1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

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ramblinjd
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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby ramblinjd » Thu Sep 15, 2016 2:32 pm UTC

Stargazer71 wrote:Hmmmm ... I suddenly want to create a graph of the Dow Jones for the last 50 years (adjusted for inflation, plotted on a sliding average of 5 years). Then 1 month from the end of the graph, I'll switch over to a daily graph. Just for fun.

...

The economy is on the fritz by the way. The graph I'm about to make will prove it.


I did it. It's interesting. We start out in the 60s at about 15k. Then you've got the dark ages of the 70s (~7k), back to 15k in the 80s and early 90s, the golden era (~21k) of the late 90s, a small dip back to 15k in the late 00s, and then Oh me yarm BREXIT DESTROYED EVERYTHING but now we're back up to just under 20k.

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby DanD » Thu Sep 15, 2016 2:50 pm UTC

Mikeski wrote:
DaBigCheez wrote:I am...a little bemused at the arguments that "if we can't return to pre-1900 emissions levels, we might as well not try at all".

Subtly different from my actual argument. "If we can't return to pre-1900 (or pre-1950, or whatever number makes the models work) emissions levels, we should find something else that will work, since continued trying won't help."

If you have Parkinson's disease, and you doctor prescribes leeches to suck out the evil humours, and the leeches don't work when you try them, the solution is probably not "let's try the leeches again. But more of them."



No. Your analogy is "the doctor prescribes leeches, you don't even bother to try the leeches, and then dismiss them as a viable treatment". We know that non-binding carbon agreements don't work. Of course, a big part of the reason they didn't work is that one of the world's largest first world polluters decided not to participate. We know that cap and trade schemes only work if the total amount of available carbon credits is reduced over time, which it was supposed to be, but there are issues with political will.

That does not mean that carbon limiting schemes can't work, just that the specific ones we've tried haven't worked.

On the other hand, investments in increasing installed renewables in Europe have sharply reduced carbon emissions. So some approaches can work. Your response is to not try anything because some things don't work.

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Sep 15, 2016 3:29 pm UTC

Rossegacebes wrote:There is a way to significantly decrease CO2 emissions: go full-speed with nuclear power. Invest massively in nuclear power plants, shut down coal- and gas-burning plants, develop the thorium-based option (that allows to reprocess the radioactive waste). In a few years (let's say 10 or 20) all new vehicles could be fully electrically-powered, so in 40-50 years most of the anthropogenic CO2 emissions would have disappeared.

OK, we may not like it, but that is a feasible alternative. Technically doable. And the thorium-based nuclear power is weaponization-free, with much less long-lived waste.

Some info in wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium-b ... lear_power


In practice, you probably want to embrace nuclear power, and renewables, and modernization of old coal plants, and replacement of coal with natural gas. The spin-up time on any project is large, and the replacement time to convert most power over to any one of them is likely measured in, at best, many decades. Current progress is...not good overall.

Continuing with current rates of replacement(or even somewhat heightened rates due to increased investment, difficult as that is) looks ugly. Worldwide, carbon-generated power is simply continuing to increase. We haven't even stabilized the rate at which the problem is worsening. Nuclear power generation, on the flip side, is trending downward worldwide.

Throwing more money at it has limitations, too. To give a sense of scale, US energy spending makes up about 8.8% of GDP. Significantly increasing generation prices is going to greatly affect the economy in some fashion. Going by the eia numbers, the range between the lowest prices(mostly more conventional carbon-burning systems with low mitigation) and the highest(Solar-thermal and Wind-Offshore) is large. Probably four times as much. Even doubling energy prices would involve some pretty heavy tradeoffs, and that's looking at lifetime costs, not even considering the giant pile of investment cost all at once for a fast-paced replacement strategy. Note that fast paced is still measured in decades.

One way or another, this is going to hurt a lot.

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby DanD » Thu Sep 15, 2016 4:17 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote: Going by the eia numbers, the range between the lowest prices(mostly more conventional carbon-burning systems with low mitigation) and the highest(Solar-thermal and Wind-Offshore) is large. Probably four times as much. Even doubling energy prices would involve some pretty heavy tradeoffs, and that's looking at lifetime costs, not even considering the giant pile of investment cost all at once for a fast-paced replacement strategy. Note that fast paced is still measured in decades.



I think you're misreading the EIA numbers a bit. The Capital costs for renewables are in that 4x range of the most efficient (combined cycle) power plants, but that ignores operating expenses. The total cost is reflected by the Levelized Cost of Energy (the LCOE), where renewables do significantly better (no fuel costs). By the EIA 2016 paper (for plants entering service in 2022), the combined cycle natural gas plant has a cost of 56.4 $/MWh. Conventional wind is $58.5. Hydro is only $63.7. Solar PV is more expensive at $74.2, but only by a factor of a third, not 4. And that's still comparing an extremely mature technology against one that is still developing (solar is improving efficiency and lowering cost significantly year over year). And it's based on natural gas costs that are at historic lows.

