Solar Energy Storage – A Gift from Gaia

Shanghai-Gaia-Solar-Co-Ltd-[1]Guest essay by Viv Forbes

There is a massive problem with photo-voltaic solar power. Modern cities and industries require power 24/7 but solar panels can only deliver significant energy from 9am to 3pm on a clear day – a maximum of 25% of the time. Even within this time, energy production peaks at midday and falls off steeply on either side.

Science has yet to develop a solar storage battery suitable for grid power. It must be sufficiently large, cheap and efficient to hold the solar power generated during the short solar maximum so it can be used later, when peak demand usually occurs. This process requires that much of the solar energy produced in peak times would have to be devoted to recharging the massive battery.

A linked hydro plant would work in certain limited locations, but the same people advocating solar power are opposed to dam building for hydro power.

But Planet Earth has already solved this problem. For millions of years Earth has use photosynthesis to store solar energy via in wood and plant material then converted this to long-term storage in the form of coal.

Coal is nature’s answer to solar energy storage and in a wonderful bit of synergy, the process of recovering the energy releases back to the atmosphere the building blocks of life – water vapour and carbon dioxide. These are again converted back by solar energy into more plants/wood/coal. And the whole process does a bit towards postponing the next ice age and returning Earth to that warm, moist, verdant, life-filled environment that existed when the coals were formed.

Coal is a gift from Gaia – the 100% natural, clean, green and sustainable answer to Solar Energy Storage!

Viv Forbes,
Rosewood    Qld   Australia

http://carbon-sense.com

 

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142 thoughts on “Solar Energy Storage – A Gift from Gaia

  1. So they mount the panels on the roof.
    Cold snowy day no power.
    Warm snowy day avalanche.
    Do they fit these things with wipers?
    Why not they are subsidised with our tax money!

  2. same thing for the “éoliennes” (sorry)
    concerning solar panels they are mostly manufactured in china – and the manufacturing process is polluting, as well as when it has to be destroy –

    for coal, did [you] hear about Ivan Makhonine ?

  3. “A linked hydro plant would work in certain limited locations, but the same people advocating solar power are opposed to dam building for hydro power.”

    Dams store renewable energy more so than any other natural device. Narrow canyons work well as there is less evaporation to cause lake effect weather.

    Tides and ocean currents could also be used. Especially nearer to the poles where tides are greater due to the gravity bulge.

  4. ah, the Carboniferous Period…..during my Geology undergrad years studying sedimentology and the Yoredale Series (that dates me) we spent many local field trips in the open cast coal mines of North West England, understanding the heartbeat of the Earth through transgressive and regressive episodes, the “window” of hydrocarbon production framed in the pressure/temperature cooker of geologic time and how, in the mid 19th Century, Man’s ingenuity had broken through the agricultural period into the Industrial Age with the help of coal. On many occasions we marvelled at the discovery of small shale nodules that revealed, when split open, the perfectly preserved remains of a plant sealed over 300 million years previously.

    Today my heart weeps when I read the Mission Statements of once previously highly regarded organisations like the Geological Society….espousing sheer propoganda.

    Sunlight, plants, CO2 and time. Our fossil fuel friends.

  5. Reforming essential plant food
    It is indeed amazing how our Creator has provided abundant stored solar fuel for use to grow our economies and provide a bridge from firewood to developing sustainable fuels from solar and/or nuclear energy. “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” Genesis 1:31. Using this abundant store of solar energy provides renews our atmosphere with carbon dioxide, an essential “plant food” and plant nutrient. By replenishing our atmosphere, Carbon Dioxide Emissions Stimulating $15 Trillion in Crop Production.

    Conversely see Isaiah 5:20:

    “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

    Woe indeed to the EPA and UN who rename using this abundant provision of fuel to be “carbon pollution”.

  6. When I teach my 101 Geology course I use this example. It is in a closed room with no windows so I can hold up a piece of bituminous coal, explain how it is a solar battery and point to the lights in the room as proof that it works a charm and is not just some philosophical construct: I refer to it as ‘stored sunlight’.

  7. We need to outlaw paper recycling. Bury the stuff after one use.

    It does two things: Carbon sequestration to make the Greens happy, and future coal deposits for some species in the far future.

  8. “Coal is a gift from Gaia – the 100% natural, clean, green and sustainable answer to Solar Energy Storage!”

    …and a higher concentration of CO2 equates to higher yields in crops and forestation.

  9. Not sure if this was advocating the creation of more coal – slight problem with the delay – how many millions of years are required? We tend not to let too many trees just fall over these days, do we, preferring rather more immediate use of wood.
    What was the point of this essay?

    Feeling very Grumpy today having discovered my council has a Biomass Supply Officer on its books.

  10. The warmists claim that global warming causes more forest fires. Solution, cut down the trees and use them for fuel before Gia just recycles them. Their CO2 will be released back to the atmosphere either way .. and WE will do a better job of reducing smoke, soot, and other pollutants than Gia ever has!

  11. Another problem is unused solar electricity that disappears to ground yet the solar panel’s owner’s electricity meter is still running backwards. Society is literally paying for nothing but apparently that’s how it’s supposed to be.

  12. Now can we burn it cleanly? Yes we can (back atcha barry)! So given that coal is the most plentiful fuel in the world and a lot of poor countries have lots of it why don’t we help them burn it as clean as possible?

    I’d love to see more deployment of oxyfuel plants for third world countries. Burning coal in pure oxygen and CO2 rather than normal air produces mostly water vapor and nearly pure carbon dioxide.

    Now when I explain that to most people they say “carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas”. Sometimes I tell them about water vapor, sometimes I ask if they know what it is. Sigh. We have a long long way to go. Sad thing is we know the road and could do it in a decade or two.

  13. http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/06/06/why-mining-and-burning-coal-could-slowly-be-killing-us/

    –coal-fired plants cost the U.S. $62 billion per year in environmental and health costs.
    –coal plants regularly dump thousands of tons of highly toxic waste into public drinking water sources.
    –as many as 10,000 deaths associated with coal-fired plants in the U.S. These deaths are due to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases caused by coal pollution.
    –coal is the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions in the US and contains over 50 identified toxins that pollute the environment and can cause grave health disorders.
    –people who live in coal mining communities have a 70 percent risk of developing kidney disease, a 64 percent increased risk of developing chronic pulmonary obstructive disease, and are 30 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure than those who do not live in coal-mining communities.
    –communities near mountaintop coal mines have inordinately high rates of birth defects.

  14. Ok, ok, but let’s just remember that a piece of coal is more of a high density solar energy ‘collection’ as a result of many centuries/millennia of solar input, rather than a battery (which is usually thought of as being able to be remanufactured or recharged relatively easily/quickly). I’m not averse to the odd analogy, but perhaps ‘battery’ is not really sensible in this case for the average layperson IMHO.
    The energy being ‘used’ from coal is a multimillenial collection of tiny photons of energy gradually collected into wood, then fossilised into coal (again, over many millennia), It cannot be remanufactured by man (at least not via the same natural processes!) and is a precious (although abundant) resource – as are all fossil fuels!
    just sayin…
    (and no, I’m not being a tree-hugging eco-nut – just want folk to appreciate what TIME and ENERGY has gone into that piece of coal!)

  15. Grumpy says:
    February 11, 2014 at 10:35 am
    “Not sure if this was advocating the creation of more coal – slight problem with the delay – how many millions of years are required? We tend not to let too many trees just fall over these days, do we, preferring rather more immediate use of wood.”

    Grumpy; coal deposits formed during a time where fungi (white mould) had not yet developed the ability to break down lignin.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ligninase

    Letting trees fall over these days just leads to rotting trees and flourishing fungi colonies, not to the formation of coal deposits.

  16. Barf. I like the subversive “coal is solar” message. While technically accurate, you fail to mention that coal reserves are being used up in a minute fraction of the tens of millions of years it took for Gaia to produce them. And then what?

  17. “Coal is nature’s answer to solar energy storage and in a wonderful bit of synergy, the process of recovering the energy releases back to the atmosphere the building blocks of life – water vapour and carbon dioxide. These are again converted back by solar energy into more plants/wood/coal. ——> And the whole process does a bit towards postponing the next ice age and returning Earth to that warm, moist, verdant, life-filled environment that existed when the coals were formed.”

    So burning coal that is releasing carbon dioxide and water vapor makes earth warmer. So the carbon dioxide emissions by the humanity make earth warmer. Who could have thought that? Not the scientists I’m sure.

