Can Solar & Wind Fix Everything (e.g., Climate Change) with a battery break-through?

svetz

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Thread Recap​


This thread has been somewhat of a journey for me. It started off in that I had been a long-time skeptic/denier, but bad science is usually debunked after a decade and the whole topic of climate change had around far too long not to give it a second look with an open mind. So I cracked open Bill Gate’s book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster and immediately saw problems. Bill's book was not the type of book I was looking for, but it did raise new questions.

The biggest issue I had with Bill's book is it seemed reasonable to me that an energy storage solution (e.g., a battery) could be tied with wind and solar to resolve the crisis and the rest of it was noise, so I started this thread to see what others thought. From the OP it seemed ESS could get us all but about 28%.

Mainly I've been a proponent of a low-cost ESS solution (which seems very feasible) because it would make wind and solar the lowest LCOE providers, and our natural capitalism steak could have the pro-climate people less concerned and reduce costs for everyone. That is a win-win.
But that lingering 28% was still a lot if climate change was indeed something to worry about.

Planting more trees didn't seem like the answer (#8).

So I went looking for other books and not finding anything started doing some research and posting the findings for discussion as I had a lot of questions in terms of the validity of the science. That starts at post #9, based on the half-life of GreenHouse Gases (GHGs), and recognizing the buildup I started changing my tune and seeing the value of net-zero. But I still had a lot of questions:

  • #15 talks about Anti-Greenhouse Gases.
  • #20 talks about water as a GHG.
  • #26 talks about GHG frequency/temperature.
  • #29 talks about how they know the temperature from millions of years ago and the scientific battle over accuracy.
  • #32 talks about the accuracy of the IPCC temperature models.
  • #40 is a quick synopsis.
  • #41 talks about the number of scientists that agree with climate change and why those numbers are inaccurate.
  • #50 looks at the different layers of the atmosphere, their temperatures, and the GHG concentrations
  • #53 is about one of the IPCC models (NASA's) and links to the source code and documentation. Those essentially confirm both the completeness for the well-known elements (e.g., greenhouse effect) and parameterization for those they can't model (e.g., clouds).
  • #56 explains why most published papers are wrong. That's not to knock the IPCC findings, they're well aware of P-Values.
  • #57 is the NASA image of the energy balance and why it doesn't make sense to me.
  • #64 looks at Noctilucent clouds which occur ~80 km up and are not a part of the IPCC models.
  • #76 brings up global warming as the result of magma swelling from the earth's core.
  • #72 and #78 discuss the geological temperature changes and extinction events
  • #87 is the start of a series of posts that discuss the 6th IPCC report.
  • #94 looks at oxygen levels needed for fish to survive
  • #122 talks about modern-day temperature measurements.
  • #129 talks about the IPCC tipping points
  • #136 talks about what big countries think and how American attitudes have been changing
  • #229 Why temperatures will increase despite CO2 "saturation"

Conclusion to Date​

A cost-effective ESS isn't enough.

From the IPCC report, the greenhouse gas concentrations must be decreased and while a low-cost ESS can help to greatly reduce GHG emissions, they don't help with a number of other processes nor is there the promise of them being light enough to replace air-travel fuels and may not be sufficient for long-haul trucks.

Fortunately, folks are working on new technologies that will help that last 28%...for example:
  • Hydrogen might be a replacement option for long-haul trucks & air travel
  • Green Steel
  • Concrete Replacements (e.g., Mycelium, ashCrete, ferroRock, glasscrete)
  • New Concrete processes (e.g., CarbonCure)
  • Beano for Cows, synthetic meats (also allows more agricultural land to shift to food for humans ref)
  • Small/safe cost-efficient nuclear reactors (e.g., Terrapower)
Even with those technologies, that still leaves humans making a lot of CO2 by 2050. But, as @Samsonite801 pointed out in #5, there are possible solutions for that too in terms of carbon capture technology. There are also numerous plan Bs other than carbon sequestration that we have time to implement, but these are less desirable as each has associated risks and unknowns.
 
