Hyperventilating much Paul?

After all, climate change is an existential threat in a way local pollution isn’t, and the installation of the Trump team in power may mean that we have lost our last, best chance for a cooperative international effort to contain that threat.

Everyone who contributed to this outcome — very much, if I may say, including the journalists who elevated the fundamentally trivial issue of Hillary Clinton’s emails into the dominant theme of campaign reporting — bears part of the responsibility for what may end up being a civilization-ending event. No, that’s not hyperbole.

The emails weren’t the dominant theme. Rather, what an oaf Trump was was. And re climate change, come along, you’re an economist for fucks sake. You know damn well that all we’ve got to do is get some non-fossil fuel method of electricity generation as cheap or cheaper than fossil and we’re pretty much done.

Looked at the price of solar recently?

47 thoughts on “Hyperventilating much Paul?”

  1. “the fundamentally trivial issue of Hillary Clinton’s emails”

    Seriously?

    “what may end up being a civilization-ending event. No, that’s not hyperbole.”

    Only because you inserted the word “may”. Otherwise it is total bollocks.

  2. A trivial matter to vote for one of the most corrupt and evil women ever to have lived– says the Marxist sack of ordure.

    Piss on your eco-freak bullshit Clod-man.

    And no, Tim, solar is piddle-power unless you live in some sun-baked hellhole. The UK should not waste 5 seconds or 5p on renewable shite.

  3. Mr Ecks,

    Although you are correct that solar PV is worse than useless in the UK, the left-pondians receive far more sunlight than we do. Phoenix is at the same latitude as Casablanca. They could power most of the country (during the daytime) with solar panels in the desert states. Mind you, they’d still need fossil fuels after sunset.

  4. There are problems with powering most of the country with solar, especially if there is a large wind component to the renewable mix.

    For a start, solar isn’t producing all it’s rated energy from dawn till dusk, but ramps up as the sun climbs then ramps down again after midday.

    Then, when the sun sets or goes behind the clouds and/or the wind drops you need backup power, and when you look around for it, there isn’t much there. The reason being that it’s uneconomic to build and run conventional power stations when the market is rigged to mean that your energy must be available 24/7 but is only bought when the unreliables have none to sell.

    Sure, solar panels in a desert can provide useful amounts of energy, but you don’t want your grid to be reliant on them so you need to keep them at a managable proportion of your total output to avoid driving your base load suppliers out of business.

  5. They could power most of the country (during the daytime) with solar panels in the desert states.

    Well, yes, maybe, but there’s a cost to that as well. Besides the massive footprint (and even though it’s a desert that doesn’t mean it should be paved over with solar cells), there’s birds fried in mid-air, all manner of desert life that would be threatened or go extinct, there’s the blight of a transmission grid that would have to extend throughout the entire country, with the associated transmission losses magnified by the distance from the point of generation, and on and on. Plus, as you say,

    Mind you, they’d still need fossil fuels after sunset.

    Which is not that simple, since most fossil fuel power plants aren’t exactly like your trusty Generac home generator that can be turned on at a moment’s notice. Most of them need to run 24/7 to achieve any kind of efficiency, so you’d effectively have to let them run during the day just to make sure that when the sun goes down they are up and running to take over for the now useless solar plants. But maybe batteries? Yeah, why not? I can just imagine the fireworks display the first time one of those batteries decides to incinerate itself a la Samsung Galaxy Note 7.

    There’s a trade-off in everything. The reason these cunts talk about an existential threat is that it’s the only way to get morons to buy into the program. If the alternative is certain death, then yes, by all means, let’s go back to the 19th century.

  6. I fully understand that on his best days he’s little more than an arrogant, abrasive asshole, but don’t you think Paul would have at least one good friend who is friend enough to tell him that he needs to shut the fuck up?

  7. “what may end up being a civilization-ending event”

    Maybe someone should point out that he’s utterly rejecting the scientific consensus on climate change?

  8. I got your hyperbole right here:

    “They could power most of the country (during the daytime) with solar panels in the desert states.”

  9. CA ISO makes it easy to see the problem with solar every day:

    http://www.caiso.com/Pages/TodaysOutlook.aspx

    We’ll have to wait about 5 hours for a good picture of today’s peak but it’s there everyday. The net demand graph at the bottom is the most damning evidence against solar without storage.

    This leaves us with a bit of a pickle. Solar panel prices have come down to the point they are effective when the sun is shining. Now we need to focus on storage. Li ion solutions like banks of Powerwalls are frequently mentioned but the price, ignoring the risk of fires, is still far too high.

