Climate clippings 37

UN Security Council accepts climate change as a threat to global security

The best outline I could find was at Deutsche Welle. What we got was a Presidential Statement rather than a resolution, but one that had to be voted on and accepted by members. Russia had been opposed, saying it would lead to increased politicisation. China wanted climate change addressed as part of the development agenda. There are two main outcomes:

The final statement expressed “concern that possible adverse effects of climate change may, in the long run, aggravate certain existing threats to international peace and security.”

It also requested UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to include information on possible climate change impacts in his regular reports on global trouble-spots.

There’s more background here, when the cause seemed lost.

Electricity generation by fuel type

Barry Brook at BraveNewClimate has some new graphs. The one I want to highlight shows electricity generation by fuel type:

Electricity generation by fuel type

At 2006 the information is a bit dated, but red (coal) is definitely bad. Take your pick of green or blue as good, but please don’t argue about it.

Carbon capture and utilisation

With all that coal being burnt we have to worry about what happens to the CO2. On an earlier thread Fran linked to an article telling us that the prospects of carbon capture and sequestration had taken a hefty blow. Now we are told that we will have to wait a while for carbon capture and utilisation to be commercialised:

A dream climate change cure to turn planet-warming greenhouse gases into useful products from jet fuel to plastics will take years to develop from the lab and pilot projects, a report found on Thursday.

Still “years” is better than the decades CCS will take, even if they do work seriously on it.

Hybrid power stations

Most coal-fired power stations could drill down locally and find geothermal resources around 120°C to 150°C at relatively shallow depth, enough to preheat the water used in turbines, thus improving the thermal efficiency at these plants from around 35% to the high 40s. By this means, it is claimed, the emissions profile of some existing coal-fired power stations could be lowered towards those of gas-fired generators.

Solar is also a prospect as a hybrid partner:

Indeed hybridisation – be it solar/coal, geothermal/coal, solar/gas – seems to be all the rage.

Renewables update

Solar panels cool buildings:

Top floors with solar panels were found to 5F cooler. Don’t get too excited. Savings are equivalent to a 5% discount on the solar panels.

A solar tower in Arizona will be more than twice as high as the Empire State building.

A new aluminium-celmet battery could increase the capacity of electric vehicle onboard battery packs 1.5 to 3 times, or propel a Tesla Roadster from 589 to 1,178 km.

German utility RWE has pulled funding for the world’s largest wave project in Scotland in favour of a tidal plant. This may signify that investor interest in marine power is moving away from wave towards tidal technology.

Also the World Bank is funding a $300 million 150MW geothermal plant in Indonesia.

Fox only talks about global warming when it’s snowing

That’s right, when it’s cold it’s global cooling, when it’s hot it is just hot.

Arctic ice

Per kind favour of John D the Northern Sea Route (along the Siberian coast) has now opened, the Northwest Passage (through the channels of the Canadian Arctic Islands) should not be far behind. So we will almost certainly have another year with both passages open. The pink lines (1979 to 2000 median) show that both passages would normally be substantially blocked at this time of the year.

The time series of sea ice extent is marginally the second lowest ever, and seems to have left the 1979-2000 average well behind.

Sea levels, again

I’ve been thinking of an overview post on sea level rise. RealClimate has a post on the Houston and Dean paper purporting to show deceleration of sea level rise last century (already debunked by Tamino). I found two statements interesting:

It is known that the twentieth-century acceleration is largely found in the Southern Hemisphere

we indeed predict a much larger acceleration of sea level rise in the 21st Century than is observed in the 20th Century. That is a direct logical consequence of the fact that we expect much larger warming in the 21st than in the 20th.

The real action is yet to come when decay of the major ice sheets becomes the dominant factor. The question is how much, how soon. In this post Pfeffer et al maintain that the upper bound of expectations for 2100 is two metres. For reasons I elaborated then I suspect he’s right.

Much depends on Antarctica. Recent research indicates that it contributed more than previously thought to sea level rise in the Eemian. But that is likely to play out over centuries.

Meanwhile the Climate Commission (interesting website) has released a climate change impact statement for the Illawarra and NSW south coast which has been picked up by the media:

The report finds low-lying residential areas around Lake Illawarra could be flooded, along with 50 kilometres of rail line, as the sea level rises by 1.1 metres.

The world’s largest carbon farm

The Federal Government are chipping in two-thirds of the purchase price of Hendry Station, to de-stock and form the world’s largest carbon farm. R M Williams will provide the other $13 million.

Traditional owner Barry Abbott is angry. He wants to acquire the property and continue run cattle.

Bruce Breaden, a former director of the Central Land Council, was disappointed the Aboriginal people were not able to buy the station but welcomed the new opportunities and regretted the Aboriginal people were unable to buy it themselves.

