Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Denmark and COP15

Unlike in the U.S., the upcoming Copenhagen Climate negotiations are being taken seriously in other parts of the world. There are different motivations for different countries, to be sure, but there is nothing like the looming threat of extinction and drowning to focus the mind. However, Global Warming/Global Meltdown (of the Greenland ice-sheets) will have a huge impact on humans in the next century - raising ocean waters by 20 feet (at least) is looking like a highly probable even unless the rate of CO2 pollution severely halted in the near future. If you are curious, here is the paper by James Hansen that spells out why the 350 ppm of CO2 limit needs to be respected, based on the recent (well, last million years) of climate data. The science of paleoclimatology shows the inter-relationship between previous CO2 concentrations and air/ocean temperatures and ocean levels. The paper is 20 pages, contains science stuff (but also has lots of graphs); here is the summary of this paper.

"Paleoclimate data show that climate sensitivity is ~3 deg-C for doubled CO2, including only fast feedback processes. Equilibrium sensitivity, including slower surface albedo feedbacks, is ~6 deg-C for doubled CO2 for the range of climate states between glacial conditions and ice-free Antarctica. Decreasing CO2 was the main cause of a cooling trend that began 50 million years ago, large scale glaciation occurring when CO2 fell to 450 +/- 100 ppm, a level that will be exceeded within decades, barring prompt policy changes. If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm. The largest uncertainty in the target arises from possible changes of non-CO2 forcings. An initial 350 ppm CO2 target may be achievable by phasing out coal use except where CO2 is captured and adopting agricultural and forestry practices that sequester carbon. If the present overshoot of this target CO2 is not brief, there is a possibility of seeding irreversible catastrophic effects. "

For example, the Maldives Islands did their scuba session as part of the 350.org event on October 24 - they are reportedly saving up money to buy themselves a home in some other part of the world. The Maldives are a group of 1192 islets, 200 of them inhabited, about 600 miles south of India in the equatorial part of the Indian Ocean, with a very minimal average height above the high tide mark. Global Warming and Global Meltdown will make them as as attols/coral reefs, unless they start building up some of the islands/put dikes around them. After all, take some muck from the ocean floor, pump it onto land and buildup up the height of a few islands. Or move.

Another group of countries under the threat of drowning are the northern European countries - Denmark, Belgium, The Netherlands, as well as lots of Northern Germany, Southern Sweden and Norway, lots of Finland, Great Britain, parts of Ireland and the Baltic Sea Coastal regions of Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland. These areas are very flat, and subject to flooding, and parts of The Netherlands are already below sea-level. Unlike many other low lying coastal regions (Nile Delta, Niger Delta, Mekong Delta), the northern European areas are highly industrialized, relatively (or significantly) affluent, and they do not like the idea of building up even more massive diked areas and living behind sea-walls. But, if needed, they will do this. However, they would prefer that sea-levels stay at present levels.

The upcoming COP15 negotiations are aimed at replacing the ineffectual Kyoto treaty with a new arrangement that takes Climate Change much more seriously, and which will incorporate the latest in science to avoid such a catastrophe. Copenhagen, a potential drownable city, seems to be a good place to hold these negotiations, and what's more, the population seems to understand/comprehend that it is drownable. And that if nothing is done about CO2 pollution, it's going to be time to convert from dairy farming to fish farming in rapid order.

Denmark's economy stands to significantly gain from converting to a sociatey/world based on renewable energy, and in particular, wind turbines and energy efficiency. The world's largest wind turbine manufacturer - Vestas (that's essentially all that Vestas makes) -was founded in Denmark, and they employ thousands of people in Denmark in manufacturing and R & D, as well as in their corporate headquarters. Danish banks and engineering/financial/technical consultants are also quite the industry in themselves, and obviously they are reliant on a growing world wind industry. There are a number of other companies, notably LM Glasfiber (world's biggest manufacturer of wind turbine blades) who are a part of the wind industry. Numerous other small and medium sized businesses are part of the Denmark-German wind industry complex. Siemens, one of the world's biggest electrical companies, bought up the Danish firm Bonus (wind turbine manufacturer), and have significantly expanded the "Bonus" line/business. Siemens will sell more offshore turbine capacity than any other company for the next several years (notably their 2.3 and 3.6 MW units). There are 20 Bonus 2 MW offshore turbines that were installed in 2000 in Copenhagen Harbor - now an iconic landmark of the City.

