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View Diary: Sunday Train: Rapid Rail and Pedal to the Metal Climate Change Policy (pt 1) (43 comments)

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  •  I hope you know (0+ / 0-)

    that I support this idea.

    I read the links. I'm not disputing whether or not we need baseload power.

    I'm wondering how much generating capacity we'll need to run 20,000 electric-powered locomotives, and whether that much is currently available if all alternative energy sources are fully integrated into a national grid.

    “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

    by 6412093 on Tue Sep 17, 2013 at 11:53:56 AM PDT

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    •  How do you want me to say less than 1%? (0+ / 0-)

      From the Oil drum writeup of the Millenium Institute study linked to above:

      Transferring freight from truck to electrified rail trades 17 to 21 BTUs of diesel for one BTU of electricity. Simply electrifying existing rail freight would trade 2,6 to 3 BTUs of diesel for one BTU of electricity.

      Transferring 100% of inter-city truck traffic (impractical) to electrified railroads, plus electrifying all (not 80%) of the existing rail traffic, would take about 100 TWh/year or 2.3% of total US electrical demand. Electrifying 80% of railroad ton-miles and transferring half of current truck freight to rail would take about 1% of US electricity. 1% is an amount that could be easily conserved, or, with less ease, provided by new renewable generation and/or new nuclear plants.

      Such dramatic savings from shifting trucks to electrified rail means that electricity from modern coal plants, the worst environmental option to power electrified railroads, is still a large net environmental positive. The ability to use non-Greenhouse Gas sources of electricity, renewable and nuclear, creates the very real possibility of both Non-Oil and Non-GHG Transportation systems.

      Appendix Six discusses this in more detail.

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      by BruceMcF on Tue Sep 17, 2013 at 09:18:54 PM PDT

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      •  Thanks for that very helpful citation (0+ / 0-)

        One percent of the roughly one million megawatts total US electrical generating capacity, is 10,000 megawatts. I am asking since I screwed up my last calculation.

        That's far less than I guessed.

         So that's how much we'll need to conserve to avoid adding generating capacity for the Steel Interstate.

        Or without conservation, we'd need to increase wind power by 30%, since wind currently provides 3% of our electricity.

        Could be done.

        “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

        by 6412093 on Tue Sep 17, 2013 at 10:34:55 PM PDT

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        •  That was a repeat citation from the essay. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          6412093

          I was re-including that citation on the assumption that you hadn't looked for answers to your questions in the links I had already provided.

          One of the parts of the Pedal to the Metal package is about raising our Windpower past 40% of our total generating capacity. And of course, wind power is not the sole sustainable power ~ there is also solar, conventional hydro, run-of-river hydro, and a range of other sustainable, renewable energy sources.

          The Myth of Baseload power

          Reducing the cost of long distance UHVDC transmission lines is a substantial benefit to all of these.

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          by BruceMcF on Tue Sep 17, 2013 at 11:40:48 PM PDT

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          •  I am assuming (0+ / 0-)

            the best hydro locations are pretty much already utilized.  I've looked as some pretty crumby applications to site small hydros over the years, in poor locations (subject to earth movement, etc) and those offered very small returns also; usually 5-15 intermittent megawatts.

            I'd see additional wind sited along the Steel Interstate ROW as the strongest possibility, especially across the hundreds of miles of windswept Midwest and Texas trackage.

            “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

            by 6412093 on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 01:05:28 PM PDT

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            •  Compared to the total resouce in ... (1+ / 0-)
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              6412093

              ... the Great Plains, the resource along the Steel Interstate ROW itself is as modest as the resource along the Asphalt Interstate ROW. Kansas alone has the wind resource to provide 3,000 TeraWatts, while we consume on the order of 4,000 TW of electricity annually, and the Electricity Superhighway component of the Steel Interstate would make sure that the wind resource of the Great Plains is not stranded.

              As far as assuming that hydropower is tapped out, you seem to be ignoring the link in the comment:

              The Department of Energy concluded last year that the U.S. could boost its hydropower capability by 15 percent by fitting nearly 600 existing dams with generators.

              Most of the potential is concentrated in 100 dams largely owned by the federal government and operated by the Army Corps of Engineers. Many are navigation locks on the Ohio, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas rivers or their major tributaries.

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              by BruceMcF on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 07:21:41 PM PDT

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              •  The hydros I looked at (0+ / 0-)

                were dozens of proposals generally along the Nooksack and Skagit Rivers in NW Washington.  The developers told me better locations were all taken.FERC rejected most of the applications.

                 After your citation, I am now reading about applications on the Rivers you mentioned, and it does look like there is considerable potential in lock-and-dam projects.  

                Thank you for bringing this up.

                 

                “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

                by 6412093 on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 09:17:35 PM PDT

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          •  That's pretty cool. (0+ / 0-)

            I generally keep well abreast of energy-related topics, but I still didn't realize that there was that much generation potential in existing dams.  Wonder what the average cost per kWh is to add those generators on those 600 dams?  Because unfortunately all of these things ultimately come down to money.

            One of the things most "intermittency prevents renewables from ever being a major player" people seem to forget is that the grid already deals with intermittency, and has from day one: demand intermittency.  Daily maxmimums are usually on the order of 3x the demand of daily minimums.  And demand can change extremely rapidly sometimes.  From a practical perspective there's little difference between demand intermittency and supply intermittency.

            Why does nobody ever bring up geothermal in these topics?  EGS could well be a major player in the future, but everyone only ever seems to want to talk about solar, wind, and maybe hydro.  My favorite EGS tech is the no-frack, strata-indifferent "heat sink" approach designed by GTherm.  The only way in which location matters is how much does it cost to get your (single) well down to the hot zone - the working fluid never runs through the rock itself, only a branched network of drill pipes sealed with thermally-conductive grout.

            Já þýðir já. Nei þýðir nei. Hvað er svona erfitt við það?

            by Rei on Thu Sep 19, 2013 at 08:12:15 AM PDT

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            •  And on demand intermittency ... (0+ / 0-)

              ... a smart grid on the consumer side allows for live power-available demand responses, as opposed to simple time of day metering. Given that half of the intermittency of many volatile renewable power sources, including wind and solar, can be predicted a day or more in advance, and given the rapid ramp-up of hydropower capacity, the "intermittency gap" that may need to be filled with rapid-response reactions could well be met with smart grid demand response, tapering back flexible demands in response to an increase in the spot rate.

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              by BruceMcF on Fri Sep 20, 2013 at 09:57:52 PM PDT

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