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planemaker
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Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sat Dec 12, 2015 11:23 pm

The climate change summit in Paris (COP21) is over and an agreement has been reached to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than 2C - target is 1.5C.

Key points in the agreement included:

• To peak greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and achieve a balance between sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century

• To keep global temperature increase "well below" 2C (3.6F) and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5C

• To review progress every five years

• $100 billion a year in climate finance for developing countries by 2020, with a commitment to further finance in the future.

Coal is still the largest fuel source for domestic power generation and by quite a bit the largest power GHG contributor:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/ae/US_electricity_generation_by_source.svg/800px-US_electricity_generation_by_source.svg.png

http://cdn2.vox-cdn.com/assets/4523607/epa-nsps-co2-sector.png

It is pretty amazing that coal plants on their own emit almost as much carbon as the whole transportation sector.

Coal is the low hanging fruit that can be quite easily replaced by natural gas. And because of low prices, natural gas has gained on coal as a power generation fuel source and has passed it during this past year. So, now with the Paris Agreement it will be interesting to see just how much more quickly coal will be dropped as a power source.
 
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aerorobnz
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sat Dec 12, 2015 11:41 pm

There are huge chunks of terrain doing nothing except absorbing sun in the Southwest/California. They seem prime for solar.
 
johns624
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sat Dec 12, 2015 11:46 pm

Coal itself isn't the problem. It's whether coal plants have scrubbers and other pollution control systems. The ones in the west do, China and some other countries...not so much.
 
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DocLightning
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 12:09 am

Quoting johns624 (Reply 3):
Coal itself isn't the problem.

Yes it is. First of all, where are we going to put all the waste those scrubbers collect? Back in the coal mines?

Second, even with scrubbers, coal still produces twice the CO2 per unit energy as natural gas.
 
QFA380
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 12:10 am

Coal may appear to be low hanging fruit but not all coal or powerplants are equal. Many plants are built next to mines.
From an Australian perspective, we have a huge abundance of gas and coal but coal is already in production. Coal seam gas/fracking is political poison in many places. In a state election this year, 2 right wing electorates went to the far left party over gas which was considered unthinkable.

While gas prices are low (in the US) must also remember that global coal prices are very low too.


One of the more interesting developments to watch will be electric cars and electricity consumption over the next 5-10 years. There is a trend for falling electricity consumption, due to home solar panels and also appliances becoming more efficient however if electric cars can continue their push into the mainstream we may see consumption tick back up.

Battery technology will also become one of the big changes. There are huge amounts of electricity generation capacity that are kept online purely for those few very hot summer days when consumption skyrockets. These spare plants tend to be the dirtiest most inefficient plants. With batteries we can store electricity for peak times. Not only eliminating the need for surplus generation capacity but drastically improving the efficiency of solar/wind. My semi-educated guess says widespread battery capacity could reduce annual emissions by at least 20-30%.

As for coal, our PM recently reaffirmed that coal has a long future. It isn't going away anytime soon because the cost of replacement is astronomical and the inputs cheap. Need a more nuanced solution.
 
planemaker
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 12:44 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 1):
I propose a ground rule that AGW denialism is "off topic" and will be reported. Does the OP agree?

I agree. After Paris it is a moot point as the world has agreed to transition from fossil fuels. In any case, there are a few denialist sites still out there where they can commiserate on.  
Quoting DocLightning (Reply 4):
Second, even with scrubbers, coal still produces twice the CO2 per unit energy as natural gas.

CO2 is the key point here.

Quoting aerorobnz (Reply 2):
There are huge chunks of terrain doing nothing except absorbing sun in the Southwest/California. They seem prime for solar.

They are slowly being used. There has been big growth on roof top installations. I was surprised at how rapidly WalMart has been installing panels on their stores.

Quoting QFA380 (Reply 5):
Coal may appear to be low hanging fruit but not all coal or powerplants are equal.

That is why I presented the US stats as it is fairly straightforward.

Quoting QFA380 (Reply 5):
One of the more interesting developments to watch will be electric cars and electricity consumption over the next 5-10 years. There is a trend for falling electricity consumption, due to home solar panels and also appliances becoming more efficient however if electric cars can continue their push into the mainstream we may see consumption tick back up.

The game changer, as you note, will be storage... home and grid. And within 5 years I think that we will have have large scale storage being installed that will really upset the apple cart. All that excess solar and wind (especially wind at night) will add a lot of capacity to the grid via storage. And most car charging will be done at night.

BTW, Ford just announced that they will be spending $4.5bn on electric cars and plans on having 13 new electric models by 2020, and 40% of models will offer electric versions.

Quoting QFA380 (Reply 5):
Battery technology will also become one of the big changes.

An awful lot of investment is going into battery technology. BTW, Tesla is looking to build a "Gigaplant" in Germany.

Here is a battery technology (Intel is an investor) that looks promising in the next few years: Prieto Battery

- Very High Power Density
- Long Cycle Life
- Safe
- Greater Energy Density

Quoting QFA380 (Reply 5):
As for coal, our PM recently reaffirmed that coal has a long future. It isn't going away anytime soon because the cost of replacement is astronomical and the inputs cheap.

It isn't going to be easy politically but the deal will provide him some cover:

Quote:
Climate Institute chief executive John Connor said Australia's policies now had to match the aspirations set in Paris.

He said unless Australia adopted more aggressive policies, current targets would still leave it the highest per capita polluter in the G20 by 2030, alongside only Saudi Arabia, considered an obstructive force in the Paris talks.

"The time for piecemeal, unstable and short-term policy is over. The real work for Australia starts now," he said.
Greenpeace Australia chief executive David Ritter said the agreement meant "it's time for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to shake off the climate policy hangover left by Tony Abbott and his band of climate deniers".