So the picture is not nearly as grim as you think.
Last edited by DanD on Thu Sep 15, 2016 6:36 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Crissa
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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby Crissa » Thu Sep 15, 2016 5:53 pm UTC

This is why water vapor an important greenhouse gas: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/monitoring-re ... -gases.php

But it's also why its not an important emission to restrict. As the article says, the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere is nearly completely controlled by the temperature of the atmosphere. We can't stop H2O from entering the atmosphere, but we can stop CO2.

And can we just ban the disingenuous argument that "limiting CO2 hasn't worked, so we shouldn't try." Mikeski and Sotero are long-winded and dishonest.

Soteria wrote:
Crissa wrote:
Soteria wrote:Allow me to explain. Many of us do not think climate change is a myth, but we disagree with the conclusions that it can be prevented and that it will be an apocalypse. So when you propose spending trillions of tax-payer dollars and ask us to make significant changes to our lifestyles for what we see as dubious gain, we have something to say about that.


What fallacy is it when prior arguments are knocked down, and so a new... Oh, right, no true scotsman.


People who don't understand how logical fallacies work shouldn't accuse people of them.

The person I replied to said he doesn't understand why people don't "get out of the way" of those who wish to prevent climate change. I provided an explanation of why I and many others do not. Nowhere did I change the argument. Nowhere did I change some standard or definition. And no, you don't get to pretend that I'm a stand-in for some other person you've had an argument with on this subject before who made different arguments. Also, have you considered the possibility that you might be committing the fallacy fallacy?


Have they ever considered actually answering a question? Because they have 'just decided' that denialists don't matter - despite several pages of posts from denialists decrying that CO2 is a greenhouse gas.

And what fallacy did I commit? Not a single word is spent on what I quoted incorrectly. Just "Nowhere did I change the argument." after changing the argument with "Many of us do not think climate change is a myth, but we disagree with the conclusions that it can be prevented and that it will be an apocalypse. So when you propose..."

Guh. Dishonesty chaps.

-Crissa

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trpmb6
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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby trpmb6 » Thu Sep 15, 2016 6:08 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
Soupspoon wrote:
trpmb6 wrote:
cellocgw wrote:The first residents of the first Zion did.
FTFY. (If we even trust the anti-Oracle/Architect, that is, regarding the Beta 2 Matrix ejectees.)

edit: Brainfart. It was before even them.

Yeah, the sky was scorched by the original pre-Matrix human population during their war with the machines. It was only after that war that the Matrix was created, and only after the first "release" version of the Matrix (after the two "beta" versions that preceded it) that there even was a Zion at all.


TRUTH! I had forgotten about that tid bit. That is my mistake. Good catch!
(terran/protoss/zerg/fascist fuck)

Mutex
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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby Mutex » Thu Sep 15, 2016 6:45 pm UTC

Crissa wrote:
Soteria wrote:
Crissa wrote:
Soteria wrote:Allow me to explain. Many of us do not think climate change is a myth, but we disagree with the conclusions that it can be prevented and that it will be an apocalypse. So when you propose spending trillions of tax-payer dollars and ask us to make significant changes to our lifestyles for what we see as dubious gain, we have something to say about that.


What fallacy is it when prior arguments are knocked down, and so a new... Oh, right, no true scotsman.


People who don't understand how logical fallacies work shouldn't accuse people of them.

The person I replied to said he doesn't understand why people don't "get out of the way" of those who wish to prevent climate change. I provided an explanation of why I and many others do not. Nowhere did I change the argument. Nowhere did I change some standard or definition. And no, you don't get to pretend that I'm a stand-in for some other person you've had an argument with on this subject before who made different arguments. Also, have you considered the possibility that you might be committing the fallacy fallacy?


Have they ever considered actually answering a question? Because they have 'just decided' that denialists don't matter - despite several pages of posts from denialists decrying that CO2 is a greenhouse gas.

And what fallacy did I commit? Not a single word is spent on what I quoted incorrectly. Just "Nowhere did I change the argument." after changing the argument with "Many of us do not think climate change is a myth, but we disagree with the conclusions that it can be prevented and that it will be an apocalypse. So when you propose..."

Guh. Dishonesty chaps.

-Crissa


Unless I'm missing something, Soteria didn't change the argument he/she was making, he just presented a different one to what other people were. By accusing him of "changing the argument" you seem to be claiming he's the same as the people denying climate change altogether.

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Sep 15, 2016 6:49 pm UTC

DanD wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote: Going by the eia numbers, the range between the lowest prices(mostly more conventional carbon-burning systems with low mitigation) and the highest(Solar-thermal and Wind-Offshore) is large. Probably four times as much. Even doubling energy prices would involve some pretty heavy tradeoffs, and that's looking at lifetime costs, not even considering the giant pile of investment cost all at once for a fast-paced replacement strategy. Note that fast paced is still measured in decades.



