The Weekend Wonk: Mark Jacobsen on David Letterman

October 26, 2013

Stanford Engineer Mark Jacobsen has done ground breaking work on approaches to power the planet with Renewable energy. He tells Dave how.

Renewable Energy World:

1. What is your take on the Energiewende program?

Energiewende encouraged the growth of solar and wind worldwide. The feed-in tariff propagated globally, increasing solar penetration, and the solar industry in Germany boomed, creating significant jobs. The growth of wind in Germany spurred other countries to grow wind as well and encouraged a growth of wind manufacturers and the development of bigger and better turbines.

2. The New York Time’s article “Germany’s Effort at Clean Energy Proves Complex” states that “one of the first obstacles encountered involves the vagaries of electrical power generation that is dependent on sources as inconsistent and unpredictable as the wind and the sun. And no one has invented a means of storing that energy for very long, which means overwhelming gluts on some days and crippling shortages on others that require firing up old oil- and coal-burning power plants. That, in turn, undercuts the goal of reducing fossil-fuel emissions that have been linked to climate change.” However, others claim that more coal power plants have been shut down than started up (at least 20) and your work has shown that this would indeed be the case. What is your take on what is likely happening in terms of reserve fuels and emissions in this scenario?

Ensuring the reliability of the grid is merely an optimization problem. If fossil generators are used to fill in gaps, it is only because the current grid is inefficient and the health and climate impacts of fossils are not reflected in the costs of these fuels. It has nothing to do with whether it is possible to have a reliable grid with wind, water, and solar power. Several groups have shown that it is possible to combine wind and solar and use geothermal as a base load and fill in gaps between demand and renewable supply with hydroelectric and/or stored concentrated solar power to provide a grid reliable to 99.8 percent and higher. In addition, using demand response can help reduce demand at peak times. Further, oversizing the grid with wind and solar to make it easier to match normal electric power demand, and using excess wind and solar to produce hydrogen for transportation and district heat (as done in Denmark) can allow for a reliable grid and provide energy for other sectors of the energy economy.

3. The article also states the plan has created a strain on Germany’s power grid. A spokesperson for the grid operator Tennet is quoted saying: “Where energy was previously brought into the state and distributed to small communities, these communities are now producing the power, and we need to find a way to transmit it to the larger urban areas. Everything has been stood on its head.” Is this a valid concern or a normal step of transitioning energy systems?

Most people would argue that having local sources of energy increases local jobs and energy reliability, particularly when a disaster occurs. The fact that the local communities are producing too much can easily be rectified by converting other sectors of the local energy economy (e.g., transportation, heating/cooling, industry) to electricity.

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26 Responses to “The Weekend Wonk: Mark Jacobsen on David Letterman”


  1. Nice. Perfect timing. Especially like the mention of converting excess local renewables to space heating and other direct uses. Instead of storing it, why not use it? Let’s face it. This is a game of who uses what they have (resources) the most wisely.

    Want the real story on Germany and the need to expand the grid?
    Here is another interesting example of renewables to the rescue – This time of a nuclear unplanned outage in Germany. Turns out wind came to the rescue, but the grid was not expanded. Any source needs adequate grid. You can build a source and you have to build the grid, too. That is not new.

    http://www.renewablesinternational.net/german-grid-needs-foreign-power/150/537/32781/

    The key to reliability is a strong grid that can mix power from many sources. That is true no matter what the source. The example shows how a single, large source can impact reliability negatively. Smaller, distributed sources increase reliability. BTW, German electric reliability is the highest in Europe. Higher than France. Renewables are not changing that.

    http://www.renewablesinternational.net/german-grid-reaches-record-reliability-in-2011/150/537/56183/

    http://www.renewablesinternational.net/german-grid-reaches-record-reliability-in-2011/150/537/56183/

  2. petersjazz Says:

    Dont forget the aspect of circular economy. Most of the subsidiary in Germany has been paid out to german home owner.


  3. 2.5 million deaths from “pollution”? Isn’t it time they started adding all the deaths from extreme weather events. If ‘pollution’ is changing the climate then clearly they count as deaths from pollution.


