“Rescuing the Low-Carbon Energy Transition From Magical Thinking”… With More Magical Thinking

Guest commentary by David Middleton

Lessons to Learn From the Carbon Tax Backlash

By David Hart
December 21, 2018

The “yellow vest” protesters in France hate it. Four Canadian provinces, including the biggest one, Ontario, have refused to implement a national law requiring them to impose it. The state of Washington voted it down. Even “Green New Dealers” are shying away from it.

“It” is a carbon tax: the preferred solution to climate change of wonks worldwide. “[R]aising the price of carbon is a necessary and sufficient step for tackling global warming,” wrote the dean of climate change wonks, 2018 economics Nobelist William Nordhaus. “The rest is largely fluff.”

Uh oh. Raising the cost of dirty energy is the only way to avoid a climate catastrophe. Raising the price of dirty energy is politically impossible. If both of these statements are true, humanity is in serious trouble.

Fortunately, even Nobel Prize winners are sometimes wrong. There is an alternative solution: better energy technologies that radically reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a cost that is competitive with coal, oil, and natural gas. Some of them are already here: solar power that is 70 percent cheaper than in 2010 and wind power that is 50 percent cheaper. Others will be here within a decade: electric vehicles that are cheaper and better than gas-powered cars.

One big problem: These technologies aren’t being adopted quickly enough.

[…]

The climate and energy debate has been dominated by magical thinking for far too long. To be sure, the worst form of magical thinking is the fantasy that climate change is not a serious threat to human well-being. But the delusion that a carbon tax is the best or even the only way to avert the threat is almost as bad. Leaders who succumb to it waste valuable time that the world needs to develop and scale up solutions, and the backlash to it discredits climate advocacy in all its forms. It’s time to get real, and that means focusing on energy innovation.

David M. Hart (@ProfDavidHart) is a senior fellow at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) and professor of public policy and director of the Center for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government.

Real Clear Energy

Professor Hart’s solution is to spend more money on Unicorn research rather than taxing carbon emissions.  Just throw more money at it..

“Rescuing the Low-Carbon Energy Transition From Magical Thinking”… With More Magical Thinking

You really couldn’t make this sort of schist up if you were trying…

Rescuing the Low-Carbon Energy Transition From Magical Thinking

David M. Hart
October 27, 2016

To create a low-carbon energy system, we must overcome not just climate-change deniers, but also advocates of illusions such as the idea that all we need is a “science push,” carbon pricing, or more subsidies for existing technologies.

[…]

Current federal policy falls far short, in no small part because of magical thinking. After reviewing the four forms of magical thinking, the paper concludes by advancing an aggressive, smart low-carbon energy innovation-policy agenda. The key items on the agenda include:

  • Establishing a dedicated funding source for federal low-carbon energy-innovation investments.
  • Steadily expanding federal investment in basic research fields that have the potential to dramatically accelerate low-carbon energy innovation.
  • Dramatically expanding federal co-investment in applied research, demonstration, and infrastructural technologies for low-carbon energy.
  • Enhancing connectivity and strengthening user pull along the low-carbon energy-innovation chain.
  • Fostering regional collaboration for innovation in large-scale, low-carbon energy systems.
  • Reforming low-carbon energy tax incentives, so they are permanent and technology-neutral, and phasing out support for each generation of technology as it matures.
  • Using federal procurement strategically to build momentum for early deployment of low-carbon energy innovations.
  • Encouraging business-model and regulatory innovation in conjunction with technological innovation in the electricity and transportation sectors.
  • Tightening energy efficiency and carbon-control regulations in a predictable, innovation-inducing manner.

ITIF

If Gorebal Warming truly is an existential threat to humanity, just ban coal tomorrow.  Replace it with natural gas and nuclear power.  Massive chunk of the problem solved… if there actually was a problem in need of solving.  We currently have the technology to totally replace coal fairly quickly.

Nukes are currently tied with Unicorns.

 

Gas kicks @$$, wind breaks even… Solar LOL!  Real Clear Energy

The fact that Natural Gas-to-Nuclear is almost totally ignored by the Warmunists is prima facie evidence that Gorebal Warming is 97% politics.

Who is Professor David M. Hart?

Welcome to my personal home page. I’m a professor and director of the Center for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy at George Mason’s Schar School of Policy and Government. I have two overlapping areas of specialization. One is technology, science, and innovation policy. I’m interested in the sources and implications of discoveries and inventions of all sorts, past and present. The other area is governance, at the regional, national, and global levels. I want to understand the processes by which policy-makers decide what to do. The two areas come together as I seek to comprehend how states, markets, individuals, and social groups interact to produce decisions about important new technological capabilities.

George Mason University

 

EDUCATION
Ph.D., Department of Political Science, M.I.T., 1995.
B.A. with University Honors, Science in Society Program, Wesleyan University, 1983.

Brookings

 

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130 thoughts on ““Rescuing the Low-Carbon Energy Transition From Magical Thinking”… With More Magical Thinking

    • George Mason’s Schar School of Policy and Government.

      And that says even more — a school for Policy and Goobermint.

        • Or Course 16, Rocketscientist.

          For those of you who haven’t a clue what we are on about, at MIT one doesn’t take courses in departments, one takes a Course. (It is an endearing feature of the Institute.)