    What we need is a cheaper storage solution. Thankfully we have one. Included in the mine tailing from the materials used to make those solar panels will be a good bit of lead. All we have to do is to find a way to make the extraction costs affordable and we can build banks of lead acid batteries. To reduce the extraction costs we can find profitable uses for other elements in that waste. A good target is the currently worthless thorium. Buy using thorium as the fuel in MSRs we now have another revenue source making lead extraction from existing waste far cheaper. Thanks to the increased inefficiencies in energy extraction found in MSRs we don’t have a huge nuclear waste issue and there are no operational CO2 emissions. To increase the benefits this technology is also unable to meltdown and can use existing nuclear waste as fuel, removing that problem.

    This is the argument I use with the ‘greens’. I know I’ve oversimplified the case but, given the scientific and technical knowledge of the target audience, I have to dumb it down. Any advice on how to improve the argument is welcome. Of course any inaccuracies need correction as the last thing I do is give the ‘greens’ a real mistake to attack.

  10. @Liberal Yank: please tell me you’re joking – you’re proposing molten salt thorium reactors as a way of using up the byproducts from lead acid battery production? Thats bit like saying we’re going to refine oil to burn it in steam engines to solve our transportation needs and use the byproduct hydrocarbons to power internal combustion engines.

    Why not have MSRs producing all the electric and forget about the stupid solar panels out in the desert in the middle of nowhere?

  11. LY>

    As I’ve pointed out round here before, the big issue with storage is the price of the electricity you’re putting in. When that’s low enough, almost anything can make sense. What we lack are not electricity storage systems, but electricity storage systems worth building with current solar power prices.

    It’s perfectly possible, even practical, to synthesise hydrocarbons from water and CO2, with the input of energy. The process isn’t terribly efficient, though, so the _at the moment_ energy inputs cost more than the outputs are worth, even allowing for the benefits of being able to store hydrocarbon fuels easily. That wouldn’t appear to remain the case in a hypothetical scenario where solar energy is, say, a tenth of the cost of now.

    At the end of the day, solar panels are a fairly mature technology these days, and prices are tumbling. The system they need to work within, though, is still very immature.

    (I might add that it’s generally a bit pointless discussing it around here, most of the commenters are utterly bigoted on the subject and insist on rejecting reality. Last time the subject came up (that I was involved in, at least) a bunch of the regulars were absolutely insistent that the whole thing is impossible because you can’t pour a concrete pad in a desert, or some such obvious nonsense.)

  12. Jim>

    “Why not have MSRs producing all the electric and forget about the stupid solar panels out in the desert in the middle of nowhere?”

    Price.

  13. I got a storage solution for ya… The gas tank to my Volvo.

    Using statistics of questionable accuracy (and value) and relatively simple dynamical linear models to predict the activity of an extremely complex dynamical nonlinear system doesn’t work. It’s why nobody but economists take economic forecasts seriously…

    Fuck solar and the horse it rode in on. AGW is bullshit.

  14. Getting back to Masonic rituals, hold back on the ritual slaying of Mason. He’s doing the world a favour. He continues taking the crazies to a place the crazies aren’t going to get elected. Nobody else believes this shite.
    Best thing is to let him get on with it.
    Go Paul!

  15. Mais, pourquoi?

    I’m assuming that’s frogtalk for “Why?”

    About the only thing European I’ve loved is European autos… Or more specifically, German autos. I still miss my 1990 Audi 90 Quattro. But then I got my hands on a MB ML class SUV, and that piece of shit cured of the desire for any further German cars. (Audis are now little more than gussied-up VWs, and BMWs are yuppie asshole magnets, so both brands were off limits). Given that I wouldn’t touch Italian or British with an elongated pole, that left Swedish.

    I ended up with a 2006 Volvo S40i in no small part because it could be had for the same price as a Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. Those are two cars that could put anyone to sleep.

    The Volvo is sharp looking, has been completely reliable, and handles like a dream. As I drive it about 7,500 miles a year, and is garaged just about 24/7, it is in perfect condition.The ride is typically Euro harsh, but I have a nice fat ass to handle that.

  16. Hedgehog,

    Yes it’s not cheap at the moment, and there are all kinds of indirect costs: connecting to the grid, cleaning & maintenance, etc. The biggest problem is getting the price down. Solar doesn’t just have to beat others, it has to trounce them. Nobody is going to put up with the unreliability of solar, or the fact that it’s useless after 4pm in winter, unless it’s dirt-cheap. You’d need an industry where electricity is the primary cost: steel-making is the only one I can think of.

    Given that we already have an excellent alternative in the form of nuclear, chasing ever-decreasing gains in solar seems like wasted effort.

  17. and the installation of the Trump team in power may mean that we have lost our last, best chance for a cooperative international effort to contain that threat

    That’s what they said about Bush 15 years ago. Change the record.

