WOULD YOU LIKE FRIES WITH THAT BAG OF WEED

In the November issue of Scientific American the authors of

“A PATH TO 100 % SUSTAINABLE    BY 2030 “absolutely tells me the  folks writing this piece were heavy into the weed.  They are saying that in a mere 20 years the entire world can run on what they call WWS (wind, water , sun) all alternate energy sources this means they need to produce 16.9 trillion watts of power (today we use close to 12) .

I won’t bore you with the details of this plan . I will give you the raw numbers of their intended build out .

490,000 TIDAL TURBINES

5350 GEOTHERMAL PLANTS

900 HYDRO ELECTIC PLANTS

3,800,000 WIND TURBINES

720,000 WAVE CONVERTERS

1,7000,000,000 (YEP 1.7 BILLION) ROOF TOP SOLAR SYSTEMS

49,000 CONCENTRATED SOLAR POWER PLANTS (300 mw EACH)

40,000 PHOTOVOLTAIC POWER PLANTS (300 MW EACH)

By now you have probably figured that I think this piece is pie in the sky, I do and here are the reasons I think so.  The rare materials in several of these machines are located in countries that have no interest in our success or maybe even the rest of the world except them.  Some is so rare that the cost of extraction would make this project  un doable .

They eliminate Nuclear Power because of the the high CO2 emissions of the building of a nuke plant are too high.  I guess they are going to build all their stuff with a magic wand, besides this is a short view of the problem.  In the long run for the 30 or 50 year life time of a nuke plant the CO2 emissions would be 0 except for the reprocessing of the fuel.

The part that makes me most doubtful of the plan being accurate is the fact that it is  a world estimate. When I see the world as part of any program I immediately think , “There is no way I can figure if this is right or not”  Most time it turns out in the end to not be correct and that’s how I feel about this piece.

If you drop it back to the US and even further back let’s take California.  Most attempts in the last few years in CA every proposal for improvements in the electrical system have been met with fierce opposition, be it a transmission line, a new water storage facility, a new power plant, or a new dam, folks of all stripes say ‘NOT IN MY BACK YARD” . They  are in lots of cases had their minds made up by untruths told by the opposition to the plan.  So to consider the plan proposed above the first battle would be so huge that it’s chances of being built are slim.  To add to the problem CA Fish and Game lies their asses of to get their way, and they will definitely be in the way of these programs. At least till the lights went out then all would change.

Hydrogen is so impractical for the power source in cars and trucks I was actually surprised they included it in this study.  The infrastructure required to transport hydrogen as a motor fuel makes it too expensive and filled with difficulties of is it’s use.  Present technology makes a car a rolling bomb due to the high pressure tanks to contain it.

They dismiss all biofuels because of the use of land to grow them instead of food.

I question if you can really call Geothermal a renewable source.  It would appear the sites in CA are in rapid decline, they are pumping water to inject in them and it has not been all that successful.

All this 100 trillion dollars according to this article will be supplied by private industry.  Really, you can count on that , I’ll bet you a gourmet hot dog they won’t pony  up till it too late.

Even if all they suggest is doable the time frame of 20 years (they might push it out to 30)  is not.  The sighting problem for all they want to build would be a huge problem. If it takes 10 years to get approval for a new nuke plant what would be the time frame for this project to get underway, the fight will be for every installation one at a time over and over again, meantime your lights strt to flicker.    Remember you going to have to rebuild just about every transmission line in the country because most of their stuff will be built in out of the way places and will have to be shipped nation wide.

So let’s look at a downsized problem what would we have to do to make California self sustaining, forget about 100% alternate fuel supplied state.  Everyone that knows power says it is impossible with wind,water and sun.

The California load requirements today 11/11/2009 are: MAX  31000 MW at 6PM   the MIN 21000MW AT 3 AM a 10000MW swing from Max to Min. A look at the load graph shows you easily what the problem of trying to provide that load with alternate energy.