          If my memory is working OK, Course 1 is Civil Engineering, Course 7 is Mechanical Engineering (I suspect Rocketscientist’s major), Course 8 is Electrical Engineering and Course 16 (my major) is the King of all engineering departments, Aeronautics and Astronautics.

          • Sort of OK, but you got few mixed (2 is ME and 8 is Phys). Here’s a link:
            http://catalog.mit.edu/subjects/

            Looking through all of the additions (the courses that don’t have numbers) since the original 22 it is quite obvious how far it has sunk into the useless quagmire that pervades what passes for academia now. Does somebody really consider going to MIT to study ‘Women’s & Gender Studies’? One would think they would be more attracted to Oberlin or some other equally august institution.

  1. ” solar power that is 70 percent cheaper than in 2010″

    A goody, they only have a factor of 10 left to go.

    • It’s “cost” is a total red herring anyway. How cheap it is means nothing. It can’t produce electricity for fully half of a day (on average, it’s called NIGHT), nor will it produce much, if any, electricity when there is heavy cloud cover, precipitation, snow cover, or even if the panels are dirty. It can’t produce electricity WHEN and WHERE it’s needed, and in the amount needed.

      In short, it is USELESS as a “power” generation source. Its “cost” (which, generally speaking, is massively understated bullshit anyway, since much of the REAL “costs” are conveniently ignored by those who are promoting it) will never change that, not is anyone ever going to come up with some “magic battery” to make up for its inadequacies.

      Even if the “cost” by whatever definition improves by a factor of 10, it won’t make any difference. It STILL cannot replace fossil fuels.

        • Didn’t we give up the farm on this too, letting China dump cheap panels on the US, driving our companies out of business. So our Taxpayer Dollars went to China, which sold us large #s of shovels (panels) so we could burry ourselves in deep in the fantasy (solar power), in a kind of one-two punch to the good ole USA.

          • Yes Charlie. And that is why the ‘cost’ of solar has dropped. But the other cost of solar, should it be adopted as a primary power source, is that it causes the transfer of western currency into the hands and control of Communist China. These dollars can then be made into loans to Africans for the purpose of building coal fired electric plants ( of Chinese manufacture of course).

          • Actually, Red China will loan us the money so that we can give it to African dictators to pay for ChiCom coal-fired power plants.

      • Of course it can. There is a thing called a battery, costs on them are coming down nearly as fast as PV costs.

        • Oh goody, when they come down to about 0.1% of what they cost now, they might get close to being competitive.

        • Fossil fuels are needed to produce and transport both the solar panels and the batteries. When it comes to reducing emissions it takes years for solar panels to break even.

        • Yeah Chris, costs for Osmium-Gold alloy railroad tracks are also coming down. Presently it is used for “hard tipping” retro fountain pens, but who knows when they can replace steel rails? At least be sceptical about a few things that even your sterling heroes come up with.

        • Give me a break.

          A battery system to run a city for a couple of weeks? That is ridiculous. The cult of CAGW beliefs are child like.

          Half of the power requirement is heat for industrial requirements such as Ammonium production and refining (there is a $2 trillion energy requirement for those two), in addition to electrical production.

          The industrial heat requirements will never be meet by sun and wind gathering.

        • That would be great if it were true but it’s probably not, battery technology depends on chemistry, an equivalent of Moore’s Law doesn’t apply.
          Anyway building large solar arrays and covering the landscape with windmills before adequate storage technology is putting the cart before the horse — it doesn’t make sense.

        • The batteries may be a bit cheaper, but it’s the price of the Magical Superconducting Unicorn Fart Recharger (and 20′ USB cable) that’s just killer.

      • With reference to the “cost”

        It costs you whatever is in your conventional refrigerator each time there is a power failure beyond some duration. That’s why solar powered homes only have chest-type coolers. It is not an accident why they do that.

        • If you lose power in the winter, whatever’s in the fridge will stay frozen.
          As will the occupants of your house.

      • You omitted something which people on both sides of the fence either forget or do not realise. The output of solar panels is not constant during daylight hours. It starts at zero at daybreak, then gradually climbs to a peak at midday, before declining again down to zero at nightfall. A graph of daily output looks like a camel’s hump. Add to that the factors you mention, and it is doubly useless.

        • Usefull solar panel PV output is between 9:00 and 3:00 each day in summer, between 9:30 and 2:30 in [winter].

          Six hours per day averaged over the year (with clouds and dirt and grime on the panels making each day after each cleaning getting lower and lower.

          But it gets worse. PV power output declines quickly the first two years, then continues to decline at a slower rate the next 15 years of its life. Then it must be replaced.

          • How much does latitude affect those time of day numbers?
            For the winter numbers, since the sun is lower in the sky, less actual energy is reaching the solar panels during that time.

            PS: Unless your panels are mounted so that they can swivel vertically, the optimal angle to set the array would be so that sunlight is striking the panel vertically at the equinoxes. The rest of the year, efficiency drops off as the angle of the sun changes.
            PPS: for most systems that are mounted to roofs, the angle of the array is set by the angle of the roof, so the odds are the sun never gets high enough to be perpendicular.

          • MarkW

            How much does latitude affect those time of day numbers?
            For the winter numbers, since the sun is lower in the sky, less actual energy is reaching the solar panels during that time.

