Climate, the science, politics, economics and anything else


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  • #76247 Reply
    ET

    Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 and stays 20 years in the atmosphere. Extracting it from methane gas deposits results in 15% leakage to atmosphere. It’s also being used to produce “blue” hydrogen which may be actually worse than just burning coal.

    Chair of UK hydrogen body quits over support for fossil-fuel dependent ‘blue hydrogen’ championed by Tories.

    “Blue hydrogen is at best an expensive distraction, and at worst a lock-in for continued fossil fuel use,’ says Chris Jackson”

    The counter to that is that it would lead to a hydrogen infrastructure being acquired and blue hydrogen could then later be replaced by “green” hydrogen produced by hydrolysis from renewables at 40% efficiency (60% electric power driving the hydrolysis is wasted as heat) with power derived from an already at best 20% efficiency coverting solar to power when the sun shines.

    My feeling is that those who have paid for rights to natural gas reserves don’t want their investment tanking and their rights worthless. I can’t say I blame them trying but if the goal is reducing greenhouse gases drastically methane is not the answer unless they sort out the leakage problem which they will not.

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    #76261 Reply
    Clark

    Methane is CH4, ie. one atom of carbon bonded to four atoms of hydrogen, so if burned perfectly with oxygen you’d get one molecule of carbon dioxide and two molecules of water vapour:

    CH4 + 2O2 → CO2 + 2H2O

    So even without leakage, burning methane still produces carbon dioxide. Methane is the simplest of the hydrocarbons. It has the highest hydrogen-to-carbon ratio of any hydrocarbon, but it still has carbon.

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    #76277 Reply
    michael norton

    Carbon can’t be the devil, almost all life is carbon based.
    Why is Scotland constructing Methane burning ships? Sturgeon is as green as grass with her new green mates.
    If Germany is the great white hope of Europe, why are they making their base Methane?
    Methane is cleaner than clean compared to brown coal.
    All life can not stop because of covid.
    All life can not stop because some do not like carbon.

    #76308 Reply
    ET

    “Carbon can’t be the devil, almost all life is carbon based.”

    Who is stating it is? It isn’t about carbon per se, it’s about certain molecules acting as greenhouse gases some of which contain carbon some of which don’t.

    The sun heats the planet, the planet reflects some of that heat back to space cooling us. Greenhouse gases absorb some of that reflected heat and re-reflect it back to us, warming us more. The energy required to heat the atmosphere through 1 degree Celsius is equivalent to 144,000,000 Hiroshima bombs exploding simultaneously (see below). All that extra energy is in the system and climate events thus are more energetic (more rain, more snow, more heat, more whatever depending on the climate event). To heat the oceans through 1 degree Celsius requires 1000 fold more energy than atmosphere so even a small increase in ocean temperatures means a large amount of energy. Heat is energy ultimately (in the pure physics sense) and a warmer planet means more energy stored within its systems.

    “Why is Scotland constructing Methane burning ships? Sturgeon is as green as grass with her new green mates.
       If Germany is the great white hope of Europe, why are they making their base Methane?”

    Your argument is that if Scotland and Germany are saying methane is ok, then it must be ok? Really? Perhaps Scotland is invested in its natural gas reserves and Germany in NordStream 2?

    “Methane is cleaner than clean compared to brown coal”

    I overstated the leakage issue (bad memory) but did you read either of the links in my previous post and did they not give pause for thought?

    “All life can not stop because of covid.”

    It never did stop anywhere if by “life” you mean daily activities. For sure, some stuff was curtailed.

    “All life can not stop because some do not like carbon.”

    Who is advocating for that? I’ll repeat, it’s not carbon that is the issue it is greenhouse gases (and pollution). The amount of carbon on the planet will remain the same no matter what we do.

    I made back-of-envelope calculations using figures from here and here should you wish to check them out.

    #76332 Reply
    Pigeon English

    In 2016, Germany generated 545 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity at an average rate of approximately 560 grams of carbon dioxide emitted per kWh. By contrast, France generated 530 TWh of electricity at an average rate of approximately 58 grams of carbon dioxide emitted per kWh. In terms of carbon emissions from electricity, this means that Germany emitted almost exactly ten times as much as France — over 300 million metric tonnes.

