Climate Science Glossary

Term Lookup

Enter a term in the search box to find its definition.


Use the controls in the far right panel to increase or decrease the number of terms automatically displayed (or to completely turn that feature off).

Term Lookup


All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

Home Arguments Software Resources Comments The Consensus Project Translations About Donate

Twitter Facebook YouTube Pinterest

RSS Posts RSS Comments Email Subscribe

Climate's changed before
It's the sun
It's not bad
There is no consensus
It's cooling
Models are unreliable
Temp record is unreliable
Animals and plants can adapt
It hasn't warmed since 1998
Antarctica is gaining ice
View All Arguments...

Keep me logged in
New? Register here
Forgot your password?

Latest Posts


Climate Hustle

Recent Comments

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  Next

Comments 1 to 50:

  1. Is the grid ready for electric vehicles?

    Toys and other gadgets have battery compartments that can hold standard size batteries, like e g AA cells. So I had this fantasy: The battery in my EV is drying up so when I happen to drive by the (future) service station I drive in for a battery replacement. I stop, go out of my EV, open the hatch in the side of the car, pull out the empty battery (with a lifting device because it's heavy), put the empty battery in the rack for empty batteries, fetch a recharged battery from a rack of recharged batteries, shove it into my car (all this of course with the help of the lifting device), close the hatch, pay for difference in energy between the batteries (because maybe my old battery was not totally empty) and drive off. If I hurry a lot I could reload my car in about 40 seconds. Instead of "fast" charging it in thirty minutes or slow charging it in 5 hours. But exactly nobody (that's right, I am a nobody) proposes this technical solution. So can someone explain to me why this is such a very bad idea? My very bad idea also includes that if you really want to slow charge you car at home or at work you can have it both ways. And of course it also includes that the service stations are optimised to recharge batteries in a cost-effective way that is good for the grid.

  2. 3 clean energy myths that can lead to a productive climate conversation

    Thinkingman. You made the claim:
    "See: The point is: South Australia’s electricity price became the HIGHEST IN THE WORLD during the second half of 2017." The price was AUD47.13c/kWh.

    I understand that your accusation of moving the goal posts consists of:
    1/ I put a of comparison of countries rather than states
    2/ I used data from other than 2017 when the accusation was made.

    I disagree. While the statement about highest prices in the world is made using 2017 price, the data being used to support that claim is from a report in using comparitive data from 2015 (and published 2016). That report considered only OECD not whole world for comparison. My world countries basis did indeed show countries but it can be trivially seen that AUD47.13 (the SA price) is less than US99.

    In fact, let me summarize what I believe are the facts based on those sources.

    • In 2015, South Australia had higher electricity prices than average price of any OECD country at market exchange rates and higher than any other Portugal on PPP basis (though Japan and Ireland are in there too).
    • In 2017, South Australia may have had a higher rate than any of the OECD countries, but to honestly claim that, the comparison would need to be updated with 2017 prices for those other countries and there is no evidence in either that Leading Edge nor Financial Review did that.
    • In none of 2015, 2016, or 2017 did South Australia have the highest electricity prices in the world whether compared on exchange rates or PP basis.


    I would additional concluded that both FR and LE misrepresented their sources and misled their readers, including you.

    I am glad you do recognise that Lazard uses capacity factor since so much misinformation claims they dont. What is your basis for claiming Lazards range of capacity factor and lifetime are flawed? Hopefully not another FF schill.

  3. Should a Green New Deal include nuclear power?

    First a quibble. 100% nuke electric for current patterns of consumption means about half of them must load follow.  Lifetime of thermal loop components decreases with thermal cycling, so maintenance cost and downtime rise.

    Much more important: The nuclear industry has lost trust. No matter what the design safeguards and failsafes, it is not clear that in the USA  can build one correctly any more (Vogtle, Sumner) , or operate the current nukes safely.  Davis-Besse is a prime example, the only metal left at some points in containment was the thin layer of chromium plate, all the steel was gone. And Jaczko is absolutely correct, flood defense in US nukes is a travesty. They were warned of flood vulnerabilities for more than a decade and they have done far less than they need to. I think the operating extensions granted to some 40 yr old nukes was a bad decision, and one that will bite.



  4. Should a Green New Deal include nuclear power?

    Sauerj @19, I get where you are coming from.

    Regarding Abbots research. It's hardly surprising that people with vested interests have attacked Abbots published research, however the criticism of Abbott has been informal in articles. Until his critics commit to a proper published peer reviewed criticism their criticism obviously lacks rigour.

    I see a potential place for nuclear power, probably alongside renewables, but I think it's really a decision to be made by generating companies on the basis of costs. We all want the cheapest power providing its safe and low carbon, and despite accidents like Chernobyl, nuclear power kills or disables fewer people per mwatt hour than other generating options.

    Right now generating companies are building renewable energy in western countries because nuclear is not cost competitive, and remember generating companies would consider the longer term cost issues you raise. Maybe this would change if resources for wind and solar power start to get scarce, or the nuclear industry reduces costs but these are market issues. What is it governments or you and I can do or say about it? Not much. I dont see a case for governments to artifically favour nuclear power above other options.

    I don't know why nuclear costs are cheaper in Asia. America has strict safety standards and I would not want to see those compomised. But in any event America has to deal with its own realities.

  5. Is the grid ready for electric vehicles?

    As the article mentions, part of the solution is to induce people to charge their cars when excess power is available.  This is good for the generation companies as well.  For instance, they can reduce the amount of water flowing over the spillway and run it through the generators, making more money from their facility.  The key is smart grids.  not the pitiful ones we have now designed to eliminate meter readings but really smart grids in which the price of 'optional' electricity continually varies according to how much excessis available.  This doesn't apply to power on demand (your house lights for instance) but only for devices such as your hot water cylinder and your wall battery or car battery.  This demand balancing rather than the predominant supply balancing we have at present is good for the customer and for the electric companies.  You dial the amount you are prepared to pay for electricity and if the price falls to that level, you charge your battery.

  6. Is the grid ready for electric vehicles?

    No definitive or qualified answer to the question posed in the title. The upshot seems to be that on balance a lot of adaptation will have to occur to the current electrical grid but with planning, incentives, and thoughtful application of forward-looking policies, the impact will be smaller than detractors might claim.

  7. Should a Green New Deal include nuclear power?

    All, I am hardly a NP biased proponent. I have only just began to learn about NP (only starting in the last 9 months). I was technologically agnostic before that (instead only focusing on revenue-neutral carbon tax policy). I would call myself a proponent of skeptical science and due-diligence. I have made my primary motivations (zero GHG emissions) quite clear in the above comments. The above characterizations and snide remarks toward me (#16: "black is white and up is down") are unprofessional. I have been fair, professional and forthcoming; referencing all of my points and pointing out (w/o meanness) where the refs that I provided were not correctly understood (ex. 1.2mm panels per day and for US only). ... Nigelj points out that this latter point doesn't matter b/c NP is cheaper (#14); but, this cost detail is very complicated and not so clear, as I explained above & further explain below. Regardless, I still think a continuous replenishment of 1.2mm panels per day, for the US, forever, (assuming a conservatively high 40-yr life span), even if recycling, is something not to dismiss lightly.

    I am still worried that a 100% RE plan (per Jacobson's plan, who was a big part of this greenman video) would be imprudently bias against NP and close-minded to how NP can help us (in the mix) get to zero GHG emissions as quickly, smartly & justly as possible. I believe that Jacobson's 100% RE 35-year roadmap plan needs more careful cross-examination; and I base this on what appears to be a thorough review video (cited above & again HERE for convenience), as well as per what other reputable people are saying, also pointed out above, such as highly respected people like James Hansen & others), and I feel that this sort of on-going diligent cross-examination of Jacobson's plan should be pointed out (as I have done).