He said the government's support of the proposed Carmichael coal mine in Queensland was now clearly at odds with the global trend.

He said some big Australian companies were already picking up a market signal of a shift away from fossil fuels, particularly coal. "In Australia, we've seen the major banks backing away from fossil fuel investments".
 
rfields5421
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 1:04 am

Quoting planemaker (Thread starter):
So, now with the Paris Agreement it will be interesting to see just how much more quickly coal will be dropped as a power source.

I seriously doubt coal will entirely disappear in the US or other countries.

The amount of coal available for use at a relatively cheap price makes it attractive.

Natural gas prices are low, now. Will they stay that way for the future?

Transport of coal appears to me to take more energy/ be more expensive than transport of natural gas. I see mile+ long coal trains bring in fuel for power plants near Dallas. With the NG being produced in the area, one would think NG is cheaper to use than coal, but the people who study the economics say now.

If coal is available at a cheaper total cost than NG or other energy sources - the companies using coal will find technology to make it climate friendly.
 
MD11Engineer
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 1:06 am

I think that coal as an energy source will eventually be phased out, but I still see a need for metalurgical coal for smelting metals. There coal (or coke) is not just the energy source, but also the means of reducing the metal oxydes of the ores to pure metal and in case of steel, also an alloying element. But metalurgical coal is just a fraction of what is being burnt for energy production.

Jan
 
planemaker
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 1:30 am

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 7):
I seriously doubt coal will entirely disappear in the US or other countries.

The amount of coal available for use at a relatively cheap price makes it attractive.

It will take longer in developing countries but in the US I believe it will be faster than most people expect. And in the US it isn't about prices (though if carbon pricing and external costs are applied coal will not be price competitive in any case) but carbon emissions.

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 7):
Natural gas prices are low, now. Will they stay that way for the future?

Yes. There is a major domestic glut and once significant storage comes on-line it will put downward pressure on gas pricing.

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 7):
With the NG being produced in the area, one would think NG is cheaper to use than coal, but the people who study the economics say now.

Not according to this article: On Texas power grid, coal’s prominence is sliding

According to the article, by 2030 half of Texas' coal plants are projected to close... but now with Paris, and tech developments, I think a lot more will be closed by then.

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 7):
If coal is available at a cheaper total cost than NG or other energy sources - the companies using coal will find technology to make it climate friendly.

Natural gas is already cheaper and emits only a third of the GHG compared to coal so there is no way to make coal economically viable. And wind, which is already competitive, when combined with storage will be unbeatable.

Quoting MD11Engineer (Reply 8):
But metalurgical coal is just a fraction of what is being burnt for energy production.

And, undoubtedly, an offset will be established.
 
rfields5421
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 2:21 am

(Fair warning - I have worked for the Dallas Morning News at times in the past, and have sold many free lance articles to the paper. I think it is one of the best newspapers in the country. But that's my biased opinion.)

Quoting planemaker (Reply 9):
Not according to this article:

The problem I have with articles like that is the numbers are in percentages of the total power grid.

What I don't see in the article is X KWH of electricity from coal powered plants in year XXXX and X KWH of electricity from those plants in year XXXX. Not numbers to support the implied presumption that the actual amount of electricity generated by coal has decreased over a specified time period. Nothing in the article takes into account any possible increases in generating capability.

While the percentage of power from coal in the grid is getting smaller - my understanding is that is mainly from new power generation plants coming on-line which are not coal. Not from the closing of any coal plants.

As the article says

Quote:
So far, no coal plants have been officially taken off the grid or shut down...


--------------------------------

Quoting planemaker (Reply 9):
Yes. There is a major domestic glut and once significant storage comes on-line it will put downward pressure on gas pricing.

Yes, there is a major oversupply of natural gas. But much of the NG currently available is being sold at or less than the cost of getting the NG out of the ground. We are seeing NG wells being shut down across north Texas, north Louisiana, south Arkansas because the individual wells are no longer profitable.

Each well has a cost of production. If they cannot sell the NG (or oil) for a price to make a profit, they don't put the well into production.

We have great reserves of oil in the US, at $95 per barrel, and great reserves of NG at $ 5 per MMBtu and higher. Most of the NG (and oil) which comes from recent fracking operations is on the high end of the cost of production range.

Current prices near $2 per MMBtu don't support bring those additional reserves to market.

Natural gas prices have dropped over 1/3 in the past three months. There is no guarantee they will stay that low. They could easily double or triple over the next year.

If NG prices stay that low, the supply is going to decrease because the companies which are currently selling gas at prices below their cost of production with run out of cash and go out of business. No company can run at a deficit forever. They aren't the government.

Look at how the price of NG corresponds to the number of rigs in production - http://www.eia.gov/naturalgas/weekly/ - this is a report I've been following for years. The only thing I can say about natural gas prices is that they are subject to wide fluctuations, and I've seen no reports that the market will ever stabilize.

Now, the biggest support for eliminating coal power plants is the lack of new builds, Where recent new builds have all been NG.

I happened to have lunch today with a friend who is in management with Luminant at the Fairfield plant pictured in the DMN article. (It was a Christmas party, not anything energy related.)

One of the questions asked was what ever happened to the plans to convert that plant to NG a couple years ago. He said the company doesn't see NG prices as stable enough to convert plants to NG. They want to keep coal as a backup if NG prices go higher.

[Edited 2015-12-12 18:25:18]
 
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Aesma
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 3:11 am

I heard on the radio that the finance industry is getting out of coal, making it difficult for any new project to be financed. AXA for example has divested from its interests in coal.

Quoting MD11Engineer (Reply 8):
I think that coal as an energy source will eventually be phased out, but I still see a need for metalurgical coal for smelting metals. There coal (or coke) is not just the energy source, but also the means of reducing the metal oxydes of the ores to pure metal and in case of steel, also an alloying element. But metalurgical coal is just a fraction of what is being burnt for energy production.

