Climate change warning

Justo Miranda

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2007
Messages
5,078
Reaction score
4,197
Website
www.amazon.com
Some animal advocacy associations are very interested in educating us on vegan ideology, have recently discovered methane and are investing large sums in anti-burger propaganda because cows produce methane. They have not stopped to think that if the all inhabitants of the planet ate grass they would also produce methane. However they do not talk about the Siberian permafrost that is the real danger.
 

Justo Miranda

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2007
Messages
5,078
Reaction score
4,197
Website
www.amazon.com
Why would humanity develop the technology necessary for interstellar life if earth is so comfortable?~~~ a few degrees is nothing compared to anything out there. Humanity being a tropical animal means most of the planet is in general too cold anyway, increased temperature actually opens up land for habitation.

So, a few caveats on that:

We actually evolved during an ice age (albeit in Africa - but modern humans expanded out of Africa as well during the Ice Age).

As a Canadian I can assure you that it doesn't open up land for habitation. Most of Canada and Siberia was scraped clean by glaciers - down to the bedrock. The remaining areas consist of podzols created by conifers and acidic sphagnum dominated muskeg. The podzols in particular are very bad soils. So one would basically have to manufacture all of the topsoil artificially. Furthermore, the growing season isn't just dependent on temperature, but also sunlight (which doesn't change) which puts an upper limit. Without manufacturing topsoil artificially it'd literally take hundreds of years to get arable land in most of Canada and Siberia.

Most of the world's cereal production is in land which is too dry and bright to be forested... converted grasslands and prairies... and many of the most productive regions are thus quite dry. They are vulnerable to desertification... and even if new arable land could be created, it may not be as productive.

Also, the Last Glacial Maximum was 6.1 degrees cooler than the present... so a few degrees can mean covering entire hemispheres in glaciers (eventually)... 5 degrees average warming would lead to incredibly different world.

So what you say might be true... if we kept to 2.5 degrees and the process took 10,000 years in order to allow the formation of new topsoils... (having it happen in a 100 years on the other hand... and don't get me started about 4 degrees)
 

Arjen

It's turtles all the way down
Senior Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2010
Messages
2,921
Reaction score
932
Some animal advocacy associations are very interested in educating us on vegan ideology, have recently discovered methane and are investing large sums in anti-burger propaganda because cows produce methane. They have not stopped to think that if the all inhabitants of the planet ate grass they would also produce methane. However they do not talk about the Siberian permafrost that is the real danger.
Meat consumption is tied to excess generation of greenhouse gases. Human plant consumption generates less methane per amount consumed than feeding the same amount to cattle. One factor: humans are not as efficient in converting food as cows.

Warning: thread drift ahead.

You can feed more people on a strictly vegan diet from a smaller patch of arable land than people on a mixed diet: there are conversion losses by first feeding animals, then eating them.

In my view, this is a different problem altogether: increase meat consumption, and you increase the need for arable land - an immediate threat to biodiversity. That, in turn, leads to poorer, more vulnerable ecosystems. Another way to the grave.
 

Hood

ACCESS: Top Secret
Staff member
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2006
Messages
2,542
Reaction score
2,873
Given the events of the last 18 months and the complete failure of the global political system to contain or respond to what became a pandemic and the sizable amount of the human population who are apathetic or determined to believe they can will away the processes of nature by personal belief and ideology gives very little hope of tackling the far larger and more complicated issue of the climate.

When you have wildfires in Siberia and Canada making a smoke ring across the upper atmosphere in the northern hemisphere or areas of land the size of small European nations being erased by wildfires and equally big chunks of glacial ice breaking away and the people of Greenland wondering why their country is actually becoming green then there is a big problem.