    In the end, I feel that cost should decide, but only provided we are truly & earnestly looking at all costs, and also including all external, long-term costs in the cash flow analysis (which is what the EICDA bill ultimately gets us at (concerning GHG pollution). I am not convinced that that kind of total & comprehensive cost analysis is done w/ Lazard's cost #'s, mostly b/c of the two missing big factors (mentioned in my comments above) which are: non-equal service-life & non-equal reliability (which are not included in Lazard's cash flow analysis).

    1) Abbott (MSweet's 16.1): I didn't address the Abbott 2011 paper (material resource issue, #13 in his paper) b/c it is way over my head technically. By myself, I could never get to the bottom on what is the definitive truth on this. To fairly review this paper, it would take a team of senior NP & geological experts, to be able to give Abbott's conclusions due analytical diligence. I am nowhere near qualified for that.

    But, in order to meagerly attempt to do that (in the last 2-3 days), I have submitted this Abbott 2011 paper to NP experts (who frequent this "RE vs NP" FB public group) to give them a chance to review & comment on this. A 'Colby Kirk' has given me the following information that throws the Abbott 2011 paper into doubt.

    1.1) On Abbott's Material Resource Issue (his point #13):
    Per Colby Kirk: "I reviewed his [Abbott] claims on the limited materials. He didn't give a number of materials per reactor, he just claimed all of these materials are required for nuclear reactors and then did a basic algebra formula based on the reserves limited to only the U.S. This is far from being scientific, quantitative or honest.

    "For instance zirconium ... "15 Metric tons per reactor unit of ACR1000" at 15,000 reactors will still not be an issue [see page 73 of this site HERE for this 15MT/rx #]. 225,000 tons for the world nuclear fleet against a world supply of 73,000,000 tons [sauerj insert: Abbott has this at 56,000,000 tons]. That's also assuming we only use that reactor design, which advanced reactors will eliminate the need for zirconium cladding.

    "None of this brings up the possibility of recycling which would become a large part of the supply line as these materials go up in price. Fuel assemblies go in and come out with the technical possibility of reprocessing and recycling. Different reactor designs have different needs and any bottle neck on certain materials will just motivate a substitution or design pivot."

    1.2) On Abbott's paper being "peer reviewed":
    Per Colby Kirk: "I've learned to not rely on the approval of peer review since lots of easily refuted antinuclear hit pieces get published in the literature under "peer review". Editors and reviewers can play favorites, have bias and also not know what they are looking at, which is unfortunate. I've seen lots of terrible work pass under "peer review". I can say for sure he [Abbott] is citing some widely refuted anti-nuclear hit pieces that were not peer reviewed like SLS. [sauerj inert: See my note below about this SLS paper below (*).]

    "There are also some egregious errors and mistakes in the rest of the paper that any honest reviewer would catch, like cherry picking U235 as the only viable nuclear fuel.
    "The document is labeled under "point of view" [sauerj insert: see top of the Abbott paper & on every corner] which looks to be a debate platform in the IEEE content stream. They talk about "personal positions" and "predictions" without mention of peer review like they do for the rest of the journal. Therefore I doubt it is peer reviewed. HERE is the description of that page. "

    (*) About the non-peer reviewed SLS paper (that Abbott cites 3 places in his 2011 paper): Colby Kirk also sent me the following two rebuttal articles about this SLS paper, see HERE & HERE.

    Finally, on this 16.1 point, I personally could not find where Abbott says that the shortage limit of Be, Nb, Zr, Y, Hf will limit NP to 5% max of total power (NP currently provides 11% of global power today). MSweet, could you cite where Abbott claims this?

    2) Lazard pg 13 Methodology (MSweet's 16.4, 2nd para of 16.4): This page 13 is just an example free cash flow analysis for just one technology (wind). That is why it doesn't show a comparative table for NP. But regardless, no, they probably don't include disposal costs for NP; so that is a fair point. But, they probably don't also include replacement & recycle costs with the RE options either; though this is probably much less $ than that for NP.

    3) Costs (MSweet's 16.4, 1st para of 16.4): My statement above (comment #13) about NP being less than solar & equal to wind (based on slide #2 on THIS site) was not apples-to-apples in comparison; I did not read the slide carefully enough (my error). This slide is a comparison of old fully depreciated NP and new un-depreciated solar & wind, which shows old NP being less cost than new solar & equal to new wind (but this not a fair comparison on new vs new). As MSweet pointed out above (pt 16.4) (in the PDF that I sited), new NP is much more than solar & wind. ... My next thought (per the bottom citations I gave above in #13, & for convenience citing again HERE & HERE) does NP have to be this expensive (based on installations in China, India & South Korea being 25-30% less and per the 3.1 & 3.2 paragraphs below that give credible evidence & references that Jacobson's 100% RE plan would cost 3x more than a Gen III NP plan in reguards to capital costs). But, I fully admit & agree, per Lazard's #'s, without any correction for service-life & equal reliability differences (or without consideration of the capital cost differences per 3.1 & 3.2 below), that new NP does cost more than new RE.

    Lazard's #'s do not account for differences in service-life (per its pg 13 methodology), nor offsetting to achieve equal on-demand reliability (ditto). I think these two are big cost factors that are missing from Lazard's cash flow analysis, which is otherwise quite rigorously & technically well done. This lack of 100% apples-to-apples comparison (due to these two missing points) is the same lack of apples-to-apples consternation as cited in the Grist article above (conveniently cited again HERE, see below the "Are renewables cheaper?" header)

    On comparing capital cost differences b/w a 100% RE plan vs a mostly NP plan to supply the US with enough non-carbon energy to de-carbonize the US, the following information is noteworthy:
    3.1) Capital cost to put the US on 100% RE: Per Jacobson, to supply the 1591GW US demand using his 100% RE plan will cost $15.2tr (not counting necessary pumped hydro back-up which adds $1.3tr for every 4 hours of total US grid back-up). Ref: See this video (3:15-4:15) for these Jacobson 100% RE costs #'s.
    3.2) Capital cost to put the US mostly on NP: The Gen III reactors (in SKorea) were built for a cost of $4.4bn/GW. Therefore, to satisfy the US power demand, this would cost $6.7tr (almost 1/3 the cost of the 100% RE costs if the RE plan includes a moderate amount of pumped hydro back-up). And, this NP capital cost could fall to $3tr with Gen IV MSR reactors. These NP costs are per this video (4:50-6:30).

    4) Shellenberger (MSweet's 16.2 [the first 16.2]): MSweet, Could you post which video (& time) is pertinent to where you said he (Shellberger) contradicted himself? If that is so, then you are most right; and I would agree. Yes, there is absolutely nothing wrong with RE driving power prices down.

    5) Shellenberger (MSweet's 16.2 [the 2nd 16.2]): About Fukushima deaths: Shellberger's claims of no deaths due to NP (this video at 14:37) are backed up by the May-2013 UN report (see wiki article, below the "UNSCEAR Report" header), which cites "No radiation-related deaths or acute diseases have been observed among the workers and general public exposed to radiation from the accident". In addition, Shellenberger ref'd the actual UN report, (in the above linked video slide at 14:37), which appears to be extremely thorough (200 pgs). Therefore, I see nothing to make me believe that Shellenberger misrepresented the facts in his video stating that there were no radiation deaths due to NP. Therefore, b/c the nuclear industry didn't technically kill anybody (that all associated deaths were only due to the fault of inappropriate emergency response) per this reputable UN report (that Shellenberger cites), my conclusion is contrary to MSweet's above statement: "Shellenberger denied that the nuclear industry is responsible for the people they killed at Fukushima. The industry demonstrates their complete lack of concern for safety when they do not accept responsibility for the people they kill."

    Regardless to no one dying due to radiation, the Fukushima accident was still not good. But do we throw out any good that NP can provide, in getting to zero emissions, if done safely and prudently, due to a possible bad & risky design at Fukushima?