Denmark's wind industry actually does not sell many wind turbines in Denmark any more. The country was one of the first to use Feed-In Laws, and they have the highest per capita generation of wind derived electricity of any country. At present, about 150,000 families (out of a population of 5.5 million) have ownership in these turbines, or about 75% of the total capacity for wind turbines in the country. Thus, most of the 5700 commercial scale units are not owned by corporations. Almost all onshore units are owned by individuals, villages, cooperatives and small partnerships - generally, only the large, very capital intensive offshore farms are owned by big corporations/utilities. Due to the widespread nature of wind turbine ownership and the fact that most of them have been paid off, wind turbines are quite popular, and quite profitable. Most new onshore units are upgrades (for example, replacing a 450 kw unit with a 2 MW unit). The country gets over 20% of its electricity by wind, and plans electricity via wind to account for over 50% of the national supply by 2030. Via arrangements with Norway and Sweden (Nordpool), excess electricity generated during high wind periods is stored in pumped or deferred hydroelectric storage systems, and then used when the winds are not as vigorous. Much of the new wind energy will be supplied via offshore wind farms.

Following the completion of two large offshore wind arrays (Horns Rev, Nysted), the wind turbine installation rate "went into hibernation" in the country, a result of a conservative government that was installed due to the outage of Denmark's population at continued immigration occurring when domestic unemployment was present. The conservative government installed via the backlash at unemployment-immigration FUBAR had its share of "climate nutcases" who were opposed to wind turbines (and also the concept and science of Global Warming) and thus the proposed 3 other large offshore wind farms proposed in 2000 (when the liberal government was in power) were "mothballed". However, that situation has changed, and two large offshore wind arrays have been (Horns Rev 2, 209 MW) or are being (Rodsand 2, 207 MW) installed. Both of these feature Siemens 2.3 MW turbines - Horns Rev on monopoles, and Rodsand on gravity foundations. Of note is the "low" price quoted for Rodsand 2 - only $625 million, or about $3 million per MW of capacity (the usual cost is $4 million per MW), and possibly so cheap due to "piggybacking" off of the Rodsand 1 wind farm infrastructure (166 MW). Of the two sites, Horns Rev 2 is further offshore and incredibly windy - average wind speed is 10 m/s at hub height, average waves are 3 meters (peak to trough, or about 10 feet). The Horns Rev 2 project is also more expensive (further offshore, monopoles versus gravity foundations), but will have a net energy output of close to 45%; it started commercial operation in the spring of 2009. The Rodsand array is situated in the Baltic Sea in an area with lower wind speeds (near 8.8 m/s), but closer to land and in more sheltered waters than for the Horns Rev locations. It will be operational by mid-2010, and bring Denmark's offshore capacity to near 850 MW. The next scheduled wind farm will be near a 400 MW rating (for 2012) and then 800 MW (2013).

All of these big offshore wind farms are massive undertakings, but privately owned. They are difficult if not impossible to see from shore, and visibility in these waters is rare anyway - lots of fog, rain and snow and combinations of these. However, a smaller array (7 x 3 MW Vestas V90 turbines) is being installed (to be operational by the COP15 conference). Denmark is essentially composed of two major islands - Jutland (larger, more westerly) and Zealand (most easterly) connected by the central island of Odense - see map. Between Odense and Zealand is a large channel known as "The Great Belt". An 18 km bridge system (2 parts connected via an island (Sprogo) connector of road and rail was built between 1988 and 1998. The small central island is now located next to the small "mini-farm" of the 7 Vestas wind turbines. The bridge and the wind farm are both owned by a 100% government owned corporation.

