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On Securitization: The Future of Solar Finance

Elias, Allianz SE put the value of the infrastructure in the world's largest coastal cities at risk to sea level rise at $28 trillion.

A few months ago researchers warned that a catastrophic methane release from the thawing arctic could cost up to $60 trillion.

It seems to me therefore a new financial instrument that has an insurance component in it is needed to fiance mitigating strategies.

November 6, 2013    View Comment    

On Carbon Bubble: Pop vs. Deflate, Doom vs. Hope

Lou, from Sinclair link provided, "High quality global journalism requires investment."

The same, in spades, applies to energy production. Fossil fuels, based on centuries worth of experience and infrastructure are able to generate steady returns by offloading massive liabilities on future generations.

The technologies capable of replacing fossil fuels currently generate little to no revenue and in some cases are only at the conceptual stage. They have the potential however to save future generations trillions and produce trillions in revenue down the long development road.

Surely to God, the financial geniuses who have figured out how to build massively profitable companies based on the prospect that I might read, let alone then buy something based on that reading, an advertisement on some search engine or social networking site, can figure out how to monetize future saving of trillions and revenues no less grand.  

Would that I could figure this one out but its way over my head. I will have to be content with working on the solution, which Dr. Paul Curto, former Chief Technolgist with NASA, points out, " is by far the most balanced means to face the challenge of global warming. It is also the one that requires the greatest investment to meet its potential. It is a most intriguing answer that can save us from Armageddon."






November 1, 2013    View Comment    

On Sandy Anniversary a Reminder of the Need for Better Protections 

A need for better energy choices.

The storm was caused by excessively warm Atlantic surface waters from which evaporation occured and heat fueled the storm.

It was exacerbated by sea level rise, which has three causes: thermal expansion, icecap melting and aquifer pumping.

The movement of surface ocean heat to the depths the past fifteen years has caused the so-called global warming hiatus, which is replicated by the ocean thermal energy conversion method. This in turn mitigates the problem of sea level rise, by converting part of the heat that causes thermal expansion to work, moving about 25 times more of that  heat to a depth of 1000 meters, where the coefficient of expansion is half that of the surface and by converting ocean liquid volume to hydrogen and oxygen to get the OTEC power to shore. 

Storms like Sandy also move heat towards the poles where it melts the ice. To the extent the power for such storms can be bled off, sea level rise benefits.

In North America, the aquifer pumping problem can be addressed by relocating water from areas where it is in excess to areas of deprivation and in this process a considerable amount of hydro power can be generated.

Massive problems going begging for PROFITABLE solutions in plain view?

Where are all the so-called New York financial whizzes when their own city needs them?




October 31, 2013    View Comment    

On Foggy Notions of Climate Change

Steve sadly too true.

Banks don't exist however without our deposits.

I believe the numbers are on the side of the angels.

October 28, 2013    View Comment    

On Rising Energy Costs Lead to Recession; Eventually Collapse

Keith, I figure about .0625/kwh which is in the range of your .05 for the first ten years in your video. I suspect this too will decline with economies of scale and experience.

How much environmental damage are you going to do putting your infrastructure into GEO and how vulnerable will it be to space junk?

As to the piping for OTEC, this can be between 1 and 2 meters in diameter as compared to 15 for a conventional 50MW plant, depending on the velocity you need for the vapor. I would bring the power ashore as an energy carrier.



October 27, 2013    View Comment    

On Rising Energy Costs Lead to Recession; Eventually Collapse

Gail, OTEC isn''t intermittent. It is the largest non-intermittent source of renewable energy we have. Its cost is reduced by moving small volumes of working fluid between a hot and a cold reservoir rather than trying to bring massive amounts of cold water from the deep to the vaporized working fluid. The movement of 25 times as much heat from the surface to the deep, as you get with a heat pipe design, mimics the natural phenomenum of the last fifteen years that saw atmospheric temperatures rise between a half and third slower than they had the previous 50 years. This heat also causes about a half the thermal expansion as it would on the surface, thus half the sea level rise, because the coefficient of expansion at 1000 meters is half what it is at the surface of the tropics.

The International Monetary Fund pointed out a few months ago that when you include the Societal Energy Liabilities the fossil fuel industry is being subsidized to the tune of $1.9 trillion a year or 2.5 percent of global GDP.

By my reckoning, if you invest a universal carbon tax of $20 a ton, $550 billion/year in the production of $500 million/unit 100 MW OTEC plants, you could build about 2,000 the first year.

If the cash flow from the energy those produce, plus carbon taxes was reinvested each year, in new facilities, in about 32 years the entire fleet of 300 thousand OTEC plants the ocean can sustain could be built out and the prospect of runaway global warming, sea level rise and proliferating storms would be a thing of the past..

If you invested the entire $1.9 trillion societal cost, this would of course happen that much sooner. And the revenue those plants would produce, between $5 to $10 trillion/year would pay off a lot of debt.

Since these plants use no fuel, they will generate a lot of revenue over their 60 year life spans, to pay off both debt as well as the needs of government . There are also a lot of workers salaries that will go into the building of these plants.


