Advanced power-grid research finds low-cost, low-carbon future in West

Apr 03, 2012
One possible scenario for the electricity system in the Western US in 2026-29. Pie charts show the proportion of different types of energy sources generating power and flowing between load areas if there were a carbon tax of $70 per ton. According to the SWITCH model, such a tax could allow the West to reach a goal of 54 percent of 1990 emissions by 2030. Credit: Daniel Kammen lab, UC Berkeley

The least expensive way for the Western U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to help prevent the worst consequences of global warming is to replace coal with renewable and other sources of energy that may include nuclear power, according to a new study by University of California, Berkeley, researchers.

The experts reached this conclusion using SWITCH, a highly detailed computer model of the , to study generation, transmission and storage options for the states west of the Kansas/Colorado border. The model will be an important tool for utilities and government planners.

"Decarbonization of the electric power sector is critical to achieving greenhouse gas reductions that are needed for a sustainable future," said Daniel Kammen, Distinguished Professor of Energy in UC Berkeley's Energy and Resources Group. "To meet these carbon goals, coal has to go away from the region."

One example of low-cost, low-carbon energy generation and transmission around the West by 2030.

One possible scenario for the in the Western U.S. in 2026-29. Pie charts show the proportion of different types of energy sources and flowing between load areas if there were a of $70 per ton. According to the SWITCH model, such a tax could allow the West to reach a goal of 54% of 1990 emissions by 2030.

To achieve this level of decarbonization, policy changes are needed to cap or tax to provide an incentive to move toward low-carbon electricity sources, Kammen and the other study authors said.

While some previous studies have emphasized the high cost of carbon taxes or caps, the new study shows that replacing coal with more gas generation, as well as renewable sources like wind, solar and geothermal energy, would result in only a moderate increase to consumers in the cost of electric power – at most, 20 percent. They estimate a lower ratepayer cost, Kammen said, because the evolution of the electrical grid over the next 20 years – with coordinated construction of new power plants and transmission lines – would substantially reduce the actual consumer cost of meeting carbon emission targets.

"While the carbon price required to induce these deep carbon emission reductions is high – between $59 and $87 per ton of CO2 emitted – the cost of power is predicted to increase by at most 20 percent, because the electricity system will redesign itself around a price or cap on carbon emissions," said Kammen. "That is a modest cost considering that the future of the planet is at stake."

Coal hazards

Burning coal, a non-renewable resource, produces about 20 percent of the world's greenhouse gases, but also releases harmful chemicals into the environment such as mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and sulfuric acid, responsible in some areas for acid rain and respiratory illness.

California has few coal-fired power plants, but gets about 20 percent of its electricity from coal-burning plants in neighboring states. About 46 percent of the state's power comes from gas-burning plants, 11 percent from hydroelectric, 14 percent from nuclear and 11 percent from other renewables: geothermal energy, wind and solar.

The study, published in the April issue of the journal Energy Policy, highlights an analysis using the SWITCH electricity planning model. SWITCH, which stands for Solar, Wind, Hydro and Conventional generation and Transmission Investment, uses unprecedented detail that includes generation, transmission and storage of electricity. The model was developed by Matthias Fripp to study California's renewable energy options while he was a Ph.D. student at UC Berkeley. Kammen and his group extended the model's capabilities and used it to study Western North America.

"We use the SWITCH model to identify low-carbon supply options for the West, and to see how intermittent generation may be deployed in the future," said first author James Nelson, a UC Berkeley graduate student. "We show that it is possible to reach our goals of reducing carbon emissions using many possible mixes of power, whether natural gas, nuclear, solar, wind, biomass or geothermal."

"Models like this are eagerly anticipated by many of the agencies involved in planning," Kammen said, noting that SWITCH is a power-system model that can be fine-tuned for many different types of studies.

Setting targets for 2030 emissions

Mandates called Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) currently dominate carbon reduction policy in the United States. These standards require that a certain fraction of electricity generation come from renewable sources. While California has a relatively high RPS target of 33 percent renewable sources by 2020, other Western states have less ambitious targets. Additional policy action throughout Western North America will be required to meet climate targets, Kammen said.

The UC Berkeley study concluded that current RPS targets are not sufficient to put electric power sector emissions on track to limit atmospheric levels of carbon to less than 450 ppm, a climate stabilization target recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. That target requires carbon emissions from electricity production in industrialized countries to drop to no more than 54 percent of 1990 emissions by 2030.

However, the study finds that the right mix of renewable energy sources can meet climate goals given stronger carbon policy.

Of all 50 states, California has been the most aggressive in setting goals for reducing carbon emissions, with a target to return to 1990 levels by 2020. The first step along the path of changing the balance of energy sources is the establishment of a trading market in California, which will be up and running in September 2012, said Kammen.