of the hundreds of V90 wind turbines installed offshore to date, all been installed on monopole foundations - in essence a giant pipe rammed into the ground (usually sand). However, at the Sprogo wind farm, "gravity" foundations - large concrete structures weighing about 1800 tons - are employed in the 9 meter deep water. These 12.25 meter tall structures are further weighed down with rock ballast, and then a 65 meter tall steel tower is placed on these concrete structures, followed by the nacelle and blades. The blade tips are only 25 meters (82 feet) above the water at their lowest point, and "only" 115 meters (377 feet) at their highest point. Due to the offshore location, only minimal turbulence is expected, and there is very little difference in wind speeds at 25 meters or 115 meters above the water. Gravity foundations tend to be less expensive than monopole foundations, and in Denmark, there are over 150 commercial scale turbines that have been assembled using such foundations. The units are located about 450 meters apart in an east-west direction, parallel to the bridge. The turbines are technically owned by the Danish government, but are operated on a capitalist mode, using borrowed money and Feed-In Rates to obtain the low cost financing. The wind farm is expected to supply, on average, more than enough electricity to supply the "Sund & Baelt" connector, especially the electric train lines (two of them) and the lights on the fog prone 18 km system.

As an added feature, these turbines will be VERY visible to those traveling on the connector (car or rail). The turbines are expected to have at least a 36% operating rate, which is indicative of very strong winds in this region (the V90's work best in winds of more than 8.5 m/s at hub heights - they are designed for fast winds). The units are expected to be online before the COP15 sessions get underway. Since Denmark has staked out their future (economically, export, technology) on wind turbines to a large degree, this may be viewed as a bit of an advertisement for their main export for all of the assembled dignitaries, although the Middelgrunden wind array (20 x 2 MW) in Copenhagen does a fine job at that, too. It also could be seen as the start of an offshore wind rush in "The Great Belt", which is over 60 km long in a north south direction and between 16 to 32 km wide. Technically, the Samsoe wind farm (23 M, cooperatively owned) is also in this region.

Anyway, who would have thought the Danes to be such show-offs? Probably other Danes, for starts.......Anyway, for those of us pondering what to do on the shores of Lake Erie in NY, while Ontario had to shut down offshore applications (too many!!!!), it's food for thought. And it shows that those infernal Feed-In Laws rule, while those scheming with tax exemptions, tax credits and other "bribes ("inducements") for the really rich" as well as quotas appear to be "stuck" in the doldrums, looking a bit foolish!


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Solving the Climate Dilemma: The Wind Ramifications

There's a great recent article in The Nation Magazine concerning Global Warming and attempts to fix that problem, which leads to a report referenced in the article (if you search for it), titled "Solving the Climate Dilemma: The Budget Approach" by a group known as WDGU (German Advisory Council on Global Change). It's a 60 pager, but pretty easy reading, and it has some great ideas for saving humans from themselves and between one third to one half of the living species on the planet, all due to (largely) CO2 pollution. Or, "anthropogenicly derived CO2 made via combusted fossil fuels.

Anyway, this is not JUST another in an endless series of written (on the internet, too) stuff about the coming climate change disaster. It will be the basis of the new Copenhagen Climate talks (COP15) scheduled for December of 2009, and this report sets out how the new climate treaties most likely will be arranged. This document describes how humans in the 2010 to 2050 are going to have to behave if we are to avoid some drastic and often unpleasant (actually, horrific may be an understatement) consequences of Global Warming/Global Meltdown (of the Greenland/Antarctic ice-sheets). The ideas are based on fairness, equity, game theory and factual climate science (the kind that was verbotten for the U.S. Government during the 2001-2008 epic of disaster known as the Bu$h era). This document should be studied by all Americans...it should be required reading for all high school and college students and faculty, for example. It is that important. Odds are, probably not gonna happen....

But despite the acknowledged downside of Climate Change, this mechanism to avoid said epochal disaster will not likely go down well in the U.S.A. (and other countries like Canada, Australia, Russia and Saudi Arabia), as it requires a significant change in our use of the atmosphere as a (fossil fuel derived) CO2 garbage disposal unit. There is also a huge opportunity to drastically increase employment levels/lower unemployment levels by altering our fossil fuel based society into something better. As the saying from the Mission Impossible series goes, "Your mission, should you choose it....". But unlike Mission Impossible, this message will not self-destruct in 30 seconds, although most humans and a large fraction of the living organisms now inhabiting the ecosphere of our planet might be "destructed" within 100 years if we keep with the "Business As Usual" mode.

