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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    

On Would An Emissions Deal Break the Keystone XL Deadlock?

Geoff, if the solutions where easy they would have been implemented by now.

Currently all we get is expensive public relations campaigns that edify no one and don't sway public opinion either way.

October 2, 2013    View Comment    

On Would An Emissions Deal Break the Keystone XL Deadlock?

"If the project is worth pursuing for the Canadian government and Canada’s oil sands producers, then it should be worth additional efforts on their part."

Geoffery, I have considered this notion of quid pro quo for some time. One suggestion was our water to offset your shortfalls presented in this forum here.

(Once productive farm land turned into a desert is no longer a carbon sink and the same goes for farmland inundated by sea level rise as is the prospect for many of the world's productive river deltas including the Fraser River delta locally.)

Another was the nuclear assisted hydrocarbon production method which would have solved your nuclear waste dilemma as well as part of the oil sands carbon emmissions problem.

There was no support for either on either side of the border.

Given his statement in New York the other day that he will not take NO for a Keystone answer, our Prime Minister has revealed his negotiating position on this and virtually any other issue.

It is his way or the highway so don't hold out hope for compromise.

Fewer and fewer each day do on this side of the 49th.

October 2, 2013    View Comment    

On Nonrenewable Renewables?

Robert, over 90 percent of the heat attributed to global warming is being absorbed by the ocean. Mostly the upper layer.

The IPCC is now confronted by the problem of a hiatus in warming over the past 15 years, which is ascribed by some to the fact more of this heat has gone into the deeper waters.

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion would perpetuate this benefit, while producing all of the truly renewable energy we will need this century and beyond.

September 26, 2013    View Comment    

On Obtain and Maintain a Social License to Operate, or Turn Out the Lights

Thanks Jessee,

Ken Chapman had an interesting take on this in Troy Media: “The early oil sands business mind set was that if you bought an oil sands land lease the government gave you your social license. That was soon seen as a serious mistake in judgment.”

It seems to me there is still a lot of money being spent buying licenses in the world’s political capitals that have increasingly diminished currency on main street.

September 25, 2013    View Comment    

On Energy COOL: Turning Gurgling into Clean Electricity


September 13, 2013    View Comment    

On OTEC Can Be a Big Global Climate Influence

The necessary conditions to form methan clathrates are found only in either continental sedimentary rocks in polar regions where average surface temperatures are less than 0 °C; or in oceanic sediment at water depths greater than 300 m where the bottom water temperature is around 2 °C.

OTEC would be implement about the equator and as the Levitus study points out the 0 – 2000 meter layer of the World Oceans have warmed only 0.09 C in 55 years, when we have been adding as much as 330 TW of heat each year.


September 6, 2013    View Comment    

On OTEC Can Be a Big Global Climate Influence

The beer sounds great Cliff. The discussion is thought provoking and necessary.

I see what you are getting at but wonder if the interception of wind and wave etc is as effective at dissipating ocean heat as direct conversion to work.

e.g. Much of the surface heat of the ocean is dissipated through evaporation. Atmospheric water is a strong greenhouse gas as SAKURAI points out in the patent application referred to above. Trenberth has also calculated that for every 1C rise in ocean themperature the atmosphere gains an additional 7 percent water vapour and this makes for more intense storms.

OTEC would cool the surface thus reducing both effects. Wind and waves would have some effect but not to the same extent. e.g. Wind is intermittent.  The global gross wave resource is about 3.7 TW as opposed to 14-30 TW for OTEC plus the heat relocation factor. 


September 6, 2013    View Comment    

On OTEC Can Be a Big Global Climate Influence

Robert, with the heat pipe design, cold water is not discharged at the surface. The boiled working fluid descends into the deep where the latent heat of condensation is dissipated into the cold water heat sink at 1000 meters.

As to clouds you might want to read the patent application of Toshihiko SAKURAI;  SEA  SURFACE COOLING SYSTEM UTILIZING OTEC.  

He is so concerned with the potential for thermal runaway due to the warming of the sea surface, he proposes using OTEC for no other purpose than pumping cold deep water up to cool it off.

The patent states, "As the sea surface temperature rises due to the progression of global warming, which has been caused or primarily led by a greenhouse effect by an increase in CO.sub.2, the temperature of air above the sea surface also rises, causing an increase in the density of water vapor in the air above the sea surface. Accordingly, the greenhouse effect is intensified by the increased density of water vapor, causing a further rise in the temperature of the sea surface and the air above. As a result, the density of water vapor in the air above the sea increases more, further intensifying the greenhouse effect. This is so called positive feedback process of the greenhouse effect generated by water vapor."

September 6, 2013    View Comment