Natural gas can be used to make steel.
 
QFA380
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 4:14 am

Quoting planemaker (Reply 6):
It isn't going to be easy politically but the deal will provide him some cover:

Australia has such incredibly unstable politics that he won't move much. He lost the leadership last time over emissions trading. We have elections every 3 years. Going after coal is bad politics. Electricity users, big business, miners, families along with the many communities reliant on coal for very little electoral benefit. Paris deal won't change much at all. Wait until the right can start saying he has signed us up to pay for China to pollute for longer.

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 7):
Natural gas prices are low, now. Will they stay that way for the future?

Nearly all commodities are in for an extended period of being very cheap. Technology is progressing so fast that costs keep getting lower. They seem to showing some aspects of perfect competition where the price is getting driven down to the marginal cost. The strategy of all players seems to be produce as much as you possibly can for as little cost as possible. This is being shown in gas, oil, iron ore, coal, copper, nickel, everything.

Due to this added efficiency along with mothballed high cost production, any new demand that causes a jump in the price will be met with swift supply increases. It is unlikely costs will increase considering the immense pressure to lower costs. Despite the idea of 'peak oil', most commodities from the perspective of our lifetimes have near infinite supply limited only by cost of production and I doubt the cheap stuff will run out any time soon.

Pending no enormous changes in the world (nuclear war, coups, wide scale societal collapse), gas, oil, coal and others will most likely be cheap for the next 5-10 years. This will definitely slow down any shifts to renewables. When carbon sources are getting cheaper must faster than renewables it gets difficult without tough legislation.
 
planemaker
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 5:18 am

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 10):

(Fair warning - I have worked for the Dallas Morning News at times in the past, and have sold many free lance articles to the paper. I think it is one of the best newspapers in the country. But that's my biased opinion.)

Interesting.

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 10):
The problem I have with articles like that is the numbers are in percentages of the total power grid.
Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 10):
Not numbers to support the implied presumption that the actual amount of electricity generated by coal has decreased over a specified time period. Nothing in the article takes into account any possible increases in generating capability.

Certainly, absolute numbers would be helpful to see the situation clearer but I think that the article is pretty self-explanatory. As per outside data, Texas electricity consumption increase is less than 3%/year yet, as per the article, nat gas electrical supply was 50% versus 35% the prior year, while coal was down to 25% compared to 40% average. And, of course, wind has been growing so that would be some of the ~3% increase.

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 10):
We have great reserves of oil in the US, at $95 per barrel, and great reserves of NG at $ 5 per MMBtu and higher. Most of the NG (and oil) which comes from recent fracking operations is on the high end of the cost of production range.

From this article: Oil Producers Hungry for Deals Drool Over West Texas 'Tiramisu'

Quote:
The Permian’s multiple layers of oil- and gas-soaked rocks, in some places stacked 5,000 feet thick, contain plenty of places to drill that will yield 30 percent to 40 percent rates of return with crude prices as low as $40 a barrel, Laird Dyer, a Royal Dutch Shell Plc energy analyst, said at a conference in Toronto Nov. 10.
A single layer in the Permian, the Spraberry, probably holds 75 billion barrels of recoverable oil, Dyer said. That’s enough to supply the entire world for more than two years.

There are several other articles that say that the viability threshold is >$50 for Texas.

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 10):
I happened to have lunch today with a friend who is in management with Luminant at the Fairfield plant pictured in the DMN article. (It was a Christmas party, not anything energy related.)

One of the questions asked was what ever happened to the plans to convert that plant to NG a couple years ago. He said the company doesn't see NG prices as stable enough to convert plants to NG. They want to keep coal as a backup if NG prices go higher.

Well, don't forget that Luminant owns 3 of the five largest coal mines in Texas.

After Paris one thing is certain, the status quo won't continue and that there will be a move away from fossil fuels, in particular coal. The question is how fast.

With Texas being the largest wind powered state, and increasing, this article is interesting: It has never made less sense to build fossil fuel power plants

Once storage grid starts begins deployment it will change the economics even more: Lower-Cost Wind and Solar Will Drive Energy Storage Technology

Quoting QFA380 (Reply 12):
Australia has such incredibly unstable politics that he won't move much. He lost the leadership last time over emissions trading. We have elections every 3 years. Going after coal is bad politics. Electricity users, big business, miners, families along with the many communities reliant on coal for very little electoral benefit. Paris deal won't change much at all. Wait until the right can start saying he has signed us up to pay for China to pollute for longer.

It will be interesting to see how it plays out. It will be difficult for Australia not to move forward without being an international pariah. AUstralia is one of the biggest uranium producers yet doesn't have any nuclear energy. I've always found that interesting but understand the politics.

Quoting QFA380 (Reply 12):
Technology is progressing so fast that costs keep getting lower.

That includes wind, solar... and storage.

Quoting QFA380 (Reply 12):
Pending no enormous changes in the world (nuclear war, coups, wide scale societal collapse), gas, oil, coal and others will most likely be cheap for the next 5-10 years. This will definitely slow down any shifts to renewables. When carbon sources are getting cheaper must faster than renewables it gets difficult without tough legislation.

Wind and solar costs continue to decline and with storage will be the lowest cost on the market. Add a carbon tax, fee or whatever it is called, and fossil fuels are not competitive.

But it goes beyond just economics and that what Paris was about. Hence the question, when will coal in the US be no more.
 
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seb146
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 5:42 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 4):
where are we going to put all the waste those scrubbers collect?

I wonder if there is something useful for that stuff? Someone always finds something to do with that stuff.