The report describes a way for humans to avoid a human-induced climate disaster of greenhouse gas (and mostly CO2, at that) induced climate disaster. The science underpinning this is no longer controversial except among some highly disreputable fringe elements as well as some hard core corporate whores and their paymasters. The massive quantities of fossil fuel derived CO2 waste by-product from using petroleum, natural gas and coal to make (mostly) energy via combustion of those fuels is raising atmospheric CO2 concentrations (from 280 ppm in 1750 to 385 ppm in 2008), and this process is accelerating - here is the data and the graph for those who like such stuff (from NOAA - also our weather people). Also, check out the "Carbon Tracker" - a new NOAA resource. There is a lag between when the CO2 is emitted and when the atmospheric (and eventually, ocean surface temperatures, or SST's - see map). In addition, the ocean surface layer (the top 100 meters), known as the mixing layer, is becoming more acidic. The ocean water in the mixing layer tends to be in equilibrium with the atmosphere's CO2 concentration - the higher the atmospheric CO2 level, the higher the dissolved CO2 concentration - here is a map of that situation (note: this phenomena also interacts with oceanic circulation patterns - upwelling zones (such as Indian Ocean) show the least change, whereas downwelling (North Atlantic) are the most acidic). The mixing layer seems to have an equilibrium time of about 11 to 15 years - while the greater than 100 meter depth portion of the ocean (average depth is 3790 meters, or 12,400 feet) has about a 200 to 500 year time lag. Here is an interesting article on how those numbers can be derived without a supercomputer.... Evidently about 50% of the forcing (temperature rise from a given increase in CO2 concentrations) occurs in the initial 25 years, 75% within 100 years, so there is a lag time from observed CO2 concentration rises to planetary atmospheric temperature rises.

OK, as the saying goes, Houston, we have a problem. What's the solution? Obviously, less CO2 pollution (Co2 made by burning fossil fuels) needs to be dumped into the air, and, if possible, the rate at which CO2 is pulled out of the air (algae, coral, plankton, net tree growth, biomass in soil) needs to be increased. The CO2 stashing by trees, soil and oceanic lifeforms is nowhere near as big a factor as the fossil fuel consumption. For example, the 82 million bbls/day of crude oil (at 280 lbs per 42 gallon bbl, specific gravity of 0.8) will get converted into about 13.2 billion tons (gigaton, = GT)/year. By contrast, the oceanic uptake of CO2 is estimated to be 6.8 (--> 7) GT/yr (1.685 peta-grams of carbon, converted to CO2 and English mass units). When there is more CO2 going into the atmosphere than is getting pulled out, the result is a net accumulation of CO2 in the air, which gets expressed as higher CO2 concentrations in the air (and that is what is observed at Mauna Loa Observatory).

The WBGU proposal is really about setting up a global budget for CO2 pollution. The fairest way to deal with this (at least, at first glance) is to use a per capita CO2 budget. So what are the global inputs and outputs right now? Well, here is a great resource from the U.S. Energy Information Agency (2006 numbers) - note: multiply carbon numbers by 3.67 (= 44/12) to convert to CO2. Overall, 26.4 gigatonnes (a metric Tonne = 1.1 U.S. short tons) of fossil fuel sourced CO2 (= CO2 pollution) is dumped out each year, while 11.7 gigatonnes are absorbed by the land and oceans, for a net increase of 14.7 GT/yr. If that 26.4 GT/yr number is divided by the 6.7 billion people (= gigapeople?), that's about 3.94 tonnes of CO2/yr per person of CO2 pollution. If 11.7 GT/yr (the equilibrium value resulting in no net increase in atmospheric CO2 levels) is the amount of CO2 absorbed by natural processes, that's about 1.74 tonnes/person per year allowable at current population levels - more on the population aspect, later. The more people there are, the less CO2 pollution per capita can be tolerated - just simple budget math, after all.

