Research Articles & Links: December 2008 Archives

Dec 20 - Obama appoints more science advisors

John Holdren, appointed by US president Obama, is a leader on climate change and believes nuclear power has a role in solving climate change.

Here is the appointment article (and a more detailed one, and yet another)
Here is an article on his work life

Here is an audio clip where he discusses nuclear power's role in solving climate change.

Dec 18th Articles - Batteries and cosmic rays

December 12th Articles

This professor (Mark Jacobson - Atmosphere/Energy Program, Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Stanford University) says we need electricity and hydrogen just like Scott does.  He likes wind and solar harvesting technologies but is concerned about carbon sequestration, ethanol and nuclear technologies.  His path would be wind (solar) -> wind turbine (solar farm) -> electricity or hydrogen as a currency -> service technologies -> services.  He feels we do not need nuclear and that there is enough wind and solar.  Here is a LOT of information about his analysis.

Jacobson, M. Z., Review of solutions to global warming, air pollution, and energy security (published online version) (pdf)

News summary of article (link)

Video summary of article (link)

October 1, 2008 presentation slides (pdf)

October 10, 2008 Briefing to Senator Jeff Bingaman, Chairman Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (pdf)

The world's only wind map based on data alone at the height of modern turbines

http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/winds/global_winds.html

Any other information you have heard about the amount of wind available worldwide over land is not based on real numbers but based on guesses only. The quantity from data is about 72 TW (delivered) in locations over land where the wind speed > 6.9 m/s (about 13% of the world land) (compared with a world power demand of 12-15 TW (which would decrease significantly if we converted to electricity for everything).

Here are a few of his responses to my questions:

___________________________________________________________________________

Kevin,

    Hydrogen is clean (if it is produced from clean energy), but moving an HFCV 1 km requires almost three times more clean energy than does moving a BEV one km (please see the spreadsheet in the Supplementary Information of the article from either of the two sites below

http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/revsolglobwarmairpol.htm
http://www.rsc.org/Publishing/Journals/EE/article.asp?doi=b809990c

(e.g., a plug-to-wheel efficiency of a BEV is 75-86% whereas an electrolyzer-to-wheel efficiency (of a HFCV (accounting for electrolyzer efficiency~74%, compressor efficiency ~90%, fuel cell efficiencies ~46-50%, and about 3% leakage) is around 30% (these compare with an internal combustion engine tank to wheel efficiency on average in the US of 17%. Thus, BEVs are by far the most efficient of all energy conversion technologies for vehicles. However, H2 is a great storage medium for intermittent energy.

    In the US, most cooling is already from electric air conditioning, so that is addressed in the paper since the results apply to the electricity sector. Also, about 40% of heating is through electrical resistance heating or heat pumps. Most of the rest is from natural gas heating, as is most water heating (although a good portion is electrical water heating). The next step would be to convert home heating and water heating to electricity powered by renewables. We have preliminary calculated that this  would increase electricity requirements by on the order of 40-50%. Thus, we would have taken care of nearly all sources of CO2 in the US (vehicles, electric power, home heating/cooling, water heating/cooling), except for some industrial processes that require high temperatures, and ships/airplanes. These could be addressed last.



Hi

A few questions about your paper from a high school teacher dabbling in energy.  I (well, my grade 11 class and I) have been reading a book entitled Smelling Land:  The hydrogen solution to climate catastrophe.  In it, the author (David Sanborn Scott - www.smellingland.com) argues for a shift to a hydrogen/electric age. He argues that hydrogen will be necessary to replace fossils.  As well, he argues that there is simply not enough wind or solar to replace all fossil sources and that we will need a combination of nuclear, solar, wind, etc to really solve the issue of carbon dioxide output.  He, like you, is against carbon sequestration and ethanol but is pro-nuclear.  He also feels that fuel cell vehicles are a superior technology to battery vehicles (I agree with your statement that a HFCV/BEV hybrid may be the solution).

I like your article and it appears to address generating enough energy/exergy for transportation alone but I don't see where it addresses total energy/exergy requirements including heating, cooling and other electrical needs.  Am I missing something here? How will we rid ourselves of the other technologies that produce this energy and also carbon dioxide?