            Latitude controls EVERY hour of those numbers. Pick a latitude, you can readily calculate the solar elevation angle and azimuth angle (rotation angle from south) of every hour of the day. From the hour’s Solar Elevation Angle, you calculate the Air Mass of each hour, and the atmospheric attenuation, predict the actual solar energy falling on a perpendicular surface normal to the sun, and the energy falling on a horizontal, tilted, or swept surface.

            What is perhaps just as important is considering the “general picture” of PV power. (Hot water from solar power is much more “forgiving” at off-perpendicular solar angles. (Hot water solar cells are more efficient at off-angles than PV cells, particularly single cell PV cells. Amorphous Si PV cells are less efficient than single cell PV panels in direct (clear day) radiation, but more effective in diffuse solar radiation and off-angle solar angles.) So, depending on what kind of solar cell you propose using, you need to decide what angle you place them at, and whether you track the sun or not.

            Behind all of those calc’s, you need to decide “How much power can the sun deliver at this hour, how much power will I actually get from the sun this hour, and how power much do I need from the sun that hour?”

            That’s why I “average” the statement over a full year for fixed position solar panel: “Real solar power is available from 9:00 to 3:00 each day, and 9:30 to 2:30 each day in winter.” Most panels are fixed position, most solar installations are in the 30’s to 52 latitudes (north) and 20’s to mid-30’s (south), and most single cell PV panels are in areas with greater haze in summer and darker clouds in winter.

    • ” solar power that is 70 percent cheaper than in 2010″

      That probably refers, as is standard in green writings, only to the cost of the panels (whose quality has been declining since 2010), which is only 25% of the cost of an installation.

      • The remaining costs being mainly, frame, power inverter and installation.
        Cost of the frame, pretty much stable. No savings here.
        Cost of the power inverter, they’ve been making power supplies for about 100 years, the big cost savings were wrung out decades ago.
        Cost of installation, with the minimum wage going up, this cost is going up, not down.

        • As a bright eyed bushy-tailed high school graduate I was convinced that Petroleum Engineering was past tense, so yesterday, about all that was left was trying to wring a little more output out of already exhausted plays, I was going to “engineer the future”, and the place for that must be Solar! Before the end of the first semester I switched to Mechanical Engineering because that was the most efficient, turn the sun’s energy directly into hot water (it was already heat), instead of turning the sun’s energy into electricity to heat an element to make hot water. I even took a class on solar system design, we used the “F-chart” method and conducted several sample calculations, and I was able, with careful site selection and the proper mixture of panels and storage and not-too-fancy support structures I could design a system with ~9 year simple payback. Success, I cheered! As petroleum and coal get scarcer and scarcer and therefore their price goes higher and higher, this simple payback number will go lower and lower.

          Well, 2 very funny things happened. First thing, the price of petroleum failed to rise, or at least the price of gasoline. For some reason I remember, as I filled up my gas tank to report to my first full-time job where they required the degree I had acquired, the price of the gasoline was $1.149/gal for regular gas. In East Texas. Here it is 36 years later, and I filled up my tank yesterday at $1.879/gal in Alabama (I don’t have the current price from east Texas, but last trip I made, in October, the prices were almost identical, I think a nickel cheaper per gal in Texas), which is 37% below what they should be just to keep up with inflation, and there have been two federal tax increases in between!

          But the second thing is, even at the most expensive price gasoline has ever reached (in Texas it almost made it to $4.00/gal back in 2006(?)), when I do an analysis of a potential solar hot water installation, I still get about a 9 year simple payback. It seems those allegedly cheap prices of solar systems only extended as far as the panel, and everything else that goes into a working solar system, the cost of the support structure, the labor to assemble it, the fuel and the driver to transport it all to the site, all followed the price of gasoline pretty religiously, and a solar hot water system is still was not an overwhelming winner no matter what happens to the price of fuel.

  2. Hello, meet my leetle fren’, nuclear power. If you’re really frightened of that happy CO2 molecule build lots of nuclear power stations, they even solve the liquid fuel problem and with a rational regulatory environment it is very affordable.

    Or are you guys feeding us a line and your problem isn’t with fossil fuel its with ubiquitous, easy to use and cheap energy?

    • I agree that many are feeding us a line. Remember, many of the nuke detractors are not always in the “green” movement. Money flows to block nukes, not only from the leftists, but quietly from coal, gas, petroleum, and railroads. As a group, none of these interests want to see a growing, vibrant nuclear power sector. They are not necessarily bad people, but they are working covertly to subvert nuclear.

    • “Hello, meet my leetle fren’, nuclear power.”

      That made me laugh, Keitho! 🙂

      Keitho has it correct. Just as David Middleton says above in the article (quoted below:):

      “The fact that Natural Gas-to-Nuclear is almost totally ignored by the Warmunists is prima facie evidence that Gorebal Warming is 97% politics.”

      end excerpt

      There are practical solutions available today. Instead, the Alarmist want us to jump through hoops and turn the world upside down to stave off CO2 “disaster”. It’s not going to happen. The Alarmists need to find another way. And there is another way, they just need to find it.

      It’s all politics. The Lefty politicians need to get real.

