The Solar Thermal Option

I apologize for being out of pocket lately, and that trend is going to continue at least through this week. I have a staff meeting all week, and then I fly back to Europe next Monday. So, my posting will be sporadic until then. I do appreciate everyone keeping the comments civil in my absence, as it makes for much more productive discussions.

However, I want to call your attention to a new website that discussed solar thermal in depth. The site just went live, and the topic is covered in detail. The site is:

I have always found the prospect of solar energy very attractive. In fact, I once accidentally started a fire while playing around with solar energy. However, I must admit to being surprised that the recent IEA report projected that both solar PV and solar thermal technologies will still be very expensive relative to other renewable electricity options in 2030. (See the figure that I posted here). I certainly know that each time I look into getting a solar hot water heater (which really appeals to my environmental side), my inner tightwad balks at the cost.

Car Update

And speaking of inner tightwad, I still haven’t bought a car. I have been without one since March, only renting one for a week or two at a time while in Dallas. After weighing all of the various suggestions, I had narrowed my choice down to a small truck like a Ford Ranger (which I have owned before) or a Toyota Tacoma. I don’t need to haul stuff very often, but two or three times a year I find myself needing a little truck.

But I have run the numbers several times, and I keep coming up with a cost of ownership in the $500 month range (includes taxes, insurance, maintenance, and depreciation). For the month of December, I only need a car for 4 days (this week in fact) and it will cost me less than $150 (and my insurance company covers me for no extra cost). Until I am spending more than two weeks a month in the U.S. on a regular basis, I think I can justify continuing to rent.

45 thoughts on “The Solar Thermal Option”

  1. Robert,

    Why not consider a smaller, more efficient car and rent a truck for the few times you need that? (Or buy a second, used cheap truck just for those occasions.)

    I’ve certainly found myself thinking like that – looking for a vehicle that would be the largest vehicle I might ever need, when one that works for the most of my needs, makes a lot more sense.

    That said, i’m sure Ford would really appreciate it if you bought a truck.

  2. On solar thermal, and all other alternative technologies: I fear a big replay of the 1980s. In other words, doom for conservation and alternative energy.
    Those of us with bald heads and creaky joints remember the 1970s and 1980s. First, the predictions of scarce oil, and doom. The Limits to Growth. A boom in alternative fuels (my brother wanted to start a jojoba farm). As a serious undergrad, I actually sold my car, as I thought I would be riding a bicycle within a number of years anyway. Permanantly.
    Coming out of grad scool in 1979, the job outlook was bleak. There was talk of $100 oil, the inelastic demand for oil.
    Then instead of oil shortages, there was glut, glut, and more gluts, all the way to $10 a barrel in 1998. The world economy grew mightily in that 18 years from 1989 to 1998, and still oil only got cheaper and cheaper.
    Then, the screw turned again. Higher oil prices, talk of doom, permanent scarcity. This time, a huge speculative market existed, and mysterious websites full of doom.
    And now, bust again. Whither the GM Volt when gasoline is $1 a gallon? Why build solar and wind farms when natural gas is abundant?
    Ol is headed lower. The first show has dropped. We could see $10 a barrel again.
    In a few more years, the alternative energy sector will be deader than Jimmy Hoffa.
    Actually, the doomsters should pray for $10 oil. If oil stays above $50, demand will decline every year, permanently. We will ease into a post-fossil economy, almost seamlessly. If we go to $10 a barrel, demand will slowly reignite, and we can have another crisis in 10-15 years.

  3. Can demand for oil decline 4% annually Benny? Because,peak oil means supply will drop that much each year. And if oil is that cheap,biofuels won’t make up the difference. If the price of oil is based on the cost of getting the last barrel out of the ground,we’re in for a world of hurt in the next two years. I put spare capacity at around 4M bpd. The first year after peak oil will eat that up. Then we’re off to the races again,whether the world economy is ready or not.