The EIA CO2 page lists the 2006 CO2 emissions (converted to US short tons) for the energy gluttonous USA:

Natural Gas ................. 1.28 gigatons/yr .... net of 22.2 trillion cubic feet/year = tcf/yr
Coal ............................. 2.31 gigatons/yr .... net of 1.13 billion tons/yr
Oil ............................... 2.82 gigatons/yr .... net of 16,981 million bbls/day crude/products sold

Total ............................ 6.41 gigatons/yr

These numbers may be a bit short of actual emissions, especially from petroleum, as some databases list U.S. petroleum as near 19 million bbls/day (was 20.5 mbd near the beginning of 2008). This underscores the need to keep verifiable data, with definitions accepted and used by all countries in the same manner.

Since there was about 300 million people in the U.S. in 2008, the per capita CO2 pollution rate is about 21.4 tons/yr, or 19.4 tonnes/yr. A big problem, Houston....we are way past the allowable per capita levels at the current CO2 worldwide pollution rates, and way above the world per capita average of 3.94 - almost by a factor of FIVE. Oops....

The WDGU paper lays out the numbers required to keep from raising atmospheric temperatures by 2 C (= 3.6 F) - the so-called 2 C Guardrail. It allocates (based on population) what the present CO2 pollution limits are, and what they need to be over time up until 2050, when per capita levels need to be near 1 tonne/yr. It does not specify how that needs to be done within each nation (presumably in a fair way, but we know better than to believe THAT presumption....), just between nations. It allocates 600 GT for ALL nations between 2010 and 2050, and then some mechanisms to achieve that.

The climate problem is described very succinctly using game theory. In effect, if all nations pursue their own short term interests (more or less as maximizing energy consumption), the result will be disaster for all, due to the dramatic temperature rise caused by all the CO2 pollution from all that oil, natural gas and coal derived CO2. Even the imminent arrival of severe price rationing of available petroleum (assuming that July 2008 is the peak crude oil production time) via Peak Oil will not be sufficient to significantly lower CO2 pollution rates, and there is that Fascist possibility of coal derived liquid fuels to replace SOME of the formerly petroleum sourced liquid fuels, which would really make things bad. After all, both China and India almost exclusively use coal to make the hydrogen for their ammonia, and synthetic ammonia is where the bulk of their protein comes from (nitrogen fertilizer for rice and wheat, mostly). The CO2 pollution per ton of NH3 made is about twice as much when coal is used (3.9 tons/ton NH3) instead of methane (natural gas - 2.1 ton CO2/ton NH3).

So, unless we all cooperate, we more or less all perish, or our descendants will perish assuming we don't live to see that day. Individualism spells doom if all individuals and their governments act in their immediate term interests in maximizing their physical well being, as manifested by fossil fuel usage - notably petroleum use, sub-and ex-urbanization, air conditioning based on cheap coal based electricity, the incandescent lightbulb, the 42 inch diagonal LCD or plasma TV....etc. And as for winter time indoor temperatures, unless that abode is solar or geothermal heated, 60 F is soon to be the new normal.

What a balance...long term doom, or short term satisfaction. So far, the short term always has prevailed as the dominant (and election winning) selection. Houston, we got a BIG problem....

Then, there is a philosophical/economic issue to deal with - especially Friedmanite (Milton, not Tom) economics. "Rational Actors" is a concept often used to justify the way "free-marketeers" behave - the "greed is good" and "what's good has to work for both short and long term" concepts. Or that the "financialization" and deregulation of economies will produce the optimum societal arrangement (often that of only a few major winners and lots of losers - see feudalism), despite recent evidence to the contrary. Many of Milton's disciples are in positions of significant power - corporate rulers, bankers, etc. The WDGU proposal can be quite compatible with regulated capitalism, but not unregulated capitalism, alias "free market" capitalism.

Trading Emissions Credits
To make the U.S. bring down its CO2 emissions by a factor of 5 in a few years would result in severe problems, probably starting with violent internal revolutions (try taking away the petroleum used to run automobiles on a large scale....), massive unemployment, massive impoverishment, etc, and going downhill from there. Any economy significantly connected to ours would also bite the big one, at least to some extent, with things going downhill from there, too. But maybe the population would drop...leaving more CO2 per capita allowable emissions rates. Needless to say, a slide from our current highly gluttonous fossil fuel usage rates to close to a zero usage rate has to be a bit more gradual, but not TOO gradual (that Climate Doom Scenario again).