I think you're misreading the EIA numbers a bit. The Capital costs for renewables are in that 4x range of the most efficient (combined cycle) power plants, but that ignores operating expenses. The total cost is reflected by the Levelized Cost of Energy (the LCOE), where renewables do significantly better (no fuel costs). By the EIA 2016 paper (for plants entering service in 2022), the combined cycle natural gas plant has a cost of 56.4 $/MWh. Conventional wind is $58.5. Hydro is only $63.7. Solar PV is more expensive at $74.2, but only by a factor of a third, not 4. And that's still comparing an extremely mature technology against one that is still developing (solar is improving efficiency and lowering cost significantly year over year). And it's based on natural gas costs that are at historic lows.

So the picture is not nearly as grim as you think.


Oh, bother, I did misread that. Yeah, initial costs higher, overall costs, still higher, but not so much as initial costs.

Both wind and hydro are location specific, and current prices are based on selecting locations that are reasonably optimized for them. Solar, to some degree, also suffers from this. In some locations, they compare decently well, but other areas, they just don't.

That's part of why a hybrid strategy is ideal, and why nukes almost certainly have to be part of that. Another part is the daily load. Solar is more suited towards peak load, whereas nuclear is better for base load. Blending strategies mitigates downsides.

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby DanD » Thu Sep 15, 2016 7:13 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Oh, bother, I did misread that. Yeah, initial costs higher, overall costs, still higher, but not so much as initial costs.

Both wind and hydro are location specific, and current prices are based on selecting locations that are reasonably optimized for them. Solar, to some degree, also suffers from this. In some locations, they compare decently well, but other areas, they just don't.

That's part of why a hybrid strategy is ideal, and why nukes almost certainly have to be part of that. Another part is the daily load. Solar is more suited towards peak load, whereas nuclear is better for base load. Blending strategies mitigates downsides.


Oh, I fully agree, and the more nuclear the better as far as I am concerned. That being said, I suspect within a year or so, definitely within a decade, we will have practical, high density, ultra-long life batteries that are suitable for 24-7 house hold solar installations. Furthermore, that the complete system will cost less to install (inflation adjusted) than a current solar without battery system.

I would also say, that within the same time frame, solar will be economically competitive with combined cycle natural gas in any environment in the US, excluding Alaska (and a few cities with exceptionally high cloud cover).

That's it for predictions. Now, on why solar is already cheaper: Right now, Carbon emissions are an externality. They are produced by power plants, but the effects are general, and no one pays for them. Therefore they induce a tax burden, right now being seen in the form of increased disaster relief costs and things like shoring up coastal cities.

Solar generation does not have such externalities. Therefore, since there is no long term burden to the general public, they save tax money. Said tax money is therefore logically used to subsidize solar, which, if you examine the EIA numbers, is already sufficient to offset the cost difference. And this is not truly a subsidy, it is instead a refund of the amount they don't cost taxpayers to deal with Carbon. The alternative approach is to increase the cost of carbon based generation, which is mostly done by either adding a carbon tax, or by requiring expensive carbon capture systems, which are, again, sufficient to drive the cost above solar (again, per EIA numbers).

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby yoyomon » Thu Sep 15, 2016 8:24 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
yoyomon wrote:
Mutex wrote:Again, the comic explained exactly how much the data is smoothed out. It's not enough to mask a "spike" like the one we're experiencing (or would be if this was a spike).


Huh, I must have missed where the comic explained "exactly how much the data is smoothed out". Not only does it not do that (a scaleless, unitless inset aside), but the sources make it abundantly clear that measurements are on scales much longer than the current anomaly and that they are further extrapolated from very local sources.

Are you people seeing a different comic than the rest of us, or are you just that willfully obtuse?

Why are you so averse to supposing that the inset graph has the same scale (and thus units) as the rest of the comic?


Because I know the actual fidelity of the data (it is in the sources) and if the inset graph has the same scale as the rest of the comic, it is wrong. Why are you so blindly trusting of your interpretation of this unlabeled inset?

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby ps.02 » Thu Sep 15, 2016 9:26 pm UTC

DanD wrote:That being said, I suspect within a year or so, definitely within a decade, we will have practical, high density, ultra-long life batteries that are suitable for 24-7 house hold solar installations. Furthermore, that the complete system will cost less to install (inflation adjusted) than a current solar without battery system.

Oh yeah, I wish I could get on board with distributed solar, but unfortunately, too much of my roof is shaded. Cutting down mature oaks in order to install PV seems a bit counterproductive, right? Sigh.

