Climate clippings 81

?????????????????????????These posts are intended to share information and ideas about climate change and hence act as an open thread. Again I do not want to spend time in comments rehashing whether human activity causes climate change.

This edition contains items, exclusively, I think, in the broad mitigation category.

1. Nationwide EV fast charging networks

Estonia with around 1.3 million people achieved the first Nationwide EV fast charging network. Now the Netherlands with about 16.8 million souls has established a contract to build the world’s largest. No citizen will be more than 50 km away from a charging station.

That’s impressive, but given the range of EVs still fairly thin on the ground. Will the charges include the cost of the capital required to roll out the plan? Also if they are going to be “user friendly”, will they sell you coffee while you wait the 15-30 minutes it takes to charge the batteries?

2. Congestion pricing in Gothenburg

Gothenburg with a population of some 528,000 has introduced congestion pricing on its road network, only to cars registered in Sweden, and only on weekdays between 6 am and 6:30 pm. The system became effective on 1 January this year. By late May traffic was down by 14% compared to the same time period in 2012.

The funds raised are to be used on transportation infrastructure projects.

Gothenburg is the third fourth European city to launch congestion pricing, following London, Stockholm and Milan. Its structure is patterned after Stockholm’s system, which has cut vehicular traffic in that city by 20 percent, while boosting use of public transit during peak hours by an impressive 78 percent.

And that’s it, apparently. There are no such schemes elsewhere although some are under consideration.

3. One quarter of London rush hour vehicles are bikes

That’s according to RenewEconomy, article first posted at BikoCity.

Presumably that’ has something to do with their congestion charging. But if you want to see bikes, go to Amsterdam, as we did in 2008. Perhaps too many, as the man said. But look at this!


4. Youth fall out of love with the car?

Between 2001 and 2009 car travel by American youth declined 23% in favour of public transport, cycling and walking. Here’s the critical graph:


The suggestion is that a value shift is underway in America’s youth. The report Transportation and the New Generation also highlights the role of technology and social media in reducing the desire of the young to travel.

5. Five MW battery storage system

A new, state-of-the-art, 5 MW lithium-ion energy storage system was recently unveiled in South Salem, Oregon.

This is a demonstration project which is part of the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project is a successful public-private partnership involving 17 organizations across five Northwest states.

The new energy storage system should give grid operators the information they need to design better, larger systems and offers a means of exploring different ways to integrate wind power with the grid.

Energy storage systems of a much-larger scale are currently in the planning stages in the Pacific Northwest — most utilizing relatively unconventional systems, such as underground compressed-air energy storage in porous rock, or abandoned mines.

Re the overall project:

This project—the largest of the 16 smart grid demonstration projects funded by the U.S. Department of Energy under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA)—is a unique demonstration of unprecedented geographic breadth across five Pacific Northwest states—Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. It involves more than 60,000 metered customers, and contains many key functions of the future smart grid.

That’s real ‘direct action’ or part of it, in the USA.

6. Energy storage: Why we need it, and what it’s worth

Giles Parkinson reports on the Intersolar conference this week in San Francisco along with 20,000 other people. One of the most important topics was energy storage. Storage, he says, “is the deal-breaker, or the deal-maker, for both new generation technologies, and the incumbents who operate the grid.”

Cost is normally held to be important, and from that perspective scale is necessary to drive costs down to less than a quarter of what they are now. But:

Janice Li, a consultant with Strategem, and a member of the California Energy Storage Alliance (CESA), says energy storage will be a system-wide game changer, but the key lies not in the cost, but in the value to the grid, and the high renewable scenarios are the ones that create the most value.

The key was response time when demand changes. If you are quick you get paid more.

Another point of value could be in stabilising the grid, which Parkinson identifies as necessary in response to voltage and ramping issues

particularly in those areas – such as in Australia, Germany and in some suburbs in Los Angeles – where the penetration levels are getting to the point that the grid can’t, or won’t, take more.

7. The ‘electric cars aren’t green’ myth debunked

Last week Ootz linked to a critique of the green credentials of EVs by that former GM chappie. Apparently he is not alone and it may have been started by Bjorn Lomberg at the Wall Street Journal. Lindsay Wilson at Shrink that Footprint (he did the piece at 4 above and has some good stuff on his blog) has had a look at the issue.

The bottom line is that it depends on the ‘juice’, that is, the ultimate source of power. The business about the carbon footprint in building the car is pretty much a non-event. In Australia we have dirty electricity, so an electric car performs about the same as a conventional car using 26mpg (US). I make that 31 mpg Imperial or about 9 litres per 100 km. He’s used a Nissan Leaf style car as his base model, so that is a very ordinary performance.

So the conclusion is that in Australia you’d be better off with a garden variety hybrid or European diesel if you’re only option is to use grid electricity to power an EV.

Have I got that right?