91 thoughts on “Climate clippings 37”

  1. I like the look of that Arizona Solar Tower, Brian.

    “The output has already been pre-sold – the Southern California Public Power Authority recently signed a 30-year power purchase agreement with EnviroMission that will effectively allow the tower to provide enough energy for an estimated 150,000 US homes.”

    Build one of them in Nigeria – you could power 1,500,000 homes.

  2. @I&U, make that a revolving restaurant.

    Cost $750m, payback period 11 years! How does that compare with other technology?

  3. The Arizona tower is certainly spectacular.

    BTW, thanks to John D who by my count sent me a third of the links I used in the post, including the Arizona tower.

  4. That Arizona tower wasto be built near Mildura but good old Aussi timidity won out.
    Actually it is a wind powered system – the sun heats the air under the roof which then runs up the tower and is converterd into enery at ground level by wind turbines that intercept it as it enters the tower. Energy storage is provided by thermal mass located below the glass(?) roof.
    No fancy technology required, efficiency shits all over solar thermal and photovoltaics. One was built in Spain but got taken out by a Tornado, this design looks far more robust.
    Best of all – no fuel, no radioactive waste. (Sorry Brian).
    The geothermal under coal fired power stations is also a good one, I suspect that given one of the betetr sites almost all the energy could come from Geothermal wityh the coal used as an efficiency topping cycle.

  5. On carbon capture and storage, I note a current news story regarding abandoned gas drilling in the Otway Ranges, the announcement following a public meeting hosted by the drillers. But isn’t the Otways where a current pilot carbon (CO2) sequestration project is underway?
    A case of spoiling the brew or are the Otways big enough for both?

  6. A promising source of electricity would be the Tesla tower. We could get a lot of power up in far north Queensland or Arnemland then send this energy down south.

  7. Brian: I had a look at the climate commission’s website and followed the link to where has pricing pollution worked? Funny thing was that both the examples used were offset trading systems (Our MRET and the US acid rain scheme.)
    Key features of offset trading systems are:
    1. They are systems that use credit markets to set a levy on dirty that is used to subsidize clean.
    2. Unlike the carbon tax and CPRS they do not generate government revenue. As a result price increases are much lower because average price does not have to take account of the government take.
    3. Unlike regulated caps they control averages with worse than target paying a subsidy to better than target. This makes them particularly suited to situations where there is some reason why some worse than target should be tolerated.
    Offset trading schemes fall somewhere between “put a price on dirty” and “put a price on clean” schemes. The price increases under offset credit trading will be much the same as those for “put a price on clean” schemes.
    For more on situations that favour offset credit trading see here.

  8. Huggy: The geothermal heat was pretty low grade heat (120 to 150 degC)that would require a large generating unit to produce power. Thermal efficiency would be very low. It makes more sense to use this low grade heat to preheat the water and coal or gas fired to get the steam up to supercritical.
    Solar augmentation is also all about preheating the water. However, if we are talking supercritical the preheat temperature can be quite high.
    I have had the idea that existing coal fired could be cheaply converted to CCGT by running the exhaust from open circuit gas turbines to the existing boiler. Any comments on the practicality? If you really wanted to get adventurous you could incorporate geothermal and solar augmentation.

  9. Yeah that sure sounds like a good idea. Pre-heating with solar and then super-heating with gas. Since gas can be racheted up and down pretty quickly. You would at least think this could work well.

  10. Gas is not a renewable and still results in co2 emissions. Bob and Christine will never go for that.

  11. It seems that the Arizona solar tower is being built by an Australian company:

    EnviroMission wanted to build one here, but Roger Davey says the Government’s mix of incentives has never been quite right. In 2006, EnviroMission applied to build a smaller tower in south-western New South Wales through the Government’s Low Emissions Technology Demonstration Fund, but lost out to competitor. That competitor Solar Systems, went into administration a few years later, and the project has only recently revived by Silex, which bought the company.

  12. Russia had been opposed, saying it would lead to increased politicisation. China wanted Climate change addressed as part of the development agenda.

    The Defense Literature has long addressed climate change as a major factor in its considerations. The UNSC likewise has access to information unencumbered by polemical bullshit. The forecast is for a century wherein the weather wreaks havoc; obviously this creates global security problems.

    These problems are, as far as I’m aware, so far unaddressed by anyone save the Greens whose prescriptions are vague intentions to ‘help’. There’s limitations on the help we can give, this will possibly be globally traumatic a hundred years from now.

  13. Jumpy: What really counts is the total emissions over say the next 40 yrs. Gas may not make sense as part of a “war footing” approach. However, I think the political reality is that things are not going to move as fast as that.
    Gas is a logical part of a politically realistic plan for minimizing emissions over the next 40 yrs. A mix of gas and renewables can be got into place quickly without any large jumps in power costs. In addition, an appropriate mix will provide a reliable power source that is compatible with existing power distribution systems. In the long term of course gas would have to be replaced with something cleaner.

