Regimes won't halt climate change

Apr 07, 2011 By Alvin Powell
“Stop pretending that government will play a role, because it won’t,” said Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, during a talk at the Harvard University Center for the Environment. Credit: Justin Ide/Harvard Staff Photographer

The director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute delivered a pessimistic assessment Tuesday (April 5) of the chances for significant U.S. climate change legislation, calling on the world’s academics to help find a workable path to a low-carbon global economy.

“Stop pretending that government will play a role, because it won’t,” said Jeffrey Sachs, a former Harvard professor and now a professor at Columbia who is a special adviser to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. “We need a massive intellectual effort led by the expert community worldwide.”

In an hour-long Science Center talk, part of the Harvard University Center for the Environment’s Future of Energy lecture series, Sachs delivered a scathing review of U.S. actions to counteract human-induced climate change, saying the government has basically done nothing since agreeing to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, adopted at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

The framework, Sachs said, was a good international agreement, because it acknowledged the danger of climate change and committed nations to doing something to fight it. Those actions were to be spelled out in subsequent protocols. But the only agreement adopted was the Kyoto Protocol, which the United States refused to ratify and which is set to expire next year.

Sachs blamed the U.S. refusal to act on the power and influence of the oil and coal industries. Opponents have effectively stalled action by using lobbyists, political contributions, and an effective public relations campaign that questions climate change science.

Because the United States is one of the largest global emitters of greenhouse gases, and another large emitter, China, is waiting for the United States to act first, American dithering has effectively delayed meaningful action across the globe, Sachs said.

“No president since George H.W. Bush has honestly taken on this issue — not Clinton, not Bush Junior, not Obama, because they’re scared of the interests,” Sachs said.

Though Sachs credited Europe and Japan with taking some meaningful steps, he said the problem globally has worsened since 1992. The conversations he has had with scientists indicate the problem is worse than is widely known and is accelerating faster than expected. Recent investigations have focused on thresholds that trigger natural feedback loops that, once greenhouse gas concentrations are high enough, will make it extremely difficult to turn conditions around.

“It’s worse than we think,” Sachs said. “Climate change has started. It’s serious. It is impacting the world’s food supply, and it’s going to accelerate.”

Though Sachs said the solutions must come from the academic and expert community worldwide, he didn’t let climate scientists off the hook. The scientific community has been too sensitive to criticism by climate-change deniers, Sachs said, giving them credibility and wasting valuable time responding to attacks like those levied in “Climategate,” when leaked emails prompted charges of scientific fraud, since refuted.

“They know we will engage our time and energy for a year for every accusation they make while they watch us run around in circles,” Sachs said.

To be fair, Sachs said, the problem is an extremely difficult one. Because it deals with the energy supply, remedying it requires painful changes at the heart of the economy of every country. It is also complex, centered on a global climate system not yet fully understood, including multiple interactions with other natural and manmade systems. The problem also requires international cooperation to solve it, something that has never been a strength of humankind.

Sachs called for a worldwide effort by scientists, mainly at universities but some from companies as well. Their task, he said, will be to plot a path toward de-carbonizing the global economy, answering questions about science, determining which technologies are viable, and ultimately coming up with a plan that takes the world toward an energy supply much less dependent on fossil fuels within 40 or 50 years.

“We have to get started, and we have to do things at an accelerated pace,” Sachs said.

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3432682
1.8 / 5 (10) Apr 07, 2011
Sachs is correct - the US will never fully cripple its energy supply, although the economic damage has been extensive. $4 gasoline ought to tighten the noose even more.

Sachs is wrong, there are no adverse effects from global warming. There are massive beneficial effects from increased CO2 from a huge increase in plant vigor.

Certainly nothing is accelerating - not flood nor drought, hurricanes nor tornadoes, disease nor famine, humidity nor dryness, warm nor cold, nor sea temperature or levels. Where are the signs of this epic catastrophe?

Their theories suck. None of their predictions have come true. They believe their computer games, er, models forgetting they are fancy video simulations of long strings of assumptions and choices.

Global warming alarmism is a thoroughly political enterprise. It is collapsing because it is a failure a fundamental of science - prediction.
caeman
4 / 5 (5) Apr 07, 2011
The problem with the climate regulations is that they don't match up with the capability of the markets to build the technology, many of which do not exist, or not in a state that can be mass produced.

