Thongchai Thailand

A CLIMATE ACTION BUSINESS MODEL

Posted on: April 6, 2020

 

[LINK TO THE HOME PAGE OF THIS SITE]

 

THIS POST IS A CRITICAL REVIEW OF A TED TALK ON CLIMATE ACTION [LINK] 

 

PART-1: ANTHROPOGENIC GLOBAL WARMING AND CLIMATE CHANGE

For human welfare and well being and the continued advancement of human civilization, we need energy and we need to keep the price of energy as low as possible. Currently our energy derives mostly from the use of fossil fuels in a process that involves 26 gigatons of CO2 emissions per year (equivalent to 7.1 gigatons of carbon). Climate scientists have determined that these emissions are warming the planet and that continued warming will have negative effects in terms of extreme weather, sea level rise, ocean acidification, and ecosystem collapse. To prevent these negative effects, we need  to reduce emissions to zero because as long as there are human caused emissions there will be human caused warming.

Climate scientists found that surface temperature is proportional to cumulative fossil fuel emissions and they have determined that the relationship between emissions and warming can be stated in terms of the so called TCRE PROPORTIONALITY which shows a warming effect of 1C to2C for each trillion tonne of carbon (equivalent to 3.67 trillion tonnes of CO2). The TCRE (Transient Climate Response to Cumulative Emissions) states that the temperature rise from time-1 to time-2 will be proportional to the cumulative emissions from time-1 to time-2 at a rate of about 1C to 2C per teratonne of carbon in fossil fuel  emissions. This equation is shown in the right frame of the image above and it establishes that fossil fuel emissions cause warming and it also establishes the need for zero emissions because the TCRE equation implies that as long as there are emissions there will be warming. This analysis establishes the need for climate action to achieve zero emissions.

 

PART-2:  CLIMATE ACTION OPTIONS AND THEIR FEASIBILITY

bandicam 2020-04-05 17-10-33-622

There are five climate action options that are currently in consideration. They are carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), nuclear, wind, solar-photovoltaic, and solar-thermal. The tidal, geothermal, fusion, and biofuel are not considered in this analysis.

THE CCS OPTION:  What you need to do there, it seems simple but it isn’t. You have to take all the CO2 after you burn it, going out the flue, pressurize it, make it into a liquid, and put it somewhere and hope it stays there. There are some pilot plants that are able to do this at the 60% to 80% level but getting this technology up to 100% will be very tricky. Another issue is to agree on where the CO2 should be sequestered. But the real issue is the determination and the verification that all the CO2 has indeed been removed and all of it has been sequestered and that none of it is leaking back out. The volume of storage involved will surely be huge, much larger than any waste disposal technology we have ever undertaken. So that’s a tough one and probably not feasible.

THE NUCLEAR OPTION: Like CCS, Nuclear also has three big problems. They are (1) COST, particularly in highly regulated countries, will be high. The issue of safety where we can really feel good about the plant because nothing can go wrong even with all these human operators that can screw up. (2) NUCLEAR WEAPONS: We have to ensure that the fuel doesn’t get used for nuclear weapons. and (3) The issue of WASTE DISPOSAL. The amount of waste is not large but there are a lot of safety concerns. So there are three very tough problems that might be solvable so we should keep working to find a solution but as things are today, these problems keep the nuclear option from further consideration.

RENEWABLE ENERGY OPTIONS: That leaves us with the three renewable energy options described as wind, solar photovoltaic, and solar thermal.  Their great advantage is that they do not require fuel but there are some disadvantages. One is that the density of energy gathering in these technologies is dramatically less than a power plant. This is energy farming. You’re talking about many square miles, thousands of times more area than conventional power plants. Another disadvantage is that these are intermittent sources. The sun doesn’t shine every day and likewise the wind doesn’t blow all the time. Therefore to depend on renewable sources, you have to have backup power – some way of getting energy during the times when the sun doesn’t shine or when the wind doesn’t blow. Currently, the technology available to solve the intermittency problem is batteries but this technology is far behind the curve.

bandicam 2020-04-05 20-11-37-495

 

PART-3: INNOVATION AND NEW TECHNOLOGIES NEEDED TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM

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A new technological breakthrough offered by a new company called TERRAPOWER may be the answer to the climate action puzzle described above. TerraPower has a traveling-wave reactor (TWR) which would run on depleted uranium. It could be dramatically safer and substantially cheaper than current nuclear reactors. Nuclear is ideal for dealing with climate change, because it is the only carbon-free, scalable energy source that’s available 24 hours a day. The problems with today’s reactors, such as the risk of accidents, has been solved with innovation.

Terrapower has developed a new nuclear power technology that solves the problems with nuclear described above. At the TERRAPOWER website at https://www.terrapower.com/a-world-in-transition-a-time-to-lead-toward-a-decarbonized-economy/ [LINK] , we learn that:  “TerraPower has made technological advances in nuclear energy innovation to offer “Advanced Nuclear Technology for an Emissions-Free Economy that will allow us to get to zero emissions. The IPCC says that to avoid the worst effects of climate change, we must keep global temperature increases below 1.5 degrees Celsius. The continued use of nuclear energy is the only viable way to achieve this goal. And if we’re to bring electricity to the 840 million people who lack access, we actually need to increase the use of nuclear energy. Getting to a carbon-free future will also require us to develop strategies to produce chemicals, cement, metals and other products without burning fossil fuels.

