California's future energy pipe dream

I wonder how they’ll manage to put 25,000 offshore wind turbines in place after seeing the long battle (back to 2001 for the first permit) to get Cape Wind in Massachusetts approved with enviros switching sides to protect viewsheds, and it still isn’t built. I can’t see California’s sensitive coastline to go any easier, and never mind the other projects they propose, which will have their own challenges. The biggest failure of the plan seems to be lack of backup power for when the wind doesn’t blow, the sun doesn’t shine, and the tides are lower than usual. – Anthony

Stanford study shows how to power California with wind, water and sun (press release via Eurekalert)

New Stanford research outlines the path to a possible future for California in which renewable energy creates a healthier environment, generates jobs and stabilizes energy prices.

By Rob Jordan

A Stanford study outlines how power from facilities such as the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in California’s Mojave Desert can be part of the state’s renewable energy future. (Courtesy of BrightSource Energy)

Imagine a smog-free Los Angeles, where electric cars ply silent freeways, solar panels blanket rooftops and power plants run on heat from beneath the earth, from howling winds and from the blazing desert sun.

A new Stanford study finds that it is technically and economically feasible to convert California’s all-purpose energy infrastructure to one powered by clean, renewable energy. Published in Energy, the plan shows the way to a sustainable, inexpensive and reliable energy supply in California that could create tens of thousands of jobs and save billions of dollars in pollution-related health costs.

“If implemented, this plan will eliminate air pollution mortality and global warming emissions from California, stabilize prices and create jobs – there is little downside,” said Mark Z. Jacobson, the study’s lead author and a Stanford professor of civil and environmental engineering. He is also the director of Stanford’s Atmosphere/Energy Program and a senior fellow with the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Precourt Institute for Energy.

Jacobson’s study outlines a plan to fulfill all of the Golden State’s transportation, electric power, industry, and heating and cooling energy needs with renewable energy by 2050. It calculates the number of new devices and jobs created, land and ocean areas required, and policies needed for infrastructure changes. It also provides new estimates of air pollution mortality and morbidity impacts and costs based on multiple years of air quality data. The plan is analogous to one that Jacobson and other researchers developed for New York state.

The study concludes that, while a wind, water and sunlight conversion may result in initial capital cost increases, such as the cost of building renewable energy power plants, these costs would be more than made up for over time by the elimination of fuel costs. The overall switch would reduce California’s end-use power demand by about 44 percent and stabilize energy prices, since fuel costs would be zero, according to the study.

It would also create a net gain, after fossil-fuel and nuclear energy job losses are accounted for, of about 220,000 manufacturing, installation and technology construction and operation jobs. On top of that, the state would reap net earnings from these jobs of about $12 billion annually.

According to the researchers’ calculations, one scenario suggests that all of California’s 2050 power demands could be met with a mix of sources, including:

  • 25,000 onshore 5-megawatt wind turbines
  • 1,200 100-megawatt concentrated solar plants
  • 15 million 5-kilowatt residential rooftop photovoltaic systems
  • 72 100-megawatt geothermal plants
  • 5,000 0.75-megawatt wave devices
  • 3,400 1-megawatt tidal turbines

The study states that if California switched to wind, water and sunlight for renewable energy, air pollution-related deaths would decline by about 12,500 annually and the state would save about $103 billion, or about 4.9 percent of the state’s 2012 gross domestic product, in related health costs every year. The study also estimates that resultant emissions decreases would reduce global climate change costs in 2050 – such as coastal erosion and extreme weather damage – by about $48 billion per year.

“I think the most interesting finding is that the plan will reduce social costs related to air pollution and climate change by about $150 billion per year in 2050, and that these savings will pay for all new energy generation in only seven years,” said study co-author Mark Delucchi of the University of California, Davis.

“The technologies needed for a quick transition to an across-the-board, renewables-based statewide energy system are available today,” said Anthony Ingraffea, a Cornell University engineering professor and study co-author. “Like New York, California has a clear choice to make: Double down on 20th-century fossil fuels or accelerate toward a clean, green energy future.”