      • Have much respect for David Middleton. The question that I would ask him is that how he would propose to get the NatGas to the proposed retrofitted coal plants. There are not enough pipelines to effect the transfer. We in Pennsylvania have the Marcellus Miracle cannot deliver it to States like New York and for that matter New England States when Political Entities and Eco-morons prohibit pipeline construction. In-State construction is hampered by the same NIMBY forces.
        Another consideration is the storage of inventory which onsite coal piles provide when pipelines freeze or compressors fail.
        However we do have a significant infrastructure in PROPANE nationwide which Hank Hill, of Stricklen Propane fame is very proud of. And in many city and suburban areas we have in-ground NatGas that can power fuel cell technology– MODULAR FUEL CELL ON SITE ELECTRICITY BY BLOOM ENERGY.
        Now that they are a public company we need a MANHATTAN SCALE PROJECT to fully implement this Residential & Commercial Load Relieving technology on the GRID.

        There are numerous proven installations in place in the top 40 companies of the SP 500 and would also provide energy security by the shear magnitude of the installations. They can also back-feed the grid to stabilize the marginal renewables– wind & solar.
        Educate yourself https://bloomenergy.com. As Dennis Miller often opines …..” that’s my opinion but I could be wrong.”

    • Yes, that’s always the basic problem. They ASSUME human-CO2-induced-catastrophe and extrapolate from that bullshit to “justify” the economically suicidal “actions” they “demand.”

      • Exactly, hence my comment. Their resistance to nuclear is indicative of a problem they have which is not about CO2. They hate humanity and wish for us all to endure energy rationing.

  3. “Enhancing connectivity and strengthening user pull along the low-carbon energy-innovation chain.”

    I love word salad jargon. If you listen with your right brain only it sound like poetry.

  4. We got nuclear powered satellites, nuclear powered ships and subs, and of course nukes on the electrical grid and probably nukes in dozens of places we don’t hear about. Is there some kind of opposite to “magical thinking” that prevents the GW catastrophists from recognizing nuclear as the most obvious and immediately available solution to their fears of fossil fueled global warming?

    And if they truly believed in the catastrophes they preach, would they not be demanding complete and immediate shut down of energy production, rather than just using the issue to grab money from the public?

  5. “Steadily expanding federal investment in basic research fields that have the potential to dramatically accelerate low-carbon energy innovation.”

    I agree with this as long as they use existing climate research monies to fund it.

    • “basic research” is aimed at expanding our knowledge of the universe, not necessarily creating anything useful. (I know everyone here knows that).

    • And as long as the basic research is not just a payout to cronies, and as longas the Government doesn’t pick winners.

      This shoul cover technologies at Technology Readiness Levels 1 – 3. Unsubsidized private capital, alone, should take the research on from there, to TRLs 4-6. All development above TRL 6 should also be unsubsidized private capital. Don’t let the Government get anywhere near picking winners.

  6. I’m just trying to wrap my head around the thought of rescuing a total myth , aka ” the low -carbon energy transition” based on a complete lie , aka that transitioning to forms of energy which are both hugely expensive as well as unreliable is wise, or indeed at all necessary, by using one form of magical thinking replacing another form of magical thinking. Alice in Wonderland had it easy compared to this.

  7. The revolutionary nuclear power is going to come from molten salt small modular reactors – estimated build costs for the designs of the two leading developers , Moltex Energy and Terrestrial Energy : $1950 per KW and $2500 per KW respectively. Compare to $5,500 per KW for the cheapest comventional light water nuclear reactors (built by China or Russia) , or more than $10,000 per KW in other locales.

    • I keep hearing about that ….. but I never see any serious consideration. Why is that? Is the technology complete and ready to use, or is it like Embryonic stem cells, theoretically huge potential, but useless in application?

      • Dr,
        kent doesn’t have an answer for you.
        He will be back on the next post with something similar.
        Still nothing.

        It is almost Christmas though, so play nice.

      • These reactors have been talked about since at least the 1960s when I got into the commercial nuclear business. ‘Still being talked about. Maybe someday they’ll be commercial. Maybe.

      • You do not see them being rolled out because they are an existential threat to every single energy sector as well as the nuclear energy phobic greens and the plutonium hungry military. There is only one energy system with similar headwinds and that is nuclear fusion – but fusion has the advantage that it is always a decade away from a proof of concept demonstration and it soaks up billions in research funds that could otherwise be used to roll out functional Thorium molten salt or pebble bed reactors.

        • Of course, it’s a conspiracy. That’s so much easier to believe than that they might not be all that they are hyped to be, have had difficulty in scaling from the lab to what would be required commercially, have drawbacks that have made implementation more difficult than some would like to admit, etc. Couldn’t possibly be any of those things, so obviously it must be a conspiracy.

          • Right. He’s probably the guy that passes on the story about someone invented a carburetor that would get 100 mpg, but GM bought up the patent and buried it! I don’t know how many times I heard that story, before I ever even graduated from high school!

      • kent won’t be back to answer your questions. He never does. All you can expect from him is more of the same in the posting he makes on the next article he comes across.

  8. I have reached the conclusion Mann made Gorebull Warming is not real.
    Let’s see an alarmist argue I’m wrong… 🙂

    • The Alarmists might argue that you are wrong, but they can’t prove you are wrong, and they don’t have any evidence that CAGW is real.