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svetz

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That volcano just set your agenda back several years.
Pfft. I thought @robby, @MurphyGuy, @Mia, @Hedges, & @houseofancients, et. al. had all done an excellent job of debunking your cherry-picked half-facts on the other thread. You've probably forgotten, but post #167 /#174 already documents human CO2 vs natural CO2 in a reply to your post.

For those interested in volcanism and climate change it is mentioned a few times throughout the thread, but see Robbie's So lets do the science. The only place I'd differ is that different volcanos belch different amounts of anti-greenhouse gases (e.g., SO2), that they can be belched into the stratosphere where they are more effective, and that in addition to ash are other aerosols that also have anti-greenhouse effects. So good short-term effect, but SO2 has a short half-life so is pretty much gone with a couple of years and the ash/aerosols in a couple of decades whereas the CO2 takes longer. Some volcanic eruptions have spewed out more CO2 over the course of an eruption than mankind does in a year currently, but those are pretty rare, very infrequent, and usually so big the net effect is a prolonged period of cooling.
 

Pappion

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Reread posts 212, 213.
Cutting Co2 emissions now will not change anything. We are at or near saturation for it's effect. It's logarithmic, not linear incremental.
Only removing Co2 will prevent a new equilibrium, with Miami under water.
 

summit

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A cost-effective ESS isn't enough.
In the long run my guess will be hydrogen. As am typing this, we're on battery backup from storm damage (am in Northern CA). We can ride out several days, and can replenish with the EV giant pack. But there's no way to ride out through a winter season, there's just not enough sun shine in the winter. Fossil fuels are basically an ESS, just not so clean. Rumor has it that 100 square miles solar PV coverage can power the entire US, can we build 200 sq.mi ? there's so much open land here. There's up tap resource right here, the collective "we" just need to choose the right path.
 

svetz

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Cutting Co2 emissions now will not change anything.
We're producing CO2 far in excess of the natural sequestration systems, so even if stopped today the current levels would continue to impact us for a very long time (centuries). But, if we could stop today, the ill effects would reverse sooner rather than later.

The IPCC report has projections for the impact based on various human
activities (e.g., how proactive we are) as shown to the right.

Based on science today, in 2100 the temperature increase should be
somewhere between +1.5 and +4.5 depending on how much CO2 we
continue to emit. The last time we were > 4.0, crocodiles lived above
the arctic circle. A synopsis of impacts at 1.5 or 2.0 are here.

Let's assume we can keep it at 1.5 °C and look at just flooding.
Miami is a great case as it has an elevation of less than 7'. At the
current rate of sea-level rise, by 2100 Miami would still be at least 4'
above sea level (obviously more prone to flooding from storms).
In the year 2200 it would be 1.5'.
1635250844361.png

Cities have been building dikes to hold encroaching waters at bay since the Roman era. Miami is no slouch, they have been studying the problem and have a Sea Level Rise Task Force to provide direction for the County’s adaptation efforts. They might be one of the more prepared cities (ref).


Only removing Co2 will prevent a new equilibrium, with Miami under water.
A number of the "plan Bs" provide for cooling without CO2 removal. But there are concerns about those plans (e.g., they don't help with ocean acidification, they might accidentally trigger an ice age). So, they're pretty much a last resort even though some are quite rapid acting (image is a link to one such plan).
 

AndyRonLI

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Reread posts 212, 213.
Cutting Co2 emissions now will not change anything. We are at or near saturation for it's effect. It's logarithmic, not linear incremental.
Only removing Co2 will prevent a new equilibrium, with Miami under water.
Not sure what you mean by saturation, plenty of room for more CO2. And it is not logrithmic.. .its exponential. So every little bit hurts that much more.
 

Pappion

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Not sure what you mean by saturation, plenty of room for more CO2. And it is not logrithmic.. .its exponential. So every little bit hurts that much more.
I think you have the curve backwards. A little has a lot of effect, more has less effect, add more and it tends to flatten out.
Effect Saturation point can be debated, is it 95%, 97%, 99%, 99.99%?
 

svetz

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Not sure what you mean by saturation...
Saturation is one of those words that means different things to different people. For example, CO2 saturation for a plant is the ppm at which more does the plant no additional good (which can be quite high (e.g., 1000 ppm) for some plants, ref).