  14. Brian: can you explain with basic chemistry why “red (coal) is definitely bad”?

    In fact given the name of the Government’s Carbon Tax Exposure Draft – “Clean Energy Bill” – any decent lawyer will ensure exemption of the owners of all coal-fired power stations from the Act, as NONE of them produces dirty energy:

    The formula for combustion of hydrocarbon fuels is

    C3H8 + 5O2 → Energy + 3CO2 + 4H2O …(1)

    and the RHS of (1) is the LHS of (2):

    2CO2 + 2 H2O + photons → 2CH2O + 2O2 …(2)

    In words, carbon dioxide + water + light energy → carbohydrate + oxygen → all food.

    Both these equations are pristine in their cleanliness.

    I realise Australian climate scientists and their acolytes like Combet Steffen and Garnaut cannot do chemistry – but I know some lawyers who can, and they will easily prove in court that hydrocarbon combustion here has for long (since scrubbers got rid of the SO2 and NOx) been purer than the driven snow (eg at the Victorian Alps not that far from Hazelwood and La Trobe)

    I would also like you to spell out how windmill power creates food as an external benefit comparable to that from hydrocarbon combustion.

  15. In the UK recently I watched a TV program on solving the waste disposal problems of large cities. It included a very interesting segment on Plasma Gasification, whereby domestic garbage is incinerated at 900 degrees C. The process:

    – produces no carbon or carbon dioxide emissions;
    – provides heat for the generation of electricity;
    – eliminates the need for landfill or other disposal of domestic garbage;
    – allows for existing landfill to be mined/recovered to feed the process.

  16. And in addition, GrigoryM, AIUI, plasma furnaces can produce merchantable by products, such as rock wool (good for clearing up marine oil spills, useful in insulation) in the residue.

    I assume that the numbers don’t favour its commercialisation, but I’ve never seen any actual numbers to support this inference.

  17. John D
    Anything that gets the upper temperature higher is good – thus supercritical and superheat with steam. Carnot rules here, its all about delta t.
    Combined cycle gas turbines with a steam turbine tailing cycle have a good long delta t and have been shown to achieve thermal efficiencies as high as 70%. You need the high temperatures of gas combustion to get the delta.
    If you stay just with the steam cycle I guess about 45% is the best you can get .
    Carnot efficiency is not as important with geo-thermal as the fuel costs almost nothing.

    The wind tower solar thermal is very attractive. it has Betz’s law as the limiting efficiency (59.3%) about twice as good as solar thermal or PV and the wind turbines are off the shelf and located near the ground.
    Add in the intrinsic low cost energy storage and you have a technology that should have a great future.


  18. Tim Curtin, I believe we’ve cone across each other before. And as before you are the one in the wrong with your faulty understanding of high school chemistry, and I quote my prior response:

    Do your own chemistry: I learned this in high school chem class. Incomplete combustion generates CO. Furthermore,fuel burning is more complicated than your simple chemical equation lets on.

    You didn’t answer my questions about your ‘simple chemistry’ on John Quiggin’s blog so I’m not going to bother any more with you here, and I recommend everyone else also ignores you.

  19. Harry Clarke’s rather than JQ’s, Jess? Oh dear, climate denialism has tapped an apparently inexhaustible vein of wannabe polymaths. It’s all about the (vain)glory. Why can’t they buy themselves a butterfly net — plenty of as-yet undiscovered arthropods out there guys, of course it will involve actual work rather than endless pontificating and unintended humour.

  20. Jess: who are you? I see no mention of you at your link, and I am not allowed to respond to you at Quiggin’s, having been banned there for many years. But I would be interested to see your detailed rebuttals of my posts at that Harry Clarke link.

  21. No, link again and call him Mark B. It’ll encourage him. From what I can see Harry’s position on climate change is an islet of sanity in a sea of WTF.

  22. Jess

    Tim Curtin has been banned from Deltoid, BNC and a number of places. He does use sockpuppets, most recently at JQ’s.

    I also recommend that nobody respond to his … err … “analysis”. Definitely DNFTT.

  23. Tim Curtin, we don’t do science here. It’s done in peer reviewed journals, and no, being published by the Lavoisier Group, the Pielke’s and even Online Opinion doesn’t count.

    You should stick to your own field of expertise. BTW, I understand Jess is a scientist.

    Be advised, my patience is wearing thin.

  24. Tim: At your level of chemistry you should have realized that both sides of your eqn 1 contain only carbon (dirty black stuff) plus hydrogen and oxygen (which for explosive mixtures when mixed together.) Smart to leave them all in the ground (and to take notice of Jess’s advice and go and learn some basic chemistry.)
    Sorry Fran. some temptations are too hard to resist.

