by Russell Schussler and Roger Caiazza
This good enough plan may get you to net zero before the more ambitious ones. It is likely to have less carbon emissions than the more aggressive plans over time. It certainly will be more reliable and affordable.
Electric generation plans need to be well crafted and carefully considered. Because of concerns around climate change many politicians have become galvanized to hastily enact legislation to target net-zero anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The authors argue that the more seriously you take climate change, the more important it becomes that you have a good plan for electric generation in the near and midterm planning arena. Taking foolish actions in the near to mid-range time periods will not help with CO2 reductions or climate change and may be far worse than doing nothing. Maybe we all could compromise and find a less grand strategy that has more likely benefits with far fewer threats to reliability, affordability, and overall environmental impacts.
The authors have both been writing about the proposed net-zero transition by 2050 for years. Schussler (aka the Planning Engineer) has been writing about the challenges of “green energy” since 2014 at the Judith Curry’s Climate Etc. blog. Caiazza has focused on New York energy and environmental issues at Pragmatic Environmentalist of New York blog since 2017. Since the original proposal for New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act) in 2019, he has written over 280 articles about that plan to transition to net zero by 2050.
Traditional Generation Planning
Utilities used to look at 30-year time periods in developing their generation expansion plans. This was not because they believed anyone could forecast what might happen 30 years into the future, but rather because of the recognition of the futility of such efforts. Decisions were made about the next ten years or so, but the later years tested the flexibility of the plans. Because power plants have a long life, many different scenarios were studied in the additional 20 years or so after the plant addition. Commercial technologies were supported by more dependable cost and performance estimates than what could be obtained for newer technologies, but it was recognized that all parameters could change across any technologies. Scenarios would vary fuel prices and availability, potential environmental requirements, as well as other varying system requirements. Back then, no one had the hubris to say this is what the system would, or should look like 20 or 30 years from now. Planners sought to make decisions that would be flexible enough to work well across a variety of future potential scenarios. The hope was for this plan to work with and adapt to the emerging future.
Some jurisdictions have made commitments to completely transform their electric generating systems in less than 30 years. Rather than intending to be flexible in the mid to long term, these plans are often overly prescriptive. This post addresses the potential consequences and suggests a less risky approach.
New York Climate Act
New York’s Climate Act is a good example of prescriptive net-zero legislation. Implementation to meet the following inflexible targets has begun:
- Reduce GHG emissions to 60 percent of 1990 emissions levels by 2030;
- Zero GHG emissions from electricity production by 2040; and
- Reduce GHG emissions to less than 15 percent of 1990 emissions levels by 2050, with offsets to reduce net emissions to zero.
New York passed the Climate Act in 2019, effective 1/1/2020. The legislation established a Climate Action Council to prepare the Scoping Plan that outlines how to “achieve the State’s bold clean energy and climate agenda.” In brief, that plan is to electrify everything possible and power the electric grid with zero-emissions generating resources by 2040. The Integration Analysis prepared by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and its consultants quantified the impact of the electrification strategies. The Final Scoping Plan was completed at the end of 2022. In 2023 the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Legislature are supposed to promulgate the necessary regulations and legislation to fulfill the recommendations in the Scoping Plan.
There are deep flaws in the New York implementation process. The Scoping Plan is just an outline list of control strategies that NYSERDA claims will reduce emissions as needed and provide reliable electricity. NYSERDA, New York State Independent System Operator (NYISO), and New York State Reliability Council (NYSRC) have not done a consolidated feasibility analysis that addresses the fundamental question: will it work? There are significant differences between the Final Scoping Plan and NYISO 2021-2040 System & Resource Outlook. The following figure from the Resource Outlook summarizes the key findings that are applicable to any net-zero by 2050 initiative. Our biggest concern is that both resource projections rely on untested technology. The Resource Outlook notes:
“By 2040, all existing fossil generators are assumed to be retired to achieve the Climate Act target for a zero-emission grid and are replaced by Dispatchable Emission-Free Resources (DEFRs). These resources represent a proxy technology that will meet the flexibility and emissions-free energy needs of the future system but are not yet mature technologies that are commercially available (some examples include hydrogen, renewable natural gas, and small modular nuclear reactors).”
What are the characteristics of Good Plans versus Bad Plans?
In this section we consider the characteristic and provide commentary in italics relative to the New York Scoping Plan.
Bad plans assume that critical elements of the future are all known. Bad plans are narrowly constructed to a specified future. They risk not allowing the flexibility to adapt when things turn out differently than planned. Good plans look at their impacts or current decisions across a wide variety of potential futures. Good plans provide flexibility and nimbleness for when future conditions change.
The NY Climate Act electrifies as much as possible to decarbonize and presumes all the elements necessary to accomplish the transition are known. The critical element of future expected load must be well known to determine generation resource requirements. Future net-zero load is a function of increased electricity for heating, cooking, water, and electric vehicles at the same time there is increased emphasis on energy efficiency and conservation. Projections in this instance are anything but well known.
Good plans understand that the power supply system and power grid are very complicated systems requiring careful design, construction, and operation. Great consideration is given to the architecture of the system and how it will work. A poor plan leaves the power system and grid as an unplanned afterthought. It specifies some goals and ingredients but ignores the greater system.
The basis of the Climate Act electric grid transition plan is the wind, water, and solar (WWS) approach championed by Stanford University Professor Mark Jacobson. The approach had outsized influence on the members of the Climate Action Council but there are issues with this work. Advocates of this particular transition approach have overstated its findings, it does not put appropriate emphasis on the high load and low renewable resource problem, and understates the challenges of a quick transition to a zero-emissions electrical grid.