  4. You know the revolution has started. Wonderful to see Jacobsen, a scientist, on Letterman. Another great renewables myth buster, Amory Lovins, below:

    http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2013/8/23/renewable-energy/lies-surrounding-germanys-renewables-revolution

    • skeptictmac57 Says:

      That was a really informative article Christopher.As always,Lovins provides a detailed and fact filled rebuttal.Thanks!

  5. redskylite Says:

    Excellent interview, sensible, light hearted and entertaining, Letterman is marketed world wide (even here in N.Z.) so the interview will have a wide audience. I can imagine all those freeky denialists working overtime trying to develop arguments and a strategy to counteract (and discredit) this footage and will be frantically examining Mr Jacobsen’s emails. Well done CBS and a loud boo to Fox news, Murdoch, Koch bros and Lord Monckton et al. About time oil companies diversified and got behind this movement to renewables (at least Total of France and Chevron are making some sort of effort, not sure of the rest).


    • The interview had a lot of empty assertions.  As for discrediting it, one look at the promises vs. the results in Denmark and Germany does that.  Free fuel does not make up for €20 billion in new powerlines alone just to get power from the north to the south of one geographically small-ish country, nor does it maintain and replace the hardware which must be placed in harm’s way because that’s where the energy is.

      That €20 billion would have bought nearly 4 GW of EPRs even at the first-of-a-kind Olkiluoto price, and the net energy production would have been far higher.  That has to be added to the €20 billion/year already being paid to get €3 billion of electricity.  That’s another ~3.2 GW(e) of EPRs even at the FOAK Olkiluoto price.  At 90% capacity factor, they’d generate about 25 billion kWh/year or 4.5% of Germany’s total electric consumption.  That’s an increment added every year, and the mass-production price would go down.

      Meanwhile, Germany is building fast-ramping steam plants fueled by lignite.  On its current course, Germany will be burning lignite as long as it has any to burn.  All of that carbon WILL wind up in the atmosphere, regardless fo the consequences… because of nuclear phobia.  This is insane.


      • I do not think an aversion to nuclear solutions could be called insane, we remember the 150,000 – 246,000 + killed in Nagasaki and Hiroshima at the end of WWII, each year in August. We look at the recent accidents in Chernobyl and Japan and ongoing efforts to clean the resultant mess up. We should be very wary of going nuclear. I have no objections to Nuclear facilities being built on geologically stable land well away from coastal area and flight paths etc, (provided they have a competent management and support team) but not here in N.Z which is subject to earthquakes, volcanoes and Tsunami risk. Also not in countries that are subject to bombing (that seems quite a few), and not in countries with bitter and twisted terrorists, who seek to make dirty bombs etc. (that seems quite a few too. This TV interview was suggesting we wind down on using fossils and in light of what most informed climate experts tell us that is a good idea. We must get around all this negativity and obfuscation that Fox and Koch and others try and create and argue about each time solutions are found. I don’t like nuclear solutions and do not want to see it anywhere near me !!! Nuclear Free N.Z for ever.


        • I do not think an aversion to nuclear solutions could be called insane, we remember the 150,000 – 246,000 + killed in Nagasaki and Hiroshima at the end of WWII, each year in August.

          Part of the insanity is the fanatic belief, against all evidence, that nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons bear any sort of resemblance to each other.  Nuclear reactors cannot explode like bombs; the steam explosion which took apart the Chernobyl reactor had an energy of barely a ton of TNT, far smaller than e.g. the fertilizer plant explosion in West TX this past year.  PWRs and BWRs can’t even get close to that.  The hydrogen explosions at Fukushima were much smaller still, and were wholly chemical.

          We should be very wary of going nuclear.

          Look at the Keeling curve and ask yourself:  does the planet get a vote?  Because Earth is just fine with nuclear energy, driving its plate tectonics largely with radioactive decay.  Earth even made some natural nuclear reactors in what’s now Africa.  Life’s fine with it; the Chernobyl exclusion area is a wildlife mecca.

          An Earth with another 10°F of greenhouse effect will be a catastrophe.

