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Forget CO2

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If, as some say, CO2 is or will become a problem*, we need to leave this molecule alone. Why? Because we are focusing on the "problem" not on the "solution."
So, if we want to move to a low CO2 world economy there are two indispensable things we need to get serious about:
1. An accelerated global nuclear power plant buildup. There is NO WAY out of this. NO WAY. Believing we can move to a low CO2 world economy without nuclear shouldering most of the weight is extreme reality denial.
2. We would need to stop wasting money, resources, efforts and area on solar panels / wind turbines. In REAL life these so called "renewables" need to be paired with reliable power plants in perpetuity and these reliable power plants end up producing most of the energy on an annual basis. Plus, since those pairing power plants are mostly coal or natural gas powered "renewables" just lock-in the use of fossil fuels long term. Renewable energy promoters always bring ou…

Sensible Solar Promoter

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It is amazing how some solar promoters out there talk about this technology as of the Second Coming. There is too much hype surrounding solar panels / wind turbines. Here a former solar energy promoter (myself) will present a balanced view of this technology without exaggerations and even dishonesty.

Solar is ideally suited for remote off-grid installations. However, these applications tend to be low energy ones not suitable for running air conditioners or even microwave ovens. So, if you have a cottage in the middle of nowhere with little chance of soon connecting to the grid, solar is a good option whether by itself or combined with a gasoline generator. Use solar for the basics such as lightning and operating your electronic devices.In space, in the inner solar system solar is best. Even though the Juno mission (to Jupiter) uses solar panels to power the spacecraft this is already stretching things too much. In Earth orbit, nothing beats solar and that is the reason this technology…

Renewable Targets

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Renewable energy targets should not be set with the gut. If at all, they should be set after careful engineering / economic considerations have been studied.

At the very least, the following factors need to be considered:

Annual insolation patterns (for at least ten years).Annual wind patterns (for at least ten years).Annual electricity demand patterns (again, for at least ten years).
Off the bat we know solar does not produce at night. So, does wind somewhat complement solar output or is its contribution mostly random (on an annual basis)?
What types of pairing power plants will be used. Natural gas? Coal? Hydro? Nuclear?
What will be the cost of the electricity produced by the panels / turbines considering the system, not only individual components? (Paring power plants need to be ramped up / down, idled, stopped, started and thus even though their fuel use drops, their fixed costs per kWh increase). 
No conventional generating capacity may be retired as at any particular moment dur…

The Climate Question

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The question, "do you believe in climate change?" doesn't make a lot of sense. Many times it is used by "believers" to justify them labeling skeptics as "deniers."

However, these are some of the reasons it doesn't make sense:
Essentially everybody believes the climate is changing. It has always changed (for many millions of years) and there is no reason to believe it will ever stop changing (at least as long as the Earth hangs on to a significant atmosphere).So, the question should probably be framed differently: do you believe the additional CO2 that humans are pumping into the atmosphere via the burning of fossil fuels will change the climate? Even if this were the question, it can hardly be answered yes / no. If somebody answers "yes" what do they actually mean by that? Yes, imperceptibly. Yes, mildly. Yes, significantly. Yes, catastrophically. And yes, but it will IMPROVE the climate. So, we are back at square one.If the belief is th…

Not Created Equal

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A one GWe nuclear power plant operating at 85% capacity factor produces annually 7.45 TWh. Thus, some people believe that a solar PV farm producing this same amount of energy on an annual basis can replace the nuclear power plant.  This is not correct. Nuclear power plants for the most part operate 24/7 and thus produce reliable base load power you can count with. Solar PV farms produce continually varying output during the day and nothing at all during the night. Also, in most places there is significant variation in solar insolation throughout the year. And the lower levels might actually coincide with the times of year when the most electricity is needed. As an example, here we have the insolation data for Berlin, Germany:

The variation between July and December is 10 to 1. Plus, Germany usually needs the most electricity in the dead of winter. 
Thus, solar PV does not replace nuclear capacity (or any other capacity), it just displaces energy from reliable producers in a semi-rand…

Less Arrogance

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The CAGW discourse could be less contentious if climate alarmists tamed their arrogance. Here is some humble advice on how this could be achieved:

1. Accept, off the bat, that Earth's climate system is extremely complex and thus that neither you, nor anybody else fully understands it.

2. Don't try to frame EVERYTHING that happens as "consistent with what you would expect from a warming planet." This reduces your credibility or worse, makes you sound like a clown.

3. If your premise is that increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere are a serious problem then BEHAVE as if you believe this is true. You don't need to completely eliminate your fossil fuel use (an impossible feat for you as for anybody else) but at least engage in token actions such as eliminating all air travel.

4. This is a critical one. Again, if CO2 is a very serious issue, then you need to become a card carrying nuclear power advocate. And if you are already a closet nuclear supporter, t…

ITER: Going Nowhere Fast

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If no further cost increases happen and everything works according to the plan, in a few years ITER will be able to produce 500 MW of heat (not electricity). This heat will just be released to the atmosphere without producing any useful electricity (ITER will not even have an electrical generator). This heat dump into the atmosphere is planned to take place during 2035 if no additional delays occur. 
The input for producing this output is calculated to be 50 MW of heat. However, since the input heat will be produced with electricity, at a 40% efficiency for the generator it actually requires a thermal input of 50 / 0.40 = 125 MW of heat. So the net heat production of ITER should be 500 MW - 125 MW = 375 MW. If this heat were used to power an electrical generator (at say, 40% efficiency) its output would be 150 MW. 
The cost of ITER, so far, is projected to be 20 billion euros, so per GWe of capacity it corresponds to 20 / 0.125 = 160 billion euros. And again, this cost does not inclu…