  4. I'm getting 26 MPG on my Ford Ranger 2.3l 5-speed in mostly city driving. My best commute home I got 35 MPG. I filled up Sunday for $1.499. I question the $500/month cost to own a small truck. My local credit union will loan at 5.5%. At $13,000 payments are about $300 per month. My Ranger costs about $205 to insure every 6 months. Tag, tax & inspection run $100 per year. Figure in a couple of oil changes (low mileage) at $50 and I get something like $350/month. And that figures your 4-year-old Ranger is worth $0.

    If you can sell the Ranger for $6,000 in 4 years, the monthly cost drops below $300. Assuming you can rent for $45 per day, then your break-even is around 7 days.

  5. Sandia Labs is doing this with a stirling engine

    Building a contraption like this was the dream of William Beale who left working as a College Professor in the 70's to build stirling engines and cobble enough capital to build something like this.

    The story is told here :

  6. Maury-
    Well, when do we reach not Peak Oil, but rather peak liquid fuel production? I dunno, but years off.

    Meanwhile, yes I think conventional fossil oil demand will fall continuously, as long as oil is above $50-60 a barrel, and sustained. We see GTL, CTL, biofuels into the breach, and lots of conservation.

    Maury, there is going to be a honking glut soon. And demand is cratering. A very possible scenario: Demand recedes by about 11 percent, and then rises by less than one percent a year. We don’t get back to 2008 evels of demand for 13-15 years from now.

    And that only happens if oil is cheap.

    Takchess: Great article from Popular Mechanics. What a great magazine that is. A million homes powered by solar, from just two power plants. While snivel about the future, when you can read about real giants, the guys who build power plants like that?

  7. benny,

    there is one difference this time around, and that is the amount of private sector capital allocated to clean tech. furthermore, the sources of the capital are state pensions, endowments, foundations and sovereign funds. yes this has no impact on EROEI, thermal transfer or fluid drag, however given the investors and their political influence we will see stronger federal government support both in terms of renewavles as well as penalties for traditional energy sources. i think that combined with recognition of AGW and the need for the world to have an asset bubble is the difference this time around. correct me if im wrong, but this is the first time in history cleantech is poised to be an asset class/bubble, which means more financial players are incentivized to see this work.

  8. Anon:
    I am not sure what you are saying, but I guess you are saying a lot of powerful people have invested in Cleantech, so it will stay around this time. Maybe so, and there is the AGW angle.
    But also, we see an ethanol lobby with more staying power than gum in shag.
    Still, if I am right about oil prices, we will have to subsidize these alternatives for decades. Ironically, the longer we subsidize alternatives, the longer we will have cheap oil, which necessitates the subsidies….

  9. as well as penalties for traditional energy sources

    What penalties are being considered ?

    I attended a Mitsubishi HVAC/R tech session in which Cory of Nebraska Public Power District said they view with certainty that the future will bring a Cap’n Trade regime.

    NPPD is the the states largest electricity
    provider. 62% is coal generated.

    Cory didn’t address the penalties aspect.


  10. It is disappointing to read that "Cleantech" enthusiasts want to tax & regulate their way to market share. That kind of attitude assures that misnamed "Cleantech" will go nowhere.

    There is only one way for alternative energy sources (which may or may not be "cleaner" than existing sources) to prevail — provide the end user with a source which is Better & Cheaper than fossils.

  11. King-
    That is why I say it is on degared land along the Amazon, in Brazil, where the palm oil should be grwon. They have 170 times the land that Malaysia does.
    But my palm oil dreams hit a worse pothole: Oil collapsed. Palm oil makes sense above $50 a barrel (although new hydrids may change that).
    Oil is heading towards $10.
    I still like mini-nukes.
    Actually, solar and wind takes up lots and lots of land. I am not sure why the greenie-weenies think that is so great.

  12. I think we should allow the solar thermal industry to build projects as fast as they can.

    The first reason is I like solar thermal is that I am a mechanical engineer. Solar thermal is very interesting. Keeping mechanical engineers fully employed is very good.

    The second reason I like solar thermal is is that I am also trained to do root cause analysis. Studying failing is very interesting too. Wind is interesting too.

    The final reason is that solar makes coal look good. Solar folks always show a picture of an ugly srip mine to remind us that there is a benefit for the environmental impact.