Bad plans are one-size fits all. They employ a presumption of what is best and fail to take in the particular specific considerations that can vary across time and place. Good plans recognize that what works in one area, may be less appropriate in another. Good plans seek to capitalize on differing advantages wherever and whenever they may occur.
The New York electrical grid is pretty much two different grids. There is a traditional grid Upstate but there are unique problems in New York City. Experience has shown that sufficient in-city generation must be available to account for the loss of a transmission line into the New York City load pocket or blackouts can occur. The Scoping Plan does not adequately address these differences in their on-size fits all plan.
Good generation plans recognize how people prefer to use electricity. If behavior needs to be changed, they are sensitive to the capabilities and limits of incentives. Depending on the generation mix the value of electricity will likely vary considerably across hours, days, months, and seasons. Good plans will seek to provide value. Bad plans tend not to differentiate between when and how energy might be supplied. Plans crafted based on just average use and average costs will likely not have good results. Traditionally generation planning recognized baseload, intermediate and peaking needs. While many seem to forget these distinctions when comparing alternatives, their importance has not diminished.
The New York plan presumes that net-zero transition to net-zero required changes to personal energy choice preferences will be universally accepted. The behavioral changes required by the Scoping Plan are massive (e.g., type of vehicles, heating your home, and cooking your food). Furthermore, there may be limits on the timing of electric usage. Modeling assumptions on the effects of these changes to personal habits are important for planning but also very uncertain if people do not make the changes expected. It is highly unlikely that load shifting and energy conservation will prevent a markedly higher electric load peak in winter mornings. The Scoping Plan compounds these issues because it does not adequately address the baseload, intermediate and peaking requirements naively arguing that “smart” planning will mitigate issues associated with them.
Good plans look at major environmental impacts across the production and lifetime of a resource. Bad plans tend to look only at marginal impacts when the facilities are operating. Tremendous resources and costs are incurred just getting a generating resource in place. Generally, the longer that resource can operate, the better its average environmental impact might be. Good plans should consider the realistic lifetime of potential resource. Many “green” resources projected to last 30 years fall far shy of 20 years. Conventional resources typically are capable of lasting many years beyond the thirty-year study life.
The Climate Act takes this concern to a higher level. Many life-cycle environmental impacts of fossil generating resources are considered. None of the life-cycle environmental impacts of wind, solar, and energy storage are considered. The Integration Analysis assumes that all wind, solar, and energy storage resources keep operating from the present until 2050. Furthermore, the Climate Action Council has tried to appease climate justice advocates who fervently believe that the risks of fossil-fired generating resources are so great that existing resources must be shut down as soon as possible. Their concern is at odds with consideration of environmental impacts across the production and lifetime of all resources.
Good plans rely on proven technology that can fulfill the specific requirements. For example, providing power for periods of peak load is required for reliable power when it is needed most. Peak loads are typically associated with the hottest and coldest periods of the year when electricity is used for cooling and heating. Typically, those periods occur less than 5% of the time so a technology should be as low cost as possible to keep the price of electricity down during peak loads. A good plan would make the sensible decision to keep an old fossil fired plant around to help the system meet peak loads. Fossil-fired steam boiler electric generating units are a proven technology that can be used to meet this need.
For many years New York City peak load requirements were met with simple-cycle gas turbines installed in the early 1970’s. However, those units were old, inefficient, and had unacceptably high emission rates so, after a multi-year process of reliability planning the State has instituted a regulation to phase them out. After the regulation was promulgated the Environmental Justice (EJ) community glommed on to the issue of peaking power plants: “Fossil peaker plants in New York City are perhaps the most egregious energy-related example of what environmental injustice means today”. Even though the poorly controlled peaking turbines are being phased out, the issue remains a point of contention. Now the EJ organizations are demanding that all fossil-fired power plants in New York City be shut down including the remaining steam boilers even though they meet all emission limits and do not contribute to the alleged health benefits in disadvantaged communities near the facilities. The proposed solution to use renewable energy and energy storage replaces proven technology with one that has not been proven on the scale necessary to keep the lights on in New York City.
Bad plans presume that a new technology can fulfill specific needs. A necessary component of any future system is dependable emergency capacity. For example, a system might need emergency capacity once every five years due to extreme weather either causing very high loads, an unexpected long-term outage of existing resources, or because of an extended drought of wind and solar resources. A bad plan proposes a new technology for this emergency requirement. In order to provide capacity in a zero-emissions electric system a new category of generating resources called Dispatchable Emissions-Free Resources (DEFR) has been suggested to keep the lights on during periods of extended low wind and solar resource availability.
In Wyoming, PacifiCorp’s 2021 integrated resource plan (IRP) includes a resource labelled as “non-emitting peaker plants” that is unexplained but appears to be the same as DEFR. The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) 2021-2040 System Resource Outlook states:
“DEFRs that provide sustained on-demand power and system stability will be essential to meeting policy objectives while maintaining a reliable electric grid. While essential to the grid of the future, such DEFR technologies are not commercially viable today. DEFRs will require committed public and private investment in research and development efforts to identify the most efficient and cost-effective technologies with a view towards the development and eventual adoption of commercially viable resources. The development and construction lead times necessary for these technologies may extend beyond policy target dates.”
In both instances, no specific technology has been specified. The New York Scoping Plan DEFR placeholder is producing and storing “green” hydrogen for use when needed.