But I have seen it used to state that temperature won't go up, which is false... so let's dive into that.

Why temperatures will increase despite CO2 "saturation"

If you go back and look at the saturation graphs in #213 you'll see saturation refers to the wavelengths where the GHG absorbs energy. For CO2, as little as 10 ppm starts absorbing a lot of spectrum whereas the difference between 100 and 1000 ppm is fairly small. So as @Pappion points out, even fairly low levels absorb a lot of heat. So, while technically the spectrum isn't yet "saturated", it's pretty close.

So the simple logical conclusion is adding more CO2 can't cause more warming because we're already saturated.

While simple, it's also incorrect. And a good thing too, otherwise we'd all be very crispy.

Back when scientists think production and sequestration were last in balance we were at 280 ppm (also near saturation). Easy to see from the chart in #213 the change between 100 and 1000 ppm is pretty small...so if we were already close to saturation back then... why didn't the world go into catastrophic climate change hundreds of years ago? (e.g., why are we still alive?)

The way I understand it is the atmosphere isn't just absorbing IR Radiation (heat) from the surface. It is also radiating IR Radiation (heat) to space. If these two heat flows are in balance, the atmosphere doesn't warm or cool - it stays the same (that is, the good old 280 ppm days). The trick is that the GHG concentration also affects how much heat can leave the top of the atmosphere. So, as the concentration builds up, the temperature at the lower (surface) layer goes up:

...By adding greenhouse gases, we force the radiation to space to come from higher, colder air, reducing the flow of radiation to space. And there is still a lot of scope for more greenhouse gases to push 'the action' higher and higher, into colder and colder air, restricting the rate of radiation to space even further... ref

Is there a point at which adding more CO2 will not cause further warming?
No. Adding more CO2 to the atmosphere will cause surface temperatures to continue to increase. As the atmospheric concentrations of CO2 increase, the addition of extra CO2 becomes progressively less effective at trapping Earth’s energy, but surface temperature will still rise.
ref

The other big negative of increasing the ppm is the very long half-life, what we produce today will be around for a very long time.
 
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AndyRonLI

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Saturation is one of those words that means different things to different people. For example, CO2 saturation for a plant is the ppm at which more does the plant no additional good (which can be quite high (e.g., 1000 ppm) for some plants, ref).

But I have seen it used to state that temperature won't go up, which is false... so let's dive into that.

Why temperatures will increase despite CO2 "saturation"

If you go back and look at the saturation graphs in #213 you'll see saturation refers to the wavelengths where the GHG absorbs energy. For CO2, as little as 10 ppm starts absorbing a lot of spectrum whereas the difference between 100 and 1000 ppm is fairly small. So as @Pappion points out, even fairly low levels absorb a lot of heat. So, while technically the spectrum isn't yet "saturated", it's pretty close.

So the simple logical conclusion is adding more CO2 can't cause more warming because we're already saturated.

While simple, it's also incorrect. And a good thing too, otherwise we'd all be very crispy.

Back when scientists think production and sequestration were last in balance we were at 280 ppm. Easy to see from the chart in #213 the change between 100 and 1000 ppm is pretty small...so if we were already close to saturation back then... why didn't the world go into catastrophic climate change hundreds of years ago? (e.g., why are we still alive?)