Wind has the same problem. I have decent wind resources, but too many trees. Would have to build the tower(s) really high. Hydro is out, the nearby river is too flat. (Also, the city I'm in may not be amused at my attempt to build a dam.) Guess that leaves me with residential-scale nuclear. Luckily I have the aforementioned river, for cooling. When will those modules become available at Amazon? Will I get free shipping? And is nuclear eligible for net metering? ("All your baseload are belongs to me.")
Solar generation does not have such externalities. Therefore, since there is no long term burden to the general public, they save tax money. Said tax money is therefore logically used to subsidize solar, which, if you examine the EIA numbers, is already sufficient to offset the cost difference. And this is not truly a subsidy, it is instead a refund of the amount they don't cost taxpayers to deal with Carbon.

Well ... that's if you can assign an uncontroversial price tag on carbon, and if it's uncontroversial for all taxpayers, regardless of how far they live from coastlines, to pay it. And anyway, while PV doesn't have a lot of ongoing externalities, it has quite a lot of embodied energy per watt, not to mention embodied toxic wastes. (Basically, the "long tailpipe," except not just in space, but in both space and time.)

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby DanD » Thu Sep 15, 2016 9:27 pm UTC

yoyomon wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:Why are you so averse to supposing that the inset graph has the same scale (and thus units) as the rest of the comic?


Because I know the actual fidelity of the data (it is in the sources) and if the inset graph has the same scale as the rest of the comic, it is wrong. Why are you so blindly trusting of your interpretation of this unlabeled inset?


Because it is drawn at and on the same scale as the main chart?

Because it clearly labels that very short (single reading) spikes, or variations within a certain band width might be disguised, but makes it very clear that a temperature anomaly consistent with the modern increase is not such? That the inset exists, specifically, in fact, to make this clear?

That it specifically states that it is to the scale of Anna and Hargreaves, 2003, which likewise indicates that the error scale is inconsistent with disguising the modern anomaly?

Oh yeah, and because apparently you don't know the fidelity of the data, which is in the sources mentioned, but doesn't support your contentions.

What else do you want?

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby DanD » Thu Sep 15, 2016 9:59 pm UTC

ps.02 wrote:Cutting down mature oaks in order to install PV seems a bit counterproductive, right? Sigh.


Meh, mature trees have actually done most of what they're going to do. Most carbon sequestration is in young fast growing plants. I'm not saying to do it, but I do have a friend who took out 2-3 large trees (admittedly still leaving dozens on their lot) in order to clear for solar, and they haven't regretted it.

And anyway, while PV doesn't have a lot of ongoing externalities, it has quite a lot of embodied energy per watt, not to mention embodied toxic wastes. (Basically, the "long tailpipe," except not just in space, but in both space and time.)


Not really. The EROEI on PV is reported extremely variably, but the best, most recent studies put it at 6 or better, more than sufficient to justify the construction.

As far as toxic waste, it depends. The first generation PV (single and poly crystalline silicon) cells do not inherently contain any significantly toxic elements. Many are made with lead solder, admittedly, but that's mostly down to lead solder being the standard until the implementation of ROHS, not an actual requirement.

Many second generation cells, which includes most current low cost commercialized cells, do contain a certain amount of toxic materials. However, these toxic materials are fully contained in the cells, and are valuable to be worth refining out again at the end of life.

Many third generation cells (development at this point) reduce or eliminate toxic materials completely.

If you mean resultant toxic materials from the industrial process, most are fully recovered for re-use, and those that aren't are significantly lower volume than those generated in fossil fuel production and use.

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Sep 15, 2016 11:05 pm UTC

DanD wrote:That being said, I suspect within a year or so, definitely within a decade, we will have practical, high density, ultra-long life batteries that are suitable for 24-7 house hold solar installations. Furthermore, that the complete system will cost less to install (inflation adjusted) than a current solar without battery system.


This seems deeply unlikely. Battery technology is fairly mature, and has stabilized down to about a 5-8% energy density improvement per year. It seems improbable that this will suddenly be the year when we have a massive breakthrough and gain ridiculous battery power. Predicting breakthroughs like that in advance is difficult at best. And the history of battery tech is basically this sort of steady slow gain whenever we discovery a new chemistry for batteries, eventually leveling off for that tech.

At a certain point, it seems unlikely that we're going to continue to find additional chemistries that function as we think of a current battery. I mean, sure, fossil fuels or whatever could be a "battery" of sorts, but as regards a solar PV system with lots of charge/discharge cycles, ehhh. At some point, it's likely going to level off for good.

Planning around a technological breakthrough seems unwise.

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Sep 15, 2016 11:13 pm UTC

I think there was a what-if along these lines once, but how feasible is hydroelectric storage of solar/wind/etc power on the domestic scale? Use the fluctuating renewables as they're available to pump water up into a water tower; let the water from the tower flow down through a turbine to generate power as needed to meet household demand. (Keep the water in a closed system so you're not losing it to evaporation and so aren't wasting water doing this).

I imagine the scale of water needed to be moved to accomplish this must be unfeasibly enormous otherwise it would be an obvious solution to everyone.
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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Sep 15, 2016 11:31 pm UTC

Ballpark, you need around 3 million foot/pounds to translate to a kWh. Average US consumer eats about 11,000 of those yearly. Not sure what usage profile you're looking at, but all in all, I think it's safe to say that the size of water tower needed to serve as a battery seems impractical.