This is the fatal flaw of the New York Scoping Plan. The NYISO 2021-2040 System & Resource Outlook states that “To achieve an emission-free grid, Dispatchable Emission-Free Resources (DEFRs) must be developed and deployed”. This magical resource does not exist! The Scoping Plan uses “Green” hydrogen as a placeholder for the technology and predicts that it will be used on average around 3% of the time. The fantasy of the Scoping Plan is that developing the infrastructure to produce hydrogen, store it, and then produce electricity in hydrogen fuel cells can provide affordable and reliable energy to keep the lights on. The costs will be astronomical for a resource used so little presuming that the technological issues can be overcome.
What are the ingredients of a compromise plan?
As mentioned above, good plans recognize how people prefer to use electricity. Electricity usage across a region rarely drops to zero, but at times demand peaks for limited periods of time. It may make sense to build high fixed cost, low variable cost resources (Nuclear, Coal and Combined Cycle) to meet the baseload needs of system. If the plant can run all the time with low variable cost, the higher investment cost can be justified. It does not make sense to put in such facilities to serve load levels that only occur rarely. For this component of the load it makes more sense to put in low cost infrastructure that might have higher marginal costs. Between these two conditions there are loads levels that may be present for a few hours a day. To meet these loads, it is usually better to put in plants with moderate costs and moderate marginal costs. This is the thinking behind traditional utility planning which looked at peaking, intermediate and baseload needs in terms of generation fitted for those specific characteristics. There is one other type of generation: intermittent. Intermittent typically was low-cost generation that although it could not be counted on, it could be used to back off generation using higher priced fuels. In looking at the ingredients below it will helpful to consider where they may be most appropriate.
Wind, Solar and Batteries can work to displace fossil fuel generation. With backup from batteries, the energy provided can be made to have more value. Unexpected and innovative changes in the capabilities of batteries could be a game changer, but it is too soon to count on timing in this arena. The narrative that these “zero-emissions” resources have zero downsides is false. The construction of wind and solar takes a lot of resources; their construction has a lot of environmental consequences; and fabrication uses a lot of energy that will be difficult to displace away from fossil fuels (making steel for example).
Nuclear power works well to meet baseload needs. It also supports the transmission system by providing needed electrical characteristics commonly called Essential Reliability Services. Nuclear plants can be planned and operated to provide some ramping and load following capabilities. Nuclear offers the best opportunity to reduce dependence upon fossil fuels for electric generation because it is the only proven technology with no emissions that can be scaled up in the immediate future.
Hydro expansion is very unlikely. Environmental considerations make it unlikely that additional locations for hydro generation could be developed. Similarly, there are limited opportunities for additional pumped storage, but there may be some areas where such might be pursued. Finally, geothermal plants when feasible are a good resource, but opportunities for exploiting this resource are limited.
Natural Gas combustion turbines and combined cycle are best suited to fill in the gaps when reliable and functional generation additions are needed. As more environmentally desirable units become capable of doing the job, eventually new construction should be halted and existing units phased out as they age. Keep in mind the US through fracking reduced CO2 more effectively than Germany did with their massive expenditures on “clean” resources.
Existing resources such as coal- and oil-fired boilers should not be ignored for future plans. It is extremely unlikely that new plants burning those fuels will be built in the US in the foreseeable future. Clean coal was on the table a few years back, but highly visible failures coupled with environmental concerns have closed this door for a while. The cost differential between oil and natural gas as well as the efficiency relative to a combined cycle combustion turbine precludes construction of oil-fired boilers. However, the existing fleet of these plants could be kept around for limited peaking power needs, emergency power, and long-term temporary system needs.
Other potential ingredients for a future plan include technologies currently on the drawing board. Examples include tidal energy, biofuels, fusion, big HVDC ties and so on. These new technologies will have to prove themselves before they are employed as anchoring technologies in good plans. Most new technologies will not prove themselves in the next 10 to 20 years if history is a guide. But some might. While we can’t dependably plan on unproven technology, we must be ready to jump on anything valuable that works. Such technology will likely be available and workable in niche applications many years before they can be deployed more broadly in long term plans.
Smart Grids have also been touted as a component of future electric systems. This is a favorite approach of visionary academics, to concerns about observed and emerging grid problems. In the New York net-zero transition planning process, many issues were dismissed with a call for “Smart Grids” as if that would magically solve everything. Modern grids are “smart” but as with any “smart” technology there are all kinds of applications that could be adopted, so of course it is not a panacea for future grid plans.
Energy Efficiency is another favorite future grid resource for the naïve. When concerns about peak loads and the necessary infrastructure are raised, the response is to double down on energy efficiency and energy conservation programs to flatten the peak loads. Of course, if the goal is to decarbonize by electrifying everything, then the load will have to increase to cover building heating, cooking, and hot water. Add in battery electric vehicles and this approach can only hope to reduce the peak but it will never eliminate the need for a peaking power generation resource.
A Good Enough Plan
Assuming the plan is a compromise between net zero and a working power system, the biggest step would be to commit to getting as much nuclear power as possible into the mix as soon as possible. This best supports the grid and reduces CO2. We need to figure out how to get plants built more efficiently and quickly. Adding nuclear must be the centerpiece and driver for meeting emerging generation needs. Under reasonable regulations, it is the only zero-emissions technology that can be scaled up and provide reliable and dispatchable power.
The continued massive ramp up of wind and solar does not make sense currently. There are major reliability concerns which would emerge with the introduction of high level of intermittent asynchronous wind and solar power. Such programs distract from the needed focus upon nuclear programs. As technology improves and better resource choice emerges, large scale existing wind and solar that requires some sort of dispatchable emissions-free resource are likely to become dinosaurs.
