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On Moderate Environmentalists Go Nuclear

Edward, currently we get about 14TW from fossil fuels whose reverses according to BP estimates will last 52.9 years for oil, 55.7 years for natural gas and 109 years for coal.

As pointed out below, Nihous points to 14TW of OTEC potential which will last ad infinitum. 

As to energy density, by weight hydrogen is about three times better than diesel or jet fuel and it would  be required to bring offshore produced energy to shore. By converting liquid ocean volume to weight you reduce sea level rise another way.

The OECD estimates $35 trillion in assets will be at risk to storm surge and sea level rise in the world's port cities by 2070 and this is only one of eight climate risks identified by the IPCC.

Burning cheap coal, NG or oil is nothing more than robbing Peter and the rest of his family to pay Paul.

As to the Air Force, the national security implications of climate change are well established and only OTEC addresses both the cause as well as the effect of this threat.

 

May 9, 2014    View Comment    

On Moderate Environmentalists Go Nuclear

"Until large-scale energy storage is commercially viable renewables will only be able to meet a small portion of our baseload needs."

Ms Claussen is wrong.

Ocean thermal energy conversion can replace all fossil fuels. It is baseload power that utlilizes the greatest source of stored energy on the planet, the heat in the surface waters of the ocean, which is also the most significant manifestation of climate change. For the most part it would also store energy in the form of the energy carrier hydrogen for use whereever and whenever it is needed.

James Lovelock, recently commented about climate change, The thing we’ve all forgotten is the heat storage of the ocean.

Nuclear proponents forget the same thing. It produces twice the waste heat as power and most of that ends up in the oceans to excacerbate a problem that is already fraught.

OTEC is the only energy that addresses both the cause and effect of climate change.

 

May 9, 2014    View Comment    

On Do Oil Spills Boost the Economy?

Andrew, we have the same situation with fossil fuels in general. Industry profits puts $35 trillion in coastal infrastructure at risk by 2070 according to the OECD.

We can get the same amount of energy from a source that mitigates the threats of sea level rise and storm surge. 

What's more it is Canadian technology.

Of that $35 trillion, $300 billion is for Vancouver.

Little wonder there is strong opposition to Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan's proposal in this province.

 

May 8, 2014    View Comment    

On Renewable Wood Fuels, Part 1: Environmentally Beneficial or a Chronic Problem?

Sketchy Claims Inflate BC's Wood Energy Exports

"British Columbia is a central player in what amounts to an international carbon-kiting scheme, claiming credit for carbon capture decades before it's occurred, while hawking a product that actually spews more greenhouse gases than the fuels it replaces."

April 24, 2014    View Comment    

On Mitigation Talk Vs. Mitigation Cost

Sadly Roger, none of our opinions seem to carry much weight in the forums that count.

In this one however, I think I can safely speak for many, yours is highly regarded.

I have hope that private equity will soon enough realize that it is better to invest in the energy source whose price is declining and that is infinite as opposed to those that are rising and depleting; irrespective of the envrionmentally risks or beneftis of either.

April 24, 2014    View Comment    

On Mitigation Talk Vs. Mitigation Cost

Roger, energy is a $6 trillion/year market segment. Isn't any renewable that can provide the 16 terawatts of primary energy we consume each year therefore a $6 trillion x n reserve? By definition renewable energy is limitless. Why put capital into CCS that can just as well be put into renewable infrastructure can go on producing indefinitely?  

April 24, 2014    View Comment    

On Mitigation Talk Vs. Mitigation Cost

Roger, If CO2 emissions are the problem?

That is the question.

I have believed for sometime now that it is at best half  the problem and that heat accumulation in the oceans is the more important half.

James Lovelock now seems to concure.

When asked recently whether he thought climate change would be less extreme than he previously thought? He replied, "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."

You can however change it for the better by converting some of that stored heat to electricity - perhaps as much energy as we currently derive from fossil fuels - and moving more heat to the relative safety of deep water.

 

April 22, 2014    View Comment    

On What is the Greenest Source of Electricity?

One codicil to this comment, it would only be true of OTEC with a deep water condenser design because upwelling through a cold water pipe has the potential to release CO2 due to the reduction of pressure.

April 15, 2014    View Comment    

On What is the Greenest Source of Electricity?

A 2010 paper Economics of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC): An Update by Luis Vega puts the cost at less than 0.18 $/kWh or about mid range of your previous study of electricity prices around the world.

This cost is based on a design using a cold water pipe. The deep water condenser design has the potential to shrink this by about 30 percent due to the reduction in the size of piping and supporting infrastructure.

And these costs are for first of kind efforts.

April 14, 2014    View Comment    

On What is the Greenest Source of Electricity?

Lindsay, . the University of California, San Diego Physics department puts the economically feasibile  hydro capacity at 1.0–1.4 TW.   Prof. Gerard Nihous, Department of Ocean and Resources Engineering, University of Hawaii puts the maximum steady-state OTEC electrical potential at about 14 TW.  

Since 14TW will replace all fossil fuels the logical answer to your question is OTEC.

 

 

April 14, 2014    View Comment    

On Energy With Benefits

Thank you for this Jeff. OTEC operates pretty much the same as Enbridge's Turboexpander. Excpept that ocean surface heat that is and will be doing the damage of global waming boils a working to fluid to produce the vapor that drives the turbine that produces electricity. This in turn electrolyzes water to produce H2 rather than getting it from natural gas where you get 1 CO2 molecule for every 4 H2.  When you electrolyze water at a depth of 1000 meters, hydrogen arrives at the surface at a pressure of 100 atmospheres or about one third the 350 needed to compress the gas sufficiently to get a reasonable volume for most transportation applications.  In moving the surface heat to deep water to produce the necessary power you starve tropical storms of their power and limit sea level rise.  You also rein in atmospheric warming as witnessed by the hiatus of the past 15 years that has been brought about by mixing due to stronger than normal trade winds. When you produce hydrogen with OTEC you start with water and end with water, whereas with natural gas you start with a greenhouse gas and endup with another. Other than that Enbridge gets the benefit of hydrogen pretty much right on in their video.

It would be nice if they could be convinced to produce it in the most environmental beneficial way possible. And of course if they want to market energy to the Asian market, hydrogen can be produced on their doorstep.

Severin Borenstein points out in his article It’s Time to Refocus California's Climate Strategy, "The primary goal of California climate policy should be to invent and develop the technologies that can replace fossil fuels, allowing the poorer nations of the world – where most of the world’s population lives – to achieve low-carbon economic growth.  If we can do that, we can avert the fundamental risk of climate change.  If we don’t do that, reducing California’s carbon footprint won’t matter."

I think OTEC presents greater opportunities for California than your examples.

 

April 11, 2014    View Comment    

On Powering to Climate Mitigation

Robert, agreed it will take decades. Waste heat is not however a byproduct of OTEC. The thermodynamics are precisely the reverse, the conversion of heat to work. For every TW of energy produced you have an instantaneous 3 TW benefit over nuclear and instantaneous conversion of heat to power. Over a century this would be a conversion of 1,400 TWh with OTEC an addition of 2,800 Twh with nuclear.

A 2010 NOAA study found that during the 16 year period  1993 to 2008 the ocean stored enough heat to power nearly 500 100-watt light bulbs per each of the roughly 6.7 billion people on the planet. I make this to be 330TW so whether you are adding 28 more a year or subtracting 14 and moving the rest to the deep, seems to me to be a pretty significant difference.

April 4, 2014    View Comment