      You can ask for evidence until you are out of breath, but you won’t get an answer. One would think that if alarmists had evidence of CAGW they would be eager to slap a post like this down by inundating us with evidence, but all we will get is crickets.

      They want us to change the free world’s social order and bankrupt billions of people for crickets. That’s how ridiculous this whole CAGW fraud is.

  9. Until we realize the financial underpinnings and name the people who orchestrated this deception and are still trying to orchestrate it, we will not be able to get rid of the ramifications.
    An undercover RCMP agent recently spoke out in Episode 1014 on ‘Caravan to Midnight’ naming key players and their cross border connections as well as their connections to the U.N. He said he has evidence to back up everything he said.

  10. …solar power that is 70 percent cheaper than in 2010 and wind power that is 50 percent cheaper.

    Where the heck does this man live? Prices for solar and wind power are soaring (South Australia), the grid turned out to be unreliable with billions of losses in the industry due to that fact ( which I am am sure he has “forgotten” in his rotten calculation) and that Gentleman id*ot tries to sell that as “cheaper”. Was ist Big Wind or Big Sun that paid him for that?

  11. The “low carbon” mantra is getting worn out. How about going back to nature? Nature exhibits an impressive carbon-based system to absorb sunlight, convert it to energy-dense compounds for storage and utilization, and release the gaseous products of metabolism, decomposition, and combustion for free distribution and re-use. What is not to like about natural food, fiber, and fuel? Nothing inherently dirty about it. Surely future generations will look back and wonder, “Why did they not just look at how nature does it?”

    • Such common sense in your statement David! We must spread the word. Oh wait the believers are all clapping and stomping their feet…I see unicorns…

      • Al miller, so as not to be misunderstood, my comment was not to promote a fanciful rush to biofuels or synthetic fuels or some such approach, but to highlight the ridiculous idea that “carbon” is bad and “low carbon” is good. As long as fossil fuels remain available, there is nothing wrong with extracting and utilizing them. And as the author of the post David Middleton points out, a natural gas to nuclear strategy would be a fine way to go forward, at least for the electrical power sector. Farther out, conversion of coal or biomass to liquid transportation fuel is not that hard to do, just a bit more expensive.

  12. “Goreball warming is 97% politics.” Take Al Gore out of it and it’s still politics. And that’s too bad just about everybody agrees that global warming, antropogenic that is, is a problem and will become more so. We don’t agree on the magnitude and timing of the problem.

    Unfortunately, there’s so much at stake when we discuss actually dealing with the problem, that the discussion descends into politics. And the possible solutions become identified with left and right, and people’s world views.

    Folks on this blog, including me, tend to be skeptical and conservative, two words that go together. What bothers me at times is Skeptics’ reluctance to be skeptical of their own views. For example, we tend to be blindly pro-fossil fuels and anti-renewables. And this is not skepticism and it isn’t smart.

    Fossil fuels will either become depleted and/or will become too expensive relative to other fuel choices. Right now, renewables are too expensive and won’t become a practical solution until they become competitive. But this will change, and some renewables will become solutions if politics are kept under practical control.

    If renewables become economical, they will be used because there’s so much money at stake. There’s not enough money in the world to subsidize one form of energy – people will simply not pay for propping up an energy source that isn’t naturally competitive. They will do it for a while to give it a chance to get on its feet.

    I guess my point is that we need the cheapest energy available and it needs to be environmentally acceptable. If wind turbines wipe out the bird population and befoul the landscape then that solution is not acceptable. If fossil fuels become too expensive and result in a dangerous greenhouse effect, then that solution is no longer acceptable – at least to the dominating extent that they’re being used now. If new iterations of nuclear power impose a serious danger to people, then it’s not acceptable.

    Seems simple but when we try to quantify some of these considerations, vested interests and our own prejudices get in the way. The only way to successively promote this rationalist approach is to quantify the attendant risks and economics the best way we can. I see people trying to do this, but in the current polarized environment it’s very difficult for these efforts to cut through the fog of vested interests and prejudices.

    This is where I get stuck and is where we are right now, and this problem won’t be solved in this environment. I’d like to hear some ideas on how to get past the status quo and actually make some progress defining and selling a practical approach.

    • If renewables become economical, they will be used…

      If wishes were horses, we’d all get unicorn ponies for Christmas.

    • This is where I get stuck and is where we are right now, and this problem won’t be solved in this environment. I’d like to hear some ideas on how to get past the status quo and actually make some progress defining and selling a practical approach.

      N2N… Natural gas-to-nuclear… if there actually was a near-term problem that needed solving.

    • …just about everybody agrees that global warming, antropogenic that is, is a problem and will become more so.

      Wrong!
      “Just about everybody” connected to the United Nations and the IPCC believe the streets, back alleys, and county roads of the USA are paved in gold — and they want that wealth to waste on their own dreams.

      But, it is almost Christmas, so I won’t tell you what I really think. Be of good cheer.