Yes, coal emissions are bad. Isn't there a glut of natural gas, too? Why not switch to that while we make solar and wind easier to access?
 
TSS
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 6:12 am

Quoting seb146 (Reply 14):
Quoting DocLightning (Reply 4):
where are we going to put all the waste those scrubbers collect?

I wonder if there is something useful for that stuff? Someone always finds something to do with that stuff.

As I understand it, sodium fluoride (used in toothpaste and for water fluoridation) is a byproduct of the coal combustion process, but I have no idea whether it is collected in the "scrubbers" or simply scraped off the inside of coal plant chimneys occasionally. Perhaps with a decrease in coal usage, the far less toxic calcium fluoride can be substituted economically for water fluoridation purposes.
 
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DocLightning
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 7:49 am

The elephant in the room is that we need electricity. So if it's not going to be coal and gas has issues, and wind, solar, hydro, and tidal can't take up all the slack then we're left with...

...NUCLEAR!

Which has the issue that when it DOES have a problem, it looks especially bad. It doesn't matter that coal plants have been pumping mercury and tons of radioisotopes into the air for a century now, one nuclear plant leaks a few grams of a radioisotope and the world goes mad. It doesn't matter that the three major nuclear accidents (Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima) would be impossible with modern reactors (and especially with molten core thorium reactors)

There are rational solutions for just about every kind of nuclear power, but the natural political state of humans has been to never go for rational solutions. The big issue with nuclear is that it's (mostly) clean, but not renewable. Currently, at current nuclear usage rates, our global supply is about 90 years, although that only stands to increase as we explore more.(1) Currently, nuclear power is globally responsible for about 14% of global electricity generation, (2) so we can see that fuel supply is a potential issue. Now, if we add thorium to the mix, then the supply problem suddenly becomes insubstantial.(3)

IF fusion can be accomplished in a manner that is reasonably inexpensive then we will have a clean power source with millions of years of supply and very little radioactive waste that has a relatively short half-life. Well, then our energy problem is rapidly solved. Many of the problems facing the world today can be seen as energy problems. Fresh water can be supplemented with desalination. Entire polluted rivers could be run through filters to scrub out toxic wastes. CO2 can be pulled directly out of the sea and turned into hydrocarbon fuels to power ships and planes and even cars without having to worry about adding more CO2 to the biosphere. I could imagine a hilarious irony in which humans 200 years from now are frantically digging coal out of the ground to burn it because we pulled too much CO2 from the atmosphere and are now facing an ice age! Similarly, much of the hunger in the world is not a lack of food supply, but an issue with food distribution. With low-cost clean energy, many of these problems could be solved. In an extreme case we might get into an issue with waste heat, but our civilization is nowhere near that now.

If we can solve our issue of energy generation in a clean manner that is not limited by the natural resources available to us, our future will be bright indeed.

(1)http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Nuclear-fuel-cycle/Uranium-Resources/Supply-of-Uranium/
(2)http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/energy/great-energy-challenge/world-electricity-mix/
(3)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occurrence_of_thorium
 
tommy1808
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 8:34 am

Quoting planemaker (Reply 6):
And most car charging will be done at night.

if everyone drives electrical cars, charging those at the same time would draw more energy than all the power plants produce, even in countries with the highest production capacity. If transportation goes all electrical, managing grid and batteries would become a major art form and i wouldn´t be surprised if providers forbid charging cars at some point and require households to have an installed home battery for handle those large loads and refill those under "when available" condition.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 16):
1) Currently, nuclear power is globally responsible for about 14% of global electricity generation, (2) so we can see that fuel supply is a potential issue. Now, if we add thorium to the mix, then the supply problem suddenly becomes insubstantial.(3)

MSR seems nice, but since they can´t really be used to make nukes, not too much development effort has been put in those. But a nuclear power technology that is safe in operation and leaves us just with waste we have to store a few hundred years would be neat. BUT, and that is a big one, nuclear power isn´t cheap per kwh and it need to be highly subsidized.

best regards
Thomas
 
planemaker
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 9:43 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 16):
Currently, at current nuclear usage rates, our global supply is about 90 years, although that only stands to increase as we explore more.

We have double that if Bill Gate's initiative or the initiative Peter Thiel has invested in go forward. You may know that Thiel recently wrote an op-ed in the NYT: The New Atomic Age We Need

Quoting tommy1808 (Reply 17):
if everyone drives electrical cars, charging those at the same time would draw more energy than all the power plants produce, even in countries with the highest production capacity.

There is more capacity throughout the night than there would be demand.
 
MD11Engineer
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 9:51 am

Quoting Aesma (Reply 11):
Natural gas can be used to make steel.

But with a very high gas consumption, which, in Europe, can only be covered by Fracking (banned in most European countries). Plus the spongy raw iron will have to be remolten in an electric furnace to create steel.

Jan
 
tommy1808
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 10:39 am

Quoting planemaker (Reply 18):
There is more capacity throughout the night than there would be demand.

please do the math, the demand under those circumstances would exceed the total production capacity, not just the base load to peak load delta, several times over. Charging load will have to be spread out over the whole 24 hours, always ready to absorb any excess supply from wind and solar. Either because parked e-cars are always grid connected, or with excessive buffer capacity in the grid/point of charge itself. And even that will require significant investments in grid capacity.

Good thing to do for sure, but "if i want to charge my car, i just plug it in" only works when there are few electrical cars in the streets. Imagine the 7pm peak in power consumption when all those people just plugged in millions of cars after returning home from work/shopping and so on. I think the first requirement we are going to see is a grid controlled load shedding for car charging, and/or a drastic surcharge per Kwh if you. temporarily perhaps, opt out of it because you need a full charge regardless of cost.