Talk about "by 2030" and "by 2050" reveals the truth that little can be done rapidly without major societal upheaval. The elephant in the room is the constant focus on "net zero" which is always hiding a mass of sins, but even if did reach net zero by 2050 (zero of the standards of today's CO2 production or 2050's potential emissions? there's a big difference in those assumptions) - that implies that keeping a constant at roughly today's conditions is seen as a win. Well by 2050 Australia might be pretty crispy...

No one has really addressed tipping the CO2 levels back down the other side of the spike, and how long that may take. If it takes us 10-30 years to get to net zero then to get to levels of 20-50 years ago might take us another 50-100 years unless some major technological or ecological change happens. There seems to be an assumption that once we hit the current targets we'll be ok, dodging entirely perhaps another century of effort on future generations to keep improving and resisting the temptations of reverting back.

Sadly, the more likely outcome is the rise of a social media conspiracy theory cult by 2030 proclaiming CO2 particles are fake and actually are World Government controlled nano-bots for mind control which spawn everytime anyone charges an EV.
 

Trident

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
May 8, 2006
Messages
1,256
Reaction score
743
You can feed more people on a strictly vegan diet from a smaller patch of arable land than people on a mixed diet: there are conversion losses by first feeding animals, then eating them.

Actually that is probably the main reason why meat consumption is not as efficient, by skipping trophic levels you always save a lot of wastage. Human inefficiency in digesting plant matter in fact reduces the disadvantage of eating meat, as humans would need to be fed more grass to sustain them than the equivalent biomass in cattle.

I hope a completely vegan diet won't be necessary though, personally I love meat and biologically speaking humans simply are not a strictly vegan species. We (myself included) definitely eat too much meat in developed societies however, especially if you also consider our typical lifestyles. But at this point some people can probably justify a steak or two occasionally on the basis of sporting activity ;)

I've sometimes wondered how much me riding the bike actually reduces my climate footprint compared to driving by car, since I effectively run to a significant degree on beef :oops:
 

Avimimus

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Dec 16, 2007
Messages
2,076
Reaction score
235
Some animal advocacy associations are very interested in educating us on vegan ideology, have recently discovered methane and are investing large sums in anti-burger propaganda because cows produce methane. They have not stopped to think that if the all inhabitants of the planet ate grass they would also produce methane. However they do not talk about the Siberian permafrost that is the real danger.

Well, it is a bit more complicated. Cows are ruminants which use multi-chambered digestion and keep symbiotic bacteria in some of the chambers of their gut in order to break down cellulose for food (something which vertebrates can't do - we lost the ability to break down cellulose ourselves). This is a major reason why they are good at eating grass, whereas we are limited to consuming the seeds of grass (e.g. wheat or corn kernels which are rich in proteins, and some fats or sugars).

It is something specific to cattle and how their digestion (and the particular species of bacterial symbionts they use). Other herbivores which can break down cellulose produce less methane in the process.

Switching most red meat consumption to pigs, sheep, bison, or most other species - would massively reduce emissions compared to western Cattle or Water Buffalo meat:

For this reason it'd be better to only have steaks on holidays and eat pork, mutton, bison burgers and other meats for our daily meals.

As Arjen pointed out - a lot of energy gets lost converting plant proteins to meat proteins (animals expend energy while growing, and also don't digest everything). So if people develop a taste for things like Dhal soup instead of sausages it'd be more efficient overall - with less land and water required, as well as less emissions. There are less losses.

Of course, there are some areas where food crops can't be grown, but hay can be grown - so there are areas where pasture makes sense. Of course, it is surprising how much good farmland is used for pasture and how much high yield crops (e.g. corn) is diverted to feeding livestock... it isn't like we're only grazing on land that can't be used for other purposes. Also - as a minor note - chickens are much more efficient for some reason, so switching a lot of red meat consumption to poultry and fish also yields huge returns (even if the highest returns would come from eating vegetable curries, dhal soup, rice and samosas).
 