  18. Grumpy says:
    February 11, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Not sure if this was advocating the creation of more coal – slight problem with the delay – how many millions of years are required? We tend not to let too many trees just fall over these days, do we, preferring rather more immediate use of wood.
    What was the point of this essay?

    =============================================================================
    1) Wood is not the only source of biomass that can form coal. I imagine peat would turn into coal if left long enough.

    2) Considering that diamonds can be artificially created much faster than they are supposed to form in nature I would be willing to bet the same would be true for a process to create synthetic coal from biomass. I would be concerned more about scalability, specifically the ratio of input biomass to output coal.

  19. So why aren’t we actively persuing LFTR commercialisation, is Thorium not also “a gift from Gaia”? Seems like a darned sight better option than coal.

  20. Don’t forget the social element. The “war against coal” is really a war against coal miners and by extension the industrial working class. The old “class struggle” rears its head again.

    • Why is coal the only industry where this “class warfare” argument seems to crop up? Is Wal-Mart choosing to buy t-shirts from Bangladeshi factories a “war on American textiles”? Is the iPhone a “war on American land lines”? No. These are industries that have changed dramatically in the last few decades and the markets have responded. Why aren’t libertarians hailing coal’s weaning competitiveness as a triumph of the free market? Coal is a 19th century technology that is experiencing its death gasp and this is NOT a class war.

  21. Energy storage is possible for solar and wind, just look up Compressed Air Energy Storage. There is a plant in Alabama that has been operating since 1991 that can produce 110 MW of electrical power. It requires a large cavern to store the air, but we have been doing this with natural gas for years. Much more immediate than turning plants into coal.

  22. jai mitchell says:
    February 11, 2014 at 10:44 am

    http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/06/06/why-mining-and-burning-coal-could-slowly-be-killing-us/

    –coal-fired plants cost the U.S. $62 billion per year in environmental and health costs.
    –coal plants regularly dump thousands of tons of highly toxic waste into public drinking water sources.
    –as many as 10,000 deaths associated with coal-fired plants in the U.S. These deaths are due to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases caused by coal pollution.
    –coal is the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions in the US and contains over 50 identified toxins that pollute the environment and can cause grave health disorders.
    –people who live in coal mining communities have a 70 percent risk of developing kidney disease, a 64 percent increased risk of developing chronic pulmonary obstructive disease, and are 30 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure than those who do not live in coal-mining communities.
    –communities near mountaintop coal mines have inordinately high rates of birth defects,
    ***************************

    Who opened the door and let Jim Hansen in?

    Any way, of all the reported deaths, do you have the names of those who have died and the date they died on?

    Thanks,

  23. There are a few issues with this post, but thanks for starting the conversation.
    1) The efficient solution does not require one energy technology to handle all production all the time. The market still places a value on peak consumption periods of the day even if a residential user does not see it behind a utility flat fee structure.
    2) Solar energy costs are still falling and short-term financial disclose documents show more improvements coming. The solar handicap comes in from subsidy programs for rooftop solar, CSP, and various other offshoots of solar that are not competitive but which benefit from hiding behind a sector cost average that is flawed with startups and fake business plans mining tax credits.
    3) Zinc air grid scale-able batteries are starting production in 2014 for delivery to grid customers after pilot testing by lead utility customers.
    4) Coal will be shipped and burned somewhere just as heavy crude oil types go somewhere. Radical policy-driven costs increases in developed markets will just reshuffle the coal market flow pattern along with comparative advantages in trade.

  24. As for solar storage, California is creating hydro dams, called pumped storage facitiies, which have been around for quite some time, only they served an economic purpose – they were (and still are) the repository of excess base power generation during periods of low demand during the day and then operate much as a mid or peak power generators when demand exceeds the base plant power output.
    Base power plants (be they coal or nuclear) produce the cheapest power but those plants cannot be quickly powered up or down. So they run them at full bore and store excess power via pumped storage, rather than use higher cost peak power generators. At least that ‘s how it worked back when gas was very expensive. Nowadays no one would build them for that, since you lose a very significant amount of power thru attrition (upwards of 30%, I was told), and mainly, because gas is so cheap. California is building a half dozen or more pumped storage facilities with a capacity of 1 gigwatt for 12 hours when full of water. Cost is not much cheaper than a nuclear power plant, which costs roughly $5 billion these days. They are to be used to store their so-called “renewable energy.” But having a way to store some renewable energy output in no way eliminates the unreliability characteristics of renewable power like solar and wind. At most it allows you to time shift power generation to another part of the day. But who says that there will exist enough renewable energy available, for a day or a week or a month? The winds can die off for weeks at a time and for most of the US, the sun can also virtually disappear as an energy producer for extended periods . And once the batteries are depleted, how will they be refilled using renewables if there is no excess when the renewables reappear? Because of their unreliable nature, renewables (especially solar and wind) , if present in a sizable proportion, cause significant side effect costs, since they require backup power generation, which costs a lot to maintain, even if it never produces a kilowatthour of power. So you don’t just pay the renewable operator for his power – you also pay the power plants that maintains the backup capacity. The only time when renewables are not a headache is when they not part of the grid, even indirectly.

  25. Box_of_Rocks responded to jai mitchell
    “–as many as 10,000 deaths associated with coal-fired plants in the U.S. These deaths are due to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases caused by coal pollution.

    Any way, of all the reported deaths, do you have the names of those who have died and the date they died on? ”

    Those deaths are like the future warming. They are computer model deaths, that ignorant (or maybe scheming) policy makers use to support the conclusions they desire. Not real deaths of people with names and dates of death. After all the death rate is the same as ever, 100%.

  26. jai mitchell says:
    February 11, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Simply research the author of the article you linked to. A bit bias I would say.

  27. I’ve been calling coal stored solar energy for several years. We’ve gotten to where we can remove most of the real pollution when using coal. What’s left is CO2 that let’s the next generation of stored solar power develop.

  28. Mark Kammerer says: @ February 11, 2014 at 10:51 am

    ….you fail to mention that coal reserves are being used up in a minute fraction of the tens of millions of years it took for Gaia to produce them. And then what?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Thorium Nuclear and hopefully after that fusion.

    Do you see large piles of Horse Manure in Washington DC… on second thought don’t answer that.

    It is GOING to happen. The skuttlebutt is China is close to mini thorium reactor. Why should China use the technology created by the USA and then charge us for it?

    …Most of the experience with thorium fuels has been in HTRs (see information paper on Thorium).

    With negative temperature coefficient of reactivity (the fission reaction slows as temperature increases) and passive decay heat removal, the reactors are inherently safe. HTRs therefore do not require any containment building for safety. They are sufficiently small to allow factory fabrication, and will usually be installed below ground level.

    Three HTR designs in particular – PBMR, GT-MHR and Antares/ SC-HTGR – were contenders for the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) project in the USA (see Next Generation Nuclear Plant section in the information page on US Nuclear Power Policy). In 2012 Antares was chosen. However, the only HTR project currently proceeding is the Chinese HTR-PM.

  29. Garfy says:
    February 11, 2014 at 10:17 am
    same thing for the “éoliennes” (sorry)
    concerning solar panels they are mostly manufactured in china – and the manufacturing process is polluting, as well as when it has to be destroy –

    for coal, did heard of about Ivan Makhonine ?

    And China isn’t wasting their money on large solar power installations. Nope, the are subsidizing their manufacturing and exports to get our money.

  30. marklar says:
    February 11, 2014 at 11:25 am
    …. Is Wal-Mart choosing to buy t-shirts from Bangladeshi factories a “war on American textiles”?….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    If you ask that question around where I live you would get HE!! YES!

  31. @Tom G(ologist) at 10:26 am
    When I teach my 101 Geology course … I can hold up a piece of bituminous coal, explain how it is a solar battery and point to the lights in the room as proof that it works a charm and is not just some philosophical construct: I refer to it as ‘stored sunlight’.

    I hope you take the lesson a step into physics and economics.
    1 kg of coal, converted to electricity at 40% efficiency delivers 2680 watt-hours of electricity.
    That kg of coal costs $30/ton delivered by unit train, or $0.03/kg.

    ClaytonPower 400Ah Lithium-ion battery will hold 171 watt-hours/kg. (Note 1)
    So for electrical energy, 1 kg coal = 15.64 kg Li-Ion battery
    Li-Ion Batteries cost about $2.5/whr.