  25. Thanks Huggy. I was hoping that you had coal fired power expertize. In theory you could convert a pulverized coal power station to CCGT by simply ducting the exhaust from a OCGT to the existing combustion chamber. Suspect there are potential issues with gas volume and lower radiative heat exchange. Would be nice to be wrong about these issues.

  26. At the risk of exhausting Brian’s patience, Tim Curtin makes at least two mistakes @ #15 above and beyond the single mistake involved in the Dunning Kruger Effect, to wit:

    – The formula he gives for the combustion of hydrocarbon fuels is, in fact, the formula for the complete combustion of propane – merely one of several hydrocarbon fuels.

    – neither high school chemistry (equation 1) nor cod plant physiology (equation 2) are relevant to the question “Is CO2 a green house gas?” because this is a question for physicists to answer. Neither high school chemists nor cod plant physiologists have the required expertise.

  27. Brian said: “Tim Curtin, we don’t do science here”. That is patently obvious and explains why neither you nor any of your acolytes can answer any of my points.

    John D. You certainly prove Brian’s point when you say I “should have realized that both sides of your eqn 1 contain only carbon (dirty black stuff) plus hydrogen and oxygen (which for explosive mixtures when mixed together.)”

    Ye gods, John is not aware of the difference between carbon, usually solid black stuff like coal, and CO2, a GAS which with its oxygen is colorless, odourless, and totally beneficial to all of us.

    As for the well named Trotsky, show me your regression results showing that increases in atmospheric CO2 conentrations have had any measurable impact on changes in global mean temperature. My own best efforts have failed, check my papers at, some in process of peer review.

  28. Yes, Gummo, TC makes no allowance for the usual 300 million years between LHS and RHS, let alone the minor difference in continental location. Talk about lack of attention to detail.

  29. JohnD, I confess i do not know enough to comment on your proposal, but i think it would be well worth a major investigation.
    Suspect it would work providing you could keep the combustion air out of the boiler.


  30. Just to let people know, I’m not going to entertain a new stoush about what science is and isn’t and what the uncertainties about climate science are and are not, in general.

    Here we talk about science, but science itself is done by scientists and, in the main, published in peer reviewed journals.

    Of course, there are some of us (myself not included) who have scientific and technical knowledge. In a few cases that may be in climate science itself. Their contributions about what they know are more than welcome.

    So, Tim Curtin, if your expertise does in fact go beyond economics and includes science, please demonstrate it in the normal scientific forums, become a peer in that community, and then come and tell us what you know.

  31. Per kind favour of Christian at Saturday Salon here’s David Cameron supporting Julia Gillard on the ETS and climate change. He called it “bold” and “ambitious” and was convinced climate change was one of the “most pressing threats to [a nation’s] prosperity and security”

    “I have always been clear that in order to tackle it [climate change] effectively, all major economies will need to take robust action to curb their emissions and put their economies on a more sustainable, low-carbon footing,” he said.

    Quite eloquent, really.

  32. Brian @37: Initially I wondered what prompted a Bristish Conservative Prime Minister to put pen to paper and congratulate an Australian Labor PM on initiating a carbon pricing/trading scheme. I then realized that in Britain and Europe climate change is no longer a partisan matter and the arguments are settled. It’s only here that we have this negatively destructive partisan argument fostered by Tony Abbott; perhaps we should shell out for Tony to go on a study tour to catch up with the science and economcs of carbon pollution.

  33. Huggy: Easy to keep air sucking in to pulverized coal boilers. I am confident that you could make what I am talking about work. However, not so sure about how well. We may find that the system has to handle higher gas flows/kWh and we may find that heat exchange rates will be lower because there wont be the strong radiation of the sort you get from a pulverized coal fireball.
    Even so siting CCGT at an existing power station offers all sorts of potential cost savings even if the existng steam turbines cannot be used.

  34. I have a question for y’all – the knowledgeable ones like Huggy etc.

    One of the pernicious effects of the hot summers we’ve been having, and poorly thought out building, is overuse of air conditioners in summer. So we have a vicious circle of more fossil fuel burning leading to even more air conditioner use.

    Also, where I live, the power tends to go out on the hottest days because the system can’t cope with the power usage spike with the air conditioners. It’s a real lose-lose situation!

    OK, so my question – couldn’t some engineering company come up with a directly solar-powered air conditioner? Or just a regular PV solar panel hooked up to an egg nishner? The hotter it gets, the faster it runs.

    Why not?

    [tech note: I had to edit this comment because Helen's old website URL was corrupted by some malware, and now the software is showing my avatar instead of Helen's. Weird, but Helen really did write this comment, there's just some tech glitch. ~ tigtog]

  35. Helen: When I was working for AMIRA (1981) we had a research project going on solar air-conditioning. It worked on the same principles as the old kerosine fridges. Our conclusion at the time was that it would work but was a rather costly way of air-conditioning in the pre-climate warming concern days. (Even allowing that power costs were much higher in mining communities.)
    These days the logical thing to do would be to insist that houses that have air conditioning install enough solar PV to match the peak demand of the air conditioner. Alternatively, we could insist that air conditioning be linked to offpeak power so that it could be turned off by the power supplier if the demand got to be too high.