Avimimus

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Dec 16, 2007
Messages
2,076
Reaction score
235
The engineering aspect of biology are fascinating btw. Wombats for instance are incredible efficient - if I were incredibly wealthy I'd fund a breeding program to develop a variety of wombat that can be house trained, doesn't grow to large, and remains playful into maturity... the amount of efficiency we could get if we could bioengineer wombats to the point that a lot of cat or dog owners preferred them... is somewhere between one or two orders of magnitude... they're so cheap to feed. That said, I haven't checked their methane output!
 

Orionblamblam

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2006
Messages
8,641
Reaction score
2,870
Website
www.aerospaceprojectsreview.com
You can feed more people on a strictly vegan diet from a smaller patch of arable land than people on a mixed diet: there are conversion losses by first feeding animals, then eating them.

Actually that is probably the main reason why meat consumption is not as efficient, by skipping trophic levels you always save a lot of wastage. Human inefficiency in digesting plant matter in fact reduces the disadvantage of eating meat, as humans would need to be fed more grass to sustain them than the equivalent biomass in cattle.

And there's the problem: you *CAN'T* feed humans grass. We can't digest it and extract adequate nutrition from it. Cows can. Cows spent pretty much their entire existence up until about a century ago roaming regions *filled* with plants that humans can't eat. Let cows roam and consume prairies, and they won't require actual agricultural output to feed them. You could doubtless supplement their diets with weeds and algae, again stuff humans can't make much good use of.

Or, alternatively, you could slaughter *all* the cows, drive them to extinctintion, and convert all the grasslands and prairies and steppes into farms to feed the humans some of the few plants humans *can* eat.

Option three: space-based agriculture. Built a few hundred Island Three habs in L4 and L5, stock them with CHON from the asteroids and comets, drop gigatons of grain. Let farms go feral again, reforest them, convert them back to prairies, etc.
 

edwest2

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Nov 9, 2007
Messages
1,990
Reaction score
1,203
In the United States, billions of dollars are paid to farmers to grow nothing. Why? If there is a drought here, then a farm elsewhere can make up for the shortfall or multiple farms. When the Soviet Union experienced droughts during the Cold War, the U.S. sold them grain.

Yes, climate change is occurring but the dynamics of the atmosphere are poorly understood. Some scientists have proposed various schemes that were reviewed by other scientists. They were too unpredictable and dangerous because a large and active system like the atmosphere may return some undesirable effect. One proposal involved putting up sun screens in space. Imagine kilometers wide door or window screens that would stop most sunlight from getting through.
 

shin_getter

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Jun 1, 2019
Messages
522
Reaction score
561
The fact that climate has become politicized into tribalism means efficient technocratic solutions are not available in a lot places. Part of the future is support for totalitarian government micromanagement to punish "enemies of humanity" or "pollute to spite" as culture war hits and deadlocks coordination. Seeing events like revenue neutral carbon taxes gets torpedoed for "not funneling money into climate 'justice' orgs. led by correct demographics" really makes it hard to see how this is going to get sorted out. It does not help that to many sees climate change as a memetic weapon whose use is invalidating technological civilization as we know it and would rather keep it than solve the problem.

So, it is happening and going to happen. New technology that lower carbon intensity, random fits of localized limitation and natural feedback mechanism is all that'd limit damage. If there is positive feedback, that is when **** hits the fan and unilateral mass mobilization is on the table, and wars will probably happen then.

As for food, animals and plants are inefficient. Ideally you do what you must with minimal number of conversion steps.
A pitch for GMO food

Also, the whole reason we are having this problem is that plants as we know it don't scale well enough. A more scalable solar to hydrocarbon conversion system would solve this problem, and that'd what likely going to do the job in the 2060s and beyond.


increased temperature actually opens up land for habitation.
As a Canadian I can assure you that it doesn't open up land for habitation. Most of Canada and Siberia was scraped clean by glaciers - down to the bedrock....
Living through Toronto winters by walking and taking the tram, it strikes me that how harsh the outdoor environment can be and how much construction material and energy is spent maintaining a environment fit for human habitation, in excess of costs of air conditioning by a significant margin in the tropics.