    That is the difference between using and abandoning nuclear

    #76381 Reply
    michael norton

    Just listened to a BBC pod
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3ct1l42
    Grey, Blue and Green Hydrogen.
    At the moment we overwhelming have Grey Hydrogen. Methane extracted from under the Earth, Methane used to make electricity. Methane used as a feedstock to extract Hydrogen, releasing Carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
    The question seemed to be, would boiling a kettle of water at home, by using Blue Hydrogen be any less detrimental to the atmosphere than just using Methane to boil the water.
    The answer was: It was less damaging to the atmosphere, to burn Methane at home to boil a kettle of water, than either using Methane to make electricity, then using electricity to boil water at home, or using Methane to produce Hydrogen, then burning Hydrogen at home to boil a kettle of water.
    The scientist claimed under all options it was better just to use Methane.

    Perhaps he will tell our government?

    #76630 Reply
    Clark

    ET, August 21, 15:09 – I too am intrigued by the molten salt nuclear reactor designs, but development was cancelled and now we don’t have time to catch up. We should probably try building some reactors based on the Integral Fast Reactor and similar designs, because various countries have had experience in building something like it, eg. the 1959 Dounreay Experimental Breeder Reactor. Hitachi have a design called PRISM which they claim to be commercial. These reactors can burn spent fuel.

    There are various other small, simplified reactor designs, several of them PWRs. These reactors create spent fuel.

    I expect PWRs are what will get built because, what with submarines and icebreakers etc., there’s far more experience with them than anything else. But I guess storing the waste until fast reactors are developed is a trivial problem compared with trying to get all that CO2 back out of the atmosphere.

    Greenhouse gases trap in more heat basically just because they are bigger molecules than nitrogen (N2) and oxygen (O2). Emitting greenhouse gases is like putting sugar in your tea – it’s a lot more difficult to take out again.

    #76633 Reply
    ET

    The news that China was bringing online a test molten salt reactor I got from here and corroborated elsewhere. It remains to be seen if it will be successful. There is a promotional YT video (It’s in chinese with subtitles). That New Atlas article is somewhat skeptical of its likely success. Whilst they are not the last word in science it explains some of the inherent safety advantages.

    Ireland, along with other nations, prides itself on its no nuclear stance. I ask the question what can we realistically replace fossil fuel energy with in a short timeframe? Realistically being the operative word. Renewables are not enough and have issues of their own. Hydrogen relies on renewables to be non greenhouse gas producing itself, and hydrolysis is highly inefficient. Hydrogen produced from fossil fuels is just as bad if not worse. What are we left with? It might be that we need to make the least bad decision.

    “Greenhouse gases trap in more heat basically just because they are bigger molecules ………”

    To be more precise a greenhouse gas (GHG or GhG) is a gas that absorbs and emits radiant energy within the thermal infrared range, causing the greenhouse effect. Water vapour is the most abundant GHG. All substances absorb and emit electromagnetic radiation at some frequencies. It’s a spectroscopic phenomenon. Hence we got that nonsense about 5G because oxygen absorbs in the microwave region. It’s not about their size per se but the fact that they absorb wavelengths in the infrared region then re-emit in the same wavelength region thus trapping heat in the atmosphere. If we didn’t have GHG’s we’d all freeze to death.

    #76638 Reply
    michael norton

    In the United Kingdom we now make about twenty five times the amount of electricity by solar as one Magnox Reactor.
    Solar has come on quite a bit
    and there is way more to come, stunningly cheap and getting cheaper, it will be the cheapest form of producing electricity in the World, very easy to dismantle, when its day comes, unlike Nuclear Nonsense, the most expensive way to make electricity.

    #76640 Reply
    michael norton

    United Kingdom = 16.8% nuclear power and 26.5% from wind, solar and hydroelectricity, many reactors will be shut down over the next four years.
    Renewable sources of electricity, certainly seem the way forward, getting cheaper and more efficient all the time. No doubt huge battery packs will be used, as in Australia.

    #76644 Reply
    ET

    The last Magnox reactor in UK was decommissioned in 2015 and the only remaining Magnox reactor in use is in North Korea.
    The UK gov produces a report on energy in brief. On page 33 of that .pdf there is a pie chart “renewable energy sources 2019” which relates only to electricity generation. Solar PV (photovoltaeic?), solar thermal and solar geothermal represent 5% of the sources. Bioenergy, ie. Gas from waste and landfill burning, biofuels are 66% of all renewables sources. Solar accounted for 0.6% of total UK energy supply (not just electricity) in 2019, nuclear 7% from page 15 chart.

