Green Tech Future Revival?

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7Wannabe5
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Green Tech Future Revival?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

This report was mentioned in an attempting to be optimistic article on the topic of climate change in NYT today. It seems like it might be of general interest here since organization does research on future of energy from financial perspective.

https://carbontracker.org/reports/the- ... olar-wind/

There was also a more modestly optimistic article on the topic in Barron’s this week.

giskard
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Re: Green Tech Future Revival?

Post by giskard »

That's interesting to see that 1% of North American could be covered with solar panels to cover out energy needs.

I do remember reading a few years ago and that number was much much higher at the then current rates of efficiency.

Japan's percentage is still impossibly high. It makes sense that they are restarting many of their nuclear power plants.

white belt
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Re: Green Tech Future Revival?

Post by white belt »

It is my understanding that there are supply chain limitations to shifting to 100% renewable. I’m not sure the math adds up for some of the components that are expensive/energy intensive to mine and produce. There is also the issue of making enough batteries to store all of said energy from solar panels and transporting energy from places with a lot of sun/wind/land to places that consume the energy.
Last edited by white belt on Wed May 05, 2021 11:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Alphaville
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Re: Green Tech Future Revival?

Post by Alphaville »

(sorry for the earlier misnomer) electrolysis of water can generate storable energy
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Lemur
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Re: Green Tech Future Revival?

Post by Lemur »

Perhaps this solves one side of the equation - moving towards eliminating the emission of CO2. The other side is still a problem though - how to get some of the current CO2 out of the air on an industrial scale. Current CO2 PPM is 417 anyway and climbing. I don't think there is enough time at this point to prevent the worst of climate change effects later this century. Climate change is happening now and only getting worse. I'm not an authoritative source, just a pessimist here.

With regards to the former...potential problem arises as well: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jevons_paradox . Then again we're talking 100 times over...that is like having a 0.05% withdrawal rate or something to that effect. The net-worth is so high that controlled spending does not matter nearly as much?

But anyway at least I know one scientist, David Archer identifies the problem is simple - CO2. The solution is complex because humans. And at this point I don't believe green tech revolution is going to save us. We need a cultural change. Kind of like this video that was linked in the recommended watch section. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhfpmKA ... =SharniDay

Cultural change won't happen unless it is forced upon us. Then it is adapt or die.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Green Tech Future Revival?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

I absolutely agree that infinite growth on finite planet is impossible, I’m just wondering if there’s enough new news in this report to provide room for maybe some medium term optimism? Obviously, the materials necessary to build such an infrastructure might be lacking, but otoh cheap energy makes ever more microscopic recycling of materials cheaper too.

Otooh, it might just end up being a waste of fossil fuel burn to start creating a massive high tech infrastructure that can’t be maintained.

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Lemur
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Re: Green Tech Future Revival?

Post by Lemur »

@7Wannabe5

I've no idea but despite pessimism, I think it is still worth it to pursue whatever green technologies. Maybe that could be part of the solution leading to some cultural change.

For example - when I was in the military, some men used to brag how their Mustang/Camaro would quickly suck a tank of gas. Maybe in the future the macho talk will be about how one can drive their car 3000 miles without a charge. Or how their entire house is powered by this mini nuclear fusion reactor they got off Amazon for $99.99 (Okay we are no where near that lol :lol: but fun to think about for a fiction novel set in the year 3000).

Need marketing people for that.

chenda
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Re: Green Tech Future Revival?

Post by chenda »

Lemur wrote:
Wed May 05, 2021 4:56 pm
Maybe in the future the macho talk will be about how one can drive their car 3000 miles without a charge.
Cars are for nancy boys, a real man walks 8-)

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Re: Green Tech Future Revival?

Post by jacob »

Land area is not the limiting factor (red herring) and extrapolating early-stage exponential returns w/o considering the production scaling problem and grid interconnect/base-load/storage issues is rather simplistic. Hopefully the actual report, which I didn't read, takes those issues into account and explains why global progress remains slower than expected/predicted.