  36. Brian: Amazing! First you say “Of course, there are some of us (myself not included) who have scientific and technical knowledge”. Then you say “So, Tim Curtin, if your expertise does in fact go beyond economics and includes science, please demonstrate it in the normal scientific forums, become a peer in that community, and then come and tell us what you know.” How about you doing the same? Actually I am about to submit a paper, dealine tomorrow, and have been invited (unsolicited) another paper to an international meteorological journal

    But in fact, while I do not accept that climate scientists are a law unto themselves, even if they behave like that, I fully accept and welcome any insights they may have on economic issues. As an economist I have some ability to evaluate equations, analyze statistics, and perform econometrics and least squares regression of trends etc. Curiously, the 996 pages of AR4 WG1 are innocent of any of that – not even a single regression is reported! Could that be because that the IPCC cannot find any place or region where the rising CO2 has any statistically significant impact on temperature? Can you?

  37. Tim, there’s nothing amazing about it. I see myself in the role of a citizen journalist. So I write about the science, but I respect scientists and I don’t do science.

    @ 15 you weren’t speaking as an economist. For what a scientist thinks of your effort, refer to Jess @ 38.

  38. sg,

    The coolerado is a split cycle evaporative cooler, good but not suitable where water consumption is a problem.

    The Yazaki is an absorptive chiller system, good, which unfortuneately uses lithium bromide for its working fluid, not so good. Not so good from a competition for lithium point of view.

    There are other absorptive chillers, Broad have been around for a very long time and I think that Lismore Base Hospital has one of these systems installed.

  39. Others have mentioned some of the directly solar-powered aircon systems; from what I’ve seen so far the technology is worth exploring but still some way from maturity.

    However, as to why you wouldn’t hook an air conditioner straight to a solar panel, it’s fairly straightforward.

    On the plus side, if you used appropriate DC motors you could avoid the cost and conversion losses from a DC-AC inverter.

    However, on the minus side, what happens when it’s cloudy, humid and hot? That’s a fairly common occurrence in large parts of Australia. Then you need a AC-DC power supply, which will cost a similar amount, and have the same kinds of efficiency losses, as result from the inverter.

    We already have an extensive AC power grid in developed areas to shunt electricity from where it’s generated to where it’s needed. While there are issues (which Huggy has alluded to on a number of occasions) the smartest way to use solar panels is to have everything connected to that grid, with the panels providing electricity when they can, and our appliances taking from the grid when needed.

  40. Robert @ 47: You are right. It makes more sense for solar PV to link to the grid since power draw from a single air conditioner is quite variable. While it is true that parts of the country do need air conditioning on cloudy days the demand spikes occur on very hot sunny days – When solar PV works efficiently.
    Evaporative cooling works in dry areas such as Mt Isa but uses water that is clean enough to avoid the build-up of deposits in the cooler.
    Part of the problem with air conditioning is that the design of house that uses it most efficiently is usually not the right design for an un-air conditioned house.

  41. Thanks, all. I hope I live to see a world where every rooftop, or virtually every rooftop, is collecting power for the grid.

    [tech note: I had to edit this comment because Helen's old website URL was corrupted by some malware, and now the software is showing my avatar instead of Helen's. Weird, but Helen really did write this comment, there's just some tech glitch. ~ tigtog]

  42. Helen, also, the peak solar gain is at 1 pm or thereabouts. The peak airconditioning load is several hours later, going into sunset.

  43. Helen, as Wilful pointed out the solar maxima and the air con requirement are not well matched, you need energy storage , this might as well be in the network (Grid).
    There are air conditioning systems that use a deep bore-hole to act as a constant temperature source – so called “geothermal”air conditioners. They use very little energy.
    Also, without energy storage and/or a radical re-think PV on every rooftop will be a disaster. More later.

  44. John D/Huggy,

    Is it feasibly economic to have local “cold” storage for a/c? Output from PV could be used to (say) freeze blocks of ice during the middle of the day and the ice then used to cool the house during the late afternoon.

  45. I&U

    The vast bulk of energy used in the standard gas compressor type a/c is for compressing the gas back to a liquid.

    Compressed gas can be stored.

    So, one possibility is to use the energy output from solar panels during the relatively sunny part of the day (up to approx early-mid arvo) to compress additional gas for the a/c, and store it. Then use it later in the arvo when it is still hot but the sunlight levels are relatively low (or during cloudy periods).

    Would require a large compressed gas storage tank next to the a/c, but can’t see any technical reason it couldn’t be done that way.

    Any a/c engineers here?