    6) Material Mass/Power Comparison (MSweet's 16.3): MSweet, On this "tons/Mwh" point, you mentioned above having trouble finding ref docs that Shellberger referenced. To be clear, I used this Shellenberger video at 18:39 for the mass/power ratio #'s that I posted in #9 above. When I check Shellenberger's references here, I was able to quickly find his referenced doc HERE, which then points to HERE to access it. But, you have to have a sign-on clearance to access it, which I don't have. My expectation is that this doc will, in fact, have a Table 10 (that matches the same figures on Shellenberger's slide). So, I believe you might have been too quick to say that Shellenberger's graph was "falsified"; and to call him a "liar". Now possibly you were looking at a different video and slide, b/c the reference Shellenberger cites here (18:39) is not a "pro-nuclear book" but instead a DOE paper (which led me to the above two sites). If you are able to access this report (again HERE), and find no Table 10 to back-up Shell's slide here, then this does discredit him.
    To try to find additional docs on this tons/Mwh ratio subject, I could also ask the above mentioned NP experts for more refs on differences between NP & solar & wind on this point. On the surface, it does jibes w/ my eng sensibilities that solar & wind would far outweigh NP on this ratio due to much lower energy density of the RE's vs NP, especially for the required large scale (per Jacobson's #'s) as outlined in this video (2:40-3:30, and 6:35-8:30).
    At this point, on this mass/power ratio matter, I see nothing that gives me reason to doubt Shellenberger's numbers; and certainly no definitive evidence to classify him as a "falsifier" and a "liar".
    Also, his presentation cites people who were once very anti-nuclear (Brand, Monbiot), but now in their zeal to really get to zero emissions (as smartly & quickly as possible), and in their honest examination of all the facts, these people have changed their minds. This is profoundly moving to me. Hansen's word is also profoundly moving to me, as I mentioned above (#13).

    7) NP Maturity (Nigelj 14): In my learning's about NP (in the last 9 months), I have learned that the NP industry is certainly not fully mature. It may be more mature than the solar industry, but there are many things that could be strategically done to bring the capital cost of safe NP down via alternations/upgrades to different paradigms (from Gen II to Gen III, IV) and construction streamlining techniques. Other countries are moving forward into these more cost competitive & safer paradigms (per all of my points above in #3 of this reply) and lower cost construction techniques.

    In Conclusion: I am not a NP hack; please do not characterize me of that. I am a CC mitigation hawk and active CCL member, who is simply asking questions & trying to learn to find the truth, and I feel that reputable sites & people (as ref'd) legitimize my questions & concerns about a 100% RE plan. With this reply, I feel I have addressed your points comprehensively and professionally, and on subject concerning this greenman video and its Jacobson referenced content.


  8. Is the grid ready for electric vehicles?

    nigelj @ 1

    Every one has to park their car, at work, at home, shopping etc.

    So every parking space is a potential location to have charging technology.
    That can be via induction or direct cable connection. You would just present your charging card and it will bill you electronically.
    Some locations may be difficult, but there are already solutions for the majority.

  9. Is the grid ready for electric vehicles?

    Charging your EV will become as familiar as charging your phone or iPad, mostly done at home, work or wherever your vehicle remains stationary for a sufficient period. One thing for certain is that the current service station will not have a future and those who retain legacy internal combustion vehicles will find it increasingly difficult to obtain their fuel as volumes decrease. Yes the Grid will be the critical element in the transition.

  10. michael sweet at 20:33 PM on 23 April 2019
    3 clean energy myths that can lead to a productive climate conversation


    In response to my statement that your link does not support your calculations you have simply repeated your calculations.  You have still not provided any links to support your calcualtions.

    You appear  to have made up your calculations out of the air.  If you make up calculations you can reach any conclusion you want.

    You need to completely delete your spinning reserve for two reasons:  Renewable energy does not need so much spinning reserve and you have miscalculated the cost of spinning reserve.  Spinning reserve does not produce power (that is why it is called spinning reserve) and has a cost only a small fraction of generating power.  


    No-one proposes using a wind only system.  As I stated  above, the combination of wind and solar requires much less gas back up.  You should reduce the amount of gas needed by at least 75%. I recommend you look at actual bids from renewable energy before you start your calculations and provide data to support your wild assumptions.

    Since you have demonstrated that you have no idea how to calculate costs you must provide a revieiwed citation to support your wild claims.  Peer reviewed sources like the ones I cited above show that wind and solar are as reliable as fossil fuels and nuclear power but renewable energy is cheaper.

  11. 3 clean energy myths that can lead to a productive climate conversation

    scaddenp, you did in fact move the goal posts.  You wound the clock back a few years.  You substituted the Australian average for the South Australia price.

    During 2017H2, the South Australian electricity price, A$47.13, exceeded prices in Germany and Denmark. provides German and Danish prices in euros, respectively 30.48 & 30.1.  The AUD:euro rate can be found at many online sites.  1.504 is representative.  Converted to AUD, the German and Danish prices are A$45.8 and A$45.3.

    With regards to levelized costs, while useful, they are flawed.  Major flaws distorting onshore wind costs include the capacity factor assumptions (too high) and the service life (too long).  Plus, the target ROI for wind is too low relative to natural gas fueled generators.  Correcting these flaws significantly raises estimates of wind's full production costs in the absolute and relative to other sources for electricity.  FYI, you can make the adjustments on and Excel spreadsheet to see for yourself.  Also, FYI, estimates for natural gas and other generators are also appropriate.

  12. Sea level rise is exaggerated

    Matt, see here for discussion of relative contributors to sealevel rise. Melting ice is only one source and contribution easily quantified - convert mass melted from GRACE to volume and spread over area of ocean. It is less important at the moment that steric rise from warming ocean. Isostatic adjustment is neglible and unaware of arguments claiming it to be important.

  13. Is the grid ready for electric vehicles?

    All well and good, but electric cars only make sense if the electricty is generated by renewable energy, so this is going to have to be expanded fairly quickly.

    Electric cars seem like the way of the future to me, in most cases anyway, but how do you charge electric cars in the middle of the day when most people are at work? This will require complicated systems. Perhaps places where charging is best in the middle of the day might suit hydrogen fuel cell cars.

    "Green" hydrogen produced by electrolysis driven by renewable electricity has also been proposed as a fuel for various applications, including providing peak electricty supply (typically currently provided by natural gas etc). Ie the hydrogen is effectively acting as a storage medium for use at the right time. Articlehere.

  14. 2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #16

    Other news: Trump issues Earth Day message without mentioning climate change

  15. 3 clean energy myths that can lead to a productive climate conversation

    This post replies to the:
    • Apparent confusion about the distinction between the cost of reliable electrical service and the prices at which wind turbines sell electricity.
    • Erroneous claim solar panels can take the place of spinning reserves
    • Allegation of fakery
    It also includes an insider’s comment about how preferential treatment by government influences wind’s role as source of electricity.

    The comment is “…we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That's the only reason to build them. They don't make sense without the tax credit ...”. We is Berkshire Hathaway, which owns about 8.5% of U.S. wind turbine capacity. The quote is from the 12 May 2014 issue U.S. News & World Report. Other periodicals have the same quote.

    Disputing my point about reliable power’s cost by pointing out wind wins the bidding process reveals confusion about who picks what. A brief, basic description of the decision making process may resolve the confusion.

    Electricity system decision makers choose between capacity and energy offers from wind turbines, solar panels and conventional generators. Relative prices, government mandates and dispatchability heavily influence how much of each is selected. The quantities are combined into firm service and interruptible service. Reliable service’s cost reflects the sum of prices paid for all the components (baseload + dispatchable + renewables + … ). The same is true of interruptible service’s cost.

    Households, businesses, schools, government agencies and other electricity users choose between firm service and interruptible service. Some choose both. The cost of firm service vs. interruptible service influences the decision. Wind’s selling price typically only indirectly influences the decision, if wind is considered at all.