The way I understand it is the atmosphere isn't just absorbing IR Radiation (heat) from the surface. It is also radiating IR Radiation (heat) to space. If these two heat flows are in balance, the atmosphere doesn't warm or cool - it stays the same (that is, the good old 280 ppm days). The trick is that the GHG concentration also affects how much heat can leave the top of the atmosphere. So, as the concentration builds up, the temperature at the lower (surface) layer goes up:





The other big negative of increasing the ppm is the very long half-life, what we produce today will be around for a very long time.
You are absolutely wrong on the physics. EVERY increase in ppm of CO2 will increase heat retention in the atmosphere, the physics of gas radiation are pretty clear on that. With pure CO2 you actually become opaque to IR. Now the cumulative effect of that increase is not a linear function of ppm, its ppm to some power. IE exponential. So the increase from 400 to 410 has a larger effect on net temperature than the increase from 390 to 400. Both are increases of 10 ppm, but the delta t will be larger for the 10 ppm at the higher range. Because.... Its an integral problem.
As to the atmospheric radiation, you are correct. it radiates back to space. but the re-radiation from the gas is spherically distributed. IE all directions. So not just to space, but back to the ground, horizontally to other bits of the atmosphere.
And yes CO2 is stable in that atmosphere, that is why it took 100s of millions of years to go from a reducing atmosphere to an oxidizing atmosphere. Pre - life, that atmosphere was full of nasty stuff including CO2 and very very little O2.
 

Pappion

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Do you want to save the earth or just the humans?
The Tibetan plateau uplift exposed rock to the atmosphere. The rock absorbed vast quantities of Co2. Sending the earth into a long downward spiral of ice age cycles, which gets progressively worse. Then somehow we learn to dig up the carbon and put it back in the atmosphere and therefore carbon back down to the topsoil. Unwitting Tool or Coincidence?
 

svetz

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You are absolutely wrong on the physics. EVERY increase in ppm of CO2 will increase heat retention in the atmosphere
Sounds like we're saying the thing, except for the first part :)

With pure CO2 you actually become opaque to IR.
IR covers a wide range of the spectrum and CO2 only affects a small portion of the IR wavelength range, see the saturation charts in #213 along with citations. You might also be interested in the spectral ranges of other GHGs covered in #50 & #26.

So the increase from 400 to 410 has a larger effect on net temperature than the increase from 390 to 400.
The IPCC is predicting a 1.5 degree increase at a CO2 level 430 PPM and a 2 degree change at 450 PPM, so with just those two data points, it's easy to see your statement is correct. But, AFAIK, it's for the reasons stated in #229 rather than any correspondingly huge increase in spectral absorption. #229 has cited references, I'd be interested in seeing references to the contrary. Otherwise, we'll just have to agree to disagree.

...but the re-radiation from the gas is spherically distributed. IE all directions. So not just to space, but back to the ground, horizontally to other bits of the atmosphere.
Yup. But, it's only the heat emitted to space that leaves the system (e.g., provides "cooling").

Do you want to save the earth or just the humans?
Personally, I don't think either is in jeopardy unless there's some secondary effect (e.g., triggers a nuclear war (and even then both would probably survive)). I'm up for holding the line on costs. Flood insurance in Florida is already ridiculously costly. But if big coastal cities around the world (or states like Florida) have to have the population relocated, if small wars get fought due to populations escaping unlivable conditions or starvation.... well .... the costs would be monumental. So, a war-time-like burden for a couple of decades to prevent far larger future costs for centuries to come... yeah... I'd be happy to pay my fair share.

Mainly though, I don't worry about it all. It's just something interesting to think about and try to understand the science. Unless someone comes out with rejuv treatments, none of this is going to affect me. Technology seems like it is ever accelerating. People are aware of the problems and they're making things happen.
 

summit

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It seems you've convinced yourself that climate change is coming and that we know the cause. What are our options ? my vote at the poll is just one tiny voice. I guess this discussion is sorta doing something.
 

svetz

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In reality fracking greatly increased the supply of natural gas where the reduced cost replaced coal in power plants. This resulted in a net reduction of carbon emissions.
I don't think anyone can claim with certainty a net reduction in carbon emissions.

Apologies for responding in a different thread, but didn't want to derail the other one with climate change mechanisms as it would be off-topic there.

Coal emits about twice the lbs of CO2 per BTU as natural gas (ref), so it's is pretty easy to see the carbon impact by switching fuels.
Basically natural gas gets a "boost" as the hydrogen in it is also converted which gives off heat. So I believe Delmar is correct about it having a net reduction of carbon emissions for fuel types. From the graphs carbon emissions never went down or slowed, but that's probably because we made more energy and the transition took a while.

