doubts about the viability of CCS. It's thermodynamically inefficient, storing enough of it is going to be problematic, there's a high risk of escape, and the technology is, as far as I know, far from proven. I'll be interested in what the report has to say, but I believe some method of recycling carbon into a liquid fuel via photosynthesis is a more sensible, and potentially more cost-effective option.
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.3.10
Mr Hogan, I see no reason to complicate something as simple as this issue. There is no country in the world where climate issues are discussed on the same scale as Sweden, but at the same time hardly anything is being done. The reason nothing is being done is because the people arguing for drastic climate control measures are often - though not always - nutters, ignoramuses, hypocrites and hustlers, and their basic concern is less work , more money and more popularity. The engineers and scientists in this country (Sweden) are also interested in less work and more money, but they are too intelligent to become heavily involved with something as crazy as Roadmap 2050. In addition, and listen to this please, since Sweden is one of the most environmentally satisfactory countries in the world, their is no logical reason for them to be concerned with foolishness like Roadmap 2050, although unlike my good self, they won't say that. Offer them enough money though, and I am sure that they would put their wisdom at the disposal of just about any 'roadmap' you can name.
Publishing in Energy Policy you say. The people who publish that that journal published many of my articles, notes, comments, reviews etc, in both Energy Policy and Resources Policy. In fact THEY asked ME to write for them in order to get those journals started. I am not going to go into the reasons that I stopped, but I want you to know that just as I am not going to read the report you are talking about, I don't read Energy Policy and Resources Policy, nor am I one of the peers doing their reviewing any more. I don't waste my time. I can respect the people who write in those journals, they are just trying to make better careers, but not the people who edit them, and very few of the peers who do their reviewing..
About wind and solar. Capacity factors are working against wind, and I know the algebra that will prove this - at least to me - even if you dont. Where solar is concerned, some very smart people say that it has a future, and I will take their word for it. But for the country in which I live, I don't care about wind and solar per se. I want more nuclear and somewhat more renewables and alternatives, to possibly include some wind. I dont want Roadmap 2050 nor anything to do with anyone who does. What I do want is for people who want that circus to come to the faculty of economics at Uppsala University and argue for it. If they do, they won't return to this university.
Jim Beyer 6.3.10
Like others have stated, it's a very long report. Maybe we shouldn't be critical about something which is obviously a very ambitious effort.
But I can't help but wonder that something like this isn't wracked with questionable assumptions. It might simply be too early to attempt such an ambitious effort. Maybe a less ambitious piece that clarifies what they assumptions are.
The plan requires 0.1% of the EU to be covered in solar panels. Maybe not a bad idea, but at what cost? And how much power would they really create? Is that the most cost-effective thing to do.
A second point, which I feel I actually have a bit more of a clue about, is vehicle fuel. See page 43 of the main report, Figure 7. They replace the current 100% fossil fuel fleet with a mixture of PHEVs, BEVs, biofuel, and hydrogen. The hydrogen comes from steam methane reforming. Hmm. How 'bout just using the methane? These guys are still drinking the H2 Kool-aid. Maybe BEVs could work in Europe (I sort of doubt it) but PHEVs definitely would and they should form a larger percentage of the mix. Scrap the FCVs, and I don't know what they mean by "biofuel" as every biofuel I know of (save methane) is hopelessly expensive.
And as far as I can tell, no mention is made at all about aviation fuel or fuel for ships/shipping.
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.3.10
Jim, I worked for the UN in Geneva for 3 years. Just absolutely wonderful, except of course for the unread reports that somehow ended up in the waste paper baskets in my room in the Palais (des Nations). I am sure, certain, that a few of them were OK, but most were nonsense. I mean, the people who did them did their best, BUT THEY DIDN'T KNOW ANYTHING.
That is why your expression "ambitious efforts" have no real meaning for me. The people who wrote this travesty don't have the background in energy subjects that they should have. These authors are people who share - or say that they share - the beliefs of their employers. It is like the man who wrote the report on nuclear that I referred to somewhere. That report was written by him because he convinced this employer that he could write this kind of report - A REPORT CRITICAL OF NUCLEAR. Some of his conclusions were too stupic to discuss in mixed company.
In a perfect world the peole above - except fof Mr Hogan - would sit around a table for a while, read that report, and discuss it. Somewhat later the report would be discussed publicly, with everybody interested in the topic in attendence. Then we would find out who knows what about ROADMAP 2050.
Michael Hogan 6.3.10
Gentlemen, I'm trying this in two parts, since the web site appears to be rejecting my rather lengthy response.
Fred, a breathtaking example of dogmatic mindset and willful ignorance. While the economics faculty at Uppsala University would not be a particularly useful forum in which to evaluate a technical study of the grid-based solutions to decarbonized resource adequacy and system costs, I suspect at least a few of your colleagues would object to being portrayed as a new incarnation of The Inquisition, in the truest historical sense of the term. If you're interested in a deep analysis of the possible grid-based solutions to the power decarbonization challenge, read the report; you might learn something (now there's a novel thought). If you're more interested in blocking out information that would challenge your desperately held pre-conceptions, you might want to consider a move to the Vatican.
Mr. Ellis, thanks for your questions. I took quite a bit of time to compose responses, but the site sent back an error report, so I'll try to summarize here.
1) The report used McKinsey data on what is technically feasible and economically beneficial at a cost of CO2 of €60/ton or less. The degree of implementation assumed was no doubt aggressive, and the report is explicit about that. On the other hand, the study assumed no change in lifestyles, and while that can cut both ways, it is likely a somewhat conservative assumption. The consequences of a less successful implementation of efficiency measures is hard to say for sure (higher demand should mean higher costs and higher prices, but then higher prices could suppress demand, etc.), but one way of looking at it is simply to say that for some time to come, improved efficiency while maintaining current lifestyles will continue to be a cheaper option than new supply of nearly any kind, if only we are wise enough to exploit it.
2) While some of the reduction in energy cost per unit of GDP comes from direct efficiency gains, a fair amount of it also comes from electrification of heat (using heat pumps) and transport, both of which are far more energy efficient than what they would replace. The results were broadly supported by industry participants - while many of them would say the quantity of direct efficiency gains is aggressive, most if not all agreed that directionally this is a valid finding.
3) The assumptions about direct efficiency gains were driven by what is feasible and economic, in turn driven by policy, not by consumer response to price signals - which is essentially what we find to be the case at the moment. We can debate elasticity of electricity demand to price (I personally believe it is inelastic within the price ranges and demand quantities considered here because of the small percentage of average household income it represents, but of course either or both of those conditions could change). But that is not what drove the efficiency assumptions in the study.
4) I don't immediately recall what the report said about the uses to which hydrogen could be put, but the findings assumed no material role for hydrogen in either power or transport. You may well be right (I tend to agree with you), but if so it would not materially alter the findings.
Michael Hogan 6.3.10
And now the second part....
second 4) Well spotted - while the investment numbers are undoubtedly large, in the context of the overall economy in general, and in particular the quantity of investment required in the power sector over the period even in business-as-usual, they are fairly modest. The fact is that efficiency, cross-border transmission expansion, some investment in dedicated non-spinning reserve capacity, and deployment of ICT to realize a reasonable amount of demand response, taken together are a surprisingly effective solution at a surprisingly modest cost.
5) I was also surprised at this result, but the reasons for it are quite logical once you appreciate the surprising findings about the (low) level of correlation geographically and temporally of demand and primary energy supply over a large enough area (i.e., Europe) and the surprisingly modest cost in transmission, back-up capacity and balancing costs required to exploit those opportunities. I would note that 'back-up capacity" refers specifically to dedicated non-spinning reserve capacity (e.g., simple cycle peaking turbines); there is a large amount of spinning reserve capacity and other system services also required (just as with the current system), but that is accounted for in the analysis under the category "balancing costs".
7) Agreed - though it is also hard to overestimate the opposition to expansion of nuclear (none of these solutions is easy). I would note that environmental NGOs are slowly but steadily waking up to the fact that a large expansion of transmission is indispensable to decarbonization. They are not the only ones who oppose it, but they are often the source of the money and organization behind the opposition, so there is hope. The opposition to nuclear, on the other hand, isn't going away anytime soon.
8) We all have our doubts about the future of CCS - even if underground storage is technically feasible (which I think it will be), at what scale, and at what cost? We did include CCS as one option, but as I noted we also tested the implications of substituting nuclear for CCS in the non-renewable segment of the solutions. The concerns about the real CCS in power is one of the key drivers for finding solutions to high shares of renewable supplies, of course, since it would be pretty courageous to assume that we can double or triple the amount of nuclear capacity in the next 30 years, even if you assume that that is a desirable alternative. It's hard to see how we will decarbonize some segments of heavy industry without CCS, which is another reason to question the scope for CCS in power, where alternatives exist, so we need to do more work on CCS. We did not assume any scientific breakthroughs in areas like recycling of CO2 as you suggest, but of course such breakthroughs would only make these solutions more feasible. Another wedge of conservatism built into our approach.
Michael Hogan 6.3.10
Mr. Beyer, please see my response above regarding transport fuels. The study did not profess to do a deep dive on transport, and in fact for the segments of transport most relevant to power demand (light and medium duty vehicles) it assumed 100% electrification (which is a whole different debate in and of itself). Hydrogen may well be a non-starter in transport, but the heavy road hauling sector that is addressed in the section you're citing the alternative to hydrogen would probably be second-gen biofuels (which, as you can see, are already deployed alongside H2), not electricity, to the extent that it's decarbonized at all. The extent of decarbonization shown for the air and sea transport sectors is primarily via efficiency and second-generation biofuels, but again, this is tangential to the main findings about decarbonization of power. This was not a transport study, and the information shown for transport was really only for completeness; the main impact of different assumptions on the power sector would be a lesser demand for electrification of LDVs and MDVs, which only makes the power decarbonization challenge that much less daunting (accepting of course that if the alternative to electrification is H2 that in itself may have implications for electricity demand, but we are getting off on a tangent here as far as the immediate study is concerned).
Bob Amorosi 6.3.10
I commend Mr. Hogan and the people who have studied and worked on or are working on Roadmap2050. These people are effectively "design engineers" of the future grid composition for generation.
What becomes immediately obvious from the comments above WITHOUT even reading the roadmap2050 report is that there are indeed many design variables to consider in ADDITION to costs. This situation is commonplace for design engineers in many other disciplines besides electrical power systems. (In electronics where I work there are often many design solutions for an electronic circuit that achieves the same product result, often with hundreds or more technical variables.)
A measure of heroic design engineering is, among other things, how thoroughly and accurately the designer(s) considers many possible combinations of variables in the final system design, and their costs, and their sensitivities to changes in other variables. Compounding such work so far into the future is what is an economical component of the design today may down the road turn out to be very uneconomical, and vice versa. Technology and economies of scale have wondrous ways of changing costs over time, so it takes a certain amount of crystal ball gazing and, yes, risk taking, to make some assumptions. Design engineering at a practical level is always rife with assumptions, it is inherent in the design process.
Give the people working roadmap2050 some credit for at least attempting this project, since coming up with an optimal future grid composition is a non-trivial exercise to say the least.
In essence even though those like Fred Banks would like to see primarily one grid composition i.e. much more dominance by a lot more nuclear, there are many factors like public policies and public opposition that frequently outweigh technical merits and yes even outweigh Fred's beloved low-cost economics (of nuclear). That's not to say lowest cost components (e.g.) nuclear should be dismissed altogether, but one must come to grips with they being just one color brick in the wall, and the wall designers will end up choosing how many colors and in what proportion all the colors of bricks will be used. (Coming to grips with this fact is often easier for some than others unfortunately.)
My whole point is without these type of people working on this design problem, the risks are much higher going forward that we will end up with a very poor sub-optimal grid design.
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.3.10
Mr Hogan, so you think that the economics faculty at Uppsala would not be a particularly useful formum for evaluating the foolishness that you and your colleagues have pieced together. In one sense you are perfectly correct. The morons giving the orders there at the present time hardly understand the subjects that they have been teaching for the past twenty or thirty years. As for what they would object to being portrayed as, I can tell you that that is something neither your nor I may ever find out. because they keep their mouths shut when I am talking.
But returning to your comments, I can understand why you invited yourself to this party. In the bogus and unproductive world you occupy, terminology and endurance take the place of knowledge. However in a seminar room containing a blackboard or whiteboard you would be in serious trouble. What about a conference? In a conference your waffle might pay off...might, because the lady or gent in charge of the session might be one of those half-educated fools of the type that set Roadmap 2050 in motion.
One more thing. For the country in which I am living now, Sweden, I have all the answers that are necessary. Of course, I doubt wheher my knowledge is salable, but if you don't believe anything else about me, please believe that I don't care. They have done pretty good in this country without my help, and although there are a lot of things I don't know about Swedes that I should know, I know that they will never buy a CRANK scenario like Roadmap 2050, regardless of what they say. By the way, what did the French say about this bunkum?