    Firm service is reliable service. Customers get all the electricity they want when they want it—24 hours a day, 365 days a year …. .

    Interruptible service allows the system operator to restrain or to reduce the quantity of electricity delivered to a customer. Typically, the limitations are temporary. Sophisticated electricity buyers understand the cause and effect relationship between the behavior of wind power and the amount of power delivered to them. They also have expectations for the adverse financial consequences of reduced deliveries. The adverse consequences are weighed against interruptible service’s discount relative to reliable service. Wind’s concurrent selling price influences the decision only if wind obviously influences on the discount (An example is an electricity user that prices some or all of its power with reference to wholesale or spot power prices. Wind power frequently dominates wholesale / spot electricity prices).

    Spinning reserves perform functions different than the pairing of wind turbines with solar panels, and the need for the functions persists when wind is paired with solar.

    Solar and wind can complement each other where seasonal, daily or other surges in one offset contemporaneous lulls in the other. The pairing can also compensate for mismatches between seasonal, daily or other routine fluctuations in demand for electricity and wind turbine output or solar panel output.

    For example, the Georgetown, TX municipal electricity utility pairs solar with wind. A major reason for the pairing is: Seasonal demand peaks when the solar panel capacity factor is high and the wind turbine capacity factor is low.

    In contrast, a major function of spinning reserves is to cope immediately with very short term fluctuations in electricity demand and supply. The causes, timing and nature of the fluctuations typically cannot be forecast. But, experience has taught operators of large electricity systems that something routinely goes wrong somewhere. When Murphy causes a problem, spinning reserves are part of the solution.

    When backing up renewables, spinning reserves help cope with routine, very large short term changes in wind turbine output. Such changes occur during the night, when solar panels are idle. They also occur during the day, when the electricity system is already tuned to the inflow of solar electricity.

    Allegations of fakery put forth by a fossil fuel troll violate the “3 Myths … “ expressed goal of promoting positive discussion (see the blog's introduction). Furthermore, such allegations are blatantly false. Those alleging fakery are challenged to point out where fakery occurred.

    Is there fakery, an arithmetic mistake or a typo in these calculations?
    • $90 = (.29 * $205 + .61 * $40 + .1 * $55)
    • 1.65 is approximately $90 / $55
    • $112 = (.43 * $205 + .49 * $40 + .08 * $55)
    • 2 is approximately $112 / $55

    Do $205, $40 and $55 misrepresent 2018 values for peaker, wind and baseload costs shown on the levelized cost graph featured in the “3 Myths …. “ blog? Does the graph misrepresent the relative prices of each?

    Do you challenge the validity of data provided by ERCOT and ISO New England?

    Do you dispute that wind electricity is intermittent and variable, as generally described and as shown by data provided by ERCOT, ISO New England, The Alberta Electric System Operator, the Australia Energy Market Operator, Germany’s regional operators and others?

    Do you dispute that reliable service has been and remains a key objective of electricity system operators?

    Do you dispute the necessity of supplementing wind with other sources of power to create reliable service?

    With regards to the shares of reliable energy supplied by peakers, wind and spinning reserves, my estimates favor wind. Wind turbine opponents in the recent past typically claimed that every 100 MW of wind capacity had to be backed up by 80 to 100 MW of conventional generating capacity, and that much of the back-up capacity had to operate 24/7. In contrast, my split is 100:55 approx., and only about 5 needs to operate continuously. Furthermore, my splits suggest reliable service structured around wind turbines cuts by 40-50% CO2 emissions relative to reliable service structured around natural gas. These are NOT results a fossil fuel troll would proclaim.

    A wise person once advised: Progress should not be impeded by the pursuit of perfection. Those truly concerned about the environment should settle for progress achievable and feasible today to improve conditions over the next several years and concurrently work towards better solutions to be implemented in the future. That is far more constructive than savaging suggestions that differ by degree rather than direction.

  16. One Planet Only Forever at 00:15 AM on 23 April 2019
    2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #16

    In my comment @7 I understand that the authors of the report qualified their claim about the 'merits of peer-on-peer corrective efforts through penalty' with the term "unfettered". But, of course, the the undeniable cause of the problem is "incorrectly or inadequately fettered" irational harmful behaviour, so it would be understood by altruists that any corrective actions should be "helpfully rationally fettered".

  17. Sea level rise is exaggerated

    Mat @302,

    As Wikipedia shows, the atmosphere contains a tiny portion of our planet's H2O (12,900 cu km) while the oceans contain the vast majority of it (1.338 billion cu km). An increase in global temperature would raise atmospheric H2O by 7% or 9,000 cu km, and with oceans 351 million sq km in size, that would be enough to cause (or prevent) a sea level rise totalling 0.025mm.

    I am not aware of there being a discrepancy between the evaluation of SLR drivers & observed SLR. For instance, IPCC AR5 Chapter 13 Table 13.1 shows the 'residual' to be well inside the confidence intervals.

  18. Sea level rise is exaggerated

    Despite glacial retreat, shrinking polar ice caps and warming oceans, measured sea level rise is merely incremental.  The eplanations of rising land masses now unburdened by the weight of melted ice, and other theories leave me skeptical.  I would have imagined that Atmospheric Moisture Increase in a warmer atmosphere may possibly account for some of the extra water, but cannot find any documentation of a correlation.  Is AMI  a possible explanation for the merely small levels of sea rise?

  19. The Future for Australian Coal

    Australia has great potential for hydrogen production through electrolysis of water using electricity generated from renewable energy. In fact hydrogen produced in this way has already been exported to Japan and indicates growth of a whole new export industry.

    Apart from use in fuel cells to drive emissions free electric cars, hydrogen can be used to replace coking coal in the production of emissions-free steel. This has already been trailed in Sweden and although the steel produced is presently more expensive than steel produced by coking coal the difference in price will reduce as the price of carbon rises.

    Apparently hydrogen is used as a reduction agent in steel production, so provided the hydrogen is sourced from electrolysis of water using renewable energy, it could offer an alternative to present dependence on coking coal as a reduction agent.

  20. One Planet Only Forever at 13:56 PM on 22 April 2019
    2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #16

    After giving the "How We Role" study report some additional consideration, I am not convinced of the claim by the researchers that the results of their test raises questions about 'the ability of peer penalties to effectively correct unhelpful behaviour'.

    The authors claim that their observations of behaviours in their game resulted in actions that they determined indicate that “The feuding increased costs for the collective as a whole, which the authors say calls into question how effective unfettered peer punishment is in real life.” The authors offer no 'more effective alternatives for correcting the behaviour of the correction resistant free-riding selfish individuals' (see my comment @4 for an explanation of why the Individuals in the test are also Free-Riders in real life situations (no Individual is actually a Hermit in the Hills).

    The test was not a good representation of a real life situation. But it does expose some things.

    This type of test shows that many socioeconomic-political systems are likely developing a significant number of harmfully selfish individuals who are correction resistant, who resist becoming altruistically helpful.

    It is not surprising that the observed main 'effort to correct' was directed at the Loners (note that the Loners did not appear to attempt to correct the Altruists). Unlike the ones called Free-Riders, the Loners (who are also Free-Riders in any society) had shown no interest in being a helpful part of the group. They only cared about themselves to the detriment of others. At least those referred to as Free-Riders contributed to the group effort and shared the risk of loss. If there were no Loners in a group it seems likely that there would have been corrective actions directed at the Free-riders who contributed a significantly smaller than equitable share.

    And I know that JWRebel @3 is correct that in spite of the Dutch having social safety-net aspects in their society, there are many evaluations of global cultures that identify the Dutch as very significantly independent, even more independent than American culture (though admittedly 'American' is a messy broad diversity of regional cultures that is difficult to make relevant generalizations about, especially statistical generalizations like averages, means and modes).