    “In 2019 12.3% of final energy consumption was from renewable sources; this is up from 11.2% in 2018.”

    The remaining 88.7% comes from fossil fuels.
    Electricity generation fared better with renewables representing 37.1%.

    I got a little confused reading this report at first. Electricity production is only part of the energy supply chain so the proportion of electricity production from renewables is much higher than their proportion of total energy supply.

    My point is Solar is less than 0.6% of the UK’s total energy supply, wind is 2.9% and “bioenergy” (ie burning stuff) is 7.3%.

    #76653 Reply
    michael norton

    ET we may have stopped producing electricity from all our Magnox Reactors but we have barely begun to strip them apart and we do not have a final solution of where to store the poison? Several reactors are to be shuttered over the next four years.
    As far as i know, only Hinkley Point C is being constructed by the French, they have had many problems with the new plant in Flamanville; it is still not working.
    Over four per cent of the Electricity produced in the United Kingdom, now comes from Solar. Where my daughter lives they are starting to cover the fields with Solar. Land owners can earn more money from Solar, without effort, however some are sometimes putting sheep under them. Solar is very inexpensive, it is very easy to install in a field. It is very easy to deinstall, when the time comes, the land could go back to agriculture, indeed, it may even be possible to move the panels about to as to allow land to be fallow, they are now putting Solar on reservoirs. So, you could have a hydroelectric plant, with Solar on the lake and windturbines and battery packs.

    #76654 Reply
    michael norton

    Either the Government or the BBC or me, are getting confused.
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-58398606
    It contains less carbon than other fuels and more ethanol, a kind of alcohol manufactured from plants.

    Now hold on a moment BBC, if the new E10 fuel has less Carbon, does that mean you have to put your foot down further, to get the same power out of your I.C. engine?
    If you take Carbon out of the ground, as oil/petrol it is Carbon. If you grow plants and process them into fuel for cars, it’s still Carbon, BBC.

    #76655 Reply
    michael norton

    Ethanol fuel has a “gasoline gallon equivalency” (GGE) value of 1.5, i.e. to replace the energy of 1 volume of gasoline, 1.5 times the volume of ethanol is needed.

    So there is the rub.

    #76663 Reply
    michael norton

    The biggest threats to trees globally are forest clearance for crops (impacting 29% of species), logging (27%), clearance for livestock grazing or farming (14%), clearance for development (13%) and fire (13%).
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-58394215

    So let us cut down forests ( which take in Carbon) and grow food crops for turning into fuel, so cars can run less efficiently, is this joined up thinking?
    All utter maddness.

    #76677 Reply
    Pigeon English

    ‘@ Michael 11.03

    Let’s grow food for cars (bio-fuel) instead for people. I don’t get bio-fuel either

    #76686 Reply
    ET

    “So let us cut down forests ( which take in Carbon) and grow food crops for turning into fuel, so cars can run less efficiently, is this joined up thinking?
    All utter maddness.”

    “Where my daughter lives they are starting to cover the fields with Solar. Land owners can earn more money from Solar,…..Solar is very inexpensive, it is very easy to install in a field.”

    Maybe you ought to try some joined up thinking yourself MN. It’s not ok to use land for biofuel crops (with which I agree) but it is ok to use it for solar?

    Solar panels are at best 20% efficient at converting the sun’s energy to electricity. Yes there are more efficient multi layered panels but they are enormously expensive and generally only go to space satellites. Silicon is cheap but the rare earth metals needed to dope the silicon are not. The large batteries required to store the generated electricity also require rare earth metals. Nor will those panels be cheap to dispose of when they reach end of life. Solar only works during the day (even in sunny climates) and is only producing electricity when the sun shines, something that doesn’t happen in the UK or anywhere else in Northern Europe for 8 months of the year. It’s the dumbest choice for northern europe.

    Electricity is only part of the equation. Heating homes and buildings and transport (cars, trucks, planes, ships) all burn fossil fuels directly to produce heat and engine power. No electricity involved. As I pointed out above, taken from UK Gov report on energy, Solar produces 0.6% of the UK’s total energy needs. It almost might as well not be there at all.