Jim Beyer 6.3.10
I appreciate your responses and access, but I'm afraid you are just digging yourself in deeper here. As shown in the fossil fuel combustion section of the epa note here, petroleum use (chiefly due to transportation) plays a HUGE role in total CO2 emissions, right up there with coal. Your mission is (and I quote):
"The mission of Roadmap 2050 is to provide a practical, independent and objective analysis of pathways to achieve a low-carbon economy in Europe, in line with the energy security, environmental and economic goals of the European Union."
I don't see anything about it ignoring transportation fuels, and based on that statement, I'd assume the study WOULD profess to do a "deep dive" on transport.
If hydrogen is possibly a "non-starter" then why is it mentioned prominently in the report, in several places. Why are NGVs categorically ignored (as far as I can tell)? For that matter, why is peak oil ignored? Given that is going to slap us in the face long before the effects of climate change ever will, one would think some notion of that would play a role in your roadmap. (Maybe it does, I haven't read all zillion pages of the document and supporting viewgraphs, summaries, etc. I don't even know which document is "THE" document.)
You now say that second-gen biofuels are the likely alternative to hydrogen. If by that you mean cellulose-based ethanol, then I'd say you are wrong again. The feedstock is too bulky to transport more than 25 miles or so to a production plant, but the same plants need to be fairly large to get the needed economies of scale. No one's really perfected all of that yet, compared with the likely adoption of PHEVs or even BEVs.
I don't profess to be an expert on energy issues. Far from it. I think I know a little about transportation fueling issues, but probably not an expert there as well. So it concerns me (a lot) that I can see some major issues with the report with respect to this area. Your protestations above to the contrary, a report concerning the decarbonization of the EU economy cannot NOT include transportation.
For what it's worth, I do find your goal a worthy one, and even worthy of a roadmap. But I don't think you'd need a huge report to plan it out. I think if you did the following, much of what is practically achievable can be achieved: 1. Displace coal with nuclear as coal plant lifetimes are reached. 2. Displace oil use in transport with PHEVs (electric), methane (with natural gas and renewable sources) and some ethanol, if needed. Heavy trucks and planes get to use the remaining oil as diesel/jet fuel. 3. Encourage renewables if possible, but don't get one's hope up too much. 4. Aggressively pursue efficiency improvements, including business models (for utilities) that encourage and support higher efficiency (good luck with that....) 5. Provide real-time grid pricing to encourage efficiency and load shifting.
Fred can be a bit annoying when he comments without reading, but he's kind of old and crusty, and in this case, not wrong. It's not enough to write a report. Anyone can do that; and Fred has scored many a two-pointer when he's tossed many such reports into his wastebasket. A good report is one which, upon reading, you see an interesting insight, and it makes you want to read more. Like a good novel, it seduces you in a way. The roadmap is not doing that for me. Instead I see unfounded assumptions and the non-critical application of tired ideas that have bee critiqued in numerous places has the authors taken the time to do their homework. Heck, even informing the energy pulse crowd about a preliminary version of the report, we could have found lots of ways to improve it. But I guess that wasn't in the cards.
Michael Keller 6.3.10
I have read the study – thank you for the link Michael.
The study was clearly funded by advocates with a “green addenda” and sits on a foundation that an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions is needed. The report fully discloses the later.
In my opinion, the actual problem is energy, not climate change. Diversions dealing with secondary distractions (the later) invariably siphons off resources and inevitably greatly increases the cost as well as time frame for rectifying the real problem.
Seems to me that the creation and use of energy needs to be more efficient (both in the engineering and economic sense) because energy sources are limited – at least for the foreseeable future. Further, reliance on energy sources that reside in unstable regions of the world is the recipe for disaster (as in wars). The report does deal with these key considerations. However, the underlying assumption that drastic CO2 reductions are required leads to questionable results. For instance:
• CO2 sequestration, as recommended in the study, makes no sense at all from thermodynamic (generation efficiency) or cost standpoints. However, study recommendations for technologies that happen to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions because of remarkable efficiency (e.g. the natural gas fired combined-cycle power plant), are reasonable solutions.
• Spending tens of thousands of Euros (including massive subsidies) for solar cells installed on small houses located in regions with very little incidence of solar energy makes no economic sense. Heat-pumps would probably be a better solution – the study does actually recommend the use of the later.
Other specific examples could be cited. However, in a broader sense, it is not productive to spend massive amounts of money on what amounts to “make-work” projects created to deal with symptoms of an underlying serious disease. The point is that the study’s recommendations are badly skewed because the study flows from the assumption that an 80% CO2 reduction must be achieved, although a number of the recommendations are quite reasonable.
In summary, I submit that large scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved much more rapidly and economically if the primary thrust is the wise, economical and efficient use of energy. Further, a market driven approach, not rigidly constrained by the latest government “5 year plan”, is a much more powerful mechanism to solve the basic problem.
Michael Hogan 6.3.10
Mr. Beyer, the study made certain assumptions about what would be used to decarbonize transport, and to what extent it would be decarbonized. NGVs are lower-emitting than petrol ICEs, but they're not a near-zero-carbon solution whether or not you think using natural gas for transport is a wise allocation of the resource. Hydrogen fuel cells, 2nd-gen biofuels, electrification - you can mix and match these things to your heart's delight - and reasonable people can disagree on what the outcome for the transport sector should be and what it will be 40 years hence. We've made a reasonable assumption, but other reasonable assumptions could be made as well. You may have found references to H2 in the report, but if you've read it closely you'll realize that the findings do not rely to any critical degree on penetration of H2 into the transport sector (in fact, some have criticized us for "ignoring" the potential for H2). Our main interest was in the decarbonization of the power sector, and the assumptions about the role of electrification of transport have a bearing on that, so to that extent they are material to the findings. But beyond that, they are interesting fodder for a different debate and no more. As for the mission statement, the report suggests the economic and feasible scope for decarbonization of the transport sector based on a set of reasonable though aggressive assumptions about a particular route to transport decarbonization. If you feel there are cheaper and faster ways to do that, so much the better. As it happens, I worked for a year or so with a 2nd gen biofuels company run by a friend to help them with their site development efforts, and while I am far less bullish on the near-term prospects for the technology than I was going in, I think the longer term prospects are perhaps a bit more bullish than you're suggesting. As for your five points, we're closer than you seem to think - differences are that where we might "have our hopes up on renewables" you have your hopes way up on nuclear (a common phenomenon - everyone assumes their preferred solution is straightforward to implement while the solutions they don't like will be too hard to implement - that's why we've considered options that cover both eventualities); and conversely, we've found that there are more and cheaper solutions to the challenges of intermittency than had been previously though, by you as well as by others. Far from trotting out tired ideas that have been critiqued before, the fact is that the grid analysis presented in Volume 1 of the report has never been attempted before, and the results are groundbreaking.
Mr.Keller, thank you for your thoughtful comments. The report does not start with the assumption that an 80% reduction MUST be achieved (though I believe it does), but rather that such a reduction has been stated to be the objective of the EU, and it then sets out to test what it might take to achieve that. I think that's a reasonable undertaking under the circumstances, whatever you might think about the objective that's been established by the political leadership. The study does not preclude market-based solutions, but one needs to determine what the cost of externalities would need to be, and how that cost would be played through the cost structure of the various sectors of the energy industry to reach the critical decision-makers, in order to achieve the same outcome, and that's where the grey area between markets and market interventions come in. We didn't try to be prescriptive about that - we simply pointed out what it might take to achieve the stated objective affordably while maintaining reliability and security of supply. It's nice to note, however, that the results would enable an affordable, secure and relatively unlimited expansion of energy supplies (your initial point) regardless of what you might think about climate change as the primary driver for the transition.
Bob Amorosi 6.3.10
"The point is that the study’s recommendations are badly skewed because the study flows from the assumption that an 80% CO2 reduction must be achieved, although a number of the recommendations are quite reasonable."
Michael, I would rewrite your comment and simply remove the word "badly". Remember the primary motivation of the study is to achieve SOME level of CO2 reduction. No one really knows if 80% is necessary, or if even 0% is tolerable or any number in between, because all the climate change root-cause arguments cannot easily be verified if at all. The study had to use at least one number for a goal. It would have been better I suppose if it had used several and studied the differences in results.
Governments have already recognized that wiser, economical, more efficient use of energy can achieve the biggest bang for consumers' money in the shorter run. It's behind all the new energy efficiency regulations and tax breaks many governments are doling out around North America in an attempt to get the industry and public to adopt more of it. But as others have said previously on this website, efficiency gains alone won't solve the longer term problems, or perceived problems, with energy supply and climate change for growing global consumption.
I can assure Europe is the most aggressive in the world at pioneering and then FORCING the public to adopt new laws for the sake of the environment, even WITHOUT conclusive science to back up their demands. This is evident in the 80% CO2 reduction target of the study since this is a pretty draconian reduction far from marginal. It is also evident in my electronics industry with the implementation in recent years by Europe of banning many critical chemicals from electronics products' manufacturing. Under Europe's "ROHS" directive - Restriction on the use of Hazardous Substances, there has been worldwide changes to manufacturing processes of electronics components and in their marketing over the last 5 years, since without complying with ROHS your product is now banned from sale into Europe. And yes it cost my industry a lot of money to do so - it wasn't a low-cost solution.
Michael Hogan 6.3.10
As for Fred, I'm not sure what to say - if you've decided the study is "bunkum" and a "crank scenario (to cite two of the less shrill terms you've thrown around) without even reading it, I'm not sure we can have an intelligent discussion. Spending time in a seminar room with someone who refuses to read the homework assignment does not seem terribly productive. As to your question, EdF and the French grid operator RTE are so impressed by the analysis that they are co-hosting the French launch of the report in Paris next Friday.
Jim Beyer 6.3.10
Michael Hogan writes:
"NGVs are lower-emitting than petrol ICEs, but they're not a near-zero-carbon solution whether or not you think using natural gas for transport is a wise allocation of the resource. Hydrogen fuel cells, 2nd-gen biofuels, electrification - you can mix and match these things to your heart's delight - and reasonable people can disagree on what the outcome for the transport sector should be and what it will be 40 years hence."
So that would mean you'd recommend not only steam-reforming NG to make hydrogen, but then sequestering the CO2 by-product as well? Versus just using the methane and displacing the carbon dioxide from some other source (such as carbon neutral CO2 produced from ethanol plants)? Or using renewable methane produced from digestors or landfills, which is carbon neutral already? Do you people even run rough numbers on what you are proposing? Let alone the common sense implications?
Why can't a car emit carbon dioxide, if the SYSTEM can support a carbon-neutral emission, overall? Hydrogen has no infrastructure in place, and is 3X bulkier to store compared with methane. Barring some miracle-of-physics storage breakthrough, hydrogen is hopeless. I don't mean to pick at details, but your report is a collection of such details. Your report in this area (and your follow ups) are indications that you aren't getting this right, not only in specifics, but in the overall systemic architecture. You are not giving me warm fuzzies that you really know your subject, at least with respect to alternative fuels.
Michael Hogan 6.3.10
Mr. Beyer, you don't seem to be listening to me. We did not recommend any particular approach to decarbonizing transportation, at least not in this study. The study recognizes that there are multiple pathways to a very high level of decarbonization of LDV and MDV transportation (abatement potentials for the HDV, air and sea transport sectors appear to be lower, at least using currently visible technology). I don't happen to believe that hydrogen is going to make the cut for transportation for all the reasons you cite, except perhaps in very specific niche applications, I've inferred in prior postings that that is my view, and frankly the report is largely consistent with that view - you just aren't reading the actual language. The report does not RECOMMEND hydrogen fuel cells at all, much less to any extensive scale; it includes some penetration of H2 fuel cells in some heavier vehicle segments of the transport sector as an input assumption, based on McKinsey's in-house views on costs and technology that have been developed, as I understand it, at great length jointly with the big auto manufacturers, oil & gas companies, and academic institutions like MIT. I don't know if their information is correct, and frankly I had no reason to push back on their insistence that the language dealing with the transport sector include some small share of H2 to reflect the possibility that it might develop as a viable option, because whether or not they included H2 at the level they did HAD NO MATERIAL IMPACT ON THE FINDINGS REGARDING THE POWER SECTOR! If they're wrong, then they're wrong, and you're right. You seem to want to pick a fight over transportation fuels, but other than putting a number to the level of decarbonization that seems economically feasible via a number of possible pathways, and assuming in particular (to be conservative from a power sector decarbonization point of view) that nearly all LDVs and MDVs would become electric, the fact is that we made no claim to an attempt to resolve the debate between H2, 2nd-gen biofuels and some variation on NGVs. Unless you want to take issue with the contention that there is at least one, and probably several pathways to LDVs and MDVs being 95% decarbonized by 2050 (which is a claim made in the study), it's not a point that's terribly relevant to the main focus of the study (decarbonization of power supply). In short, I have no interest in defending the references to hydrogen in the report because they were not recommendations and did not bear materially on the study's findings regarding the decarbonization of the power sector. I'm sorry if that disappoints you - you clearly feel very strongly about hydrogen being a bad choice - and as I've said, I tend to agree with you - but it just wasn't an important variable in addressing the question we were trying to address. This was not a deep dive into transport decarbonization options.