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby ucim » Thu Sep 15, 2016 11:40 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:all in all, I think it's safe to say that the size of water tower needed to serve as a battery seems impractical.
So... use mercury instead.

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby dolphintickler » Fri Sep 16, 2016 12:19 am UTC

I'm amazed that a person so expert at physics could produce a graph whose values are so far off those described by its title.

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Sep 16, 2016 2:11 am UTC

For that matter, why do we need to use a liquid? Have an enormous lead weight, and a highly geared pulley system connected to it (so it takes many easy cranks of a wheel on the far end to lift the weight a little, and a little drop of the weight could crank that wheel a whole lot). Slowly lift the weight with the constant irregular trickle of power from solar/wind/whatever when that trickle exceeds demand; then let the weight's descent turn the crank to generate power when the trickle from solar/wind/whatever can't meet usage.

Alternately, for a more centralized solution (with higher infrastructure costs that probably make it not worth it), we already have a network of pipes running downhill from large reservoirs to serve municipal water needs. That downhill flow could in principle generate power (I think that's what the what-if I'm remembering was about, generating power from municipal water supply). That would of course drain water reservoirs quickly, and run up water bills, but there could be a diversion of the mains water before it reaches the household meter, to a specially permitted home hydroelectric generator, which then uses solar/wind/etc to pump that water back uphill through a parallel network of pipes (this is where the probably-kill-the-idea infrastructure costs come in) back into the reservoir.
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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby ucim » Fri Sep 16, 2016 2:53 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Have an enormous lead weight
A fan of the roadrunner cartoons, I see. :) I'd love to see what BHG would do with an enormous lead weight hanging (of course!) over the kid's play area.

Nah, use mercury. Kids could swim in it without needing to learn how to swim!

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby ps.02 » Fri Sep 16, 2016 3:17 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:how feasible is hydroelectric storage of solar/wind/etc power on the domestic scale?

Pumped hydro energy storage is very much a thing, for exactly these purposes. As I understand, it is the most cost-effective method of grid energy storage, by far. Just like hydro itself is the cheapest renewable energy source. The problem, as you surmise, is the limited number of places you can do it. Potential energy is mass × height, and at grid scale, you need a lot of water and a lot of dam height. And these days dams are considered environmentally disruptive, so you have to deal with that too.

A "Sisyphus battery," using gravitational potential with solids instead of liquids, seems less practical at scale. But it's not like I've really thought about it.

ETA: To sketch out the kind of scale we're talking about: A typical laptop battery pack has 6 lithium ion cells, each 3.6 volts and perhaps 2800 milliamp-hours. Multiply and unit-convert and you get 218 kJ. To match that in pumped hydro, you can lift a 55-gallon barrel of water 180 feet straight up. (So yeah, unless I did the math wrong, those lithium ion batteries are pretty badass.) Substitute whatever Sisyphean mechanisms you like for lifting solid objects that are heavier or lighter than water.
Last edited by ps.02 on Fri Sep 16, 2016 3:43 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby hamjudo » Fri Sep 16, 2016 3:36 am UTC

ps.02 wrote:A "Sisyphus battery," using gravitational potential with solids instead of liquids, seems less practical at scale. But it's not like I've really thought about it.


Here is a serious looking proposal to use railroad technology to store hundreds of megawatt hours by moving many railroad car sized weights up a mountain,
http://www.aresnorthamerica.com/grid-scale-energy-storage
Image

In this article,http://www.aresnorthamerica.com/article/9573-the-future-of-energy-storage-%E2%80%94-%E2%80%98sisyphus-railroad%E2%80%99 ,we get the quote you've been waiting for
The Economist magazine has dubbed it the “Sisyphus Railroad.”


That article also says they plan to start construction next year.

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby DanD » Fri Sep 16, 2016 4:44 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
DanD wrote:That being said, I suspect within a year or so, definitely within a decade, we will have practical, high density, ultra-long life batteries that are suitable for 24-7 house hold solar installations. Furthermore, that the complete system will cost less to install (inflation adjusted) than a current solar without battery system.


This seems deeply unlikely. Battery technology is fairly mature, and has stabilized down to about a 5-8% energy density improvement per year. It seems improbable that this will suddenly be the year when we have a massive breakthrough and gain ridiculous battery power. Predicting breakthroughs like that in advance is difficult at best. And the history of battery tech is basically this sort of steady slow gain whenever we discovery a new chemistry for batteries, eventually leveling off for that tech.

At a certain point, it seems unlikely that we're going to continue to find additional chemistries that function as we think of a current battery. I mean, sure, fossil fuels or whatever could be a "battery" of sorts, but as regards a solar PV system with lots of charge/discharge cycles, ehhh. At some point, it's likely going to level off for good.

Planning around a technological breakthrough seems unwise.