    You say solar is inexpensive. Have you ever looked at the cost of a home solar installation?

    Initially I’d have been in the renewables camp, I mean, who wouldn’t with the promise of abundant free energy right? The more I look at it the more I realise it isn’t free nor abundant and the main goto for renewables, wind and solar, take up land and require hard building and resources that themselves have to be mined and have other crippling limitations around reliability. Solar works only when the sun shines even clouds interrupt, wind only works when the wind blows. Wind at least can be placed off shore. They can contribute, for sure, but they are not a credible replacement for all of our current energy needs.

    It’s not that I like the idea of Nuclear to be honest but it is the only credible carbon free alternative to fossil fuels with capacity to generate enough energy for our needs without the landuse issues renewables have. Plus it’s comparably efficient to what we use now, produces energy 24 hours a day, isn’t weather limited and can be scaled to demand both in terms of how much is needed overall and in terms of being able to be matched to real time changes in minute to minute demand.

    #76688 Reply
    Clark

    “Let’s grow food for cars (bio-fuel) instead for people. I don’t get bio-fuel either.”

    The bit making it nonsensical is “cars”. We could do without most cars or run them on batteries, but to produce and distribute enough food we are dependent upon combined harvesters, tractors, trucks, freight aircraft, chainsaws etc., and so far only combustion of liquid fuels has high enough energy density for these.

    When these are run on fossil fuel they increase the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide by moving carbon from underground into the atmosphere, thereby increasing global heating. If however they’re run on biofuel, the carbon is initially obtained from the atmosphere by photosynthesis as the feedstock plants grow; thus it does not add to atmospheric carbon dioxide overall.

    The trouble is that growing the feedstock plants requires extensive land area, whereas extracting and refining oil need hardly any land in comparison.

    Land area is also an issue with solar panels because most crops need direct sunlight. But there is still far too much roof area going to waste. I recently met a bloke who’d lost his job putting up solar panels because government policy changed.

    #76696 Reply
    michael norton

    Elon Musk’s firms have introduced solar roof, individual tiles/slates so when you build a new housing estate you could roof them all, from scratch with lovely looking individual solar tiles.
    Or if the house was say, 100 years old and needed a new roof, you could strip and replace.
    Obviously they are expensive that normal tiles but you don’t have the ghastly looking solar frames on your roof and if a tile gets broken, you just replace the single tile.
    If the roof needs work, you do not first have to remove the solar frames.

    Some time ago Graphene was discovered. One of the possible uses is in Graphene Photovoltaic windows.

    So you could have both Photovoltaic windows and roof, that just leaves the walls?

    #76698 Reply
    michael norton

    Israel and Jordan are doing some business.
    Jordan has a lot of desert but not much fresh water.
    Israel does not have enough fresh water, so, they are doing desalination but Israel needs more electricity.
    So Jordan is to set up Solar Farms in their desert and send the electricity to Israel, Israel will pipe fresh water to Jordan.
    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/8/31/drought-diplomacy-boosts-israel-jordan-ties

    #76704 Reply
    Clark

    Here’s Gridwatch – real time monitoring of where the UK is getting its electricity:

    https://gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

    Maximum capacities:

    30 GW CCGT = Combined Cycle Gas Turbine – modern and efficient.
    6.5 GW Nuclear.
    15 GW Wind.

    2.7 GW Pumped storage.
    1.2 GW Hydro.
    10 GW Solar.
    2.9 GW Biomass.
    4.0 GW Coal.
    0.8 GW OCGT = Open Cycle Gas Turbine – old and less efficient.

    ICT – bidirectional interconnectors:

    +/- 3 GW – France.
    +/- 1 GW – Netherlands.
    +/- 1 GW – Ireland.
    +/- 1 GW – “East-West ICT”.
    +/- 1 GW – “Nemo ICT”.

    Sometimes, wind-generated electricity is very plentiful. There is considerably more capacity than the 15 GW shown because private wind turbines are not metered, showing up instead as a reduction in demand.

    The wind is always blowing somewhere but there are only 7 GW of international transfer ICTs.

