More on Climate Trolls

January 4, 2014

Most climate denial comes from simple ignorance – people who are genuinely alarmed, embarrassed, and actually pissed, when they find out how they’ve been lied to and for how long.

Then, there’s the sociopaths. People for whom climate denial, science denial, and paranoia politics, are evidence of emotional or organic dysfunction.
This is part 2 of the discussion Chris Hayes convened on thursday night to  discuss the willful ignorance of climate deniers stretching to bend a snowstorm into a refutation of 200 years of physics.

My own theory, based on long observation of the infantile, paranoid, “you are not the boss of me”  strain of libertarianism often expressed by these folks, is that we need to review the way we toilet train children in this country. Something’s gone terribly wrong.

I’m a big believer in free discussion, but if you are having a free discussion and you notice the other guy is throwing up on your shoes, generally you make some adjustments.
Recent threads on this forum are causing me to review my policy on trolling. Stay tuned.

82 Responses to “More on Climate Trolls”

  1. uknowispeaksense Says:

    Peter, you know my position. Here’s a template for you from my blog. Feel free to use it….

    “I am no longer accepting any comments on this blog from people taking a denial position. The science is settled in relation to climate change and the alleged “debate” only exists in the denial blogosphere. Just as I will not provide a forum for pseudoscientific bullshit like anti-vaccination, anti-fluoridation and free energy lunatics, I will not provide a forum for AGW deniers to spread their garbage. If you don’t like it, I don’t care. Go some other place or start your own blog.”

    • daryan12 Says:

      My response would be make them supply references, and I mean proper peer reviewed ref’s not some article from the Daily Fail or Fox news. Often this stumps deniers anyway as they don’t know what peer review is let alone why such sources carry far more weight than what some right-wing hack says.


  2. Peter – Thank you for providing this website. I would rather have a positive discussion about the activities and benefits of this website. I like the congeniality and shared ideas. I treasure the discovery of new ideas that illuminate a better future for us all. And I appreciate the humor and entertainment of your videos. I do believe learning is different and sometimes better in kinesthetically pleasing video. You excel in it.
    Reasons for allowing deniers to post.
    1. Claims of being muzzled receive a whole lot less sympathy.
    2. Deniers reveal causes of their imbalance
    3. Provide proof of denier extremism and irrationality for others
    4. Their questions may spur some to further educate themselves
    5. One of the few blogs that tolerates deniers especially trolls.
    I have witnessed website (here and elsewhere) discussions that went on for pages that wound up revealing the doubter had significant misunderstandings about the meaning and definitions of climatology jargon, or simply ignorance of basic, math, physics, and chemistry. Since motive is hard to distinguish, its best if rules are made using principles. Of course, Peter has the right to make decisions about his own blog, regardless. We who share this blog to post have a responsibility for its content and demeanor. Its not just a playground, even though it can be fun. I for one, am completely disinterested in a few denier behaviors.
    1. Global vs Local
    2. Semantic debate
    3. Conspiracies
    4. Opinion or data stated as authority without citation
    Many have been left frustrated requesting citation that was never delivered. Some of the ideas deniers have would be dealt with swiftly in a science class. Fundamentally, science is also social. It sets standards for multiple observers that eliminate personal bias. It fosters the courtesy of letting others judge for themselves.


  3. Denier trolls add nothing to the discussion for me. They add nothing to a website visit, and have turned me away from otherwise readable blogs.

    You want to argue endlessly with climate trolls? – go to Deltoid. It’s all they do there. I stopped reading that one more than a year ago.

    The ONLY thing that denier trolls add to a legitimate blog is click hits. If that is more important to the blog owner than the quality of discussion, I suppose that is his decision – but I do not admire it.

    But I am a hard case. Frankly, I’m not even that interested in blog posts that go into deep detail about climate specifics. It reminds me of descriptive entomology or taxonomy. I don’t care that much about whether a particular species of wasp can be discriminated by another because of the size of a microscopic protuberance on the fourth segment of the fifth (insert near nonsense word).

    In the same way, and Peter forgive me, but I don’t really care about how black carbon makes small incremental changes to snow melt at certain times and places.

    And this is because of *the very same reason* I despise climate denier trolls – the science of global warming is settled. We don’t need to rearrange more armchairs on the Titanic, we need to solve the problem.