  18. So Much For Subtlety

    Dave – “(I might add that it’s generally a bit pointless discussing it around here, most of the commenters are utterly bigoted on the subject and insist on rejecting reality. Last time the subject came up (that I was involved in, at least) a bunch of the regulars were absolutely insistent that the whole thing is impossible because you can’t pour a concrete pad in a desert, or some such obvious nonsense.)”

    Dave, we love you, really we do, but if it is a choice between what you say and a pack of screeching gibbons I think most sensible people are likely to believe the gibbons.

    The fact that you regularly spout nonsense does not make the rest of us bigots. There are serious problems with any large scale solar power scheme. You don’t make those go away by calling other people names.

    Dave – “Price.”

    The only problem with price when it comes to nuclear power is Green obstructionism. It would take a lot less to make MSRs economically viable than it would solar cells. But the Greens love one and irrationally hate the other.

  19. Jim,

    I am talking about using MSRs and lead-acid batteries to deal with the waste from solar panel production. Remember the target audience are ‘greens’ who almost always want more solar. The trick is to convince them MSRs are more of a niche product to dispose of waste so we can start building.

    Dave,

    If I could store June sunshine for use in January at zero cost I would have installed solar several years ago. The problem is that my major expenses are in the winter. I need to replace natural gas for heating to have a real effect on my carbon emissions. Storage cost is the problem. Since you seem to know, where I can I buy a storage system for my roof top solar that can store 20kwh for 6+ months?

    MSRs have been virtually ignored for almost 50 years. I hope you aren’t trying to argue that the current cost would stay the same if we relaxed regulations so they could be built. Remember that electricity isn’t the only revenue generating option. We have plenty of nuclear waste that people will pay good money to give to the MSR operator. Add in fly ash dumps and mine tailings that don’t have much current value and there is a lot of profit to be made being environmentally responsible.

    DtP,

    I don’t really care about climate change. I am engaging with those that do though. My major concern is heavy metals and fine particulates.

    SMFS,

    The Russians have been trying with the BN-800. There is still research that needs to be done on the fuel cycle before we can start mass production. From what I’ve read the BN-1200 will solve many of the current issues and extend the possible fuel mix to thorium commercially. I’m sure you would agree that if we had put the money we used on solar and wind since 2008 into MSRs we would most likely have commercial reactors online. The price curve is behind but that is what happens when there is little real research for almost half a century.

    Thanks for the feedback. So far it seems no one has any major, valid, technical inaccuracies.

  20. “Buy using thorium as the fuel in MSRs we now have another revenue source making lead extraction from existing waste far cheaper.”

    Jesus H. Frederick Christ! That horse was put down 50 years ago.

  21. Dave,

    I do have slightly different query.

    Please take a look at the picture accompanying this article:

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/11/india-unveils-world-largest-solar-power-plant-161129101022044.html

    I really want to understand the justification for paving 4 square miles of farmland* with solar panels totalling 648MW.

    * I wish Google Earth had dates when the satellite images were taken. My guess is what is available is at least 9 months old After reviewing Kamuthi and the surrounding area there is no major solar farm in any images. Judging from the pictures flat terrain was used which all appears to be farmland in the images. Based on what is visible in pictures it looks like the site is the darkened, barren, former farms in Kamuthi.

  22. Gamecock,

    As Tim explained to me the value of thorium is currently zero. Why wouldn’t it have a price if we are actually using it for something?

    Unless I have completely misunderstood the economics of metal extraction all we have to do is build enough MSRs to push the price of thorium above the costs of refining and transport. We’ve already mined and partially reduced the ore so I don’t see how that value can be very high.

  23. So Much For Subtlety

    Liberal Yank – “The trick is to convince them MSRs are more of a niche product to dispose of waste so we can start building.”

    Then we should just build them to dispose of the waste from the existing nuclear reactor industry. That alone makes them worth doing.

    “The Russians have been trying with the BN-800.”

    But that is just a conventional sodium-cooled FBR, no? Unless you have a nuclear weapons programme with a liking for plutonium they are not really worth doing. The economics is not right as uranium is too cheap and too abundant so for now, conventional reactors make more sense.

    Also I don’t much like the idea of Russians, who are not unreasonably widely viewed as drunk and unreliable, bringing hot molten sodium in close contact with water.

    “I’m sure you would agree that if we had put the money we used on solar and wind since 2008 into MSRs we would most likely have commercial reactors online.”

    Absolutely. We are wasting too much money on the idiotic delusions of our incompetent ruling class rather than actually talking to engineers and working out what works.

  24. The thorium dream was born of the rarity of uranium. Over time, we found uranium isn’t rare at all.

    Which leaves the perpetual question: where did you get all this thorium nonsense?

  25. “It was a Democrat president (Clinton) who refused to ratify the Kyoto agreement.”