    #76720 Reply
    michael norton

    The sun shines over the North Sea
    https://www.oedigital.com/news/490334-ithaca-energy-s-north-sea-oil-find-a-ray-of-light-for-uk-offshore-exploration
    Apparently covid has slowed down exploration/exploitation of the North Sea, now it is full steam ahead for Norway and the United Kingdom

    #76721 Reply
    michael norton

    North Sea Link NSL will be the world’s longest subsea interconnector when it goes live by the end of 2021.
    Kvilldal Norway to Blyth England

    #76905 Reply
    michael norton

    A few years ago, Mr. Putin said the future is Methane. Any day now Nordstream2 will be turned on.
    Just look how the cost of Methane has gone up:
    9.63 pence / therm in May 2020
    133.25 pence / therm today.

    looks like Mr. Putin is on the money.

    #76936 Reply
    Clark

    Methane, ie. natural gas / liquefied petroleum gas, is a useful stopgap, for two reasons. One: it yields the most energy per unit of carbon dioxide emission of any fossil hydrocarbon, because it has the highest proportion of hydrogen versus carbon. Two: the modern Closed Cycle Gas Turbine power stations (the CCGT dial at Gridwatch) are good at responding to changes in demand because they can be started and shut down relatively quickly while remaining reasonably efficient – coal and traditional nuclear are very bad at this; they have to run steadily and continually. This makes CCGTs good at “filling in the gaps” produced by wind and solar’s intermittency. Replacing coal generation with CCGT plus wind and solar is the way that many countries including the UK have reduced their emissions.

    The trouble is (in addition to the leaks that ET highlighted at the top of this page), we can eliminate coal only once. To get emissions even lower, we have to eliminate the methane / CCGT we replaced it with. Most developed countries are already near the end of replacing coal. Even China’s energy mix has a far lower proportion of coal in it than the USA and Europe had before they converted to natural gas.

    The Russian government is in a contradiction. Yes, demand for methane is rising, but it has to be phased out as quickly as possible. The Russian government doesn’t like to mention global heating and applies pressure to silence its own scientists. Russia has huge reserves of methane. As well as the income, the Russian government uses its control over its gas exports for political influence, including outright blackmail at times. But the Russian government knows that methane needs to be rapidly phased out, so that this source of Russian influence is temporary.
    – – – – – – – –

    These matters raise the issue of climate justice. The “developed nations”, mostly the USA, USSR now Russia, British Commonwealth and Europe, expanded their economies by burning coal, but in doing so burned most of the worlds “carbon budget”, which is the total amount of fossil carbon that can be burned without climate catastrophe. What of the other nations? Are they supposed to condemn themselves to eternal pre-industrial poverty because the white men have already burned the world’s entire carbon allowance? This is what the climate negotiations are about.

    I have heard it argued that the developed nations didn’t realise that there was a problem with climate, but that ceased to be true in the 1980s, and more than half of the carbon budget has been burned since then.

    #76969 Reply
    michael norton

    Clark, thanks for that.
    Perhaps when Mr. Putin said the future was going to be Methane, he was prescient?
    He may have imagined a future where nuclear power was unpopular, for instance after the Chernobyl disaster, which helped to collapse the Soviet Union. This view was more recently enhanced by the Melt Throughs of Fukushima.
    By which time the Soviet Union had collapsed and Russia was at least in part, basing its new economy in becoming a Hydrocarbon super power, with their gas pipe lines, with Liquid Natural Gas super tankers and the opening up of the Russian Arctic sea routes. Putin was also considering that shipping would convert to burning Methane, instead of oil.
    Cars would increasing be battery, but where would the enormous base load come from, not Oil, not Coal and not Nuclear but from virtually inexhaustible Methane.
    U.S.A. has done much in its power to stop Methane flowing outwards from both Russia and Iran. It seems indeed that controlling International Methane Trading, is power.
    After the two massive failings of Nuclear Power, the French had to do some thinking on their Nuclear Programme and they are reducing, slightly their future reliance on Nuclear. The French E.P.R. has become vastly more expensive, now Nuclear is the most expensive way to produce electricity.
    Maybe as the Kvilldal Norway to Blyth England HDVC Interconnector is switched on this year and Nord Stream Two goes live, Europe will have a little breathing window?