At this time, it appears that plans for the addition of fossil-fired plants would center around the gaps where new nuclear power cannot be made available or meeting peak demand levels not met by current resource plans. Natural gas plants will be a good compromise. Lower cost combustion turbines will have long term value to aid with ramping, meeting peaking needs and providing emergency power. Higher cost and more efficient combined cycle plants will make sense the longer the delay for nuclear development. They can serve variable load levels that occur regularly but vary considerably day to day.
The potential for additional hydro is low, but any ability to effectively exploit remaining opportunities should be considered. Additionally, some areas may offer the potential for the addition of pumped storage hydro or geothermal power Hopefully battery technology will improve and its ability to support energy needs and the grid can be expanded and amplified.
The authors have recognized for years that the economics, even without all the environmental and regulatory considerations, will not support building a new steam boiler plant in the US. Gas is just too cheap in the US compared to coal or oil. New coal is a non-starter given the need for elaborate and expensive pollution controls. However, this does not mean it makes sense to retire functioning coal, gas, and oil plants. In many cases they will be the best emergency back resource available across the board when considering economics, environmental impact, and reliability.
There is another economics aspect of our ‘good enough’ plan that needs to be stressed. The plan does not require the development and deployment of the magical dispatchable emissions-free resource that is a necessary component in a electric system that relies on wind, solar, and energy storage. Eliminating the cost of a brand-new resource to fulfill a very limited role will make this approach cheaper than any net-zero alternative.
There is a segment of society that is invested in the need to do “something” about climate change by mitigating emissions. A good enough plan would support R&D on clean technologies for future generation, energy storage, and transmission system support. Currently, these clean technologies are simply not ready to provide reliable and affordable energy. The developing world will not use zero-emission technologies until they can provide electricity cheaper than existing resources so this R&D is necessary for a global solution. In addition, if the full life-cycle impacts of those technologies are considered, then they are not nearly as “clean” as commonly portrayed.
The proposed ‘good enough’ plan provides direction but is not overly constraining. It’s hard to know the future, but it’s a safe bet that any plan will not anticipate some critical twists that will emerge down the road. This plan would lay a strong foundation. A major shift to the nuclear plants that are the obvious best choice for baseload power, supplemented with natural gas units, and retention of on the ground facilities should be the framework of a good enough plan. Good enough plans are also flexible so integration of newer technologies when and as warranted is a reasonable attainable path without major downsides. This good enough plan may get you to net zero before the more ambitious ones. It is likely to have less carbon emissions than the more aggressive plans over time. It certainly will be more reliable and affordable.
Net Zero achieves nothing but poverty. It does not affect the climate
Te biggest expansion of mining and manufacturing, needed for Nut Zero, might create some global warming CO2 emissions that otherwise would not have happened.
The sooner _________________ is emissions free the better. (Fill in blank.)
Net-zero effect or bust.
I prefer the NY now official bad plan to the proposed good enough plan. It is official and public now, is fatally flawed, so will fail. That failure in New York might cause enough pain and publicity to burst the net zero balloon globally. The sooner, the better.
Ditto 100% EV laws in places like CA and WA. We need massive real world system failures and consequences to stop the climate nonsense. The more, the better. The sooner, the better. Only way to stop the. Money fueled alarm momentum.
Just as long as you don’t live in New York.
Let me guess:
You do not live in NY, CA or WA
But you are right — several local utilities must reach their Flounder Limit with actual blackouts to stop this politician-led Rube Goldberg engineering project. There are just so many blackouts that can be blamed on Putin, Trump, racism, climate change or the unvaxxed.
The FALSE DICHOTOMY presented above is misleading.
Net Zero or a compromise?
Answer: BOTH are rejected as completely unnecessary.
Moreover, worse than unnecessary. Their costs far and, for the foreseeable future, forever, outweigh any possible benefits and are and will remain vastly negative ROI/EROEI.
CO2 is plant food.
Margaret Thatcher once told her cabinet, “I smell the subtle stench of appeasement”.
The compromise is assuming something is going to be done, so there is no hope to stop the transition away from hydrocarbon fuels. The transition is in progress until the money runs out or there are too many blackouts. that could take years. It bothers me when any Nut Zero article fails to say Nut Zero is not necessary. I don’t believe saying that is a lost cause. The Panning Engineer seems to have given up on saying that.
Yeah, there’s no evidence Net Zero is necessary.
There is a lot of evidence that Net Zero is detrimental to the human condition. And the way things are going, there’s going to be a lot more evidence available, as lunatic alarmists continue to destroy the electric grid with their Net Zero schemes.
Net zero is just another scam .
In fact it is the second biggest scam that our modern world has ever seen only surpassed by the runaway global warming scam .
To achieve net (or is it nut ) zero every country that has a reasonable standard of living will have to offset their fossil fuel use, unless common sense prevails and safe nuclear power plants are built that can produce affordable electricity.
Where are GENUINE carbon offset credits going to come from ?
The greatest number of carbon credits on the world market are from China and India .
How do they create carbon credits when they are the largest users of coal in the world .
Coal production was stable at around 4.7 billion tonnes for ten years from 1999 untill 2008
Since then coal usage has increased above 8 billion tonnes in 2018 and 2021 with all of the increase going to China and India.
Something smells very fishy here .Maybe some one can enlighten us on how these countries have carbon credits to sell and how are they generated .