    More time, energy, and posts on arcane climate dynamics documentation is a waste of time, energy and the mental bandwidth of readers. More posts on what we need to solve the problem are what we need, and how quickly we need these changes are what is important.

    We still have not even had a national discussion about whether we should or should not continue with a free market solution, or whether a public program would be more appropriate. Does anyone even know an accurate price tag for the new infrastructure? What would be the most time and cost efficient way to accomplish this? Are we spending our money wisely? Would it make more sense to approach infrastructure development with an international and cooperative effort?

    We have, in a large sense, wasted another ten years arguing with morons on the internet to ‘prove’ what we already know to be true. We have had 15 million posts on tracking sea level, ice melt, air temperature changes, etc, etc, etc. But how many posts in the history of the internet, though, have addressed the most basic idea of what is the best way to proceed to solve the bloody problem? How can it be, in the year 2014, no one knows just what new renewable energy infrastructure we actually need, where to put it, and the cheapest way to build it?

    Arguing with trolls is like Nero playing the fiddle while Rome burns. Ban the trolls, Peter.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Well said—I find next to nothing to quarrel with in what you have said here.

      The questions you raise and 50 years of looking at the blight that the human race represents on the planet have led me to the rather haunting conclusion that it may be too late, that we are too freaking stupid to do what needs to be done in time to save the planet. An apropos quote:

      “If we let this happen, we definitely need to come up with a name to replace Homo sapiens sapiens……we might consider Fervens tardius amentes Rana, which is the best internet translation into Latin I could get for slowly boiling brainless frog.”

      Joe Romm, climateprogress


    • We don’t need to rearrange more armchairs on the Titanic, we need to solve the problem.

      Agreed!

      Does anyone even know an accurate price tag for the new infrastructure?

      De-carbonizing the US electrical grid and electrifying ground transportation would require about 630 GW(avg) of new generation.  At 90% capacity factor, that’s 700 GW of generating capacity.  Assuming no economies of scale or more streamlined, consistent practices and regulation are used to cut overall cost while maintaining quality, $4500/kW appears to be a reasonable figure.  That comes to just over $3 trillion; done over 20 years, about $150 billion a year.

      This is not a large sum compared to current energy expenditures.  The USA currently burns about 130 billion gpy of motor gasoline, currently retailing at more than $3/gallon.  Electrifying most car trips (via PEVs) would save the bulk of that figure.

      How can it be, in the year 2014, no one knows just what new renewable energy infrastructure we actually need, where to put it, and the cheapest way to build it?

      I flagged your assumption there.  Given the diminishing return of carbon reductions with increasing penetration of wind power (see the Argonne study of the Illinois grid, the abstract of which I have analyzed at The Ergosphere), it appears that renewables may be unable to do the job at any price.  But nuclear power can.


      • You reference a narrow study of wind power in Illinois. I don’t see how that addresses your assertion that renewables can not do the job.

        Meanwhile, Delucci and Jacobson have published two analyses in Energy Policy which propose the opposite of your statement above – that renewables can do the job, and could be in place quickly:

        http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/JDEnPolicyPt1.pdf‎


        • Its an example of exactly what I regret here. The topic is climate trolls. What do we get? An unabashedly biased reference re AGW solutions with an agenda. That’s another gripe. Off topic comments. Especially ones with an agenda. I am sick of them. Its so bad I cannot stand to read anything about sea level rise, even though it could be a valid subject of discussion. Everyone knows what I am talking about. So then someone has to respond to the unbalanced comment, to add some balance. Then we are off and running off topic. Certain individuals cannot resist the urge to throw in their favorite agenda. That is not fair to the other people who want to discuss the topic. Unfortunately, this is an example of exactly what we are talking about. Ironic, isn’t it? There are different kinds of trolls. I doubt we would like to have salesmen soliciting business on this site. I have seen that on other sites. Thats another abuse. A blog is for a purpose. Its purpose can be abused and destroyed. Blogs are not science. Scientific matters will not be settled here. However, this kind of blog can serve to educate and enlighten particularly if standards that promote that apply. I said it before, decide on a set of principles and apply them. I just got convinced. Apply the off topic standard. If an individual refuses to comply, ban them. This takes some consideration, but it could weed out the worst offenders. I think the same applies to those that don’t get Global, etc. They are a waste of time and ruin the discussion, which could be about developments and how to proceed.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Amen, amen!