    #76970 Reply
    michael norton

    China became the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide in 2006 and is now responsible for more than a quarter of the world’s overall greenhouse gas emissions.
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-58427519
    Having China and U.S.A. at each others throats can’t help dialogue. It has been said that China opens ten new coal fired power stations a month.

    #76987 Reply
    ET

    https://www.worldometers.info/co2-emissions/

    https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions#co2-and-greenhouse-gas-emissions-country-profiles

    China accounts for 29% and USA 14% of total world CO2 emissions currently but China’s population is more than 4 times that of USA. On a per capita basis China is way down the list at 42nd and USA is 16th in the world. India, with a comparable population to China is 126th. The countries at the top of the per capita list surprised me being Qatar, Montenegro, Kuwait and Trinidad and Tobago (really?). It also surprised me Ireland is so high up on that list above UK and China.

    What is the fairest way to assess a country’s contribution? Is it overall or on a per capita basis or a mixture of both? Are there other factors that ought to be considered such as consumption vs export etc?

    #76992 Reply
    Clark

    The trouble is that emissions reduction has been left too late, and the longer it’s left the worse our predicament. Here’s the “Keeling curve” of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration:

    Scripps Institute

    James Hansen testified to the US government in 1988; global warming had been understood since the mid 1970s, but Hansen’s testimony serves as a milestone that should have been a wake-up call. Look how much easier it would have been starting from the lower concentration. Now, according to the IPCC, we have to halve emissions in the next ten years for a two-thirds chance of avoiding catastrophic tipping points. Losing the remaining Arctic sea ice is already baked in, and I dread to think what effects that will have. Very difficult times seem unavoidable.

    Methane is far from inexhaustible; the UK has already exhausted most of its own in the North Sea – because, incredibly, Margaret Thatcher ordered it to be burned off, to get at the then more valuable oil reserves beneath. Paradoxically, Thatcher took global warming seriously. I supposed she assumed that nuclear would save the day, yet she also axed the UK nuclear power programme, buying US pressurised water reactors instead.

    #77000 Reply
    michael norton

    Clark,
    essentially Methane is inexhaustible, for one thing, Methane is made by Methanogens, constantly, it is always being renewed but even if we wish to assume most Methane as fossil, there is a stunning amount of Clathrate, in Russia, Canada and most probably in the Antarctica.
    Also we can encourage Methane by biogenesis. This has been done on farms for some time.
    Farms can produce their own Methane, then power their plant with their home produced Methane, cuts down on shipping it over from America.
    However, we only have to use Methane in the near term, until all our electricity is produced renewably.

    A question, what else could so easily provide base line electricity?

    #77016 Reply
    Clark

    Ah, ongoing methane production. I haven’t looked into this, but I have never seen it suggested as a major renewable energy source. I have seen some minor production facilities at old landfill sites. I have speculated about harnessing clathrate deposits. If you know of any workable schemes, please post links.

    I’m speculating here, but I expect there are major problems with this.

    * Concentration. Wetlands, animal farming, etc. produce a lot of methane, but it’s spread over a huge land area, and as soon as it is released it mixes with air. We can’t just cap over thousands of square miles of wetlands or pasture to collect the methane because they’d stop being wetlands or pasture, and even if we could we’d still need to separate the methane from the air.

    * Emissions. Burning methane still releases carbon dioxide, so to use it as a fuel without increasing global warming, all of it that we burn would have to be derived from atmospheric carbon dioxide or oceanic carbon, with none from fossil sources.

    * Rate of production. The reason we use fossil methane ie. natural gas is because highly concentrated deposits of it accumulated over vast, geological periods of time. But we’re burning it thousands of times faster than nature deposited it. This is the essential problem with fossil fuels; when we burn coal, we’re releasing the carbon accumulated from millions of years of tree growth in just a few centuries. When we burn oil and gas, we’re releasing the carbon accumulated by oceanic life over millions of years in just two centuries. This is how we’re disturbing the balance.