    • The most interesting line, just one line in your comment, refers to nuclear power and your concern, if it is a serious danger to people then it’s not acceptable. Well, as nuclear is the most secure and safest form of energy available 24/7 and as it has the lowest death rate associated with any energy source yet devised, I find it odd, you would dismiss it so casually? The real problem I fear, is the green side of the debate has decided nuclear is too big a challenge for them, because it would tick all the anti Co2 boxes they are concerned about, but it also provides cheap plentiful energy which is not what the greens want at all.
      We know what the big agenda is for the Greens. It is anti capitalism and thus, an anti consumer world.
      Their route to this bizarre world they crave is to scare the people into thinking a problem exists that does not. They have chosen Co2 which was a huge mistake, (not their first) because Co2 is so essential and so beneficial to the planet. Anyone who looks into the issue for mare than five minutes, concludes the Greens are either mad or scientifically ignorant.
      I will leave you to pick which it is.

    • I can find no evidence that so called global warming is a problem. Not now, not any time in the future.
      CO2 is incapable of getting the planet to warm up as much as it did during the Roman or Minoan warm periods, and both of those were considered optimum times for us humans, as well as the rest of the biosphere.

      As to oil/gas/coal running out. Yes that will happen. However it won’t happen for hundreds of years. Much longer if we start producing serious amounts of power from nuclear.

      Solving tomorrow’s problems today may make a nifty PR statement, however in makes no sense. Because it means solving tomorrow’s problems using today’s technology. Bad move.
      Technology is improving at an ever accelerating rate. Solve tomorrow’s problems with tomorrow’s technology and you will have a much better solution and a population that is much better off.

    • If renewables become economical, they will be used because there’s so much money at stake.

      while that is a true statement on the surface, underneath is the fact that renewables won’t be economical anytime soon. Not as long as they remain an unstable and unreliable source of energy that require other (usually fossil fueled) power sources as a backup and/or massively expensive and inefficient (and currently not existing at large enough scale) energy storage.

    • And that’s too bad just about everybody agrees that global warming, antropogenic that is, is a problem and will become more so.

      WRONG! While just about everyone agrees that the globe has been warming since around the time that the little ice age was ending, not everyone agrees that man (the antropogenic part) is responsible. and not everyone agrees that the warming will necessarily continue “more so”, indeed there are many who worry of returning to the cold of the little ice age or even colder. and not without reason.

    • I guess my point is that we need the cheapest energy available

      And we have it, it’s called fossil fuels

      and it needs to be environmentally acceptable

      and nuclear.

      the alternative (wind and solar) do not produce the cheapest energy, and due to their unreliable nature require backs-ups from other fuel sources making them every bit as “environmentally unfriendly” as their backup sources (not to mention the damage those alternatives do to wildlife – IE massive bird choppers and bird fryers or the amount of land they take up per kWH generated in comparrison, land that could otherwise be better utilized).

      If fossil fuels become too expensive

      They’re not and barring governmental interference (IE carbon taxes) they won’t be for many years to come

      and result in a dangerous greenhouse effect, then that solution is no longer acceptable

      And they don’t. And it’s up to those who claim they do to prove it (claiming it is not proving it).

  13. There is no more threat today than there has been for 100s and 1000s of years. Climate/weather throw all sorts of stuff at us and always will. Building in the way of it will cause things to break or be destroyed in one way or another but that is the fact of living on planet earth. We prepare and build stronger and smarter. But taxing our fuel use above what is acceptable to fulfill our energy expense needs is idiocy and only suggested by the money grabbing pols and activist ‘scientists’. There is no catastrophe in the making, in fact quite the opposite.

  14. If some of our liberal politicians have their way, men will not be allowed to look at, talk to, or touch a woman except for the first Saturday of the 13th month, and birth control pills will be made by the government and handed out free to every young woman in the US.

  15. Private industry is already doing the basic research:

    From “The Electrochemical Society (ECS)” at https://www.electrochem.org/redcat-blog/hondas-battery-breakthrough/?utm_source=Informz&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=ECS+Website:

    Honda’s Battery Breakthrough
    Posted on December 13, 2018 by Jennifer Ortiz

    The search for the next level, new, and improved electric vehicle battery is an ongoing one. And it’s one Honda may have found. According to The Drive (http://www.thedrive.com/tech/25354/honda-claims-breakthrough-in-new-battery-tech-that-offers-longer-range-greener-operation), the Japanese automaker claims to have developed a new battery chemistry called fluoride-ion that could outperform current lithium-ion batteries.

    Honda says fluoride-ion batteries offer 10 times greater energy density, meaning more storage and range for electric vehicles, thanks to the low atomic weight of fluorine that makes fluoride-ion batteries’ increased performance possible.

    According to Left Lane News (https://www.leftlanenews.com/honda/honda-announces-promising-new-battery-tech/), chief scientist at the Honda Research Institute Christopher Brooks says, “Unlike Li-ion batteries, FIBs do not pose a safety risk due to overheating, and obtaining the source materials for FIBs creates considerably less environmental impact than the extraction process for lithium and cobalt.”

    https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Dark-Horse-In-Battery-Tech-Could-Beat-Tesla.html
    Dark Horse In Battery Tech Could Beat Tesla
    By Jon LeSage – Dec 19, 2018, 5:00 PM CST

    Battery maker 24M just received funding for its SemiSolid lithium-ion battery that could have Tesla and other electric carmakers beat in energy storage and electric vehicle driving range.