Malcolm Rawlingson 6.3.10
Michael, I am not at all surprised that EdF and their grid operations people at RTE are giving the study all kinds of support. They don't have to implement any of it since most of their grid is already decarbonized by large scale nuclear and hydroelectric. The French already know how to do it and their nation is not covered with millions of ugly windmills. The French stand to gain by watching the price of neighbouring countries electricity skyrocket while their stays low. I don't know what the French words for "laughing all the way to the bank" are but I am sure they are thinking it.
If I were them I'd be giving your report all the free publicity and support I could. If you can persuade the rest of Europe that you can run a grid system on alternatives then I am sure the French would help you do that. They already know you cannot. Very smart people the French. Not sure I would say that about the rest of Europe. Of course they will pay lip service - that is the French way - but they are very astute technically and I am quite sure in private they will be having a very different discussion.
I have not read the report neither do I plan to since it is based on the need for some drastic carbon emissions reduction resulting from the discredited "science" and manipulation of facts in the IPCC report and "data" from our dear friends at the University of Essex.
With Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain headed over the economic cliffs of national bankruptcy and Britain with its massive debt levels not far behind where is all this money going to come from? Germany? I doubt if there will be much left of that economy once it has finished propping up the rest of Europe. Spending vast sums of money you don't have on a problem that does not exist borders on complete insanity....but this is the EEC - the same organization whose agricultural policies caused millions of gallons of milk to be poured down the drain while children in the third world starved to death. The production of report seems very consistent with that.
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.4.10
Michael, I don't have to read the Bunkum you and your friends produced. The comments by the very smart people above who have read it are all that is necessary, and invaluable. You should read those comments. You should read them night and day, so that the next time you encounter the people who wrote that report you can tell them to shape up, or start thinking about applying for welfare, On the basis of what those people have said, the only conclusion I can draw is that ROADMAP - AS IT PRESENTLY STANDS - IS NUTTY. This does not mean though that it cannot be cleaned up and made to fly.
Let's get something straight here, because obviously you have some problems with the English language. I think that CCS and cap-and-trade are absurd, but if they can work in some places good. The same is for true for ALL renewables and alternatives, but only to the extent that they make economic and scientific sense. Here we can apply what Einstein sad about mathematics: as much as is needed, but no more. (And Mr Hogan I know about mathematics, having failed the first course twice, which led to my expulsion from engineering school.) Obviously a new energy system is going to be necessary, and renewables and alternatives are going to be indispensible - but so is nuclear. And get this: the nuclear is going to be necessary in order for an optimal financing of the other components of the system. PLEASE NOTE THE WORD OPTIMAL: if you can't understand it, go to the store-front university that I graduated from and ask the people in their economics department about it.
Michael Hogan 6.4.10
Wow, I'm starting to get a sense of the depth of the closed-mindedness and epistemological bankruptcy of most of the denizens of this space (with apologies to Mr. Amorosi and perhaps a couple of others) -which, I would note, I only stumbled into because a colleague alerted me to Fred's remarkably incoherent and unsolicited commentary on a report he hadn't even bothered to read . Fred rants and raves (and I do mean ranting and raving) that the study is bunkum apparently because he thinks it's anti-nuclear, pro cap-and-trade and pro-CCS, despite the fact that it is quite explicitly not anti-nuclear (indeed includes favorable assessments of scenarios with quite a large amount of nuclear), says nothing whatsoever to endorse cap-and-trade (in fact, in the policy volume, is quite critical of Europe's existing cap-and-trade program) and accounts for the very real possibility that CCS will play little or no role in the decarbonization of power, all of which he would know if only he would read the report. Jim Beyer gets into high dudgeon over hydrogen and 2nd-generation biofuels, when the study made no claims to 'recommend" either hydrogen or 2nd-generation biofuels and in fact, if anything, evidences a strong view that electrification with near-zero-carbon electricity is likely to be the main route to decarbonization of transport. And then there's Malcolm Rawlingson, who dismisses not only the report but the preponderance of scientific evidence of a material risk that anthropogenic GHG emissions are pushing the biosphere into a catastrophic discontinuity - a remarkable demonstration of unwarranted confidence in one's own ability to predict a different course for the future consequences of a massive disruption introduced into an extraordinarily complex system, on the basis of a highly motivated selection of a few nit-picking errors in a mountain of otherwise compelling evidence. In other words, for most of you, a limitless capacity to find a convenient excuse to dismiss anything that contradicts your firmly held and flimsily justified preconceptions. I really don't have time to continue this apparently one-sided attempt to discuss the study's findings - again, apologies to Bob and anyone else who is actually interested in whether or not there may actually be approaches to decarbonization that are modest in cost and high in attendant benefits beyond GHG abatement.The rest of you are now free to wallow in your self-satisfied and determinedly unexamined consensus that climate change is a hoax and the answer to everything is more nuclear. I'm out of here.
Michael Hogan 6.4.10
One more comment to Fred on my way out the door - you can tell yourself over and over that nuclear is a sine qua non for any decarbonization plan, but the core underlying claims behind that oft-repeated bit of commonly received wisdom have been authoritatively examined for the first time at the scale of a fully integrated continental power system and found to be wanting. That's called "new information" for those of you who appear to assiduously avoid encountering any new information. That doesn't mean we shouldn't pursue nuclear - there will be new nuclear despite the persistent cost disadvantages and outsized downside risk, and perhaps there should be some new nuclear - but the idea that we have no choice but to do so because of cost and system reliability is no longer analytically tenable. You can choose to ignore that if you wish, but the sentient segments of the energy policy community are moving on from that past misconception.
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.4.10
So you are out of here, are you Michael. The fact is that maybe you had no place in this forum to begin with.
I must say though that I was annoyed when I read some of your nuthouse comments, but when I saw that I was not alone in your rogues gallery, I found myself smiling. I'm willing to admit that you might be a smart guy, but unfortunately really smart guys don't defend a piece of silliness like Roadmap 2050. And listen, it didn't have to be silliness. If it had been examined by some of the persons above that you excoriate, you might have been able to present the world an important document instead of a comic book or supermarket advertisement.
Some of us think that there are things in that report that in reality are not there, but I see no reason to worry about that. I have my opinion as to how the new energy system should look, and I don't really see how any sane person can disagree with me. Sweden, which is the only country that I am interested in right now, needs 2000-3000 additional megawatts of nuclear energy. What they have or don't have or will have or need on the rim of the Sahara doesn't interest me at all. With that much extra nuclear it might be possible to make Stockholm the greenest city in Europe, which is what the Swedish city of Växsö has already been called. Moreover, you defend Roadmap because you are being paid to defend it, but I am almost certain that some of the people who worked on it have the same opinion of it as I do: low-level, unscientific blather.
Climate change! You will never hear me say that climate change is a hoax, because my program - in case you have forgotten, somewhat more nuclear and a lot more renewables and alternatives - is the optimal way to deal with it. And incidentally, I have published articles in peer reviewed journals AND my textbooks saying that AGW is the real deal. Of course, in my forthcoming book I try to make it clear that the book by Lord Stern is a scam - which I think is the general opinion of that volume by those of us who can add and subtract.
"....approaches to decarbonization that are modest in cost and high in attendant benefits..." I wonder if you understand enough economics and engineering to comprehend how off-the-wall that sounds.
Michael Hogan 6.4.10
More ranting and raving, with a shot tossed in about power system engineering and economics from someone with no power system engineering qualifications, at someone who has spent thirty years at the forefront of power system engineering and economics with a star lineup of leading energy companies. No better illustration of the wackiness of this space need be provided.
Michael Hogan 6.4.10
I have to say, Fred, that for someone who appears to believe in Peak Oil theory, who accepts that the AGW theory is well supported, and who thinks that "some more nuclear and a lot more renewables and alternatives" is the right answer, your hostility to the report's findings (that you haven't read but which are remarkably consistent with all of those points, except that it doesn't rely on Peak Oil to make its case though Peak Oil would certainly make it even more compelling) is mystifying. Given all of that, it is equally odd that you would reject out of hand the idea that the incremental cost of a decarbonized approach, properly structured and implemented, just might be modest when compared to the likely cost of "business as usual", and that the non-GHG benefits of a decarbonized approach might be significant when compared to BaU. But maybe I'm missing something about your position that you haven't yet revealed.
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.4.10
The likely cost of business as usual, you say. On the average, over a period of years, we might have been able to purchase the lowest cost electricity in the world here in Sweden. Ignorant Third World groupies, energy company crooks, dumb academics and politicians, internationalist hustlers etc tricked Swedish voters into accepting things like electric deregulation, and also a scaling down of the nuclear sector. What does that have to do with Roadmap 2050? It has everything to do with it. Everywhere you look now you run into incompetence. I forget where I read about the Roadmap agenda, but I understood right away that it was a crock. Illogical nonsense. Bunkum, a scam. At least for this country - the country where I pay taxes.
The problem is, Mr Hogan, that Roadmap 2050 isn't meant for me. This is Fred - Fred Banks - and he's nobody's fool. You've got some "new information" that you want to spread around. I can provide you with the names of a hundred dunces, most of them at the leading universities in the civilized world.
Now that you are 'out of here' as you put it, I can only say the same thing to you that the president of Saudi Arabia said to George W. Bush, when George flew there in 2008 and asked for the Kingdom to pump more oil. THANKS FOR YOUR CONCERN, AND HAVE A SAFE JOURNEY HOM.
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.4.10
Before you sign off, let me say something else. I just reread my paper, and I want to apologize. I want to apologize for not giving you the treatment that I am going to give anyone who shows up at my university with an ounce of faith in Roadmap 2050.
Michael Hogan 6.4.10
You've never read it, your comments make it eminently clear you have no idea what's actually in it, and you clearly have no interest in testing your flawed understanding the power system against robust fundamental analysis by deeply qualified technical organizations who know far more about the subject than you ever will. Apparently you have lost the interest in and the ability to distinguish between "green drivel" and serious industry analysis - if you ever possessed such interest or ability in the first place. You are indeed a fool, a fool of the worst kind - a fool with no excuse. I feel sorry for you. Happily your views are largely irrelevant, though the reason for that is now quite clear. It is just sad to realize that someone who has had the opportunity you have had to develop a rounded and ongoing enquiry into the best expert thinking on this topic is nonetheless unwilling to even consider the work of the world's leading technical firm working in the area (KEMA) and one of the leading mainstream institutes working in the area (Imperial College London's Energy Futures Lab, previously one of the leading voices questioning the viability of some of these solutions). What a waste.
Jim Beyer 6.4.10
Well, this has taken a sorry turn. Perhaps a bit too much piling on on our part. I will try to be brief.
First, I want to specifically point out that the most balanced response in my opinion was from Michael Keller. He read the roadmap thoroughly (more than I did) and replied with thoughtful comments. If there's any "expert" in this mix, it's probably him.
I also agree that Malcolm's rant about climate change was misplaced. The roadmap was not created to question that. That wasn't your mandate. Right or wrong about climate change, I don't think it's fair to hang that hat on you.
As for my part, I will accept your comment that my issues with alternate fuels is misplaced, at least in your opinion. But I will point out that the Roadmap is about the decarbonization of the economy of Europe (it says that) so I don't think that examining the fuels aspect of that issue is out of bounds. (There are other issues like cement manufacturing. If Europe imports cement from Asia, does the CO2 tail following that move to Europe as it probably should?) Based on your comments, I would submit that the Roadmap was improperly titled, as the obvious focus was on power generation and not the numerous other sources of human-induced CO2 generation.
Finally, I can't help but comment that adding H2 to a report like this because the automakers and oil companies want it there does a disservice to all of us. It hurts us. I recognize that this is not a major component of the report, so I'm not really critiquing you on this per se, but just pointing out that NOT being a pain-in-the-ass on some of these things (like Fred Banks is so good at) is costly. Most technical people know hydrogen was problematic, but the advocates (oil companies - for reasons I won't go into) are not given the hard questions often enough. This weakness (I can't think of another word for it) allowed such things as CARB (California Air Resources Board) to de-rail the electrification of the passenger vehicle, costing a decade of time, which, given the prospect of peak oil, I REALLY wish we could get back. So I really don't think I'm picking at a nit here. Passing through information (which it seems like you basically did) without examining it critically can be harmful. If you didn't have the resources to examine it critically, then it shouldn't have been in the report in any form.
