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On Is Audi's Carbon-Neutral Diesel a Game-Changer?

Bob, the full lifecycle carbon emissions first come from the fabrication, construction, operation and maintenance of the new synfuel production facilities.  These facility development steps do consume significant fossil fuels beginning with the mining and conversion of metals and other raw materials into construction materials, parts and equipment-thru-the-finished facility construction.  It’s doubtful the synfuel production facility could actually operate solely on a 100% renewable power unless it operates only part-time (variable-intermediate wind/solar are the primary problem statement here); this of course substantially increases expenses and reduces thermal efficiencies of synfuel conversion reactors-equipment.  And supply chains (storage, transport, and fueling-sales) consume significant fossil fuels.  The final consumption of the pure synthetic petroleum diesel also likely generates significant carbon equivalent pollutants.  State-of-art diesel engines still generate (exhaust) significant PM, NOX, CO and VOC’s that have equivalent carbon emission factors greater than zero; or much greater than the equivalent emissions of an EV that could operate more efficiently on the same (but significantly less) renewable power the synfuel production facility is supposed to operate solely on.

May 5, 2015    View Comment    

On Is Audi's Carbon-Neutral Diesel a Game-Changer?

Robert, what Audi’s claimed carbon-neutral diesel does is substantially help support the justification and attractiveness of existing-proven alternatives such as electric vehicles (EV’s).  Even if one assumes that 100% renewable energy is used to produce the synthetic ‘petroleum’ diesel, this laboratory scale demonstration project clearly does not include the 'full-lifecycle' energy and carbon balances compared to alternative fuels/technologies.  As you accurately imply the ‘net energy value’ of this synthetic diesel is horribly negative compared to most alternatives including biodiesel and EV’s.  These fuel/energy sources are and will be far more efficient, cost effective, and carbon-neutral then synthetic diesel production from new-future Commercial scale facilities.

May 5, 2015    View Comment    

On Why Have U.S. Energy Policies Stopped Reducing Carbon Emissions? - Part 1

Internet or Scandinavian?

April 28, 2015    View Comment    

On Why Have U.S. Energy Policies Stopped Reducing Carbon Emissions? - Part 1

Mr. Edo, let’s put some facts together the ‘anti-nuclear cult’ either doesn’t understand or won’t acknowledge:

·         The radiation leakage from each Nuclear Reactor is insignificant compared to average exposure to X-Rays, CT Scan’s and natural Radon gas.  Refer to EPA data on natural and manmade radiation risks.  If the health hazardous truly led to 10,000’s of annual deaths, why hasn’t this issue become a regulatory priority of the EPA or NRC

·         The greatest health hazards to most Developed Countries’ populations are lifestyle decisions, including smoking (and the-to-be included recent e-cigarettes and recreation ‘weed’ consumptions), obesity, diet (high sugar, cholesterol, fats, etc.), lack of exercise, alcohol, drugs, etc.  Refer to CDC data on the greatest health risks

·         Carbon-14 has been produced naturally by cosmic radiation in the stratosphere since the beginning of the Earth.  It is found everywhere and throughout history; i.e. millions of years before Nuclear reactors were developed.   Studies completed by the CDC find that diesel motor exhausts to be far more hazardous than C-14. Historically, most manmade C-14 has been produced by past atmospheric nuclear weapon tests then existing power plants.

·         As far as water usage, if you analyzed other boiler-generation steam cycle/turbine technologies commonly found in all Coal, Natural Gas and Petroleum Power Plants, you would understand the water use of Nuclear is very similar.

·         Nuclear waste is a problem statement in the U.S. primarily due to ‘political’ decisions made over the years.  It begins with prohibiting ‘reprocessing’ spent fuel rods as is commonly done in many other countries.  Also centralized storage has been chronically blocked at Yucca Mt. despite the need and $10’s millions of wasted investment over the years.

·         And lastly, without expanded Nuclear Power the feasibility of substantially shutting down U.S. Fossil Fuels Power generation and associate carbon emissions is effectively zero.  Refer to my past analyzes on this subject: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

April 28, 2015    View Comment    

On Why Have U.S. Energy Policies Stopped Reducing Carbon Emissions? - Part 1

Moving our continued discussion to the top is a good idea.

Can you provide references for the molten salt systems/data you are basing some of your comments on.  The last time I analyzed actual Solar Thermal storage the efficiency was a small fraction of the primary power generation; mid-day.  As I am sure you probably understand, the efficiency is affected by the molten salt storage temperature, the molten salt steam boiler operation-efficiency, the pressure-temperature of the overall steam Rankine cycle design & operation, and the steam turbine-generator efficiencies.  While solar thermal radiant heat concentration systems can heat the salt or produce steam up to 500o-600oC, the stored heated molten salt will generate (boil) steam at significantly lower temperature/pressures.  Power generation/efficiency is directionally proportional.

It does sound like you and I are in general agreement as to the potential use of molten salt storage with future Nuclear Power, which will give these new plants significantly greater variable power generation output capability compare to current baseload units.

April 28, 2015    View Comment    

On Why Have U.S. Energy Policies Stopped Reducing Carbon Emissions? - Part 1

Mark, what we are debating here appears to be one of the major issues and complexities that are going to make individuals States’ abilities’ to develop adequate compliance plans for the developing EPA Power Sector carbon regulations somewhat of a nightmare.