    * Sea bed destruction. I don’t know how long the clathrates have been accumulating but it has to be a lot longer than the rate we’d burn them, so in this sense clathrates would anyway be just another fossil fuel. But getting them off the seabed would also disrupt the ecosystem that already exists there. This is one reason we’re in a climate and ecological emergency; we have many methods of capturing energy, but all apart from nuclear and geothermal require vast areas, of land or of ocean. But that land or ocean is already used by Earth’s ecosystem, which is our life support system, providing oxygen, fresh water, atmospheric nitrogen, the iodine cycle, the compounds that seed cloud formation, detoxification, recycling of organic matter etc. etc. etc. We’re degrading that ecosystem rapidly; the current rate of extinction of species appears to be orders of magnitude above the geological background rate; human activity is initiating Earth’s sixth mass extinction. How many threads can we remove from the web of life before there’s a major collapse? It’s better not to find out.

    #77018 Reply
    Clark

    “what else could so easily provide base line electricity?”

    The answer to that is probably nuclear power. I don’t like pressurised water reactors and I don’t like the spent fuel. If better political decisions had been made we’d probably have much nicer reactors by now. But PWRs and CANDU etc. are what we have experience with, and rationally, although Chernobyl and Fukushima were immensely scary, in fact the death toll and wider health impacts have been very low, and even modern PWR designs are much safer than those old installations.

    Nuclear power is also very “expensive” – I’ve scare quoted that because nuclear power is expensive in terms of money, but frugal in terms of resources – it uses little land area per megawatt, little steel, little concrete etc. But I expect a lot of the expense is because private contractors know they can milk governments like a cash cow. Governments never seem to have trouble affording nuclear powered submarines and aircraft carriers.

    No I don’t like it either. Damn politics and damn the news media; we had forty years warning, we shouldn’t be in this mess.

    #77030 Reply
    michael norton

    Clark, how could Nuclear become base load?
    Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Austria have sworn off it after Chernobyl and Fukushima, surely you can’t make people or countries pay for the most expensive way to make electricity if they are frightened of it and have voted to rid themselves of it? Poland is still mainlining on coal as are Germany, Australia are still opening vast new open cast coal fields to fuel India and China. This is for base load electricity. To me it is stupid to move to the complexity of Nuclear Power, many countries could not be trusted with it.
    Imagine if the Russians or Americans had constructed Nuclear Power stations in Afghanistan, now controlled by terrorists?

    Methane is the present option for base load electricity.
    However I feel that with HDVC Interconnectors and a wonderful mix of renewable options, we may not always need base load.
    When all new housing is constructed to produce their own electricity.
    When new engineering plants are to be constructed a new requirement could be they will be mostly self contained in energy.
    I think this is the aim of Elon with his factories.
    That does however use a lot of water in the Atacama where the dust blows for hundreds of miles as they extract Lithium.

    #77032 Reply
    michael norton

    It is a bit of a mystery to me why the cost of Methane has recently been skyrocketing?

    “Ofgem has said that U.K. household energy bills will be affected by soaring prices of fossil fuels globally.”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-58481330

    In fifteen months the World Traded price for natural gas has gone from 9.62 pence/therm in may 2020 to today at 140.10 pence/therm. Getting on for fifteen times increase?
    Yet Brent Crude has risen by three and a third times in the same period.

    Mr. Putin was correct.

    #77042 Reply
    ET

    “It is a bit of a mystery to me why the cost of Methane has recently been skyrocketing?”

    It seems storage is at its lower levels across Europe, economic activity is increasing post lockdowns etc fuelling demand and we are heading into winter when demand for power rises with homes and offices requiring heating. Russia, via Gazprom, is allegedly quietly refusing top-up supplies to its customers with supplies 1/5 lower than pre pandemic levels. Nordstream 2 is probably the main reason this is happening.
    Nord Stream 2 fails to get exemption from EU gas market rules. The link explains some of the politics.
    This link gives more detail about the politics of Nordstream2.

    #77043 Reply
    michael norton

    If our government want us to rip out our natural gas boilers and replace with newfangled hydrogen boilers, does anybody think that the cost of Methane going up fifteen times in fifteen months will have any bearing?
    The feedstock for Hydrogen is Methane.
    It is much cheaper to heat water directly with Methane, than either to use Methane to make electricity, then use electricity to heat your radiators or use Methane to produce Hydrogen.
    It will be ludicrously expensive to power hydrogen boilers.