    The company, made up of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) scientists and a former A123 Systems co-founder, secured nearly $22 million that will take the battery pack to a commercial plant next year with delivery of batteries available in 2020. That funding goes to battery technology with more energy density and storage capacity than what Tesla offers.

    Headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., a few blocks away from MIT, 24M brought in two Japanese companies to lead the funding round. That backing comes from ceramics and electronics giant Kyocera Group and Itochu, a textiles and trading business.

    Tesla’s electric vehicles use battery technology that carries electrode current into and out of a battery cell. They’re arranged in a series of layers that become wound up into what auto engineers call a jelly roll. The way 24M’s battery varies is that it uses different materials that are four-to-five times thicker than what Tesla and other automakers offer. The SemiSolid can immediately pair up the anodes and cathodes together in a cell.

    This will speed up the manufacturing process by cutting out a number of steps typically used in EV battery production. Li-ion batteries typically go through a multistep process that involves mixing, coating, drying, and recovering a solvent that eventually fills the battery with electrolyte. 24M’s battery uses the electrolyte as the solvent to deposit that ingredient onto both sides of the battery, cutting out the typical time and cost needed for production.

    It also cuts down the need for inactive materials such as copper, aluminum, and plastics. That will bring down the battery’s costs and the amount of energy needed to charge it up. The company’s process also helps guarantee that more of the electrodes go to storing energy — helping 24M enter another profitable market segment that Tesla thrives in through its Tesla Energy unit.

      • If you are an American you can take patriotic pride in this work, since most of it was done in US universities of some distinction (Caltech, Purdue). If you are female you will be delighted to know that it was a young woman scientist who had the initial brainwave of using room temperature nonaqueous liquid electrolytes to replace high temperature solid state electrolytes.

      • Yeah, I’ve multi-posted it, because I want our side to get prepared, and because I’m pleased with myself for making the finds. And because if feasible, these will make EVs, one of my bete noires, almost unobjectionable. (Plus, they will backfoot Tesla, a company I dislike.)

        • no it won’t … liquid batteries in winter … want to bet they won’t hold nearly the power they advertise ? and won’t be able to be fast recharged … EV are for cities … period …

    • Great R&D for battery EVs powered by coal power plants. When the world ran out of oil, it would convert coal into methanol.
      Gasification of coal to syngas:
      C + H2O = CO + H2
      Recombination of syngas to methanol:
      CO + 2 H2 = CH3OH

      Methanol is the fuel of Indy 500 cars, monster trucks and Top Alcohol dragsters (with 3,500 hp)

        • This does not address Leo’s claim. First off, he mentions “metal fluoride”, not gaseous fluorine.
          Secondly he refers to the weight of an ion. You are comparing the weight of a volume of gas vs a volume of solid.

          • First, you cannot compare “metal fluoride” with lithium unless you specify what metal compund. Fluorine is not a metal, it’s a halogen.
            Second, I said fluorine is gas at STP and gave its liquid density.
            Third, the article refers to volumetric energy density:
            “Honda claims fluoride-ion batteries offer 10 times greater energy density, meaning they can store more electricity in a given volume.”

      • You cannot change the laws of physics or electrochemistry.

        Metal fluoride just as heavy or heavier than lithium ion

        indeed you can’t. But the claim to fame of this proposed battery isn’t that the component atoms are lighter (obviously they are not) but that per volume it’s more energy dense.

        Some made up numbers to illustrate:
        X weights 1 unit of weight and you need a volume of 100 to make a battery that can power a car to the range the we are use to with the current ICE technology. For a total weight of 100 (1 x 100)
        Y weights 2 units of weight – and right there you wish to declare X the better battery choice because X is half as heavy as Y. However, you only need a volume of 25 to make a battery of the same power as above. Giving a total weight of 50 (2 x 25) which is half the total weight of X.

        Basically, in the above made up numbers, X is twice as light as Y but only a quarter as energy dense conversely Y is twice as heavy as X but also 4 times as energy dense.

        Now I don’t know the relative energy densities vs weight of lithium-ion vs fluoride-ion, but neither do you, so blathering on about the laws of physics when you are only looking at one dimension of the issue (atomic weight) rather undermines your credibility.

    • From the first linked article:

      Results have proven successful within the lab, the question now is will it work in the real world and will the technology be commercialized?

      …and that’s all I need to hear. Just as I pointed out to Chris above, until it is a product ready for purchase, nothing is “solved”, they have just accomplished one more step along the way, and nobody knows how many steps remain.

  16. Since this problem is caused by redefinition of words, it can be solved by returning those words to their original meaning.

    Uh oh. Raising the cost of dirty energy is the only way to avoid a climate catastrophe.

    Started my car, and looked at the exhaust, and there was nothing “dirty” coming out of the tailpipe. Ran my furnace and nothing dirty was coming out of it. Same thing with electricity generation at our local power-plant, and even the aircraft flying overhead, did not leave any dirty trail behind.
    We already solved the “dirty energy” problem. Carbon-Dioxide is THE required molecule for life to exist. It is fundamental to our existence, and even implying that it is dirty, shows a lack of gratitude for all that you take for granted.
    Making up scary speculation, and then mandating solutions to non-problems using your “climate control knob” is the ultimate in “magical thinking”.
    Going from 350ppm to 400ppm is the same ratio as going from 7/20,000 to 8/20,000. Get yourself 20,000 pennies and dump them on a large table. Paint 7 of them yellow, and one red. That one red penny is what all the fuss is about. Mix up your pennies, and try to imagine the ability of that one red penny to change a fundamental physical characteristic of all the other pennies.
    That is the reality. And when you look at the thermal mass of the oceans, that one red penny, is less than insignificant. Unless you are a plant. In which case you are healthier, because there is more of the stuff you like the best.