Also, would you not think that we would be better to generate hydrogen from wind so we can do a bit of storage to compensate from the burstiness of this harvesting technology?  That is, rather than an electrical grid, we could have a hydrogen grid (pipelines, etc)?

It would be more efficient to generate the electricity from wind, then transmit it to a filling station and produce the H2 on site in an electrolyzer. This avoids pipelines, which are more expensive than transmission lines, and reduces leakage potential.


Furthermore, do your calculations for nuclear factor in the fact that at some point, the operation and mining itself could be accomplished by hydrogen fuel cell machinery rather than fossil fuel service technologies?  Admittedly this would be a ways away however it would reduce the CO2 per unit energy that you calculated to almost zero would it not?

This would be very inefficient and also not necessary. There is no need for nuclear since either wind or solar, alone can power the entire world many times over.

Sincerely,

Mark Jacobson




Thanks for your time
Kevin Riffel
Teacher
Bishop James Mahoney High School
Saskatoon, SK
Canada


-- 
Mark Z. Jacobson
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Professor, by Courtesy, of Energy Resources Engineering
Director, Atmosphere/Energy Program
Stanford University                Phone:    650-723-6836
Yang & Yamazaki Environment & Energy Bldg.    Fax:    650-725-9720
473 Via Ortega, Room 397            Email:    jacobson@stanford.edu
Stanford, CA 94305-4020     http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/


_________________________________________________________________

Kevin,


Thanks for the response Mark.  First, I am not arguing against your plan or analysis, I am just trying to determine if it will be enough and if we can avoid using nuclear which some (like Scott) say we cannot.

Where does that 40-50% increase come from?  Renewables?  If so, which ones?


This is the increase in electric power generation from replacing natural gas for home/commercial heating and hot water with electric power (electric resistance heaters or heat pumps and electric hot water heaters) (where the electricity comes from any renewable electric power source)


I have students debating this as well so they are quite keen on your responses.
I agree that BEV efficiency is high but the range limitations are a concern (I have heard of battery swapping to increase range but that seems problematic).  Clearly BEV would be awesome in my small city! HFCV efficiency is lower but we get a lot of freedom (long range vehicles).

The Tesla range is now 242 miles. Electric vehicles have the advantage in that they can be charged at home or work, thus no more trips to the gas station. Their only disadvantage is for single-shot trips > 200+ miles. This is a small percent of trips for most people. Thus, an hybrid BEV-HFCV might come in handy for this case (or battery swapping).


One question I have about your analysis is that you deal with industrial processes, ships, trains??? and airplanes last.  What portion of the US CO2 production is due to this???  I would think it would be a HUGE amount.

Aircraft are ~3% of carbon worldwide. Ships are on the same order.

I would definitetly try to use hydrogen fuel cells for the ships and planes (or hybrid electricity-hydrogen fuel cells).


 My concern is that without addressing this we are ignoring a large amount of carbon dioxide.  Also, the CO2 released by an airplane has a high residence time due to its altitude.


CO2 has such a long lifetime in the atmosphere (35-50 year e-folding lifetime), that it doesn't matter where it is emitted so much. However, soot from aircraft is a bigger issue with regard to altitude of emissions.

I really don't see a solution to the plane/ship/long distance private vehicle solution without hydrogen.  Based on this, I am unsure where we get the extra hydrogen from to power the planes and trains and the extra energy to power the industrial processes. Nuclear?  Solar?  other?


There is enough wind or solar, independently, to provide all the world's power for everything (including if we used hydrogen), many times over. Again, there is no need for nuclear. Given that it takes 10-19 years for a new nuclear plant to come online, it is also an opportunity cost loss since we will be emitting coal and gas while we wait.

Mark


Thanks for the links to your data.  My students will find it to be very thorough and overwhelming!  Something they need to see for sure.

I really think we also need hydrogen from renewables in order to do some load balancing but from what you are saying that load balancing could be accomplished with an intelligent network of sorts.