    #77062 Reply
    michael norton

    IAEA to send experts to Japan in December to review plan for release of radioactive Fukushima water into Pacific Ocean
    https://www.rt.com/news/534364-fukushima-iaea-water-release/

    Japan says it’s going to release more than one million tons of contaminated water from the ill-fated Fukushima plant into the sea. According to the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), a one-kilometer-long underwater tunnel will be built to make sure that radioactive materials don’t make it back to the coast. The discharge is expected to begin as early as the spring of 2023.

    The contaminated water at Fukushima is treated by a purification system that removes most radionuclides, except tritium, from it.

    I just can not imagine any more of these plants should be turned on

    #77093 Reply
    michael norton

    Natural Gas for Europe
    https://www.rt.com/russia/534438-nord-stream-2-finished/

    Quote “As the market tightens and the pendulum of market power swings toward suppliers.”

    I think there could be something in the view that Russia is reducing flow through Ukraine, in Russia’s views, this would help to beggar Ukraine but when Nord Stream Two comes on flow they can soon turn the taps on, thus proving to Germany/E.U. how useful is Nord Stream and how useful a partner is Russia. Today Russia and Belarus are further engaging in military endeavers and technical assistance and further integrating their economies.
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/sep/09/putin-and-lukashenko-discuss-integrating-russia-and-belarus

    #77103 Reply
    Clark

    Michael norton, Sept 9, 09:17:

    I feel that with HDVC Interconnectors and a wonderful mix of renewable options, we may not always need base load.

    That is one of the various opinions expressed in this interesting video I found yesterday:

    Why nuclear power will (and won’t) stop climate change – YouTube, 40 minutes.

    Other matters raised: construction of nuclear power stations is too slow these days to get us out of this mess. Solar and wind are particularly suitable in less developed countries that don’t have much distribution infrastructure.

    I think nuclear’s place is amid heavy industry, in particular for producing large amounts of heat at high temperature for industrial processes.

    China has twenty nuclear reactors under construction, and nearly another eighty planned:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nuclear_reactors#China

    But due to their complexity each nuclear plant takes around a decade to construct, which probably helps explain why China’s coal consumption is increasing at present.

    There is undue fear of nuclear power. Burning fossil fuels releases radioactivity comparable with the nuclear industry, it just does it more steadily – everything dug up from underground is somewhat radioactive. With millions killed in the last eighteen months and many more deaths still to come, and many times that number suffering long term symptoms, this pandemic should teach us that biological technologies are far, far more dangerous than nuclear power, because biological agents reproduce and spread whereas radioactivity decays and dilutes. Plus anyone can do genetics in their own kitchen; you can mail order the humanised mice that SARS-CoV-2 does so well in (yes, you really can).

    Ammonia is a good way of “packaging” hydrogen; similar to methane, but with nitrogen as the central atom instead of the problematic carbon:

    Hydrogen energy storage in AMMONIA: Fantastic future or fossil fuel scam? – YouTube, 12 minutes. That whole channel, “Just Have a Think”, is highly informative.

    Maybe the government should hold up a bit on hydrogen deployment because ammonia looks more practical.

    #77104 Reply
    ET

    “I just can not imagine any more of these plants should be turned on”

    So, after the deep water horizon incident did you advocate for the cessation of all oil exploration and closure of all oil rigs and wells?

    The nuclear industry is not alone in having disasters and indeed, so far, they pale in comparison to those that have occurred within the oil, coal, natural gas and even biomass energy production industries.

    The Fukushima incident need not have happened if the cooling infrastructure design had been more considered (as it was for similar plants located 11 miles away). Radioactive waste and the potential for disaster is, I agree, a huge downside to nuclear power.

    Assuming the climate change science is correct we are headed for global disaster if we don’t reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions in very short order. Approx 11% of the worlds total energy demand comes from renewables (which includes biomass with which there are significant reservations). The rest comes from fossil fuels. If you exclude biomass produced energy in the UK renewables account for just over 3% of total energy used.

    Methane is a much more potent GHG than CO2 and its use has its own problems as highlighted in previous posts. So, if we are going to reduce GHG emissions what are the levers we can pull? Reduce the energy we use and reduce the GHG emissions caused by energy production.

    What are we going to replace fossil fuel energy production with given, we need to do it rapidly or we will be soon faced with global disaster? Although I’d rather it wasn’t the case it seems to me that nuclear is the only realistic choice. The alternative is to make no choice at all.

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