  46. skeet, that would be exactly how you’d do it, if you wanted a standalone system. Still stuffed on cloudy hot days, (and they’re muggy so evaporative cooling doesn’t work either) but hey, nothing’s perfect.

  47. Skeet,

    Yes, that makes sense to me. Thanks.

    So we just need an engineer to tell us how big the storage tank would need to be. Hopefully, not as big as the house.

  48. You could do exactly the same thing with refrigerators – not only at a domestic level, but at an industrial level as well. But air conditioners are perhaps the biggest win because they’re the appliance that puts the biggest demands on the grid.

  49. The refrigerant would be most efficiently stored as a liquid, not a gas.

    It would also be feasible to power such a system with wind energy driving a variable stroke compressor (swash plate type) to compensate for the variable energy flow.

  50. Robert, some utilities are already placing air conditioners under central control. They shut off the compressor during peaks and leave the fans running. this utilises the thermal mass of the house as the energy storage medium. It works well.
    Storing compressed refrigerant may have safety issues (leaks).
    Stooring energy as ice is already used but the temoperature is abit high. Other phase change materials may be (and are)used.

  51. Wilful @56,

    Absorptive chillers which work on heat can use gas for non solar operation, just like the gas fridge in your caravan. So the combination of refrigerant storage and gas backup would provide a complete airconditioning coverage with an absolute minimum of CO2 emissions.

  52. BilB,

    “The refrigerant would be most efficiently stored as a liquid, not a gas.”

    Surely you would need both a high pressure and low pressure container. To store energy you would pump from the LP to the HP container and then to use that energy for chilling you would release it (via the a/c heat exchanger) back into the LP container.

    It is the size of the LP container that might create practical difficulties.

  53. Just to let people know, I’m not going to entertain a new stoush about what science is and isn’t and what the uncertainties about climate science are and are not, in general.

    Ah, now I get why my last comment didn’t get thru. My apologies. I understand. Layman AGW stoushes are festivals of competing ignorance and tedious. However I was responding to your comment in which you are alluding to this aversion to pseudo-scientific debate but at the same time making a declaration as to what constitutes, the ‘s’ thing.

    There’s a problem, Houston. Carl Sagan would see it right away but to articulate it would be to go into the the ontology of the ‘s’ thing in relation to vested authority and, well, I guess it’s not polite conversation so I won’t.

    I think I’ll simply return to some of George Orwell’s post-Catalan reflections. He was very perceptive in seeing something before his colleagues did. I forget what.

  54. “Storing compressed refrigerant may have safety issues (leaks).”

    Compressed flammable gas in liquid form has been safely stored for decades at millions of residential and commercial buildings, and in tens of thousands of cars, across the country.

    Compressed refrigerant is not flammable (far as I know). So it only has a pressure explosion risk, not a flammable explosion risk as well.

    I can’t see constructing appropriate storage tanks as a real problem. Minor up-front economic cost, maybe, but nothing more.

  55. “It is the size of the LP container that might create practical difficulties.”

    Good point.

    Depends in part on how much storage you want. Even in late afternoon, or when cloudy, solar panels can still deliver a fair bit of energy (and they are getting better).

    Also there are degrees of compression. Partial compression can still be done with reduced energy availability, and finished off later when energy availability rises again (e.g. next morning). This could significantly reduce the size of the LP holding tank.

    The aim is to reduce overall consumption of hydrocarbon based electricity, not necessarily to completely eliminate it.

    Needs a careful engineering analysis, which is beyond me.

  56. Sorry, it took me a while to see the flaw in the stored refrigerant plan. Refrigeration involves the boiling of a liquid to a gas. The energy absorption is achieved through the latent heat of evaporation. A storage system would then require having a small high pressure liquid tank, plus a very large low pressure gas tank to store the expanded refrigerant gas which ramains in gas form until the compressor comes back on line. Not practical.

    What will work though, apart from the other suggestions above for mass storage and phase change materials, is the use of the new solar energy storage chemicals which store energy with a chemical rearrangement with in a speciallly constructed molecule.

    I’m sticking to the gas fired absorptive air conditioning backup concept which can also be biomass ie wood, charcoal, etc. even though it might seem a little irish to have a cool house on a hot night with smoke coming from a chimney.

  57. Bilb,
    Yes you are right, containing the expended gas is a problem as it will require a large volume.
    Hey Fran, giove us that speil about nuclear safety again (sorry Brian but I can’t help myself)
    “Kodama says the uranium equivalent of the contamination released by the three affected reactor cores and four cooling ponds at Fukushima was that of 20 Hiroshima-sized atom bombs:
    “What is more frightening is that whereas the radiation from a nuclear bomb will decrease to one-thousandth in one year, the radiation from a nuclear power plant will only decrease to one-tenth. “In other words, we should recognise from the start that just like Chernobyl, Fukushima I Nuclear Plant has released radioactive materials equivalent in the amount to tens of nuclear bombs, and the resulting contamination is far worse than the contamination by a nuclear bomb.” Professor Tatsuhiko Kodama – Today’s Crikey

  58. @Huggybunny

    Number of radiation related deaths from the Fukishima accident: 0, number of cases of acute radiation sickness: 0, number of cases of radiation related injuries: 2 or 3 due to beta burns on the ankles on workers not wearing correct footwear, number of excess cancers expected among plant workers: at most a handful and perhaps none according standard estimates of risk from radiation exposure. The head of UNSCEAR which is preparing a two year study into the public health effects of the Fukushima acciden, has already stated that on currently available evidence, it will be difficult to identify any adverse effects.