Currently, most of California’s energy comes from oil, natural gas, nuclear power and small amounts of coal. Under the plan that Jacobson and his fellow researchers advance, 55.5 percent of the state’s energy for all purposes would come from solar, 35 percent from wind and the remainder from a combination of hydroelectric, geothermal, tidal and wave energy.

All vehicles would run on battery-electric power and/or hydrogen fuel cells. Electricity-powered air- and ground-source heat pumps, geothermal heat, heat exchangers and backup electric resistance heaters would replace natural gas and oil for home heating and air-conditioning. Air- and ground-source heat pump water heaters powered by electricity and solar hot water preheaters would provide hot water for homes. High temperatures for industrial processes would be obtained with electricity and hydrogen combustion.

To ensure grid reliability, the plan outlines several methods to match renewable energy supply with demand and to smooth out the variability of wind, water and sunlight resources. These include a grid management system to shift times of demand to better match with timing of power supply; and “over-sizing” peak generation capacity to minimize times when available power is less than demand. The study refers to a previously published analysis that demonstrated that California could provide a reliable grid with nearly 100 percent clean, renewable energy.

The footprint on the ground for the new energy infrastructure would be about 0.9 percent of California’s land area, mostly for solar power plants. The spacing area between wind turbines, which could be used for multiple purposes, including agriculture and rangeland, is another 2.77 percent.

“I believe that with these plans, the people and political leaders of California and New York can chart a new way forward for our country and for the world,” said study co-author Robert Howarth, a Cornell University professor of ecology and environmental biology.

The study’s authors are developing similar plans for all U.S. states. They took no funding from any interest group, company or government agency for this study.

Rob Jordan is the communications writer for the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.

-30-

Advertisements

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Brian

After all of the junk that he has published over the years, does anyone outside of academia take Jacobson seriously anymore?

Resourceguy

Never fear, tax credit man is here. That happens to be the same answer for ObamaCare subsidy cost overruns and any other hoodwink cost estimate exercise committed to get to Yes.

Mike from Carson Valley a particularly cold place that could benefit from some warming

The land of fruits and nuts getting nuttier by the day.

Resourceguy

Okay, then bring CAPERS and CALSTRS all in on the doubling down investment since “there is little downside.”

Spetzer86

I fully hope that CA goes forward with this plan as quickly as possible, just add long as I don’t have to help pay for it. We’d just need to make sure that all lines to the outside were disconnected first. It’d be interesting to see what that state would look like after full implementation. Particularly at night, or on rainy days, or during periods of calm winds.

kenw

“They took no funding from any interest group, company or government agency for this study.”
..because no one would have supported it anyway……

Curious George

Let the sun shine on California 24 hours a day. As days are longer in summer, even more in summer.

PhilCP

California spends 103$Billion in health care due to current pollution alone? That’s 45% of their entire health care costs (2009). That includes all forms of cancer, diabetes, mental illness, heart disease, car accidents, gunshot wounds and geriatric care. Ludicrous.
I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who has actually died of pollution recently, besides wrapping their lips around a tailpipe.

PhilCP

Plus, I’d like to see them run a grid with 100% intermittent energy sources. Good luck with that.

cirby

“15 million 5-kilowatt residential rooftop photovoltaic systems”
Um. That’s a 5-kilowatt system on every residence in the state. Seventy-five gigawatts. About half the total installed photovoltaic capacity of the entire planet, right now.

MJPenny

They forgot to factor in the ~500,000 ($103 billion/$200,000 per job) health care jobs lost. There this will result in a net loss of jobs for the state.
/sarc.