          People are not going to let you de-industrialize.  They are not going to sacrifice their lives if they have anything to say about it.  This means they are not going to let you eliminate cars and make reliable electricity a luxury or even a thing of the past.  This locks you into continued use of fossil fuels… or nuclear power.

          I have no objections to Nuclear facilities being built on geologically stable land well away from coastal area and flight paths etc, (provided they have a competent management and support team) but not here in N.Z which is subject to earthquakes, volcanoes and Tsunami risk.

          The Onagawa plant in Miyagi prefecture withstood greater ground movement and a higher wave than the Fukushima Dai’ichi site.  It came through smiling.  Maybe Christchurch can make a good stab at running itself on WWS; the Roaring Forties aren’t all that far away, after all.  But I think you’d be crazy not to have a local installed base of non-carbon backup to have that all-important experience in case you find out that Plan A isn’t going to work.  You Kiwis aren’t going to be having a good time in a 5°C hotter world either, and you have no expanses of land poleward of you as escape hatches.

          not in countries with bitter and twisted terrorists, who seek to make dirty bombs etc.

          Think about this “dirty bomb” thing for a minute.  If small amounts are actually dangerous enough to instill mass fear, how deadly is the mass of spent fuel going to be?  Deadly enough to kill anyone who tries moving it without heavy shielding, of course.  This means it’s almost impossible to steal, and shines like a beacon in gamma wavelengths which makes it easy to detect even through solid walls.  And of course, if you put it near water you get the telltale glow of Cerenkov radiation.

          Both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are buying whole fleets of nuclear reactors.  If those states want to sponsor terrorists with dirty bombs, they’ll be able to do it.  I think you’ll find that they are paper tigers.

          When the major fossil-fuel exporting nations on earth are nuclearizing, this tells you what they think about how long fossil fuels will hold out.  Kiwis, don’t be caught flat-footed.


          • I am still not convinced – the image of multitudes of Japanese victims embedded deeply in my mind are those suffering from radiation sickness with strips of skin hanging grotesquely down (not the ones devastated by explosion). I lived within the site of Hinckley point Nuclear power station in Somerset, that was more than enough exposure for me and fortunately the majority of Kiwis want nothing to do with nuclear power, and we have geothermal, hydro power and wind power available in abundance. Going nuclear means that many smaller countries would be dependant on the few countries that agree to build the technology (never mind international politics and who is friends with who) and they would be in the same dependant state that we find ourselves in when we depend on fossil fuels. Anyway this site is about climate change and denial and I am not against all Nuclear power point blank, if individual countries wish to embrace it. Personally I do not. It is a lifestyle choice I made many years ago in the 1960’s when I joined the CND movement, so there is no way you would convert me to share your obvious enthusiasm for the stuff.


          • the image of multitudes of Japanese victims embedded deeply in my mind are those suffering from radiation sickness with strips of skin hanging grotesquely down

            In other words, you have an induced phobia which is not connected to reality.  Nuclear power stations cannot explode in fireballs, nor can their spent fuel be used for weapons (weapons-grade material has to be specially made to keep the wrong isotopes from accumulating).  Nuclear power accidents unfold slowly enough to get away from them at a walking pace.  Besides, the risks from radiation are grossly overstated, to the point where “protection” standards likely cause much more harm than they could ever prevent.

            I’m much more worried about fossil fuels; recent explosions from gas lines and the Lac Megantic train inferno killed more people each than radioactive emissions from the entire history of commercial nuclear power in the G7.  One of the reasons I have a plug-in hybrid car is that it eliminates most of my need to handle (and buy) liquid fuels.  Electricity is a lot safer, and having a steady supply of baseload power lets me rely on it as my OPEC-replacement.

            the majority of Kiwis want nothing to do with nuclear power, and we have geothermal, hydro power and wind power available in abundance.

            Have you managed to use them to replace your fading gas field, or are you still running your grid on imported fuels?

            Going nuclear means that many smaller countries would be dependant on the few countries that agree to build the technology

            How many countries have the manufacturing base to make industrial wind turbines?