          • andrewfez Says:

            I think EP still brings some interesting points to the table and i always ending up learning something new when he posts.

            For example in the Illinois grid wind penetration model, we see a diminished return in carbon offset with respect to wind penetration. The increase of powering up and down thermal based generators to deal with the wind variability means there is more time when those producers are running at diminished efficiency. That’s the first study to take that into account. But the overall message is positive: 30-40% wind penetration can significantly reduce emissions, the caveat being that Illinois has some of the dirtier plants.

            I would never have scanned over the study if he hadn’t posted it here. Nor would I have scanned over the Delucci and Jacobson study (which interestingly downplayed the cost of building nuclear a bit; though it was mostly focusing on wind, solar, and water).

            Now the study he posted a few months ago regarding fruit flies and radiation exposure was a bit much, as human cell apoptosis is significantly different than that of insects; I would prefer well done human epidemiological studies; so i filter some stuff out as I read.


          • andrew – EP brings something to the table when it isn’t nuclear. When its nuclear, you get spin. The reference is a paper by a nuclear lab about wind. Does that make sense? Its behind a paywall, and I am not going to pay money for it. So all you see is a chart, but no reference to how it works. Not cricket. What you can ascertain is that it is for cycling coal plants on and off. Whoever said that is how the system works? It doesn’t. Electric networks work on day ahead planning. The amount of reserves needed and everything else depends on forecast accuracy. The way they are supposed to work, coal never gets cycled any more than it has to. They like to stay on. The preferred way is to stay on and throttle. What did an NREL Western Wind Integration study find? Practically no net negative effect, only minuscule impacts from wind integration. Thats because they did not do anything as silly as assume coal plants are going to turn on and off. Guess what else? NO2 emissions drop as plants throttle back. There are lots of data in this paper. Suffice to say, every paper you can get your hands on says wind lowers CO2 and the effects related to other plants don’t make much difference. FYI, this study is featured in IEEE Power and Energy. Thats how authoritative it is. Don’t fall for the BS. I object to cherry picking. And show a paper we can all see. How about this. Source it from the same field. Like get a power engineering souce or
            a wind source, not one from a nuclear lab. What the heck does a nuclear lab have to do with coal or wind or the electric grid. Even EPRI would be more valid.

            Click to access DRAFT%2BPLAN%2BORPHAN%2BIDLE%2BWELLS.pdf


          • How in the heck did that come out with such a long URL.

            Click to access 55588.pdf


          • Andrew, it’s far from the first study to take power cycling into account.


          • This is how real reserve analysis is done. Reserves are needed for forecast errors. Variability is not the issue. The next day wind and solar forecast can look like a snake. Doesn’t matter as much as forecast error. The day ahead forecast for load and supply determines the amount of reserves. Notice EPs analysis has no mention of forecast. Therefore he has no idea how to calculate reserves. Let’s see how it’s done by power professionals rather than take the word of a biased anti-renewable agenda.

            http://environmentalresearchweb.org/cws/article/news/54844

          • andrewfez Says:

            Hi Christopher,

            It looks to me like the two papers are saying roughly the same thing, but it’s a bit tough to compare as the Argonne paper is looking at 10, 20, 30, and 40% wind penetration in a model based on what the Illinois grid was doing for a few months in 2006, whilst the National Renewable Energy Lab is looking at ‘up to 33%’ [equivalent to 24-26% for U.S.] of the wind and solar penetration of the Western grid. A grid with wind and fossil stuff is sort of tricky to compare to a grid with wind, hydro, solar and fossil stuff (I’m assuming the Western grid has more solar than does IL).

            Figure 6 on page 6 of the Argonne study shows that for 30% wind penetration, roughly 0.18 tons of CO2 per MWh is added to the fossil operations due to cycling. For 20% wind penetration the number is 0.15. Baseline operations are 1.1 ton/MWh so for 20% and 30% wind we see a +13.6% and +16.3% impact respectively. The NREL study shows <5% impact of increased cycling. The apparent variance is probably due to the comparison of the 'apple' grid to the 'orange' grid; again, the IL coal plants are relatively dirtier.

