The Death Of Fossil Fuels

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bjn
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by bjn » Wed Jan 20, 2021 9:06 am

So it seems that countries in Asia have finally woken up to the fact that coal is now the expensive option for making electrons move. 45GW of planned coal generation plants have been cancelled over the last year in Indonesia, The Philippines, Vietnam and Bangladesh alone.

This was partly linked to Singapore’s 3 main banks refusing to fund coal generation for fear of being stuck with stranded assets.

Simultaneously, Vietnam installed over 9GW of rooftop solar in 2020.

I’ve posited from the start of this discussion at the Other Place, that since the bulk of humanity live in far sunnier climes than Europe, a huge chunk of their electrical generation needs can easily be provided by renewables with a heavy mix of solar. If you are anywhere near the tropics, reliable insolation is generally not a problem. I’ve also posited that the easy deployment of small scale solar means that people living in sunny countries with unreliable or expensive grids can roll their own solutions and get access to electricity far cheaper or faster than waiting for some central authority to install it. Seems like that’s all finally happening.

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Little waster » Wed Jan 20, 2021 9:25 am

bjn wrote:
Wed Jan 20, 2021 9:06 am
So it seems that countries in Asia have finally woken up to the fact that coal is now the expensive option for making electrons move. 45GW of planned coal generation plants have been cancelled over the last year in Indonesia, The Philippines, Vietnam and Bangladesh alone.

This was partly linked to Singapore’s 3 main banks refusing to fund coal generation for fear of being stuck with stranded assets.

Simultaneously, Vietnam installed over 9GW of rooftop solar in 2020.

I’ve posited from the start of this discussion at the Other Place, that since the bulk of humanity live in far sunnier climes than Europe, a huge chunk of their electrical generation needs can easily be provided by renewables with a heavy mix of solar. If you are anywhere near the tropics, reliable insolation is generally not a problem. I’ve also posited that the easy deployment of small scale solar means that people living in sunny countries with unreliable or expensive grids can roll their own solutions and get access to electricity far cheaper or faster than waiting for some central authority to install it. Seems like that’s all finally happening.

Which nails two of the denialist canards; that it is pointless for "the West" to try and curb its CO2 generation because the "Global South" will just make up the shortfall as they develop* and the $piked perienneal that it is morally unjustifiable that poorer countries should be forced to "make do" with localised renewable microgeneration**.




*ignoring that historically most of the atmospheric C02 is down to the West, the West still makes up the lions-share, out of all countries the West is economically, technologically and morally best placed to pioneer decarbonisation and a sizeable proportion of the South's production is from manufacturing stuff for the West.

*because what places like Afghanistan or Somalia really needs are large centralised power stations dependent on foreign imports and expertise and relying on the installation and maintenance of a vast distribution network strung out over thousands of square-miles of bandit-infested mountains and desert.
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Grumble » Wed Jan 20, 2021 9:50 am

Little waster wrote:
Wed Jan 20, 2021 9:25 am
the West still makes up the lions-share
I’m not sure that’s true, China is the biggest emitter now in absolute terms.
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by dyqik » Wed Jan 20, 2021 10:03 am

Grumble wrote:
Wed Jan 20, 2021 9:50 am
Little waster wrote:
Wed Jan 20, 2021 9:25 am
the West still makes up the lions-share
I’m not sure that’s true, China is the biggest emitter now in absolute terms.
Much of which emissions go to producing goods for the west.

US plus EU and Canada is about the same as China's total. And obviously far more per capita.

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Grumble » Wed Jan 20, 2021 11:20 am

dyqik wrote:
Wed Jan 20, 2021 10:03 am
Grumble wrote:
Wed Jan 20, 2021 9:50 am
Little waster wrote:
Wed Jan 20, 2021 9:25 am
the West still makes up the lions-share
I’m not sure that’s true, China is the biggest emitter now in absolute terms.
Much of which emissions go to producing goods for the west.

US plus EU and Canada is about the same as China's total. And obviously far more per capita.
Yes, and I’d never argue that emissions from the west don’t need reducing, but let’s not pretend that China’s (and others) emissions aren’t a huge problem too.
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Little waster » Wed Jan 20, 2021 11:23 am

Grumble wrote:
Wed Jan 20, 2021 9:50 am
Little waster wrote:
Wed Jan 20, 2021 9:25 am
the West still makes up the lions-share
I’m not sure that’s true, China is the biggest emitter now in absolute terms.
I suppose it depends on how you define "the West".