    In the UK DEFRA estimates that life expectancy is reduced by six months by air pollution and the economic cost is in the range 9-19 billion pounds annually. It does not require an accident to achieve this outcome – it is business as normal.

    The continued effort to write scary stories without any quantification of harm to health or the environment can only be described as deplorable.

    Meanwhile in the UK sanity has prevailed and permission has been granted for site preparation work for Hinckley #3 NPP. Areva has announced that it is in commercial negotiations with Horizon and NuGeneration to supply another six EPRs to the UK. Together with the two for EDF that would supply about 25% of UK electricity – without CO2 emissions and without air pollution. Areva now has a contract for the forgings for the Hinkley #3 plant.

  59. It doesn’t strike you as unusual that the head of UNSCEAR is predicting the results of a Public Health study not only prior to that study being conducted (2 years is a useless time frame BTW) but before the nuclear accident has been brought under control?

    Spin: it’s not science.

  60. @su

    1. It is entirely right and proper that UNSCEAR conduct a study over this time frame to assess among other things, radiation dose to the public and to plant and emergency workers. Not just right and proper, I would say they have a mandate and obligation to do so.

    2. It is also proper that a (very preliminary and qualified) assessment is given by an authoritative and independent body when pressed by the media. It is the very least that is owed to the evacuees and others who may be worried about potential health effects of the accident. Of course some anti-nukes would apparently prefer hysteria to reign in complete disregard from the well being of those affected by the accident.

  61. I would prefer that public health studies not be concluded before the minimum latency period. It took until 1991 for local doctors from Ukraine and Belarus to raise their concerns about childhood thyroid cancers with WHO, it took some years before Baverstock and others could confirm those concerns, and longer still to convince the IAEA of his results. Then when WHO advised member countries of new protocols for the administration of Iodine as a result of the findings after Chernobyl, France convinced the IAEA to issue a memo which contradicted the WHO. You see hysteria, I see lack of scientific rigour, political interference and sheer gullibility.

    Sorry Brian.

  62. @su

    I am quite sure that a study producing a report on the Fukushima accident in two years will not be the last and others will follow in due course over the years. What you seem to want is a vacuum where speculation is rife going on indefinitely and every crank and crackpot can grab media attention.

    It’s same old – “We don’t know everything, therefore we know nothing”. Where have I heard that before?

  63. I am quite sure that a study producing a report on the Fukushima accident in two years will not be the last.

    So why cite the quote from UNSCEAR as if it is a meaningful commentary upon Fukushima, as if it constitutes a rebuttal of the commentary by appropriately qualified people like Kodama on what is happening now, on what is in fact known?

  64. Because, the quoted stuff from Kodama is, as I already pointed out, sheer fear mongering. No mention is made of what harm may ensue and this is the core issue. Science requires quantification, medical prognosis requires quantification. But the quote just goes about pushing emotional buttons with talk of atomic bombs and radioactive contamination. It’s intent is to frighten not inform.

  65. Quokka, I don’t believe you have read the transcript available at the Penn-Olsen blog linked at Crikey. Suffice it to say that your assesment of Kodama’s testimony as fear mongering is factually incorrect, he is clearly concerned with and in fact, materially involved in, appropriate monitoring of people, soil and food stuffs, and decontamination procedures for soils and gives a lot of information on the reasons for his concerns about the deficiencies of the response in these areas.

    It is not sufficient to simply label everyone (and increasingly these are all highly qualified experts from Japan) who criticizes the responses by Tepco and the Japanese government as quacks and fear mongers, this is the response of someone with an emotional, faith based attachment to a particular outcome, it is not the response of someone who values reason and rationality.

  66. @su

    You are right, I haven’t read the whole thing. My comments relate to the quotation reproduced on this blog, which for all practical purposes are simple fear mongering. It is the kind of thing that James Hansen has recently referred to as “the opportunistic barrage of misinformation from dedicated ‘anti-nukes’ and an undiscerning sensation-minded media”

    I made no comment whatever on TEPCO’s or the Japanese government’s actions and have no idea why you are bringing them up. Straw man.

