Part 2. The Energy Dilemma- by Dr. Nathan Lewis
This second section is barely edited and also deserves expansion. If possible I may do it over time. But I believe it so important it should go out on the web now. M.g.
I. What is a Safe CO2 level?:
We do not know what is a safe level.
The IPCC used five different modeling tools, each gave significantly different results, which means that four of the five gave wrong answers. Nevertheless they averaged the five results and this is NOT SOUND SCIENCE.
We can not go back to the 350 ppm level of CO2, we will have to stop emitting it right now.
450? It would be very difficult at present inaction.
550 could be dangerous..
Basically we are dealing here with risk analysis since we have partial answers.
And mot important, we can not test our hypothesis since this is a one time global experiment. No way back.
Our inability to predict, is the roll of the dice.
In a warmer world all assumptions are wrong!
We witness that the ice is melting much faster than the models predicted..
The permafrost is melting in areas it did not melt for 40,000 years!
[m.g. - CO2 is now 389 pps. When we add the rest of the GHG we are now at a much higher level in actual heating impact on the earth, possibly 430 pps-equivalent. However, those gases may disappear at a much faster rates. Methane disappear in several decades.]
We are not serious about reducing GHG and fighting GW.
We have facts and laws of physics and we ignore them.
II. Ability of green sources to satisfy future global energy needs:
Very little. About 0.3 Terawatt. If we are lucky one terawatt, but it is not worth it.
We will need one half of all global unusable lands The key problem with biomass is that to get high yield you need to prepare the soli by disturbing it. The soil contains very high level of sequestered CO2. Disturbing the soil will emit so much CO2 that it will add CO2 to the air equivalent to 40 to 400 years of the amount of potential biomass output.
Even at 100% conversion efficiency we may get 7 Terawatt, but it is a dream.
The best thing is to leave the earth untouched.
[m.g. In addition- 13% of the global lands are barren or deserts. Much of these raw lands reflects effectively sun energy back to space. Planting trees on any of this would absorb considerable heat energy and increase GW].
We are using about one third of the practical maximum and the total can not go beyond 1.5 Terawatt.
All wind on earth not enough. Probably 2 to 3 Terawatt all over the globe together.
A good source but not enough to make immense contribution. In California for example, most of the high quality = high winds sources are already used or close to it. Wind resources in Kansas, for example are at night and not suitable for export when demand is low.
I am not for or against nuclear power, but it is the only proven energy solution that can be scaled up to the level needed. But since we need globally 10 Trillions watts and each power station is one billion watt, we need 10,000 nuclear power stations. That means one new nuclear power station on line every day for the next forty years! An impossible task.
It took decades to have the current 440 nuclear plants around the world.
There is only one place in the world, Japan, that produce the safety enclosures, and they make 5 units per year.
Even if we could build one nuclear station per week, it is insufficient since it is too little.
There is not enough raw uranium available for all these stations either. A considerably more fuel efficient nuclear systems must be developed.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) - CO2 sequestration:
Can not be done in the ocean, it will acidify it too much to sustain life.
The only proven techniques used to increase oil output is high pressure CO2 Into empty oil and gas fields. Only 30 years capacity is available.
The question of safety paramount since even if just one percent leaks in many years it would elevate the CO2 to unacceptable levels we try to avoid by sequestration.
In addition, we do not know if it will work.
Note: 40% of global oil supplies go to global transportation such as ship and airplanes. This can not be easily requested because of its mobility.
[Effective CCS is practical only with stable sources.]
We need to experiment with CCS, it but it is not promising.
Not enough energy close enough to the surface, will need to dig several miles at great costs.
Ocean energy: insignificant amount can be extracted.
In the US, by Congressional act we use 30% of our corn to supply 2% of the transportation fuel. Crazy . Need smarter laws.
[m.g. One of the worse act of congress in the energy area to date. It demonstrates the lack of ability of Congressional staff to evaluate technical proposals, and/or the ability of lobbying to overcome any factual data and sense. Corn - ethanol should be stopped now see my previous blog: Wrong way of fighting global warming.]
We are facing the contrast between the laws of politics and the laws of physics.
Sun supplies 600 TW which is enough for all future needs.
One hour from the sun is enough for total one year use.
At ten percent efficiency at mid US states we can satisfy all US needs.
Bad aspect: Not a small project, in fact huge.
You will need a million solar roof EVERY DAY. We will be a billion roofs behind in five years.
PV IS NOT USEFUL NOW. The current way is useless and very expensive.
Need new technology that will be cheap land easily applied like paint.
Solar Thermal power is practical and economical. The main problem for large central thermal solar power is - no sun some of the time. We may have 8 to 10 hours storage but not 36 hours that some times will occur. Electricity must be available realizably 99.98% of the time, and some rainy days always will happened with need for longer storage.
Water needs for central power generation, either nuclear or Solar Thermal is not critical. We can build close water cycle cooling. The reason it is used sparingly now is that it is cheaper with open water cooling. Increase of cost by close cycle is manageable.
The best storage now is elevated hydro storage. Much of the available storage are used. High amount of storage require:
Very large storages are needed. The energy in one gallon of gasoline is equivalent to 55,000 gallons of water up the dam.
1. We need a lot of energy, more than we grasp.
2. We depends too much on fossil fuels - this must be changed
3. We have 3.1% growth in energy use. And population growth.
4. All natural gas utilities must stop selling natural gas before 2050.
5. No saving in energy -conservation- can change the situation, when we look at it from a global scale.
WE HAVE THREE BIG CARDS:
A. POTENTIAL SEQUESTRATION.
B. NUCLEAR, BUT A VERY BIG GOAL
C. AND/OR SUN; MUST BE CHEAP AND MUST HAVE LONG TIME STORAGE.
Additional key points:
I. WE DO NOT HAVE YET ALL THE TECHNOLOGIES WE NEED. WE NEED A LOT O DEVELOPMENTS- ESPECIALLY STORAGE FOR SOLAR and WIND.
II. We must grasp: TWO DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSING SITUATIONS
1. IT WILL COST A LOT OF MONEY TO ELIMINATE FOSSIL FUELS
2. WE CAN NOT AFFORD TO FAIL - WE MUST DO IT, ELIMINATE CO2 EMISSIONS.
It is not about cost/benefit analysis since
We do not know the cost
We do not know the benefits
THE EARTH IS DOING ITS THING DAILY-
[m.g. sun heats the surface, we emit GHG and the earth is heating up mostly by us- and we are doing nothing even to slow it down.]
THE DECISION IS RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW
His slides, not too directly to these points, are available at: http://www.arb.ca.gov/research/seminars/lewis/lewis.pdf
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