    Fortunately, rate payers in California will pay for my amusement but it should not hurt too badly the build rate of thermal solar is very limitied.

  13. Wind and solar don’t provide reliable base load power. Geothermal does. Geothermal is capable of providing all our energy needs. It’s not only clean,but if we produce enough of it,we can use the cheap electricity to make liquid fuels from CO2. Hot rocks weren’t accessible 5 years ago,but drilling technology has come a long way lately. Witness the natural gas boom going on in areas with shale rock. It’s just amazing what those oil guys can do with a drill bit nowadays.

  14. Benny,
    I see a glut occuring due to the “Mother of All Economic Breakdowns”, but I don’t see a glut of oil coming on stream…
    Please elaborate, recent numbers still indicate virtually flat oil numbers since 2005 (slight uptick after months of $50-147 oil providing incentive) to me.
    What are your thoughts?

  15. Phil-
    After the price spike of 1979-80, there was a minor global slowdown, and crude demand fell by 11 percent. It did not recover for a full 10 years (BP stats).
    Okay, let’s say we have a repeat on the demand side, and we lose 8.7 mbd of demand in next two years.
    On top of that, even doomers were expecting 2-3 mbd increase in total liquid (including GTL) output in next two years.
    Okay, so we have (roughly) 10 mbd of excess supply on the market, and no home, and demand of about 79 mbd in 2010. One out of every eight barrels with no home.
    The Mother Of All Gluts.
    Oil hits $10 a barrel in 2010, still demand goes nowhere. After all, the demand for oil is inelastic in the short-run. Just because oil is cheap just not mean I drive to work twice very day. Airlines do start flying the long way to Paris.
    The road back is a long, long one too. It could be 2018 befor demand hits 87 mbd again, and that’s only if oil is cheap. If Western governments mandate conservation measures, or AGW concerns causes some reductions, demand could be 15 years in getting back.
    In short, a glut of oil for a long, long time.
    I hope I am wrong. I hope the world economy roars ahead, and we see $100 oil again in four-five years. But it looks ugly out there, and conservation measures adopted in higher price days are not going away.

  16. Another glut-maker: Malaysia exports about 0.38 mbd of palm oil, which can be used as biodiesel. With the world using 87 mbd, that ain’t much.
    However, Brazil is said to have 170 times as much land (already degraded) in the Amazon suitable for palm oil, as does Malaysia.
    Okay, so Brazil ramps up. To daily poduction of (170 times 0.38) of 64.6 mbd.
    I see a huge, huge future for Brazil.
    I also see that Peak Oil is a weak idea. If Brazil can grow 65 mbd, we have nothing to see (except a palm OPEC).

  17. Maury — Geothermal of course has a lot of potential, but are you sure it can provide “all our energy needs”? OK, I don’t have any figures in front of me right now, but I’ll tell you the situation here in Japan, where we are comparatively well-blessed with geothermal resources. In this state, we have no geothermal power that I know of. In fact, we probably never will have much, the reason being that the hot springs alone have used up all the available resources. Over the years, the temperatures at hot spring facilities have been dropping because of overuse. A few years ago, they drilled right here in my municipality (about a quarter mile from my house and about three miles from another hot spring facility) and found hot water. Great, they said. Let’s built a hot spring facility. Which they did, at great public expense. A year later the temperature had already dropped below the legal limit to use the term “hot spring.” In short, everyone realizes now that there just isn’t enough hot water to go around.

    So, the resources are indeed there. But I think you’re stretching it to say that geothermal will provide “all our energy needs.”

  18. Rice Farmer,I’m not talking about hot springs. That’s the shallow stuff. I’m talking about 3-10 mi. down,where there’s enough heat to give us 500 degree water. We couldn’t drill that deep previously,but the technology is there now. Just google hot rocks or EGS-Enhanced Geothermal System.

  19. Dated brent spot down to $43. Alternative fuels? Out ’em in the deep freezer. This game is dead for a few years.

  20. I have heard the word glut brought up several times. The is no glut of generating capacity in the US. Several and places in the world like China and South Africa are in worse shape.