    Or $0.03 of coal holds the same energy as $425.00 of li-ion batteries.

    Ah! but you can recharge li-ion batteries!
    Yes, about 1000 cycles.
    So by the time you by use up $30 worth of coal, you have to replace your $425.00 li-ion battery bank.

    Yes. Coal is nature’s solar powered battery.
    It is even rechargeable — at geologic time scales. ;-)

    (Note 1: A Dell WHXY3 Laptop Battery – 11.1V, holds about 70 wh and weighs 2 lbs. For $60.
    So that one kg of coal, holds more electrical power than about 35 laptops in the classroom.

  32. marklar says:

    February 11, 2014 at 11:25 am

    The difference marklar is that the government did not tell Wal-Mart where to buy the t-shirts nor Apple to invent to I-phone, but the government has been telling the coal industry to do certain things that inhibit a free market in coal. So the war on coal is of the government’s making.

  33. John Shaw says:
    February 11, 2014 at 11:23 am
    “Energy storage is possible for solar and wind, just look up Compressed Air Energy Storage. There is a plant in Alabama that has been operating since 1991 that can produce 110 MW of electrical power. It requires a large cavern to store the air, but we have been doing this with natural gas for years. Much more immediate than turning plants into coal.”

    Well, anyone can produce 110 MW, the question is for how long.
    Second, you didn’t mention the need for heat management during compression and decompression which drives down efficiency and drives up cost of a compressed air storage.
    Third, what will the micro-earthquake-phobic fracking protesters say when they hear of the huge periodic pressure changes in old abandoned mines.

  34. marklar says:
    February 11, 2014 at 11:25 am
    “Why aren’t libertarians hailing coal’s weaning competitiveness as a triumph of the free market? ”

    Name me a market in which there is more political meddling than in the energy market, please.
    Free = total bueraucracy ? That drives Orwellianism into overload.

    “Coal is a 19th century technology that is experiencing its death gasp and this is NOT a class war.”
    Well just send it over here to Germany and we’ll torture it to death in our coal power plants; and thanks for the cheap exports.

  35. Garfy says February 11, 2014 at 11:43 am

    what about Nikolas Tesla ?? and his free energy ??

    What ‘free energy’?

    You have sources on that, besides the usual “Keepers Of Odd Knowledge” (K.O.O.K.) websites?

    You realize his ideas on RF (radio wave) transmission was warped, he disagreed with Hertz and Marconi, and even disavowed the ionosphere’s Rf propagation properties as proposed by Heaviside (and which said ionosphere was depended upon for world-wide communication for well over 100 years)?

    Here – read an actual ‘work’ by Tesla and witness his mis-comprehension for yourself (he can be little blamed for his misunderstanding, for his specialty was not ‘radio’ and EM waves but rather power systems):

    Reprint of his 1919 work: http://www.free-energy-info.com/TeslaTrueWireless.pdf
    Web/HTML version: http://www.tfcbooks.com/tesla/1919-05-00.htm

    THEN read the review/analysis/comparison of Tesla’s proposed system against what is known _now_ here:

    . . . http://www.teslaradio.com/pages/compare.htm

    .

  36. marklar says:
    February 11, 2014 at 11:25 am
    “Coal is a 19th century technology that is experiencing its death gasp and this is NOT a class war.”

    Another remark. You claim “and this is NOT a class war.”. Hmm. So it is not the destruction of 30% of the population during a civil war followed by a purge. That’s really nice to hear; but WHAT in the world made you say that?

  37. There are good reason aside from AGW (which I consider unproven at best) to want to switch away from coal over time. The fact that carbon emissions probably isn’t one of them is no reason to discount the others.

  38. That’s why I’ve thought that effective solar will likely be a hybrid of engineered plant material, bacterial material, and nano-tech, which will immediately produce electricity as needed and shift to produce sugar (to be converted to liquid hydrocarbons later) or liquid hydrocarbons in situ when demand is low. It will probably become economical near when photosynthesis is naturally optimal, when CO2 concentration are above 1000ppm.

  39. Coal supplies, are the product of millions of year of nature’s conversion of solar energy to chemical energy. While vast, humans could use up all this “stored energy” in a few hundred years.

    Nature has been working for billions of years trying to perfect the conversion of solar energy to a storable format. The best she can do is a few tenths of a percent efficiency. That is why biofuels are a very bad idea. See…

    http://climatesanity.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/nobel-prize-winning-biochemist-says-all-biofuels-are-nonsense/

  40. Just another example of the 4Es (eastern establishment environmental elitists) against working people: the Keystone XL pipeline conflict.

  41. It’s sad that environmentalism has basically become Climate Change, because it sold itself out and lost its moral authority. There are plenty of problems with coal, such as SOx and NOx emissions, carbon MONoxide, particulates, heavy metals, and even some radioactive emissions. Burning coal is not a clean process. Environmentalists used to talk about those problems, but no longer.

  42. ai mitchell says February 11, 2014 at 10:44 am

    –coal-fired plants cost …
    –coal plants regularly dump thousands …
    –as many as 10,000 deaths associated with …
    –coal is the number one source of …
    –people who live in coal mining communities have …
    –communities near mountaintop …

    Anyone else note that this reads a lot like those annoying DHHS/EPA PSAs often [quote] sponsored [unquote] by the ‘Ad Council’?

    http://www.hhs.gov/

    http://www.epa.gov/

    http://www.adcouncil.org/Donate-Ad-Space

    Donate Ad Space

    Each year the Ad Council receives over $1 billion in donated media. Every time you see an Ad Council PSA, you are seeing the support of our generous media partners. For us, this media support makes all the difference.

    Read our Partner Case Studies to learn more about our unique and effective media partnerships.

    Media companies interested in donating advertising time and space can order materials at PSA Central. To learn more visit Get Ads.

    So, now you know; that air time is *donated* by the station/network to the Ad Council to run those annoying PSAs …

    .

  43. yes, actually, air pollution DOES cause early mortality in human beings! (shocking I know!!!!)

    http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2013/study-air-pollution-causes-200000-early-deaths-each-year-in-the-us-0829.html

    The greatest number of emissions-related premature deaths came from road transportation, with 53,000 early deaths per year attributed to exhaust from the tailpipes of cars and trucks

    Pollution from electricity generation still accounted for 52,000 premature deaths annually. The largest impact was seen in the east-central United States and in the Midwest: Eastern power plants tend to use coal with higher sulfur content than Western plants.

    Unsurprisingly, most premature deaths due to commercial and residential pollution sources, such as heating and cooking emissions, occurred in densely populated regions along the East and West coasts. Pollution from industrial activities was highest in the Midwest, roughly between Chicago and Detroit, as well as around Philadelphia, Atlanta and Los Angeles. Industrial emissions also peaked along the Gulf Coast region, possibly due to the proximity of the largest oil refineries in the United States.

  44. OmegaPaladin:

    At February 11, 2014 at 1:14 pm you say

    It’s sad that environmentalism has basically become Climate Change, because it sold itself out and lost its moral authority. There are plenty of problems with coal, such as SOx and NOx emissions, carbon MONoxide, particulates, heavy metals, and even some radioactive emissions. Burning coal is not a clean process. Environmentalists used to talk about those problems, but no longer.

    Those “problems” have all been solved and that is why “Environmentalists used to talk about those problems, but no longer”.

    AGW cannot be solved because it is only an imaginary problem and not a real problem.
    Which is why environmentalists make a fuss about it.

    Richard

  45. With apologies to George Carlin: What if man is nature’s way of returning to the cycle of life the carbon it had improvidently sequestered?

  46. Just a thought. Mother Nature has optimized energy storage with CO2 levels around but less than 1000ppmv. Surely, with appropriate genetic engineering, we could produce organizisms which operate at much higher concentrations of CO2, which would require smaller areas over which to operate.

  47. For those who think that the natural cycle for coal (a few million years) is too long, algae farms provide an accelerated cycle and use the same power stations..

  48. Well done.
    The proper response to enviro-speak, is to reply in kind.
    Persons who chose to use emotional manipulation rather than logic, deserve all the scorn they attract.
    As in cleaning up the largest (natural) oilspill known to mankind… Fort McMurray Canada.

  49. Mike Jonas says:
    February 11, 2014 at 2:02 pm
    “For those who think that the natural cycle for coal (a few million years) is too long, algae farms provide an accelerated cycle and use the same power stations..”