CALIFORNIA SOURCES OF OF ENERGY

EASIER TO SEE ON THE LINK ABOVE

Electricity (2008)

Note: Preliminary Numbers

Source

Natural Gas 46.5%

Nuclear 14.9%

Large Hydro 9.6%

Coal* 15.5%

Renewable 13.5%

Natural Gas (2007)

Source

In State 12.9%

Canada 22.1%

Rockies 24.2%

Southwest 40.8%

Crude Oil (2008)

Source

In State 38.12%

Alaska 13.41%

Foreign 48.46%

The breakdown for today’s load is for the peak hours is  15500 for Natural Gas,  4650 for Nukes, 3100 for Hydro, 4650 for coal, and 4030 for renewable.  To go to all Alternate energy source you have to come up with 24000MW at peak.

YOU WOULD NEED  4800 WIND TURBINES

YOU WOULD NEED 8,000,000,000  ROOF TOP SOLAR UNITS AT 3KW EA.

YOU WOULD NEED 80 CONCENTRATED SOLAR POWER PLANTS

YOU WOULD NEED 80 PHOTOVOLTAIC POWER PLANTS.

The numbers above are for the total 24000 MW you have to make up , you of course could combine some of each to try and make it , just remember one thing , the sun don’t always shine and the wind don’t always blow and for sure it don’t do it’s thing every day when you need it.  No storage devices are mentioned in the article.

HOW WOULD I DO IT.

First you need to consider the factors and events that are a possibility:

  1. PEAK OIL
  2. PEAK NATURAL GAS
  3. NO COAL PLANTS
  4. CLIMATE CHANGE (WEATHER PATTERN CHANGE)
  5. WATER SHORTAGES
  6. FIGHTS FROM ENVIRONMENTALISTS AND FISH AND GAME
  7. The ocean fish population is not saveable , people will win over fish.

THE FINANCING TO DO IT BY GOVERNMENT (YOU CAN’T COUNT ON INDUSTRY TO STEP UP IN TIME)

1.  My most radical plan :  Build 6 new 12 unit ABWR plants at 1350 MW each.  keep the hydro and renewable stuff you have add to it to supply future load requirements.

or: Build 12 new 2 unit plants at 1350 MW each (estimated today’s cost at 5 billion a unit 10 billion per site)total cost 60 billion dollars. The bus bar cost of the average nuke plant is .08 cents per kwh , some plants have produced power at less than .02 cents per kwh, nukes are cheap and will get cheaper by comparison.

This plan would   have nukes supplying 100% of today’s typical load,  we would need more in the summer and that’s when hydro and solar are at their best.  Wind and Geothermal can be expanded to provide any increases in load in the future.

2. I would build Auburn dam and as many pumped storage facilities that I could find sites for.  Yes I would build the bloody canal, it would save water and most likely provide more water for Delta recovery (but I assume the Delta will salt up in the future no matter what we do. (Mother Nature is against her)  . This will provide more water (which we will need in the future and it will provide peaking and emergency power to support the grid.

3.  California is the US leader in per capita KWH use at 750KWH per month, way ahead of any other state, but we can do more.  How you might ask.  Make LED lighting mandatory.  (subsidize if you must).  Make it mandatory for office building to turn off the lights when not occupied.  Play more day baseball games.  Make all school activities day time events.  (no stadium lights) .  Reduced street lighting.  and anything else you can think of,

4. Build more public transit and make it free.  Build and operate more trains.

5. Rebuild the California grid , eliminating the bottle necks , run lines to the desert to hook up to solar plants , run new lines to existing and new wind facilities.  Use emanate domain if you have to to build the lines.

6. Encourage and subsidize existing small hydro facilities and the building of new facilities.

7. Support building biomass power plants to utilize the waste products of farming.

8.  Encourage local produce production by small farmers, this will save water and power.  and piss off big ag , so what!

9. I would build our own radioactive waste storage facility .

LINKS TO STORIES ON THIS POST:

SCIENTIC AMERICAN

UNCHARTED TERRITORY

REPLACING FOSSIL FUELS THE SCOPE OF THE PROBLEM. SCROLL DOWN TO SEE THE LIST OF TOPICS. This is one of the most comprehensive sites I know of.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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