            There are a number of countries which have made or are making nuclear power plants.  Off the top of my head I count the USA, Canada, the UK, France, Japan, S. Korea, Russia and India.  Companies like Babcock and Wilcox are building small modular reactors which can be mass-produced.  They’ll likely last 60 years.  If the world went with such things, there would be room for a lot of sellers in the market.  If you’re concerned about fuel, you could stockpile many years of replacements in a rather small warehouse.  How else could you get such long-term energy security?

            But if you can make wind and geothermal and whatnot work for you, go for it.  Iceland has a fantastic supply of both geothermal and hydro power, and I hope they can turn themselves into the world’s source for aluminum and magnesium.  But most of the world lacks such bounty, and I don’t want them burning coal if I can point to an alternative.


          • I’m not sure if I’ll admit to having an “induced phobia”, the WWII photos and written eye witness accounts of the Japanese will stick in my mind forever and when I see today’s heavily suited workers combating Nuclear power accidents towards problems in Russia and Japan it does not fill me with confidence, also when problem fighting methods include desperate measures like freezing of the soil and huge concrete defences it also worries me a little. When Iran or North Korea advance in the NP technology the UN, USA and other Nuclear entities have a fit (if it is so great – why?). However I am having to make a paradigm shift, in my earlier and youthful life I was a CND and union (minor official), I supported the British Coal Miners in their year long strike against U.K PM Maggie Thatcher, (by raising and collecting money, food, clothes, toys etc. for the miners ,my own Grandfather was a miner). In retrospect she was right in introducing Nuclear power and winding down the coal industry (although I’m suspicious of her motivations). I did not know about Climate Change (and man’s contribution to it) then, I do now and thank this site run by the “greenman” for all his good efforts.


      • “That €20 billion [allegedly spent on power lines] would have bought nearly 4 GW of EPRs even at the first-of-a-kind Olkiluoto price”

        I didn’t realize that nuclear power plants make magic electricity that doesn’t require power lines to distribute. Good to know – thanks!


  6. Nice interview. Just a question:

    Jacobsen is the same as Jacobson?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Z._Jacobson

    Cheers


  7. Reply to Robert Bristow, re-parented for readability.

    I’m not sure if I’ll admit to having an “induced phobia”, the WWII photos and written eye witness accounts of the Japanese will stick in my mind forever

    That you persist in associating two things that have no relationship to each other, either in history or in physics, shows that you’ve been factually misled and dragged around by your emotions.  You’ve been manipulated.  You’ve been played.  Why do you go along with it?

    when I see today’s heavily suited workers combating Nuclear power accidents towards problems in Russia and Japan it does not fill me with confidence

    If those same suits were used by people working on a chemical spill, would you have the same reaction?  Chemical toxins can be far more difficult to detect than radioisotopes, thus far more insidious.

    “Bunny suits” really don’t do much against radiation.  Mostly, they’re to keep contaminated stuff from getting on the people inside (and sometimes keep people from contaminating clean stuff).  Tyvek doesn’t do squat to gamma rays, but it does keep people from getting dust particles and other difficult-to-clean stuff on their skin and work clothes.  What they’re worried about isn’t very mobile, and isn’t an issue at any significant distance from the site; if it was, it would long since have dispersed and wouldn’t be concentrated there any more.

    when problem fighting methods include desperate measures like freezing of the soil and huge concrete defences it also worries me a little.

    Now THAT is worth a bit of explanation, because this is not really a safety issue but a consequence of rules that are poorly thought out.  Here’s how it is:

    1.  There are now cracks in the basement walls of the turbine buildings, which allows the land-to-sea flow of groundwater to pass into the buildings.
    2.  This water gets mixed with the water leaking from the reactor containments.  This water carries Sr-90, Cs-137 and tritium, so it’s not legal to just release.
    3.  The Japanese have an excellent system for scrubbing water of the metal ions.  The cesium and strontium are cleaned up below the regulatory limits.  However, it’s impossible to separate tritium (which is chemically bound as water) the same way, and the water has tritium over the legal limit, so the rule-makers declared that the water has to be stored.  It’s piling up at about 400 tons a day.  It’s costly, but not any kind of hazard.
    4.  The freeze wall is just a way to stop the groundwater from migrating through and adding to the inventory.  It’s cheaper to make the freeze wall than to keep building new water tanks.