And then there is the "Not In My Backyard" syndrome that must be stopped. The hippies want wind power, but only if they cannot hear or see the the wind towers, or if it is guaranteed not hurt birds.

America has large swatches of unused land in the west which can be covered by solar panels, but, no, that might get in the way of some animals.

Make up your minds! If you want solar, wind and water-based electricity, you have to sacrifice something.
ryggesogn2
1.5 / 5 (8) Apr 07, 2011
"We need a massive intellectual effort led by the expert community worldwide."
The first step is the 'expert' community to establish standards of integrity and hold those experts to that standard.
Every month, the 'experts' make a claim that conflicts with previous assertions.
Unfortunately too many 'experts' are not rewarded for saying, "I don't know."
jamesrm
3.4 / 5 (5) Apr 07, 2011
"There are massive beneficial effects from increased CO2 from a huge increase in plant vigor."

Seem we ha a shill quoting crap
"Drought linked to climate change has reversed a decades-long trend of increased global plant growth, according to a new analysis of NASA satellite data.

Earth has done an ecological about-face, a NASA statement said. Global plant productivity that once flourished under warming temperatures and a lengthened growing season is now on the decline, struck by the stress of drought."
http://green.blog...y-finds/
ormondotvos
4.3 / 5 (6) Apr 07, 2011
Money spent on shills working their magic in the internet is a wonderful investment, yielding great short-term profits.

Corporations, not being human, don't care if they die trying for maximum profit, and if they kill a few billion humans, well, they don't care about that either.

Humans may die of corporate infection.
Scheckles
1 / 5 (1) Apr 07, 2011
Sadly no one is going to heed your warning ormondotvos. The day copyrights were extended for life (Thank Disney for that one) innovation took a back seat to profit. Couple this with the fact that Corporations now have the same rights as human beings and we are in quite the situation.
djr
3 / 5 (2) Apr 07, 2011
Sachs is wrong, there are no adverse effects from global warming. There are massive beneficial effects from increased CO2 from a huge increase in plant vigor.

Do you have any data - research - published articles to support your craziness? I guess it is fun claiming that you know better than the the vast majority of scientists who are studying the problem. Sadly we have to sit and watch all the nonsense - hoping that we will try to turn the situation around before things get too dire. Probably the denier community will dissapear at that point and pretend they were concerned about their fellow humans all along. Sigh!
Quantum_Conundrum
3.3 / 5 (4) Apr 07, 2011
djr:

Well, I've SEEN energy companies who have greenhouses where they pump the exhaust CO2 from their generators into the greenhouses to grow tomatoes because the tomatoes grow faster and fuller in the pressence of abnormally high CO2 concentrations...

This was even shown on television on one of the science channels.
kaasinees
3 / 5 (4) Apr 07, 2011
Sachs is wrong,


You are very wrong my friend.

because the tomatoes grow faster and fuller in the pressence of abnormally high CO2 concentrations...

And abnormally high H2O+mineral concentrations.

Seriously... get some real arguments or leave it up to the real scientists.
dogbert
3 / 5 (8) Apr 08, 2011
Climate is not static. It changes. We have been warming since the end of the last glacial period about 12,000 years ago.

A warmer earth can support more food production as lands which are too cold to farm become warm enough for farming. Conversely, a cooler earth will necessarily shrink food production. With a human population of about 6.9 billion and rising, it seems clear that a warming earth is preferable to a cooling earth.

Human beings did not initiate the current warming period nor did we sustain it during the last 12,000 years. Our influence, if any, is a minor part of processes we poorly understand.

The good news is that climate has been changing beneficially for the last 12,000 years.

The bad news is that some people promote return to the good old days, even though a significant change in direction would likely result in the death of billions of human beings.

The sad news is that AGW is really a tool by socialist forces for the worldwide redistribution of wealth.
PinkElephant
3.4 / 5 (5) Apr 08, 2011
Climate is not static. It changes.
When it changes too fast and by too much, the outcome is mass extinction.
lands which are too cold to farm become warm enough for farming
Whereas lands that are currently perfect for farming become sub-par, and lands that are currently sub-par turn into deserts.
a cooler earth will necessarily shrink food production
Not necessarily. It would hurt food production at high latitudes (where relatively few people live), but benefit food production closer to the equator (where most of humanity resides.) Additionally, colder oceans are more productive, and a lot of our food comes from oceans.
Our influence, if any, is a minor part of processes we poorly understand.
Every year we pump into the atmosphere more than 100x the combined CO2 output of all natural volcanoes. Sustained year after year, and in fact accelerating exponentially, this is hardly "minor".