Image

If you pool the Anglosphere, Europe, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea as the West you are up to 28%+ so just larger than China. Adding Russia to "the West" adds another 5%, leaving the ROW at around 40% so even without Russia the West maintains the plurality (just) as of Aug 2020.

ETA: or what dyqik said.
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by MartinDurkin » Tue Jan 26, 2021 9:37 am

bjn wrote:
Tue Dec 29, 2020 4:42 pm
We now have a fully certified battery powered aircraft. The Velis from Slovenian company Pipistrel. It's a 2 seater trainer that can fly for 50 minutes, costs the same as an ICE equivalent, cheaper to run and much much quieter to boot. They expect air time to double in the next few years. Apparently they've sold 50 already.

It's not a competitor to an A380, but the general aviation market is sizeable, something like 20,000 GA aircraft in the UK.
Some may be interested in this.
ONLINE WEBINAR - Aircraft Electrification: 25th Feb
https://communities.theiet.org/communit ... 9/77/24939

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by MartinDurkin » Sat Jan 30, 2021 11:45 am

Couple more links.

https://www.zeroavia.com/
https://www.greencarcongress.com/2021/0 ... ebear.html

So does the hive mind think zero emission aviation is a realistic goal in the short/medium term (let's say before we have working fusion power).

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by shpalman » Sat Jan 30, 2021 12:03 pm

MartinDurkin wrote:
Sat Jan 30, 2021 11:45 am
Couple more links.

https://www.zeroavia.com/
https://www.greencarcongress.com/2021/0 ... ebear.html

So does the hive mind think zero emission aviation is a realistic goal in the short/medium term (let's say before we have working fusion power).
If I say that we'll have zero emission aviation before we have working fusion power, it's not because I think we'll have zero emission aviation soon, but because I think we'll never have working fusion power.
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Sciolus » Sat Jan 30, 2021 1:18 pm

No-one in the mainstream aviation industry expects long-haul flights to be powered by anything but kerosene before 2050. The plan is for that kerosene to be some kind of sustainably produced fuel. Hydrogen might be an option for short-haul on that timescale, with electric confined to short trips by small aircraft.

Yes, there are disruptive technologies out there but the timescales for developing a new aircraft and getting it into the fleet are simply very long.

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by jimbob » Sat Jan 30, 2021 10:26 pm

shpalman wrote:
Sat Jan 30, 2021 12:03 pm
MartinDurkin wrote:
Sat Jan 30, 2021 11:45 am
Couple more links.

https://www.zeroavia.com/
https://www.greencarcongress.com/2021/0 ... ebear.html

So does the hive mind think zero emission aviation is a realistic goal in the short/medium term (let's say before we have working fusion power).
If I say that we'll have zero emission aviation before we have working fusion power, it's not because I think we'll have zero emission aviation soon, but because I think we'll never have working fusion power.
Likewise.

It's not a good model to follow. Unless we are talking about science fiction scenarios
Have you considered stupidity as an explanation

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by bjn » Sun Jan 31, 2021 2:11 pm

A bit of modelling showing that the cheapest route to decarbonisation of the US's energy system relies very heavily on solar and wind, and shouldn't be particularly disruptive, relying on replacement of systems as they are retired.
Plain Language Summary
We created multiple blueprints for the United States to reach zero or negative CO2 emissions from the energy system by 2050 to avoid the most damaging impacts of climate change. By methodically increasing energy efficiency, switching to electric technologies, utilizing clean electricity (especially wind and solar power), and deploying a small amount of carbon capture technology, the United States can reach zero emissions without requiring changes to behavior. Cost is about $1 per person per day, not counting climate benefits; this is significantly less than estimates from a few years ago because of recent technology progress. Models with more detail than used in the past revealed unexpected synergies, counterintuitive results, and tradeoffs. The lowest‐cost electricity systems get >80% of energy from wind and solar power but need other resources to provide reliable service. Eliminating fossil fuel use altogether is possible but higher cost. Restricting biomass use and land for renewables is possible but could require nuclear power to compensate. All blueprints for the United States agree on the key tasks for the 2020s: increasing the capacity of wind and solar power by 3.5 times, retiring coal plants, and increasing electric vehicle and electric heat pump sales to >50% of market share.

