Sign up | Login with →

Comments by Jim Baird Subscribe

On A Forecast of Our Energy Future; Why Common Solutions Don’t Work

As we move on to the difficult to extract energy resources, best we look instead to the one that is accumulating in the ocean to great detrimental effect. That is also where you will find no end of scarce minierals in solution.

January 31, 2014    View Comment    

On The Silver Bullet Of Climate Change Policy

Robert as you say the efficiency does require about 20 times more heat transfered to the depths than energy created. This though I think is to OTEC's benefit considering it is surface heat that is driving storms and creating thermal expansion. At 1000 meters the coefficient of expansion of ocean water at 4C is half that of the surface.

The deep ocean also has tremendous capacity to absorb this heat. The study World ocean heat content and thermosteric sea level change (0 – 2000 m), 1955 – 2010 points out the total increase in heat content of the ocean over that period has only 0.09C. But if that heat were instantly transferred to the lower 10 km of the global atmosphere that volume would warm by approximately 36C.

As to methane hydrates they are found mostly in shallow waters on the continental shelf and thus are more likely to be impacted by surface heat than the movement of this heat away from where they occur.

As to the thermohaline, according to TAMU the Gulf Stream carries 40 Sv of 18°C water northward. Of this, 14 Sv return southward in the deep western boundary current at a temperature of 2°C. The flow carried by the conveyor belt must therefore lose 0.9 petawatts (1 petawatt = 1015 watt) in the north Atlantic north of 24°N.

To produce 15TW - about what we get from fossil fuels - you would move about 300 TW to the depths and most of this would occur in the Pacific, where the best conditions for OTEC and cyclones occur. I doubt therefore that the impact on this circulation would be significant.

Any problems however would become apparent long before we ever built out 15TWs worth of capacity.

As to cost, the heat pipe design reduces the size of the piping involved - the main driver for cost - from 15 meters for a 50MW unit down to 2 meters.

Thanks for your interest.



January 29, 2014    View Comment    

On The Silver Bullet Of Climate Change Policy

Gernot, I agree whole heartedly. For the sake of our grandchildren someone has to be and has to be seen doing well doing good for the planet.

For my money though OTEC is a silver bullet.

January 29, 2014    View Comment    

On Doing Well by Doing Good by the Planet

Cliff, I see the build up of heat in the ocean as as great a problem as the build up of CO2 in the atmosphere and for that reason I don't see current technologies being adequate to resolving the problem. They are half measures at best.

I also find it bizarre, we are taking nothing away from Nature's analogies.

January 28, 2014    View Comment    

On Ten Reasons Intermittent Renewables (Wind and Solar PV) are a Problem

Tom a group of us think the heat pipe design for OTEC is the answer and are collaborating in a loose fashion to advance the idea. Too loosely probably as we are having great difficulty getting the word out and are stymied for funding to prove the concept.


January 26, 2014    View Comment    

On Ten Reasons Intermittent Renewables (Wind and Solar PV) are a Problem

Tom let's talk about the spent nuclear fuel.

Here too nature provides the best analogy. Subduction zones are her recycling mechanism.

TEPCO was advised of this over 20 years ago. I wonder where they would prefer to have the spent fuel in their Fukushima reactors now; four stories off the ground in a compromised structure or en route to the mantle to be recycled into new continental lithosphere in a few millions years?

January 26, 2014    View Comment    

On Ten Reasons Intermittent Renewables (Wind and Solar PV) are a Problem

Great response Tom.

The greatest waste of heat is that being accumulated in the oceans, where it is causing all sorts of havoc.

Per the above, nature provides the analogies for the solutions that can save our planet.


January 26, 2014    View Comment    

On Ten Reasons Intermittent Renewables (Wind and Solar PV) are a Problem

What can we do in the world Nature gives us?

Follow her example!

From March 2010 to March 2011 NASA reports that sea levels declined by about 6 mm as water was transferred from the oceans to the land.

From 1998 to the present there was a perceived decline in the increase in recorded world temperatures compared to the 15 year period from 1990-2005, which was attributed mainly to an increase in uptake of heat by deeper ocean waters.