Except the breakthrough has already happened, and it's not energy density. Energy density is not the critical factor in an adequate battery technology for this sort of use. What's critical is a high cycle life with a decently deep discharge cycle. Recent research on a type of lithium nanowire battery shows something like a 100,000 cycle life, which is huge relative to anything else on the market. Once you have that, finding somewhere to tuck a sufficient volume of batteries is relatively simply (for overnight or even a day or two, I acknowledge grid power may be needed during the winter).

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Sep 16, 2016 8:12 am UTC

dolphintickler wrote:I'm amazed that a person so expert at physics could produce a graph whose values are so far off those described by its title.
Do you mean "values" more as in recorded results or relative philosophy? And there are a number of different bits of text that can be considered the "title", so please do make a second post to the forum to clarify this, lest we misunderstand and thus wrongly ignore your comment.

ps.02 wrote:(So yeah, unless I did the math wrong, those lithium ion batteries are pretty badass.)
And yet people are surprised that (mishandled/misconfigured/misused) batteries can release so much energy, so violently.

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby svenman » Fri Sep 16, 2016 8:26 am UTC

dolphintickler wrote:I'm amazed that a person so expert at physics could produce a graph whose values are so far off those described by its title.

You mean because, for starters, '[Earth] Atmosphere Temperature Timeline' would be a more accurate description?
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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby orthogon » Fri Sep 16, 2016 9:01 am UTC

That pump storage requires such towering heights and/or huge quantities of water is another corollary of the point that's often made about how pathetic gravity is as a force, isn't it? Batteries and fossil fuels are all about the electromagnetic force. The best Li-ion batteries achieve around 1MJ/kg; for them to store the same amount of gravitational potential energy they'd need to be raised 100km above the Earth's surface.
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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby Keyman » Fri Sep 16, 2016 1:44 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:I think there was a what-if along these lines once, but how feasible is hydroelectric storage of solar/wind/etc power on the domestic scale? Use the fluctuating renewables as they're available to pump water up into a water tower; let the water from the tower flow down through a turbine to generate power as needed to meet household demand. (Keep the water in a closed system so you're not losing it to evaporation and so aren't wasting water doing this).

I imagine the scale of water needed to be moved to accomplish this must be unfeasibly enormous otherwise it would be an obvious solution to everyone.


http://what-if.xkcd.com/91/

"I just moved into a new apartment. It includes hot water but I have to pay the electric bill. So being a person on a budget ... what's the best way to use my free faucet to generate electricity?"

If you bottled the water from your bathtub faucet and managed to sell each bottle for $1.50, you'd make $72 per minute—$38 million every year.
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Spoiler:
YouTube has tons of people who will explain how you can power your house by building an engine that burns that water directly. Also, they have useful info about government weather control and the lizard people from the Earth's core.

Then you won't have to worry about your power bill.
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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Sep 16, 2016 2:30 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:For that matter, why do we need to use a liquid? Have an enormous lead weight, and a highly geared pulley system connected to it (so it takes many easy cranks of a wheel on the far end to lift the weight a little, and a little drop of the weight could crank that wheel a whole lot). Slowly lift the weight with the constant irregular trickle of power from solar/wind/whatever when that trickle exceeds demand; then let the weight's descent turn the crank to generate power when the trickle from solar/wind/whatever can't meet usage.

Alternately, for a more centralized solution (with higher infrastructure costs that probably make it not worth it), we already have a network of pipes running downhill from large reservoirs to serve municipal water needs. That downhill flow could in principle generate power (I think that's what the what-if I'm remembering was about, generating power from municipal water supply). That would of course drain water reservoirs quickly, and run up water bills, but there could be a diversion of the mains water before it reaches the household meter, to a specially permitted home hydroelectric generator, which then uses solar/wind/etc to pump that water back uphill through a parallel network of pipes (this is where the probably-kill-the-idea infrastructure costs come in) back into the reservoir.


The chain and weight thing would work, but for modern energy needs, would require a very large lead weight. Probably expensive. The great advantage of water is that it's cheap. Building a tower is expensive, but, say, utilizing a reservoir allows one to make use of a ton of water.

Ideally, you minimize the "pumping water uphill" by blending power sources. If you have hydro that you can control fairly well from a source that fills, and other sources as well, you can use the hydro to stabilize supply to some degree. Both are producing, but one's more appropriate for peak load or what have you. It's not a pure battery solution, but it works decently well. Whenever the refilling can be done by the water cycle, you can make the whole lot a great deal more efficient. You still get the reserve of power for smoothing, but you get to skip out on the "pumping water up a hill" bill.

But yeah, there is going to be environment change to build that. 's the nature of big projects. It's not so bad. Even if it's a different ecosystem than previously, a nice lake used for power can still be a fine ecosystem. Definitely not going to exceed the efficiency of batteries with such a solution, though.