Nucs of any kind do NOT solve the diesel powered Ag, forestry, mining, and construction problems, nor the jet fuel problems. Eventually nucs for electricity may make a CO2 reduction contribution, if any is ever needed. But none for the big rest stuff.
Nuclear power can replace coal ash pollution, I would not close any coal power plants until the end of their useful lives, but nuclear seems like a smart replacement.
Diesel is arguably the most important of the liquid carbon fuels on which mankind depends for maintaining our current civilization.
The world as we know it could get by without passenger airliners, and possibly even without gasoline powered passenger cars. But we can’t get by without farm tractors or without a variety of other types of large diesel-powered mobile equipment which don’t lend themselves to electrification.
A word count for this page yields 110 “plan”s and derivatives.
There is no need for a plan, let the ‘invisible hand’ determine the most efficient power generation source for each territory region country district and marketplace as was once taken for granted.
This piece is from the Judith Curry Blog..
The Net Zero meme is a delusional non answer to a non existent problem .The effect of increasing CO2 on temperature is too small to calculate and may even be negative since increasing CO2 has led to a greening world. Here are quotes from
“The IPCC and UNFCCC post modern science establishment’s “consensus” is that a modelled future increase in CO2 levels is the main threat to human civilization. This is an egregious error of scientific judgement. A Millennial Solar ” Activity” Peak in 1991 correlates with the Millennial Temperature Peak at 2003/4 with a 12/13 year delay because of the thermal inertia of the oceans. Earth has now entered a general cooling trend which will last for the next 700+/- years.
Because of the areal distribution and variability in the energy density of energy resources and the varying per capita use of energy in different countries, international power relationships have been transformed. The global free trade system and global supply chains have been disrupted.
Additionally, the worlds richest and most easily accessible key mineral deposits were mined first and the lower quality resources which remain in the 21st century are distributed without regard to national boundaries and demand. As population grows,inflation inevitably skyrockets. War between states and violent conflicts between tribes and religious groups within states are multiplying.
2 The Millennial Temperature Cycle Peak.
Latest Data (1) https://www.nsstc.uah.edu/data/msu/v6.0/tlt/uahncdc_lt_6.0.txt
Global Temp Data 2003/12 Anomaly +0.26 : 2023/01 Anomaly -0.04 Net cooling for 19 years
NH Temp Data 2004/01 Anomaly +0.37 : 2023/01 Anomaly +0.05 Net cooling for 19 years
SH Temp Data 2003/11 Anomaly +0.21: 2023/01 Anomaly -0.14 Net cooling for 19 years
Tropics Temp Data 2004/01 Anomaly +0.22 : 2023/01 Anomaly – 0.38 Net cooling for 19 years.
USA 48 Temp Data 2004/03 Anomaly +1.32 : 2023/01 Anomaly + 0.12 Net cooling for 19 years.
Arctic Temp Data 2003/10 Anomaly +0.93 : 2023/01 Anomaly – 0.72 Net cooling for 19 years
Australia Temp Data 2004/02 Anomaly +0.80 : 2023/01 Anomaly – 0.50 Net cooling for 19 years
Earth’s climate is the result of resonances and beats between the phases of natural cyclic processes of varying wavelengths and amplitudes. At all scales, including the scale of the solar planetary system, sub-sets of oscillating systems develop synchronous behaviors which then produce changing patterns of periodicities in time and space in the emergent temperature data. The periodicities pertinent to current estimates of future global temperature change fall into two main categories:
a) The orbital long wave Milankovitch eccentricity, obliquity and precession cycles. These control the glacial and interglacial periodicities and the amplitudes of the corresponding global temperature cycles.
b) Solar activity cycles with multi-millennial, millennial, centennial and decadal time scales.
The most prominent solar activity and temperature cycles are : Schwab-11+/-years ; Hale-22 +/-years ; 3 x the Jupiter/Saturn lap cycle 60 years +/- :; Gleissberg 88+/- ; de Vries – 210 years+/-; Millennial- 960-1020 +/-. (2)
The Oulu Galactic Ray Count is used in this paper as the “solar activity ” proxy which integrates changes in Solar Magnetic field strength, Total Solar Insolation , Extreme Ultra Violet radiation, Interplanetary Magnetic Field strength, Solar Wind density and velocity, Coronal Mass Ejections, proton events, ozone levels and the geomagnetic Bz sign. Changes in the GCR neutron count proxy source causes concomitant modulations in cloud cover and thus albedo. (Iris effect)
Eschenbach 2010 (3) introduced “The Thunderstorm Thermostat Hypothesis – how Clouds and Thunderstorms Control the Earth’s Temperature”.
Eschenbach 2020(4) in https://whatsupwiththat.com/2020/01/07/drying-the-sky uses empirical data from the inter- tropical buoy system to provide a description of this system of self-organized criticality. Energy flow from the sun into and then out of the ocean- water interface in the Intertropical Convergence Zone results in a convective water vapor buoyancy effect and a large increase in OLR This begins when ocean temperatures surpass the locally critical sea surface temperature to produce Rayleigh – Bernard convective heat transfer.
Short term deviations from the solar activity and temperature cycles are driven by ENSO events and volcanic activity.
Fig 1 Correlation of the last 5 Oulu neutron cycles and trends with the Hadsst3 temperature trends and the 300 mb Specific Humidity. ( 5,6 )
The Oulu Cosmic Ray count in Fig.1C shows the decrease in solar activity since the 1991/92 Millennial Solar Activity Turning Point and peak There is a significant secular drop to a lower solar activity base level post 2007+/- and a new solar activity minimum late in 2009. In Figure 1 short term temperature spikes are colored orange and are closely correlated to El Ninos. The hadsst3gl temperature anomaly at 2037 is forecast to be + 0.05…………………………….