Wilson has done the following graph in his report Shades of Green:


16 thoughts on “Climate clippings 81”

  1. Oslo and Trondheim (and possibly other Norwegian cities – I haven’t been to Bergen) also have congestion charges of this type – possibly the original source intended to say there were only four EU cities with congestion charges? (Norway isn’t in the EU).

  2. This isn’t new but I hadn’t heard of it – some cowboy geoengineering researcher dumped a pile of iron into the Pacific Ocean off the Canadian coast, in contravention of bans, to find out whether any CO2 was sequestered.


    As far as the energy-storage thing goes, I’m really not sure of the value aside from a publicity stunt. It’s not quite the case that anybody can stack a pile of lithium-ion batteries in a room and have an energy storage system, but it’s not exactly rocket science.

    Personally, I suspect lithium-ion energy storage, if it is to be adopted, will mostly be adopted close to the end use.

  3. The problem with EV’s charging swaps is that they may be replaced by much faster battery swaps.
    For example, the prototype TESLA battery swap demonstration took about 90 sec. Renault also has a fast battery swap system.
    Another game changer is the aluminium air battery This is a non rechargable battery with an energy density that about 100 times greater than lithium ion. A 25 kg battery gave a range of 1600 km on a Peugeot test car. Provides a low cost, low weight back-up for an urban vehicle with a rechargable battery that handles the normal daily trip.
    The other thing that could affect the recharge industry is low energy consumption EV cars. They may have much smaller batteries that don’t require high amperage recharging.

  4. Robert @2, that makes me wonder how many tonnes of iron, in the form of dust blown from the many iron ore mines in Western Australia, most of which are not far from the coast, and from the ports along the coast where the ore is loaded, end up in the Indian Ocean each year.

    It’s got to be a hell of a lot more than 100 tonnes.

    What’s the story about algal blooms off the Western Australian coast?

  5. Interesting, GregM.

    1) For millenia, iron-rich surface dust has been blown out to sea by breezes, storms, willie-willies, etc.

    2) As for anthropogenic effects, these could include mining, vehicle dust trails, cattle stomping and wild fires.

    I wonder how the total iron mass transported by the likes of 2) compares with the total for 1), on an annual basis?

    Avoiding any Ruddisms, since no-one should have to suck a desert gyration.

  6. I tend to agree with you Robert that the Lithium Iron battery and its derivatives are less likely to be a long term solution.

    But storage is important. There just might be far better ways of doing it. That is why I like nearly everyone else got really excited about

    A carbon based solution has got to be a front runner in the storage race.

    As a complete aside I have recently discovered through Sean Carroll’s web site, Preposterous Universe,…….

    Give it a fly and watch the comic-con video early. It is very uplifting,….creativity unleashed.

    PHD-Tv = Condensed knowledge in easily digested form. Sadly you still, ultimately, have to do the Maths, but it is so brilliant to have a better idea of where it is leading to.

  7. Did anyone else notice this blog entry at the Guardian a couple of days ago, which noted (apart from another dire warning from Hansen) a few other recent papers indicating that the 2 degree “safe” limit is quite possibly not safe at all?

    I have always had a hunch that the 2 degree goal had a large element of guesswork in it…

  8. Thanks for the link Steve, I’ll look at it later.

    I think the 2C derives from what the Germans at Potsdam (Schellnhuber and co) figured out in the 1990s. It took a long time for that to be accepted politically. It’s been under question for some time in terms of a ‘safe’ climate.

    My view is that at 0.8C we already have unacceptable consequences, the more so when longer term feedbacks work their way through. It’s pretty clear that 2C involves risk that most would find unacceptable if they concentrated their mind.

    At the UNFCCC Conference of Parties in Cancun (2010) Bolivia was insisting on 1C to the point that they were willing to hold out against the other 190 countries to get their way. The matter was resolved when Ms Figueres (from memory) brought down her gavel and declared that consensus had been achieved, when, strictly speaking according to the rules, it hadn’t.

  9. Hot on the heels of the news that JK Rowling has published a best selling crime novel under a pseudonym. Is the news a US republican staffer has penned an award winning essay about the need for republicans to take the lead on climate change, under . . . , you guessed it, a pseudonym, to protect his job.
    The article back a carbon tax and takes a swipe at picking winners.

  10. I know folks like to poo poo compressed air technology on efficiency grounds and I’m not edumacated enough to argue the finer points so I don’t.
    That said, Lightsail Energy project seems to tick a few boxes.
    At the very least Bill Gates has lent his name ( and a few coins I assume ) to it.

  11. And if you have some compressed air laying around at home why not take 10 seconds to charge up one of THESE and have some fun. 🙂

  12. I’ve been keen on considering the schedule feasibility implications for mitigation policy of the permafrost bomb for some time now. It’s sad to see that I wasn’t worrying needlessly. ;-(

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