The WDGU system uses tradeable emissions credits BETWEEN countries to even this out. For example, the US and countries like Germany would need to purchase emissions credits from countries with low per capita usage rates, such as Egypt, Pakistan and Morocco. These countries could use that money/money equivalent to, in theory, purchase renewable energy systems and technologies from the U.S. and Germany, while at the same time, the US and Germany could be "de-carbonizing" their economies. Each country would be required to produce roadmaps for their CO2 emission reduction efforts, set up milestones, and make sure that the targets are viable, transparent and verifiable. There is also a bank set up to administer/monitor emissions credits trading, and also ways to deal with other greenhouse gasses and items such as prevention of deforestation and the related topic of reforestation.

The technology to accomplish de-carbonization of economies such as the U.S. is readily apparent, and discussed in the report. Both CCS (Carbon (dioxide) Capture and Sequestration - CO2 pollutant stashing underground) and nukes are discounted as by and large too expensive, too hazardous or both. For example, mass producing 1000 x 1.6 Gigawatt (GW) nukes throughout the world (assuming sufficient uranium/plutonium/thorium could be developed and made into usable nuclear fission fuel) for electricity production would also result in a proliferating proliferation problem - in effect, nukes gone wild. And in a world filled with energy desperate people (also means food desperate people, water desperate people), nuclear weaponry could provide an attractive bargaining chip to those either desperate or greedy and ruthless enough to try such an approach. Thus, the report opts in for wind, solar thermal, geothermal, tidal, biomass (but that has limits, as there is only so much land available), PV, etc. It assumes PV will be "competitive" with wind (or maybe just offshore wind) by 2050, though that may be based on energy prices rising rapidly and not PV prices falling (since PV panel manufacturing is very electrical energy intensive, a feedback loop will force PV prices up over time as electricity prices increase over time). It also assumes that transportation will be increasingly electrically powered. It mentions airplanes and ships as a problem for further discussion (large ships use oil for propulsion, though coal is another possibility); dropping this usage also implies a lot more self-sufficiency, and less import-export trade - for example, imports into the U.S. of manufactured Chinese stuff that could be Made in USA - such as clothes, shoes, tools, etc

The existing technology of wind turbines/tidal/run-of-river turbines, pumped hydroelectric power storage, hydrogenation of N2 and CO2 to fuels based on renewable energy source H2 is all that is needed to accomplish de-carbonizing existing economies, and would allow the developing world to by-pass a fossil fuel powered society. But, these tend to be more expensive than fossil based energy generation, and especially petroleum based transportation. The report does mention that more jobs would be made transforming economies to a more sustainable basis (20% more) even after fossil fuel jobs are subtracted. However, it also mentions that these societal allocation and preference problems are not trivial (Hurculean is the word that is used); after all, those living large on the existing petroleum/natural gas/coal systems are not likely to willingly give up those advantages in 2010 to 2020 so that the many (or almost all of humanity) can thrive (or even just survive) in 2050.

Some Observations
There are a few of special permutations and problems that need to be addressed with the WDGU approach - in addition to the other problems of changing the world from a self-destructive path to a more sustainable one. These include:

1. Population
More people means more energy consumption, more food and water needs, more land, etc. Supposedly there is presently enough food made for 11 billion people, but obviously some are pigging out while many others are starving. A high population growth rate tends to be symptomatic of dreadful (as in a lack of) women's rights - especially where women are viewed as little more than cheap labor and, to quote Bill Mahr, brood-mares. Plus, what's to stop a state from "breeding more Co2 emissions rights" through a variety of ways? Maybe the emissions rights need to be based only on 2010 population levels, so that increases in population result in less per capita CO2 pollution rights for nations that do not control their population growth.

Increasing population also results in "surplus people". After all, the last thing the U.S. needs at this time with real unemployment near 20% (and more than 40% in places like Buffalo and Detroit) is to import people. But, when the ocean waters start rising, where are people to go. Any place but here, I guess. And dumping more people into a zero sum economy means that average income and wealth must decline. However, what that usually means is that the rich isolate themselves, keep pulling in more than their share, and the poor and middle class (in effect, the bottom 90% of the income pyramid) have their incomes that much more degraded.