See also Figs 2 and 3
6. CO2 -Temperature and Climate.
The whole COP Net Zero meme is founded on the flawed assumptions and algorithms which produced the IPCC- UNFCCC model forecasts of coming dangerous temperature increases.
The “consensus” IPCC models make the fundamental error of ignoring the long- term decline in solar activity and temperature following the Millennial Solar Activity Turning Point and activity peak which was reached in 1990/91 as shown in Figure 1
The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is .058% by weight. That is one 1,720th of the whole. It is inconceivable thermodynamically that such a tiny tail could wag so big a dog. (13)
Stallinga 2020 (14) concludes: ” The atmosphere is close to thermodynamic equilibrium and based on that we……… find that the alleged greenhouse effect cannot explain the empirical data—orders of magnitude are missing. ……Henry’s Law—outgassing of oceans—easily can explain all observed phenomena.” CO2 levels follow temperature changes. CO2 is the dependent variable and there is no calculable consistent relationship between the two. The uncertainties and wide range of out-comes of model calculations of climate radiative forcing (RF) arise from the improbable basic assumption that anthropogenic CO2 is the major controller of global temperatures.
Miskolczi 2014 (15) in “The greenhouse effect and the Infrared Radiative Structure of the Earth’s Atmosphere “says “The stability and natural fluctuations of the global average surface temperature of the heterogeneous system are ultimately determined by the phase changes of water.”
Also See AleksandrZhitomirskiy2022 Absorption of heat and the greenhouse gas effect. https://independent.academia.edu/AleksandrZhitomirskiy (16) which says:
“The molar heat capacities of the main greenhouse and non-greenhouse gases are of the same order of magnitude. Given the low concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, their contribution to temperature change is below the measurement error. It seems that the role of various gases in the absorption of heat by the atmosphere is determined not by the ability of the gas to absorb infrared radiation, but by its heat capacity and concentration. ”
Zaichun Zhul et al 2016 (17) in Greening of the Earth and its drivers report “a persistent and widespread increase of growing season integrated Leaf Area Index (greening) over 25% to 50% of the global vegetated area from 1982 – 2009. ………. C02 fertilization effects explain 70% of the observed greening trend.”
Policies which limit CO2 emissions or even worse sequester CO2 in quixotic CCS green-washing schemes would decrease agricultural food production and are antithetical to the goals of feeding the increasing population and bringing people out of poverty.
The tropical rain forests and tropical oceans are the main source of the atmosphere’s water vapor and the rainfall essential to life and agriculture on land. Potable and agricultural water supplies are now stretched to their limits in many areas because of the demographics of global population increase. Temperature limits and targets as set in the Paris Accords to ameliorate future temperatures are completely useless when formulating policies relative to adaptation to the actual real world problems. These require more local inputs for particular regional ecosystems delineated by coastlines, major river basins and mountain range limited intra-continental divides.
“The Net Zero meme is a delusional non answer to a non existent problem”
100% true and always worth repeating
“The effect of increasing CO2 on temperature is too small to calculate and may even be negative”
Adding CO2 always impedes Earth’s ability to cool itself. No one knows exactly how much. Probably not too small to calculate. Definitely not negative Obviously harmless.
Sorry – the post is way too long and as with all the other responses so far, a compromise to solve a problem that does not exist is just another opportunity to pi$$ even more of our hard earned taxes away.
NET zero = no benefit for me!
Maybe your attention span is to short Shytot?
With 8 billion people now living on this earth we will be using fossil fuels for a long time even if it is just to grow food and feed the world .
It is no use saying that net zero wont work without putting forward strong arguments against this madness.
Net zero is a scam and any country that genuinely attempts to go net zero will lower their living standards .
Our socialist government here in New Zealand is trying to go net zero and they held select committee hearings around the country .
Of course it was just a show that they were listening to the electorate .
Governments will argue otherwise but carbon credits or offsets are a straight out scam .
All permanent pasture is a carbon sink but no carbon credits are earnt by farmers or run holders .Trees are counted if they are in a large enough area and recently planted .
Blocks of original native trees that have been growing for centuries do not count under NZ law
Our biggest threat now is from university boffins and politicians that do not understand commerce ,trade and agriculture .
I don’t understand what your problem is with my post – I agree that net zero is a scam and any pandering to the belief system behind it (such as the “good enough” essay here) is not going to be a positive /good outcome.
All of the green “initiatives” are at best, virtue signalling but every day they cost us much more than they can ever usefully deliver.
But Jacobson’s numbers can be shown to be impossible to achieve by any person with a bit of utility system planning experience. Why would anyone take the time to write or pass an “Act” without at least checking with their own planners whether it is valid or not ?
Welcome to the wonderful world of NY politicians who know better than to bother to check with the experts in the state responsible for keeping the lights on. One party rule in any jurisdiction is a recipe for a disaster.
What this essay proposes is perfectly sensible, and another name for a good plan is that it is robust. Robust means the plan will achieve its ends even if many assumptions are violated. We do robust design in engineering all the time.
I would argue the plan isn’t needed in the first place. However, presuming that it is needed, then one simple observation tells a person that it is not robust. That observation is that the bulk of the world will not join it. Certainly China, India and Africa will not.
The robust plan that will work in the event that no one but the foolish western world will join is adaptation. It is the “plan” that all successful species implement as the world changes.