            The Argonne also states that as more wind comes online, more dispatch falls to the lot of the gas fired plants, away from the coal plants.

            Sorry, I was badly quoting the Argonne author regarding the '1st study to…': Page 2 in the intro says, '…To our knowledge, we are the first to use a model that incorporates the effects of both cycling and start-ups in analyzing emissions from an electric power system with high wind penetrations…'. [Incidentally, the NREL study seems to incorporate start-ups into their general definition of cycling.] It could be Argonne is making the distinction that they are focusing solely on wind penetration, versus more comprehensive RE approaches? Or they could be alluding to the discrete examination of the 10, 20, 30 and 40% marks of penetration.

            My take away from the study were that 1) it's focused on the IL grid and not necessarily universally applicable (for example, in places with enough hydro dispatch is available, it's less applicable); 2) it is meaningful only for the next 10 or so years when wind will probably be coming online faster and in greater magnitude than storage, but after storage starts to ramp up it's a different ballgame; 3) it's a model study – probably better to examine Germany or Denmark to see what really happens at high wind/solar penetration.


          • Andrew – yes. The benefit of deniers prompting others investigation and enlightenment was noted in my comments. That’s balanced against the damage, misinformation, and distraction. It’s like having a disruptive kid in class. There is a reason the authors are unaware of other studies. They are not part of the same professional circle. The circles I am talking about contain members of the power system operators like MISO. And the Argonne paper probably really should not have different data, but the results and conclusions… Who knows without the full paper. The worst part is EPs analysis. I provided a reference to a study of reserve requirements. It’s not just the illinois grid difference. We don’t know what the paper says. The chart we can see is for co2 emissions and on/off cycling. The NREL study authors know full well that coal plants are not ( on today’s MISO grid) and will not be cycled on/off. For emissions and cost reasons ISOs throttle rather than turn on/off. Therefore, predicting emissions from that scenario is bunk. Further, predicting reserves without forecasts is ignorance of the profession. Take a look at the NREL study. It’s featured in IEEE Power and Energy. I referenced it in my other comment. Then you can see what’s going on. There is a smattering of papers on renewable penetration from here and Europe. There’s plenty of papers on renewables that go back decades. It’s just that now we have real world data from real grids at high penetration. The NREL study uses actual annual data from 200x.


          • The evidence of troll? Not a new topic. Off topic of present thread. Here was the same topic. Tom Gray gave a good reference. NREL says as much.
            https://climatecrocks.com/2013/10/18/breaking-news-dog-bites-man-pope-catholic-wind-energy-saves-carbon/

          • andrewfez Says:

            Yo Christopher,

            I’m getting ready to leave for the airport in the middle of the night here. I’ll take a look at the NREL stuff more after I get situated on the other side of the country. Gonna try to sleep a little on the plane, but chances are that won’t happen so I’ll probably have a 36 hour day to look forward to. I’ll be back in a couple days probably (though I’ll be on vacation)…

        • uknowispeaksense Says:

          You’re engaging a pro-nuclear troll. E-P appears to accept the science but goes out of his way to bag any talk of renewables in favour of a nuclear solution. You could be forgiven for thinking he owns a uranium mine or is a concern troll.


          • uknowispeaksense – Yes. I am starting to share your point of view re trolls. I don’t think there are any people on this blog, save the trolls, who do not know who they are. This form of trolling is to give unbalanced views from a position of authority and to interrupt the topic with their favorite agenda. Distortion and exaggeration goes with it, like a bad salesman. There are others on this site that have sympathetic views towards towards the same viewpoint, expressed with balance, no problem. I can sympathize with their views. I do not expect everyone to agree. How one represents ideas with respect for others viewpoint and with fairness toward the balance of ideas does matter. The criteria I added down the thread is from How Stuff Works
            http://computer.howstuffworks.com/troll.htm
            Works pretty well, doesnt it?

          • uknowispeaksense Says:

            indeed


        • Roger, that reply was not meant to be negative to you. Please understand. Sometimes the reply scheme eludes me.