    The way to fix this is to recognize that the rules in (3) are counterproductive, and change them.  Tritium does not bio-accumulate, and it has both a short 12.3 year half-life and a very weak beta emission.  The simple thing to do is to take this water out in tankers, mix it with seawater to a fraction of the international concentration limit, and just put it in the Pacific to join all the tritium from the past century’s atmospheric bomb tests.  It would be too dilute to hurt anything and every 12.3 years half the remainder will be gone.  This is so harmless, if they just went and did it in the dead of night without telling anyone nobody would notice.

    That’s the beauty of radioactive stuff versus, say, mercury:  mercury stays toxic forever, because it doesn’t decay.


    • Well you are a lot more knowledgeable and enthusiastic on the subject of NP/EPR’s than me and I can accept and agree on your points on the benefits of Nuclear power, however there are a few negatives/down sides which I’m sure you could also admit to and mention if you had a mind to (just as there are also down sides to the Nuclear competitors). Just to close my rant here is an interesting view on the mix of Nuclear power and climate change from the Christian Monitor.

      http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2013/1028/How-global-warming-could-boost-green-energy-in-an-unexpected-way-video

      regards
      Bob


    • Your enthusiasm seems to be at odds with the reality of the situation at Fukushima.
      “this is not really a safety issue” “It’s piling up at about 400 tons a day. It’s costly, but not any kind of hazard.”

      The latest leak is so contaminated that a person standing half a meter (1 ft 8 inches) away would, within an hour, receive a radiation dose five times the average annual global limit for nuclear workers.

      After 10 hours, a worker in that proximity to the leak would develop radiation sickness with symptoms including nausea and a drop in white blood cells.

      “That is a huge amount of radiation. The situation is getting worse,” said Michiaki Furukawa, who is professor emeritus at Nagoya University and a nuclear chemist.

      http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/20/us-japan-fukushima-leak-idUSBRE97J02920130820

      Are you aware that the water in the storage tanks has not yet been scrubbed of strontium90 and cesium137 and there is difficulty in getting that to work?

      http://www.post-gazette.com/news/world/2013/10/27/Toxic-water-stymies-Fukushima-cleanup/stories/201310270060

      Experts agree it is better to avoid letting groundwater flow past the reactors. Yet a freeze wall is no sure thing, either. Also, to end the existing system of radioactive storage and clean up, the freeze wall must work. Either one consumes a lot of energy and money. Fukushima is costing billions and there is no end in sight.


      • The latest leak is so contaminated that a person standing half a meter (1 ft 8 inches) away would, within an hour, receive a radiation dose five times the average annual global limit for nuclear workers.

        That’s nothing.  I can show you examples of places with radiation so intense, you would sustain major injuries in a fraction of a second and be dead in well under a minute.  Thermal radiation, that is.  Flashover bathes rooms in heat so intense it literally ignites everything flammable.

        Un-snarking for a moment:  who is going to stand half a meter from this tank for any length of time, any more than someone is going to stay in a building that’s on fire?  There’s no description of the actual nature of the radiation, so I can’t be sure if it’s coming from Sr-90 (two high-energy beta particles in the decay chain to Zr-90) or Cs-137 (which mostly decays to Ba-137m, which is a gamma emitter).  Gamma rays carry much further in air than beta particles.  This determines if the minimum safe distance for long-term exposure is 2 meters, or 20 meters.

        For anyone off the plant site, it doesn’t matter.  The public is perfectly safe.  Further, I’m certain that this leak was detected long before any workers received a significant dose from it.  If this was a chemical hazard of the same magnitude, we’d never have heard about it because it simply would not be news.  This shouldn’t be news either, but some parties have an interest in whipping up hysteria.  Parties which sell lots of fossil fuels to Japan to make up for the reactors being down, like Qatar and Saudi Arabia.  Parties whose standard of living is based on destroying Earth’s climate.

        “That is a huge amount of radiation. The situation is getting worse,” said Michiaki Furukawa, who is professor emeritus at Nagoya University and a nuclear chemist.