    Some practical problems:
    a) removing the water without expending more energy than you harvest
    b) prevent your pipes, tanks etc from clogging
    c) open ponds? Forget them, they’ll get contaminated with species you don’t want in your Algae biodiesel production.

    As soon as someone solves these problems and starts selling his Algae diesel for a competitive price I’m all for it.

  50. Given the uptake of solar, gas, wind and general energy efficiency and the resulting demand destruction it produces as witnessed in many Australian states, I think coal is dead in the water, it’s slowly going to be replaced… unless there is a large uptake of electric cars to replace the demand destruction … The strange thing here is that some utilities are actually championing electric cars here in Oz… I think they see the writing on the wall…

  51. Coal is a gift from Gaia – the 100% natural, clean, green and sustainable answer to Solar Energy Storage!

    Viv Forbes, Rosewood Qld Australia

    I am a raving sceptic but this closing line exposes us to ridicule. Coal CAN be made clean via scrubbers but the sweeping statement says when I cook my lunch with coal it’s clean! Or maybe it doesn’t mean that but Viv should have said so. We can’t complain about soot on ice reducing albedo then say that chucking soot in the air is clean. It’s not. See London smogs. NB I use coal and charcoal to cook my lunch every single day because that is what I have. I will burn wood if necessary but I will be damned if I am going to rely on solar cookers on an overcast day.

    I am strongly against forcing people to use solar via legislation and fines as well as relying on it for the national grid. It’s madness. I am also for people choosing to use solar when they live far away from the grid. To these people payback time is irrelevant. Some electricity is better than nothing. I’ll stop here for now. Just my 2 cents.

  52. jai mitchell says:
    February 11, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    yes, actually, air pollution DOES cause early mortality in human beings! (shocking I know!!!!)…

    And I’m sure you know that cold weather causes excess winter mortality in the UK? The bottom line is this – the burning of fossil fuels has saved more lives than it has extinguished. Think energy for hospitals, producing medicines, keeping your house warm at minus 10C, emergency phone calls to ER etc, etc, etc. Today we are living longer than our parents and our parents are living longer than their parent. Did solar or wind do that? Of course not, get a grip on reality, it’s a trade off.

    Jai, please go to Cambodia and tell them they would be healthier if they relied only on wind and solar. You would be attacked most viciously.

  53. One of my son’s favorite books when he was a little kid (he’s now a geology and astronomy professor) was the Richard Scarry book, “What Do People Do All Day.” Around our house it was, “Dad, Dad, let’s read the “How people do book.” It had a wonderful section on coal mining and refered to coal as “buried sunlight.” Out of the mouths of babes.

  54. UK Supermarket, TESCO uses sunlight to create Wheat, and bake it into Bread, and then throws HALF of that baked bread away, put into landfill, biodigesters, or feeds it to pigs, rather than reduce their prices. As a result, with so much wastage, TESCO Fresh Bread Prices have almost doubled in the past few years. I have even seen them baking EXTRA Bread just before the store closed for the day, and then throwing away Fresh Bread, that is still warm.

    THIS IS OBSCENE !

    Tesco claimed in October 2013 that they are doing “ethical recycling” and have “taken measures”, to reduce waste, but I saw them still filling huge sacks with fresh bread last week, marked as “unfit for Human consumption”. The UK Government rewards TESCO for such behaviour, by giving them Carbon Credits or something for “sequestrating carbon”, (since bread is mostly Carbon you know).

    BOYCOTT TESCO NOW !

    Most other UK Supermarkets reduce Bread Prices towards the end of the day, and as a result have very little Bakery produce which is thrown away in landfill, put into “green biodigesters”, or fed to animals, It seems to mne that TESCO is deliberatelt wasting bread, so as to appear “Green”.

    …… this story bears further examination.

  55. Solar power makes good sense in space, in the inner solar system, where raw surface area is cheap and the sun shines with full force 7×24 hours a week, and solar panels do not have to be cleaned often, because there is no dirt. On the surface — not so much.

    It is not a good idea to produce electricity directly here. It would be much better to manufacture some energy rich, non toxic, neither flammable nor explosive chemical from materials readily available from the environment via photochemical reaction on a self cleaning surface using sunlight and store it locally, to be converted to electricity on demand in a fuel cell while releasing its constituents back to the environment.

    Sugar seems to fit the bill perfectly. We only need micron sized molecularly precise solar units closely packed with fuel cells of the same kind. The former is known to be possible, because all plants use such units, the latter is to be developed. However, to make it cheaply and in abundance, we have to wait for programmable self replicating molecular manufacturing units.

  56. Coal: “100% natural, clean, green and sustainable answer to Solar Energy Storage

    I’ll grant you natural, but clean? I think not.

  57. highflight56433 says:
    February 11, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Tides and ocean currents could also be used. Especially nearer to the poles where tides are greater due to the gravity bulge.
    —————————————————————————————–
    Ocean tides are very weak near to the poles.

  58. Nigel S says:
    February 11, 2014 at 1:26 pm
    jai mitchell says: February 11, 2014 at 10:44 am

    ‘Explorer In Residence’, how does he manage that?
    ”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””’

    Google Earth?

    Like being a Chairborne Ranger.

  59. DirkH Feb 11 2:10 pm – re your “practical problems” : I had understood that algae farms were already in operation in the US, but seeing your comment I checked. It appears that you are correct. Pity.

  60. Jai Mitchell @ 1.20 pm says, “53,000” deaths comes from the tailpipes of cars and trucks, Jai this isthe first time I agree with you, the problem is that it happens when those deaths occurred from trying to drive up those tailpipes at 70 miles/hr.

  61. One thing about solar is what if asteroid hits earth and blocks sunlight for a number of years? I bet then we would want nuclear or coal. Also solar is too open to military attack. By definition cells are exposed to sun, not protected by concrete. Easily destroyed by terrorist with machine gun bombs from sky.

    Stupid to expose electrical infrastructure to these threats.

  62. Jai Mitchell
    So if folks are dying 10 years earlier on average than why isn’t the average life expectancy gone down. More to the point why is it still going up although its going up slowly with some gender issues. I think the whole 200k people dying early to pollution is pure speculation. If you read those studies they are pure model based bs. There is no tie whatsoever to actual deaths caused by respiratory disease with smoking removed as an obvious cause.
    v/r,
    David J. Riser

  63. jai mitchell says February 11, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    yes, actually, air pollution DOES cause early mortality in human beings! (shocking I know!!!!)

    Unsurprisingly, most premature deaths due to commercial and residential pollution sources, …

    You can, um, provide some sources on this, I assume? Like, naming some people you may know even who had the ’cause of death’ listed as ‘pollution’?

    Yes or No – or, you’re just ‘jawboning again’ and not likely to get close to rendering ‘meat sauce’ (a “Where’s the Beef?” reference) on this one either?

    .

  64. “OmegaPaladin says:
    February 11, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    It’s sad that environmentalism has basically become Climate Change, because it sold itself out and lost its moral authority. There are plenty of problems with coal, such as SOx and NOx emissions, carbon MONoxide, particulates, heavy metals, and even some radioactive emissions. Burning coal is not a clean process. Environmentalists used to talk about those problems, but no longer.”

    Maybe Omega, that is simply because in the 1970s-1990s we here in the US pretty much reduced all of those problems down to an insignficant level such that they are no longer much of a concern.
    I grew up less than 8 miles from a huge Coal fired plant in MO and the air quality was great.

  65. Nigel S says February 11, 2014 at 1:26 pm
    iai mitchell says: February 11, 2014 at 10:44 am

    ‘Explorer In Residence’, how does he manage that?

    Maybe an explorer in the microscopic realm, perhaps as it relates to the many ‘-oscopies':

    arthr- : related to a joint
    colono- : related to large intestine colon
    gastr- : related to stomach
    hepat- : related to the liver
    hyster- : related to the uterus
    lapar- : related to the abdominal cavity
    lobo- : related to a lobe (of the brain or lungs)
    mammo- and masto-: related to the breast
    nephro- : related to the kidney
    orchid- : related to the testicle
    thoraco- : related to the chest

    .

  66. jai mitchell says:
    February 11, 2014 at 1:20 pm
    yes, actually, air pollution DOES cause early mortality in human beings! (shocking I know!!!!)

    Okay, but mortality rate from carbon dioxide pollution, mistakenly and misleadingly referred to as carbon pollution is zero. This is why labelling it as “pollutant” was a blunder.