On the plus side, being more aware of how much energy we need at what time probably isn´t an altogether bad thing

best regards
Thomas
 
rfields5421
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 2:45 pm

Quoting QFA380 (Reply 12):
Due to this added efficiency along with mothballed high cost production, any new demand that causes a jump in the price will be met with swift supply increases.

Most of the drilling over the past dozen or so years has resulted in mothballed wells. But we do have a tremendous capacity to quickly increase production of NG and oil if supplies drop enough to raise prices to the point those wells become profitable.

We can be certain that the companies owning the wells know the exact price point each individual well becomes worth operating. And with today's technology, can bring those wells into production in a few hours.

Quoting planemaker (Reply 13):
From this article:

Driving through the Permian basin in mid-2014 - roads are crowded with drilling and production trucks, worker trucks, etc. RV parks are full of temporary worker rigs.

A friend told me that his drive through the same area last week - it's a ghost town. Minimal activity.

Several of my RV friends used to work as gate guards for a few months each year in the Eagle Ford Shale and Permian Basin drilling areas. Now all of them are out of work 'because no one is drilling'.

Quoting planemaker (Reply 13):
Interesting.

Sports desk, composition, covering high school sports, some Richardson and Plano area local politics articles, etc. I'm a fair writer, but not a very talented writer. Not of the quality for a major reporting job for a paper as good as the DMN.
 
mt99
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 3:34 pm

Without taking into account any emission considerations - Coal is dead.

Natural Gas prices archive hit sub $2 at Henry Hub with no end in sight .. 20 year out pricing is at $2.50. There is no economical coal plant the can compete with that.

Sure - Clean Power Plan (CPP) will be the one the finally pulls the plug on coal - but otherwise it will languish to a long slow death.

From a more existencial point of view i like this quote by Steven Chu: "The stone age did not end because we ran out of stone - it ended because we found better solutions".

So Coal is dead: Cheaper alternatives, Cleaner Alternatives, Better Alternatives.
 
WIederling
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 3:39 pm

Quoting johns624 (Reply 3):
China and some other countries...not so much.

Got some numbers on that? Requirements for new coal plants in China
are rather stringent. In general China is moving faster than the West in
getting cleaner. Only that is not much publicized.
( then electricity generation is not the only carbon source, heating, transport, ... )
 
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WildcatYXU
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 4:30 pm

Quoting Aesma (Reply 11):

Natural gas can be used to make steel.

Steel yes. Once you have the base material - raw iron. But how would you reduce iron oxide to iron without coke?
 
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pvjin
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 4:37 pm

As I see it nuclear power is the only short term solution to replace coal ASAP. It's beyond my understanding why the "greens" in this country and organizations like greenpeace keep opposing it when it's clear we need to cut emissions now or we'll be in some deep trouble soon enough. Solar and wind simply aren't powerful enough to be used as sole replacement yet, until they are nuclear is the key. Obviously in the long term fusion might be an option too.
 
WIederling
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 4:53 pm

Quoting pvjin (Reply 25):
It's beyond my understanding why the "greens"

Any group that uses conceptual virginity ( only 0% or 100% of $something is an acceptable outcome *) is a religious group.
No rational behavior can be expected.

*
any single food that does not contain humungous amounts of fiber is bad.
Any whiff of $element must be banned.
Anything that uses fission or fusion is bad.
Any radiation exposure is unacceptable.
Any society that is not ruled by "democracy" is a deathly sin.
...
.
 
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Aesma
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 5:51 pm

Quoting QFA380 (Reply 12):
When carbon sources are getting cheaper must faster than renewables it gets difficult without tough legislation.

Legislation doesn't need to be tough, it needs to be wide, and long term. I propose to replace sale tax/VAT with a carbon tax. The tax should have a timetable, for example 1% today, and 1% increase every year for 20 years.

Quoting WildcatYXU (Reply 24):
Steel yes. Once you have the base material - raw iron. But how would you reduce iron oxide to iron without coke?

I'm not a specialist but it seems to be possible : Direct Reduced Iron

An interesting article going into details about the various alternatives : https://coalactionnetworkaotearoa.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/can-we-make-steel-without-coal/

A key point being that if carbon was taxed as it should, a lot more recycling of steel would happen, and a lot more avoiding using it altogether too.

Quoting pvjin (Reply 25):
As I see it nuclear power is the only short term solution to replace coal ASAP. It's beyond my understanding why the "greens" in this country and organizations like greenpeace keep opposing it when it's clear we need to cut emissions now or we'll be in some deep trouble soon enough. Solar and wind simply aren't powerful enough to be used as sole replacement yet, until they are nuclear is the key. Obviously in the long term fusion might be an option too.

You might have been right some years ago, but right now building a nuclear plant in the west is a very long, very expensive process. You can build literally hundreds of solar and wind plants in the same time and cost.
 
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DocLightning
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 6:07 pm

Quoting tommy1808 (Reply 20):

please do the math, the demand under those circumstances would exceed the total production capacity, not just the base load to peak load delta, several times over. Charging load will have to be spread out over the whole 24 hours, always ready to absorb any excess supply from wind and solar. Either because parked e-cars are always grid connected, or with excessive buffer capacity in the grid/point of charge itself. And even that will require significant investments in grid capacity.

I am not entirely sure that electric cars are the best way to do cars. Once you can charge for a 300 mile trip in less than 5 minutes (much like a hydrocarbon car) then you'll have my attention. Until then, anyone who doesn't have a garage or driveway (and I'm one of those people) is not going to be interested. It would make more sense to have plants producing hydrocarbon fuels from captured CO2 (sea water is the easiest way to do this), which would be slightly carbon-negative.
 
MD11Engineer
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 6:12 pm

Quoting Aesma (Reply 29):
Quoting WildcatYXU (Reply 24):
Steel yes. Once you have the base material - raw iron. But how would you reduce iron oxide to iron without coke?