Barry

So does anyone know how frequently the three events would concur: wind not blowing, sun not shining, and tides lower than usual (forgot rivers not flowing and reservoirs being empty)? Also there are such technologies as batteries and pumped storage, you know. So, let’s just mock a forward looking energy strategy (with no independent analysis to back the critique), deny health impacts of pollution, and maintain our 19th century business as usual. Another good one, Anthony and followers!

steve mcdonald

How much were you paid to believe that.
The other states will pay the crippling costs of failure through Federal taxes given to California.
You know that California will be deemed to big to be allowed to fail
But you will still have your fee.

Otter (ClimateOtter on Twitter)

Are you guys SURE you can’t allow swearing, just for one thread? ‘Cause I really want to be HONEST in my opinion of these peo… pers…… indivi……….

These academics should be kept away from real world electricity systems. If they weren’t so stupid, they would be dangerous.

Skrub

The article says “25,000 onshore 5-megawatt wind turbines,” not offshore. Still, carpeting the mountainsides, spoiling the scenery and the rest of the arguments stand.

“These include a grid management system to shift times of demand to better match with timing of power supply; ”
Sure, I know you’d like to cool your house right now, but you need to wait until 2 am when the wind is going to pick up….

Greg Goodman

Since one of California’s biggest energy needs is air-con, there should be a lot of scope for powering this from solar. The days when there’s no sunshine in the sunshine state will be days that need less power for air-conditioners.
This could even be sourced on an individual basis, thus taking a lot of load off the grid.
Also if there is a major move to electric vehicles the batteries in those vehecles are a form of distributed back up storage.

DirtyJobsGuy

Notice the cavalier nod to massive capital costs. Since current renewables pay nothing for fuel how is that different than today? They are not competitive with any other technology for electric power generation. Note that the tax credits are only part of the subsidy. Current policy requires that state utility customers take “renewable” power whenever it is available, so it gets a premium. Just building more solar towers does not make up for the fact that night comes and building more wind does not compensate (as it was formerly thought) for local low wind speeds. There are still no good energy storage options. Pumped storage is expensive and limited by geography and others like underground compressed air storage never played out. I work in a power consulting business and I always need to break in new hires out of school of their “green” professorate.
Real technologies run the world not fantasies.

ferd berple

getting rid of pollution doesn’t stop people from dying. they still die, often some years later, after using up the same or more health resources.
the classic case is tobacco. smokers actually cost the state less in health care than non-smokers, because the smokers die early. the non-smokers still get cancer and heart disase, but they get it later in life, after they have already had 2 hip transplants, cataract surgery, numerous skin cancers from sun damage, etc, etc.
then you need to add in the savings in state funded pensions. smokers die early, which saves the state billons in pensions.

I cannot believe this. There is a massive migration of seabirds down the California coast every autumn. The inevitable carnage is unimaginable.

Neil Jordan

I posted the following earlier on Tips & Notes, but it is more appropriate here. CA says out of one side of its mouth that it wants to remove “carbon” pollution, but in the posting below, CA says out of the other side of its mouth that “carbon” is a substitute for water during the drought:
Neil Jordan says:
July 24, 2014 at 9:09 am
Today’s issue of Department of Water Resources California Water News carries many articles about the latest drought, including an item about water-free laundry:
http://www.imperialvalleynews.com/index.php/news/california-news/10058-world-s-first-ever-water-free-laundry.html
The laundry method uses an EPA-designated hazardous material – “carbon” – also known as carbon dioxide.
[begin quote]
World’s First Ever Water-Free Laundry
Created on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 19:18
Written by Green Liver
Sacramento, California – In the midst of a drought, wouldn’t a water-free laundry be nice?
Well, it’s here. With a grant from the Energy Commission, CO2Nexus is wrapping up an experimental project to bring a water-free laundry machine to market. Aramark, a respected Fortune 500 company, is demonstrating the technology in Los Angeles and piloting a process that doesn’t use a drop of water and can cut operational costs by 50 percent.
The process uses carbon dioxide as a textile cleaner. Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring and abundant gas that has excellent cleaning properties when converted to a liquid. When the carbon dioxide is returned to a gas, the fabric is clean and dry with minimal recyclable waste. Traditional dry cleaning is a similar process, but uses a petroleum or synthetic solvent and produces some emissions.
Results at the Aramark laundry, where the carbon dioxide process was used for “clean room” garments, found the process is gentler on fabric than a traditional wash-dry cycle, extending the life of clothing resulting in less shrinkage and wear.
While the process is designed for specialty garments, at one laundry, it is estimated the annual water savings would be 60 million gallons. That’s equal to the amount of water 850 homes would use in a year.
The process also uses less energy, cutting utility costs by nearly half.
Laundry cleaned with the water-free system.
The Energy Commission funds research and development projects that reduce emissions and save money. Visit our Research & Development page to learn more about the innovative projects we fund as part of our mission to conserve resources and transform the way we use energy.
[end quote]
\irony or something