The only drawbacks to this plan that I can see is that it won’t give the political left total control of your life and it won’t make the already ultrawealthy wealthier still.
I was driven to write this because I had been getting some blowback by the we have to do something crowd. Russ’ expertise helped a lot. The thesis is if they want to do something then do this because it has less of a chance of ending in total disaster. I plan to follow up with my estimates of the costs and emissions if NYS were to just take a deep breath and not go overboard trying to get to net zero.
Good. Roger, this is a worthwhile endeavor. I see this “we gotta’ do sumpin” crowd out here also where people are allegedly pragmatic — any time “educated” people congregate they come up with foolishness.
Russ’ expertise came through loud and clear in this essay. The economics of running an electric power system isn’t all that complicated as long as one understands the differences amongst baseload, intermediate and peaking generation as well as transmission and distribution. Problem is that few people outside the industry understand the distinctions.
An unfortunately all too commonly repeated fallacy is confusing the cost of generating electricity from the terminals of renewable generation, with the actual cost of providing electricity to the consumer 24 hr/day and 365 days/year.
People understand blackouts
While I agree that people understand what it’s like to be in a blackout, I would also argue that maybe 1% (0.1%?, 0.01%??) of the population has a clue about the causes of blackout. They may learn about the triggering event (such as the relay in Ontario in November 1965), but little understanding of the cascade that follows. If you don’t know what is meant by “equal area criteria” as it apples to maintaining synchronism, then you don’t really understand the cause of most blackouts.
There is logic to trying to change the direction of the climate change / Nut Zero ship heading toward an “iceberg” of blackouts. The effort to stop the climate change / Nut Zero “ship” may be impossible because there is already too much momentum.
The correct “stop doing Nut Zero” message would turn off readers with somewhat open minds, While those of us who want Nut Zero stopped are disappointed.
The climate was not “broken”
The grids were not “broken”
So why are they being “fixed”?
The “fix” is a waste of labor hours and money, in my opinion, that could have been used for something people actually wanted and needed.
Your weakness, Kilty, is you think like a logical engineer, rather than like a power-hungry leftist politician. You must delete reason and accountability to think like a leftist. A full glass of MD 20-20 would help too,
Climate change scaremongering and the Nut Zero response to that hoax are all about leftist political power and control. If you understand their goals, then you know they have been very successful. Climate change and Nut Zero are not about climate science and grid engineering.
” Nuclear plants can be planned and operated to provide some ramping and load following capabilities. ”
Cmon , man !
My experience as a 637 class crew member says “of course ! ”
Yes , I know their designs differ .
But civilian reactor designs can adapt …
NNP reactors usually have more excess reactivity to compensate for Xenon than generating stage reactors. One advantage of the molten salt reactors is that the Xenon can be easily removed and thus doesn’t complicate a daily load following cycle.
The oncoming SMRs will be technically better at load-following than the legacy Gen III reactors whose economics and technology are targeted at supplying near-continuous baseload power at the cheapest possible cost per kilowatt-hour a nuclear plant is capable of delivering.
The problem for a Gen IV nuclear plant whose technology is much better at supporting load-following is economic.
If you aren’t generating as much electricity as you could be if you were delivering continuous baseload power, then you aren’t getting as much revenue — unless the price you get for the electricity you actually do generate is high enough to cover the difference.
The Planning Engineer is the best writer on Climate Etc. website and Roger is the authority for New York State Nut Zero, I did recommend this article among 24 articles recommended Friday morning at my climate science and energy blog: Honest Climate Science and Energy
But I sure wish every Nut Zero article would say Nut Zero is not needed and every windmill and solar panel added to a grid is “overbuilding”.
There is no climate crisis now, or coming, and therefore no need for Nut Zero.
The electric grids were not broken and do not need to be “fixed”.
Nut Zero is a total waste of money.
Nuclear power plants to replace coal power plants after their useful life makes sense. France figured that out in the 1970s. But that is just grid engineering common sense, not Nut Zero claptrap
Mr. Schussler, you advocate natural gas peaker plants to fill in the gaps resulting from wind and solar intermittency. OK, but just how much CO2 emissions would be avoided by such a plan compared to an all-gas grid? I ask this because it is well known that gas turbines require as much as 40% of their full power fuel requirement just to maintain hot standby as likely needed for your grid. Also rapid cycling as required to back up a partial wind/solar grid may also increase fuel consumption compared to an all-gas grid where there may be much less rapid variation. Are there any studies of CO2 emission from a grid as you propose compared to a grid operating entirely with natural gas? In other words, what are the emission reductions anticipated from a wind/solar + gas backup grid compared to an all gas grid?
One of the points of this recommendation is to get away from wind and solar. We propose no wind, solar, batteries for storage or dispatchable emissions free magic. It looks like battery systems do a good job smoothing out the very rapid cycling requirements so adding that to the future non-net zero grid addresses your gas weakness concerns. I am planning to do a comparison of emission reductions and costs for NY for their approach and ours. Stay tuned.
From the article. Natural Gas combustion turbines and combined cycle are best suited to fill in the gaps when reliable and functional generation additions are needed.
By that we did not mean backing up intermittents, but mostly likely filling the holes nuclear could not for timing reasons, As Roger said we were not promotion wind or solar or schemes to make them work. If I missed what you were referring to, please cite our words.
If it was up to me, I would require that any wind or solar generating facility have enough battery back-up to smooth out the power supplied to the grid. This battery (or other energy storage format) would be paid for and maintained by the generating facility. The facilities would contract 24 hours in advance and be prepared to deliver the power contracted for or face penalties.