I'm not a specialist but it seems to be possible : Direct Reduced Iron

An interesting article going into details about the various alternatives : https://coalactionnetworkaotearoa.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/can-we-make-steel-without-coal/

A key point being that if carbon was taxed as it should, a lot more recycling of steel would happen, and a lot more avoiding using it altogether too.

You are talking about the MITREX process, which produces a semi molten spongy lump of iron with lots of slag in it. It is quite similar to the medieval process used e.g. in the Catalan furnaces, but then the material had to be beaten in hot state to beat out the slag and to compress it. The result was wrought iron, which was last used in the 1960s. A swedish company still made it for artistically inclined blacksmiths until the 1970s.
To change this sponge iron into something useable it will have to be remolten, e.g. in an electric furnace, and alloyed, among other elements, with carbon.
Steel is already widely recycled (maybe not so much by private people, but in the industry, as you get money for the scrap metal. Even I, blacksmithing as a hobby, have a scrap metal box in my garage. I sell the stuff to a scrap metal dealer when it becomes too much).
Steel and iron are actually ideally recyclable, as the metal does not lose it's quality and can be re-alloyed when remolten.

Actually getting coal for my forge turns into a problem. I use maybe 50-100 kgs of blacksmith coal a year, but there are very few fuel dealers who still stock it and sell it in small amounts. I'd like to use coke, as it burns cleaner and doesn't produce the heavy, tarry smoke of anthrazite coal (whih on the other hand has the advantage of the coal lumps baking together, so that I can form a "cave" of very intense heat, e.g. for forger welding), but it is even harder to get. I started by using charcoal, but first I'd use about 3 times as much as with anthrazite coal, and secondly, whenever I start the blower, it produces a shower of sparks. As I use a fieldforge (built it myself) in an open shed, I'm afraid of setting something on fire with the sparks. Before rock coal was discovered, whole forests were cut down in Europe for charcoal production.

I could build (and I'm still going to do so) a gas forge, heated with LPG, but it is a lot more expensive to run than rock coal or charcoal. plan to use it mainly for small, delicate items, like knife blades and to make springs. It can be regulated better than the coal fire, which reacts a bit slow to turning the blower on and off.

I think that using coal for burning in power stations will end soon (by far the biggest part), but there will still be niche uses in the chemical industry or metalurgy that still need some.

Jan

[Edited 2015-12-13 10:19:42]

[Edited 2015-12-13 10:22:12]

[Edited 2015-12-13 10:30:10]
 
planemaker
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 7:21 pm

Quoting tommy1808 (Reply 20):
please do the math, the demand under those circumstances would exceed the total production capacity, not just the base load to peak load delta, several times over.

The math has been done in several studies and it wouldn't be a problem.

Quoting tommy1808 (Reply 20):
always ready to absorb any excess supply from wind and solar.

The change over to an all electric vehicle fleet will take several decades. Over that time several technologies are going to be phased in including grid storage for wind and solar.

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 21):
A friend told me that his drive through the same area last week - it's a ghost town. Minimal activity.

Yes, the "gold rush" is over. Only the newer rigs and equipment are going to be operating.

Quoting mt99 (Reply 22):
Without taking into account any emission considerations - Coal is dead.

Yes, but how long will it take to move off coal?

Quoting mt99 (Reply 22):
From a more existencial point of view i like this quote by Steven Chu: "The stone age did not end because we ran out of stone - it ended because we found better solutions".

That is a good variation on the original quote.  
Quoting Aesma (Reply 29):
You might have been right some years ago, but right now building a nuclear plant in the west is a very long, very expensive process. You can build literally hundreds of solar and wind plants in the same time and cost.

Fortunately China has very aggressive plans to build out their nuclear fleet. While I am fully supportive of solar and wind, and they will make a significant contribution, unfortunately they won't be able to replace coal.

Here are two charts that illustrate the problem. The first one is an eye catcher as it graphically shows the land area required by alternatives to equal Vermont's nuclear power output:

http://www.ansnuclearcafe.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Infographic_-_Land_Needed_by_Wind_and_Solar-1024x757.jpg

And this one is for Hinkley:

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/files/2013/10/infographic.jpg

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 30):
I am not entirely sure that electric cars are the best way to do cars. Once you can charge for a 300 mile trip in less than 5 minutes (much like a hydrocarbon car) then you'll have my attention.

We will get there but we are still early days in a relative sense.The major car manufacturers are really only just now gearing up now. But already there are some promising results. For example, the new Focus will take 30 minutes to reach an 80% charge. And that is 2 hours faster than the current Focus. Range has also gone up. Another example is Porsche developing a sports car with 300 mile range that will reach 80% charge after 15 minutes and will have in-floor induction charging.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 30):
It would make more sense to have plants producing hydrocarbon fuels from captured CO2 (sea water is the easiest way to do this), which would be slightly carbon-negative.

I think that we will continue to develop that route as there are going to be required uses of liquids for a long time... such as for long distance flights.
 
mham001
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 7:42 pm

Quoting planemaker (Reply 33):
Here are two charts that illustrate the problem. The first one is an eye catcher as it graphically shows the land area required by alternatives to equal Vermont's nuclear power output:

I am a bit suspicious of those graphics produced by the nuclear industry, especially the first one. For one example, most of the wind farms I see still leave the ground usable for farming, grazing or other activity.
 
planemaker
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 8:02 pm

Quoting mham001 (Reply 35):
I am a bit suspicious of those graphics produced by the nuclear industry, especially the first one. For one example, most of the wind farms I see still leave the ground usable for farming, grazing or other activity.