TerraPower’s advanced nuclear technologies can provide reliable, very high temperature heat for these and other industrial processes without emitting any carbon dioxide or methane. Most Americans either live in states with emissions-reduction targets or are served by utilities that have put forth ambitious emissions-reduction goals. This includes TerraPower’s home state of Washington, where our power provider, Energy Northwest, has offered a plan to meet our state’s mandate to eliminate carbon emissions from the grid with a combination of wind, solar, hydro, existing nuclear and next-generation nuclear technologies. With this combination in mind, our technology is specifically designed to integrate into a grid with high levels of renewables. In fact, we are currently working with Southern Company and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to use the high-temperature heat from our reactors to power a molten salt system that can store tremendous amounts of energy. That energy can be used to power the grid at peak demand when the wind isn’t blowing, or the sun isn’t shining. We view this technology as a key enabler of wind and solar technologies, and part of the fastest way to get to a 100% clean energy future. America and the world are transitioning to a future that requires creativity, resilience and persistence. To rediscover the normalcy we long for, all forms of emissions-free energy will be needed. Clean electricity has the potential to lift hundreds of millions out of poverty and to drive economic growth. Economic opportunity is getting more attention than ever, with society recognizing its various factors must be addressed once we are past the pandemic. The U.S. can and will rise to today’s challenges and lead the advanced nuclear transition.

 

PART-4:  CRITICAL COMMENTARY

IN SUMMARY, WHAT WE FIND IN THIS BILL GATES TED TALK IS THAT (1) CLIMATE CHANGE CAN CAUSE GREAT HARM TO OUR CIVILIZATION AND TO THE WORLD’S ECOSYSTEMS AND THAT THEREFORE WE MUST STOP THE WARMING. (2) THE WARMING CAN BE STOPPED IF WE REDUCE EMISSIONS TO ZERO. (3) THERE ARE FIVE CONVENTIONAL OPTIONS FOR EMISSION REDUCTION BUT THEY ARE ALL FLAWED. (4) THEREFORE, WE NEED A TECHNOLOGICAL BREAKTHROUGH TO MOVE AWAY FROM FOSSIL FUELS AND TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE. (5) JUST SUCH A TECHNOLOGICAL BREAKTHROUGH IS FOUND IN THE TERRAPOWER TRAVELING WAVE NUCLEAR REACTOR INNOVATION. IT OFFERS A PRACTICAL SOLUTION FOR CLIMATE ACTION TO ACHIEVE ZERO EMISSIONS. IT IS FURTHER NOTED THAT THE SPEAKER OF THIS TED TALK IS BILL GATES WHO IS ALSO THE CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD OF TERRAPOWER. 

A FURTHER CRITICAL COMMENT IS MADE WITH RESPECT TO THE USE OF THE TCRE (TRANSIENT CLIMATE RESPONSE TO CUMULATIVE EMISSIONS) TO RELATE WARMING TO CO2 EMISSIONS. AS SHOWN IN RELATED POSTS, THE TCRE IS A SPURIOUS CORRELATION THAT HAS NO INTERPRETATION IN TERMS OF THE REAL WORLD VARIABLES IT OSTENSIBLY REPRESENTS [LINK#1] [LINK#2] [LINK#4] [LINK#5]

wc

10 Responses to "A CLIMATE ACTION BUSINESS MODEL"

CCS? Not in my backyard thanks.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Nyos_disaster

Very interesting link sir. I will read more about this event.

The day anthropogenic global warming advocates embrace existing nuclear power as a solution to the supposed existential crisis they espouse is the day I begin to take them seriously.

It seems like they are married to the renewable option. Note also the disadvantages of nuclear noted in the post. Weaponization and waste disposal are two of them.

And the third is cost (resulting from regulatory compliance). Cost and disposal are not unique to nuclear (renewables have the same issues) and are, in reality, not problematic. Weaponization is bogus – there are thousands of nuclear weapons in the world already!

Maybe you’re right about that but there are some asian countries that aspire to nukedom but are prevented from inadequate access.

With the advancement of TerraPower Energy’s traveling-wave reactor (TWR) which would run on depleted uranium, why would we need renewable capture technology. There is ~830,000 tons of depleted uranium just sitting in storage with very easy access.

Also, TerraPower Energy is developing a molten chloride salt fast reactor that will run on spent nuclear fuel. There is ~80,000 tons of unused spent nuclear fuel in safe storage with easy access to power the US for centuries without having to extract uranium for the earth. The molten salt fast reactor can also consume depleted uranium, so there is enough fuel to supply the world for centuries. All we need to do is build the reactors everywhere. The environmental footprint would be minimal compared to wind and solar farms with NG backup furnaces.

Thank you sir for this interesting analysis.

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  • skeptic16: The best battery ever developed is the UO2 fuel pellet. There are now metallic Uranium fuel pellets that dissipate decay heat at temperatures below i
  • chaamjamal: The excess energy in renewables will be stored for the periods of shortfall. The storage solution for the varability in available solar and wind energ
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