Also worth noting is burning coal also emits more SO
2 which is a very powerful anti-greenhouse gas (#15). SO2 is also responsible for acid rain which is thought to harm forests (a carbon sequestration mechanism). On top of that, burning natural gas also emits a lot of water into the atmosphere with that hydrogen where it can act as an anti-greenhouse gas or greenhouse gas (#20).

So, while the carbon numbers are easy to see for the two fossil fuels, the actual climate impacts are a lot more convoluted. The good news is, the IPCC climate models try to take those into consideration and have been very accurate (#32).
 

wattmatters

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Apologies for responding in a different thread
No prob. I don't propose to come back here though so this will be it.

Coal emits about twice the lbs of CO2 per BTU as natural gas (ref), so it's is pretty easy to see the carbon impact by switching fuels.
I was not talking about relative CO2 emissions from the combustion processes, that's just basic chemistry and is not in doubt.

I was referring to fugitive emissions from the extraction of coal seam gas, which are substantial and it's a terribly potent GHG (20 times worse than CO2). When you factor this in then it evens up the GHG scales considerably, so much that it's not actually clear cut which is worse from a greenhouse perspective. The problem is we don't actually measure fugitive emissions very well, and it's likely to be significantly worse than the fracking companies claim (fossil fuel companies are not exactly known for claiming the pollution they cause is worse than it actually is).

I take your point about other pollutants from use of coal, that I do not dispute (and living in a state which is a big user of coal power we are all too aware of the pollutants). But replacement with gas is not the solution. Central to my main point is we should be leaving as much of both in the ground as we can.
 

svetz

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...please elaborate how the IPCC reports take population growth into account...
The population chart in the IPCC (shown right) covers a wide range. From a scary (19
billion by 2100 in the worst-case scenario to a population decline in the best-case
scenario. As far as I can tell it's based on current population/urbanization trends
tempered by death rates from diseases and medical improvements.

The IPCC scenarios represent various guesses from what's the best we could possibly
manage to do
; to what if we do nothing. A lot of what's in the new report are
descriptions as to what will happen based on those models.
1635865755264.png

The scenarios for temperature look like this:
1635867905339.png
Each scenario has a population curve behind it that you can see from the scenarios link. Most cases predict a population peak around 2060 and then a decrease (the best case predicts a peak around 2045). In addition to the population curve are other factors, such as how much progress the world has made towards net-zero.

...thank you for reading the huge report....
ROFL. I've read the short one for policy makers front to back to get the high level and spelunked into the full report to dig up things I had questions on.
 

Porch

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svetz

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But they are impotent, so they are allowed to pollute more because they are helping more. Or something like that. :)

Something like that.

The problem with hatchet entertainment-news jobs like that is there's no real investigation as to if any of them, like Bezos, have carbon offsets to make their air travel carbon neutral. If they're personally paying to have their jet's carbon footprint removed or using green fuels then that's far better than your average family flying somewhere for vacation.

Also, at COP26, Bezos pledged $2B. That's in addition to the $10 Billion in the Earth Fund. It's more than I've committed so I won't begrudge him an airplane ride. He went there and ponied up.

Rather than poke fun at private citizens actively spending their own $ to make things better, why not turn to the BBC leak for climate change amusement? (BTW, if you read it don't freak out ... for example I'm sure references to "Austrailia" refer to the federal government which is not on board with the program whereas every state and territory is, probably some changes coming in the upcoming elections. Norway's complaint about CCS confused me (thought it was part of the plan for 1.5), now I have to go check ; -).

CCS Update: If I'm understanding it right, the IPCC report does say we need CO2 removal to meet the 1.5C target, but they leave the "how" open-ended as Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) technologies whereas CSS refers to a subset of technological approaches to Carbon Capture Storage solutions. There's a doubt on those as they take energy and some claim they only distract from the real solutions. Possibly some of the controversy is from recent discoveries such as @robby's video post where planting trees is worse in the short term.
 
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