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axemaster
3.9 / 5 (14) Apr 03, 2012
We should be switching over right now. It'll just cost more to do it later.
toyo
2 / 5 (25) Apr 03, 2012
"...that is a modest cost considering that the future of the planet is at stake."
Firstly that is not a "modest cost" (do the maths), and secondly, for an alarmist claim such as the one above to be taken seriously we need much more proof than has been achieved so far by the young and immature "climate science".
No science is beyond doubt and evidentiary proof of any claim is a fundamental feature of the scientific method.
Doubtless, the task of convincing an unwilling business community to fork out trillions of dollars is an unenviable one.
When such a task is based on science that has little hope of ever actually proving its claims until those claims are realised (and it's then too late), is almost impossible.

So far, climate science still needs to prove:
- the magnitude of any warming: still hotly debated in scientific circles, with predictions varying significantly.
- the relationship of such warming to claimed catastrophes.
dogbert
1.7 / 5 (26) Apr 03, 2012
Wind and solar are not currently sufficiently developed to meet energy requirements. Hydroelectric power is generally at or near its limit. Nuclear power is an option, but it takes years to get a nuclear plant approved, built and in service.

Coal and natural gas are necessary. Taxing them accomplishes nothing good.

Carbon taxes are just another way of extracting resources from the population. We have enough taxes. We do not need more taxes.
NotParker
1.5 / 5 (26) Apr 03, 2012
Shale gas is the only realistic option. All other options are grotesquely cruel on the poor and middle class.

All people who propose and vote for renewables should pay the full cost a 100% moron tax.
djr
4.5 / 5 (16) Apr 03, 2012
toyo - think about this. Right now the U.S. is struggling to come out of recession - and all the experts say we are hostage to the price of oil - due to stupid energy policies over the past 50 yrs. Our economy could be collapsed by a serious disruption in the price of oil. So - if we continue to follow stupid energy policy - we continue to get what we deserve. If we got smart - took the money we are spening on wars and massive military projects - invested one time in the energy systems of the future - we may be able to break these cycles of stupidity. If we hang on to our old ways of thinking - the cycle just continues. When do you propose we get smart?
djr
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 03, 2012
toyo - think about this. Right now the U.S. is struggling to come out of recession - and all the experts say we are hostage to the price of oil - due to stupid energy policies over the past 50 yrs. Our economy could be collapsed by a serious disruption in the price of oil. So - if we continue to follow stupid energy policies - we continue to get what we deserve. If we got smart - took the money we are spening on wars and massive military projects - invested one time in the energy systems of the future - we may be able to break these cycles of stupidity. If we hang on to our old ways of thinking - the cycle just continues. When do you propose we get smart? And an added bonus - we get to keep up with the smart countries like Denmark who have the foresight to invest in the new tech.
NotParker
1.2 / 5 (21) Apr 03, 2012
We should be switching over right now. It'll just cost more to do it later.


Go for it. Buy a windmill. Let me know how it turns out in 10 years.
NotParker
1.2 / 5 (21) Apr 03, 2012
and all the experts say we are hostage to the price of oil


1) The US is importing less oil because shale is cheap, plentiful, clean and can be used (for example) in the plastics industry.

Billions in investment is returning from Asia because of cheap shale gas.

And idiots want to switch to overpriced renewables?

"Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. said its industry may spend $30 billion to build U.S. factories that convert natural gas into plastics because shale gas has made American production the cheapest outside the Middle East."

http://prairiepun...nts.html
Howhot
3.8 / 5 (14) Apr 03, 2012
And idiots want to switch to overpriced renewables?

And what part of "renewable" don't you understand? Overpriced is relative to the long term gains you get from switching to renewables. Dahh.

The real investment that needs to be made, is the transition to an all electric energy source. That means smart grid and sustainable electric sources.
Estevan57
2.3 / 5 (32) Apr 03, 2012
"Go for it. Buy a windmill. Let me know how it turns out in 10 years." - NotrenewableParker

Mine works just fine, thank you. 2 years and counting.
T2Nav
5 / 5 (9) Apr 04, 2012
NotParker, how does referring to anyone you disagree with as "morons" and "idiots" help your case? I would bet everyone here, including yourself, understands the relative strengths and weaknesses of both fossil and renewable fuels. We may disagree a bit on the long-term efficiency of one or the other, long-term economics, and maybe the causes and extent of the global warming thing. But I suspect no one here is here to support an oil-companies-can-do-anything platform or a communist-scientists-taking-over-the-world agenda. One can choose whether to discuss these things like adults, or can choose to be one of the yahoos on the news that can see only black and white.
meerling
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 04, 2012
When it comes to Hydroelectric power, there are a number of environmental groups trying to block all new proposals and force the removal of the ones that already exist.
djr
4.9 / 5 (7) Apr 04, 2012
T2Nav - I agree with your post - and of course for the immediate future we are going to be working with fossils. The big question I was trying to get at is - recognizing the trap that being hostage to buying oil from Saudi Arabia, Venezeula etc has set for us - and having watched our economy be so vulnerable to the price of oil - doesn't it make sense to do the right thing for once and for all - and switch to renewables? Added bonus - no more BP oil spills, no more North Sea gas disasters etc - and we get to watch really really cool technologies like fuel cells develop. The U.S. economy would be so much stronger and more independent today - if we had only had the foresight 50 years ago. So isn't it about time now? NP - are you aware that thousands of people around the world are discovering the technology of photo voltaic panels - they are at grid parity in many parts of the world today - and the cost curve is still coming down - and has a long way to go? You are such a dinosaur.
axemaster
4.9 / 5 (10) Apr 04, 2012
We should be switching over right now. It'll just cost more to do it later.