April 28, 2015    View Comment    

On Why Have U.S. Energy Policies Stopped Reducing Carbon Emissions? - Part 1

Joe, my point is that supposed Green States like CA appear to be increasingly relying on low-zero carbon power imports from other states that must sometimes balance their in-state power supply-generation from higher carbon sources such as Coal Power needed/used within AZ.  Refer to EIA data Table 5.  I find it difficult to justify the actions of States like CA that shutdown their own zero carbon Nuclear Power capacity due to relatively small (real) safety concerns and/or local environment impacts.  In CA I understand part of the reason they shutdown or are shutting down their coastal Nuclear Plants’ Units has to do with the assumed environmental impacts on using off-shore water for cooling.  One might argue this is a potential form of carbon leakage.  This will become much more evident as States are forced to develop their EPA Power Sector carbon reduction compliance plans.  

April 28, 2015    View Comment    

On Why Have U.S. Energy Policies Stopped Reducing Carbon Emissions? - Part 1

Dwight, unfortunately the EPA and many Environmental groups have failed to evaluate or have overlooked the most likely impacts of shutting down most Coal Power in order to cut the associated carbon emissions.  Recent Coal Power cuts have been due primarily to power generation fuels switching from coal-to-natural gas (refer back up to Figure 2) and not expansion of renewable Wind & Solar Power.  Without expanded Nuclear Power the only feasible means to shutting substantial or all Coal Power within the next 15+ years is expansion of Natural Gas ‘baseload’ Power generation.  Refer to a past TEC article on this subject.

Even the developing EPA Power Sector carbon standards will be very difficult-to-infeasible to reduce 2005 carbon emissions by 30% in 2030 without some combination of replacement baseload power such as Nuclear and Natural Gas Power.  Refer to another past TEC article on this subject.  As you state, getting significant new Nuclear Power even ‘permitted’ within this time frame may not be feasible based on existing regulatory processes.

Your suggestion of essentially setting up trust funds similar to past/current Asbestos Trusts is very interesting.  But, reasonably justifying the likely numerous claims will be far more difficult for common pollutants (PM, SOX, metals, etc.) then diagnosing mesothelioma.  

April 28, 2015    View Comment    

On Why Have U.S. Energy Policies Stopped Reducing Carbon Emissions? - Part 1

Hydropower Pumped Storage (HPS) is associated with Hydroelectric Power because of the obvious cost advantages.  I have a few questions based on your comments:

1)      Can you reference one successful alternative to (integrated) HPS that comes within a magnitude of its 5,000-6,000 million KWh annual capacity?    

2)      What do you think molten salt’s technology’s full energy storage cycle efficiency is compared to HPS and (smaller) batteries?  I am sure you know cost is proportional to efficiency overall.

3)      Based on my Industrial experience, steam (or air) compression has not been developed due to the relatively low steam (or air) energy cycle efficiency and high costs.  In other words, it’s cheaper to generate new peaking power than build and operate inefficient power storage systems.  How does Cal Abel justify a different conclusion?

4)      And, Industrial scale facilities in the U.S. and EU that have ‘interruptable’ power capabilities are fairly common.  They justify this operation by the lower power costs they pay Power Utilities for being able to trim their power consumption on-demand (of the Power Grid Operator).  How do you think this ‘interruptable demand’ system should work?  And yes, the capacity is limited; that’s why Power Grids have minimum reserve power capacities available 24-7.

April 26, 2015    View Comment    

On Why Have U.S. Energy Policies Stopped Reducing Carbon Emissions? - Part 1

Mark, retiring those steam boilers and room heater-radiators also led to a large reduction in Residential coal usage.  This transition of course began over 50 years ago.  During this same period HVAC units became more common in most residences; as you reference.  The efficiencies of these early units were fairly poor and definitely contributed to the continuous increase in electric power consumption over the past 50+ years.  Fortunately, improvements in buildings’ thermal efficiencies (insulation, windows and reduced air leakage as you reference) and major appliances efficiencies increases in recent years (such as HVAC SEER) have both reduced average Household total heating fuels usage and helped cap maximum electric power consumption in recent years.

April 25, 2015    View Comment    

On Why Have U.S. Energy Policies Stopped Reducing Carbon Emissions? - Part 1

Joe, natural gas prices are definitely one major influential factor, but the fuel mix is also significantly affected by maintenance schedules, construction projects, environmental compliance issues and other events that affect the availability of baseload, reserve and peaking power generation required to balance Power Grids’ supply-demand and stable-reliable operations.  In the longer term the combination of New EPA environmental regulations (conventional metals, PM, NOX, SOX, etc. and unconventional CO2 emission controls) will definitely return coal consumption to a longer term declining trend.  This will be due largely to accelerating Coal Power plant retirements.  So, after these increasing permanent shutdowns, the impact of future natural gas price volatilities will be reduced significantly.  If all Coal Power is shutdown in the future, the consumption of natural gas and market prices will probably rise to historic highs; as will the average retail cost of power for all Consumers.  Re. a past TEC article: “Impacts of Shutting Down All U.S. Coal Power – Part 1”

April 25, 2015    View Comment    

On Why Have U.S. Energy Policies Stopped Reducing Carbon Emissions? - Part 1

Mark/Joe, there is another option to reducing natural gas and petroleum heating fuels consumption during the winter: heat pumps.  After we have reasonably maximize the thermal efficiency of most Residences and installed & are operating Smart thermostats efficiently, one major alternative to conventional convective fired centralized heaters is either air heat pumps or geothermal heat pumps.  Both these technologies are readily available and as the carbon intensity of the Power Sector declines in the future, the overall carbon reduction of heat pumps will be increasingly significant as heating oil, LPG and natural gas fuels are reduced by these non-fossil fuels heater technologies.  What do you think?

April 25, 2015    View Comment