    Solar thermal and geothermal can not meet even a tiny fraction of the electricity needs of a large industrial countries. The best we can do is figure how to best utilize these renewable energy. Solar thermal and geothermal requires moving large volumes of relatively low temperature water. This requires massive amounts of equipment. Pumping losses, heat losses, erosion, corrosion, heat transfer are engineering issues that are related to surface area.

    As Rice Farmer suggests district heating is a good use of geothermal energy but like the Gysers area in California available energy drops off with time.

    We can calculate the mix by considering factors to input to a calculus equation for the addions and subtractions of generating capacity over time.

    How big, how long to build, how long will it last, and capacity factor?

    We can build a 10 MWe solar thermal and geothermal plant in a year. It would take 2 years to 50 MWe versions but that is about the limit of scalability.

    The current scale of a new nuke plant is 1600 MWe.

    We know the maintenance cycle for steam and vapor extraction plants. We know how frequently turbines destroy themselves. At any given time at least one power plant will be out of service for a year. We know the rate at which electrical equipment starts being a smoke generating device.

    We can take all these factors and into a calculus equation and play what if. In a world of terrorism, it is a good idea to not be too specific. So how can we meet our electrical needs?

    NG fired CCGT can be built quickly. Same is true for coal. Transportation is the limiting factor. AGW is not an issue. California is a good example. When rolling blackouts are occurring, the word ‘clean’ gets put in front of the choice of fossil fuel and the air permit gets issued.

    Nuke plants can be built quickly. No really, I have seen it. Of course in the present regulatory climate, add five years for permitting. Solar thermal and geothermal even wind take five years for permitting. The current nukes that are operating will last forever,

    Solar thermal and geothermal will always be an insignificant part of the mix when all the factors are considered. It is an engineering and math thing. It does not matter how big the renewable energy resource is if the equipment limitatios prevent exploiting the resource. . If you want someone like me to produce high voltage electricity for you, you must realize I will not violate safety rules just because you label something incorrectly as green.

    Think of it this way. Making electricity is very safe. You want me to do what? Why? MIT issued a report. The folks at MIT are not going to get their buts fried or head ripped off by a drilling rig. Since the same safety and environmental rules apply to renewable energy. That as is should be but also limits the delivered potential.

  21. Kit, geothermal already provides more energy than solar and wind combined. The Geysers provide enough electricity to power San Francisco. It’s clean,and there’s no radioactive waste with a 500,000 year half life. We can replicate what nature gave us at The Geysers. If we can drill and fracture rock for oil,we can drill and fracture rock for electricity. Yes,coal and NG are easy. But,there are other uses for limited supplies of both. EGS has the potential to power this country for 1000’s of years. Can coal,NG,or even nuclear power do that?

  22. Dated brent spot might go below $40 today. See you at $10. I guess Hawaii must be happy. They used oil-fired generators to make electricty.
    Do we reach $30 by yearened?

  23. BTW, RR,
    I see the waste animal fat and veg oil -> "real" oil plant is going ahead, thanks to a 50% subsidy:
    The act also eliminates the requirement that renewable diesel be produced using a thermal depolymerization process, and reduces the credit for biomass coprocessed with a petroleum feedstock to 50 cents. There was a chance the entire credit was going to be revoked, which Jeffrey Bigger, director of Dynamic Fuels LLC’s management committee, was keeping a close eye on. Once the credit was passed, the company broke ground on a 75 MMgy renewable synthetic fuel production facility in Geismar, La., which wouldn’t have happened if the credit wouldn’t have been extended.

  24. “EGS has the potential to power this country for 1000’s of years.”

    No it does not. You are making stuff up and it has zero potential to keep my pipes from freezing tonight. EGS has the zero potential to provide any of my needs for the rest of my life.

    SF gets its electrical from nuclear power. I am not aware of any problems nuclear waste storing nuclear waste. BTW Maury, what is the half life of arsenic? Maury you likely know less about geothermal than than nuclear. And Maury you seem to be having difference between an MIT report and reality.