The rest of your post is merely undiluted ideological poison.
Beard
not rated yet Apr 08, 2011
I'm not worried about overcoming the problem, I'm worried about those feedback loops after we overcome the problem.
BaconBits
not rated yet Apr 08, 2011
Sachs presents a very frustrating case &this article suggests that he says we can't depend on governments & then proceeds to lay out a need for global cooperation and massive global economic investment and restructuring...without involving governments (???)

I've had many conversations with wealthy, passionate libertarian/conservative businessmen about climate change. No amount of evidence or rational discourse is persuasive to them. To them, AGW is the harbinger of a global socialism that includes command & control of the economy by academics & bureaucrats, massive transfer of wealth from rich to poor nations to fix the damage caused by AGW & predictably a lot of "oops,we got this part wrong & need to do it over another way." All while the effects of climate change play out for the next couple hundred years.

I've come to understand that an AGW denier is shorthand for an visceral reaction to the above scenario. I think that path is blocked. Maybe that's what Sachs is saying.
dogbert
3.7 / 5 (6) Apr 08, 2011
"I've come to understand that an AGW denier is shorthand for an visceral reaction to the above scenario."

It is not a visceral reaction to note the socialist agenda of AGW proponents.

Try arguing effectively that carbon credits are anything but a scheme to transfer wealth.
Howhot
1 / 5 (3) Apr 08, 2011
it is not a visceral reaction to note the socialist agenda of AGW proponents

So what socialist agenda are you talking about? Protecting the world from the likes of you and the moron patrol?

PinkElephant
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 08, 2011
Try arguing effectively that carbon credits are anything but a scheme to transfer wealth.
It worked for SO2 emissions, didn't it?

Also, transfer from whom and to whom? From polluters to non-polluters? That's what the right-wing calls "market incentive", is it not? In fact, the whole carbon-trading idea is right-wing market-based. The left wing just wanted a straightforward carbon tax...
BaconBits
not rated yet Apr 10, 2011
Here's the puzzle. AGW is real but the proposed solution is anathama to any true conservative/libertarian. It literally requires them to accept things which violate the very core of their identity.

Debating the science is a smokescreen. This issue is about what sets the global agenda for the next century. I think it's realistic to believe that the acceleration of AGW effects will force that agenda by 2040. What will set the agenda for the next 30 years? Right now it's oil, tax, deregulation & debt policy. All favored concerns of conservatives and libertarians.

dogbert
3 / 5 (6) Apr 10, 2011
Howhot
So what socialist agenda are you talking about? Protecting the world from the likes of you and the moron patrol?


The socialist agenda of transferring wealth from industrialized nations, particularly the United States, to nations who are not very industrialized.

Note that it is not about pollution. China is massively polluting but is exempt from carbon taxes.

It is all about money, power and socialism. Particularly socialism.
Doom1974
3 / 5 (2) Apr 10, 2011
I love it. I know a republican with closed eyes. That ability to utter complete BS with absolute conviction. Taking a lie and making it the truth and the whole truth.

Have you heard to how a metabolic system will adapt to the input and chose the most energy efficient way to perform the task? Also have you heard of micronutrients? These are controlling the growth of plants not CO2 idgit. With more CO2 the micronutrients of the soil will just get exchausted faster. Try to combat nitrogen deficiency globally in a way that will not pollute the rivers and the seas and create dead zones. You joes seem to be full of ideas....without really thinking through your babbling...

PinkElephant
3 / 5 (2) Apr 11, 2011
The socialist agenda of transferring wealth from industrialized nations, particularly the United States, to nations who are not very industrialized.
What would you call U.S.' massive debt issuance to China et al? It's orchestrated by people like Geithner and Paulson -- Wall Street's "captains of industry". Is Wall Street a den of socialism, in your opinion? Dick Cheney said, "deficits don't matter". Is he a Socialist? Persistent trade deficits due to "free trade" policies continue to undermine American labor and industries, while transferring wealth to developing nations, due to economic forces of wage and environmental arbitrage. More socialism?
China is massively polluting but is exempt from carbon taxes.
Per capita, they have a long way to go before they catch up to us.

It's not "all about money, power and socialism". We want U.S. to LEAD the world in green innovation. Instead, we're doing our best to abdicate such leadership. We truly are a nation in decline...
dogbert
2 / 5 (4) Apr 11, 2011
Per capita, they have a long way to go before they catch up to us.


