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View Diary: Transmission dooms the little guy (27 comments)

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  •  Centralization vs decentralization (1+ / 0-)
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    OrganicChemist

    The issue I'm addressing in this diary is decentralization versus centralization. I use the term "little guy" as an anthropomorphization of decentralization.

    I'm quite aware of molten salt storage -- but that is unquestionably a technology for centralized power systems, not something to put on the roof of a building.

    The study to which you refer made a number of questionable assumptions, the most important of which is the inclusion of all externalities from fossil fuel use in the calculation. We don't include those externalities in our current calculations. I agree that we should include them, but this difference makes it more difficult to compare their results with other studies. Moreover, their assumptions about the cost of fuel cells are rather optimistic, IMO.

    I like the idea of phasing out fossil fuels while phasing in renewables; I am particularly eager to get rid of all coal-burners. I suspect, however, that we'll always need some base load sources, most likely nuclear. As you say, we want a mix of different sources so that each compliments the weaknesses of the others.

    •  If you dislike that study... (0+ / 0-)

      here's another plan from 4 years ago.

      http://www.scientificamerican.com/...

      No one can predict the future. The details are unknown. The goal is unmistakable.

      I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

      by Just Bob on Sun Nov 10, 2013 at 09:47:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  yes, there are lots of such studies (3+ / 0-)
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        Just Bob, OrganicChemist, ebohlman

        After all, a 100% renewable future is the Holy Grail that everybody agrees is the only long-term goal. But there have been many studies on this subject, producing a huge range of results. The most optimistic ones I have seen all claim that we can reach 100% renewables in twenty years from the date of the study. Those studies are always based on the most extreme assumptions: that fossil fuels will rise in price rapidly, that the externalities of fossil fuels will be properly integrated into their pricing, that technology will work the same kind of wonders that it has with computing, that there won't be any serious political opposition, and so forth.

        The most pessimistic ones, coming from from fossil-fuel companies or their minions, say that it will never come about. I don't give them much credence.

        The mid-range between the most optimistic and most pessimistic covers a huge amount of territory; some put most of their money on wind, some on solar PV, and all of them make assumptions about future technologies that are tricky. As you write, nobody can predict the future. However, it is necessary to make reasonable estimates of future conditions so that we can prepare better.

        My own estimate is that the politics of nuclear energy will be the most important deciding factor. If people opt for nuclear, then we'll see a rapid abandonment of coal, followed by great reductions in the price of oil as its price rises, with gas supplies lasting us through the rest of the century. Meanwhile, we'll be able to reach about 50% renewables by mid-century, and perhaps 80% renewables by the end of the century. Don't forget, those last few percentage points are the very devil to get.

        If we don't opt for nuclear, then we'll see heavy reliance on coal for many decades. Global warming will reach very dangerous levels. Renewables will rise more quickly than in the nuclear scenario, but they'll still be held back by competition with coal.

        Again, there are lots of studies predicting many different futures. A minority of the studies I've seen predict 100% renewables by the end of this century. We've got a long ways to go.

        •  We do have a long way to go. (0+ / 0-)

          The political environment may be the choke point.

          The problem I see with the nuclear scenario proposed by Hansen and company assumes closing the loop and basing our economy on fast breeders to burn the waste. The US, Japan, and France have all explored that approach with disappointing results as the financials don't permit it thus far. A one pass fuel cycle is less expensive and has less risk.

          I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

          by Just Bob on Sun Nov 10, 2013 at 12:40:00 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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