    Presidents don’t ratify treaties, Congress does.

    Clinton signed the treaty knowing this, and knowing that Congress would refuse to ratify it. (As they did, unanimously, with the Byrd-Hagel resolution.) But Clinton went down on the record as having signed/supported it, without any of the penalty from having to implement it.

  26. After all, climate change is an existential threat in a way local pollution isn’t

    This is where I really part company with most of the modern Left.

    The way to make the world better is continual improvement, piece by piece. Get rid of local pollution and one place is better off. If everyone did that then the world would be a better place (and, of course, that’s mostly what is happening and why Europe is physically nice to live in now).

    The insistence on “game changing” is what gets humans into trouble. In economics, politics, environment, education etc. The unintended consequences are not thought through and the revolution ends up making us worse off.

  27. So Much For Subtlety

    Gamecock – “Which leaves the perpetual question: where did you get all this thorium nonsense?”

    Waste and safety. The MSR promises to be much safer. Whether it is or not is another matter. It is also able to burn up the transuranic waste we have and so reducing the problem of storing waste to 200 years or so.

  28. SMFS,

    If anyone else had been doing the work we wouldn’t need the Russians at all. As it stands we will probably end up buying Chinese designs as they are the ones throwing enough resources at the problem to make it work. Currently the Chinese are using Russian tech which lead to the development of BN-800. I expect the Chinese to surpass the Russians within a decade though.

    Conventional reactors don’t make sense due to the waste issue. Fix that and LWR could retake the lead.

    Gamecock,

    This thorium nonsense is because when fertile thorium is bombarded with neutrons in a reactor it converts to uranium-233 which is fissile. This fuel cycle has fewer problematic actinides that the uranium-plutonium cycle. That, and the fact that most nations don’t have nuclear weapons, is why the Russians aren’t trying to sell the BN-800 and instead are developing the BN-1200. As SMFS points out unless we really want plutonium for weapons there isn’t much of a point in using that cycle other than for cleaning up existing waste.

  29. Chester Draws said: “The insistence on “game changing” is what gets humans into trouble. In economics, politics, environment, education etc. The unintended consequences are not thought through and the revolution ends up making us worse off.”

    I agree. Thorium/MSR technology appears to have successfully prevented people considering thorium for use in more conventional reactors. There have been recent trials using thorium MOX pellets but for decades it’s all been about the promise of MSR enabling widespread use of thorium and for nuclear waste disposal.

    We have had dangled in front of us something that could produce lots of clean energy, produce relatively less troublesome waste and reduce waste stockpiles. The chance to merely produce lots of clean energy and produce relatively less troublesome waste goes largely unexplored.

    It’s a bit like the giant tokamak fusion projects that are only recently seeing serious competition from alternative ideas. The desire to make a giant leap obscures the chances to take small but useful steps.

  30. Gareth,

    Luckily for us China is developing different options of at least a half dozen types.

    On the US end, for decades all nuclear research has been bad. I don’t see how it is possible to blame promises based on the Oak Ridge experiment that was cancelled in 1969. Even when we did manage to cobble together support for another US attempt the program, Integral Fast Reactor, was cancelled in 1994 before the prototype could be started. It was basically complete so thank you stupid politicians, I’m looking at you John Kerry, for making the world a worse place.

    The cold fusion debacle of the 1980’s has to be considered. Had hydrinos turned out to be real, we’d have found them elsewhere by now if they were, alternative fusion paths in general would have had a better shot at gaining funding. What you are seeing in fusion today is because the general public has forgotten that failed path. The only funding options that have really been possible have been snail’s pace incremental advancements of what we did decades ago. Personally I believe that fission/fusion hybrids are the best bet. Once again we have to look to Russia for any real progress*.

    In summation don’t blame thorium/MSR that hasn’t actually been developed due to political reasons. There is just no way to say what we would have had today if the government and ‘greens’ hadn’t been in the way.

    * https://www.rt.com/news/196088-russia-hybrid-nuclear-reactor/

  31. For most married men it is wives that rub those abrasive edges off. Temper the extremism. As I’ve been told it the only problem with Robin Wells is that she’s rather a long way off over into Chomsky sorta territory.

  32. “Looked at the price of solar recently?”

    Looked at physics recently?

    The needs of an electricity grid is determined by physics, not economics.

    Even if solar panels and windmills were 1p each, it would not solve the problem of base load, constant tensions on the grid, that non-dispatchable, variable, unreliable, eratic generation causes or the cost of maintenance, land use, transmission infrastructure, storage, fossil-fuel generation in idling reserve.

  33. ‘Waste and safety. The MSR promises to be much safer.’

    The question was of thorium nonsense. Your answer is about MSR, not thorium. Non sequitur.

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