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby Whizbang » Fri Sep 16, 2016 2:40 pm UTC

What if we blend technologies? A nuclear-hydro--magneto-solar-wind plant-farm sounds awesome. Let's do that.

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby DanD » Fri Sep 16, 2016 3:21 pm UTC

Whizbang wrote:What if we blend technologies? A nuclear-hydro--magneto-solar-wind plant-farm sounds awesome. Let's do that.


Apparently there are solar/combined cycle natural gas hybrid plants out there. A solar concentrator farm is used normally, but also used to preheat the steam for the natural gas to eliminate start-up efficiency issues.

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby squall_line » Fri Sep 16, 2016 3:43 pm UTC

DanD wrote:That's it for predictions. Now, on why solar is already cheaper: Right now, Carbon emissions are an externality. They are produced by power plants, but the effects are general, and no one pays for them. Therefore they induce a tax burden, right now being seen in the form of increased disaster relief costs and things like shoring up coastal cities.
(emphasis added)

I disagree on the assertion that there has been an appreciable increase in natural disasters caused by human activity and CO2 emissions. I mildly disagree on the assertion that coastal cities are currently threatened due to human actions other than the action of building in coastal areas (Florida Keys, for example).

These are the types of conclusions that not everyone can get on board with. While many may agree that the data are accurate, not everyone agrees on the cause or the solution. This disagreement leads some groups to label others as "deniers" and other negatively-connoted words.

The unfortunate thing is that name calling creates rifts and fracturing among groups who may otherwise be called on to help with relief and mitigation of the effects.

As far as energy storage, the conversation about pulling trains up a hill reminded me of the 10,000 year clock, but when I looked at that again, it's not really the same concept, since much of the power comes from humans pushing a bar out of the way to access the device.

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Sep 16, 2016 3:54 pm UTC

*shrug* If water level rises three inches, then essentially the "same risk factor" areas get pushed back three inches of elevation, which can be quite a ways in terms of space.

I'll certainly agree that people building repeatedly in high risk areas is a problem, though. It's the nature of folks already owning that land, and getting flood insurance payouts.

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby DanD » Fri Sep 16, 2016 3:59 pm UTC

squall_line wrote:
DanD wrote:That's it for predictions. Now, on why solar is already cheaper: Right now, Carbon emissions are an externality. They are produced by power plants, but the effects are general, and no one pays for them. Therefore they induce a tax burden, right now being seen in the form of increased disaster relief costs and things like shoring up coastal cities.
(emphasis added)

I disagree on the assertion that there has been an appreciable increase in natural disasters caused by human activity and CO2 emissions. I mildly disagree on the assertion that coastal cities are currently threatened due to human actions other than the action of building in coastal areas (Florida Keys, for example).

These are the types of conclusions that not everyone can get on board with. While many may agree that the data are accurate, not everyone agrees on the cause or the solution. This disagreement leads some groups to label others as "deniers" and other negatively-connoted words.


What exactly do you disagree with? That CO2 is causing rising temperatures? Because we've covered how that can be shown both in earth albedo data and in small scale examples.

That human activity is increasing CO2 in the atmosphere? Because we've covered both the mechanism and the tracking for that.

That increasing temperatures cause sea level rise? We haven't covered that in detail, but it's fairly straight forward. Rising temperatures not only melt land ice, which raises water levels, but also warmer water is less dense.

That rising sea levels threaten cities? http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/08/opinions/ ... a-climate/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiribati# ... tal_issues

As far as the specific storms and natural disasters, that's a little harder. But it's fairly straight forward to say that warmer water means more moisture in the atmosphere. More moisture in the atmosphere means more rain.

Warmer air also means shifting behavior, resulting in more extreme weather in general. No, it's never possible to say that a given event came from warming, but it is entirely possible to state that a trend of more or more severe events derives from it.

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby ps.02 » Fri Sep 16, 2016 4:19 pm UTC

hamjudo wrote:
ps.02 wrote:A "Sisyphus battery," using gravitational potential with solids instead of liquids, seems less practical at scale. But it's not like I've really thought about it.


Here is a serious looking proposal to use railroad technology to store hundreds of megawatt hours by moving many railroad car sized weights up a mountain

Huh...interesting. So for that you still need the hill gradient, but you don't need the large body of water and you don't need to flood a big area or disrupt fish migrations or the like. I wonder how the capital costs compare. And maintenance costs, for that matter: I've heard that on other rail lines, railroad ties are replaced on about a 30-year cycle. Finally, they should have a third party calculate energy stored on energy invested, which is IMO a pretty useful metric for thinking about grid storage from an environmental impact view. (Summary: pumped hydro can apparently store about 200 times as much energy over its lifetime as is required to build and maintain it. That's an order of magnitude better than any battery type they analysed.)
The Economist magazine has dubbed it the “Sisyphus Railroad.”

Nice to know The Economist and I are on the same page about what to call an endeavor where you push the same rocks uphill over and over.