The lost of agriculture land due to rapid environmental change would happen, thankfully there is a lot of slack in the world food system and a lot of less demanding food items, and extra inputs and intensification techniques are available, limited only by cost.

-------------------
 

Trident

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
May 8, 2006
Messages
1,256
Reaction score
743
And there's the problem: you *CAN'T* feed humans grass. We can't digest it and extract adequate nutrition from it. Cows can. Cows spent pretty much their entire existence up until about a century ago roaming regions *filled* with plants that humans can't eat. Let cows roam and consume prairies, and they won't require actual agricultural output to feed them. You could doubtless supplement their diets with weeds and algae, again stuff humans can't make much good use of.

Yeah, but for "grass" read "some other plant that we can metabolize better", that was flippant phrasing. There is actually an encouragingly wide variety of fruit and vegetables which humans can extract useful nutritional value from. While not strictly vegan, we're VERY far from being obligate carnivores too, so that's not very big a problem. Maybe not avocados though - they need insane amounts of water (fine by me, not a fan of those things ;) ).

Something like the livestock husbandry model you propose is going to be a necessity sooner rather than later, and if you think it through honestly is ultimately a win-win for just about all stakeholders. Meat prices will rise markedly (cue much wailing), but it's better for the climate, better for the water table, the animals will enjoy more natural lives, we'll all be healthier due to a more balanced diet and our antibiotics retaining their effectiveness, and even the farmers will benefit. In many developed economies they are living not off their own handiwork (because the big retailers are in a race to the bottom) so much as subsidies via various routes.
 

Arjen

It's turtles all the way down
Senior Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2010
Messages
2,921
Reaction score
932
Global land use image from https://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/chart-shows-worlds-land-used/
Agricultural land 50% of land surface.
Livestock feed takes up 77% of agricultural land. From that, livestock produces 17% of caloric supply, 33% of protein supply for human consumption. Increase food production while maintaining present dietary mix means increasing agricultural use of land - to how much? 60%? 70%? Kiss forests goodbye. Now factor in loss of agricultural land with shifting climate.
 

Attachments

  • 25fd4374-8393-4f15-bd62-38bda24041f9.png
    25fd4374-8393-4f15-bd62-38bda24041f9.png
    549.7 KB · Views: 5
Last edited:

edwest2

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Nov 9, 2007
Messages
1,990
Reaction score
1,203
The fact that climate has become politicized into tribalism means efficient technocratic solutions are not available in a lot places. Part of the future is support for totalitarian government micromanagement to punish "enemies of humanity" or "pollute to spite" as culture war hits and deadlocks coordination. Seeing events like revenue neutral carbon taxes gets torpedoed for "not funneling money into climate 'justice' orgs. led by correct demographics" really makes it hard to see how this is going to get sorted out. It does not help that to many sees climate change as a memetic weapon whose use is invalidating technological civilization as we know it and would rather keep it than solve the problem.

So, it is happening and going to happen. New technology that lower carbon intensity, random fits of localized limitation and natural feedback mechanism is all that'd limit damage. If there is positive feedback, that is when **** hits the fan and unilateral mass mobilization is on the table, and wars will probably happen then.

As for food, animals and plants are inefficient. Ideally you do what you must with minimal number of conversion steps.
A pitch for GMO food

Also, the whole reason we are having this problem is that plants as we know it don't scale well enough. A more scalable solar to hydrocarbon conversion system would solve this problem, and that'd what likely going to do the job in the 2060s and beyond.


increased temperature actually opens up land for habitation.
As a Canadian I can assure you that it doesn't open up land for habitation. Most of Canada and Siberia was scraped clean by glaciers - down to the bedrock....
Living through Toronto winters by walking and taking the tram, it strikes me that how harsh the outdoor environment can be and how much construction material and energy is spent maintaining a environment fit for human habitation, in excess of costs of air conditioning by a significant margin in the tropics.