Go for it. Buy a windmill. Let me know how it turns out in 10 years.

Actually, we have solar panels at my house. They'll have paid for themselves by next year and we'll be making money after that (got them 4-5 years ago).

Also, I'm not a big supporter of windmills. They have moving parts and are thus much more likely to break down. Plus they're annoying. Solar panels are better in pretty much every way, and they get better every year.

You know, you shouldn't challenge people assuming they can't back up their claims... you end up looking like an idiot.
NotParker
1.2 / 5 (17) Apr 04, 2012

Actually, we have solar panels at my house. They'll have paid for themselves by next year and we'll be making money after that (got them 4-5 years ago).


Not likely. Unless some suckers are being financially raped to subside feed in tariffs.
Eikka
2.6 / 5 (5) Apr 04, 2012
People forget that you can't simply add renewables together. You can't count "solar plus wind", because they do not necessarily co-exist happily. On the small scale you have batteries to sop up the excess, but on the large scale you simply don't.

It's either or, because you have a limit of how much power fits in to the grid at any given time, and if the full output of solar and wind power happen to sum up at that time, it goes over what you can utilize and the energy is lost. Something has to give, and I bet the utility will not push the extra into the grid and blow things up. And as the energy is not used, the windmills and panels sit idle and cost money to do nothing. It means higher energy prices.

That said, solar power is preferable to wind power because it's more consistent, more reliable, has the option of molten salts for adjusting, and coincides better with the peak usage of electricity. Wind power is just a huge waste of money and a problem for grid operators.
Eikka
2.6 / 5 (5) Apr 04, 2012
An example of the problem of wind power to grid operators, even at the relatively low level of system penetration it has now:

http://uk.reuters...20120125

(Reuters) - Electricity network operator National Grid paid 12.8 million pounds to wind farm operators last year to compensate them for switching off their turbines when the grid was overloaded during stormy days, data showed Wednesday.


Sometimes you have to pay the wind farms to not produce, because they get subsidies and feed-in tariffs for the energy they do produce, so they don't have to care that they cause a spot price crash which would make the power impossible to sell otherwise. They just push it all in on a government mandate to do so, paid by taxpayer money, and don't care what it does to the grid.

Birger
4 / 5 (4) Apr 04, 2012
Hmm- you do realise that the cost of doing nothing includes getting coastal cities flooded every time there is a storm?
And disease-carrying insects love warmth. And the increased acidity of the oceans due to dissolved CO2 is affecting the organisms... If you think that is alarmism, you have been living inside a Bush-style "bubble".
djr
4.4 / 5 (5) Apr 04, 2012
People forget that you can't simply add renewables together.

Eikka - you and NP are just knuckle draggers. It is happening as we speak - the world is changing - and you are doing everything in your power to stop it - I don't understand. Fortunately - the market forces are unstoppable - and enough people are enlightened to see that we need to promote this change. Check out Denmark's plan if you are interested in seeing some real foresight. Here is an article on new thinking in terms of integrating renewables. http://www.energy...l-Member
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (4) Apr 04, 2012
So what if we do, others won't. You can't make the whole world march in lock step to your latest greatest three year plan.

Personally I'd like to see new nuclear plants going up all over. I'd love to see an average of 80 mpg on vehicles. I'd like to install solar panels on my roof that cost $200 and allow me to unplug from the grid...no amount of politics is going to get us there though...
djr
5 / 5 (3) Apr 04, 2012
"So what if we do, others won't" Were u answering my post mystic? If so - I don't get your point. My point is that the world is changing for the better. We finally have the opportunity to leave fossil fuels behind, and move to an exciting era of renewable energy. Many on this board like NotParker will never miss an opportunity to spread disinformation. Innovation is driving this exciting revolution. I do support using gvt policy to speed up the process. If market forces alone are left to do the job - it is going to take longer - as the fossil fuel industries have had many decades to built their head of steam. Either way it is going to happen. You are wrong in suggesting that we will not all one day embrace these new technologies. The cost curve on solar is heading down - and there is a long way left to go. It will eventually be far cheaper than fossils. I too support nuclear - I hope we develop small scale thorium plants - with gvt policy support.
NotParker
1.4 / 5 (13) Apr 04, 2012
We finally have the opportunity to leave fossil fuels behind


And prosperity. Just send all those manufacturing jobs to China. Have THEM burn more coal. And if you can afford those products, remember they could have been built in the US with clean gas or hydro power, but they were built in China using coal power.

NotParker
1.3 / 5 (13) Apr 04, 2012
Fortunately - the market forces are unstoppable


Yup. Gas is King!!! Cheap, clean, works all the time. Bringing back jobs in the plastics industry.