  25. benny “MOAG”, I agree with your sour attitude toward subsidies such as ethanol and hybrid car tax breaks, etc. Subsidies are too often applied to a few suppliers. Don’t Mericans consume more oil per capita than anybody else? Therin lies the first big chunk in efficiency we should go after. It simply doesn’t matter much that your car goes 50 mpg when you your neighbors are carpooling with the same PER CAPITA fuel ecomomy and taking up far less congestion space. Note emphasis on the per capita part. Collectively we each make a difference.

    I currently don’t recieve ANY incentive to ride my bicycle to work in the snow(which I did today). I consume much less oil than the average Merican and I have to imagine my incentives, self motivate, etc. How can I/we expect anybody to change their per capita lifestyle when there are no fiscal, tangible incentives?

    I think there is a whole level of Merican ingenuity and adaptability that is being ignored and wasted because we reward very specific items and producers with our pigeon-holed/pork parrel subsidies. In an ideal capitalis society, suppliers have to cater to what and how much is demanded. (not beg special support from lobbyists/special interest groups/taxpayers) Our system is looking at this problem backwards. Consumerism is all about free enterprise and choices. Subsidizing a fuel or a drive-train technology or even photovoltaics is not encouraging the PER CAPITA to use personal ingenuity and adaptability to make freely competetive choices. Instead it artificially tells the PER CAPITA what is the cheapest option. I’m scared of a system that has such little pride and faith in the abilities of the PER CAPITA to freely decide compete. Completely demoralizing, This sucks!

    Why can’t the government subsidize auto insurance companies to pay people to drive their cars fewer miles PER CAPITA? I’m sure Robert-squared(on a PER CAPITA basis) would jump at that. We already pay farmers not to plant fields. I believe incentives of this kind would provide motivation for PER CAPITA’s to actively seek efficient alternatives that work with each PER CAPITA’s needs and lifestyle. This would collectively serve to better mold and define demand, and suppliers will naturally have incentive to cater to demand. That is, unless the taxpayer pads the competition.

    People in favor of specific technology related subsidies seem so fearful that oil companies will not/can not increase barrel prices to smoothly wean society off of crude oil. My biggest question is: Why would any oil executive want to watch his/her company die when oil runs short? Doesn’t any good supplier cater to the changing needs of demand? Who else is going to pay for and provide the raw, oil derived(plastic)materials for the wind turbines, PV’s, fuel cell membranes, etc.? A quirky and adaptive oil company executive could be indirectly competing with coal fired power plants and hydrocarbon fuel suppliers to make electricity, slacking off on a potentially fading hydrocarbon fuel economy. Sorry, that was long, it’s been a while.

  26. Evan-
    I like your post, and you raise a lot of good points. I do think we should tax gasoline and subsidize other forms of transport. Sheesh, we could give away bicycles, and it would probably be cost-effective.
    Keep riding that bike. It will pay you dividends in improved health long after you save a few bucks. Good luck.

  27. “No it does not. You are making stuff up”

    This is a quote from the MIT study Kit P.

    “Using reasonable assumptions regarding how heat would be mined from stimulated EGS reservoirs, the panel also estimated the extractable portion to exceed 200,000 EJ or about 2,000 times the annual consumption of primary energy in the U.S. in 2005. With technological improvements, the economically extractable amount of useful energy could increase by a factor of 10 or more, thus making EGS sustainable for centuries.”

    Go ahead and poke fun at the MIT study if you like. But,they assembled a group of 18 experts from a lot of different fields. In my opinion,those experts have a lot more credibility than some guy on the internet who says it can’t be done.

  28. Besides Tester, Blackwell, Toksöz and Anderson, members of the panel include: geomechanics expert Anthony Batchelor, managing director of GeoScience Ltd. in the United Kingdom; reservoir engineer Roy Baria from the United Kingdom; geophysicists Maria Richards and Petru Negraru at Southern Methodist University; mechanical engineer Ronald DiPippo, an emeritus professor at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth; risk analyst Elisabeth Drake at MIT; chemist John Garnish, former director of geothermal programs of the European Commission; drilling expert Bill Livesay; economist Michal Moore at the University of Calgary in Canada, former California energy commissioner and chief economist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory; commercial power conversion engineer Kenneth Nichols; geothermal industry expert Susan Petty; and petroleum engineering consultant Ralph Veatch Jr. Additional project support came from Chad Augustine, Enda Murphy and Gwen Wilcox at MIT.