The lost of agriculture land due to rapid environmental change would happen, thankfully there is a lot of slack in the world food system and a lot of less demanding food items, and extra inputs and intensification techniques are available, limited only by cost.

-------------------

Please stop with the politics-speak, OK? The atmosphere flows over the entire earth not just some special place. If there is a """""techno babble """"" solution it has to work everywhere. We can't tell the weather what to do.

Wars will probably happen when? You do know there are people in the military who do nothing but review possible triggers for conflicts both local and global?

Good old GMO food which has been rejected by the public.

It might be useful to contact Elon Musk and have him develop a system to transport water from flooded areas to areas that need it. The weather can be predicted for various geographic regions.
 

edwest2

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Nov 9, 2007
Messages
1,990
Reaction score
1,203
From today's Los Angeles Times:

"PG&E power line suspected in Dixie fire was set to be buried underground in safety move"

Wait. They can bury power lines underground? When did this start?
 

Justo Miranda

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2007
Messages
5,078
Reaction score
4,197
Website
www.amazon.com
Given the events of the last 18 months and the complete failure of the global political system to contain or respond to what became a pandemic and the sizable amount of the human population who are apathetic or determined to believe they can will away the processes of nature by personal belief and ideology gives very little hope of tackling the far larger and more complicated issue of the climate.

When you have wildfires in Siberia and Canada making a smoke ring across the upper atmosphere in the northern hemisphere or areas of land the size of small European nations being erased by wildfires and equally big chunks of glacial ice breaking away and the people of Greenland wondering why their country is actually becoming green then there is a big problem.

Talk about "by 2030" and "by 2050" reveals the truth that little can be done rapidly without major societal upheaval. The elephant in the room is the constant focus on "net zero" which is always hiding a mass of sins, but even if did reach net zero by 2050 (zero of the standards of today's CO2 production or 2050's potential emissions? there's a big difference in those assumptions) - that implies that keeping a constant at roughly today's conditions is seen as a win. Well by 2050 Australia might be pretty crispy...

No one has really addressed tipping the CO2 levels back down the other side of the spike, and how long that may take. If it takes us 10-30 years to get to net zero then to get to levels of 20-50 years ago might take us another 50-100 years unless some major technological or ecological change happens. There seems to be an assumption that once we hit the current targets we'll be ok, dodging entirely perhaps another century of effort on future generations to keep improving and resisting the temptations of reverting back.

Sadly, the more likely outcome is the rise of a social media conspiracy theory cult by 2030 proclaiming CO2 particles are fake and actually are World Government controlled nano-bots for mind control which spawn everytime anyone charges an EV.
I believe that the necessary technological changes are long overdue, but they damage important political and economic interests and are kept in hibernation. When the powerful begin to lose power, they will give freedom for its application. I can give you an example: think of how much money the oil-producing countries have made since they built the 1973 crisis and how long it has taken to implement fracking. Technology can do everything, even with those who try to slow it down. Eppur si muove, Galileo against the inquisition, 1616
 

Justo Miranda

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2007
Messages
5,078
Reaction score
4,197
Website
www.amazon.com
Global land use image from https://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/chart-shows-worlds-land-used/
Agricultural land 50% of land surface.
Livestock feed takes up 77% of agricultural land. From that, livestock produces 17% of caloric supply, 33% of protein supply for human consumption. Increase food production while maintaining present dietary mix means increasing agricultural use of land - to how much? 60%? 70%? Kiss forests goodbye. Now factor in loss of agricultural land with shifting climate.
In my opinion it is not very realistic to calculate the feeding possibilities of mankind in Malthusian terms of arable land. Agriculture has been a constant slavery for humanity since it abandoned nomadism, it has kept us alive, but we should aspire to something better and more efficient. When it comes to placing them on the market, synthetic foods will appear, possibly made by genetic engineering from the carbon contained in CO2.
If plants can do it, so can laboratories, possibly creating a more effective version of chlorophyl... we will feed ourselves with light... or half will be left over.
 