It is a massive positive change equivalent to coal power in the 1800s.

Prosperity! Cheap clean power!

Solar = bankruptcy

dir, you and the STD's are economy killers. Renewables are bankrupting people and companies and whole countries.

Brown Coal is Germanies future after they squandered hundreds of billions on renewables and shut down their nukes.

dir, you made Brown Coal the future!

" the world's two biggest brown coal blocks of 1,050 MW each"

http://www.reuter...20120403
BIG COCK
3 / 5 (6) Apr 04, 2012

Actually, we have solar panels at my house. They'll have paid for themselves by next year and we'll be making money after that (got them 4-5 years ago).


Not likely. Unless some suckers are being financially raped to subside feed in tariffs.


Wow, did you even read his post? He specifically indicated that his cumulative energy savings have paid for the initial cost of the panels.
NotParker
1.6 / 5 (7) Apr 04, 2012
Wow, did you even read his post? He specifically indicated that his cumulative energy savings have paid for the initial cost of the panels.


He said he would be "making money", meaning he will be feeding power into the grid, most like at an artificially subsidized rate.

Payback time for solar without FIT is long.
MCPtz
5 / 5 (2) Apr 04, 2012
Please build more Nuclear Fission Reactors,
from a life long resident of California.

If we want to use electric cars, electric heating, and overall less gas and more electricity, we're going to need a lot more power.

Liquid Fuel Cycle Molten Salt Reactor, using Thorium as the fuel for the Fission Reaction. I'd go for that.
djr
5 / 5 (3) Apr 04, 2012
dir, you made Brown Coal the future! The two coal plants in Germany were ramped up becuz of a knee jerk reaction to Fukushima that shut down all of their nukes. I support the use of nukes. Gas in the U.S. is currently at an all time low cost - which is why companies like Chesapeake are cutting back production - as they are losing money big time at the current cost. It will go up - or companies like Chesapeake will go broke. Renewables can and will compete on a dollar for dollar basis - you are just flat wrong.
NotParker
1.5 / 5 (8) Apr 04, 2012
dir, you made Brown Coal the future!


You and the STD's made climate fanaticism the norm. I don't care whether you support nukes today or just say so because you are jerk and trying to win one point after losing all the others.

Gas is cheap. It will stay that way. Renewables are expensive and will stay that way.

djr
5 / 5 (1) Apr 04, 2012
because you are jerk and trying to win one point after losing all the others. You are correct NotParker - I am a jerk - and just trying to win points - like a little child. I will quietly bow out - and leave you to win all the points - I was thinking it was a conversation between adults - you have straightened me out.
NotParker
1.5 / 5 (15) Apr 04, 2012
because you are jerk and trying to win one point after losing all the others. You are correct NotParker - I am a jerk - and just trying to win points - like a little child. I will quietly bow out - and leave you to win all the points - I was thinking it was a conversation between adults - you have straightened me out.


When you, VD and the other STD's stop putting Tard on the name of every person you disagree with you might convince me your aren't a jerk.
Estevan57
2 / 5 (29) Apr 05, 2012
NotParker, in the last month you have posted hundreds of posts, most of which are just crap you made up. You are currently in 10 separate arguments with many people. I can only speak for myself in saying that I sure wish you would go the F away. You are really swimming upstream by posting negative crap all day in the science site comment section. You almost never post anything that is on topic, instead you go straight to the "I hates the green tech, it bees bad" rant.

Examples:Advanced power-grid research finds low-cost, low-carbon future in West. your post:
"Shale gas is the only realistic option. All other options are grotesquely cruel on the poor and middle class.

All people who propose and vote for renewables should pay the full cost a 100% moron tax."

Nice first post (sarcasm)but it could be the same post in any of the ten you are commenting on.

Go away troll. When you anger people they call you names.
axemaster
5 / 5 (5) Apr 05, 2012
Wow, did you even read his post? He specifically indicated that his cumulative energy savings have paid for the initial cost of the panels.


He said he would be "making money", meaning he will be feeding power into the grid, most like at an artificially subsidized rate.

Payback time for solar without FIT is long.

Actually the rate is not subsidized as far as I know. The law requires that power companies obey "net metering" meaning that you pay for (power used - power generated). If you generate more than you consume, they buy it from you for something like 30% of the normal price.

I think you'll have to work pretty hard to find something objectionable in that...

Also, you don't even have to buy panels anymore. There are companies that will essentially lease your land to put them up - you don't pay anything up front, and they pay you some percentage for the power generated. No subsidies required.

http://en.wikiped...metering
djr
5 / 5 (2) Apr 05, 2012
you might convince me your aren't a jerk. I have no interest in convincing you that I am not a jerk. I am a jerk. Could you find one instance where I have called someone a tard? I will give a clue - a two letter word starting with n. I believe strongly in renewables - and felt it might be productive to engage in some dialogue about why I believe so strongly in the future. I was wrong. I take comfort in knowing that we do have a bright and exciting future as a species - and being that fossil fuels are finite - we will some day grow beyond them.
rubberman
2.6 / 5 (5) Apr 05, 2012
"you might convince me your aren't a jerk. I have no interest in convincing you that I am not a jerk. I am a jerk. Could you find one instance where I have called someone a tard?"