          • No worries! 🙂


          • The thumbs down have an interesting trend lately. A two sentence reply to one individual with no content, with two thumbs down? Wonder who that might be…. hmmm…. Amen, Amen….. hmmmmm…. Maybe someone doesn’t like Amen?

          • andrewfez Says:

            I ‘vote-up’ as an acknowledgement after i read a reply (in the vein of facebook). Sometimes I’ll even vote up omnologos, especially if he writes something that i can’t comprehend.


        • (how did I know that Arcus would jump in unbidden?  why was my suspicion that dumboldguy would also appear confirmed?  my appraisal of human nature seems to work, at least for some humans who can’t get the rules for having a rational discussion.  but down to brass tacks.)

          You reference a narrow study of wind power in Illinois. I don’t see how that addresses your assertion that renewables can not do the job.

          Work it out yourself.  How much of the world is like Quebec or Norway, with thin populations and ample hydropower resources… and how much is the opposite?  Which nations can substitute irregular wind/solar generation with minimal impact on anything else, and which cannot?

          Which nations have essentially de-carbonized major energy sectors?  What did they use?  Can their examples be generalized to much of the world, or do they require certain elements of geography and climate?  Given the answers to the above, what should you push?

          I’ll leave those answers for later, while addressing the rest of your comment.  My reply in detail is posted in segments below, starting here.

    • uknowispeaksense Says:

      Well said Roger.

      While I agree wholeheartedly with most of what you have said, inparticular about arguing with trolls, there is still a need for blogs like this one to put basic climate information out there, because there is still a large number of people who just don’t get it, but are trying to find out.

      Until this new year, I have been a university lecturer teaching, amongst other things, a module in a bridging course to university called Understanding Science. I use climate change myths and denier blogs as a starting point for teaching the difference between science and pseudoscience. It never ceases to amaze me how little many of my students know about basic climate facts. I find using Peter’s videos as well as sites like sks very useful in educating my students. An educated public is more able to influence decision makers.

      That said, there does need to be many more sites and emphases on moving forward to a carbon pollution free world and the political and social aspects of that. There aren’t nearly enough.


      • No wonder you have no tolerance for trolls. I keep thinking what a science teacher would do with students who challenge them as if they know better. Not that a teacher would not carefully reference their thoughts. Its more like, there is no such thing as a marketplace of ideas on science exams. You either understand and apply the Nernst equation properly, or you just don’t get it right. I don’t think you would have much sympathy for a student who substituted their own view of how pressure, volume, and temperature work. Yet we have seen that. I don’t expect to be the most knowledgeable, and gladly defer to more knowledgeable scientific expertise, but there are times when I say whoa… I think I might have heard an opinion ignoring the Nernst equation coming from a scientifically uneducated mind.


  4. […] Most climate denial comes from simple ignorance – people who are genuinely alarmed, embarrassed, and actually pissed, when they find out how they've been lied to and for how long. Then, there's the sociopaths.  […]


  5. dumboldguy, Roger – Making solutions a main topic and focus. I agree. We need to know something about the problem, but we are past wondering if AGW is real. We need to make some progress here and quickly.
    Staying on topic, what is a troll? Here is an amusing and enlightening reference:
    http://computer.howstuffworks.com/troll.htm
    Personal insults. Direct name calling. That could be reined tighter. Sorry Peter, it sucks to be a policeman, doesn’t it?

    • greenman3610 Says:

      I should at least get a bag of doughnuts.


      • You have a Midwestern wit. Not everyone gets my jokes, either. Those kinds of jokes force one to think.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Anyone who has spent any time with policeman got the joke instantly. I was going to suggest that a bag of carrots and celery sticks would be better for his health.


          • Yeah, but you are bright.

          • greenman3610 Says:

            local landmark
            http://www.copsdoughnuts.com

            I was a medic for 15 years. met a lot of cops.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            LOL And the photo of the nine local cops shows how they “saved” the business (or at least the six rather “chunky” ones did). A lot of doughnuts packed on those bodies.

            One of my hobbies is model railroading. When you visit railroad layouts, you can count on certain cliches appearing time after time. One is the “bear in the woods” (often doing what bears do in the woods), another is the “nude sunbathers” (usually in the backyards behind houses so that kids can’t see them), and another is the “cops at the donut shop”. The best one of those I ever saw had perhaps 25 cruisers parked out front and many dozens of cops moving to and from the shop or sitting in the shop or their cars eating donuts. The layout owner was an ex-cop and was quite proud of that scene. There were even a few ambulances and medics in the scene, so you’d feel at home.