Of course. You don't count pollution when you have 1.3 billion people in a single country. That's the way to be green -- more people so that the pollution can be divided by more people.

PinkElephant
5 / 5 (1) Apr 11, 2011
You don't count pollution when you have 1.3 billion people in a single country.
BS. Of course it counts. However, China has every justification in flipping us the bird when we come demanding they reduce their emissions. Their #1 priority is raising their standard of living, which is still FAR below ours.

So unless you propose we declare WAR on China and FORCE them to pollute less, I don't see what your point might be. Pragmatically speaking, the best we can do is spearhead the transition toward clean energy -- and hope the rest of the world (including the developing world) follows in our wake.

Of course the other alternative is to stick our collective heads in the sand, and do nothing at all. IMHO, that's just about as reasonable as whistling past the graveyard -- though still immensely profitable for the fossil energy status quo (who all appear to think they'll be so rich in the end, it won't matter how much damage they've caused...)
PinkElephant
not rated yet Apr 11, 2011
That's the way to be green -- more people so that the pollution can be divided by more people.
And therein lies a compounding problem for our collective futures. Right now, we are already polluting beyond reason even though only a small fraction of the world's population lives as affluently and lavishly as the most developed western nations. Over time, it must be expected that the rest of the world catches up economically.

That means, even without any additional global population growth, exponentially growing demand for raw resources, and exponentially growing emissions. If we opt to do nothing in the name of short-term profit, we are going to be royally screwing our descendents in the process. Which is OK by many, but speaking for myself, it is NOT OK by me.

The markets (and the free-market fundamentalists) always and consistently fail to plan for the long term. The processes and effects we are confronted with, are LONG TERM.
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Apr 12, 2011
Of course. You don't count pollution when you have 1.3 billion people in a single country. That's the way to be green -- more people so that the pollution can be divided by more people.
Hey stupid, you consume more energy than 99.9% of Chinese people and create more pollution than 99.99% of them. It's called per capita because it is based on the average use of single individuals.
The socialist agenda of transferring wealth from industrialized nations, particularly the United States, to nations who are not very industrialized.

So the free market and corporate systems are socialist?
dogbert
1 / 5 (2) Apr 12, 2011
So the free market and corporate systems are socialist?


AGW and Carbon Credits has nothing to do with a free market or corporate systems.

Carbon credits are a method to transfer wealth from industrial countries to third world countries. That is socialism.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Apr 13, 2011
AGW and Carbon Credits has nothing to do with a free market or corporate systems.
They also have nothing to do with the export of wealth from the US and into other nations. Monetary export is due to the export of industry which was done by the global free market and corporate systems as they sought cheaper laborers.
Carbon credits are a method to transfer wealth from industrial countries to third world countries. That is socialism.
How does an item that, in the US, is only sold in the US, to US businesses a method to transfer wealth to foreign nations?
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Apr 13, 2011
If you live in a particular part of town, either rich or poor, and you look around, you will see lots of other people with a lot in common with yourself. If you go to a neighborhood watch meeting you will likely share the views of the other people there.

If you attend a gathering on the 'other side of town' you are likely to hear things that sound wrong to you, but seem quite reasonable to all the people there.

When you try to create a city-wide policy, both parts of town should be invited to express their opinion and be taken seriously.

This guy is essentially saying that one side of town should just stop listening to the other side because it is a waste of time and it's just slowing down their effort to do what they want.

I don't think that is the right way to go about doing things.

His comment that the climategate claims were refuted is true only if you are willing to accept the two inquiries as legitimate. People on the other side of town would not agree.
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Apr 13, 2011
I try to read and listen to a broad range of sources, from both sides of town, so to speak. I think several of the people commenting on this thread would benefit from taking in a larger diversity of input before forming opinions. Both sides have some good points, if you take the time to listen to what the most credible contributors have to say. I can clearly see that some of you do not take enough time examining why the other side of town feels the way they do. There is more merrit to each side's point of view than either opposing side usually admits in public. The stance of Dr Sachs is unfortunate, but typical of people on both sides who have unusually strong feelings. Thankfully, the majority in the center is more moderate and willing to listen to both sides (or ignore both sides when they get too carried away, like Sachs).

