Comments by Jim Baird Subscribe

On After the INDCs, is 2°C Possible?

< 2°C IS Possible with the right energy technology.
October 19, 2015    View Comment    

On What the Congressional Hearing on Volkswagen Missed

Jesse, my experience with big operations like the nuclear power industry and the oil sands producers is they pay no heed to outsiders who offer solutions to their problems including toxic waste, proliferation, carbon, emissions and fuel costs. These do however ultimately spell their demise, which is a loss for both ends of the transaction.

I think your emissions credit idea is brilliant and probably should be extended to all sorts of situations in order that both the problem creators and problem solvers have an incentive to come together and prosper.


October 12, 2015    View Comment    

On Green Manufacturing Needs To Go Global

The Copenhagen Accord commits 115 nations to "limiting the maximum global average temperature increase to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, subject to a review in 2015."

It also included a reference to consider limiting the temperature increase to below 1.5 degrees - a demand made by vulneraable developing countries.

The 1998–2012 hiatus shows a decadal average temperature rise of 0.05C compared to the 0.12C increase per decade rise over the period of 1951-2012.  

The main reason for the slowdown is assumed to be a greater uptake of heat in deeper ocean waters.

By the end of this year it is likely the global average temperature increase will have reached 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

IMHO, the path to a 1.5 degree future or less, is pretty clear.

Most climate scientists call for elimininating carbon emissions but there is little evidence we can get an equivalent amount of energy to what the world is currently consuming from any other energy source than by moving surface ocean heat to deep water through a heat engine soon enough to keep the world to 2C let alone 1.5C. 

This would be manufactured energy that reproduces the natural phenomena that brought about the hiatus.

October 5, 2015    View Comment    

On How Shale Reduced U.S. Energy Risks from Hurricanes

The higher the heat gradient the more waste heat is added to an already overheating planet as power is produced with a Carnot cycle. OTEC is a case where low themodynamic efficiency works to the benefit of the global environment because the enormous amount of heat in the ocean is mostly at the surface - heat rises and at the surface it can transfer to the atmosphere. The low heat gradient means about 20 times more heat than energy produced has to be moved into the cold sink with the OTEC heat engine. The ocean depths are a big enough sink and the heat capacity of the water high enough that this addition will do little to increase the temperature at depth and the cooling of the surface means the atmosphere is cooled as is required to maintain a liveable biosphere. It also is not that costly to capture and move that heat with a low boiling point working fluid operating in a heat pipe (IMHO).

You don''t find it too costly to air condition your vehicle or your home. Why do engineers turn up their noses at using the same principle to move heat out of harms way in the ocean and deriving as much zero emissions energy as we now get from fossil fuels in the same process?

October 3, 2015    View Comment    

On How Shale Reduced U.S. Energy Risks from Hurricanes

Actually Geoff, the so called hiatus was believed to be the result of ocean surface heat being transfered to a depth of about 300 meters. The decadal average temperature increase over the span between 1998 and 2012 was .04 degrees Celisius. Extended to the end of the century that would keep us well within the 2 degree limit to which we have committed. In fact no other energy source will do this.

The potential for OTEC has been estimated at 14 terawatts which is a direct conversion of that much of the approxiamtely 300 terawatts the oceans are accumulating annually to productive work. Another 280 terawatts, or virtually all of the rest, is moved to the deep. With the heat pipe design the relocation is to a depth of 1000 meters where it would take 250 years to return.

August was the warmest month ever recorded. This summer and the last 8 months have been the same. What we are seeing is heat that was sequestered in deeper water between 1998 and 2013 now returning. That heat in reality was only piled up warm water driven by the trade winds into the western Pacific. Once those winds decreased the water simply sloshed back to the east where much of the heat has and is being released.

Heat pipe OTEC would drive this heat below the thermocline where it would no longer be availbable to drive storms, melt ice or permafrost and where the coefficient of expansion is half that of the tropical surface.

