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Earth Power

Energy Production Is As 'Dirty' As Ever 260

Posted by Soulskill
from the change-is-hard dept.
kkleiner writes "A recent report (PDF) from International Energy Agency delivers some dire news: despite 20 years of efforts toward clean energy and a decade of growth in renewable energy, energy production remains as 'dirty' as ever due to worldwide reliance on fossil fuels. With the global demand for energy expected to rise by 25 percent in the next 10 years, a renewed effort toward cleaner energy is desperately needed to avoid detrimental effects to the environment and public health. The report says, 'Coal technologies continue to dominate growth in power generation. This is a major reason why the amount of CO2 emitted for each unit of energy supplied has fallen by less than 1% since 1990. Thus the net impact on CO2 intensity of all changes in supply has been minimal. Coal-fired generation, which rose by an estimated 6% from 2010 to 2012, continues to grow faster than non-fossil energy sources on an absolute basis.'"
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Energy Production Is As 'Dirty' As Ever

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  • Re: Dirty (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @05:24PM (#43604879)

    please explain which civilization was killed by co2.

  • by Kylon99 (2430624) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @05:57PM (#43605043)

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/24/energy-japan-mof-idUSL4N0AT00Y20130124 [reuters.com]

    "Japan's LNG imports soared 11.2 percent to a record high of 87.31 million tonnes in 2012, driven by an increased need for fuel to generate electricity after the
    nuclear sector was hit by the Fukushima crisis, government data showed on Thursday."
    "Japan paid a record price for crude at $114.90 per barrel last year, compared with $108.65 in 2011."

    This goes to what you were saying. There may be alternative energy sources for some countries, but for some, the only way to go is nuclear. Japan is indeed trying to restart most (they've restarted 2) of their reactors, despite the intense protest against doing so. But their fuel costs have caused them to go from a net exporter country to a net importer country. And now they are screwed.

    Even if they're increasing LNG, they're still burning coal and oil. All of these pollute, and the dirtier they are, the more people they kill, more than thousands per year. Nuclear kills no one, probably because we are so paranoid about it.

  • by steveha (103154) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @06:59PM (#43605429) Homepage

    wind is intermittent; but it doesn't melt down, and storage can be done with hydro, pumped hydro or electric cars

    But you need to plan to replace the wind turbines about every 12 years, and this cost must be factored in to the cost of the power.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/9770837/Wind-farm-turbines-wear-sooner-than-expected-says-study.html [telegraph.co.uk]

    Hydro is mature. All the good locations already have hydro plants; and environmentalists are trying to get existing hydro plants torn out to benefit river wildlife, so just forget about building new hydro plants.

    I'm pretty sure pumped hydro storage is in a similar situation... you need a giant reservoir uphill of a source of lots of water you can pump. Where can you build a new one of these, and will the environmentalists approve?

    Using a decentralized group of electric cars as an energy-storage system is an interesting idea, but I don't think you can dependably store very much that way in the near future.

    I have hopes for molten-salt solar plants, which can keep producing power after the sun goes down because the salt holds so much heat. And it would be cool if we could work out a good way to use hydrogen to store excess energy from wind or solar... but it takes a lot of electricity to strip hydrogen out of water, and hydrogen is tricky to store.

    And just as you will face opposition to building more hydro, you will face opposition to building solar in the desert.

    http://e360.yale.edu/feature/its_green_against_green_in_mojave_desert_solar_battle/2236/ [yale.edu]

    Nuclear is more expensive than wind, and is also poor at load following; you normally find nuclear needs hydro as well; because it's so expensive to build it runs flat out and then the hydro does the load following- nuclear is better for baseload.

    I agree with your final statement; nuclear is indeed better for base load and not good at load-following. But probably natural gas is a better near-term way to reliably follow loads.

    By all means get renewables into the mix, but don't make the same mistake the U.K. made, wasting huge sums of money on a system that doesn't work very well. (Right when demand is most heavy in winter, the wind farms stop producing. Quote: "In winter, when the most intense cold period coincides with a high pressure front, most wind turbines do not work.")

    http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/article-2008055/Energy-giants-want-billions-windfarms.html [thisismoney.co.uk]

    One no-brainer idea: homes and businesses in warm places (Arizona, Florida, Texas, etc.) should have solar panels on the roof. This will produce peak power during peak demand times (when everyone is running the air conditioning, the sun will be shining). This is only a tiny part of the overall energy picture, though, and will happen on its own as the cost of solar panels keeps falling.

  • by The Grim Reefer (1162755) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @08:06PM (#43605761)

    In small concentrations it is necessary for plants - but it isn't what is typically considered a "nutrient". But CO2 has a strong effect on global heating and the low concentrations confuse people who don't understand just how powerful an infrared absorber it is, or what happens when you disturb an equilibrium.

    When has there been equilibrium on this planet exactly? I'm not saying we shouldn't try to cut CO2 emissions and be smarter about pollution than we are now, but unless you're looking to make the planet more like Mars, you're not going to get "equilibrium".

    eldavojohn is totally correct when he mentions "water wars, refugees, failing economies, destruction of the food chain, droughts and general destabilization of the planet". These are all consequences of a warming planet.

    It would also be a consequence of a cooling planet.

    Some areas will have far too much water at times - like the midwestern US that is flooding now. But then it can go into drought and crops wither like they did last year. Other areas simply suffer prolonged drought. Right now the Rio Grand has slowed to nothing but stagnant water in the southern part of New Mexico and the pecan and chile farmers are looking at big crop failures. People are already fighting over water rights in a number of areas as what is becoming a scarce resource is now the difference between a farm surviving or failing.

    It's always been that way, and probably will be for the foreseeable future. Go read about the dust bowl of the 1930's.

    Scoff and deny all you want, but those of us old enough to remember the weather in the 60's and 70's know that the weather has changed and that what we are seeing now simply is not normal.

    Are you fucking kidding me? This is exactly what I hear deniers excoriated for saying. I remember those times too. And I also remember my elders talking about how the weather then wasn't what it used to be like and how milk and bread were 5 cents. How do you know the weather you and I remember was "normal". It's just what we remember as kids, nothing "normal" about it. The climate has changed many times before the industrial revolution. That's how it works. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't try to be better stewards of the planet. But we have no where near enough knowledge to control the climate at this point in time. And frankly I'd be scared of how badly we'd screw it up if we could control it.

  • Re:Dirty (Score:5, Interesting)

    by paulpach (798828) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @09:55PM (#43606215)

    In case anyone is wondering, they're using CO2 as the sole measurement of 'dirty,' ignoring things like sulfur, mercury, and lead, which are probably important.

    Exactly! Consider what was going on before cars. People used horses to move around. You know what horses do besides transporting people? They poop, and then step all over it pulverizing it. Pulverized horse poop is orders of magnitude worse than anything that can come out of a car.
    Consider also all the epidemics that went on for centuries without aqueducts.

    Despite what environmentalist would have you believe, technology is actually making the world less and less polluted over time. Just looking at CO2 and ignoring all sorts of pollutants that it replaced, is just myopic.

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