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Grumble » Sun Jan 31, 2021 5:25 pm

Seems like now the writing on the wall is being written in all caps even GM can read it. Disappointed that Nissan, a pioneer in EVs, have a longer timescale for zero carbon than GM. Both announced this week, GM will go for zero carbon by 2040 and Nissan by 2050.
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Martin Y » Sun Jan 31, 2021 8:30 pm

bjn wrote:
Sun Jan 31, 2021 2:11 pm
A bit of modelling showing that the cheapest route to decarbonisation of the US's energy system relies very heavily on solar and wind, and shouldn't be particularly disruptive, relying on replacement of systems as they are retired.
Plain Language Summary
We created multiple blueprints for the United States to reach zero or negative CO2 emissions from the energy system by 2050 to avoid the most damaging impacts of climate change. By methodically increasing energy efficiency, switching to electric technologies, utilizing clean electricity (especially wind and solar power), and deploying a small amount of carbon capture technology, the United States can reach zero emissions without requiring changes to behavior. Cost is about $1 per person per day, not counting climate benefits; this is significantly less than estimates from a few years ago because of recent technology progress. Models with more detail than used in the past revealed unexpected synergies, counterintuitive results, and tradeoffs. The lowest‐cost electricity systems get >80% of energy from wind and solar power but need other resources to provide reliable service. Eliminating fossil fuel use altogether is possible but higher cost. Restricting biomass use and land for renewables is possible but could require nuclear power to compensate. All blueprints for the United States agree on the key tasks for the 2020s: increasing the capacity of wind and solar power by 3.5 times, retiring coal plants, and increasing electric vehicle and electric heat pump sales to >50% of market share.
I'm having a bit of trouble grasping the "zero or negative" CO2 thing. Carbon capture is much mentioned in the report as the only way to get net zero but a lot of the references are to capturing carbon from other processes (concrete making for example) and using a large portion of it to make "carbon neutral" fuels. While I can accept that this helps reduction, so would be better done than not done, it sounds like flimflam to call those fuels "carbon neutral". They're just using the carbon once more before releasing it anyway. It still ends up in the atmosphere. It's a reduction but it's not a negative.

It's been bothering me lately since my own employer has set a target to be carbon neutral by 2035. The stuff I've been reading seems to dwell on reduction (all very sensible) but then it looks like the balancing negatives needed to reach zero come from encouraging others to reduce too and then claiming their reductions as your own doing. Sorry if that sounds cynical. It's more exasperation.

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Grumble » Sun Jan 31, 2021 8:42 pm

Some carbon capture can come from letting trees grow and improving grasslands - or rather restoring them to meadows. Interesting stories recently saying that the best and quickest way to reforest is often just to leave woods alone - and give them room to expand.

I don’t think that would get us to net zero, and really the word “net” leaves a lot of wriggle room. I’m not sure how important that is though, there’s a long way to go in reducing carbon emissions before we worry about the hardest stuff. If we’re getting to a real net zero rather than an accountancy net zero then there’s going to need to be a lot of investment in CCS very soon.
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Millennie Al » Mon Feb 01, 2021 2:47 am

If we are serious about carbon capture, and I see no evidence that we are, we need to seed the oceans so that lots of plants grow, absorbing carbon, then die and fall into the deep ocean where they will form the coal or oil deposits of the new few millions of years. Planting a forest only makes a small difference and is easily undone by a forest fire.

Of course we would need to be very certain that carbon capture was the right thing to do. The climate has always varied and we are currently in an interglacial. It would be rather unfortunate to find that we had accidentally triggered the next glacial period and the ice would come and scrape most of the UK clean.
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Grumble » Mon Feb 01, 2021 6:20 am

Millennie Al wrote:
Mon Feb 01, 2021 2:47 am
If we are serious about carbon capture, and I see no evidence that we are, we need to seed the oceans so that lots of plants grow, absorbing carbon, then die and fall into the deep ocean where they will form the coal or oil deposits of the new few millions of years. Planting a forest only makes a small difference and is easily undone by a forest fire.