This isn't even about the science any more. It's about reputations and pissing rights as well as money. C&T is a money grab by investors. Period.
Howhot
1 / 5 (1) Apr 14, 2011
This isn't even about the science any more. It's about reputations and pissing rights as well as money. C&T is a money grab by investors.


According to an environmental looser. So what is wrong with folks making a buck on solar.
Howhot
1 / 5 (1) Apr 14, 2011
GSwift7; You speak nothing but BS. The only reason this GW issue is politicized is because big money is at stake, and big money has its ways. It has a much influence in China as it does here. What we need to do is realize that big changes are in the works and plan our industries around that change.
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Apr 14, 2011
to Howhot:

According to an environmental looser. So what is wrong with folks making a buck on solar


Solar is great, especially concentrated solar thermal, and it is getting very near the point where the technology will really take off on its own without government help. No problem from me. You must have me confused with the idiots who don't think alternative energy is a good idea.

GSwift7; You speak nothing but BS. The only reason this GW issue is politicized is because big money is at stake


You say I speak BS, then you say the same thing I said? So its BS when you said it too, right?

What we need to do is realize that big changes are in the works


What do you mean? Are you talking about global climate change, or are you talking about global agricultural needs, or global population distributions, or global politics, or advancements in technology that lead to cultural changes, decline of major religions? Please clarify which you think is biggest.
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Apr 14, 2011
continuted:

That brings up an interesting line of thought/questions.

What I'm wondering is, what would I do if I were a multi-billionair looking for the most strategic way to invest my money for the future. The current trend seems to be investment in developing nations, supplying the cheap things people want and need in a growing but poor economy like India or China. American and EU firms are selling their first born children to get the rights to do business in those places. Unless we start having wars caused by food and water shortages, I would doubt that climate change will be a larger world economic driver than growing third world economies. So I think I disagree with you if you are saying that you think the best direction for American industry to head is towards alternative energy products. I think medical research aimed at providing affordable health care for the third world is probably a better direction. It's a tough call though. They need cheap energy too.
Howhot
1 / 5 (1) Apr 14, 2011
OK Mr. G7, I'LL back down on my rant a bit. This is one of the global issues that is way beyond your or my pay scale. To sustain our standard of living, and productivity growth, energy sources, major energy sources are needed. Only solar can provide a sustainable multi-tera-giga-watt capacity. Solar is a truly distributed energy source and that is what is hard to commercialize. Right now, it's the Geek experimentalists that will grid-tie there house. What we need is to rent our roof tops to electrical company for some reasonable effort and long term there will be benefits to the investor.

GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Apr 15, 2011
I'm not sure I agree with that plan. From what we see in California, intermitent power causes a few unintended concequence problems. The beauty of systems like the concentratetd solar thermal systems is that they can store the energy and then release it in a controlled and predictable way, on demand. California is about to have a big problem with their electricity; the same big problem they had last year. The problem is TOO MUCH electricity all at the same time. You see, they had record snowfall again, which means as Spring comes they will have an abundance of hydro power, which is extremely cheap. Unfortunately, they are bound by contract to buy the much more expensive wind power from windmill operators. The result last year was that they were forced to run the hydro dams because you can't just spill the water over the dam (that kills the salmon). They had to give it away for free, which actually costs money due to grid strain. The same this year. They know it's coming.
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Apr 15, 2011
You see, there's a fundamental limit to the % of your power that you can get from sources that are not on-demand. You must have a certain minimum % of your power sources where you can control the rate of production, unless you have adequate storage so that you can control the release schedule when you can't control the production schedule. Concentrated solar thermal is a good example of where they can use heated liquid salts to store up to about a week of energy at a time. Systems where water is pumped into elevated reservoirs are also great, but limited by geography. Small home systems don't integrate well with any viable storage system. Having a weeks worth of battery storage in your home (in many homes?) would be an environmental disaster from the battery production and disposal, not to mention cost. Large scale projects are far more benificial and effective from both the eco and finacial perspective. I say spend the money where you get the most bang for the buck. Not rooftop solar.
PinkElephant
3 / 5 (2) Apr 15, 2011
they are bound by contract to buy the much more expensive wind power from windmill operators
Which cumulatively contribute about 2.5% of CA's energy budget. Big huge whopping less than 3%.
They had to give it away for free
Which is a problem for rate-payers, how exactly? Or maybe CA could purchase a bit less electricity this year from out of state on the spot market? Or maybe use less of the gas-fired production during peak renewable production periods?
which actually costs money due to grid strain
Rate-payers do pay for grid maintenance regardless, so your point is...?
unless you have adequate storage
Supply and demand. If there's an oversupply of intermittent energy, there will be heightened demand for adequate storage. Which will drive the market to supply that demand.
Having a weeks worth of battery storage in your home (in many homes?) would be an environmental disaster
Depends on type of battery/storage. What about community-scale storage?
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Apr 18, 2011
to Pink:

The new CA law says that they must obtain 33% of their power from renewables by 2020, but strangely, that doesn't include hydro-electric. Excluding hydro, CA generated 15% of their electricity with what they call renewables in 2009. Here's a link to the official CA breakdown of sources:

http://www.caiso....tch.html

As you can see, wind is larger at peak than all the other sources together. With something like half of the total 15%, that comes to more like 7% of the total rather than your 2-3% number. What was your source?

The cost of grid maintenance is different from the cost of grid upgrades needed to integrate intermitent sources.

Storage at a community level may work, but on a private home scale it isn't practical with current tech. Even on a community scale, it is doubtful the cost would make sense. Now, if you do something silly to drive energy costs sky-high, then you could change that. As a single father barely making it, I am opposed.
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Apr 18, 2011
continued:

The following from the California Public Utilities Commission details the mix and plans for the future as well as why small scale projects are unlikely to work, even with strong administrative backing. See Part IV beginning on page 8 for details.

http://www.cpuc.c...ture.pdf

Howhot
1 / 5 (1) Apr 22, 2011
Well G7, after reading all of that I'm very encouraged with what CA trying to do. All technology changes require hard work and some give and take. If the venture capitalist and government funding can do the initial test markets, It might not take long for CPUC to push a build out to the general markets.
PinkElephant
not rated yet Apr 22, 2011
What was your source?

http://energyalma...wer.html
Even on a community scale, it is doubtful the cost would make sense.
I don't see why not. For instance, something like this:

http://beaconpowe...y-25.asp

Or a water electrolysis/reconstitution cycle (now that effective, durable non-Platinum catalysts for hydrogen fuel cells are starting to emerge...)

Obviously, they're very expensive right now because they're boutique items. With mass-production and mass-deployment, costs will plummet.
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Apr 25, 2011
Ah, that explains your low % for wind power. It's gone up a lot since your source was compiled. My source shows the actual grid numbers from yesterday, so they are pretty current.

If you click on the link for yesterday's numbers, it shows the wind contribution for 24 hours to be about 40% of all "renewables", and about 6.4% of the total power for the day, which is quite close to my 7% estimate.

Here's a breakdown on different storage methods at the DoE web site:

http://www.netl.d...alII.pdf

They actually say whether each type is suitable for distributed energy sources like solar. Notice that many systems are a problem due to hazardous mat. or complicated maintenance that would prohibit community level use. High initial cost and high/frequent replacement cost is another problem with most systems suitable for anything more than a few seconds of switchover power.
Howhot
1 / 5 (1) Apr 26, 2011
I disagree. I think you are arguing a non-existent issue. Materials for solar are not hazardous, and they are quite suitable for community level use. Yes there is an upfront cost, but done right, solar pays you back.

SOLAR IS GOOD.
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Apr 26, 2011
to howhot:

Did you even read the discussion I was having, or the link I provided?

You have changed to a completely different topic.

We are not talking about whether you can get power from solar or wind or anything else. We are talking about how you allow the grid to deal with power sources that do not allow you to control when or how much power they produce. As demonstrated by the situation on the west coast this year and last year, having too much of a good thing at the wrong time can be a bad thing.

So, we were talking about how to store extra electricity so that you can use it when you need it. Ideally you need storage capacity of at least a couple days but a week is better. Pumped hydro is the best we have, but that's limited to places where you can build two lakes at different elevations close together. Pink suggested community projects, but the above DoE analysis says that big utility scale storage is the only viable way to go about it.

I agree that solar is great.
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Apr 26, 2011
You see, some people mistakenly think that you can just ship extra power from one place over to another place at the drop of a hat.