I usually wind up calling him an imbecile....not because he disagrees with my opinion, but because he actually makes statements contrary to proven scientific facts, or as was pointed out in another post, he says things that are blatantly not true .
As evidenced by this string, he continues to promote the use of non-renewable resources on a planet where they are rapidly dwindling and having a negative environmental impact....and the links...spectacular!
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (5) Apr 05, 2012
As evidenced by this string, he continues to promote the use of non-renewable resources on a planet where they are rapidly dwindling and having a negative environmental impact....and the links...spectacular!


Is land an infinite resource? No? Then wind power is non-renewable, neither is solar. You're NEVER going to power an advanced post-industrial economy by planting windmills and solar panels across a finite area...
NotParker
1.6 / 5 (7) Apr 05, 2012
he continues to promote the use of non-renewable resources on a planet where they are rapidly dwindling


Blatant lies.

Natural Gas is not dwindling. Shale gas is being discovered all over the world. The US is finding so much the price is 25% what is was 5 years ago.

Poland has shale gas. The UK. etc.

On top of that the Japanese are getting ready to mine methane hydrates.

There is 1000 years of cheap gas available.

Fanatics like you hold onto your old outdate luddite ideas.

Realists like me see cheap gas and hateful expensive bird killing renewables ruining peoples lives.

I choose cheap gas. Clean and plentiful.
NotParker
1.5 / 5 (8) Apr 05, 2012
Actually the rate is not subsidized as far as I know.


Australia was paying up to to 50c per kWh for feed in tariffs.

http://en.wikiped...ustralia

Germany up to 24ct

http://en.wikiped..._Germany

etc etc.

Feed in Tariffs were outrageous subsidies. And some countries have cut back but they are on the hook for 60 billion or more.

http://junkscienc...ar-bill/

You could buy 60GW of shale gas power plants for that.
NotParker
1.1 / 5 (10) Apr 05, 2012
I can only speak for myself in saying that I sure wish you would go the F away.


Fanatics hate being challenged by facts.
NotParker
1.4 / 5 (9) Apr 05, 2012
On top of that the Japanese are getting ready to mine methane hydrates.


"On Tuesday, the Tikyu research vessel completed offshore drilling in the area where three rifts have already been installed to extract methane hydrate, the main component of natural gas which is widely touted as a new energy resource.

Full-scale methane hydrate development is expected in Japan in 2013."

http://english.ru...9735511/

But clearly, some green fanatics are still having mental problems:

""This would involve the full use of offshore windmills and wind farms. In Fukushima especially, we are talking a lot about the use of wind power," said Shikata. "

http://www.timesl...2363.ece

Think about that .... someone is proposing offshore wind turbines in a region prone to earthquakes and tidal waves.
rubberman
3.4 / 5 (5) Apr 05, 2012
"Think about that .... someone is proposing offshore wind turbines in a region prone to earthquakes and tidal waves."

Perhaps you should think about it a little more in depth. Maybe do a little research on how Tsunamis (the literal translation into english is "harbour wave") travel through the water column and manifest.

"Fanatics hate being challenged by facts."

The things you attempt to pawn off as fact are only considered as such in your own mind.

"There is 1000 years of cheap gas available."

Very nice....then what do you propose the human race burn once that is gone? And is that 1000 years based on todays world population or did you extrapolate that time frame based on population growth?
axemaster
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 05, 2012
Actually the rate is not subsidized as far as I know.


Australia was paying up to to 50c per kWh for feed in tariffs.

http://en.wikiped...ustralia

You could buy 60GW of shale gas power plants for that.

Feed in Tariffs were outrageous subsidies... blah blah blah

It's funny how you completely ignored what I said, and what my source said. Net metering is not the same as feed in tariffs. I have no idea why you would equate them, beyond trying to twist the truth to your own ends.

Net metering is a simple agreement between the power utility and the customer that if the customer produces his own power, the company will pay him for it. The government is not involved in any way beyond simple regulation of the exchange rate. No tax money is spent. Most utilities actually benefit from this as well, since it allows them to run their power plants at a lower setting.
NotParker
1.4 / 5 (9) Apr 05, 2012
Net metering is ....


I know what it is. I doubt you can get a 4-5 year payback on solar panels with net metering from everything I've read.

However, what brand of solar panel did you buy, when did you buy it, how much do you pay for electricity ... etc.

And how much has it cost utilities to be able to handle solar input to the system?

http://www.miamih...try.html

"low income non solar rate payers are subisdizing the rich"

axemaster
5 / 5 (4) Apr 05, 2012
Is land an infinite resource? No? Then wind power is non-renewable, neither is solar. You're NEVER going to power an advanced post-industrial economy by planting windmills and solar panels across a finite area...