        How much worse would it have to get before the public would be affected in the least?  Much, MUCH worse… and only if you went swimming in the harbor.  And you ignored “Two systems have proven successful in filtering cesium.”  They’ve done it not once, but twice.  If they really need space, they could build filtration systems on barges and put them into the Dai’ichi site’s dedicated harbor.  They could use the same harbor to load the ion-scrubbed (but tritiated) water onto tankers and put it in the ocean well offshore.  The occasional atom of tritium is no hazard to anything, and half of it vanishes all by itself every 12.3 years.

        If they really wanted to be sure, they could add salt to the water until it was saturated and put it on the ocean floor through long hoses.  It wouldn’t come up again before the tritium was gone.


        • You are the one that asserted it was perfectly safe. Now that you are caught in a falsehood, you are reduced to more shrill denials. The workers who were dosed by water leaks from the tanks are probably uninterested in your denials.
          Strontium90 and cesium137 have increased in the nearby ocean recently.
          The containment areas have high levels of strontium 90, which is a hazard from bioaccumulation. Dilution in the ocean won’t help if biota are concentrating radiation in the food chain. Strontium90 and cesium137 are particular concerns, but there are a witches brew of radionuclides coming from three complete meltdowns, the worlds first. You have not responded on the subject of how the chemical scrubbers are not working. Apparently, TEPCO can do it “if they want to.” Maybe you should consult for them. If chemical processing is working, why is the number of storage tanks increasing? Why does TEPCO plan on adding many more storage tanks? Why don’t you know that is what TEPCOs plan is? It sounds like they don’t plan on processing it faster than it accumulates any time soon. I guess if you say, Michiaki Furukawa, a professor emeritus nuclear chemist was wrong when he said , ” This is a huge amount of radiation” I should believe you instead because you say so. I guess you did not notice that the public (Japanese) was affected in the least. You know, those women that migrated to southern Japan with their infants and the over 100,000 that can never return to their homes, and the fishermen still waiting to fish or all the people with Geiger counters and the government testing radioactivity in fish and farm products and a few things like that. They are all just silly. What disaster?


  8. Nuclear will not put a dent in Ontario CO2 until the fossil fuel heating and transportation sector is addressed. Electricity is about 20%.
    Here is a reference for discussing Canadian Energy.

    http://www.neb-one.gc.ca/clf-nsi/rnrgynfmtn/nrgyrprt/nrgyftr/2011/nrgsppldmndprjctn2035-eng.html#s3_1


    • Nuclear will not put a dent in Ontario CO2 until the fossil fuel heating and transportation sector is addressed. Electricity is about 20%.

      I have been busting my butt to try to get the actual numbers regarding this assertion, but I’ve been stymied by the (lack of) summary reports from the IESO.  Their annual report breaks down the fraction of net generation by type of generator, but does not give totals.  Their daily generation reports are only held for 90 days, and each day is a separate file.  eia.gov has annual total generation for Canada, but no breakdown by province.  It’s almost like… they don’t want anyone to be able to make certain comparisons which would force unwelcome conclusions.  (No, the National Energy Board reports don’t have this either, and the most recent electric report is from 2008.)

      When reliable numbers cannot be obtained, the fallback position is the educated guess.

      First, assume that the per-capita electricity consumption in Ontario is roughly the same as the Canadian average.  Canada’s 2011 electric consumption was about 500 TWH even (source:  EIA).  At an estimated 2011 population of 33.5 million (Wikipedia), this comes to 14.9 MWH per capita or an average of 1.7 kW per head, slightly more than the figure for the USA.

      The IESO 2012 annual report (http://www.ieso.ca/imoweb/pubs/corp/IESO_2012AnnualReport.pdf) says that Ontario’s 2012 generation mix was 56.4% nuclear, 22.3% hydro, 14.6% gas, 3.0% wind, 2.8% coal and 0.8% “other”.  This comes to 8400 kWh/capita from nuclear.  If this had been replaced by gas at 550 gCO2/kWh, emissions would have increased by 4.6 tons of CO2 per capita.

      So, to the contrary:  nuclear has already made a VERY BIG dent in Ontario’s CO2 emissions, cutting them by nearly a quarter over the all-gas, non-nuclear scenario.  If Ontario’s nuclear-heavy mix at roughly 80 gCO2/kWh was replaced by Denmark’s wind+fossil grid mix at ~360 gCO2/kWh, emissions would increase by about 4.2 tons/capita.