    Also, the experiment is a 'multi-party Prisoner's Dilemma resulting in an individual vs collective Dilemma'. The lack of interaction before the first round of action is (or should be) a rare situation (and makes the test not a good representation of a real life situation). It sets up an antagonistic starting point for future rounds that also have no opportunity for discussion to occur, just steps of observation and response without Trust, actually damaging to trust. Undeniably, any society will have some people who develop fiercely selfish motivations with a related lack of trust of others because many selfish people understand that they would not trust themselves to 'help others collectively, make a personal sacrifice for a common good' (and they expect Others to be like them, so they don't try to Trust Others).

    Different versions of the experiment would likely produce significantly different results such as:

    • If the participants were allowed to discuss the challenge and their potential actions. The only option offered in some of the 'competitions' was later stage individual attempts to penalize others at a personal cost (no discussion).
    • If the participants were told that the total value of their group of 4 would be compared against all other groups of 4 to determine the 'Best Teams'. This would have dulled any culturally imprinted tendency to compete for individual status rather than collective status.
    • If the participants are told in advance that as they do the steps of the game the other players will have opportunities to justifiably penalize those who have not yet contributed fairly to the communal effort (a one-way only penalizing).

    A major problem with attempts to 'research basic human behaviour' is the difficulty of finding individuals who have not had their thinking significantly influenced by being raised in a competitive selfish motivating rather than cooperative altruism motivating environment (proponents of human behaviour being un-correctable basic nature are incorrect (it is correction resistant, but can be corrected), however the results of competitions for popularity and profit that are not effectively helpfully altruistically (ethically or morally) restrained and limited can make them appear to be Right).

    Even less wealthy societies are rife with the potentially seriously corrupting influences of competition for perceptions of status relative to others, especially the more rapidly developing ones.

    In an Opinion piece in the New York Times, “Progressive Capitalism Is Not an Oxymoron - We can save our broken economic system from itself.”, Joseph E. Stiglitz presents a claim regarding current developed results of capitalism that is related to what I am pointing out, altruistic governance and limits are required to get Good Results from the power of competition for popularity and profit.

    The perceptions of status need to be corrected. The people with a proven history of helping improve awareness and understanding to develop sustainable corrections and improvements for the benefit of the future of humanity should all have the highest status. Anyone with more wealth and power but who can be shown to be less helpful should be effectively corrected to a status matching how helpful they actually are wanting to be (they can be free to decide what status they want to be at, not how they want status to be measured).

    That correction could happen through Effective Corrective Peer Influence among the wealthiest and most powerful, or Effective Corrective Revolution, or it could not happen (which is the worst result for everyone, including for the selfish ones who incorrectly believe they Won Their Way - it is dangerous to allow Selfishness to significantly influence what happens).

  21. 2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #16

    Mon Apr 15, Republicans push anti-wind bills in several states as renewables grow increasingly popular

    Link is wrong. It should probably be:

    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Thanks for catching this glitch. The correct link has been inserted into the OP.

  22. 2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #16

    Lone wolf farmers should get a copy of Montgomern's book, Growing a Revolution.  They would stand out from their fellow farmers with better crops, less inputs and a better bottom line.  More amazing, they would become the darlings of the local greenies.

  23. Why is Antarctic sea ice growing?

    Concerning the trends in Antarctic sea-ice extent, it is worthwile to mention that the wind is the key driver behind its seasonal and annual variability and matter more than anomalies in temperature. Local trends in Antarctic sea-ice extent are thus primarily driven by trends in near-surface wind that either act to accelerate or hamper the seasonal growth/retreat of the sea ice. Consequently, trends in the frequencies and numbers of low and high pressure system, which steer the near-surface winds, or trends in the storm-track location and intensity are of primary importance to understand why Antarctic sea-ice appears to grow/extend in some regions.

    (1) Holland, P. R., & Kwok, R. (2012). Wind-driven trends in Antarctic sea ice drift. Nature Geoscience, 5, 872–875.

    (2) Holland, M. M., Landrum, L., Raphael, M., & Stammerjohn, S. (2017). Springtime winds drive Ross sea ice variability and change in the following autumn. Nature Communications, 8, 731.

    (3) Holland, P. R. (2014). The seasonality of Antarctic sea ice trends. Geophysical Research Letters, 41, 4230–4237.

    (4) Schemm, S. (2018). Regional trends in weather systems help explain Antarctic sea ice trends. Geophysical Research Letters, 45.

  24. Should a Green New Deal include nuclear power?

    I confess that I didnt look a video - life is too short for listening to spoken word - I read much faster. Furthermore video usually doesnt give you references nor citations. I am happy to look at source references used however. A solar "panel" isnt a great measure, but assuming domestic size (because I bet Shellenberger would use whatever gave him biggest no), it seems installers can frame, wire and install 20 panels in 1-2 days. Given the 174,000  currently employed in coal workforce would seem that they could manage the 1.2 million panels per day. Replacement of existing panels where framing already exists should be faster.

    I actually think nuclear power may have a place - David MacKay's figures in "Sustainable Energy without the hot air" are pretty sobering for the UK - and especially the "gen iv" tech, but I am still waiting a proper (reviewed) response to Abbott and certainly not convinced that the USA needs to consider it.

  25. One Planet Only Forever at 14:42 PM on 21 April 2019
    2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #16


    It can be argued that Lone-Wolf (individualists, fiscal conservatives) are actually Free-Riders of the worst kind.

    In his book "Reasons and Persons", Derek Parfit does an excellent job of arguing that it is morally best for everyone to be Altruistically helpful to others. However, in many competitions, the few who choose to not be altruistically helpful (those Lone-Wolves) benefit from the actions of the Altruists as well as getting more advantage by not participating in the Altruistic actions.

    The Lone-wolves are actually understandably worse than Free-Riders. But they will refuse to accept the arguments clearly proving it, especially if they can win the power to decide what the rules of winning are and who gets rewarded and who gets penalized.

    Right now, harmful political leadership is trying to win the power to make-up rules in their favour by appealing to a diversity of incorrect pursuers of winning (like the greedy and intolerant). Those united groups are comprised of correction resistant people who can fundamentally be expected to be on the Right side of the political spectrum (those resisting change can be helpful, but in this case the harmful resisters of change are clearly acting collectively, and tragically the helpful conservatives struggle to separate from the conservative pack).

    Until the United harmful Right lose that ability to win unjustified immoral power, things will only get worse. Humanity has a tragic habit of waiting too long to disappoint undeserving wealthy and powerful people. Hopefully that will not be the case this time.

    Hopefully it will become common sense that the true measure of merit is "Helpful Altruistic actions to improve awareness and understanding and develop sustainable corrections and improvements for the future of humanity".

    Competition for popularity and profit can clearly distort or corrupt perceptions of worth and status. Correction of what is perceived to be worthy of status will be required, to the detriment of the many Free-Riding Lone-Wolves who have harmfully developed unjustified perceptions of status.

  26. 2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #16

    The suggestion that since the behaviour is culturally conditioned, repeating the study with American students or subjects from a society with more inequality and less safety net may show even stronger results, will probably not be borne out. Dutch people are extremely individualistically oriented, and they are famous for free-loading. Share-ware always receives the lowest possible rewards from Dutch users, and people in the Netherlands typically consider littering to be their own business. Though they have the name for individualism, Americans operate far more co-op type endeavours, and will subject themselves to some form of organizing much more readily than will unruly Dutch students for who the concept of a roommate is already an intolerable affront.

  27. 2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #16

    Regarding the "next reckoning capitalism and climate change". I personally feel corporations and free markets have obvious value, but there are downsides as well. The trouble is there's no obvious workable alternative to capitalism, so we either fix capitalism, or our civilisation is in deep trouble.

    The upside of free market capitalism is well enough known. The downside is that corporations act coldly to maximise profit and shareholder value as it's in their charter and thus have little regard for the environment, because the costs are dispersed onto the public (the tragedy of the commons issue). They are sometimes lead by psychopathic out of control egocentric people wanting little more than to amass power and money. But psychopaths are apparently good at running big organisations, so I'm told!