  67. Because Kodama’s testimony, which you criticized is all about the actions of Japanese government, and contains, though this is subtle, a criticism of the lack of transparency from Tepco which has still not released its estimates of the total amount of radioactive material released since the accident began.

  68. @su

    I think you will find that there are estimates of the total radionucleides released from the Fukushima accident available, but in any case this is by far not the whole story.

    I must say I would find it difficult to take seriously anything published in the aptly named Crikey after reading the moronic (and I do not use the term lightly) latest headline screaming Fukushima disaster: worse than Hiroshima

    An appalling lack of respect for the victims of the Hiroshima atrocity and just plain drivel. Exactly the sort of thing Hansen was referring to and an exceptional example of the inability to distinguish between imagined harm and real harm.

  69. I&U @54: You can store cold as cold water or ice. 1000 litres of cold water will absorb about 1.2 kWh for every one deg C the temperature is raised. The same amount of ice absorbs about 93 kWh when it melts. I agree with Huggy that buildings can be designed with high thermal inertia (the materials store the cold or heat.)
    Thermal inertia is particularly attractive when the comfortable temperature lies between the day and night temperatures. Traditional buildings for many hot climates use thick mudbrick/masonry walls to take advantage of the cold night air.

    One strategy that can be considered for hot climates is to have an airconditioned “cool room” that you can retreat to when the heat is driving you mad. The rest of the house is designed to work without air conditioning.
    Bilb: Not sure but you might be able to design an absorptive system that works on hot water produced in a solar hot water heater. Provides cheap energy storage and avoids the need for large amounts of expensive chemicals.

  70. This material will enhance thermal inertia by undergoing a phase change at a set temperature. The set temperature depends on the composition used. You could have a house that has a mix of materials with one releasing heat when it gets too cold and another absorbing heat when it gets too hot.

  71. Bilb: The words next to the first drawing say:

    A vast range of energy streams can be utilised, ranging from natural gas, LPG, waste hot water, steam, exhaust, solar and biogas.

    An energy storage system based on solar hot water appears to be feasible.
    It is important to remember that heat pump based air conditioning makes very efficient use of power compared with some of the alternatives. It would be interesting to see how conventional air conditioning stands up against alternatives if air conditioning users were paying the real cost of the power they used.

  72. John D
    Nice summary of the energy storage options, phase change – water to ice and back again should be good for aircon not so good for refrigeration (but my Grandma seemed to survive OK with her ice chest).
    In hot desert areas you can find double walled mud brick buildings that date back to antiquity. They are amazingly cool on a very hot day.
    If nothing else the event at Fukishima demonstrated yet agin the amazing duplicity, outright lying and corruption of the nuclear industry and associated state apparatus. You may want to put your trust in these corrupt entities but I won’t.

  73. When my wife and I were first married we lived in a well-built unit with double brick walls on either side, a unit up above and a garage below. The temperature didn’t vary hour by hour or day by day, but varied between 15C in mid winter and 25C in mid summer.

    The summer temperature was good to come into out of the blazing heat, but a bit on the warm side for comfortable sleeping.

    The winter temperature was good for sleeping, but a bit cool for hanging around when awake.

    We moved to a wooden house with a tin roof and on stumps. After we had the batts put in the ceiling I preferred living there (here). You felt more in contact with the weather. I don’t think we use much more heating or cooling than we did in the unit.

  74. Brian two of my posts (pretty much identical) have disappeared into moderation. Can you extract one of them for me please.

  75. Huggy: Thermal inertia for fridges and freezers is easy because there are various low cost, non-toxic solutions that melt below freezing point.
    Brian: Thermal inertia is not so good for humid, coastal environments. The classic Queenslander works without air conditioning because it has low thermal inertia (hence cools quickly at night), verandahs (to keep the sun off the walls and to provide a cool place during the day), has plenty of air flow and is high off the ground to add more to the airflow.
    We lived for years without air conditioning for years on Groote Eylandt in a house designed on Queenslander principles with the orientation right from a sun point of view. Alyangula where we lived had the added advantage of being far more sociable compared with air conditioned towns because people sat under their houses and talked to people walking past.
    Non air conditioned houses need to be designed for the particular climate. Mechanical houses that can adapt to the time of day and weather would be even better.

  76. Courtesy of The Oil Drum, here is an absolutely “must download” pdf file for anyone interested in distributed energy and future energy environments. I have only skimmed it so far but the amount of information will serve to inform, certainly. The subject is “smart energy districts”.

    On another theme, “the carbon wars”, Quiggin is getting down to business in the new missinformation snow job forming at state government level.

  77. OK thanks Brian, I’ll post without the link which was to a solar aircon system using a modular storage system for hot water. The water is heated using evacuated tubes. Google ‘australian sun energy solar air conditioning system”

  78. Salient, the comment @ 89 went into spam, now restored. It’s easy enough for mods to miss a genuine comment when emptying spam, and then it’s gone forever. Must be what happened.

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