  17. Still waiting for these “experts” to demonstrate the full costs of “cheap” wind and solar power that must include a backup supply for when the wind doesn’t blow. or the sun isn’t shining. Seems to me that if the backup is 100% natural gas then why not just build the NG generator.

    • Yes. It is difficult to take anything these “experts” say seriously. Like so many of them, he makes it clear he hasn’t even started to think seriously about the fundamental drawbacks of wind and solar: intermittency. When they do start to address the issue, they often just wave it away with storage concepts which are also prohibitively expensive, yet forever forecast to become cheap in the near future. Yet capable people have been working on these problems longer than they have been working on making fusion economically feasible, and we are still waiting.

      It’s quite depressing realizing just how many such people think that desired technical advances are simply a matter of a little (or even a lot) more time and investment when, in reality, they may not happen for centuries without some spark of inventive genius. We have to live and work with what we know will work now, not what might work at some indeterminate point in the future.

      • Which is why this whole fracas is starting to p**s me off. Those promoting unreliables say the problem will be solved just as soon as there is a breakthrough in battery technology. OK, so why are you trying to make me pay for the d**n things NOW?!?!? Don’t even talk to me until you have a complete and workable system, until then you’re just wasting my time!

    • I did that calculation, and if they did too, I am not surprised they didn’t publish it.

      cost of gas plus wind about twice the cost of gas alone

      Don’t even start on solar…

  18. A Carbon Tax is an admission that wind and solar are NOT economical. A lot fewer people would have a problem with W&S if they were economic. That’s why diesel and gasoline are popular. Cheaper than horses, cheaper than walking once you include hotel and food on any trip over 12 miles. So figure out how to make W&S cheaper, not how to charge more for what works!!

  19. Step One would be to demonstrate that increases in Anthropogenic CO2 actually contribute to measured increases in the World’s increases in CO2 and that increases in CO2 contribute in any measureable amount to increases in World temperature in a way that is nett harmful to the World. Then we can proceed to step 2 as outlined in the article.

  20. What if we just took the CO2 out of the combusted coal exhaust and transformed it into useful -saleable products. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQRQ7S92_lo&authuser=0
    Then the coal fired power plants would be putting into the atmosphere less CO2 than a natural gas power plant and we wouldn’t have to build more new natural gas power plants and put down new natural gas pipelines.
    Coal CO2 transformed into jobs and money.

    • Sid Abma

      What if we just took the CO2 out of the combusted coal exhaust and transformed it into useful -saleable products.

      It costs too much, the CO2 in the exhaust is NOT in a form readily (economically) separable and prepared) for use elsewhere.
      And, as equally important, there is no need to remove the CO2 from the exhaust. Plants need every molecule they can get.
      Any extraction method reduces the efficiency of the power plants themselves. THAT effect is the most important of all.

      • Sid Abma

        What if we just took the CO2 out of the combusted coal exhaust and transformed it into useful -saleable products.

        It costs too much, the CO2 in the exhaust is NOT in a form readily (economically) separable and prepared) for use elsewhere.

        And, as equally important, there is no need to remove the CO2 from the exhaust. Plants need every molecule they can get.

        Any extraction method reduces the efficiency of the power plants themselves. THAT effect is the most important of all.

        Not quite true. Use of metal oxide and coal* can produce an almost pure CO2 exhaust at a higher combustion efficiency than using air. It also tends to reduce NOx production.

        Not saying this is a way to go, but it does exist.

        *essentially iron oxide and coal dust are mixed and heated, the coal combustion reducing the oxide to molten iron, and CO2. The molten iron is run off and subjected to an air blast that oxidises it back to oxide, which is recycled as the oxygen source of combustion for the coal.

        [blockquotes inserted around the previous quotations. .mod]

    • Isn’t it fascinating that the only time Sid EVER posts, it’s to push this scheme.
      If it were profitable, he wouldn’t have to trolling a site like this looking for investors.

  21. His magical thinking is clear in his first point: “Establishing a dedicated funding source for federal low-carbon energy-innovation investments.”

    He has just ruled out carbon pricing as this funding source, so it is back to the magical money tree that all socialism depends on.

  22. From the article: “Some of them are already here: solar power that is 70 percent cheaper than in 2010 and wind power that is 50 percent cheaper.”

    Cheaper than what? It’s not cheaper for people’s electric bills. Solar and Wind increase electricity prices. Not to mention that they slaughter scandolous numbers of wildlife, and blight the landscape with their ugliness.

    What’s to like about Solar and Wind?

  23. Apparently it is magical thinking to believe that it is possible that the output of climate models do not reflect reality.

  24. “even Nobel Prize winners are sometimes wrong.”

    Since the Nobel prize committee has been a leftist cesspool for decades, Nobel prize winners are usually wrong.

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