Thanks again
Kevin

__________________________________________________________________

Kevin,

    We published the world's only wind map based on data alone at the height of modern turbines

http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/winds/global_winds.html

so any other information you have heard about the amount of wind available worldwide over land is not based on real numbers but based on guesses only. The quantify from data is about 72 TW (delivered) in locations over land where the wind speed > 6.9 m/s (about 13% of the world land) (compared with a world power demand of 12-15 TW (which would decrease significantly if we converted to electricity for everything).

Please see Slide 24 of the "presentation slides" located at

http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/revsolglobwarmairpol.htm

to see the area required for solar to power the entire U.S. vehicle fleet on batteries. It is very small, particularly compared with E85 from corn or cellulose. It is larger than the 3 km2 wind land footprint to do the same thing but smaller than the spacing area for wind. It is only twice the area required for nuclear power plants to do the same thing (Figure 6 of http://www.rsc.org/Publishing/Journals/EE/article.asp?doi=b809990c

since nuclear needs a buffer zone and requires land for mining, storage of waste, and its own facilities (discused in text).

    You are welcome to post the information I have provided.

Mark


Thanks Mark.  I understood where the 40-50% was calculated from, just asking where we would get the extra electricity for replacement from.

I have heard people argue both ways on this one (There is enough wind or solar, independently, to provide all the world's power for everything (including if we used hydrogen), many times over. Again, there is no need for nuclear. Given that it takes 10-19 years for a new nuclear plant to come online, it is also an opportunity cost loss since we will be emitting coal and gas while we wait.)

I have never seen a complete analysis explaining either side of supporters or deniers of this statement.  That is, there are people arguing that there isn't enough wind to power everything and that we would have to cover far too much land to use solar.  Could you point me to further evidence supporting your view that there is enough power for ALL of this without nuclear or fossils?

Thanks again for your time.
Kevin

_______________________________________________________________

Section 10 of the paper discusses intermittency and how to deal with it. Storage would be one of the last things to do if it is needed. One can still store hydrogen at filling stations, so it does not matter so much whether the hydrogen is produced at a centralized plant and piped or produced at multiple filling stations and stored there. I suppose transmission lines may fail more than pipelines, but I am not so sure that makes up for the greater infrastructure changes required to add pipelines and trucks  rather than use transmission lines, which are predominantly in place (but may need beefing up).

Mark


Alright.  But I am still unsure how you would plan to address the burstiness of the wind/sun harvesting technologies.  That is, would you not have to store the electricity somehow or essentially lose it hence leading to losses anyway?  I was thinking that 'extra' electricity (that above current demand) would go to generating hydrogen to be piped.  I suppose that hydrogen generation could be done at ANY point in the system of electrical transmission.  The concept of generating and piping hydrogen would allow for greater load balancing as well as potentially reducing the risk of natural and man made disasters that transmission lines have.  It would provide a doubly redundant system albeit with one of them being less efficient than the other.



Dec 6th Articles - Electric Cars???

Maybe we are not moving to hydrogen...

This quote is from the WWF report entitled:  Plugged In: The End of the Oil Age.

The final word on hydrogen goes to Dr. Ulf Bossel of the European Fuel Cell Forum:

Without the slightest doubt, the technology for a hydrogen economy exists or can be developed in reasonable time. Also, hydrogen is an appropriate energy carrier for particular niche applications, or it may become an important medium for electricity storage with reversible fuel cells. But hydrogen can never establish itself as a dominant energy carrier. It has to be fabricated from high grade energy and it has to compete with high grade energy in the market place.  Hydrogen cannot win this fight against its own energy source. Physics is eternal and cannot be changed by man. Therefore, a "Hydrogen Economy" has no past, no present and no future. The road to sustainability leads to an "Electron Economy".

Here are several articles related to electric cars...

Hawaii Says Aloha to an Electric Car Network
Electric Car Dreams Have Limits
Mini-E Electric Car
Task Force Sees Electric Vehicle Revolution in the Next Decade
Is The Volt GM's Savior
Long Range Electric Car is the Future
Chrysler's Electric Surprise

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