Of course we would need to be very certain that carbon capture was the right thing to do. The climate has always varied and we are currently in an interglacial. It would be rather unfortunate to find that we had accidentally triggered the next glacial period and the ice would come and scrape most of the UK clean.
Wouldn’t you risk massive algal blooms? Those aren’t good you know.
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Millennie Al » Tue Feb 02, 2021 2:14 am

Grumble wrote:
Mon Feb 01, 2021 6:20 am
Millennie Al wrote:
Mon Feb 01, 2021 2:47 am
If we are serious about carbon capture, and I see no evidence that we are, we need to seed the oceans so that lots of plants grow, absorbing carbon, then die and fall into the deep ocean where they will form the coal or oil deposits of the new few millions of years. Planting a forest only makes a small difference and is easily undone by a forest fire.

Of course we would need to be very certain that carbon capture was the right thing to do. The climate has always varied and we are currently in an interglacial. It would be rather unfortunate to find that we had accidentally triggered the next glacial period and the ice would come and scrape most of the UK clean.
Wouldn’t you risk massive algal blooms? Those aren’t good you know.
I expect they'd be essential as I presume that the fastest rate of carbon capture would be using unicellular organisms which grow very quickly.
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Martin_B » Tue Feb 02, 2021 2:27 am

Millennie Al wrote:
Tue Feb 02, 2021 2:14 am
Grumble wrote:
Mon Feb 01, 2021 6:20 am
Millennie Al wrote:
Mon Feb 01, 2021 2:47 am
If we are serious about carbon capture, and I see no evidence that we are, we need to seed the oceans so that lots of plants grow, absorbing carbon, then die and fall into the deep ocean where they will form the coal or oil deposits of the new few millions of years. Planting a forest only makes a small difference and is easily undone by a forest fire.

Of course we would need to be very certain that carbon capture was the right thing to do. The climate has always varied and we are currently in an interglacial. It would be rather unfortunate to find that we had accidentally triggered the next glacial period and the ice would come and scrape most of the UK clean.
Wouldn’t you risk massive algal blooms? Those aren’t good you know.
I expect they'd be essential as I presume that the fastest rate of carbon capture would be using unicellular organisms which grow very quickly.
You just kill a lot of sealife in the process - algal blooms can be pretty toxic.
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by bjn » Tue Feb 02, 2021 6:40 am

As for seeding oceans to encourage algal blooms in the hope that it sequesters carbon, EOSTFU.

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Grumble » Tue Feb 02, 2021 6:51 am

Martin_B wrote:
Tue Feb 02, 2021 2:27 am
Millennie Al wrote:
Tue Feb 02, 2021 2:14 am
Grumble wrote:
Mon Feb 01, 2021 6:20 am


Wouldn’t you risk massive algal blooms? Those aren’t good you know.
I expect they'd be essential as I presume that the fastest rate of carbon capture would be using unicellular organisms which grow very quickly.
You just kill a lot of sealife in the process - algal blooms can be pretty toxic.
Massive disruptions to ecosystems are generally to be avoided if you want to let nature help us reduce CO2.
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by rockdoctor » Tue Feb 02, 2021 8:43 pm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azolla_event

Azolla is a little floating fern that found itself perfectly adapted to the enclosed north polar ocean, after it had stratified with a fresh water surface layer. For six months of the year it grew like crazy then died when the arctic winter arrived, and the dead ferns sank into the anoxic lower layer where it was preserved as an 8m thick layer.
It is hypothesised that the removal of carbon by this mechanism alone was sufficient to lower atmospheric carbon and end the 'Eocene Greenhouse Earth' period

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Sciolus » Tue Feb 02, 2021 8:46 pm

Grumble wrote:
Tue Feb 02, 2021 6:51 am
Massive disruptions to ecosystems are generally to be avoided if you want to let nature help us reduce CO2.
Isn't the point that mid-oceans are pretty barren? Or am I just not looking hard enough?