Even if the results were inflated by 50% they still illustrate the problem with replacing coal as baseload. With breakneck expansion, wind and solar are still only ~2% of global electricity generation. In other words, not even keeping up with growth let alone being able to replace fossil fuel generating capacity.
 
mham001
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 8:07 pm

Quoting planemaker (Reply 36):

Even if the results were inflated by 50% they still illustrate the problem with replacing coal as baseload.

Oh I mostly agree with that but I thought you were talking about nuclear. I think reasonable people can agree that LPG is a good mid-term replacement for coal.
 
planemaker
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 8:23 pm

Quoting mham001 (Reply 37):
Oh I mostly agree with that but I thought you were talking about nuclear. I think reasonable people can agree that LPG is a good mid-term replacement for coal.

For the record (if it wasn't obvious) I am pro-nuke. I think that nuclear is the best baseload solution to coal. However, it can't scale up fast enough so gas is the only interim alternative.
 
rfields5421
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 9:59 pm

Quoting planemaker (Reply 38):
I think that nuclear is the best baseload solution to coal. However, it can't scale up fast enough so gas is the only interim alternative.

I agree, however, I still think coal will take 15-20 years to phase out.
 
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Adipasquale
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 10:07 pm

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 4):
Second, even with scrubbers, coal still produces twice the CO2 per unit energy as natural gas.

I'm not trying to argue that coal, even the so called "clean coal" is actually clean, but natural gas is really not the answer either. Although burning coal releases much more CO2 than natural gas, the transport and burning natural gas releases a lot of methane. Methane remains in the atmosphere for a much shorter time than CO2 (12 years as opposed to around 1,000), but it is a much more potent greenhouse gas. The problem is that even after the methane in the atmosphere dissipates, global temperatures will not drop in a manner corresponding to the decline of the atmospheric methane. Here's a more in-depth explanation for those who might want to see more: http://www.eeb.cornell.edu/howarth/p...rth_2014_ESE_methane_emissions.pdf
 
planemaker
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Sun Dec 13, 2015 11:45 pm

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 39):
I agree, however, I still think coal will take 15-20 years to phase out.

It will be interesting to see how the transition away will play out. Since the Paris agreement calls for 5 year reviews, if progress is happening quick enough retirements could accelerate. Particularly if something like Ambri, an MIT spinoff, or TESLA's venture into grid storage, become deployable and then widespread.

Quoting Adipasquale (Reply 40):
I'm not trying to argue that coal, even the so called "clean coal" is actually clean, but natural gas is really not the answer either.

NG isn't the answer and that is why Paris concludes with the agreement to move away from fossil fuel. But NG is one of the best there is to bridge to carbon free future. Plus, there are less pollutants. A lot of people don't realize that coal is really nasty from a health perspective let alone carbon.
 
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Adipasquale
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Mon Dec 14, 2015 12:00 am

Quoting planemaker (Reply 41):
But NG is one of the best there is to bridge to carbon free future. Plus, there are less pollutants. A lot of people don't realize that coal is really nasty from a health perspective let alone carbon.

I know. I was just trying to point out that even if natural gas is the "best we have," it is still much worse than many people make it out to be. Is it better than coal, yes, but not by neraly as much as many people claim.
 
Ken777
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Mon Dec 14, 2015 7:48 pm

Quoting aerorobnz (Reply 2):
There are huge chunks of terrain doing nothing except absorbing sun in the Southwest/California.

The use of solar is one of the best choices available. Apple has spent a billion plus on solar farms because they can look past this year's P&L. Time for other companies togged aggressive.

It's also time for there to encourage residential installations of solar panels. Unfortunately our dumb broad of a governor worked with the power companies to establish a monthly "fee" for residents who dare to install solar or wind systems, and the "fee" goes to the power company,

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 4):
First of all, where are we going to put all the waste those scrubbers collect?

Is the waste suitable as a component for cinder blocks. If not maybe a few bright minds can develop other uses for it. Companies used to pay for waste cinder, then the use of it in the cinderblocks added value, which cut out the costs of having it towed away. Finally producers of cinder blocks started paying for the material. Maybe we can

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 4):
Second, even with scrubbers, coal still produces twice the CO2 per unit energy as natural gas.

The issue of natural gas is what to do with this limited resource. It's the cleanest approach to heating homes (outside of solar or wind) and is can be the cleanest fuel to work with electrical cars like the Prius. It is also getting some good research for use on the big rigs.

Maybe we need to raise standards on burning coal to "motivate" producers to improve their scrubbers and other parts of the system to reduce CO2, or to get more BTUs from a ton of coal.
 
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DocLightning
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Mon Dec 14, 2015 9:01 pm

Quoting planemaker (Reply 33):

We will get there but we are still early days in a relative sense.

I think we'll get to the point of having very fast-charging, high-density batteries. But not in the next ten years.
 
planemaker
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Tue Dec 15, 2015 7:28 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 39):
I think we'll get to the point of having very fast-charging, high-density batteries. But not in the next ten years.

5 years... I linked to this earlier... Prieto Battery  
 
FlyPNS1
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Tue Dec 15, 2015 5:42 pm

Quoting planemaker (Thread starter):
The climate change summit in Paris (COP21) is over and an agreement has been reached to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than 2C - target is 1.5C.

Just remember that the U.S. is unlikely to actually comply with the Paris agreement. Much of our Congress has said they don't agree with it and if a Republican wins the White House, the U.S. will likely abandon it altogether. Beyond that, the Paris agreement is totally unenforceable and I expect many countries to violate it.

Long-term I agree that coal will slowly fade away. However, the politics of coal in the U.S. will keep it around longer than some might expect.
 
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DocLightning
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Thu Dec 17, 2015 3:33 am

Quoting FlyPNS1 (Reply 41):

Just remember that the U.S. is unlikely to actually comply with the Paris agreement. Much of our Congress has said they don't agree with it and if a Republican wins the White House, the U.S. will likely abandon it altogether.