Michael Hogan 6.4.10
Jim, I accept the critique that including even the small amount of hydrogen in transportation that we did without being able to defend it convincingly was probably not the best decision we made. But as you seem to recognize, it doesn't have a material impact on the power sector conclusions. While the conclusions about the scope for decarbonization of transport (leaving aside the question of the specific pathway) are also in my view defensible, it is also true that we have left unaddressed some very important questions regarding what that pathway should be or is likely to be. Like many other groups committed to a more robust understanding of these issues, we are commissioning work on that question, and any guidance you might have to particularly good sources on it would be much appreciated. I believe the conclusions about the scope for reaching the economy-wide CO2 reductions remain defensible, but you are absolutely right - the study is really more usefully seen as a deep dive into power sector issues. That's the particular "roadmap" about which I am most conversant and that I find most compelling. Thanks for your thoughtful input.
Jim Beyer 6.4.10
Check out the National Academies of Sciences report (2004) on the Hydrogen Economy. You need to read between the lines a bit, but they didn't seem to be too optimistic.
It should be noted that PHEVs (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles) are a relatively new phenomena (not technically, but from a policy planning standpoint) so there's very little policy information about them. Be critical of any study that doesn't include them. Argonne Labs has done lots of studies, for example, but is a late-comer to PHEVs, like Amory Lovins. (It's notable how Lovins has quietly backed away from hydrogen. No one wants to speak out about how they were wrong, but one can note the voices you are no longer hearing.)
Joe Romm has written books on the problems with hydrogen.
Peter Boisen is a good contact about NGVs in Europe.
If you need more contacts, I can be reached at jimjhb AT aol DOT com.
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.4.10
Everybody, except Mr Hogan - who is ' out of here'.
You may forget ths article, or the above comments, but don't forget the cost of the SUPERGRID that Mr Hogan and his mediocrities and parasites want installed in Europe: at least 7.5 and perhaps 9.5 TRILLION dollars.
I didn't get those numbers from the silly document that Hogan thinks I should read, and so perhaps they are wrong, but why should the people in this and neighboring countries pay anything at all for a grid when their electric networks function fine and dandy. And they would function better if they didn't have anything to do with the system of indoor welfare called the EUROPEAN CLIMATE FOUNDATION.
!A fully integrated continental power scheme! is what Hogan wants to sell.. I wonder exactly what I have done in my life to be confronted with SUCH A CRAZY ______ IDEA?
Michael Hogan 6.4.10
Thanks Jim. very helpful - I'll get in touch directly. Fred, whatever. The economics are all laid out in the report - in case you're wondering (and apparently you're not), the incremental investment beyond business as usual in the grid component of the costs you're referring to is less than €200 billion over 40 years, which in the context of the amount of the total amount of investment that will be required in the power sector in any case over that time is, literally, a drop in the bucket (I would note for those who are genuinely interested, that there are incremental distribution system investments that have not yet been studied in detail and that might add half again as much to that incremental investment amount) Your take on the numbers is so far off the mark I wouldn't know where to begin, and wouldn't waste the time to try, since you have made it clear you don't want to know what the report says. What you don't understand about the economics of the power system could apparently fill a very large book - which you probably wouldn't read.
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.5.10
You can't believe anyone these days, can you. I wrote my article on the basis of information that appeared in the media the day after the launchine farce for Roadmap 2050, and now Mr Hogan - who still aint 'out of here' - tells us that Roadmap can be made operational for lunch money.
Of course, it doesn't make any difference to me how much it costs or doesn't cost. According to my daily paper, Sweden is - quality wise - the best country in the world, which is probably untrue, but in any case it wouldn't be improved by following the recommendations of parasites and mediocrities.
Let's see now, the economics of power systems that I wouldn't understand. (Pardon me while I laugh) Anyway, .I went to Europe after my third year of engineering school, and I had in my possession a book on power systems, because I had climbed some power poles in Japan, as a member of the Corps of Engineers, and thought that I was going to be a power engineer. Bad and good things happened later, and instead of power engineering I became an infantry soldier, and eventually - as a civilian - designing terminal installations on destroyer escorts of the US Navy.
Fortunately, a member of my platoon suggested that I study economics, and so I ended up a professor of economics instead of in the old soldier's home or in some old holding cell somewhere. So you see Michael, I know about people like you. I know what to expect from you, and I aint having any...yet.
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.7.10
Another week another wonder, but for me and not the executive Mr Hogan who is 'out of here' with his nonsense.
Let's just get this straight for everybody. Roadmap 2050 might be the best thing in the world for a majority of the countries in Europe, but NOT for the country in which I live and pay taxes. The hydro and nuclear and technical skill of the engineers and managers in Sweden are qute capable of giving us all the inexpensive and reliable electricity that we need.
But there is no doubt in my mind that Swedes could be among the first to buy this nonsense. They are going to buy it because it means more oney and more plane tickets for a few hundred parasites, just as they bought the Afghanistan scam. and EU membership. That's the way the world works, isn it.? Always has and always will.
Bob Amorosi 6.7.10
Absolutely correct Fred, Europe has a history of working on standards initiatives that force industry into adopting them, particularly for the sake of the environment. With the now Euorpean Union, these initiatives get forced onto ALL countries in the union, including, unfortunately for you, Sweden.
I sympathize with your fustration. If I were you, I wouldn't bet on the Swedish engineers and managers to develop the inexpensive and reliable electricity you talk about. They will be eventually be marginalized by EU standards emerging out of the work from Roadmp 2050, like it or not.
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.7.10
I don't know what I was thinking about, Bob, but I had all the statistics I needed on electricity in front of me one day, but didn't copy what I needed. But the point remains, in Sweden we had the electric arrangement we needed, but the crooks running the electric companies made fools of the voters. They didn't make fools of the politicians though, because they were already fools - ready to sell the country out for plane tickets.
Something is very wrong with this Roadmap thing. Shirley Bassey is a great singer, but we don't need her help in these matters, nor for that matter the help of Mr Hogan - who, incidentally, is 'out of here' for the time being. I perhaps should mention one more thing, David Goodstein, Professor of physics and thermodynamics at California Institute of Technology once said that we do not know enough about the upper atmosphere to take chances - or, as Margaret Thatcher once said, experimenting with things that we should leave alone until we have more information . This keeps me from joining or considering joining the expanding crowd of AGW disbelievers, to include some who contribute to this forum. but the problem is that we have the Roadmap and Roadmap-like people working the other side of the street. Just why the hell should I listen to anything they propose..
Jim Beyer 6.7.10
I'm assuming you don't object to ECF's goal of trying to figure out how to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% per se. What I think you are objecting to is their method of producing a single solution for a complex continent. In some ways, Europe is more democratic than the United States. Michigan has about as many people as Sweden or Denmark, yet developing a energy policy unique to our state would be pretty expensive and ultimately counterproductive. (California deciding they should make their own air pollution laws is similarly problematic; actually extremely disruptive. And the fact the the Ca. folks that make the rules are idiots does not help much either....)
That being said, I can appreciate how you feel that Sweden can develop a better project that works for them, and why shouldn't they? It's possible that ECF's approach was a bit too centralized. As a result it is reasonable and expected that net losers from a centralized plan should squawk loudly.
I guess I'm not against centralization per se, but would not encourage it when it is not needed or necessary. I'm very wary of any proposals that transmit lots of electricity more than a few hundred miles. Sci. Am. presented such a proposal for the U.S. and I was not convinced that made a whole lot of sense.
Another bee in my bonnet, but I think the ECF should, in addition to its concern about climate change, take on the challenge of dealing with peak oil. It is a parallel effort to climate change concerns, its a situation that has shorter term implications to consumers, and it would give them practical credibility to a wider array of clients. There are far more CEOs that experience sleepless nights due to peak oil compared with climate change.
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.7.10
Jim. as I say, I don't mind these people working to reduce carbon emissions, as long as they do it my way: somewhat more nuclear, and a lot more renewables and alternatives. And by people I mean people here in Sweden - I couldn't care less about what they do in the south of Europe, or for that matter the south of Burma. What we have now is an environmentally efficient Sweden trying to imitate (comparatively) environmentally inefficient countries like Germany, and eventually pretending that craziness like Roadmap 2050 will solve all our problems.
Malcolm Rawlingson 6.7.10
I wish I had the blind confidence of Michael Hogan that AGW was real. If the IPCC had not engaged in obvious manipulation of "scientific data" such as leaving out swaths of data that did not fit their curve and the questionable motives of other so-called scientists at a certain University - laid bare for the world to see - then I would probably like to read the report he has produced. But unfortunately nothing I have read convinces me that the tiny percentages of CO2 (compared to what is already there) emitted by mankind is having the slightest effect on the climate. Therefore spending hundreds of billions to reduce CO2 emissions is complete and utter absurdity. The real effort needs to go into providing electricity to those that desperately need it - ie most of the worlds population. That is what China is doing and I don't think they are listening to the Europeans. If you want to try and sell the 2050 roadmap or whatever you want to call it go to China. They are bringing on line a 1000MW coal plant every week which makes any CO2 reduction effort in Europe an expensive waste of time.
In any case if you believe AGW your focus should not be CO2 but methane which has a far greater impact and is created mostly by ruminating animals like those that produce your steaks. I don't hear anyone wanting to reduce methane gas emissions - why?
But I am comforted by the fact that AGW like the coming ice age (that was the prediction just 15 years ago remember) will pass and the Michael Hogans will move onto another fad.
Sad that such an eloquent individual could be so misdirected in life. Some time spent in the real world actually making electricity would do you good Michael.
Malcolm Rawlingson 6.7.10
Yes Fred unfortunately that is the way the world works my friend. I have met so many people in my life who go to conferences for a living and produce nothing except piles of useless paper and powerpoint slides. Like the people who went to Copenhagen (using carbon burning aircraft mostly) to achieve absolutely - nothing. The guys like Mr. Hogan come up with great plans to tell everyone else how they should reduce their carbon emissions and spend their lives jetting around the world in machines that burn fossil fuels by the tons. The same hypocrisy that the EEC has put forth for years. 2050 is entirely consistent with that.
But indeed it is the way the world works - for now Fred - until the lights really do go out.
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.8.10
Malcolm, I've become the guy sitting by the telephone, waiting for Ms Right to call, only in this case Ms Right is Mr Hogan, and he is 'out of here'.
The way to attack AGW is to put more nuclear in place, and use the profits from it to help finance the renewables and alternatives that we absolutely must have. The greens and their fellow travelers are right about reewable and alternatives but wrong about nuclear, and that position sums to WRONG1 Getting rid of nuclear - or thinking about getting rid of it - is fruitcake.
Where China is concerned, I think that it is every other week that they open a coal facility,, but to be on the safe side I put it at 22/year, since 22 is one of my lucky numbers. I think though that this is enough to cancel out a stretch of the Roadmap 2050 'do goodism'. But, I can definitely support Roadmap if it makes sense, and if the conference that sets it into motion makes sense, and if Mr Hogan starts making sense. I don't have anything against him, because this energy thing is serious. But that being so, why come into a forum like this with a load of nonsense.
Len Gould 6.8.10
Ok, is everyone calmed down enough to take a breath and think clearly again?
1) Malcolm, like apparently a large proportion of now the British population, doesn't "believe" in AGW, all science to the contrary. Simply proof of the power of propaganda.
2) Jim says "I'm very wary of any proposals that transmit lots of electricity more than a few hundred miles. Sci. Am. presented such a proposal for the U.S. and I was not convinced that made a whole lot of sense." What was it that left you unconvinced? Did you not believe the engineering designs, the economic calculations, the social impacts? It may be time for aware power engineers to drop some of their blind loyalty to Tesla and consider HVDC again.
Len Gould 6.8.10
3) Several people think that decision-making on any wider basis than what was practical in the days of horses and buggies is "undemocratic". I disagree, with that premis, and with the premis that all "democratic" decision-making entities MUST be subsets of larger ones, a strange rule which causes a lot of problems worldwide.
Michael Keller 6.8.10
At the risk of being "odd-man-out", if renewable and alternate energy technologies can not compete, then we should not waste our money on them. Ditto for nuclear.
I am not saying do not pursue the technologies. Rather, use them when it makes economic and technical sense while avoiding the latest judgment clouding, emotionally driven cause célèbre (e.g. AWG).
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.8.10
That's right Michael, but while we can forget Mr Hogan - who conveniently is "out of here" - we have to respect the wishes of the voters, who have been tricked by the Hogans of this world to favor uncompetitive alternatives.
But so be it. Once you have the optimal solution you can afford to be generous. Here in Sweden we had perhaps the lowest cost electricity in the world, but the voters were tricked into giving it up in the name of 'greater choice'. But sooner or later we will have the electric arrangements we deserve: higher energy prices will see to that. I just hope that it comes sooner, because the high energy prices that the energy country crooks have arranged have cheated me out of s slice of my vacations in Paris.