Last edited:

Justo Miranda

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2007
Messages
5,078
Reaction score
4,197
Website
www.amazon.com
The fact that climate has become politicized into tribalism means efficient technocratic solutions are not available in a lot places. Part of the future is support for totalitarian government micromanagement to punish "enemies of humanity" or "pollute to spite" as culture war hits and deadlocks coordination. Seeing events like revenue neutral carbon taxes gets torpedoed for "not funneling money into climate 'justice' orgs. led by correct demographics" really makes it hard to see how this is going to get sorted out. It does not help that to many sees climate change as a memetic weapon whose use is invalidating technological civilization as we know it and would rather keep it than solve the problem.

So, it is happening and going to happen. New technology that lower carbon intensity, random fits of localized limitation and natural feedback mechanism is all that'd limit damage. If there is positive feedback, that is when **** hits the fan and unilateral mass mobilization is on the table, and wars will probably happen then.

As for food, animals and plants are inefficient. Ideally you do what you must with minimal number of conversion steps.
A pitch for GMO food

Also, the whole reason we are having this problem is that plants as we know it don't scale well enough. A more scalable solar to hydrocarbon conversion system would solve this problem, and that'd what likely going to do the job in the 2060s and beyond.


increased temperature actually opens up land for habitation.
As a Canadian I can assure you that it doesn't open up land for habitation. Most of Canada and Siberia was scraped clean by glaciers - down to the bedrock....
Living through Toronto winters by walking and taking the tram, it strikes me that how harsh the outdoor environment can be and how much construction material and energy is spent maintaining a environment fit for human habitation, in excess of costs of air conditioning by a significant margin in the tropics.

The lost of agriculture land due to rapid environmental change would happen, thankfully there is a lot of slack in the world food system and a lot of less demanding food items, and extra inputs and intensification techniques are available, limited only by cost.

-------------------
Generally speaking, glaciers are death (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Forgotten_Enemy) and the sun is life. Sorry for the polar bears but the arctic thaw is a great opportunity for Russia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland. The opening of new sea lanes and the release of large reserves of oil, metals and rare earths that would end China's monopoly is good news. The downside is the release of methane when the permafrost thaws, life is not perfect but you have to take advantage of the opportunities.
 

Dilandu

I'm dissatisfied, which means, I exist.
Joined
May 30, 2013
Messages
1,690
Reaction score
1,335
Website
fonzeppelin.livejournal.com
Unfortunately, the modern climate science is far too tangled into big buisness interests. There are a lot of companies, who are eager to sell peoples the same goods and services for a higher price because they are - supposedly! - "green" and "eco-friendly". Already there are proposals for legislations, imposing sanctions on "not ecological enough" economics. Such actions would hit developing countries the most, because they simlly could not afford "going green" while staying competitive.

My personal opinion? Conservation measures would not work. Oh, they are good as addition, but if you want stable climate, it must be actively controlled first and foremost.
 

Grey Havoc

ACCESS: USAP
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 9, 2009
Messages
16,722
Reaction score
6,285

robunos

You're Mad, You Are.....
Senior Member
Joined
May 1, 2007
Messages
2,040
Reaction score
564
Global land use image from https://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/chart-shows-worlds-land-used/
Agricultural land 50% of land surface.
Livestock feed takes up 77% of agricultural land. From that, livestock produces 17% of caloric supply, 33% of protein supply for human consumption. Increase food production while maintaining present dietary mix means increasing agricultural use of land - to how much? 60%? 70%? Kiss forests goodbye. Now factor in loss of agricultural land with shifting climate.
In my opinion it is not very realistic to calculate the feeding possibilities of mankind in Malthusian terms of arable land. Agriculture has been a constant slavery for humanity since it abandoned nomadism, it has kept us alive, but we should aspire to something better and more efficient. When it comes to placing them on the market, synthetic foods will appear, possibly made by genetic engineering from the carbon contained in CO2.
If plants can do it, so can laboratories, possibly creating a more effective version of chlorophyl... we will feed ourselves with light... or half will be left over.