However, different utilities systems have different operating parameters (voltage, frequency). The grid components that connect one system to another are expensive and have limited capacity. As more intermitent sources come online, such as wind, someone will need to pay to upgrade those grid components and/or build energy storage components into the grids. So, who pays for those facility upgrades? The wind producers don't own the grid, but it's them who are causing the oversupply problem, and the grid owners are mandated by law to let the wind people connect and buy their power. In the end it's the consumers who will pay the price, and power is already expensive in that region. It's a case of unintended concequences from a new technology. We'll iron out the problems, but it's okay to ask if we might want to plan a little better from now on.
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Apr 26, 2011
continued:

That's the legitimate beef that the grid owners/operators have right now. They are stuck trying to play catch-up on major infrastructure upgrades because nobody listened when they said this would happen. There should have/could have been a public works project (funded by the recovery money?) funded by the state/federal governments to upgrade the grids prior to all this wind power coming online. And we've got a whole bunch more of it scheduled, and we're still not upgrading the grid like we need to, so we'll continue to play catch-up and waste energy (transmitting energy from one grid to another is wastefull) and money (without a contract, they usually just have to give the power away for free, despite the costs of producing and delivering it).
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Apr 26, 2011
continued again, sorry:

It really could turn out to be a tragedy. The wind power could be a great thing if the grids and contracts were set up correctly ahead of time. It would be a shame if we end up seeing those windmill owners go out of business. As it stands it's costing way more to have them than what was expected, and that's really just a matter of poor planing by the government. I think most people are willing to pay a litte bit more for clean energy that doesn't come from foreign sources, but there's a limit for most people. That's especially true when you are talking about commercial power consumers. If I was opening a new plant, would I build it in CA where it'll cost me more to operate, or maybe SC, where most of the power is eihter hydro or nuclear and it's cheap? Boeing just decided on SC, so did Amazon and BMW. It's great to be green, but you gotta be smart about it.
Howhot
1 / 5 (1) Apr 26, 2011
Well G7, It's just a fact of capitalism that unless there is significant payback the capitalist will alway choose the cheapest approach. Its one reason we have regulations because things can get so doggy-dog and people suffer.

Smart-grid is not going to come from industry. Sure components for smart-grid will, but the regulations, and standards will come from government. (Did you read that R2). Sure some companies will invent and make money, but standards need to be made.

If there was incentive, and I think $5.00/gal is pretty good incentive, there will be a build out and engineering innovation will follow. It won't be long before utility grade ionic liquid batteries dot neighborhoods, and a house without solar is considered a home in need of repair.

Regardless, its been shown that the cheaper one can produce energy, the better off they are in terms of GDP. Unfortunately as with coal, cheap can be toxic to citizens and environment alike. So SOLAR in the North South East West
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Apr 27, 2011
It won't be long before utility grade ionic liquid batteries dot neighborhoods


Ionic liquid batteries are not rechargeable. NOBODY has found a way to make a rechargeable ionic liquid battery yet. Here's a nice article from a couple weeks ago from the US Naval Research Lab:

http://www.scienc...3958.htm

Trust me when I say this. The batteries we use in our daily lives are the best we've got. Electric car batteries, standard car batteries, rechargeable packs in portable electronics, etc. That is the state of the art, and none of them are anywhere near being usefull for utility scale storage beyond the special cases of emergency switch-over gap power, and load smoothing.

Solar on the private home and business scale may reach market competitive level at some point in the future, but utility scale solar is nearly there already. Solar efficiency versus cost is nowhere near being able to supply power on large scale above 40 degrees latitude.
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Apr 27, 2011
on large scale above 40 degrees latitude.


To clarify, that's because the days are so short in the winter and those places have high power needs in the winter because it's cold there. Sure, in the summer the days are nice and long in the north, but they have cooler summers and the summer power needs there aren't as great as those in the south. solar just isn't a good fit up north. Heck, if you want to look at the extreme case, the arctic has a 6-month day/night cycle. It's just not financially feasable to build a huge solar power system and then have to build another whole system of some other type for the winter. Supplemental solar power, sure. Primary solar power in the north? Not any time soon.
Howhot
1 / 5 (1) Apr 29, 2011
I'm not going to be pie in the sky and say direct solar will be the primary energy source for north of the Arctic circle. But it certainly can contribute. I recall seeing a town in Finland that was almost all solar. Your stating the obvious issues, which is where creative engineering and technical minds comes into play. So store energy in hydrogen, or hydro-carbons, or other means.

The bottom line though, is that there is not an energy source (coal, oil, nuclear, wind, geothermal) that has the long term sustainability, capacity and accessibly as solar. It's the perfect fuel. How mankind builds it out is for capitalist and governments to decide.