Jim Beyer 6.8.10
I'm wary of long distance transmission because of the economics. I can accept that HVDC can be competitive and even less expensive per mile than traditional high voltage AC. What I am wary of is the 57 GW line sitting idle because the wind isn't blowing. That's a huge lost cost. To date, the only long (300+ miles) lines that I know of are from a dedicated plant to a dedicated consumer (like a big city). There are some of them in Ca. and Ny. that I know of. Really long transmission of lots of power is revolutionary. I'm not saying it can't or shouldn't be done; just saying that I am wary.
On your point 3, I won't say I disagree with it. I won't say that Fred's and others viewpoints are correct. I will say they are to be expected, however. At the very least, the ECF lacks the political accumen to win the hearts and minds of those wary of some central authority planning everything. (The ECF seemed OK with hydrogen fercrissakes; not exactly something to give one (me anyway) the sense of security.)
Jim Beyer 6.8.10
What does "compete" mean? In what context? Since there is no long term plan for nuclear waste storage, perhaps that's not competitive, and won't be unless and until that's figured out. Similarly, if using coal means carving off mountain tops and spoiling land in the wake of that enterprise, perhaps coal isn't competitive either. Note I'm not playing the AGW card at all.
Since all utilities are so heavily regulated, being "competitive" means more having one's political ducks in a row, rather than having the most efficient technology.
Don Hirschberg 6.8.10
So What? So what if Roadmap 2050 could be implemented perfectly?
India and China are greatly increasing their already staggering coal usage to fuel their additional new coal burning generating plants, are opening new mines, and making long term coal deals all over the world.
In 2050 India will have about 1.64 billion people and China 1.59. (If growth rate is reduced to one percent per year in India and half of one percent in Chins). i.e. 1.1 x (1.01)^40 = 1.64 and 1.3 x (1.005)^40 = 1.59.
Total 3.23 billion by 2050 in these two countries. That's 10 times the population of the decarbonized Europe of 2050.
bill payne 6.8.10
'Bilderberg is running scared' energy comments are interesting.
Michael...ahhhhh someone who makes sense. Of course solar and wind cannot now and never will be able to compete without subsidy and even though nuclear has some other major plusses if all the research costs that went into it originally were added (paid for by the taxpayer) I think nuclear would be struggling too. The big difference of course is capacity factor. The very best you can get out of a solar panel is 50%...it's dark the other 50% of the time so output is zero. The best we seem to be able to get out of wind is 20 to 30%. Add to that the fact that you need something that can replace the lost capacity when the sun and wind don't cooperate and it is easy to see why solar and wind are many times more expensive than nuclear. In defence of nuclear's costs I would say that much of the basic research was done to make weapons so it benefitted greatly from massive military research spending. But now that we have the technology and we can routinely get capacity factors well over 90% nuclear's costs should come down.
But I guess we have to consider that coal has some significant downsides that a lot of people don't like so there is a price to pay for that dislike and the ratepayers seem willing to pay it. Not that they have much choice of course.
But what you say makes a whole lot of sense to me.
Malcolm Rawlingson 6.8.10
Len, I am quite delighted that most of the British public believes AGW is nonsense. Perhaps it is the perpetration of the now fully revealed gigantic confidence tricks being perpetrated by so-called scientists rather than the power of propaganda. You have to admit that when a large piece of the IPCC data is proved to be fraudulent and data so blatantly manipulated I really don't think any propaganda can top the fact that senior scientists in that country were not telling the truth. This information is cumulative on the "omission" of unsuitable data from the legendary hockey stick curve which in fact has a shape nothing like a hockey stick when the real data is added.
It is the IPCC that is the propaganda machine. The real fact is the earth's temperature has been going up and down for millenia and clearly can have nothing to do with CO2 concentrations. As my good friend Paul Stevens has stated many times here the CO2 FOLLOWS periods of warming. Why can you not accept this very provable fact? The IPCC has got it backwards and there is lots of evidence to show that they have.
But I am sure we will have to agree to disagree on this topic.
Malcolm Rawlingson 6.8.10
Fred, You're right it's a 1000MW plant every 2 weeks. That is about the equivalent of the entire UK grid every 2 years. It's still a lot. Mr Hogan really needs to go to China as barking up the EEC tree isn't going to even make a dent.
If you buy the AGW nonsense you would build lots of nuclear since to make a real dent in CO2 emissions must of necessity deal with China and India (NOT Europe - although they still think they rule the world). So without doing anything about emissions in those countries you might as well not bother since it is not going to change anything. So you either buy AGW and go nuclear worldwide or you don't. Plans like 2050 are whistling in the wind. a waste of time. Mr "outta here" Hogan needs to go to China.
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.8.10
Has anybody here seen or heard or read Hogan?
I asked because I wanted to tell him and the 'snitch' who led him to our happy forum that I will NEVER badmouth AGW. It's a non issue for me. The alternatives and renewables that he and his friends want us to have are absolutely essential. I could go down to the Green party's next cheering session and clap my hands off when they praise wind and solar, assuming that I was paid to do so..
The point is though that in the future, wind and solar are not economical without nuclear. What the Swedish Greens want for the most part is to wipe out the nuclear sector. Not all the greens, but most of them. You see, they have fallen for the lies of 'Out of Here Hogan'.
I dont know how smart the modern grids have become, but ideally when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining, then power from those sources could be 'switched' in. Can somebody tell me if this can be done if base load is being supplied by nuclear or coal, and by that I mean can it be done now or will it be possible in the future or....
Len Gould 6.9.10
Jim: "On your point 3," -- Just to clarify, I'm definitely not down with a world "representative" government, IMHO thats a recipe for disasters of the worst sort. Genuine democracy would work well however.
Len Gould 6.9.10
Fred "Can somebody tell me if this can be done " -- Not with any present "smart grid" installations or planned installations I know of. The technology is clearly available now, but the political / regulatory will is absent (because the outcome is unfavourable for incumbent utility companies).
Jim Beyer 6.9.10
He's probably still reading this, if not commenting. I'm thinking ECF acted tepid (to say the least) about nuclear because of the many Greens that don't like it. It's hard to see (in my opinion) how nuclear can be compared on equal terms with CCS. I think nuclear will be much cheaper.
I'm also not sure the whole "giant smart grid with lots of renewable inputs equals substantive baseload on the average" will really work out. Maybe. You have the central value limiting theorem on your side and all, but that would also mean you have substantial underutilization of resources (on average). Just not sure that would be as cheap as they seem to claim.
Fred, the easiest and best way to make use of incidental wind energy would be to have opportunistic loads that can use the power if available. Kind of like Len's IMEUC strategy. The low hanging fruit in this area would be HVAC and PHEV charging. There are probably others, but these would handle quite a bit of intermittent (solar/wind) power penetration. Definitely enough to move the ball forward.
Michael Keller 6.9.10
At the risk of oversimplifying, the power market already has a mechanism that allows renewable energy to be bought and sold (“switched in”), as well as a mechanism that causes power stations to back down. Price is the driver.
For instance, at night, the demand is low, so the price for power is low. This causes plant operators to back off (at least to the extent power plants can physically reduce output) until their costs can be covered. Ideally, as long the price exceeds variable costs (basically fuel), then the plant will operate because some of the fixed costs are being covered.
Unfortunately for renewable energy, intermittent and unreliable power is not as valuable as power whose delivery can be essentially guaranteed. Absent subsidies (including mandates on use), renewable energy has great difficulty competing, although in certain situations, profits can be made. However, as a general statement, renewable energy is a bad idea because costs to the consumer are needlessly increased, thereby reducing economic activity (consumers have less money). Spain provides a real good example of what can occur.
Will the price of power reach levels that make renewable energy competitive? Maybe, but renewable technologies are inherently inefficient while having abysmal capacity factors. Also, I think technology will continue to drive production costs downward for the more mainstream technologies, thus causing even more difficulties for renewable energy. This forecast assumes the market is allowed to function and the government refrains from excessive interference.
I do not see renewable energy as essential, but it can be useful in certain situations, as fundamentally driven by economics. I would apply the same observation to nuclear power.
As far as AWG is concerned … we may as well attempt to raise the level of the ocean by peeing into it. The course of action being pursued by the “green” politicians amounts to economic suicide.
As I have observed earlier, produce and use energy more efficiently. Emissions will be significantly reduced as a “by-product” without needlessly screwing up the economy.
Len Gould 6.9.10
"As far as AWG is concerned … we may as well ..." ?? Based on what authoritative information?
Malcolm Rawlingson 6.9.10
Fred, No it is not easy to do it. Nuclear plants are base load non variable. You can raise and lower power a little but if you drop power too far too fast you will cause what is called a poison out where neutron absorbers build up in the reactor and there is not enough control rod room to overcome it. Then you are down for about 48 hours while the neutron absorbers decay away and then you can start up again. The best combination with nuclear is storage either of the electricity directly (in a battery or gigantic capacitor bank) or of water (pumped storage). There are other methods but they are not very efficient. The combination of wind solar and nuclear is a poor one but you have to remember Fred these are very small in comparison to what is needed. To make any kind of a dent you are going to have to cover large swaths of land with windmills and solar collectors.
But as I keep saying here the issue IS capacity factor. You can tell me all the name plate ratings on generators you want and shout how many homes a wind or solar generator can supply but when the sun does not shine and the wind does not blow you do not have any electricity at all not a drop.
Coal, Oil or Gas or some other very rapidly deployed source is required to compensate for the times when the wind does not blow. Capacity factors for wind generators are in the laughably ridiculous range of about 25% which means that only one in four days does the generator achieve full output and most of the time it is not. That means for every MW of installed wind or solar capacity you need another megawatt of gas coal or oil to back it up. Otherwise the lights really will go out on one of those hot sultry nights.
Also a well kept secret of the wind industry is the lifetime of the turbines and gearboxes. Only 5 years in most cases. That means you have to rebuild the machines once every five years. Also not a very economic proposition without subsidy. Nuclear reactors last well over 40 years without major work and even then can be rebuilt to last another 40...fairly expensive because we keep building one-off designs but much cheaper for the French who built them all the same.
But I hear you wrt to AGW if it makes the activists (hate to call them Greens because they are not) move to nuclear then who cares.
But as a scientist in my younger days I cannot abide false information trotted out as the truth. Just a thing I have for being truthful. Maybe its why I didn't go into politics Fred.
Malcolm Rawlingson 6.9.10
Michael & Len, I think if we traced the path from the WC to where it ends up I think we are actually all peeing in the ocean already so the effect is already accounted for. So if we all STOPPED peeing then the result would be a drop in ocean levels. But I think it might not be a lasting solution.
Now if we could end human methane gas production by similar abstinance then we could reduce the amount of methane in the atmosphere. Maybe the activists could conduct an experiment for us.
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.10.10
Michael, Malcolm, many thanks for these comments. I just wish that we had Michael (out-of-here) Hogan with us. Than man could learn a few things that he needs to learn.
Paul Barnard 6.10.10
I read this forum quite often. I enjoy the slightly acerbic comments, usually. But I have to say that this debate is pretty poor, and to see professionals behaving like children is sad. You have a first timer to the forum trying to answer your points in a rational and responsible manner, obviously spending considerable time and effort on doing so. Do you welcome him? No, you insult him and hound him out of the forum, and are proud of it. Prof Banks in particular behaves as though he owns the forum and can be arrogant, sarcastic and insulting as much as he likes. He may be a highly competent economist, but his personal and professional behaviour in evidence here is that of a spoilt child. See - he's got me at it now. Personally, I think Mr Hogan is owed an apology.
Paul Barnard 6.10.10
I don't know why my name was blanked in the post above. My name is Paul Barnard.
Mike Parr 6.10.10
I am a newcommer to this site and support Mr Barnards comments regarding the overall tone. I also happen to have a number of Swedish friends. They will doubtelss be interested to hear about Mr Banks his views and Uppsala Uni.
By the way Mr Rawlingson, capacity factors for wind (on-shore) are in the range 20 to 25%. Off-shore the figure is above 30% (typically 36%).
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.10.10
Glad to have you with us, Paul. You can have a dose of the same thing that Mr Hogan obtained.
I don't own anything in this forum. I probably know more about oil than the other contributors, but as much as I would like to say that I know more about some other things - e.g. nuclear - it is clear that there are many people in this forum who have me beat by a mile, and not just where nuclear is concerned. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IS THAT I MEAN BUSINESS, which is why I use the language I use. I'm not playing with any of this stuff, and the same is true of many other contributors. As I pointed out, damn-fool nonsense like Roadmap 2050 has cost me a part of my forthcoming vacation in Paris.
Unfortunately, I dont have enough money to allow some half-baked careerist to make a fool of me where something so important is concerned, and which I fortunately happen to understand (almost) perfectly. I'm not going to apologise to Hogan until he tells me and the other contributors to this forum how someone who has been in the power business for as long as he says that he has been in it, join a posse of amateurs in drawing up an expensive monstrosity. It's something like the good Professor Aleklett at my university. Although a professor of physics he travels from pillar to post giving the kind of lectures on oil that I gave my first year finance students. Of course, he thinks the same thing about oil that I do, but outside of that he's just another frustrated, jealous academic. The woods are filled with them.