A widely-used model estimates the social cost of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions by 2200 will be $326 trillion.

A new University of Cambridge study shows that melting permafrost will release sufficient carbon dioxide and methane to increase that cost by an additional $43 trillion.

OTEC can reverses global warming to prevent these losses and generate trillions of dollars in annual revenue. Consequence which to my mind we should be aspiring.

The regrets will arise from omitting to take effective action.


October 2, 2015    View Comment    

On How Shale Reduced U.S. Energy Risks from Hurricanes

Geoff, hurricanes are a concern to more than just the energy industry. The heat that produces and drives these storms however is also available to produce energy through ocean thermal energy conversion. It in turn saps the energy on which the storms are dependant.

October 2, 2015    View Comment    

On Peak Oil is a Function of Oil Price

The takeaway from this piece is how sane is it to continue to invest in and pursue energy the cost of which inexorably rises as opposed to sources where the cost is inexorably falling?
September 21, 2015    View Comment    

On Broken Records: 2015 Hottest Summer, Hottest August, Hottest First Eight Months

James Lovelock, "with CO2 rising we can say in such and such a year it will be this hot.” It was a mistake we all made.

We shouldn’t have forgotten that the system has a lot of inertia and we’re not going to shift it very quickly. The thing we’ve all forgotten is the heat storage of the ocean — it’s a thousand times greater than the atmosphere and the surface. You can’t change that very rapidly."

We are seeing warming now because heat that was being sequestered in deeper water between 1998 and 2013 is now returning.

To return to more moderate temeperatures we have to produce energy by driving that heat back down to the depths and in that process converting some of it to productive use.

September 20, 2015    View Comment    

On Development of Carbon Pricing Could Benefit from a Two Hundred Year Old Idea

Adam, it seems to me all that is required is for fossil fuels to be saddled with the cost of their environmental externalities and mitigating energies should be subsidized to the same extent. The public (the market) would soon sort out which they want to support. Kind of like the way the horse racing industry adds or subtracts weight from a horse's saddle bag to try to make races more competitive. Currently the energy sector is like a mile long race in which fossil fuels have been given a 3/4 mile head start. Equalize the competition and I have little doubt clean energies will win hands down.
September 15, 2015    View Comment    

On Development of Carbon Pricing Could Benefit from a Two Hundred Year Old Idea

Adam when citizens have a direct stake in higher revenue from higher carbon prices, does this not make carbon virtually indispensable to an economy and thus the last thing the planet needs?

September 15, 2015    View Comment    

On Why Germany is Dumping Nuclear Power, and Britain Isn't

“Who says?”

Excellent article but on the question of who says, entrenched interests play a huge roll.

Innovation, by definition, originates from a small consituency with limited resources and faces a huge uphill battle on that basis alone.

One might assume from their responses to nuclear power that the Germans are more receptive to innnovation than the British?

September 9, 2015    View Comment    

On Are We Over-Air Conditioned?

Are We Air Conditioning the Wrong Thing?

An air conditioner removes heat from an enclosed space by using that heat to boil a working fluid and then dispersing the heat to a heat sink as that vapor condenses.  About 93 percent of the heat of global warming is accumulating in the oceans; mostly in the upper few hundred meters.

Ocean thermal energy conversion works on the same principle as the air conditioner. A boiled working fluid moves heat from the ocean surface to the deep where the vapor condenses and the heat is transfered.

In the late 70s a team from The Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, which advocated ocean thermal energy conversion, was concerned about the potential to start a new ice age.

Their analysis was 5 terawatts of power generated with this process would reduce ocean surface temperatures (and therefore the temperature of the atmosphere) by 1C each decade.

Since the stated objective is to provide energy while keeping the planet to a less than 2C temperature increase, this is the way to do it.

The potential exists to keep warming to zero this way and draw down CO2 levels in the same process.

 We can either condition the oceans to produce energy or consume a great deal of energy, producing more heat, conditioning our homes and offices?


September 9, 2015    View Comment