That's not how international law works, though. Although if the US tells the rest of the world to screw off and says that it will ignore any international court ruling, there's no way to force the US to comply short of military action (which won't go well for any aggressor), but it would have an icy effect on diplomacy. It could lead to the dissolution of trade agreements with even close allies.

The US is the only place in the world where AGW denialism runs rampant. The rest of the world would like to have a future and one way to ensure that the US cannot emit lots of CO2 is to tank our economy. It would be an internecine exercise, but it would be devastating to the US.

As for a GOP President taking office in 2016... I'm not holding my breath.
 
diverted
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Thu Dec 17, 2015 3:47 am

Quoting FlyPNS1 (Reply 41):
Just remember that the U.S. is unlikely to actually comply with the Paris agreement. Much of our Congress has said they don't agree with it and if a Republican wins the White House, the U.S. will likely abandon it altogether. Beyond that, the Paris agreement is totally unenforceable and I expect many countries to violate it.

Flashbacks of Kyoto?

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 42):
As for a GOP President taking office in 2016... I'm not holding my breath.

I've been hearing more and more lately from Republican acquaintances that if the nominee is Cruz, Carson, or Trump that they'd prefer to have Bernie as the Democrat candidate because they'd sooner vote for him than Clinton. That's telling-when registered Republicans support the socialist candidate. The GOP is out to lunch right now methinks.
 
WIederling
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Thu Dec 17, 2015 12:53 pm

Quoting diverted (Reply 43):
support the socialist candidate

The US is governed by a single Party that has two right wings.
 
FlyPNS1
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Thu Dec 17, 2015 5:23 pm

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 42):
That's not how international law works, though.

There's no "international law" involved here though. This treaty is just a handshake deal.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 42):
It could lead to the dissolution of trade agreements with even close allies.

I doubt many allies would tank their own economies over this deal.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 42):
The rest of the world would like to have a future and one way to ensure that the US cannot emit lots of CO2 is to tank our economy. It would be an internecine exercise, but it would be devastating to the US.

Again, most countries aren't going to do this...especially when the biggest CO2 offender will be China...not the U.S.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 42):
As for a GOP President taking office in 2016... I'm not holding my breath.

I'm not holding my breath either, but if turnout is poor, it will favor the Republicans...particularly if they put a more reasonable candidate like Rubio on the ballot. The Democrats will likely put a scandal-ridden candidate who even within her own party is disliked. My fear is that many young people and minorities will simply not show up because Clinton is so bad.
 
planemaker
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Fri Dec 18, 2015 6:39 am

No problem, be happy, everyone! Sure, Paris has no legally binding mechanism but Paris will result in political action, imperfect at times, sufficient to start to move toward eventually limiting temp rise to 1.5. Even with all the Paris Agreement commitments, the temp is still projected to rise +3 degrees so more drastic action will have to be taken later on to compensate for the slow start.

To slay the coal carbon beast there's no silver bullet but a whole host of bullets, including stiffer EPA regulations... and some even as simple as the LED light bulb:

The Lowly Lightbulb Outshines Solar and Wind on U.S. Power Grids

And a few more bullets arrived this week thanks to Congress this week...

http://assets.bwbx.io/images/iCWs0DpMWPus/v1/-1x-1.png
'
http://assets.bwbx.io/images/imaLqJ1kRFRo/v1/-1x-1.png

And with increasing grid storage the curve will hopefully bend sharper downward...
'
http://assets.bwbx.io/images/i6sWRsciXCv8/v2/-1x-1.png
 
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Zkpilot
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Tue Dec 22, 2015 12:01 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 15):
IF fusion can be accomplished in a manner that is reasonably inexpensive then we will have a clean power source with millions of years of supply and very little radioactive waste that has a relatively short half-life. Well, then our energy problem is rapidly solved. Many of the problems facing the world today can be seen as energy problems. Fresh water can be supplemented with desalination. Entire polluted rivers could be run through filters to scrub out toxic wastes. CO2 can be pulled directly out of the sea and turned into hydrocarbon fuels to power ships and planes and even cars without having to worry about adding more CO2 to the biosphere. I could imagine a hilarious irony in which humans 200 years from now are frantically digging coal out of the ground to burn it because we pulled too much CO2 from the atmosphere and are now facing an ice age! Similarly, much of the hunger in the world is not a lack of food supply, but an issue with food distribution. With low-cost clean energy, many of these problems could be solved. In an extreme case we might get into an issue with waste heat, but our civilization is nowhere near that now.

  
If we can solve fusion then we solve almost all of the current problems in the world.
The Sahara, Gobi, Australian, Arabian desserts could all be irrigated with desalinated water providing huge increases in food production. As you mentioned we could scrub CO2 from the atmosphere and we would rapidly reduce the amount of CO2 produced in the first place. Short Distance air travel? - Maglev/hyperloop.
Shipping could run on hydrogen (wouldn't go into having fusion powered civilian ships as that is asking for trouble). Most military shipping etc could run on fusion though.
Spaceflight? Giant Maglev systems to launch large payloads into space for assembly in space. This could mean that deep space exploration would be a lot easier to undertake but also with a fusion reactor and ion engines we could travel a lot faster (think Mars in 2 weeks rather than 2 years or other solar systems in 20 years rather than 200) because it would be easier to get payload into space more shielding could be installed to protect from space radiation too.
 
planemaker
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RE: Say Goodbye To US Coal Use By...?

Tue Dec 22, 2015 12:10 am

Quoting Zkpilot (Reply 47):
If we can solve fusion then we solve almost all of the current problems in the world.

Indeed but in the meantime... Innovating to zero!

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