I'm working on the next edition of my energy economics textbook now, which will be available next year. You should read it and learn something. Better, read the above comments and many of the comments on other articles. Then attend seminars on energy economics at your local university, and draw your own conclusion as to who knows energy economics and who doesn't know the difference between their posterior and a hole in the ground. This is the best energy economics forum in the world, with the smartest people, and I' glad that they will allow me to stick around..
Michael Keller 6.10.10
Len, A few observations: 1. The climate models in use today do not possess the precession required to make any reasonable forecasts of the distant future. The models actually have great difficulty with even short range forecasts. 2. What we do in the West can not significantly impact greenhouse gas reduction because our contributions are dwarfed by those of Asia. Simple mathematics. Logically, there simply is no good reason to panic over greenhouse gas emissions.
Rather than pursue fundamentally ineffective courses of action (e.g. emotionally driven, illogical and economically unsound reductions in greenhouse gases), do what is achievable. Namely, substantially increase the efficiency of energy production and use. To the extent that renewable, fossil energy and nuclear energy are economically sound and efficient, then pursue them. I submit this is a much more effective and direct solution, with a serendipitous benefit of massive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
Gale Voyles 6.10.10
I believe most of us could benifit from at least reading small briefs available on the download site. I do not believe the assumptions are stainable onver the long term after reading most of the documents - the 70M one will cooperate. I find the cost of resources (oil, gas, coal) held relative constant in todays dollar terms to be a non-starter. From 2030-2050 the costs are constant. Assumptions like these tend to really lead to disbelief with technical personnel. While proposing that it is a technical presentation, the technical side is not clearly evident - as stated design, but not backed by proposed routes, locations, etc.
The proposed grid would add 170 GW transmission to an existing network of 34 GW. If that is not a disruption in life, what is. That does not include the over 120,000 required wind turbines. The requirement to backfit existing buildings with heatpumps will certianly distrupt many in the Europe I lived in. I would jhve trouble finding a place to put a unit. these would be mandated by the way. I could not find a risk evaluation associated with the study. I would like to see and environmental impact statement completed for any CCS. This needs to be similiar to the nuclear requirement for siesmic and other natural hazards. A release from some proposed CCS schemes could negate many proposed solutions - just as the gulf oil release has affected the deep well drilling. Looks like alot of "white collar wellare" will be employed for some time before a realistic scenario may be realized. The 40% assumptions may be tested and found to be potentially more beliveable. Put some boots on the ground, complete the studies for developing the grid - as your brief states - failure of the grid plan make the whole thing unsuccesful as the demand and loading of renewables cannot be shared across the system. then see if this could be done without mandating it in law. If the 440 500MW coal plants were replaced with nuclear, you could potentailly just update existing infrastrructure and use solar and wind when available. That is the only way we get it now - when available, not when wanted. That is the premise behind the roadmap provide a equalization plan for renewables. The energy efficienies are added on to support the need for less power consumption overall - which may be a false assumption also.
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.10.10
Mr Parr, I am the most productive economist in the history of Uppsala University, and that is well over 500 years. I have held 12 guest professorships, and published 12 books. I have also been a foot soldier at a couple of universities. I am now working on the second edition of my energy economics textbook. More important I am a brilliant teacher of economics and finance.
There is more, so listen to this. In the words of Mohammed Ali, your Swedish friends would rather run through Hell wearing gasoline underwear than interfere with me in a seminar or conference. The same thing applies to your American friends if they saw me in action.
Gale Voyles has read the Roadmap report, and commented on the grid proposals.I hope that you at least look at what he has to say. I studied power engineering (informally), and worked on power lines in the Yokohoma area for 6 months with the US Army, so I know something about electric grids. When I saw the expression supergrid in connection with the rest of the Roadmap proposals, and read what various journalists had to say about the scheme, I knew that the whole thing was fruit-cake. Nobody in their right mind could propose or defend something so absurd.
As I mentioned to 'out-of-here Hogan', I stay out of this discussion of the greenhouse effect, but you will never hear me say anything against AGW. As David Goodstein of Cal Tech says, we dont know enough about the mechanics of the upper atmosphere to take chances. Of course, chances are going to be taken, and the consequences will probably be terrible, but in the meantime I see no reason why we should listest to Hogan and his team in the meantime. As a matter of fact, why would an intelligent person be interested in Hogan and his fantasies when people like Malcolm Rawlingson and Michael Keller are available? After all, they are providing - without charge - the kind of knowledge that Hogan and his highly paid crew will never be capable of circulating.
Malcolm Rawlingson 6.11.10
Dear Mr. Barnard, First of all welcome to the discussion. I don't think I was as hard on Mr Hogan as I could have been or others here were. I am sure he is an intelligent man and likely believes in what he is doing but there are people who honestly believe perpetual motion machines are possible and some think the world is flat. Mr Hogan falls into that category. A smart man of that I am sure but very misguided. Being smart does not make you right.
Michael Keller has it right. The effort needs to go into making our current energy usage more efficient. That effort has the double effect of extending the life of our present resources as well as reducing emissions (of all sorts). As I have repeated on various posts many times it is complete insanity to build windmills that require gas fired back up at no more than 60% efficiency when that same gas can be burnt at nearly 97% efficiency in a modern gas furnace. That is inefficient and a waste of resources but is "sold" as green energy. It is not. Windmills actually CAUSE MORE emissions. But go tell that to the Mr Hogans - they just don't want to know.
If you are serious about greenhouse gas emissions (I happen to think it is all complete nonsense based on bogus science) then Nuclear power plants to displace inefficient coal oil and gas plants is the only practical method we have available to us right now. But that appeared not to be part of his plan.That makes it highly suspect right from the outset.
I have been in the bulk power business a long time and operated a lot of plant and equipment and it is getting to a very serious point in time where much of it needs to be replaced. Instead of doing that work we are diverted by crackpot schemes and coerced into building thousands of windmills that do not produce anything three quarters of the time. That means you need four time the number to produce the name plate rating. Literally every inch of the countryside will be covered in windmills to do what Mr Hogan proposes.
He might as well come here and promote walking to the moon on a golden staircase. And as for reading this 2050 plan - I've already seen dozens of studies like it - reading another pile of it will not fix another reactor or produce another megawatt and since it is based on the AGW nonsense I'd sooner read the tales of Noddy and Big Ears.
Malcolm Rawlingson 6.11.10
Mike, Even at 30%or even 36% that is still laughable. You would never buy a car you could only drive 30% of the time now would you. Or a washing machine that only did its job three times out of every ten. But 36% for a windmill is stellar performance. So what do you have backing them up the other 64% of the time? Thank goodness you still have Ringhals working hard round the clock at 90% CF. Otherwise you'd be making Volvo's by candlelight - lovely cars by the way but too darned expensive here.
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.11.10
They dont get it, do they Malcolm? You should have read the article on nuclear vs wind in a Swedish paper by one of the ignorant energy/environmental executives. As you say, with a capacity factor of 25% you need 4 windmills to replace one reactor, but that isn't the end of the story. You also need backup, and that backup would most likely be gas. But my algebra and economics tells me that that is still a bad deal, although I won't go into that here.
The guy who wrote that article wants the Swedish nuclear sector to be wiped out - maybe not right away, but some day (as Humphrey Bogard said in Casablanca). And as for my and your algebra or secondary school arithmetic, he could give a flying ____. In choosing between the people of this country and his career (and social life), the people of this country come in second place.
But don't worry. Most of the Swedish people know that they will have to choose between inexpensive and reliable electricity (and thus their incomes and welfare) and the nonsense of 'out of here Hogan' and his fan club, and although they will probably make mistakes in the short run to demonstrate their solidarity with Stone Age countries, in the long run they will choose the way you and I and every other intelligent person will choose.
Paul Barnard 6.11.10
Well, Prof Banks' accomplishments and knowledge are so impressive and so frequently claimed that I can only kneel at his feet and gaze up in awe. But then I see how he is utterly unable to distinguish between the issues of science/economics, and personal/professional behaviour, and I get up and walk away shaking my head sadly. Believing you are right, even if you are, doesn't make it OK to behave badly. Winning the argument on facts in a professional manner is convincing. Having to claim expertise, being insulting, condescending, patronising and arrogant significantly diminishes the strength of the case. Add to that the inability to distinguish the fact that I was talking about the behaviour, not the science and economics, really makes me question Prof Banks' powers of analysis.
I will continue to read the forum, for there is good stuff on it. But I'm tired of this particular point and I've said all I want to on it. I yield the floor to Prof Banks so that he can give me another dose, have the last word, and claim victory. He may even believe it.
Paul Barnard 6.11.10
Wish I understood why I'm getting **** **** rather than my name. I'll try to figure it out. Meanwhile, my apologies - Paul Barnard
Paul Barnard 6.11.10
Ah. Seems to be sorted on the name = "**** ****" issue! So, on to Malcolm Rawlingson... I don't think I have understood your point about buring gas at 97% efficiency in a gas furnace in the context of a discussion about generating electricity. Do you mean that gas is too valuable a fuel to use for electricity generation? If so, I'd agree the point, but note that gas is being used for electricity generation at 60% anyway, and to the extent that wind-generated GWh displace gas-generated GWh, that would seem to be a good thing. Perhaps I'm missing your point entirely. But you also talk about gas being needed to back up wind when wind is not generating, which is of course true, but again the point that gas generation say 70% of the time is better than gas generation 100% of the time.
I'd also observe that most wind plant generates something most of the time. Most of the time not full capacity, but also most of the time not nothing. The capacity factors being quoted are equivalent capacity factors. (I'm sure you understand this, but I think the point is worth making). Gas backup plant is not being asked to switch in and out of 100% of installed wind capacity on a routine basis. Yes, there needs to be enough flexible and dispatchable plant on the system to cover situations where there is actually no wind, but up to a point, that is not difficult for most systems, especially geographically interlinked systems such as in Europe that have access to significant hydro. Up to a point.
And I really can't agree that wind turbines increase emissions. The supporting argument for this is usually given as needing to have backup plant operating all the time to cover 100% of installed wind capacity (which obviously it doesn't need to do) and somehow it also operates less efficiently than it would if the wind plant wasn't there. Are you advancing a different argument in support of your claim? Note, I'm talking about emissions here, since that was your claim, not economics.
BTW, I am generally supportive of a good chunk of the generation mix being nuclear.
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.11.10
I'm tempted to discuss this business of gas backup for wind with Mr Barnard, but I think that I'll save that for a seminar or conference, and I can tell you now Paul, whoever says that you know what you are talking about will find out just who and what Professor Banks is.
In the meantime, try to understand this. My last energy economics textbook is the best selling energy economics book. My first textbook is the most expensive. I'm going to recommend the first to you and Mr 'out of here'. It was written ten years ago, and notice some of my predictions. The one for coal is WRONG, but check out the others. More important, I was saying ten years ago things that the cognoscenti have just gotten around to saying.
In case you are interested, Professor Richard Gordon panned my first book in a review in Energy Policy. I couldn't understand that, because my book was the best energy economics textbook ever written, but later it became quite clear. It is better than anything Gordon ever did or could do. Maybe that's why I told him that his conference attending days were over, and knowing what to expect, he stayed away. Reminds me of the time when Jackie Robinson was running the bases with blood in his eyes, and gave Phil Rizzuto a body block. He got a two or three times what he had given Rizzuto from Joe DiMaggio a couple of innings later. That's the way they played ball in the US in the great old days.
Len Gould 6.11.10
Malcolm. As this thread has outlived its useful life, I'll leave your belief-over-fact comments on AGW to be dealt with another time.
It is interesting to note the argument based on capacity factor of wind generation. It is my understanding that the capacity factor is not directly related to the need for a utility to have dispatchable power. I understand that that number related to wind is less than 10%.
Michael Keller 6.11.10
Len, Not quite sure whether you're advocating coal plants can operate at higher capacity factors or lower. However, winter with frozen coal piles and wet coal really affect output. Dropping load down to 50% or so is not that much of an issue. However, much below that and controls as well as emissions control equipment start to get a little squirrelly.
PS Fred, might try some ICYHOT on your elbow; must be a little sore from patting yourself on the back! (humor)
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.12.10
Paul Barnard, or ************ as you sometimes refer to yourself, I read that last comment of yours again, and let me tell you that it is strictly off-the-wall. Get yourself a copy of one of my textbooks and read chapter *******. Then think about what you said in that comment. But listen Paul, better monitor a course in freshman algebra at Boston Public before you try to figure out why you don't know what you are talking about.
Michael, if you worked in the academic world you would come to understand that nobody is hated more by colleagues than the guy who can produce. One guy who can produce is my good self, because in early days when he couldn't produce he was called to the Dean's office, expelled. and called hopeless. What a shock that was. When I was 'boarded out' of infantry leadership school though, they just told me to disappear, and the next day I was loading garbage.. That time however I got the message.