Another study however suggests we simply weren’t taking measurements where the heat was going, which was towards the poles and Africa, as well as into the deep ocean. With the extrapolation of this data, the actual warming was two and a half times greater than had been measured. The implication being, previous attempts at explaining the so called “global warming hiatus” in terms of heat uptake by the deep oceans, the cooling effect of smog over China and India, or natural fluctuations like El Nino are likely still valid and therefore the planet is probably warming faster than had been anticipated.

The dataset that measured the decline in warming subsequent to 1998 came from instrumentation that covered about 84% of the planet. Since that data showed a slowdown of warming by about 60 percent over the previous 15 year period, and that slowdown was attributed principally to movement of heat into the deep ocean, it is reasonable to conclude such movements can lessen atmospheric warming, at least in the interim, or until atmospheric CO2 concentrations are reduced by the replacement of fossil fuels with zero emissions energy.

The fastest and most efficient way to dissipate heat from a location where it is potentially damaging into a benign heat sink, like the deep ocean, is the same way PCs, tablets, and smart phones do it, with a heat pipe.


As Wikipedia describes them, heat pipes are thermal superconductors, due to the very high heat transfer coefficients for boiling and condensing working fluids.

If you insert a turbine into the vapour flow of such a pipe and attach that turbine to a generator you can produce electricity. The ocean’s potential for such power is at least as great as all of the energy we currently derive from fossil fuels. Whereas fossil fuels are finite though, solar power stored in the oceans will be available for as long as the sun shines.

When you convert electricity via electrolysis to an energy carrier like hydrogen, which is necessary to bring offshore produced power to market, and then recombine that hydrogen with oxygen on land you are combating high water, drought, water shortage and desertification concurrently to producing zero emissions energy.

Another way to do this would be to capture the water being deposited in excess in one part of the planet and then relocating it to another where there are shortages; producing hydro power en route. A case in point is British Columbia and California, where the distance between them and the technical impediments are small but the political obstacles are great.       

In the process of producing ocean power you drain the fuel from tropical storms that in turn move heat towards the poles, where it melts icecaps that are the primary driver of significant sea level rise. Further much of this heat is relocated to a level in the ocean where its coefficient of expansion is half that of the surface.

January 26, 2014    View Comment    

On Why EIA, IEA, and Randers' 2052 Energy Forecasts are Wrong

Energy is about a $6 trillion/year enterprise. If your spending on 1-3 is for renewable energy infrastructure that creates limitless power you can sell to the rest of the world 4 resolves itself.

January 17, 2014    View Comment    

On Why EIA, IEA, and Randers' 2052 Energy Forecasts are Wrong

Supply and Demand.

Diminishing resources + increasing demand = increasing prices = limited growth.

Climate change is essentially the pollution of the ocean with excess heat, which in turn is convertible to at least as much energy as we currently consume. To harness this energy requires a one time capital investment that will payout over 60 years and will not deplete the resource. Over that span the only cost will be debt servicing and maintenance.

Straighten out the top line in Figure 1 and how does that impact the rest of the chart?

Dissolved in ocean water and in its sediments are all of the other minerals we required for a sustainable existence.

Oceans also are the source of much of the food we need and were the original source of the oxygen we breath and still provide about 50 percent; all of which is at risk due to the heat pollution we are doing nothing about.

Gail your prediction of collapse may well come to pass but the major reason for it will have been a misallocation of capital. 


January 17, 2014    View Comment    

On The Sociology of Climate Change

"We need a reformulated environmentalism, one that is as smart and savvy and ruthless as the fossil fuel companies, one that can hurdle the barriers of politics, economics, psychology, and, yes, sociology.

 But that’s a topic for another post."

Lou I am dying to read that post.

I for one am sick and tired of the wheel spinning.


January 15, 2014    View Comment    

On The Energy Oath: In Production and Use Do Good or No Harm

Further discussions between Cliff, Martin Vermeer, and myself have affirmed that moving surface heat to deeper water would in fact reduce sea level rise. Dr. Vermeer however suggests that the movement of this heat away from the surface could draw heat from the atmosphere to replace the surface loss and therefore SLR might increase due to the addition of heat to the deep. It seems to me this is occuring in any case naturally and we are not deriving any energy benefit from the process. Further there is a diurnal component to the warming of the ocean's surface whereas the movement of heat to the lower coefficient of expansion area would be all day long with OTEC.

I am content therefore to leave this post in its modfied state, with the claim of a sea level benefit withdrawn, though I would welcome further enlightened debate on the issue. 

January 13, 2014    View Comment