This climate change could also be devastating to middle class societies, and result in a new Feudal Society, unless care is taken. A middle class society is a manufactured system; feudalism seems to be the "default" arrangement of most economic systems, especially capitalistic ones, unless precautions are taken. In effect, climate change, and the change to a sustainable society, would function an an economic shock - so check out Naomi Klein's book, if you can.

2. The Dollar Problem (especially it's valuation)
The U.S. is way less than broke, just like many of its major banks. Why would Egypt, Pakistan or Morocco sell their emissions rights to the U.S. in return for what might soon be not very worthwhile U.S. dollars? What if we can't trade any dollars for emissions rights? Whose coal burner and gas burner gets shut down because we can't buy emissions rights? And would a big excise tax on gasoline be able to do that (for example, doubling the price might only cut gasoline usage by 10%...would that be sufficient)?

Actually, there is a way to do this, but it will not make US banksters (such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan) very happy. It would be to barter renewable energy manufactured items in return for emissions credits - especially photovoltaic's (PV's) and solar thermal systems for the tropics/desert regions. Making PV's and big solar thermal to electricity systems is complicated and requires a sophisticated manufacturing arrangement (which still more or less exists in our country). So are large desalinization systems (solar and/or electricity powered), that will turn ocean water into agriculture and drinking water. Export of food from the U.S. should NOT be encouraged, because this would just throw hundreds of millions of farmers into unemployment (how's that for an Al Qeda recruiting system?). Besides, most can grow their own food, and growing our food for export in effect uses energy (especially oil and natural gas) to export food. And with money coming from CO2 credits, they won't need to buy our cheap bulk food. Instead of exporting CHEAP, BULK food, that should be converted to protein and energy, maybe exporting manufactured items would be wiser. Growing starches, sugars and oils is rather easy (and requires minimal nitrogen fertilizer), and they make highly desirable liquid fuels (ethanol, methane, biodiesel). Furthermore, conditions can be arranged so that renewable energy sources (wind electricity, cellulose) are used to convert biomass sourced raw materials into highly value added storeable liquid fuels. After all, you can't dump corn starch into your car, or wood chips into a diesel engine...directly, at least.

Bartering emissions credits for renewable energy systems, and especially socially appropriate ones, would be a great way to get around the "US is flat broke and then some" problem. Not all of these have to be big massive systems - items like solar water heaters, and "water pumper wind turbines" are perfect of a lot of "third world" applications. So would arsenic removal systems for well water for countries like Bangladesh and parts of India (also works using water pumpers). Due to dissolved arsenic compounds (naturally existing), much of the well water in Bangladesh is poisonous on a long term basis for food and drinking, yet this is easily removed via a variety of ways - for example, this and this. All that is needed is some water pressure.

As for the US - we have an awesome wind resource in most parts of the country, but this can't be developed because it is not profitable given collapsed electricity/natural gas/coal pricing. Maybe it's time for a Feed-in Law. Or maybe the government can install/own them, on a massive scale - it might be cheaper than having private companies do this, given the massive subsidies to rich people in the current wind subsidy arrangements.

The WDGU paper is coming your way, like it or not. It will be the basis of the Copenhagen Climate talks (and hopefully, treaty). It is the fair and equitable way to go, and that may be the problem for the U.S. The future envisioned for the U.S. is one with zero net CO2 emissions for fossil fuels, implying no use of fossil fuels to make electricity within 15 years. Such things could easily be done, but not with bulk electricity selling at 3.13 cents/kw-hr, as was the case for Western New York on 10-12-09. So, the WDGU report is worth discussing.

As for the wind turbine development in the U.S. - implementation of the WDGU approach would cause a huge increase in installations and manufacturing for several years (doubling each year from 8 GW installed/year until at least 128 GW/year (capacity basis) is achieved, and then installing turbines at that rate for a couple of decades). Just remember, 128 GW per year is an investment of $256 billion/year for onshore, or $312 billion per year for 100 GW onshore and 28 GW/yr of offshore wind. That's roughly 4.8 million job-years per year for the 100 GW onshore/28 GW offshore arrangement using today's pricing. So, like the local car sales guy says, HUGE, Buffalo, HUGE.



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