Edward Reid, Jr. 6.12.10
"This roadmap requires a total investment of over USD 6 trillion between 2010-50; this is about 6% of the overall investment needed to achieve a 50% reduction in GHG emissions in 2050"
"CCS is an important part of the lowest cost GHG mitigation portfolio; without CCS, overall costs to halve emissions by 2050 rise by 70%."
Source: CCS for Power Generation and Industry, International Energy Agency (See CCS Roadmap.)
Therefore, the $6 trillion investment required to achieve a 50% reduction in carbon emissions from power generation and industry is 6% of an overall investment of ~$100 trillion required to achieve a 50% reduction in global carbon emissions by 2050; and, that $6 trillion becomes $10+ trillion without CCS.
However, a 50% reduction is not the ultimate end point of carbon emissions reduction, since it would be insufficient to stabilize atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, which have been increasing since global annual emissions were 0.05% of current emissions rates.
Assuming that the approaches taken to achieve the initial 50% reduction would be the lowest investment per ton of reduction approaches available, eliminating the remaining 50% of global annual carbon emissions would be expected to require investments at least equal to, and likely far greater than, the investments required to achieve the initial 50% reduction.
With apologies to the late Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen (R, IL): Ten trillion here, ten trillion there; pretty soon you're talking about real money.
We're certainly not discussing "pocket change".
Edward Reid, Jr. 6.12.10
It is interesting that each time the IEA publishes an estimate of the investments required to achieve some level of carbon emissions reductions, the estimate is higher than the previous estimate. Eighteen months ago, the number was $45 trillion. Now the number is $100 trillion.
Edward Reid, Jr. 6.12.10
Any interest in an Energy Pulse "pool" on what the IEA estimate will be 18 months from now? If so, I want $150 trillion.
No, Fred, you do not get to hold the money. :-)
I'd also suggest a pool on what the total would actually be in 2050, assuming that the reductions had occurred and been documented. However, the odds are that I would not be around to see the results, no less collect my winnings. :-).
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.13.10
Ed, thanks for that information. I can see myself using it in the fairly near future, and I just hope that I remember to call your name.
One comment however. It might be worth ten or twenty trillion to reduce carbon emissions by X tonnes if we were certain that we would get this result for our commitment. BUT WE ARE NOT CERTAIN! Roadmap was not done by you and the people in this forum, excluding myself and (of course) 'out-of-here' Hogan and his do-ah chorus. It was done by young know-nothings of the kind I increasingly see at the universities, who are know-nothings because their teachers are incompetents.
Incidentally, I exclude myself because I do not know enough about this issue, although I know the reason for a 'supergrid'. In fact I knew it the moment that I heard the expression, like the Soviet U-boat commander in 'Hunt for Red October' knew what his boat was all about when he saw the blueprints for it. It was for expensive nonsense.
Oops! That should have read "IEA" source. Wrong acronym!
That wasn't a "typo", it was a "thinko". :-)
Jim Beyer 6.14.10
We seem to wander into this common circle:
1. Some "green" type suggests massive and expensive changes to our energy systems to avoid emissions of CO2 and the threat of AGW.
2. Someone points out that other parties (India & China) probably won't play along, so why bother?
3. Someone points out (usually Ed Reid) that the solutions applied are not comprehensive enough, so why bother?
4. Someone suggests that AGW concerns are not credible.
5. Someone points out (usually Don H.) that there are far too many people on the planet anyway, so what's the point?
I guess it's easy to be fatalistic about these problems. If you are a AGW skeptic, then substitute peak oil (the outcome of that seems to be just as dire). I can't help but think of that poor man in Thailand (I think) who was videotaped standing in ankle deep water, staring at the Tsunami as it rushed at him, and then swept him away.
Is that what we are doing? We seem frozen into passivity, and the sad part is, we are the "smart" ones. The "aware" ones.
Edward Reid, Jr. 6.14.10
"3. Someone points out (usually Ed Reid) that the solutions applied are not comprehensive enough, so why bother?"
I object to beginning vast programs with half-vast ideas. I object to goal-less, plan-less incrementalism. I object to "solutions" that aren't. I object to massive, unnecessary dead weight economic losses. I object to wishful thinking dictating policy. I object to forcing technologies into the market before they are "ready for prime time'. I object to developing countries which believe they are entitled to the technology developed by others free or at subsidized cost. I object to non-developing countries that believe they are entitled to the profits generated by the technology developed by others.
I see no reason for the US to invest $30-50 trillion to reduce/eliminate carbon emissions when the investments, even if successful in reducing/eliminating our emissions, would not halt AGW.
Dealing with the prospect of peak oil does not require discontinuing the use of coal. Dealing with energy independence (or simply reduced energy dependence) does not require discontinuing the use of coal. If we want to deal with the prospect of peak oil, let's do that.
I am still waiting for a single, clear, unequivocal goal and the plan to implement it. If for AGW, both goal and plan must be global.
Kenneth Kok 6.14.10
I agree with you on the planning process. As an engineer I need to have some idea of the end state. My wife says when she is cooking dinner that she has to plan backwards from the stated time the food must all be prepared to the time each item must be started. It is the same with energy planning, we have to know the end point.
I believe someone on this site once quoted Yogi Berra as saying "You've got to be careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might end up someplace else."
I think that is the problem we have with energy planning, it is directionless.
Malcolm Rawlingson 6.14.10
Yes you did understand me correctly. It seems to me to be very wasteful to burn a valuable resource like natural gas at 60% efficiency when it could be burnt at 97% efficiency. Especially when some of that electricity produced goes to heating electrically powered hot water tanks. From a purely societal perspective that is insanity. Should we not be striving for the most efficient use of all energy sources. That way it will all last longer. Instead we appear to institute policies that encourage wasteful uses of these energy supplies....like installing gas fired electric generating plants.
You mentioned capacity factor. There is no such thing as "equivalent capacity factor". The definition is (and there is but one definition) the amount of electricity produced in Megawatt Hours divided by the amount of electricity that the generator COULD have produced in Megawatt hours if it was operating at its nameplate rating all the time.
For a 2MW wind turbine it COULD produce 2 x 24 x 365 MW hours = 17376 MW Hours in a year.
But looking at the grid website in our area it looks like the actual number is about 21%. So The machine ACTUALLY produced 0.21 x 17376 MW Hours = 3648 MW Hours. Better than nothing but the capital cost is the same whether you produce 17376 or 3648. Now grid operators know the wind does not blow all the time (smart guys one and all) So you do not REALLY have 2 MW of available very often. Since we need electricity at all times of the day and the demand goes up and down constantly then something MUST be available to replace the wind when it is not blowing. That means you MUST build another plant somewhere to be there when the wind is not. So now there are TWO capital costs to incur One for the wind machine and one for the back up supply - usually gas but hydro if not already being used. Hydroelectric being the cheapest form is often used both as a peaker and as a base load supply. But availability depends on rainfall and river levels and how much you want to tick off the boating fraternity downstream of the dam.
So installing wind mills means you also need to install gas plants (or use coal) one is a corollary of the other. The more wind nameplate rating you install the more gas plants are required when the wind is not available. Twice the capital cost.
Nuclear is the ONLY sensible choice for making electricity because Uranium has no other practical use. Gas does, oil does, coal does. I can use gas in my furnace. I cannot use Uranium.
Unfortunately the energy picture gets skewed by Governments and Businesses who want to make money and they are not particularly concerned with efficiency (not entirely true) - but making $$$$$ is the overriding priority. If a company can make more money burning gas in a generator at 60% than selling it to me to burn at 97% they will make electricity with it. But in doing so 37% of the gas energy is thrown away as waste heat. It is my contention that wind exacerbates that situation. In Denmark a very recent study has shown that CO2 emissions have INCREASED since the installation of wind mills in that country. Why would that be - it is simply because you must have plants on hot standby ready to run when the wind stops - which is often the case. Four times out of every five the wind generator is not producing at its nameplate rating. Without massive subsidies and without gas fire generators wind would (and is) a non-starter. And of course they don't last 40 years. A waste of money. And a waste of gas.
Malcolm Rawlingson 6.14.10
Ken, Absolutely 100% right on the money. Energy planning is entirely directionless. It is not based on engineering principles it is based on greed. It should come as no surprise that in France energy planning IS performed by engineers. France has no gas no oil and no coal. So they built nuclear and took stakes in most of the major Uranium deposits to secure supply forever. THAT is energy planning. Leave energy planning to politicians and you get what we have got now.
Lunatics at the helm.
Malcolm Rawlingson 6.14.10
Fred, I have heard that one about the fact that 4 windmills can replace an entire nuclear plant. Here is the real data (for Len's benefit cos he likes numbers and references).
I'll use a Canadian Plant. Unit 1 at Darlington. It has a nameplate rating of 881 MW. currently running at about 870 MW. Its capacity factor for the year is about 90%. Go to http://reports.ieso.ca/public/GenOutputCapability/Pub GenOutputCapability 20100614.xml to verify or type IESO into google and follow the links.
So at 100% Capacity factor it COULD produce 881 x 24 x 365 Megawatt Hours of electricity which is 7717560 MW-hours.
A 2 Megawatt windmill running at 100% Capacity Factor could produce 2 x 24 x 365 = 17520 Megawatt Hours.
So 7717560/17520 is the number of windmills required to replace ONE nuclear unit. That number is 440.5 which is a good deal more than four.
But it gets much worse. At 90% capacity factor our nuclear Unit chugging away at Darlington "only" produces 0.9 x 7717560 = 6945804 MW Hours of electricity. And our windmill (let me give you all the benfit of the doubt and use the very best CF I have seen at 36%) produces 0.36 x 17520 = 6307.2 MW-hours.
So again dividing one by the other we get 6945804/6307.2 = 1101.25 which is a very large number of windmills and not equal to four.
So for each and every 881 MW nuclear unit we need 1101.25 windmills. At Darlington there are 4 units so we will need 4405 windmills to replace that plant. But of course when the wind decides not to blow all our 4405 windmills produce is nothing at all. Darlington can run or not run wind or no wind sun or no sun which is a handy feature to have.
I have a feeling that might be unacceptable since low wind days often are the hottest and most uncomfortably humid due to the lack of wind. That is why you need gas fired plants to back up the wind or load shed all the A/C.
So - not against windmills but they sure are an unreliably expensive way to produce electricity compared to nuclear. If CF for wind was in the 70-90% range I could probably be convinced, But it is not - at least not by us mere mortals. Obama on the other hand may be able to change this with a speech.
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.15.10
Malcolm, with the American air force and the RAF turning Germans cities into piles of junk, some of the smartest people in Germany believed - or pretended to believe - that Mr Hitler would figure out some way to save their bacon. The same thing is true now.Everywhere I turn I enclounter smart people who believe that it is possible to get rid of nuclear, and turn to wind or something, and all will be sweet and rosy.
But we know the bottom line, don't we. Toward the end of this century, or earlier, those people will start asking where is their prosperity, And then we/they will obtain some of the prosperity we/they should have had years earlier.
Note, "SOME" of the prosperity. The rest will be in China, where they will be constructing nuclear plants in three years. The electorate' just don't get it, do they. The original plan was to import foreigners to do the work that 'they' didn't want to do, but maybe they should have imported them to do the thinking that they can't do. They should have elected Lee Kwan Yew as president of all North America. Then you/we would have the energy structure you/we need and deserve.
Edward Reid, Jr. 6.15.10
Thanks. It was probably me quoting Berra. I do that a lot.
It appears to me that the AGW "true believers" are either unable or unwilling to define the end point. Working toward intermediate points without a knowledge of the end point would result in implementation of facilities and equipment not on the path to the end point, thus resulting in economic dead loss.
If our economy were strong, that would be merely wasteful and stupid. :-)
Len Gould 6.15.10
I must disagree with the position that "We must do everything immediately, or do nothing" regarding peak oil, AGW, etc. That's simply an obvious ploy on the part of the fossil fuel industry to delay the inevitable, and whomever starts first will come out the winner.
Edward Reid, Jr. 6.15.10
"We must do everything immediately, or do nothing" regarding peak oil, AGW, etc.
Who said that where above?
Jim Beyer 6.15.10
I think Len has a point, though I see Ed's (to some extent as well).
But I don't think I'd hear Ed complain if Obama only reduced the deficit from $1.4 Trillion to $400 Billion.
AGW is a huge problem, requiring global cooperation. It's possible that unilateral action IS a reasonable way forward. Add tariffs to countries that don't comply. If Europe and North America got on board with that, it would be a way forward.
The "end point" would be no longer using any coal for electricity generation in 50 years. (I don't buy the CCS stuff, though miracles could happen...). We probably don't have enough oil left to worry about climate-wise, so that will probably take care of itself.
We should also stabilize the population at some reasonable level as well, using sticks and carrots as incentives to developing countries. If we DON'T do that, we will have a global version of the Gaza Strip/Israel scenerio, wherein the undeveloped part of the world simply breeds itself to supremancy, and in the end, ruins everything.