J

I call BS !
“The study also estimates that resultant emissions decreases would reduce global climate change costs in 2050 – such as coastal erosion and extreme weather damage – by about $48 billion per year.”
If CA eliminated all carbon emissions, I don’t know the exact number, but for other cases like (Australia) or Obama coal plant debacle, the predicted (by their own models) temperature reduction is like 0.02 degrees. And how will erosion be reduced if we eliminate hundredths of a degree of warming????
And we all know the link to extreme weather is bogus, even by IPCC claims.

Oldseadog

….. grid management system to match renewable energy supply with demand and to smooth out the variability of wind, water and sunlight resources … .
In other words, WE will tell you when you can cook your dinner, and if you don’t want to eat at 3pm or 4.30 am then tough.

Bill

25000 onshore 5 mw turbines!! . . how many 1000’s of birds will be slaughtered? What about the noise and vibration effect on humans and animals alike?

“New Stanford research outlines the path to a possible future for California in which renewable energy creates a healthier environment, generates jobs and stabilizes energy prices.”
And people made fun of my ancestors for believing in leprechauns! We will find a leprechaun riding a unicorn tossing gold out of a pot to the people in the streets long before we see California power the state 100% with renewables.
Note: and I have a computer model to prove the above statement.

Doonman

I’m expecting future PBS TV shows will be titled “This Old Photovoltaic System” , “Victory Windmill” and “Geothermal Theatre”, amongst others.

tm willemse

Between the solar arrays and the wind turbines, we should be bird-free in no time.

mark l

There is an up side to this. The inevitable battle between Greenpeace, The Sierra Club, The Coastal Commission, and should keep them battling one another for complete control of this ‘plan’ and occupied for many years to come.

Bill Jamison

Pipe dream is right! We can use the never-to-be-built off-shore wind farm to power the never-to-be-built bullet train.

hanelyp

This is going to hit the high tech sector, heavily dependent on reliable electricity supplies, like a ton of bricks. Another reason I’m looking for employment out of the state.

ShrNfr

I propose putting a large number of them right in front of Al Gorge’s condo. I am sure he will sacrifice for the greater good, right?

Greg Goodman

Next year’s headline: “California’s future energy pipe dream has been cancelled, due to the enviromental movement’s opposition to construction of the pipes”.

Windsong

Electricity from wave power may be a great notional idea, just not sure how it will work in reality. After pouring $5 million of freshly printed greenbacks into Ocean Power Technologies for a demonstration along the Oregon coast, OPT pulled the plug. Surely they must have known that some portion of the Oregon coast is raked with hurricane force winds every year. As the investing newsletter Seeking Alpha headlined: “Wave Goodbye to this Wave Power Company.”
http://oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2014/04/ocean_power_quits_on_oregon_wa.html