      Do you have any factual objections to this analysis, or are you ready to agree with me?


      • Yup. It’s nukes or nothin. And since you said I have no choice, I must have no choice. In your mind. Which is all that matters. But just maybe, just maybe, you could respond to that quote you put in really nice italics. The IESO won’t help. Read the italics again. It’s about how much energy from fossil fuels in transportation and elsewhere. Even if electricity was a zero carbon source, it is only about 20% of total energy. Solutions are needed for those. So the Ontario nuclear dent in co2 is less than 10%. (But it’s very big because it’s in capital letters) (There is carbon in mining, milling, processing, enrichment, waste storage)This in a province with heavy nuclear use. Solar can be used without conversion to electricity as process heat. And any source converted to electricity has the same problem to be fair. It’s just that even though I have no choice and must agree because you said so, I wondered how great nuclear is at reducing CO2 in Ontario. You know, Peter is not forcing me, but I think I like Iceland and Brazil better.


        • Yup. It’s nukes or nothin. And since you said I have no choice, I must have no choice. In your mind. Which is all that matters.

          Show me that any of the other “choices” actually are choices, meaning that they work.

          But just maybe, just maybe, you could respond to that quote you put in really nice italics. The IESO won’t help. Read the italics again. It’s about how much energy from fossil fuels in transportation and elsewhere. Even if electricity was a zero carbon source, it is only about 20% of total energy.

          You haven’t shown that the “Green” choices are actually choices.  Even at 9.9 t/capita/yr, Denmark emits far too much CO2 to stabilize the atmosphere.  Even if Denmark could get enough renewable fuel to keep its grid-related emissions down to 360 gCO2/kWh, that still would not be low enough to reduce its total emissions to 2 t/capita/yr by electrification of its remaining energy consumption.

          Ontario has a majority of electric generation which emits zero CO2.  The nuclear fraction can be expanded without any technical difficulties (politics is another matter).  Space heat and transportation can be converted to electric in many if not most cases, and the economics aren’t bad at $100/bbl oil.  Ontario has a technically feasible path to arbitrarily low CO2 per capita, which is pretty amazing when you think about it.

          I started pondering CO2-negative energy systems more than 6 years ago.  These things work best if you have a zero-carbon source of process heat.  Nuclear does that very well.

          (There is carbon in mining, milling, processing, enrichment, waste storage)

          The ridiculous propaganda of Storm van Leewen and Smith aside, that carbon is minuscule and could be reduced further.  The uranium mined at Olympic Dam in Australia is a byproduct of copper mining, and the digging would be done even if the uranium was discarded.

          Solar can be used without conversion to electricity as process heat.

          Why didn’t anyone ever consider solar to make process steam for Dow’s chemical plant in Midland?  You know, where Peter lives and does his work?  Ponder that, and tell me.

          It’s just that even though I have no choice and must agree because you said so, I wondered how great nuclear is at reducing CO2 in Ontario. You know, Peter is not forcing me, but I think I like Iceland and Brazil better.

          If you would prefer living in a favela, Brazil can be your reality today.  Unfortunately, you can’t produce Iceland’s abundance of hydropower and geothermal hot springs outside of Iceland.  The Icelanders are bound to object if too many demand entry to their small, agriculturally-deficient island.  If geology and geography prohibit the rest of the world from reproducing Iceland’s results and Brazil’s class divisions are objectionable, it’s not exactly honest to demand that everyone follow one or the other.

          Do you want to spend your life as a menial laborer in Brazil, cutting “energy” (sugar) cane with a machete because it is less carbon-intensive than machine harvesting?  Until you do it, don’t preach to anyone else.


  9. Yes, lets let you do all the preaching. Just don’t hyperventilate. Everyone in Brazil is a menial laborer? Why solar was not used in Midland? Why would I use solar when wind is cheaper? The more you get caught, the more shrill you become, and the less logical. Take some nice deep breaths and your mind will be restored. Thats it. Relax. Much better.


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