I recently (2020) checked alternative energy as a percentage of the world's energy mix relative to Randers's 2052 (book) prediction made around 2012. It was running significantly behind schedule. And Randers is a realist.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Green Tech Future Revival?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@jacob:

Gotcha. The above report references 2020 analysis by BloombergNEF on scaling, storage, and learning curve of industry, but there didn’t seem to be any direct discussion of limitations of resources such as lithium with scaling. Some of the optimism is based on modularity of solar and wind production being correlated with more efficient learning curve. From another article on analysis by BloombergNEF.

The latest analysis by research company BloombergNEF (BNEF) shows that the global benchmark levelized cost of electricity,[1] or LCOE, for onshore wind and utility-scale PV,[2] has fallen 9% and 4% since the second half of 2019 – to $44 and $50/MWh, respectively. Meanwhile, the benchmark LCOE for battery storage has tumbled to $150/MWh, about half of what it was two years ago.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Green Tech Future Revival?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

After second reading, I think the prediction is based on assumption that solar singularity in cost competition was achieved in 2017, so that marks beginning of exponential growth phase of industry. However, other articles on topic of this singularity note that there was downturn in deployment in 2020 due to Covid. IOW, seems to me maybe at least a few more years data warranted. As we have all recently witnessed, claims of exponential growth are pretty easily verified or dismissed.

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Re: Green Tech Future Revival?

Post by jacob »

If the argument is based on simple cost parity, I wouldn't be so sure---actually I'm pretty sure it will be wrong. Cost parity is based on alternatives being able to piggy back on the supply-at-will and storage solutions of the gas-based generators. These are pretty expensive externalities that alternative energy sources currently enjoy for free.

Currently, it's like running a factory with two kinds of workers. The alternative ones who some days work really hard and other days or at night or during winter or bad weather generally do not come to work all; and the regular ones who always say yes when asked to work extra and generally don't complain much if they have to be sent home because others already did the work of the day.

Currently they're paid the same... because supply and demand.

This works fine as long as there aren't too many alternatives in the work force. However, to create a workforce with increasing number of alternatives require a completely different structure on the consumption side or the price and therefore cost signals to be something rather different when that happens.

As such a shift happen, alternatives can no longer free-ride on the flexibility of the traditional sources.

IOW, such calculations need to include both the production economy and the consumption economy. For more in depth on this, see Gail Tveberg's work.

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Re: Green Tech Future Revival?

Post by jacob »

Try to stare at this for a year: http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/
(I'm serious. I've done so. It's worthwhile.)

Notice which dials change daily and seasonally and how much power generation they currently represent. Do any of them move opposite to each other? I think following this dashboard for a year is a much better way to internalize the practicalities of the energy transition than debating and spreadsheet based speculation.

(One might think of it as permaculture's stipulation that one should spend a year observing before planting new things.)

AxelHeyst
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Re: Green Tech Future Revival?

Post by AxelHeyst »

This animation, kind of designed for sixth graders, explains a little bit of one of the challenges of integrating renewables into the grid: https://vimeo.com/405159779

7Wannabe5
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Re: Green Tech Future Revival?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@jacob:

I am familiar with gist of “When Trucks Stop Running” although I have not yet (on my list) thrown down pennies to purchase a copy. I have read Friedrichs, Randers, Greer, Hall, Smil, Kunstler, Servigne, Scranton, Kingsnorth, Alexander, Orlov, Boyle, MacKay, Dartnell, Fleming, Walker, Odum,Catton, Meadows, Smith and a smidge of Bardi. I also took a course on Food, Water and Energy Cycles in the Economy, so I think I understand the general rough predicament, although obviously at nothing like your level. I’m really just curious/attempting to figure out if there is any actually new information in this report, given that the average reader of the NYT article, which also mentioned new novel by Robinson suggesting successful fictional largely top-down solution to climate change, would almost certainly prefer optimistic Green Tech growth-is-still-possible solution over more likely alternatives.

On only semi-related note, same newsfeed also noted that U.S. birthrate has somewhat dramatically dropped to 1.6 over last 4 years. Current demographics suggest that significant majority of new humans born between now and end of century will be African. This is also the region where new installations of solar are already most cost effective. I won’t live that long, but one way or another it is shaping up to be an interesting next 80 years.