Avg solar intensity in the USA: ~225 W/m^2 (this takes night into account)
USA annual Energy Use: 108*10^18 Joules

Square Meters needed to power the USA = 1.52*10^10

Now let's see what would happen if we put solar panels on the south-facing side of all the roofs in the country.

Avg USA house roof area = 232 m^2
Number of houses in the USA = 130 million
Assuming only 40% of the roof is usable this is: 1.21*10^10 m^2

That is 80% of the United States' power needs satisfied, simply by applying solar panels to roofs on existing family homes. That does not include industrial, business, or government buildings.

The conclusion is that renewable energies, and solar in particular, are entirely feasible for satisfying 100% of our energy needs.
axemaster
5 / 5 (3) Apr 05, 2012
However, what brand of solar panel did you buy, when did you buy it, how much do you pay for electricity ... etc.

My parents bought them (they're on my parent's house), and I am not going to bother them to look up old documents when you are perfectly capable of figuring it out yourself.

And how much has it cost utilities to be able to handle solar input to the system?

As far as I know, it costs them nothing. The solar panels act as a current source in the overall network, meaning they should be effectively invisible. I'm not sure what to make of the California debate, but I suspect that the utilities are just trying to raise their profits.
NotParker
1.4 / 5 (9) Apr 05, 2012
My parents bought them (they're on my parent's house), and I am not going to ...


... back up anything with facts.
NotParker
1.4 / 5 (9) Apr 05, 2012
Avg solar intensity in the USA: ~225 W/m^2


Phonix averages 5.38kWh per day. Which is 224W. Which is less than your USA average.

And it only gets that if there are no clouds. Ever.

Seattle averages .9kWh in December. 37.5W/hour

http://www.solarp...-levels/

And I doubt there is enough raw materials to do it.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (3) Apr 05, 2012
The conclusion is that renewable energies, and solar in particular, are entirely feasible for satisfying 100% of our energy needs.


CURRENT energy needs...

That's my whole point, and what a lot of people who are in favor of "renewables" fail to consider.

Moreover I'm talking about the entirety of human civilization, not just the United States.
axemaster
5 / 5 (3) Apr 05, 2012
I am basing average insolation levels on this: http://upload.wik...2004.jpg

Closer examination of that map shows that the correct insolation is probably 210 W/m^2. Which still gives 74% of total USA power requirements.

And it only gets that if there are no clouds. Ever.

Wrong. This is average insolation, taking environmental factors into account. It is an experimentally verified number. To quote the source, "monthly average daily total radiation using inputs derived from satellite and/or surface observations of cloud cover, aerosol optical depth, etc etc." Moreover this is insolation integrated with the general absorption spectrum of photovoltaic cells. They've done all the work for you...

CURRENT energy needs...

That's my whole point, and what a lot of people who are in favor of "renewables" fail to consider.

Yes, I know energy needs will expand. I was just making an estimation of scale.
axemaster
5 / 5 (3) Apr 05, 2012
Phonix averages 5.38kWh per day. Which is 224W. Which is less than your USA average.

And it only gets that if there are no clouds. Ever.

Seattle averages .9kWh in December. 37.5W/hour

http://www.solarp...-levels/

Actually, the funny thing here is that you misunderstood even your own source. I quote:

"The amount of insolation received at the surface of the Earth is controlled by the angle of the sun, the state of the atmosphere, altitude, and geographic location."

So they did take clouds into account. They explicitly state it.

My parents bought them (they're on my parent's house), and I am not going to ...


... back up anything with facts.

I volunteered information based on knowledge from my own parents' installation. I don't have the numbers available to me, and I am not going to bug them just to satisfy an internet troll. Feel free to insult me if you wish.
NotParker
1.4 / 5 (9) Apr 05, 2012
You need enough solar to produce heat and light during the darkest months.

In Seattle December averages .9kWh per day. Which is 25% of the average. So you need 4x as many panels.

And storage for each evening.
Estevan57
2.1 / 5 (28) Apr 05, 2012
In 2010 Seattles' power was 87.9% hydro, so not as much solar or wind would be needed. Nice and cheap, but they still elect to pay for renewable sources. Just like me. Does that make us fanatics?

Troll
Howhot
3.9 / 5 (7) Apr 05, 2012
Shill of the moment; NotParker says "You need enough solar to produce heat and light during the darkest months." Kind of stating the obvious aren't you shill. So if the oil industry can spend billions digging a hole 5 miles under the ocean, and can't figure out how to take solar to make and store hydrogen in a compact liquid for like a carbon neutral oil what are they good for?

Yeah, they should quit paying you shills. Koch just proves what a looser he really is!

MarkyMark
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 07, 2012
Its really good stuff reading Parker's posts, as he really seems to believe what his masters tell him! He even tries to....occasionally provide proper supportive facts too!