    EPA’s inclusion of “Worsening smog (also called ground-level ozone pollution)” among the “health effects of carbon pollution” is particularly funny, since carbon dioxide does not have such an effect. Carbon monoxide has in the presence of sunlight and water, but that’s a lethal poison anyway.

    It is kinda embarrassing for the U.S. of A. to have a government agency that employs scientifically illiterate folks to do “science” and publish their crap at the agency’s website, which is supposed to be an authoritative source.

  67. asybot says:
    February 11, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Jai Mitchell @ 1.20 pm says, “53,000″ deaths comes from the tailpipes of cars and trucks, Jai this is the first time I agree with you, the problem is that it happens when those deaths occurred from trying to drive up those tailpipes at 70 miles/hr.

    I have to say I have never seen a tail pipe kill anyone. But people in cars…

  68. @ David L. Hagen re: your post today at 10:25 am: Great wisdom beautifully and economically written.

    Admiringly,

    Janice

  69. Another thing about this Coal energy causing premature death. It does not include the benefits in the calculations. How many years does having access to an abundant source of cheap energy add to ones life? I’d say if we compare the 1800s to the 1900s we’ve added about 20 yrs. Sure, maybe if there were no negatives to coal what-so-ever…. maybe the life expectancy would have increased to 22yrs instead of 20, but an additional 20 is very very nice to have. How many more people will die early because they can’t afford to heat their house in winter?… or cool it during the summer? How many will not be able to eat well because so much of their income is spent on energy and what will that do to life quality and expectancy? None of those considerations are ever taken into account in these studies.

  70. A Tribute to All the Brave and Hardworking Coalminers — of Scotland
    and Poland and America and Chile and all over the world —
    Who Singlehandedly Brought Us from the Equal Misery of Serfdom
    to the Blessings (albeit unequally shared) of Capitalism
    (where the socialists are not sabotaging it)

    –and who, until nuclear can take over, still do…

    (with a wave of the hand to Winston Churchill)

    “Sixteen Tons” — Tennessee Ernie Ford

    Thank you.

  71. Berényi Péter says February 11, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    It is kinda embarrassing for the U.S. of A. to have a government agency that employs scientifically illiterate folks to do “science” and publish their crap at the agency’s website, which is supposed to be an authoritative source.

    Hmmm … sounds suspiciously like ‘outcome-based science’ …

    .
    .
    Outcome-based education (OBE) – a student-centered learning methods that focus on empirically measuring student performance (the “outcome”) where the focus has changed from the content being taught to the student’s performance almost exclusively.

    .

  72. –coal-fired plants cost the U.S. $62 billion per year in environmental and health costs.

    Without coal in all probability you would be dead as we would have never exited the pre industrial age, where people lived in feces, with no running water, and the average life span was 35 years.

    Read a little history why don’t you.

  73. Viv,

    You are just far too smart.

    But how did Australia get all its coal, when nothing will grow there ??

    George

  74. alcheson says February 11, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    Another thing about this Coal energy causing premature death. It does not include the benefits in the calculations.

    Very good and salient point; probably lost on those with a narrow, myopic, blindered/blinkered view of the world though. Not everyone has as liberal an education to see the overall benefits through the dust kicked up by a vocal, vociferous, though few-in-number, and misguided ‘opposition’.

    .

  75. I wonder what the death rate was from falling out of fig trees trying to get free clean green renewable energy in the good old days before fire ?

  76. Also by definition, or at least in practice, solar cells are dispersed. If anything, they are less vulnerable to attack than power plants. As for an asteroid hitting, well, if it’s big enough to block the sun, we’ll have bigger problems than the lack of juice from solar panels.

  77. “george e. smith says:
    February 11, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Viv,

    You are just far too smart.

    But how did Australia get all its coal, when nothing will grow there ??

    George”
    ———————————————————

    Ever heard of “Plate tectonics”?

    Look up theory of “Plate tectonics” and think real hard!
    You don’t have to be “just far to smart” to understand how that coal got there under Australia and where Australia was located when the coal was deposited beneath it.

  78. jai mitchell says:
    February 11, 2014 at 1:20 pm
    yes, actually, air pollution DOES cause early mortality in human beings! (shocking I know!!!!)

    In 2012, there were over 34,000 fatalities in the US from auto accidents. These deaths are certified, real people who died solely because they were in a vehicle at the time of a collision. There is no question that the cause of death was due to traveling in a moving vehicle involved in an accident. Still, no one is suggesting that we need to ban all motor vehicles because, sometimes, people die in them. The reason is that the benefits of motor vehicles far outweigh the costs. People who have lost loved ones in car accidents almost always drive to the funeral. The same is true for bathtubs. People really die in them, but no one wants to have them outlawed.

    Fossil fuels are similar, but not exactly the same, because no one actually dies solely from air pollution, and realistically, no individual death can be attributed to air pollution. Even if we could make such an attribution, we would still burn fossil fuels to produce cheap energy, so we could take hot showers before driving to our 95 year old grandfathers funeral, who might have lived another two months if it wasn’t for all the air pollution he breathed over 9 decades…maybe. While there, we may reminisce about his great-grandfather, who died in his 40’s, primarily because they didn’t have all the benefits of technology and cheap energy back in the 1800’s.

    In other words, Jai, your rants about evil coal and air pollution are really just stupid.

  79. CJ, your comment has made it clear that it is time to hear from an expert on solar power.

    Solar Cells and Other Fairy Tales
    Ozzie Zehner* at Berkley U., March 7, 2012

    *Zehner’s bio (… Kettering University (BS -Engineering with honors) and The University of Amsterdam (MS/Drs – Science and Technology Studies with honors… ) is here: http://www.greenillusions.org/author-bio/

  80. CJ says:
    February 11, 2014 at 6:52 pm
    “You can get by without “batteries” if you store the solar energy as heat.
    Here is a solar plant that can provide power 24 hours per day.
    http://phys.org/news/2011-07-gemasolar-solar-thermal-power-hours.html

    Well that is cool, but a liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR) would take up a fraction of the space, work 24/7 regardless of weather or latitude, generate a hotter temperature, be cheaper and probably last longer, requiring far less maintenance and man-power to run it. It could run quietly and safely in a city where the energy is most needed, reducing the electricity lost in long transmission lines.

    All those mirrors and 450′ tower look really impressive, but when the salesman pulls up with a LFTR on the back of pick up truck (slight exaggeration) that can do the same thing, only better…the whole complex will look pretty foolish, like a hundred dollar cigarette lighter that works almost as well as a match.

  81. It is estimated that China has dumped $450 BILLION into their solar/wind industries in the form of low-interest bank loans to solar start ups.

    Many of these Chinese solar start ups have already gone bankrupt and many more are on the brink. Accordingly, a huge portion of China’s $450 billion in government-backed solar/wind industry loans will be written off….

    A $billion here, a $billion there….pretty soon you’re talking real money….

    My favorite example of alternative wind/solar not being viable is the RENIXX chart (index of all major wind/solar companies):

    http://www.renewable-energy-industry.com/stocks/renixx_history.php?changeLang=en_GB

    In 2013, RENIXX experienced a bit of a dead-cat bounce after losing 90% of its value from its peak in 2008, but the overall trend is still dismal and will not recover longterm.

    Obama’s unicorn and fairy-dust alt-en programs started without Congressional approval through Executive Orders is comical, because he can’t pay for anything without money…from…Congress…and it looks like his party will lose their Senate majority in the November mid-terms and they’ll lose even more seats in the House, where they lost their majority in 2010…

  82. SideShowBob says:
    February 11, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    Given the uptake of solar, gas, wind and general energy efficiency and the resulting demand destruction it produces as witnessed in many Australian states, I think coal is dead in the water, it’s slowly going to be replaced… unless there is a large uptake of electric cars to replace the demand destruction … The strange thing here is that some utilities are actually championing electric cars here in Oz… I think they see the writing on the wall…

    I thought I read a week or two ago that a gas-fueled power station in Australia said it will switch to coal because it’s cheaper. (And of course coal is doing very well in India and China.)

    Berényi Péter says:
    February 11, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    It is not a good idea to produce electricity directly here. It would be much better to manufacture some energy rich, non toxic, neither flammable nor explosive chemical from materials readily available from the environment via photochemical reaction on a self cleaning surface using sunlight and store it locally, to be converted to electricity on demand in a fuel cell while releasing its constituents back to the environment.