Pat Frank

The total challenge is simple, and it’s in these two paragraphs: “The study concludes that, while a wind, water and sunlight conversion may result in initial capital cost increases, …, these costs would be more than made up for over time by the elimination of fuel costs. The overall switch would reduce California’s end-use power demand by about 44 percent and stabilize energy prices, since fuel costs would be zero, according to the study.
It would also create a net gain, … of about 220,000 manufacturing, installation and technology construction and operation jobs. On top of that, the state would reap net earnings from these jobs of about $12 billion annually.
The claim is that the new energy systems will operate at a net economic profit. The state will get net tax money from economically positive employment.
The study is claiming to be a business model. Fine. California is the land of venture capitalists. Stanford is at ground zero of Silicon Valley: Investment-Money Land.
If Mark Jacobson’s plan is economically viable, as he and his co-authors insist it is, then let them recruit the money from tough profit-minded investors. There ought to be no problem getting such money if the pay-off truly is capture of California’s $20 billion electricity market.
The opportunity is gigantic, right? The technology is in-hand, and it’s all just behind the gates, waiting to run.
So, then, put up or shut up, study-guys. The empty conference rooms are waiting for you right across Sand Hill Road. Make your presentation. If your business model is viable, investors will invest. The ramp-up will pay for itself. No public funding. No subsidies. No fake profits from the public purse. No parasitic snouts in government troughs.

California truly is the land of fruits and nuts, and in more ways than one.

ShrNfr

“The study states that if California switched to wind, water and sunlight for renewable energy, air pollution-related deaths would decline by about 12,500 annually and the state would save about $103 billion, or about 4.9 percent of the state’s 2012 gross domestic product, in related health costs every year.” I always love this sort of statistic. Aside from the fact that ng combined cycle is basically non-polluting, this sort of thing is wrong on its face. Even if it were not, the reality is that 100% of people die sooner or later. The “pollution-related” deaths just become “something-else-related” deaths. In particular, they frequently become deaths from dementia after a long, long time of pretty expensive care. I am an ex-smoker and the best thing I ever did was quit. But, the “system” has not saved beans over me doing so. In fact, it may well have lost a lot. Hanging around till I am 90 is going to cost a lot of people a lot of money. Kicking off in my early 70s would have been a lot, lot, cheaper for them. Bottom line, these studies that show how much you will save with “health care” never account for the amount you will pay for “heath care”, often for somebody with the mind of a sponge.

Dr Ken Pollock

“These include a grid management system to shift times of demand to better match with timing of power supply” Basically, this take us back to the time before electricity and the internal combustion engine, when your working hours was determined by the sun. A few candles might light your way to bed, but there was not much work going on. A return to the Dark Ages, almost literally.
Oh, unless it starts to blow a gale in the middle of the night, when you will be roused to rush back to your factory, while the power lasts.
Or did they just forget to tell us they had also solved the battery storage problem?

Tom in Florida

Anyone know how fast and far an electric getaway car can go?

Dr Ken Pollock

Note also that all the necessary kit is manufacured in Calfornia, to create all those envirnomental jobs. Tell that to the Germans, who found their solar and wind industries bankrupted by competition from China.
So you need a closed economy as well, which does not sound very American to me…

Dr Burns

The wave and tidal devices theoretically contribute 3% of the sun and wind. What is the point? Do they really think this is a backup for days when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun isn’t shining?
The 3% from geothermal is more constant but a drop in the bucket. These fools obviously don’t care about black outs but then there’s always good old coal to fill in the gaping holes.

“Stabilize energy prices” — a much higher level than now.