Speaking of increasing food production via genetic modification . . .


cheers,
Robin.
 

shin_getter

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Jun 1, 2019
Messages
522
Reaction score
561

Now, Georgia Power’s Vogtle Unit 3 and Unit 4 – the nation’s only nuclear generating units currently under construction – have announced further delays and price increases. Conservative cost estimates suggest the two 1.117 GW facilities will require at least $30 billion to complete, including $3 billion in finance costs and $27 billion in construction costs.

The new Vogtle reactors are rated at 1.117 GW each. Roughly, they’ll run at a 90% capacity factor. On an annual basis, the two units will generate 17.6 billion carbon-free kilowatt-hours of electricity. Already on site are two earlier nuclear units which have been running since 1987 and 1989.

To generate that volume of electricity from solar power on an annual basis, Georgia would need about 7.3 GWdc of solar panels running at a 26% capacity factor. That would be equivalent to roughly 7% of the current U.S. installed solar capacity, which currently sits at just over 100 GW.

The resulting total capacity is now 10.55 GWdc of solar power. However, this 7.3 GWdc figure does not take into account battery charging losses or reduced sunlight in winter. So let’s offset battery charging losses by upsizing two-thirds of the solar (the amount to be stored) by 20%. Next, let’s account for reduced winter sunlight by increasing the total system capacity by another 20%.

In order to replace the two nuclear plants while the sun is down, the batteries would need to replicate two 1.117 GW power sources for 16 hours. The total energy storage capacity would be 39.3 GWh, after we add an extra 10% for safe measure.

Roughly speaking, the total cost of these solar+storage facilities would be:

  • $8.4 billion for 10.55 GWdc of solar power, fully installed at $0.80/watt
  • $527 million for hypothetical power grid upgrades at $0.05/watt
  • $7.8 billion for 39.3 GWh of energy storage fully installed at $200/kWh
  • Around $16.8 billion grand total, no incentives
So, Georgia, pv magazine USA just saved you more than $13 billion (as of today, anyway).

Why are the construction costs high? Well, they weren‘t always high. Through the 1950s and ‘60s, costs were declining rapidly. A law of economics says that costs in an industry tend to follow a power law as a function of production volume: that is, every time production doubles, costs fall by a constant percent (typically 10 to 25%). This function is called the experience curve or the learning curve. Nuclear followed the learning curve up until about 1970, when it inverted and costs started rising:

Fundamental to the issues of safety is the question: what amount of radiation is harmful?

The official model guiding US government policy, both at the EPA and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), is the Linear No Threshold model (LNT). LNT says that cancer risk is directly proportional to dose, that doses are cumulative over time (rate doesn‘t matter), and that there is no threshold or safe dose.

The problem with LNT is that it flies in the face of both evidence and theory.....

regulatory standard known as ALARA: As Low As Reasonably Achievable. What defines “reasonable”? It is an ever-tightening standard. As long as the costs of nuclear plant construction and operation are in the ballpark of other modes of power, then they are reasonable.

This might seem like a sensible approach, until you realize that it eliminates, by definition, any chance for nuclear power to be cheaper than its competition. Nuclear can‘t even innovate its way out of this predicament: under ALARA, any technology, any operational improvement, anything that reduces costs, simply gives the regulator more room and more excuse to push for more stringent safety requirements, until the cost once again rises to make nuclear just a bit more expensive than everything else. Actually, it‘s worse than that: it essentially says that if nuclear becomes cheap, then the regulators have not done their job.
 

Similar threads

Top