    Sugar seems to fit the bill perfectly. We only need micron sized molecularly precise solar units closely packed with fuel cells of the same kind. The former is known to be possible, because all plants use such units, the latter is to be developed.

    There’s a private company called Proterro (note spelling) that claims to have a process for making sugar for a nickel a pound, about 1/3 the cost of natural sugar. It’s in the process of building a large production facility in Florida.

  83. On a related issue, the entire “fossil fuel is evil” mantra will soon be moot anyway once the Thorium Age officially starts next year, when China’s first test Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) is switched on.

    China will be building 100’s of nuclear plants over the next 40 years because they’re the cheapest, cleanest and most efficient method of producing power, and China has 10’s of thousands of years of Thorium reserves easily accessible.

    Western countries will be forced to quickly follow China’s lead in building LFTRs or risk economic suicide. There will already be a second wave of production moving to China once their LFTR program starts producing energy at 1/2 the cost of coal/natural gas…. The size of the second wave depends on how quickly Western countries start building LFTRs…

  84. “Jim Clarke says:

    February 11, 2014 at 7:54 pm”

    Yes, I agree, it is rather impressive. However, what CJ is probably not aware of is that each one of those 2,650 mirrors needs at least two motors to correctly align it to the Sun and tower.

  85. I think most would agree that the time to charge up a solar-powered battery is somewhat less than the time required to grow trees, rot them down, crush them under metres of other detritus and turn them into coal.

    So yes, coal is a solar energy store which will tide us through the 21st century for sure. But the characteristics we require for a truly renewable source are slightly different……….

  86. @ Rhys Jaggar — ….. and the characteristics of the technology yet-to-be-invented may completely change the entire energy scenario.

    Think: Internal combustion engine… silicon …. nano-technology…. and ???

    No need to cripple our economy by siphoning out cash flow to fund research and development of obsolete technology. The beat goes on… and it has already bypassed photo-voltaic cells…

  87. Janice Moore

    Absolutely agree with you about yet-to-be-invented stuff.

    However, you must distinguish between technology best for high energy industry, technology best for huge cities like LA or London and technology best suited for remote rural areas.

    Solar systems may be the most cost effective in rural areas, because they can generate the energy locally without need for hugely expensive grid connections.

    I don’t think anyone thinks that solar is a solution for London or for aluminium smelting plants……

  88. rogerknights says:
    February 11, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    “I thought I read a week or two ago that a gas-fueled power station in Australia said it will switch to coal because it’s cheaper. ”

    I think i remember that article, it depends on location, different locations have different fuel pricing points, http://reneweconomy.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/agl-merit-order.jpg

    but yes gas is much more expensive as a fuel, but overall it’s mostly coal that is being displaced, see here

    http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/electricity-emissions-fall-as-coal-sidelined-by-renewables-57857

    Natural gas gaining

  89. Rhys Jaggar says:
    February 11, 2014 at 10:23 pm
    “I think most would agree that the time to charge up a solar-powered battery is somewhat less than the time required to grow trees, rot them down, crush them under metres of other detritus and turn them into coal.”

    Li Ion battery, 1,000 charge cycles, about 1000 EUR for a 1 kWh battery, meaning: each kWh that goes through your battery costs you 1 EUR.
    So you can only use electricity at night if the marginal value of using it exceeds 1 EUR per used kWh. Which is only 4 times as expensive as current electricity tariffs in Germany (*). Meaning, I’d still be running my computer; well, other people might still be running their big screen TV because they like it so much. Others would even drive cars with this ludicrously expensive electricity.

    Meaning we would be running through Lithium reserves like their’s no tomorrow only to watch the superbowl.
    Recycling is possible but currently not done because Lithium prices are too low. So, in a perfectly greeen world, the price for the batteries would have to rise, not fall, to make recycling viable.

    (*) = this assumes no extra taxes slapped on which is unrealistic, so it would probably be an end price of 8 times what it is now.

  90. 20 MW natural gas power plant USD 15 million, one acre
    20 MW solar power plant USD 260 million 20 hectares.

    Ferrari electricity with no benefits

    Q.E.D.

  91. To make coal from plant material you need more energy than the plant actually got from the sun in the first place. It requires a miraculous step in the algorithm…

    Seedless Vascular Plants formed vast “coal forests” during the Carboniferous period

    The three divisions of plants we have just surveyed [Lycophyta, Sphenophyta, Pterophyta] represent the extant lineages of seedless vascular plants that formed forest during the Carboniferous period about 290 to 360 million years ago. Seedless vascular plants of the Carboniferous forests left not only living relicts but also fossilized fuel in the form of coal.
    Coal formed during several geological periods, but the most extensive beds of coal are found in strata deposited during the Carboniferous, a time when most of the continents were flooded by shallow swamps. Europe and North America, near the equator at that time, were covered by tropical swamp forests. Dead plants did not completely decay in the stagnant waters, and great depths of organic rubble called peat accumulated by a process similar to that occurring today in peat-moss bogs. The swamps were later covered by the sea, and marine sediments piled on top of the peat. Heat and pressure gradually converted the peat to coal, a “fossil fuel.” [my emph.]
    – Biology, 5th Ed. (Campbell, Reece, Mitchell), p. 558

    i) How much pressure and temperature?
    ii) Where does the energy come from?

  92. Every lifeform is a storage battery for solar power. I recently broke it to a younster that “organic” means it contains carbon, he may never get the stunned look off his face. We have a generation that believe ” carbon bad- organic good” . Even journalists cant tell tar from oil (sands),

  93. Or, what you could do is cover a large section of the moon with solar cells. Because the moon has no atmosphere the material could be paper thin and cover thousands of square miles. The power – vast amounts of gigawatts – can be beamed to earth as microwave radiation. Now that’s what I’m talking about.

  94. I am a big believer in solar energy, especially stored in the form of coal. I heat my house with it. It is much cheaper than other forms of heat. I also have solar PV panels for my electricity. So I am almost entirely solar powered at home. And, just to make greenie’s heads explode, I have what is possibly the world’s only coal bin with solar panels on it.

  95. Friends:

    The ridiculous notions of ‘sustainability’ have again occurred in this thread. And the enormous store of coal available seems to have been unrecognised by some. So, I again write to inform why they are plain wrong.

    The Malthusian idea wrongly assumes that humans are constrained like bacteria in a Petri dish: i.e. population expands until available resources are consumed when population collapses. The assumption is wrong because humans do not suffer such constraint: humans find and/or create new and alternative resources when existing resources become scarce.

    The obvious example is food.
    In the 1970s the Club of Rome predicted that human population would have collapsed from starvation by now. But human population has continued to rise and there are fewer starving people now than in the 1970s; n.b. there are less starving people in total and not merely fewer in in percentage.

    Now the most common Malthusian assertion is ‘peak oil’ and – as seen in this thread – peak coal. But humans need energy supply and oil is only one source of energy supply. Adoption of natural gas displaces some requirement for oil, fracking increases available oil supply at acceptable cost; etc..

    In the real world, for all practical purposes there are no “physical” limits to natural resources so every natural resource can be considered to be infinite; i.e. the human ‘Petri dish’ can be considered as being unbounded. This a matter of basic economics which I explain as follows.

    Humans do not run out of anything although they can suffer local and/or temporary shortages of anything. The usage of a resource may “peak” then decline, but the usage does not peak because of exhaustion of the resource (e.g. flint, antler bone and bronze each “peaked” long ago but still exist in large amounts).

    A resource is cheap (in time, money and effort) to obtain when it is in abundant supply. But “low-hanging fruit are picked first”, so the cost of obtaining the resource increases with time. Nobody bothers to seek an alternative to a resource when it is cheap.

    But the cost of obtaining an adequate supply of a resource increases with time and, eventually, it becomes worthwhile to look for
    (a) alternative sources of the resource
    and
    (b) alternatives to the resource.

    And alternatives to the resource often prove to have advantages.

    For example, both (a) and (b) apply in the case of crude oil.

    Many alternative sources have been found. These include opening of new oil fields by use of new technologies (e.g. to obtain oil from beneath sea bed) and synthesising crude oil from other substances (e.g. tar sands, natural gas and coal). Indeed, since 1994 it has been possible to provide synthetic crude oil from coal at competitive cost with natural crude oil and this constrains the maximum true cost of crude.

    Alternatives to oil as a transport fuel are possible. Oil was the transport fuel of military submarines for decades but uranium is now their fuel of choice.