Sadly tho this data he provides either is missused and cherry picked or misread by him and actually does the oposite of what he wants. Personally i doubt his masters pay him as he is rather.......inept.
Newbeak
5 / 5 (1) Apr 07, 2012
Job one is moving to decentralized power generation.Centralized power generation is too vulnerable to terrorist hackers,who could remotely shut down the grid ( ie.the Stuxnet virus).BTW,terrorists could also kill power plants the old fashioned way,by planting C4 next to the main 200 ton power transformers,which if destroyed,would have to be custom built and would take months/years to replace.
Decentralized power systems,using furnace replacing co-generation units fed by natural gas are one way to go.The other is Bloom type fuel cells powered by natural or biogas,and supplying power to a city block of homes.What really scares me is that nothing will be done,and it will be business as usual,and if the country suffers power loss for months from terrorism or even a severe solar geomagnetic storm,it will mean the collapse of the economy,and perhaps millions of deaths.
NotParker
1.7 / 5 (12) Apr 07, 2012
In 2010 Seattles' power was 87.9% hydro


Filthy CO2 and Methane producer.

"Contrary to popular belief, hydroelectric power can seriously damage the climate. Proposed changes to the way countries' climate budgets are calculated aim to take greenhouse gas emissions from hydropower reservoirs into account, but some experts worry that they will not go far enough.

The green image of hydro power as a benign alternative to fossil fuels is false, says Éric Duchemin, a consultant for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). "Everyone thinks hydro is very clean, but this is not the case," he says.

Hydroelectric dams produce significant amounts of carbon dioxide and methane, and in some cases produce more of these greenhouse gases than power plants running on fossil fuels.

http://www.newsci...led.html
NotParker
1.5 / 5 (8) Apr 07, 2012
Job one is moving to decentralized power generation


18,000 isn't enough?

"There are about 18,000 individual generators at about 5,800 operational power plants in the United States with a nameplate generation capacity of at least one MegaWatt. A power plant can have one or more generators, and some generators may use more than one type of fuel."

http://205.254.13...&t=2
NotParker
1.5 / 5 (8) Apr 07, 2012
So if the oil industry can spend billions digging a hole 5 miles under the ocean, and can't figure out how to take solar to make and store hydrogen in a compact liquid for like a carbon neutral oil what are they good for?


Shale gas is cheaper. And the US has lots. And the NG power plants are already built.

Only the insane would unnecessarily rebuild the US power infrastructure from scratch when so much cheap gas is available for the next 1000 years.
NotParker
1.4 / 5 (9) Apr 07, 2012
Job one is moving to decentralized power generation


http://www.npr.or...10997398

Click on "Power Plants" and then tell me it it should be more decentralized and why.
NotParker
1.4 / 5 (9) Apr 07, 2012
In 2010 Seattles' power was 87.9% hydro


"In a study to be published in Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Fearnside estimates that in 1990 the greenhouse effect of emissions from the Curuá-Una dam in Pará, Brazil, was more than three-and-a-half times what would have been produced by generating the same amount of electricity from oil.

This is because large amounts of carbon tied up in trees and other plants are released when the reservoir is initially flooded and the plants rot. Then after this first pulse of decay, plant matter settling on the reservoir's bottom decomposes without oxygen, resulting in a build-up of dissolved methane. This is released into the atmosphere when water passes through the dam's turbines."

http://www.newsci...led.html
NotParker
1.4 / 5 (9) Apr 07, 2012
Evil Dams ...

"It may seem contradictory, but green groups, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and Summit County Metro Parks have stopped a proposed green-energy project on the Cuyahoga River.

Most river and nature lovers, in fact, are celebrating the decision earlier this month by a Fairlawn company to nix its plan to build a small hydroelectric power plant at the now-idle Gorge Metro Dam near Akron.

Environmentalists say it's a matter of one thing being greener than another. A new plant would bring hydropower to only about 2,000 homes, while the existing 58-foot-high dam prevents upstream fish movement, generally impairs water quality and should be torn down because it no longer serves a legitimate purpose, they say."

http://www.clevel...t_g.html

NotParker
1.4 / 5 (10) Apr 07, 2012
Evil Dams ...


"Hydropower's air emissions are negligible because no fuels are burned. However, if a large amount of vegetation is growing along the riverbed when a dam is built, it can decay in the lake that is created, causing the buildup and release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas."

http://www.epa.go...dro.html
Newbeak
5 / 5 (1) Apr 07, 2012
Job one is moving to decentralized power generation


http://www.npr.or...10997398 for a taste of what could happen).These transformers are custom built,and take months to construct and move into place,and very few spares are available.Locally generated power,on the other hand,is by it's nature more robust,and a failure here and there will not result in wide-spread power outages.Perhaps they could be interconnected to support equipment failure at any one location.
NotParker
1.4 / 5 (9) Apr 07, 2012
These transformers are custom built,and take months to construct and move into place,and very few spares are available.Locally generated power,on the other hand,is by it's nature more robust


Why would someone suggest the electronics in a wind turbine are more robust?

"Wind turbines are deceptively complex, housing a transformer station, frequency converter, switchgear elements, and other expensive, sensitive equipment in a relatively small space;"

"According to a German study, lightning strikes accounted for 80% of wind turbine insurance claims."

http://www.nachi....ning.htm
NotParker
1.4 / 5 (9) Apr 07, 2012
However, Carrington Events and EMP pulses are potentially capable of wiping out our grid.