    This has all been traditionally mitigated with a combination of government regulations, taxes, government programmes and access to the courts. The beast has been tamed, more or less. It's worked quite well in the main.

    But something has gone horribly wrong in recent years with all this, with regulation getting a bad name, and the libertarian fanatics winning some of the debate pushing deregulation. The GOP has become very anti tax and anti government regulation, almost fanatically so. It has got even the most well intended socially minded politicians running scared.

    The sheer size of mega corporations like google and facebook gives them huge power. Then there's the power of lobby groups and money in politics, some coming from the fossil fuel lobby and their sympathisers and it all looks like its reached massive proportions.

    It's like the public have been hypnotised, and lead to believe that any constraint over corporations will mean less innovation and / or more expensive products or worse no products at all. The public need to realise none of this needs to follow.

    Regulation doesn't need to reduce innovation and research typically finds regulation that is science and evidence based and related to proper concerns like safety and the environment either has no effect on innovation one way or the other , or actually increases innovation here and here.

    Carbon tax and dividend is a well conceived mechanism to resolve a tragedy of the commons problem that avoids giving governments excessive power. People need to get their head around this.

    People in postions of power also need to be held accountable. It seems like the public are running scared of doing this, which is unfortunate.

  28. 2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #16

    Lone wolves (individualists, fiscal conservatives) can be frustrating in terms of developing things like government programmes, public healthcare, and carbon fee schemes. I think the reason is because they basically deeply resent free loaders, and this is understandable.

    We need to do more to point out that free loaders are in a minority, and the advantages of public programmes and things like carbon fee and dividend or wind power subsidies outweigh the problems of free loaders. There are also simple mechanisms to minimise free loading like government audit schemes and tests, and team players should embrace these provided they are not malicious.

    Lone wolves need to remember they are often the beneficiaries of numerous public programmes developed by team players, and would not be where they are without these!

  29. Should a Green New Deal include nuclear power?

    The cost of nuclear accidents should also be factored in. It's estimated clean up costs for Fukushima are $180 billion US here. Ouch!

    I was watching something on nuclear power last night on television, and disposing of the many thousands of tons of contaminated soil is proving to be another headache.

    The sarchophagus containment vessel to encase Chernobyl also cost billions of dollars. It was originally intended to be concrete, but this proved not to be viable, because it was too heavy to slide into place on rails, and so they used stainless steel, which will have to be replaced eventually and does not completely contain some forms of the radiation. 

    Nuclear power was promised to provide limitless cheap energy. I always thought that sounded too good to be true. There's no such thing as a free lunch.

  30. michael sweet at 16:39 PM on 20 April 2019
    Should a Green New Deal include nuclear power?


    I wasted 30 minutes listening to Shellenbergers lecture.  It was a load of mistruths designed to fool a non-techjnical audience.

    I have only a few observations to make, a full discourse would be far too long.

    1) Shellenberger did not address any of the 13 reasons Abbott presents why nuclear cannot generate a significant fraction (more than 5% of total power).  You have not addressed them either.  Since Abbott was peer reviewed and you have not addressed it we must accept his argument as correct.

    2) At one point Shellenberger argues that renewable energy is bad because electricity is more expensive in Germany.  Then he argues that renewable energy is bad because electricity prices decline when renewable energy is added to the mix.  This is a direct contradiction.  Since the lecture was prepared long before it is a deliberate contradiction.  Deliberate contradictions are lies and we can simply discard all of his talk since he has been demonstrated to lie.

    Why would anyone think that a decrease in electricity prices is bad???  Please justify that argument.

    2) Shellenberger denied that the nuclear industry is responsible for the people they killed at Fukushima.  The industry demonstrates their complete lack of concern for safety when they do not accept responsibility for the people they kill.

    3) I tried to source the graph you cite that claims more tonnage of materials is used in renewable energy.  Shellenberger cites a pro-nuclear book that I could not find on the internet.  I found the same graph at a site that supports nuclear power.  They referenced figure 10 from an EIA report from 2015.  The report did not have a figure 10.  From my position the graph is falsified since the reference I found for it was false.   We already know that Shellenberger is a lier.   Please provide a reference for the graph that shows how it was made.

    4) In any case, nuclear is not economic. In the Lazard report you cited in the first graph of the report (the most important) on page 2, the low levelized price of solar power is $36/Mwh and wind is $29/Mwh. The low value for nuclear power is $112/Mwh.  Nuclear is three times the price of solar and four times the price of wind. It costs more for operation and maintenance of a nuclear plant (with no mortgage) than the full costs of a renewable plant.

    There is no comparison graph on page 13 of the report you linked. Costs for disposal of the nuclear waste must be missing since nuclear has no plan for how they will dispose of their waste

    In general it is a waste of time to debate a nuclear proponent since they insist that black is white and up is down.  I have provided peer reviewed data that shows nuclear power is not capable of producing a significant amount of power.  You have not addressed those arguments.  You have not produced any peer reviewed data.

  31. Should a Green New Deal include nuclear power?

    Recommended supplemental reading:

    In 2011, after an earthquake and tsunami caused a meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima-Daiichi power plant, Gregory Jaczko, then the chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, had to worry about two things: whether radioactive fallout would harm the U.S. and whether a similar accident could befall an American plant. The answer to the first question turned out to be no. The second question preoccupies him still.

    The NRC directed the operators of the 60 or so working U.S. nuclear power plants to evaluate their current flood risk, using the latest weather modeling technology and accounting for the effects of climate change. Companies were told to compare those risks with what their plants, many almost a half-century old, were built to withstand, and, where there was a gap, to explain how they would close it.

    That process has revealed a lot of gaps. But Jaczko and others say that the commission’s new leadership, appointed by President Donald Trump, hasn’t done enough to require owners of nuclear power plants to take preventative measures—and that the risks are increasing as climate change worsens.

    U.S. Nuclear Power Plants Weren’t Built for Climate Change by Christopher Flavelle & Jeremy C.F. Lin, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Apr 18, 2019

  32. Should a Green New Deal include nuclear power?

    Sauerj @13, 

    You are not reading what people say. It doesn't matter about replacing panels because solar energy is still cost competitive.

    As Lazard says costs of new nuclear power and solar / wind are similar, but nuclear power is a mature technology and prices are static. Prices for solar and wind have been on a falling trajectory, and virtually all commentators think they will fall further, so by the time new nuclear plant is half way through the approval process, solar and wind will almost certainly be cheaper options than nuclear and much quicker to build. 

    However I have no objection to the GND including a nuclear component, provided the choice is left up to generators and not forced by governments. So therefore it would be driven by the economics and practicalities and these currently dont favour nuclear power. This may change: but its up to the nuclear industry.

    If you think differently how so?

  33. Should a Green New Deal include nuclear power?

    All, 1) You guys mistook the 1.2mm panels per day figure being for global replacement; that figure is for the US alone (you all must not have watched the video very closely). The 15x mass differences (RE vs NP) is still a lot of "impact", a lot more energy; even if able to recycle all these materials. 2) Other reliable people question Jacobson's plan (see wiki article under his name). 3) Shellenberger: I see nothing on the internet that makes me believe he is a "nuclear shill paid by industry". He seems trustworthy to me; admitting his own past bias misunderstandings, and his genuine passion for zero emissions gives him (at least for me) a good spirit of credibility. This is bolstered by the fact that many other very trustworthy people are in the same camp with him; people like James Hansen, whom I greatly trust & admire. 4) Study Lazard's free cash flow methodology on page 13 of their energy PDF report (linked HERE). It DOES include capacity factor differences, but it does NOT account for service-life differences and it does NOT account for levelized on-demand reliability. So, I'm a bit skeptical that its costs are 100% levelized. Besides, even if putting these differences temporarily aside, Larard still reports NP as cheaper than solar & NP equal to wind (see nigelj's link above, 2nd slide). 5) France vs Germany comparison gives me pause (see this site). 6) So, I remain very skeptical that a anti-NP (no NP) policy is prudent. I fully admit I could well be wrong, but I'm seeing & reading signs (above refs & others, see below) that gives the prudent, due-diligence eng in me great pause. 7) I have no skin in this debate. Without a very steep $100-200+/MT CO2e CT (rev-neu so to allow it to be so steep), I am positive that we are going to be screwed anyway, no matter what we think we are going to do (RE or NP). But, my concern here is that even w/ a good CT policy (like EICDA), it won't be nearly as effective if all safe energies are not equally "on the table".

