The S-Curve of technology advancement is explained in my new video, by Tony Seba and Jonathan Koomey, both energy experts. But the idea is not a new one. See below video.

Harvard Business Review:

Many people suggest that rates of new product introduction and adoption are speeding up, but is it really, across the board? The answer seems to be yes. An automobile industry trade consultant, for instance, observes that “Today, a typical automotive design cycle is approximately 24 to 36 months, which is much faster than the 60-month life cycle from five years ago.”  The chart below, created by Nicholas Felton of the New York Times, shows how long it took various categories of product, from electricity to the Internet, to achieve different penetration levels in US households.  It took decades for the telephone to reach 50% of households, beginning before 1900.  It took five years or less for cellphones to accomplish the same penetration in 1990.  As you can see from the chart, innovations introduced more recently are being adopted more quickly.  By analogy, firms with competitive advantages in those areas will need to move faster to capture those opportunities that present themselves.

I bagged a long sought after interview late last March, with Jeff Severinghaus (we have a connection I’ll explain tomorrow) of Scripps Oceanographic Institute.
Big Ice guy.

Jeff has some current research that I’ll be examining in coming videos, but as I spoke to Jeff he was just returning from a stay in Antarctica, so I asked him to summarize the best assessments.

Then of course, Covid hit, and my county in Michigan got devastated by a dam failure, and a whole load of the madness that is 2020 got in the way – but I finally came back around to this.
I matched Jeff’s clips with some from Richard Alley and Eric Rignot, well known to readers here. They spoke to me in New Orleans in 2017.

I had also talked to Susheel Adusumilli, also of Scripps, and I featured prominently the new work from Stef Lhermitte, of Delft University of Technology. Then I wrapped it with a summary from Twila Moon of the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
My Yale Climate Connections colleague Karen Kirk also had a pass at this research as well, her @CC_Yale piece:

Karen Kirk in Yale Climate Connections:


Climate researchers have long monitored ice sheet dynamics in the Amundsen Sea, focusing specifically on the Thwaites and Pine Island glaciers. The two sit side by side on Antarctica’s western peninsula covering an area roughly the size of nine U.S. coastal states stretching from Maine to Maryland. The two glaciers alone store ice that could account for about 4 feet (1.2 meters) of global sea level rise. Their “seaboard” location may help bring increased public attention and interest to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which if it melted could raise seas by a catastrophic 11 feet (3.4 meters).

An international effort led by the British Antarctic Survey recently published two papers (Hogan et al. and Jordan et al.) showing the first detailed maps of the seafloor at the edge of the Thwaites Glacier. The team mapped deep submarine channels that have been funneling warm water to this vulnerable location. High-resolution imagery pinpoints the pathways that allow warm water to undermine the ice shelf. Lead author Kelly Hogan of the British Antarctic Survey says the findings will improve estimates of sea-level rise from Thwaites Glacier. “We can go ahead and make those calculations about how much warm water can get under the ice and melt it,” Hogan said.

The other researchers, led by Stef Lhermitte, found stark visual confirmation of glacier disintegration using decades of time-lapse satellite imagery. Their work sheds light on the accelerating feedback process, wherein the rapid loss of ice is opening the door to ever-increasing melting.

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When the Earthquake/tsunami closed down all of Japan’s nuclear power plants, I reported that wind was one of the only remaining reliable, tsunami proof sources of power.

Now, Dallas Morning News quotes ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the state’s electrical systems:

The Texas electrical grid operator began emergency procedures to prevent total blackout on Tuesday as the heat lead to record electricity demand, and told customers to brace for a repeat in the next few days.

The high temperatures also caused about 20 power plants to stop working, including at least one coal-fired plant and natural gas plants.

..such outages aren’t unusual in the hot summer, and Texas is getting some juice from surrounding states and from Mexico.

According to an ERCOT spokesman, conventional power plants suffer in this kind of heat.

“They can’t really efficiently condense the steam that’s used to make electricity, so that causes unit deratings that they can’t generate as much as they could if the lake were cooler.”

The American Wind Energy Association notes: 

Meanwhile, some 1,800 MW of wind generation were available yesterday, more than double the 800 MW that ERCOT counts on during periods of peak summer demand for its long-term planning purposes. 1,800 MW is enough to power about 360,000 homes under the very high electricity demand seen yesterday.

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