            (And should you ever visit here, remember that in VA ambulance is often pronounced “Am-bu-LANCE”, just as we have PO-lice cars and FAHR trucks. But we all say “donuts” the same way).

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Excellent article. And it only sucks to be a policeman when the policing doesn’t work. If the policing DOES work, life improves for all. Trust me on that—I speak from decades of experience spent in a type of “policing”.


  6. This criteria totally works for me:
    Does the person ask the same questions worded in different ways? Does the person ignore suggestions or responses from other members of the community? If the community has a frequently asked question (FAQ) section, does the person seemingly refuse to read it?
    Has the person posted inflammatory remarks that have no real substance to them?
    Does he or she make it a habit to post messages that include insults and vulgar language?
    Does he or she respond to other members in a purely negative, critical way?
    Does the person post messages that are generally off-topic? Does he or she seem to want only attention rather than discuss the topic at hand?
    Does the person resurrect old conversations or discussions that were once controversial within the community? Some trolls enjoy bringing back old arguments to encourage dissent within a group.
    When confronted with a counter argument, does the person in question change tactics rather than answer the points made by another member? Does the person employ logical fallacies within their posts?
    Seriously. Does anyone wonder with this criteria, who would be on the list?


  7. Reply to Roger Lambert, which wound up needing to be broken into 4 parts.  Part 1/4:

    Meanwhile, Delucci and Jacobson have published two analyses in Energy Policy which propose the opposite of your statement above – that renewables can do the job, and could be in place quickly

    I had to edit that PDF link to get it to come up (something weird was appended to it).

    One thing you should notice is that Delucci and Jacobson rule out nuclear energy a priori (page 3/1156, paragraph 3).  Their prejudice is proven by this quote (emphasis added):

    The historic link between energy facilities and weapons is evidenced by the development or attempted development of weapons capabilities secretly in nuclear energy facilities in Pakistan, India (Federation of American Scientists, 2010), Iraq (prior to 1981), Iran (e.g., Adamantiades and Kessides, 2009, p. 16), and to some extent North Korea.

    They go on at some length (into the first column of page 4).  Aside from the irony of using proliferation in foreign states to argue against nuclear energy in a superpower which has been turning ex-warhead materials into electricity for years… no weapons proliferator has ever used spent fuel from power reactors to start a weapons program.  None (not even the USA, which used 2 weapons in 1945 but didn’t have a commercial nuclear power station for another 12 years, as North Korea still does not).  There’s good reason for this:  you can’t.  Weapons plutonium is made in research or dedicated reactors running on very short fuel cycles, not power reactors.  I fear that, however threatening uranium enrichment in hostile states may be, that cat has long been out of the bag.  (It appears more likely to me that states will want dual-use technologies if they’re energy-starved than if they can buy plants and fuel from a host of suppliers.)

    The real kicker is is that D&J insist that nuclear stations can’t be built fast enough to make a difference, ignoring that France essentially de-carbonized its electric grid in just 16 years using technology 1.5 generations older and less refined than today’s.  The current lengthy process for planning and construction of nuclear plants in the West is driven by government requirements pushed by the likes of Mark Jacobson, and all the “interventions” they place in the way of throwing the breaker.  If you get the impression that I feel that Jacobson’s pleadings about renewables are like a bully breaking your leg and then claiming to be magnanimous for lending you a pair of crutches, you’re right.

    Since Delucci and Jacobson have manufactured reasons to reject nuclear energy (Jacobson in particular is an established anti-nuclear activist), I feel no need to consider their nuclear-related claims further.


  8. Part 2/4:

    On to the affirmative claims of D&J.  The difference between “renewables” (which may or may not be, depending on supplies of e.g. rare-earths for magnets) and conventional energy supplies is that the latter typically are fed from stockpiles of energy, while renewables capture flows of power.  If a flow is currently ebbing there is nothing you can do to increase it, and if it’s currently available in excess of immediate need your options are to store it or lose it.  A stockpile can be tapped on demand.  Stockpiles allow what grid operators call “capacity”, flows from renewables do not.  Without capacity to turn on the light when you flick the switch or kick on the refrigerator when it gets too warm inside, you don’t have an electrical grid.