    There is sufficient coal to provide synthetic crude oil for at least the next 300 years. Hay to feed horses was the major transport fuel 300 years ago and ‘peak hay’ was feared in the nineteenth century, but availability of hay is not significant a significant consideration for transportation today. Nobody can know what – if any – demand for crude oil will exist 300 years in the future.

    Indeed, coal also demonstrates an ‘expanding Petri dish’.
    Spoil heaps from old coal mines contain much coal that could not be usefully extracted from the spoil when the mines were operational. Now, modern technology enables the extraction from the spoil at a cost which is economic now and would have been economic if it had been available when the spoil was dumped.

    These principles not only enable growing human population: they also increase human well-being.
    The ingenuity which increases availability of resources also provides additional usefulness to the resources. For example, abundant energy supply and technologies to use it have freed people from the constraints of ‘renewable’ energy and the need for the power of muscles provided by slaves and animals.

    The Malthusian idea is wrong because it ignores basic economics and applies a wrong model; human activities are NOT constrained by resources like the population of bacteria in a Petri dish.

    Richard

  96. “””””…..Janice Moore says:

    February 11, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    CJ, your comment has made it clear that it is time to hear from an expert on solar power.

    Solar Cells and Other Fairy Tales
    Ozzie Zehner* at Berkley U., March 7, 2012…..”””””

    Well Janice, I just had to listen to YOUR solar power expert. Well I happen to know some very significant experts, in at least the basic technologies of (PV) solar power; including some who actually ARE at UC Berserkeley; but I’m always happy to learn of others.

    Apart from the lack of audio/video synchronization, the introduction of the expert was a gem of information itself.

    The young lady introduced herself by saying she was a post doc at UCB . Wonderful, she evidently is one of the 65% of USA PhD physics graduates, who will never find a permanent job in Physics (in their specialty). They become post docs.

    Well I listened for about six or seven minutes. In that time, exactly nothing had been said. The guy was going to tell us about a box full of stuff, but then he went off on a digression. Well I think he was already three levels deep in digression, before he took off on his new direction.

    So I suspect he will himself, be around UCB for some time; wondering what to do with himself.

    Now I gave them seven minutes; and on a TV program, where time is of the essence, I normally give them 7 seconds. If something hasn’t happened, I am already gone to the next channel.

    So this chap was going to talk for 45 minutes. Why not start with his information, and leave the idle chatter till the coffee break..

  97. Let us also not forget that miners have often been in the forefront of the fight against oppression, from Matewan, West Virginia, against corporate tyranny to Pechora in Russia aginat a bureaucratic state machine.

  98. marklar says:
    February 11, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Coal is a 19th century technology that is experiencing its death gasp and this is NOT a class war.
    ————–

    Give us a break from such tripe n’ piffle ……. and go tell the “treehugging greenies”, James Hansen and the EPA …… that it is not “a class war”.

    James Hansen got “jail time” twice for protesting your “non-class war”. And the EPA, a non-Law making agency is “making Law” for intentionally to force closure of coal-fired power generators and relegate thousands of coal miners and their families to stand in the Food Stamp Line while waiting for their Doctor’s appointment to exercise their “FREE” Obamacare Services.

    It will be America and it socio-economic base that will be “experiencing its death gasp” if coal is not used for energy production. And that’s because you can not build the nuclear reactors to replace it and thus America can not produce steel or aluminum nor support heavy industry that utilize said products.

    And you can not replace “fuel oil” as an energy source because the infrastructure for doing said is not in place, ….. which would require 40 years and trillions of dollars to “change over”.

    And placing all your “eggs” in an NG (CH4) “basket” is foolhearty at best.

    And all “for naught” relative to earth’s climate.

  99. So…
    just because your owners told you coal and oil come from dead stuff, you believe them?
    100% faith, 0% evidence — that’s religion, not science.

  100. Khwarizmi:

    At February 12, 2014 at 11:55 am your entire post says

    So…
    just because your owners told you coal and oil come from dead stuff, you believe them?
    100% faith, 0% evidence — that’s religion, not science.

    I don’t have “owners” and I know for certain fact coal is made of “dead stuff”.
    I used to operate a lab. which conducted maceral analysis so I have seen that coal consists entirely of fossilised compressed parts of plants and remains of forest fires with some ash minerals (i.e. clays). Indeed, I can identify from which ancient forest a coal derives. I also know the different routes by which coalification occurs and every stage of every route is observed to be happening now.

    That’s science. It is not belief which is the realm of religion.

    Richard

  101. The liquid sodium solution that was around a few years ago could actually work. Not a word has been said about it recently. I agree with you about coal; the ultimate sustainable. These coal phobic wusses in their Nazi lite green groups hoping to attain frightening power are not Americans in spirit, they are worse than communists. The x and y generations have so much entitlement attitude it’s sickening. There’s no free lunch and power of any kind is dangerous. Where is the impetus for a Manhattan style energy project that would last till we solved it? Why not build the best schools in the world? Why not teach kids how to read and turn off the computers and social networking? We must offer courses teaching how to analyze, resist and dismiss propaganda and commercials aimed at them from age 0 or they will never even want to learn science. Maybe skeptical private schools need to be formed to resist the tide of stupidity that is rapidly turning us into a 3rd world nation!
    Where is the Can-do American attitude? Gone with the internet and Several administrations of
    people like Bush and Clinton who have sworn allegiance to either the Skull and Bones or like Clinton and his Rhodes Scholarship, a fast track to power if there ever was one, besides S&B that is. Obama is a half and half, and that includes CIA on his mother’s side. he is no preacher, but a slick huckster liker Clinton. In 30 short years they have ruined the the country and now hope to turn all of us into disarmed landless peasants, on drugs!:] Happy New Year!

  102. C.M. Carmichael says:
    February 12, 2014 at 4:47 am
    Every lifeform is a storage battery for solar power. I recently broke it to a younster that “organic” means it contains carbon, he may never get the stunned look off his face. We have a generation that believe ” carbon bad- organic good” . Even journalists cant tell tar from oil (sands),

    ****
    Oh it is worst than that.
    I was riding my bicycle in Denver along the Cherry Creek Trail talking to a punk who was the poster child for being green and ‘clean energy’. A real eco hipster. Pound that we was working on green renewable energy blah blah blah.

    As we rode along I told that all the earth’s energy came from space – even the Nu-cu-lar stuff. He was shocked and just slinked off. He ignorance on energy was appalling and quite comical.

  103. As a fellow scientist who doesn’t really buy into the AGW causes I found this quite funny really!
    AGW seems just a pro-Nuclear lobby and after Fukushima a bit against that as was when did my Physics major. Has anyone done a simple calculation on CO2 emissions from modern era say 1900 to 2013 c.f total atmospheric volume as a percentage? (a gnats fart in a room the size of football arena maybe LOL!

  104. richardscourtney,
    1) re: owners
    Everyone who lives under laws that dictate what you can and can’t put into your body is essentially the property of the lawmakers. Everyone who elects rulers to make rules, but who isn’t given the opportunity to vote on the rules, is essentially the property of the rule makers. I’m not going to pretend that I live in a free and democratic system, just because I grew up with those empty words beaten into my brain every day by the system. End of political rant.
    2) re: evidence
    In my first comment, I asked if there were any tree rings in coal. No answer.
    In my second comment, I pointed to a tertiary biology text that describes the alleged steps required to convert forests into coal, including burial under marine sediments and transubstantiation of the semi-preserved organic detritus into coal by heat and pressure. I asked how much heat and pressure is required to convert peat into coal so that I can reproduce the theory. I asked where the energy comes from.
    Again, no answer.
    After my third comment, when I suggested that people bel;ieve the just-so faith-based story of fossil fuels, including coal, you got upset and essentially said,
    “I’ve seen the evidence with my own eyes. I can identify the source forest from a piece of coal. Trust me. Have faith. That’s science!”
    But faith & trust & belief are the stuff of religion, not of science.
    i) I want to see the evidence (words aren’t evidence) of biological origin, and
    ii) I want to know how to reproduce coal from peat, i.e., what temperature and pressure do I need?
    Surely that’s not asking too much.

  105. The Chinese are building Coal stations in vast numbers. So they are getting the cheap energy and we are getting, well, er, higher bills every year.

  106. Khwarizmi says:
    February 12, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    2) re: evidence
    In my first comment, I asked if there were any tree rings in coal. No answer.