As I have said earlier, displacing coal plants with nuclear plants as their lifetimes are reached would not be unduly expensive. With a bit of effort, nuclear power plants might even be less expensive than coal over the long run.
Edward Reid, Jr. 6.15.10
My analysis suggests that the end point is zero anthropogenic carbon emissions globally. That means no coal, oil, natural gas, propane, etc. Essentially, we would need to "Un-discover Fire".
The UN FAO says ~18% of global AGW emissions result from animal husbandry. Therefore, stopping AGW means veganism by 2050.
Islam is apparently already attempting to breed itself to supremacy.
Len, apparently, believes global governance is essential to accomplish all of this, over whatever non- "everything immediately" schedule he believes is appropriate.
I just hope we will have the new facilities and equipment in place and operating before we decommission the existing facilities and equipment they are intended to replace.
Of course, if it is not an issue until 2030 or so, I either will not be around, or will not realize I'm still around, or just won't care anymore. :-)
Jim Beyer 6.15.10
The amount of fossil fuels we consume annually took a million years to form. We will be running out of that anyway. Oil and natural gas and even coal are already getting expensive. I don't know about "un-discovering" fire. Recall that fire began with burning wood, until Europe burned up all its wood and moved to coal. We've also "un-discovered" slavery, so dropping old habits is not necessarily a bad thing. I'm still in favor of holding onto electricity and nuclear power. Refrigeration and heat pumps seem pretty useful as well.
"Of course, if it is not an issue until 2030 or so, I either will not be around, or will not realize I'm still around, or just won't care anymore. :-) "
Perhaps you could give me the e-mails for your children or grandchildren? Maybe they'd like to know that their grandfather could've worked harder to make their lives better, but preferred to stay more comfortable for himself. :)
Len Gould 6.16.10
As long as i'm to be condemned as some sort of "[hippy freak / eco-nut / leftist / communist / anti-progressive]" on here because i'm able to read and understand scientific literature and am therefore very concerned with our overall long-term strategy for maintaining systems on which we depend absolutely for maintaining our way of life, i may as well add to the list of my concerns the problem of mining for irrigation water in the US midwest corn belt. That can only last for a very short time more at present rates of depletion, and what is supposed to happen when its done?
Oil depletion, atmospheric CO2 buildup, oceans with great rafts of floating waste, rivers which no longer flow to their mouth, huge aquifers now being pumped at rates hundreds of time faster than they are replentishing, water in areas where it is extremely scarce being sold for irrigation at 1/1,000 th the price of desalination replacement. I'm in fact a conservative with a socially progressive bent, just like the western Canadian farmers who were my ancestors, and this society just looks sick to me. I'm convinced that there should be technical fixes for most of these problems, but saying they don't exist is simply evidence of a failure of leadership at a time when good honest leadership is sorely required.
Edward Reid, Jr. 6.16.10
"As long as i'm to be condemned as some sort of "[hippy freak / eco-nut / leftist / communist / anti-progressive]" on here..."
Who said / implied that where above?
Paranoia will destroy ya'.
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.17.10
I cant provide you with the percentages, but I definitely agree with a lot of the things that Len says, and probably a majority. But this thing about leadership is the key to the entire ball game. We Americans are in trouble because our leaders have failed us. George W. Bush and Bill Clinton failed us, and I suspect that Al Gore would have done the same thing if he had been given the opportunity. As far as I am concerned, the guy doesn't have it. Some people will say that our predicament is the fault of the voters - after all, George W. could not have put himself in the White House for an extra 4 years without the help of the electorate - but once in office he could have put his country in first place instead of his party or his popularity.
As for Mr Bill, he had enough intelligence - I think - to have straightened out the Iraq mess. Duck soup. A piece of take. A turkey shoot. Easy Peasy. I don't know whether a straightened out Iraqi mess would have helped other people who contribute to this forum. biut it definitely would have helped Number 1.
About the environment. Why not clean it up? The arguments against cleaning it up are about money, but if the arguments of the Roadmap dummies are ignored, and the intelligence of people like those in this forum are fully utillized, then we should be in business. Some Greenpeace people came to my house yesterday, and fortunately my wife talked to them. But after my wife said that she had subscribed to something they were selling, it was easy for me to accept that they arn't doing any harm. After all, a few days earlier their comrades in arms broke into a Swedish nuclear installation, but when the guard of that installation is a man or women armed with a mobile telephone and probably a book on 'relations', it deserves to be invaded., and might provide a lesson for somebody.
Paul Barnard 6.18.10
Thanks for your response to me - sorry for the delay in responding; I've been away.
I agree with your capacity factor definition, but would point out that the term "equivalent capacity factor" is nevertheless used in the wind world because it empahsises the important point about ops - conventional plant tending to run at/near nameplate or not at all, wind rarely running at nameplate. This is an issue, because many people tend to hear of a capacity factor of 25% and then talk about the wind turbines only operating 25% of the time, which is not correct. It may be the same in terms of GWh generated, but it's not the same in terms of backup requirements.
Regarding backup - it's not as simple as you suggest in saying that every MW of wind needs a MW gas or whatever. At zero wind capacity, there is both hot and cold backup on the system anyway, in case coal/gas/nuke units go down, or there is unexpected/rapid load increase. At low % of wind penetration, that existing backup does the job; no additional backup plant is required. At higher penetration, some additional backup is required, but not much hot backup, since wind does not disappear instantaneously like a nuke tripping; weather forecasts give some kind of approximation of what is coming. Further, given that wind plant rarely generates at full capacity, full backup is not required, since you don't start our by assuming full wind generation anyway. Rather, when the wind does blow hard everywhere in your system area, you look to displace some of what is normally baseload plant.
So, how much backup do you actually need? It depends on what wind plant penetration you have, your geographical diversity over your system, your interconnection with other systems, how much other flexible plant you have such as hydro, what demand side management you have, and a few other factors. Most people seem to think that as a general guide, most systems of reasonable size can accommodate something like 10% wind without much trouble, and it only starts getting to be a real issue over 20%. It does vary from system to system.
So, I take issue with your saying all wind needs backup to nameplate capacity - it just isn't true.
I also take issue with you saying nuclear is the only sensible choice for making electricity. First, it just isn't very flexible, so it can only be part of the mix unless we introduce a lot of storage or you are French and interconnect to neigbouring countries that are largely non-nuke. Secondly, if you tried to run the world on nuclear power, I think you'd run out of nuclear fuel pretty quickly. But, on this latter point, please educate me. I have read/heard that about half of current nuclear fuel is sourced from decommissioning weapons, and that there is only enough fuel from "readily available" sources to feed current and planned nukes for 30 years. So that begs questions about "non-readily available" fuel sources, and quite what constitutes a planned plant.
On energy planning - sometimes you know the general direction that you want to go and don't need fully detailed plans. This is one of them. We need more nukes, more renewables, more demand side management (and reduction) and less coal and gas.
So everyone knows my position: - I am a qualified supporter of nuclear power. I am not worried about waste disposal technically, but recognise that it is a political issue. It appears expensive and time consuming to build. I do not know how much fuel there is available. It is not flexible enough to manage system variability. - I think AGW is a reality. - I think coal is a dirty fuel and coal plant should be minimised accordingly. Besides which, we'll probably need to make oil out of it. - Renewable technologies all have issues, (but so do non-renewables). A mix of several such technologies on a system will tend to mitigate their respective weaknesses and could be a big part of the mix. Obviously depends on the resources available, your valuation of energy security, your valuation of carbon abatement, and your electricity storage capacity. - Gas is better burnt for heat or transportation than power generation, but it is very flexible and should probably form part of your generation mix because of it. - I recognise that the Chinese, while not signing up to binding international agreements, are doing a very great deal to increase renewable generation. In the light of that, "the Chinese won't sign" is a pretty hollow excuse for doing nothing. - I think a lot more could be done on demand side management, especially in the USA. - There are way too many people on the planet. I will not tell you who I think should sacrifice themselves. - Peak oil will be more of a plateau than a spike, but we are pretty much there. The consequences are underestimated. - We are all doomed. But we can influence the timing and severity of the doom - and should.
Sorry for the long post. Perhaps I should write an article...
Michael Keller 6.18.10
Paul. Running out of nuclear fuel is not a problem. The spent fuel contains lots of plutonium that can be extracted and we can always breed more than we use. There are other options as well - e.g. use thorium.
A massive shift towards nuclear will cause a shortage, however. We will run out of money. The current reactors are way too expensive to build in large numbers and not very efficient to boot.
However, we are not all doomed. Technology advancements on many fronts will solve our energy problems. No worries! There is, of course, the small matter of drop-kicking the idiots in Congress over the side. But that too is underway.
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.19.10
No Paul, you shouldn't write an article. You should learn some economics and simple algebra. Denmark hooks into other systems, which is why they can get away with pretending that wind is economical. On the other hand, the dumb Swedes sell what was once the most inexpensive electricity in the world to countries like Germany and Denmark, where it was the most expensive. That's called freedom in case you didn't know.
Michael, we don't need any more technology to get electricity at the price we deserve. The South Koreans can build plants for 2500 dollars a kilowatt, and the Chinese for less, and if I am wrong and they cant, give them another three or four years. As for getting rid of idiots in Congress, we are likely to get some that are worse.
John K. Sutherland 6.20.10
Paul, I second Fred's comment. Don't write an article from a base of ignorance. Read this, instead, and others under my name:
I say write the article, Paul. Always good to see new ideas.
Gale Voyles 6.21.10
Another 2050 roadmap to compare
Roadmap shows the way for nuclear future 16 June 2010 Nuclear power could become the world's single biggest source of electricity, said a roadmap revealed today by intergovernmental agencies. Industry says the projections are not ambitious enough. The roadmap for the potential of nuclear in a world that reduces its carbon dioxide emissions by 50% by 2050 was produced by the International Energy Agency at the request of the Group of Eight industrialized nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and USA). In doing so it enlisted the help of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency and the World Nuclear Association (WNA). Addressing the current issues slowing the increase of nuclear power, the report discusses the actions industry and government must take to resolve them. Some of the issues - such as skills and manufacturing capacity - are already being dealt with and would rapidly respond to market forces caused by high demand for nuclear power. Others are far more difficult: "A clear and stable policy commitment to nuclear energy as part of overall energy strategy is a pre-requisite." Immediately however the most pressing problem is the high up-front cost of building a new nuclear power plant, and manufacturers must reduce this financial burden and the risk it carries through standardisation and experience. Given correct action to promote a stable policy regime and an adequate industrial base by 2020, nuclear power could grow by 320% to 1200 MWe before 2050. Achieving this would mean completing about 20 large reactors each year, meaning "the rate of construction starts of new nuclear plants will need to roughly double from its present level by 2020, and continue to increase more slowly after that date." This clearly achievable rate of work is enough to replace every single reactor operating now and grow nuclear power's contribution to 24% of global electricity supplies even while energy demand doubles. The IEA said the scenario above is based on assumptions of some "constraints on the speed with which nuclear capacity can be deployed." A high nuclear scenario, which the roadmap did not examine in detail, places nuclear power at 38% of power supplies with a total generating capacity of about 1900 MWe. This level of nuclear would bring even greater emissions savings - as well as an 11% cut in power prices. "An expansion of nuclear energy is thus an essential component of a cost-effective strategy to achieve substantial global emissions reductions." WNA head John Ritch welcomed the positive nuclear projection but found it "still too cautious." The WNA's Nuclear Century Outlook, Ritch noted, is "far more expansive and takes full account of the enormous potential for nuclear growth in China and India. Those two countries alone," he said, "could conceivably achieve as much nuclear expansion by 2050 as the IEA posits for the entire world. Globally, the WNAs upside scenario for 2050 exceeds 3000 GWe." "Where WNA and IEA fully agree," Ritch went on, "is on the imperative that governments align themselves squarely and unequivocally in support of nuclear power as the world's premier clean-energy source. The time for timidity and double-talk is long past. Our world needs a bold, clear, pro-nuclear policy vision." Government was told in the roadmap action plan to lead public debate on nuclear energy, put proper regulation in place and implement financial support (such as loan guarantees) where required, while the nuclear industry was told that it must continue to operate existing plants at the highest levels of safety and efficiency. Reactor vendors must take what steps they can towards standardization of the current generation of designs so that new reactors are be routinely built on time and budget by 2020. Vendors must also build up their supply chains and nuclear fuel companies will have to prepare for a large expansion in production from 2015 or 2020. Good cooperation with government research bodies should help Generation IV reactor designs come to market after demonstration around 2030. Finally, the benefit of international cooperation to facilitate all this was underlined, with a call to "maintain and strengthen where necessary international cooperation" in a range of areas. Key to this would be "intergovernmental nuclear and energy agencies, international non-governmental industry and policy organisations."
Take a look at the 1974 Energy independence proposal that was killed in 1977 by the US Democrats.