    Power from a flow can be stored, creating an energy stockpile.  This is how conventional hydropower works; the flow of a river is stockpiled behind a dam.  This is all well and good, except that many river flows are oversubscribed and migratory fish species can go extinct when their spawning grounds become inaccessible behind dams.  Changing the temperature and oxygenation of the water has unwelcome effects on many species which remain.  These are some of the many reasons that large-scale expansion of conventional hydropower as an energy buffer is not in the cards.

    Peter recently posted a link which gets you one link away from a news item about a GE wind farm using Durathon batteries for regulation or something.  The amount of storage came to 25-50 kWh per 1.6 MW turbine.  I calculated at the time that at 1.6 megawatts, 25 kWh of energy goes by in just 56 seconds.  56 seconds is barely enough time to copy RAM to hard disk and do an orderly power-down of a computer; starting a large gas turbine plant and getting it ready to take load takes ten minutes or more.  Such battery banks are not going to allow fossil-fired plants to be left cold; they will still need to be spinning and burning fuel, ready to take up when the wind farm’s output drops.

    On page 6 (col. 1 para. 1), D&J hand-wave about converting flows in excess of immediate need to hydrogen.  That is as far as they go to consider the need for energy storage.  They do not consider the size of the required stockpile, the cost of building it and stocking it, the losses involved in conversion and re-conversion, losses in storage, or the capital cost and O&M expenses of equipment.  Yet such measures are essential to firming the power flow from RE, to turn it into capacity.

    And that is all the space they spend on the issue, roughly 1 column-inch.  There is nearly a page spent attacking nuclear energy between the body and Appendix A.1, and 1 column-inch on the details of hydrogen.  Methinks they doth protest too much.


  9. Part 3/4:

    Getting back to this:

    You reference a narrow study of wind power in Illinois. I don’t see how that addresses your assertion that renewables can not do the job.

    There are actually several independent lines of evidence which all support that conclusion, and no other:
    1.  There’s that study of Illinois, which says in the abstract that emissions can be reduced but not how far… but extracting datapoints from the graph provided says that even an optimistic linear extrapolation of the graph to “100% penetration” still leaves 40% of net emissions (we need to get down to 20% at most).
    2.  There’s the conspicuous failure of Amory Lovins’ “negawatts” to cut power consumption substantially absent economic contraction.
    3.  There’s the NREL study Christopher Arcus links which conspicuously leaves off its analysis at 33% penetration.  And,
    4.  There’s the real-life example of Denmark, home of Vestas, which has been “going green” (and trying to capitalize on it) for several decades, yet still has net electric-grid carbon emissions around 400 g/kWh[1], and net per-capita carbon emissions far greater than France[2].

    On the “harsh, nasty nuclear side” we have existence proofs of France and Ontario, which have very low-carbon grids which could go lower.  These grids could supply the power to switch current fuel-burning systems, from surface vehicles to space heating to industrial applications, to electric power instead.  (Don’t believe what Storm and Smith, or anyone who uses S&S numbers like Sovacool, say about nuclear’s carbon emissions.  They are even more wrong than the people who say that our cold snap means that climate change is bunk.)

    If you want to solve the problem, what do you do?  Do you go with the proven solution that’s doing the heavy lifting in places all over the globe, or do you place your hopes on something that’s not yet lived up to its claims and isn’t on any firm schedule to do so, ever?  I’d like to see the Greenland ice cap stay where it is, not indundating the world’s sea ports and river deltas.  Until something else is actually shouldering those burdens as well or better, I’m forced to vote for nuclear.


  10. Part 4, footnotes (can’t include more than 2 links per comment without getting moderated and posted who-knows-when):
    1.  http://canadianenergyissues.com/2013/12/30/comparing-carbon-abatement-across-jurisdictions-assess-refocus-reapproach/
    2.  http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EN.ATM.CO2E.PC?order=wbapi_data_value_2010+wbapi_data_value+wbapi_data_value-last&sort=desc

    (hope that last link doesn’t get munged in posting)


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