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby HES » Fri Sep 16, 2016 4:33 pm UTC

ps.02 wrote:And maintenance costs, for that matter: I've heard that on other rail lines, railroad ties are replaced on about a 30-year cycle.

Road damage is proportional to the fourth-power of axle weight, I don't see why rail would be especially different. Which is problematic for this proposal.

As has been said though, pumped-storage hydro plants are absolutely a thing, you just need the right topography to start with.
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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby DanD » Fri Sep 16, 2016 4:47 pm UTC

HES wrote:
ps.02 wrote:And maintenance costs, for that matter: I've heard that on other rail lines, railroad ties are replaced on about a 30-year cycle.

Road damage is proportional to the fourth-power of axle weight, I don't see why rail would be especially different. Which is problematic for this proposal.

As has been said though, pumped-storage hydro plants are absolutely a thing, you just need the right topography to start with.


The speeds are going to be lower, which should increase durability. Especially if it's all straight line with no switching (can't really tell from that picture). And concrete ties are more durable, with 30 years as a minimum estimated service life for high traffic/high load conditions (as opposed to a max of 30 for wood ties). Concrete ties also increase rail, bedding, and rolling stock life, as well as reducing energy loss.

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby ps.02 » Fri Sep 16, 2016 4:57 pm UTC

DanD wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Battery technology is fairly mature, and has stabilized down to about a 5-8% energy density improvement per year. It seems improbable that this will suddenly be the year when we have a massive breakthrough and gain ridiculous battery power.

Except the breakthrough has already happened, and it's not energy density. Energy density is not the critical factor in an adequate battery technology for this sort of use. What's critical is a high cycle life with a decently deep discharge cycle.

Quite. It was a real eye-opener when I realised that grid energy storage has completely different tradeoffs to how we normally think of batteries. For most applications of batteries, you want density: to store a lot of energy in a small space and small weight. Fast charging is a plus, though discharge rate often isn't a big deal. (If you might need a sudden burst of energy, include a capacitor.) It needs to scale down to fit in your pocket. The round trip efficiency doesn't matter too much - who really cares if a wall charger needs to deliver far more energy than you actually store? You may or may not need a low self-discharge rate, and a lot of charge-discharge cycles (they both matter for electric cars, neither matters so much for cell phones).

For grid storage, you don't really care about density. There's plenty of land under those solar panels if you need it. Weight is also not a concern. Nor is the ability to scale down to fit in your pocket - whatever you deploy is going to be pretty huge. You do care about total capacity, round trip efficiency, a long lifetime (ideally, you can charge and discharge daily for decades). You might care about rate of charge and discharge, though at scale, you may be able to parallelize away most of that. You probably don't care so much about self-discharge rate, as you're usually storing energy for a few hours, never for weeks at a time.

So yeah, the best type of battery for a flashlight or a quadcopter is not at all the same question as the best solution for the grid. We may indeed be approaching the limits on battery chemistry optimized for portability, but that doesn't mean there's no low-hanging fruit left for grid storage (which, I think, has had a lot less R&D historically).

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Sep 16, 2016 4:59 pm UTC

squall_line wrote:This disagreement leads some groups to label others as "deniers" and other negatively-connoted words.
If you are in denial of the science (whether the evidence or the conclusions), I'm going to call you a denier or denialist.

Same for people who say things like, "I understand that genes can mutate and allele frequencies can shift, but I disagree with the conclusion that this can lead to new species."
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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby cphite » Fri Sep 16, 2016 6:13 pm UTC

paha arkkitehti wrote:
Mikeski wrote:Then we seem to be boned either way, as I'm not sure how you feed 7 billion of us on a zero-fossil-fuels economy. Or keep the ones who don't live in the tropics warm in the wintertime. (Or, generously, to do those things with an early-1800s-level-of-emissions-with-today's-tech, fossil-fuels-economy.)


Those are easy. Feeding us all simply means changing to a more vegetarian diet (see: http://xkcd.com/1338/) and change the agricultural policy so that we would farm our stuff where the climate is good (like Africa) instead of using massive amounts of money and energy to cultivate things in near arctic environment (say, Northern Europe).


So instead of using massive amounts of money and energy to cultivate food in Northern Europe, you're going to use massive amounts of money and energy to transport food cultivated in Africa to Northern Europe.

And you can get more than enough warmth from sun and geothermal sources to keep us all nice and warm. Drill a hole couple of kilometeres down, and there's more than enough warmth to heat a well insulated town forever.


Where are you getting the energy to drill all of those holes? Or to fabricate the pipes and heat exchanges to use them? Or to have them installed? Nothing against geothermal - it's great where it actually works - but it doesn't happen for free.

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Re: 1732: "Earth Temperature Timeline"

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Sep 16, 2016 6:54 pm UTC

How many years' worth of energy does it take to build the infrastructure?

That you need energy to drill the holes for geothermal isn't a refutation of the claim that geothermal can thereafter heat a city without producing CO2.
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