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Sciolus » Tue Feb 02, 2021 8:47 pm

A few random stories of interest from ENDS (paywalled):

Boxing Day 2020 saw just over half of the country’s electricity demand met by wind power. Drax Electric Insights estimates that wind turbines supplied 50.7% of the total amount generated that day, a new record caused by the strong winds of Storm Bella. https://www.endsreport.com/article/1705 ... wer-record

Decarbonised ammonia hailed as stepping stone for the hydrogen economy. Australian chemical engineers have developed a process that produces ammonia without the enormous greenhouse gas emissions associated with the conventional production method. Their paper, published in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Energy & Environmental Science journal last week, describes how to manufacture the gas from only water, air and modest, low-voltage current, at ambient temperatures and pressures. If powered entirely from renewables, it would be fully sustainable. https://www.endsreport.com/article/1705 ... en-economy

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) spent just 1.3% of its total expenditure in 2019 on taking action on climate change and decarbonisation. The figures, published yesterday in a National Audit Office (NAO) assessment of BEIS’ finances, show that the department spent just £190m on climate change and decarbonisation activities in 2019-20. https://www.endsreport.com/article/1705 ... nge-action

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Bird on a Fire » Tue Feb 02, 2021 9:15 pm

The idea of fertilizing parts of the ocean isn't a new one. It was taken seriously enough that I was taught about it 10 years ago as an undergraduate, for instance.

Something like 50% of global primary productivity comes from the marine system, mostly algae. They have the advantage of growing very quickly, so as long as you can subsequently immobilise a lot of that carbon you have textbook biosequestration. A lot of phytoplankton grow calcium carbonate skeletons which then sink, for instance.

There's various whizzy ideas, from building ponds next to marine plants to fertilizing the ocean with iron, which it turns out is the major limitation on current productivity levels. For instance:
In the latest research, published tomorrow in Nature, the Southampton scientists studied a natural source of iron into the sea near the Crozet Islands at the northern boundary of the Southern Ocean, 1,400 miles south-east of South Africa. Their work showed that iron – which is added by the volcanic rocks to the north but not to the south of the island – successfully tripled the growth of phytoplankton and also the amount that sank to the bottom of the sea.

Peter Burkill, director of the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Sciences in Plymouth, said: "This is a significant result. It suggests that ocean iron fertilisation might work for reducing atmospheric CO2 through export of carbon into the ocean's interior. But the next step from natural experiments, such as this one, to artificial ones is crucial. We now need to know what the ecological impacts of artificial fertilisation experiments are."

Andrew Watson of the University of East Anglia, said that previous small-scale artificial ocean fertilisation experiments had already shown that plankton are stimulated by iron, but there had long been questions about how deep the carbon is sequestered. "This paper suggests that Southern Ocean iron fertilisation can be quite effective at sending the carbon into the deep ocean."
https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... bon-oceans

Or this more recent study:
Using the coast of Peru as a case study, the team calculate that depositing 50,000 tonnes of tephra – a bulk carrier vessel’s worth – offshore could sequester 2750 tonnes of atmospheric carbon dioxide. This, they said, equates to a cost of around £43 per tonne of carbon dioxide sequestered – ‘an order of magnitude cheaper than many proposed greenhouse gas removal technologies’. The process could work anywhere where plankton grow in abundance but have low natural burial rates, as tephra deposits are available almost globally.
https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/see ... 23.article

As for destabilising ecosystems;
Two issues remain: the concern that tephra could harm marine ecosystems – an area which Longman concedes needs investigation – and the fact that marine dumping in general is banned under the 1972 London Convention on marine pollution.

‘I like the idea of mimicking natural processes to supplement or enhance their carbon drawdown capacity, and volcanic ash addition certainly sounds close to what is occurring in the real ocean,’ says Jonathan Lauderdale, an ocean biogeochemist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US, who was not involved in the present study. While tephra dumping could be a ‘useful tool’ alongside other geoengineering tools, he adds, ocean-based greenhouse gas removal proposals still come with many unknowns.

‘It is really difficult to predict the response of the complex biological pump, as well as downstream ecological consequences that influence the long-term fate of organic carbon in the ocean, which has vexed some trials of ocean iron fertilisation in the past,’ Lauderdale cautions.
Both articles have peer-reviewed references, and there's also this review https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/art ... 722/238034

So it's feasible, cheap technology, but we don't know the possible ecological consequences and won't without doing more experiments. I'm far from knowledgable about marine algae, but all the ideas I've heard of involve doing it along way from shore, generally in the Southern Ocean, so risk to humans would be very low even if it did trigger toxic blooms (which I think are more associated with high-nitrogen coastal waters anyway, but I could be wrong).
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