If the government said they were actually going to spend money on hardening the grid (and I believed them) then I would support it.

But the inverters and complex electronics in home solar panels and wind turbines are just as vulnerable as the larger grid.

And don't forget, most of your home electronics would be fried by a Carrington Event.

http://wattsupwit...n-event/
Newbeak
5 / 5 (1) Apr 07, 2012
However, Carrington Events and EMP pulses are potentially capable of wiping out our grid.

If the government said they were actually going to spend money on hardening the grid (and I believed them) then I would support it.

But the inverters and complex electronics in home solar panels and wind turbines are just as vulnerable as the larger grid.

And don't forget, most of your home electronics would be fried by a Carrington Event.

http://wattsupwit...n-event/

The thing that bugs me is hardening the grid is doable for a few million bucks per power station,but seeing as a Carrington event is seen as unlikely,power station managers are loathe to invest the money.The damage would be done to power station transformers by geomagnetically induced currents flowing from ground through irreplaceable transformers.I believe you are thinking of EMP damage,which would be more likely triggered by a nuke detonated miles over the target
Newbeak
5 / 5 (1) Apr 07, 2012
Why would someone suggest the electronics in a wind turbine are more robust?


For Carrington type events,decentralizied power generation would still be preferable,as the power electronics would be easier to replace if ruined,and besides,these smaller sites would likely be protected from geomagnetically induced currents when built.
I was thinking more along the lines of terrorist attacks against centralized power plants, which could leave thousands without power for extended periods.Decentralized power generation would eliminate that threat.I also suggested localized use of fuel cells or co-generation schemes,as solar/wind are too intermittent for reliable power generation.
plaasjaapie
1 / 5 (3) Apr 08, 2012
Same old, same old. The neofascist watermelons want to ration power electricity to suit their hallucinations. Be certain that the people making these "policy" pronouncements will be exempted from their effects.
tomabin
3 / 5 (2) Apr 08, 2012
Why does LENR get no mention? Is this another site that deletes any mention of LENR? Or is LENR seen as foolishness here? It's obviously where our resources need to be aimed at. And they will be, in due time.
Tennex
1 / 5 (1) Apr 08, 2012
The burning of coil indeed has to stop - but not because it's producing the carbon dioxide causing global warming or sulphur dioxide causing global cooling. It has to stop, because of shortage of coal resources, which could lead into serious geopolitical problems, if the economy wouldn't prepared to fossil fuel replacement already. But the effectiveness alternative energy sources must be estimated with caution, or it will just replace the increased consumption of coal with increased consumption of raw materials. IMO the only ultimate solution of energetic crisis with respect to effectiveness and environmental impacts will be the cold fusion - all other ways including nuclear and wind plants are just delaying the acceptance of this ultimate solution. To accept that cold fusion requires the only thing: to make sure, that these effects are real, because they were revealed in many studies and worth of further streamlined organized research.
rikvanriel
1 / 5 (2) Apr 08, 2012
Hmm- you do realise that the cost of doing nothing includes getting coastal cities flooded every time there is a storm?


Please keep in mind that a fair number of the world's coastal cities are already below sea level, have been below sea level for decades and do not flood whenever there is a storm.

We have had the technology to keep such cities safe from flooding for several centuries now. Pretending that it does not exist is just fearmongering.

rikvanriel
1 / 5 (2) Apr 08, 2012
Gas is cheap. It will stay that way. Renewables are expensive and will stay that way.


Not necessarily. Renewables are expensive now, but with technological advances they can be made cheaper. Unfortunately, the bulk of the renewables money is going to subsidize the deployment of uneconomical technologies, instead of being invested in the R&D to make renewables economical.

I believe it would be best to invest more in renewables R&D, while holding off on the deployment of renewables until they are economical. Read the paper "The Effects of Moore's Law and Slacking on Large Computations" for a practical example of how delayed deployment can pay off...
Newbeak
5 / 5 (1) Apr 08, 2012
Why does LENR get no mention? Is this another site that deletes any mention of LENR? Or is LENR seen as foolishness here? It's obviously where our resources need to be aimed at. And they will be, in due time.

It gets no mention because no reputable research has shown it works.There have been some studies showing anomalous heat being produced,but the effect can't be replicated reliably in other labs.
What SHOULD get more ink is thorium molten salt fission,which is infinitely safer than pressurized light water reactors.The thorium fission reaction occurs at normal atmospheric pressure,and is so safe it does not need a containment vessel.Here's a good article on the subject: http://www.guardi...ar-power
NotParker
1.6 / 5 (7) Apr 08, 2012
Not necessarily. Renewables are expensive now, but with technological advances they can be made cheaper.


Wind turbines have been deployed in large numbers for 30 years. They are bigger than 30 years ago, which means they use more scarce resources (which are filthy to manufacture).

"China will accelerate the use of new-energy sources such as nuclear energy and put an end to blind expansion in industries such as solar energy and wind power in 2012, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao says in a government report published on March 5."

http://wattsupwit...r-power/