    Here are three more articles that just hit my desk today, which only continue to add to my concern about a 0% NP plan. I have read the first two (they are relatively short), but not yet the 3rd one (very long) which is referenced in the 2nd article.

  34. Should a Green New Deal include nuclear power?

    "If people were to study what it would take to achieve 100% RE (both in coverage of land, how much MASS of material will need to be mined out of the ground and how much MASS of material is needed to keep replenishing all of that as it depreciates),"

    In fact if America was powered entirely with solar panels, it would use less than 1% of the land area here and of course much of that could be on rooftops anyway. Wind farms only use land to the extent of the supporting towers, and animals often graze around these towers. Wind farms are also located offshore, and costs for this are dropping fast.

    Regarding the quantities and types of materials needed to build solar and wind power, this article discusses problems and some very realistic and workable solutions. Use of materials is a valid concern and  a challenge that needs highlighting, but there are answers. Its obviously important to remember other forms of electricty generation also use a range of materials and would eventually need replacement and rebuilding.

    "Then, the real WHOOPER is that 1.2mm solar panels would have to be replaced EVERY DAY and FOREVER just to replenish the ones that wear out (on a 40 year rotation cycle)."

    Surely this is of little significance? A red herring? Millions of cars have parts replaced each year. Solar power is very financially competitive with fossil fuels and nuclear power, and cheaper in many places, based on levelised costs that include replacement and maintainance here. To me this is all that really counts. 

  35. The Future for Australian Coal

    I was trying the link to the estimated 18 Billion Dollars 2018 worth of damage, and the 40 billion Dollars that coal brings to Australia, but they both are subscriber only articles in the Australian.  Since I have no intention of giving any of my hard earned Dollars to the already obscenely rich, climate denier Murdoch, I was wondering if there are alternative sources for these figures.  If they are correct, it suggests that already, nearly 50 percent of our earnings from Coal are need to clean up climate disasters.  Why is this not being pushed more publicly?  It is only going to get worse..

  36. michael sweet at 15:41 PM on 18 April 2019
    Should a Green New Deal include nuclear power?


    Googling automobile production I wee that last yeat world production of autos was about 70 million cars.  That would be about 1.2 million cars every 6 days.  Since solar panels are so much smaller than cars it would be a lot less than current automobile production.   I do not have figures on how many power plants are currently under construction.  In my experience when you do a global calculation it is a big number.  1.2 million panels per day seems like a reasonable number to me. As Scaddenp describes it is less than current production!  Since the panels can be recycled most of the materials would come from the scrapped panels.

    Schellenberger is a nuclear shill paid by industry.  His job is to mislead.  It may be correct that more tons of materials are required for wind and solar, although it has not been determined how much materials are needed to dispose of the nuclear waste since there are no operating waste disposal sites. 

    On the other hand, as Abbott 2012  describes, there are many many more tons of rare metals in a nuclear plant.  Wind and solar are almost entirely steel, aluminum, copper and sand.  Nuclear plants depend on a host of rare elements like uranium, hafnium, beryllium, zirconium and many others.  These rare metals simply do not exist in enough quantity to build out a nuclear utopia like Schallemberger describes.

    In addition, nuclear is too expensive and too slow to construct.  If we waste billions of dollars on expensive nuclear plants like the Hinkley plant in England,  Olkiluoto in Finland and the Vogtle and Summer plants in the USA, all of which are either years (decades) behind schedule or cancelled and billions over budget, we will never be able to deal with the carbon problem.

    Read Abbott 2012 and the other papers from Abbott I linked above to get an idea of some of the problems nuclear has to deal with.  Currently nuclear proponents are backing modular reactors that have not yet been designed or thorium plants that are also in the design stage.  The reactors being built by Korea and Russa are "unsafe" (as described by nuclear supporters) designs.  The "safe" designs are turning out to be unbuildable.

    We do not have the time and money to waste on a technology that has failed.  Nuclear has failed and cannot scale to the size required to help the carbon problem.  Wind and solar are proven technologies that can be scaled to any required scale.

  37. Should a Green New Deal include nuclear power?

    Those numbers sound big but on global scale, is it? 1.2m a day is what sized workforce in making and replacing them? IEA is saying 1.6m panels being installed per day at moment. The panels are recyclable so I dont see waste materials are as complex as coal or nuclear. And as for workforce, well WSJ isnt my pick of reliable source but it claims coal (mining, transport, plant operation) needs twice as many workers per MW as solar and 5x as many as wind power. I would welcome a more authorative source - ah, how about DOE.

  38. Should a Green New Deal include nuclear power?

    Michael Sweet, Thanks for your feedback. The 1.2mm (million) figure for replacement panels per day comes from the 1st video that I linked above (I think the link I gave above does not directly launch the video, so I'm linking again here). [In case this link too is bad, the title of the YT video is: "Mark Z. Jacobson's 100% Renewables (100% WWS) Roadmap to Nowhere by Conley & Maloney @ TEAC8"]

    The guys that did this presentation (video published 1-6-2018) are using the total panel numbers directly from Jacobson's report (18bn panels), and doing their own daily replacement math based on assuming the most ideal panel service life of 40 yrs. This seems like a earnestly fair use of Jacobson's own work. Doing the math, this does work out to be replacing 1.2 million panels everyday. (That's a staggering continuous maintenance consideration).

    On the relative difference in tonnes of materials per TWh, the Shellenberger videos give the tonnes/TWh values for SP, WP, NP of 16,447, 14,067 and 920 respectively. Doing the math, thus a SP/NP ratio of 17.9, and a WP/NP ratio of 15.3. Thus, there is more tonnage of materials "impact" associated with SP & WP than nuclear.

    I don't have peer reviewed critiques of Jacobson's work at my ready. I am a novice, and only just beginning to investigate & learn (in the last 9 months) on this specific branch of CC mitigation: the involved & complicated comparisons of RE vs NP (especially the complications of next gen NP). So, I can't offer any further serious, peer-reviewed critique of Jacobson's work. But, certainly, there have been serious researchers that have done that (as cited on Wikipedia).

    All I can personnally say is give my opinion from people I feel trustworthy and they are saying things that seem very concerning about a non-NP plan (as given in my 1st comment above). In the least, it seems that we should tred down the national macro-energy management path with eyes open wide on all options (being honest w/ ourselves & giving due diligence to all the facts). And, to that, I'm hearing reasonably concerning things about Jacobson's plan (who was the main citation for the above greenman video).

    I have no skin in this comparitive game; I could care less. My only goal is zero emissions as fast & smartly as possible. [And when I call people "trustworthy" above, I earnestly believe they have the same goals of urgency toward zero emissions and associated due diligence, in earnest good faith, to get there as fast & smartly as possible.] But, for giving serious peer-reviewed rebuttal of Jacobson, I transparently admit that I am an amateur here, and only passing on misc internet information that seems trustworthy to me.

    FYI: I am a 35-year career chemical engineer with lots of project experience under my belt who takes CC mitigation as priority #1, #2 #3 thru #10. I am also an fervently active Citizens' Climate Lobby member.]