    Then apparently you asked the wrong person that question …… because iffen you had asked me I would have told you …. “YES”, …. noninfrequently one can find “tree rings” in coal.

    And I can prove that fact to you ….. but you will have to come here to see it.

    That “proof” is a 12”-14” section of a petrified tree stump that my neighbor extracted from a coal seam when he was working on a “strip-mining” job several years ago. Me thinks the “tree rings” are plainly visible in that fossil.

    And ps, most of the coal deposits in the Appalachian Mountains was not formed via vast primitive forests of hardwood trees, ….. but via vast primitive forests comprised mostly of giant lycopods, ferns, and seed ferns. And here is a good web site for your reading pleasure on the subject of coal formation, to wit:

    http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/Carboniferous_climate.html

  107. Khwarizmi:
    I am replying to your post at February 12, 2014 at 6:48 pm which is here and is in reply to my post at February 12, 2014 at 12:33 pm which refuted your untrue and ridiculous post at February 12, 2014 at 11:55 am which says in total

    So…
    just because your owners told you coal and oil come from dead stuff, you believe them?
    100% faith, 0% evidence — that’s religion, not science.

    My reply said in total

    I don’t have “owners” and I know for certain fact coal is made of “dead stuff”.
    I used to operate a lab. which conducted maceral analysis so I have seen that coal consists entirely of fossilised compressed parts of plants and remains of forest fires with some ash minerals (i.e. clays). Indeed, I can identify from which ancient forest a coal derives. I also know the different routes by which coalification occurs and every stage of every route is observed to be happening now.

    That’s science. It is not belief which is the realm of religion.

    Your reply I am answering is a silly diatribe.

    Nobody owns me, but you say you think you are “owned” because among other things

    Everyone who lives under laws that dictate what you can and can’t put into your body is essentially the property of the lawmakers.

    Perhaps your view is distorted by the effects on brain function induced by what you “put into your body”?

    You say you expect a complete list of evidence for coalification. I stated the evidence, I stated I have personally seen the evidence, and I have quoted what I wrote in this post.

    You can check the evidence for yourself by looking at a polished section of coal using a reflectance optical microscope. And I commend this link as being a good introduction to coalification

    http://www.uky.edu/KGS/coal/coalform.htm

    Richard

  108. And ps ……………

    Khwarizmi says:
    February 12, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    I asked how much heat and pressure is required to convert peat into coal so that I can reproduce the theory. I asked where the energy comes from..
    ————–

    Now I can’t even make a reasonable guess at an answer to that question ….. because I don’t have a clue as to how high the Appalachian Mountains actually were in past eons ….. and one would have to know that to calculate the amount of pressure being applied to that layer(s) of biomass waste of plant foliage. And regardless of what that amount of pressure was, …. I guarantee you that it was sufficient enough to generate the “heat” energy if any was required for the formation of coal.

  109. Hi Viv, if you like coal so much then you can go to live in China and breathe in all the lovely air pollution. It seems that you must have a financial bias for coal and you are young and naive enough to think it is clean. What a joke it is that you think that the coal-smoke is a gift of Gaia, when it is really the greed of man who wants his bank balance to go higher and higher!

  110. Sam Cougar,
    That “proof” is a 12”-14” section of a petrified tree stump that my neighbor extracted from a coal seam
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    So, the coal converted the tree into stone?
    You can’t burn stone.

    =========
    petrify
    verb (used with object), petrified, petrifying.
    1.to convert into stone or a stony substance.

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/petrified

    =======

    Check out my website under my pseudonym — it’s recommended by Martin Hovland.

    rude Richard said:

    Perhaps your view is distorted by the effects on brain function induced by what you “put into your body”?
    ====

    You mean like the cognitive protection detailed in U.S. Department of Health and Human Services patent # 663507, Rickie? Or are you regurgitating unscientific propaganda again?

    Then you say:
    You say you expect a complete list of evidence for coalification. I stated the evidence, I stated I have personally seen the evidence, and I have quoted what I wrote in this post.

    You conspicuously avoided the question about the pressure and temperature required to convert peat into coal.
    Some people say they’ve personally seen the evidence for ghosts and spirits and Jesus and his skydaddy with their own eyes…
    I never believe them.

    Check out my site, Richard. It’s recommended for study Martin Hovland – last link on his page:

    http://martinhovland.weebly.com/

  111. This is the quality of evidence on the website linked by Richard:

    I’ve seen better evidence for Jesus in a photo of an ice-cream stain on concrete.

  112. Sarovara Prem (@SaroPrem):

    Your silly post at February 13, 2014 at 7:04 am says in total

    Hi Viv, if you like coal so much then you can go to live in China and breathe in all the lovely air pollution. It seems that you must have a financial bias for coal and you are young and naive enough to think it is clean. What a joke it is that you think that the coal-smoke is a gift of Gaia, when it is really the greed of man who wants his bank balance to go higher and higher!

    Please try to think before making such ridiculous posts!

    Air pollution in Beijing is similar to how it was in London in the 1950s and for the same reason. High sulphur coal was used as domestic fuel in fireplaces and updraft stoves. London was then commonly called ‘The Smoke’ and its severe smog events were known as ‘Pea Soupers’. All British cities were similar.

    The problem was solved by the Clean Air Acts. Clean solid fuels (e.g. coke) replaced dirty coal and downdraft stoves were invented which consume their own smoke. China will solve its pollution problem in the same way that we did: i.e. by becoming sufficiently rich to afford the pollution controls everyone wants because nobody wants to suffer the pollution.

    The invention of the steam engine enabled the great energy intensity of fossil fuels – notably coal – to be utilised to do work. This freed humanity from the constraints of wind power, solar power, and the power of the muscles of animals and slaves.

    Presumably your ancestors owned the slaves whose desire for freedom you call “greed”!

    Richard

  113. Khwarizmi:

    re your post at February 13, 2014 at 12:48 pm.

    You are perfectly free to believe the Moon is made of green cheese or that coal is not fossilised plant material. But please stop polluting WUWT with your daft notions.

    I told you, I ran a lab. which conducted maceral analysis: I can identify individual plant parts in coals!

    And you deny that coal is petrified plant material because according to you stones don’t burn. Coal is a range of stones which burn.

    Richard

  114. Khwarizmi says:
    February 13, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    “So, the coal converted the tree into stone?
    You can’t burn stone.”
    —————–

    And you can’t think with a box of stones, either.

  115. RichardSCourtney,
    And you deny that coal is petrified plant material
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    If, by “petrified”, you mean the definition I actually quoted, then I am guilty for sure.
    I hope you are guilty too…

    Petrified wood (from the Greek root petro meaning “rock” or “stone”; literally “wood turned into stone”) is the name given to a special type of fossilized remains of terrestrial vegetation. It is the result of a tree or tree-like plants having completely transitioned to stone by the process of permineralization.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petrified_wood

    Or did you really want us to pretend that Sam Cougar’s “petrified wood” was comprised of flammable coal?

    https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/ambiguity

    I told you, I ran a lab. which conducted maceral analysis: I can identify individual plant parts in coals!

    But I already told you that a bunch of words ipse dixit isn’t evidence.
    If you don’t have any high-definition photos, and you don’t think it’s necessary to state the sufficient temperature and pressure regime required to convert peat to coal per theory (so that people may try to falsify or confirm the conversion step in the theory), then I’m not interested in anything further you might have to say on the matter. Thanks.

  116. Khwarizmi:

    re your silly post at February 13, 2014 at 6:56 pm.

    I have repeatedly told you the “evidence” and how you can observe it for yourself.

    Your refusal to consider the evidence leads me to assume you are some sort of Creationist seeking to refute evidence which denies your superstitious beliefs.

    Richard

  117. Khwarizmi says:
    February 13, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    Or did you really want us to pretend that Sam Cougar’s “petrified wood” was comprised of flammable coal? https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/ambiguity
    ——————————

    Best you practice what you preach, to wit:

    A logical fallacy is, fundamentally, an error in logic. This means that an argument that uses one certainly doesn’t hold if you’re using logic and reason as your source of decision making

    Because you are not employing logical reasoning or intelligent deductions when you discredit coal as being a petrified substance …. after I offered you factual evidence of a “petrified tree stump” being found embedded in a seam of coal.

    And I say that because it would have been nigh onto impossible for the above two (2) items to have formed independently of one another.

    And thus I agree with you, …. you should “run n’ hide” from any further discussion.

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