sfy.co/gb3A
The solution to climate change
replacement for fossil fuel powered electrical generation
D.Baker @silenced_not
Urgent action required, appears to be the consensus of the most learned climate change advocates!
The collective wisdom acquired through trial and error test applications of alleged solutions, has been enlightening, and sobering as agenda driven rhetoric failed time after time to deliver a replacement technology for the fossil fuel powered electrical generating facilities, which are the primary sources.of GHG the alleged culprits inducing global climatic destabilization!
Most recently 2 documents have corroborated a much maligned document I wrote!
In My Opinion! lnkd.in/ifM2au@Inc
* Leaked Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) the report says that agricultural output may drop by as much as two percent every decade for the rest of this century, compared to what it would have been without the effects of climate change. Demand for food is reportedly expected to rise 14 percent each decade during that time, exacerbating the food supply issue.
http://www.theverge.com/2013/11/1/5056260/ipcc-leaked-climate-change-report-warns-severe-food-constraints
* letter, by Kenneth Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution, Kerry Emanuel at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, James E. Hansen of Columbia University and Tom Wigley of the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Adelaide
“To Those Influencing Environmental Policy But Opposed to Nuclear Power”
http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/03/to-those-influencing-environmental-policy-but-opposed-to-nuclear-power/?_r=0
Unfortunately building conventional nuclear facilities is not realistic due to the costs associated with safety issues.
This leaves you with one option other than Geo-engineering “A New Nuclear Technology”!
Geo-engineering is the newest subsidy for the fossil fuel industry and is wrought with unknown risks and dangers and therefore not an option.
The New Nuclear Technology I propose is as follows:
Human Excrement + Nuclear Waste = Hydrogen
disq.us/8en3l0
lnkd.in/ifM2au@Inc
http://www.linkedin.com/groupItem?view=&gid=938667&type=member&item=5794160567027515392&commentID=5794504904257064960&report%2Esuccess=8ULbKyXO6NDvmoK7o030UNOYGZKrvdhBhypZ_w8EpQrrQI-BBjkmxwkEOwBjLE28YyDIxcyEO7_TA_giuRN#commentID_5794504904257064960 … … … … … … … … … …
You’ve tried everything else first and these have failed adding to the urgency of action required!
Dennis Baker
1. – 998 Creston Avenue
Penticton BC Canada V2A1P9
dennisbaker2003@hotmail.com
@dennisearlbaker @silenced_not

Ben Wilson

I think all of this is an excellent idea.
I think it should be implemented immediately in a pilot project — using the Palo Alto, California area as the pilot study. To make it absolutely realistic (for science purpose, of course), this community and its environs must absolutely be disconnected completely from the electrical grid. I’m sure Stanford University would insist on using their own endowment fund to finance the project, since the cost savings will be so great.

Water on the other hand has the uper hand on the wind mill fraud.
They should be working hard on the sea for water.
The Colorado River basin is not going to do the production needed for them, in fact the water production is going down. Then too the growth of the Colorado River basin from the Rockies to the Calif. coast is massive and can not continue.
Time for these climate brids to fly a flight that will in fact protect them rather than flying a lie line of flight into disaster.

Lil Fella from OZ

There is another myth about renewables that you rarely hear mention. Myth: put them up once and forget about them (panels or wind) that’s it! Like most man made devices, there is a used by date. Not to mention maintenance. I have only ever seen one wind farm nearly functioning to full capacity. One! Most wind farms, when sufficient wind is blowing, have dormant wind turbines. Most, the majority, not a few! Production down!

Steve P

My pie-in-the-sky fantasy uses angel farts to power my perpetual motion machine for California, as unicorn farts contribute to runaway global groaning. The angel farts also power the new and improved Magic FA Girdle, which is guaranteed to melt those pounds away even while you stuff yo’ face, because everyone knows it ain’t the fat we need to fear, it’s Blackie Carbon.
(Back in the 50s, there was a Bardahl commercial featuring Blackie Carbon as the heavy; I can’t find that, so this will have to do; substitute “Blackie Carbon” for “sticky valves”)

Pathway

Just another utopian dreamer.

starzmom

I say to California “You first! Let us know how it all works out. Please be disconnected from our grid so when you go down you don’t take us with you. Besides that way you can prove that it really does work.”

Sam Hall

When I was a kid, you could get a “water saver” attachment for your washing machine. It was a tank and valves that saved the last rinse water and used it for the first wash water in the next load. Then cities started charging very low prices for water and nobody bothered. Start charging true cost for city water and you will see a lot of ideas like this,