  39. The Future for Australian Coal


    Sanjeev Gupta owner of the Whyalla Steel Mill in South Australia has announced investment to build renewable energy/storage projects with capacity of 1 GW dispatchable, part used by the Mill, part sold to the Grid. It is not clear that the Mill would use this energy source directly in the steel production process – I had assumed it would.

    This now seems unlikely since Gupta has subsequently purchased a leading coking coal mine – billionaires can do that sort of thing. So your point is well made, though gas and electricity may be able to reduce reliance on coking coal for steel production in the future?

  40. Models are unreliable

    MA Rodger @ 1105

    you'd surely have to be a bit of a foolish pedant to run away with the belief that 1880 was as warm or warmer than today's temperatures

    Yes, I would tend to agree. But I have seen it a lot. And recently.
    Actually I strongly suspect that CommonSense @ 1099 is afflicted by precisely that misunderstanding.

  41. The Future for Australian Coal

    Those references seem quite a long way from a commercially viable process for steel-making with coke. Or perhaps a better question would be what is the amount of a carbon tax that would make that commercially viable? My gut feeling is that even when you have a cost-competitive for making steel without coke, it would 30 years to wind down coke thanks to sunk costs in plant. "Green coke" might be a better migration path.

    If steel and cement were the only source of fossil carbon emissions, would we still have a climate problem? The much more easily substitutable thermal coal would be first priority in my opinion.

  42. Should a Green New Deal include nuclear power?

    I'm a bit "sceptical" of nuclear power, having grown up with watching Chernobyl etc, but I try to keep an open mind.

  43. Should a Green New Deal include nuclear power?

    Michael Sweet, interesting and I accept all that you say. I will try to explain better what I mean. Its well known from numerous reports that humanity is using resources too fast, including metals, which puts future generations under strain. However I think  there are some viable solutions to this if our generation acts proactively rather than dumping the problem on future generations.

    The starting point is metals are finite and some are in limited supply as you would obviously realise. Of course this has implications for all forms of electricity generation. As you would know we are using the resource up fairly fast and increasing population and economic growth can only amplify this. Some report, the UN I think, stated we are using materials up at twice the rate that is sustainable longer term.

    It's projected that we will run out of some metals by 2100, on the basis of known land based reserves at current prices. If we include for some more discoveries, higher priced reserves, and minerals in sea water there are several centuries left at current rates of use. 

    Clearly I think that means there is enough for a mass conversion to renewable energy. As you point out substitutes are found for the rare earths. Nuclear power is more troubling because it uses such a wide range of exotic metals that are harder to substitute for.

    However we are still using metals at a fairly rapid rate, and this risks leaving future generations in short supply of some of them. This risks shortagages, price increases and other problems that could be severe.

    So what are the solutions? Metals can be recycled almost forever, including lithium. But this doesn't resolve the problem of a fundamentally depleted resource, and intense population and economic pressure. It would therefore make some sense for our generation to conserve what materials the earth has left.

    Of course we have to be realistic. People want technology and aren't going to drastically cut their use of technology, metals, and electricity unless forced. But we can prolong a renewable energy and technology based culture as long as possible on this planet by our generation starting by wasting less, recycling more, being more efficient, and also proactively getting population growth to stop. If we don't do this in the near future, in a planned way, I fear shortages will create an extremely painful situation for future generations and some sort of relatively abrupt increase in mortality and hardship, to add to the climate problem if we don't fix that as well. Sorry if I have digressed a bit, but the issues interrelate.

    Nuclear power is clearly just not currently competitive. There are too many problems with it. However I don't think the GND should rule it out completely, because there is no sound basis to do that.

    I think we should let generating companies decide what to build, as long as its low carbon emissions, but with a condition that they must be able to build any nuclear power in a timely manner so that reliance on fossil fuels is minimised. This shifts the burden back to the nuclear industry to smarten up. It also avoids the government getting too hands on in deciding the proportional mix of generation and leaves it a little bit to the market. The government are there to give direction if the market starts to wander off course.

    It certainly doesn't make much sense to me to close existing nuclear plant.

    I'm a bit scperical of nuclear power, having grown up with watching Chernobyl etc, but I try to keep an open mind.

  44. The Future for Australian Coal

    Here is a reference

  45. The Future for Australian Coal

    Just curious.  Is it possible to use the reducing power of hydrogen to make steel instead of coke.

  46. michael sweet at 23:45 PM on 17 April 2019
    Should a Green New Deal include nuclear power?

    Nigelj and Sauerj:

    Jacobson 2011 (cited over 1100 times) has done the analysis for renewable energy and all the materials, including land for the panels, are readily available for renewable energy.  Jacobson discusses the amounts of materials used for the panels and wind turbines.  Recycling solar panels and wind turbines is covered.  Your 1.2 mm (? what does mm mean) per day seems off.  Perhaps a comparison to Jacobson, which is peer reviewed, is warrented.

    Jacobson found that all materials exist in adequate quantaties except for rare earth metals used in the turbines.  Since then the designers of wind turbines have reduced the use of rare earth metals so that is not an issue.

    By contrast, Abbott 2012, published in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (and other places and here), shows that sufficient materials for significant nuclear plants (more than 5% of world power) do not exist.  (Nuclear plants also use a lot of rare earth elements.) No nuclear supporter has attempted to show that enough materials exist for nuclear plants.  On Tamino's site a nuclear supporter told me to contact an economic geolgist on my own for answers when I asked if materials existed.  No citations exist. 

    It currently costs more to run a nuclear plant with no mortgage than to build and run a new renewable plant including mortgage costs.  Nuclear is not economic.

  47. michael sweet at 23:20 PM on 17 April 2019
    The Future for Australian Coal

    This Scientific American article discusses using electricity directly to manufacture steel.  It appears that it is possible to use electricity to manufacture steel directly.  One issue is the cost of rebuilding current factories.  If CO2 cost was high it would be more economic.  How much do people want to reduce CO2?

  48. The Future for Australian Coal

    Here’s one possible technology being looked at

    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Fixed link. Please learn how to do this yourself with the link tool in the comments editor.

  49. Models are unreliable

    Ignorant Guy @1104,

    You are entirely correct to say that the problem is the use of the phrase "hottest year since X" when what is meant is "hottest year on record" when X is the start-year of that record. Looking at a few of those thousands of Google hits, the phrase usually does not track back to 'responsible' organisations but it seems to be later reporting when journalist-speak for "hottest year on record" & "the record began in X"  is edited down to a shorter phrase.

    There is ClimateChangeNews who use the headline "Earth on course for hottest year since 1880" yet NOAA put it as the likely "new record for the warmest annual average temperature since records began in 1880." Note this NOAA statement is correct. The ClimateChangeNews headline is not correct -1880 was a lot colder than the year they were reporting about  - 2015.

    Mind, the press officers attached to the likes of NOAA or NASA are also journalists and not immune to compressing information into a single but inaccurate statement. Although the article does say "Last year was the third consecutive year in which global temperatures were more than 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) above late nineteenth-century levels," it also promenantly says "Earth’s global surface temperatures in 2017 ranked as the second warmest since 1880, according to an analysis by NASA."

    But even so, you'd surely have to be a bit of a foolish pedant to run away with the belief that 1880 was as warm or warmer than today's temperatures, even if you inhabited that contrarian planet Wattsupia.

  50. The Future for Australian Coal

    I am a little intrigued by the comment: "coking coal is replaced by gas/electricity".

    My understanding is that making steel needs CO to reduction of Fe oxides, some carbon for the Fe-C alloy that is steel, and importantly, the porosity to allow the CO circulate within the furnace. I can see gas can provide CO, but the porosity? I know of bio-coke trials (happening here), but is there a commercial process for steel from iron ore without coke yet?

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  Next

The Consensus Project Website


(free to republish)

© Copyright 2019 John Cook
Home | Links | Translations | About Us | Privacy | Contact Us