Married2aSwabian
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Re: Green Tech Future Revival?

Post by Married2aSwabian »

Yes....because humans. @ Lemur, the pessimist in me agrees with you and my favorite philosopher, GC:

https://youtu.be/PdSi9NW5u3E

Without getting too political, I will share a story about my hands-on education during “Solar Lobby Day” in Lansing in 2019, here in the great state of MI. Some other Sierra Club members and I participated in this lobby day, to get state legislators on board to promote renewable energy usage, which has strong bipartisan support. I was a bit naive to think that big utilities wouldn’t be getting the long knives out to maintain status quo!

The MPSC is a quasi govt agency in MI whose charter it is to regulate the utilities. There was also an open state legislature session that day, that we sat in on, to review it. One state senator asked the lady who was co-chair of leadership of MPSC, “so what about the $43 million dollars allocated for 503b....”. What?? A quick Google search yielded artIcles about this amount donated over just 4 years to the campaigns of MPSC heads by Consumers energy! No one is regulating the regulators!

https://www.energyandpolicy.org/consume ... s-economy/

The technology is there. I’ve worked for two German companies who design and build high-tech, high speed solar panel production equipment. The cost per kWh is on par with or cheaper than coal or gas fired power plants. It is modular, it is scalable and it is flexible. The line losses (which I believe exceed 10-15%) over long high voltage lines would be greatly reduced.

So long as we have “The best government money can buy” it will be hard to get beyond the status quo. At a minimum, I would like to see all politicians required to wear NASCAR-like uniforms covered in all the logos of their campaign donors. At least that way, when they open their pie-hole on camera, we’ll all have a good idea of how they’re influenced. :lol:

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Re: Green Tech Future Revival?

Post by jacob »

@7wb5 - Ah okay. In that sense, nothing new. Just a regular booster shot of hopium into a market-based democracy.

It serves the purpose of inspiring the ground forces (activists, consumers, green voters, ...) which may sway enough votes/economic decisions to bring the system to the place where the above-mentioned systems-effects come to the forefront. I think of it as a building block in the [too slow] political process.

Salathor
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Re: Green Tech Future Revival?

Post by Salathor »

@Married: "The cost per kWh is on par with or cheaper than coal or gas fired power plants."

I just don't believe this is true yet. I've heard this before, but the fact is that power companies love profit, not coal. If solar were actually cheaper and still met the needs of a commercial grid, they would be using it en masse. By the time it is ACTUALLY cheaper for you and me, it will be far, far cheaper on an industrial scale and will likely already have been adopted. It might be--possibly is!--at a point where it makes sense to supplement with solar, but there is not a conspiracy nationwide to prevent solar/wind uptake (there might be in coal country, of course, from the mining outfits, but that would not trickle down to power companies nationwide).

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Alphaville
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Re: Green Tech Future Revival?

Post by Alphaville »

ymmv depending on location, but the utilities in my state are investing big on solar, wind, and phasing out coal.

https://electrek.co/2020/11/13/egeb-sol ... land-coal/ or https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2020/10/12/ ... ofit-moot/

here the latest wind plant:
https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states ... ting-power

and
https://dailyenergyinsider.com/news/275 ... ew-mexico/
pnm (largest utility) emissions free by 2040

ofc we get on average 300 sunny days a year. it might increase in the future as drought/desertification intensifies. we haven't had a good summer monsoon in a while now...
Last edited by Alphaville on Thu May 06, 2021 11:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Green Tech Future Revival?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@Married2aSwabian:

I had similar experiences in our great state when I was engaged with political group attempting to prevent massive storage of hazardous waste in poor urban area near elementary school where I was teaching. I try to seek unity on basis of broad definition of “conservatism”, but seem to mostly just fail forward. Funny moment during one live debate/discussion was when somebody attempted to call me to task for my own assumed use of car and dry leaning services, and I noted that I had arrived to meeting in quite dangerous part of the city on bike.

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