October 26, 2013    View Comment    

On Rising Energy Costs Lead to Recession; Eventually Collapse

There are also Societal Energy Liabilities, such as the cost of adapting to sea level rise, loss of crop land to drought, loss of forests to fire and destruction of property by storm surge, etc. that are accelerating the world towards the economic collapse you portray.

There is a lot of profit to be made by solving those issues and producing the clean energy required to accomplish the task. .


October 25, 2013    View Comment    

On The Lasting Impact of the 1973 Oil Embargo

Robert, I have had similar thoughts about the oil embargo and the lessons that weren't learned. In 1970, General Motors had about a 60 percent share of the U.S. auto market, whereas today it has about 20 percent. The void has been filled by small imports and today's analogy is, I fear, the renewable energy market opportunities that are eluding us. Back in the day the pitch for the status quo went; little cars aren't safe, the American public will never accept them etc. etc. Echoes of today's Luddites reverberate over the air ways ad nauseum and threaten to leave us holding an even poorer economic hand a few decades from now.
October 25, 2013    View Comment    

On Rising Energy Costs Lead to Recession; Eventually Collapse

Michael, the climate problem is manifest by the accumulation of heat in the oceans. To address the problem, you can either convert a portion of the heat to work or you can try to move it somewhere else.

If you do the latter, and chose deep water as your destination, and move the heat there through a heat engine by way of a heat pipe, you get both benefits and can produce at least as much energy as we are currently deriving from fossil fuels.

This is, of course, zero emissions energy, so over time atmospheric CO2 concentrations will decline.

The efficacy of this gizmo has been demonstrated by the so-called climate change hiatus of the past fifteen years, which has seen Nature move heat to the deep of her own accord; absent any useful energy return.

The creation of most other gizmos is little more than the addition of entropy to an already overheating planet.

October 25, 2013    View Comment    

On After Sandy, States Must Prepare for Climate Change

When the dice are loaded, get the lead out.

The climate dice are loaded because the oceans have accumulated over 90% of the heat attributed to climate change.

In order to unload this situation you have to try to halt further accumulation and do something about the heat you already have.

Even if you stop adding heat to the oceans however, by getting CO2 emissions under control, the seas are going to continue to rise for centuries due to the thermal inertia of the ocean.

Irrespective of atmospheric CO2 concentrations there are a number of things that can be done about sea level rise:

  • Convert some of the heat that is causing thermal expansion to electrical energy in a heat engine, which is another definition of ocean thermal energy conversions or OTEC.
  • Move surface ocean heat to a depth of 1000 meters where the coefficient of expansion of salt water is half that of the tropical surface due to the increase in pressure and cold temperature at depth (as OTEC does).
  • Convert part of the ocean’s liquid volume to its gaseous components, hydrogen and oxygen and then recombine these on land to produce water and energy (as is required to move offshore power generated by OTEC to shore).
  • Limit the movement of tropical heat towards the poles, where it causes icecap melting, by converting this tropical heat to mechanical energy and moving it to the deep where the coefficient of expansion is lower (as OTEC does),
  • Desalinate ocean water (as you can do with the OTEC's open cycle or by using the power it creates) and sequester that water in the only terrestrial spaces big enough to accept the amount of water that would make a difference to sea level rise and which are by definition in need of such volumes; the world’s hot deserts.
  • Capture melt water and precipitation before it can reenter the oceans to swell their volume, and
  • Recharge aquifers that have contributed about a third of the measured sea level rise to date with water from areas of the planet where it is in excess.

From late 2010 and to early 2011, sea levels actually declined 5mm due to massive rainfall, mainly in Australia.

In each of the two subsequent years however it has increased by 10 mm, which is triple the 1993 to 2010 average of 3.18mm per year, as the prior deluge ran back into the oceans.

If instead as much as possible had been returned to depleted aquifers, sea level rise would have benefited two ways; first by negating the need for further aquifer pumping and second by reversing the rise attributed to the same.

The upshot of the first four approaches to the most significant threat posed by climate change is you can produce at least as much energy as we are currently deriving from the fossil fuels that are creating the problem and probably again as much.

October 23, 2013    View Comment    

On Two Views of Our Current Economic and Energy Crisis

Gail, what if climate is our weakness?

Currently the problem is being manifest by the buildup of heat in the oceans.

It has seemed to me for some time that the answer is to convert as much of that heat to work as possible in order to obtain the energy demanded.

OTEC accomplishes this by moving about 20 times more heat to the depths than energy produced. This outcome alone replicates the natural phenomena of the passed 15 years which has brought about a so-called climate change hiatus.

The EROI argument has been used against this answer often on these pages.

Dr. Michael Dale of Stanford estimates in his thesis that the mean EROI for OTEC is 4; exactly the same as Alberta’s oil sands. No credit however is given to OTEC for its climate remediating impact and conversely the oil sands are not debted for the environmental damage they produce.



October 20, 2013    View Comment    

On Two Views of Our Current Economic and Energy Crisis

Laws of physics that dictates that the achievable fuel economy of cars and trucks will double for a 30% decrease in speed.

Nathan in one of the provinces of Canada that scored highest in environmental stewardship a year ago according to a national report card published by a Canadian business magazine, British Columbia, the transportation minister claims speed limits on B.C. highways are long overdue for a review and could see an increase based on current research.

Go figure!




October 18, 2013    View Comment