My intuition is that the generation mix with lowest life cycle emission of CO2, would be nuclear baseload, just enough rooftop solar for the daytime peak above baseload, just enough battery/storage to load shift the solar peak generation to typical demand peak and both combined cycle and simple cycle gas turbines to handle the difference. As an example, if a cloudy day is forecast, then it would be worthwhile to fire up combined cycle units to make up for the lack of solar.
IIRC, GE’s H frame turbines can still maintain 40% thermal efficiency at 50% turndown.
The Energy Council of Australia has an interesting page (https://www.energycouncil.com.au/analysis/barker-inlet-a-new-technology-responding-to-the-market/) comparing the response times, capital costs and fuel efficiency of a number of technologies.
Interestingly, reciprocating engines are more fuel efficient and have quicker response than OCCGT.
IIRC, large diesel engines can exceed 50% thermal efficiency, where the best for open cycle GT’s are mid to high 50% efficient. CCGT’s are now reaching 61% efficiency.
For constant speed use, steam turbines have the best efficiency at high turndowns, followed by reciprocating engunes, with gas turbines coming in last.
The fast start up for reciprocating engines does require some extra work, namely heaters for the coolant to keep the block at operating temperature. Emergency generators for nuclear plants need to develop full output within 10 seconds of starting.
On a historical note, the most efficient fossil fuel plant in the pre-WW2 US was the Vernon Diesel plant that used M-A-N double acting diesel engines that were very similar to the engines used in the German “pocket battleships”.
I was a bit surprised at the efficiency of the large diesels/gas engines, but I guess they’re running at their governed speed rather than varying the engine speed as they would in a truck.
Our data centre had a bank of big Cat diesel motors and generators. The coolant and oil were kept warm and circulation permanently, ready to cut in while the building UPS was still keeping everything running. I think the UPS was sized to keep everything running for a minimum 30 minutes, and the gensets could be at full output within 10 minutes.
Net zero is not needed at all if you aim for atmospheric co2 reduction, a reduction to 20 GtCO2/y is sufficient
I agree it is fullest to seek net zero with unproven and wasteful technologies, but it is entirely ridiculous to seek net zero regardless of what strategy is proposed. We have witnessed no changes in climate or human wellbeing that would suggest a need to stop human generate carbon emissions. If the only “evidence” supporting comes from computer generated models that were never validated then there is no evidence.
Russell & Roger: “Nuclear power works well to meet baseload needs. It also supports the transmission system by providing needed electrical characteristics commonly called Essential Reliability Services. Nuclear plants can be planned and operated to provide some ramping and load following capabilities. Nuclear offers the best opportunity to reduce dependence upon fossil fuels for electric generation because it is the only proven technology with no emissions that can be scaled up in the immediate future.”
The Net Zero transition for the power sector requires that a hundred years of evolution in power technology and in power resource planning be condensed into a period of less than twenty years.
As a zero-emission alternative to wind & solar backed by batteries, can enough new-build nuclear be constructed in time to play any significant near-term role in the Net Zero transition?
Not a chance. Before we can start building large numbers of advanced nuclear reactors, we must first rebuild America’s nuclear construction industrial base. That’s a process which will take fifteen to twenty years to complete.
One of the reasons it will take that long is because America no longer has a larger industrial base to draw upon for the managerial skills, the craft skills, and the construction skills needed to accelerate the pace of nuclear construction.
A nuclear reactor, and the processes used to design and construct that reactor; are all One Thing. Deploying a new generation of advanced reactors requires that we first train a new generation of nuclear project managers, nuclear engineers, nuclear-skilled craft technicians, along with a nuclear-savvy construction workforce.
Another major issue is operative in today’s energy marketplace. Nuclear construction must compete with wind and solar for the human, the material, and the financial resources needed to push Net Zero forward. Wind and solar are in a favored position to harvest government subsidies and to gain government regulatory approvals, and will likely remain so until demand for wind & solar technology outstrips the ability of the supply chain to deliver it.
But here is the larger question we now face: Will coal-fired and gas-fired power generation be shut down prematurely without adequate replacement?
My sense of the situation — based on what is now being seen in California, in New York State, in the US Northwest, in the Northern Plains states, and offshore in Australia — is that yes, coal-fired and gas-fired power generation will indeed be shut down prematurely without adequate replacement.
And it will be done with predictable consequences — electricity will cost a lot more, and there will be less of it available. Energy conservation a.k.a. demand management a.k.a energy rationing will rule the day.
It is also my opinion that the state and federally-charted agencies responsible for the power grid’s reliability will not stand in the way of the Net Zero transition. These agencies are funded by the politicians who are pushing Net Zero. The managers of these agencies are likely to yield to the enormous political pressures being brought against them to ignore the many serious issues a wind & solar powered grid presents to grid capacity planners.
What do you do if you are a power engineer or a power planner employed in some department deep inside an American power utility? How will you handle these stressful circumstances as the Net Zero transition accelerates?
My advice is to keep calm, keep cool, remain philosophical about the whole situation, and to keep an emergency plan of action hidden in one of your desk drawers for quickly mobilizing a fleet of portable diesel-powered peaker plants.
I wish I could argue with your points but I can’t because I agree with everything you said. My personal emergency plan is a whole house generator hooked up to the natural gas system. When they take that away I will move.
If it were possible, the states mandating these Rube Goldberg solutions for a non-problem could be isolated. No importing outside energy. With the denizens of NY, WA and CA living in darkness and shivering, things would change dramatically.