    But,since Kit P. says it can’t be done….

  29. Maury-
    I sure hope the MIT panel is right.
    But, with respect, I ask the question: Is this a brand-new finding? Why are not people financing efforts to exploit the technology and power?

  30. They are Benny. There’re a number of start-ups in the US,but Australia is going full steam ahead,with dozens of projects underway. EGS isn’t science fiction any more. I just think it’s sad that the US did most of the research groundwork,has huge reserves of accessible hot rocks,but isn’t taking the lead in this area. I think we’ll see a big move into geothermal in the next 5 or 10 years. But,we should be educating all those engineers that’ll be needed now.

  31. “But,since Kit P. says it can’t be done… “

    I did not say that Maury. I said it will not be done. That is based on 35 years of practical experience at making electricity. None of the MIT experts have any practical experience.

    When you talk about the long term future, you are making things up. When you make stuff based on the least likely option to be presently selected by engineers, that is called a fantasy.

    It is a free country, we have free speech and Maury can present his fantasy as if it is a practical option.

    “There’re a number of start-ups in the US,but Australia is going full steam ahead,with dozens of projects underway. EGS isn’t science fiction any more.”

    Again you are wrong Maury. The way you are presenting EGS, it is science fiction. It is a common device used in science fiction. A utopian society where intellectuals lounge around free from the concern of pipe corrosion.

    Both solar thermal and geothermal have the same engineering challenges that all thermal power plants have. All major energy project in the US must address safety and environmental concerns. Just because the Maury and the scholars at MIT are ignorant of the hazards with producing energy, does not mean that the hazards do not exist.

    US regulations require that producing electricity be done safely and with insignificant environmental impact.

    “Can coal,NG,or even nuclear power do that?”

    Yes, every day of the week. So does solar thermal and geothermal but clearly on a per kwh it is not any better than coal. How about EGS? Since we do not have much experience, we really do not know. Clearly there are significant hazards associated with EGS but I see no reson why they can not be mitigated to the elvel of being insignificant.

    “But,we should be educating all those engineers that’ll be needed now.”

    So, Maury, when do you start back to college? The problem with folks like Maury is that the ‘we’ is always someone else. The second problem is that Maury would cry about the cost when the bill comes due. If EGS can be done it will be staggeringly expensive.

  32. Kit P., you observations on Maury’s enthusiasm for the new/old field of hot rocks are spot on. Unfortunately, it does not look like he has any interest in reality.

    There are, as you point out, the standard big problems with handling hot corrosive liquids in any piece of surface equipment. There are also huge expensive problems in the necessary ultra-deep drilling — Maury might like to research Sweden’s Siljan Ring project, where they drilled into moderate depth fractured basement to test Prof. Gold’s ideas on the abiogenic origin of hydrocarbons.

    But the biggest issue is the simple one of heat transfer from depth to surface. Even wishing away all the problems of materials to handle very high temperature brines at great depth, once we start to bring them towards the surface, they will inevitably be cooled by passage past cooler formations closer to surface. The well becomes a honking great heat exchanger, warming shallower formations and delivering only relatively cool water to the surface.

    We know about the heat transfer challenge because of the real-world problems the oil industry has doing the opposite — trying to deliver hot fluids into heavy oil reservoirs only a few thousand feet deep.

    But Maury is unimpressed. The answer is there, and the rest of us are just too stupid to understand.

    If we put on our science fiction hat, the place to do this kind of deep geothermal would be offshore, near tectonically-active subduction zones. Build the power plants under the deep ocean, surrounded by the heat sink, and shorten the distance to the geothermal source by avoiding drilling through the continental crust. Some day, maybe. In the far distant future.

  33. @Kit P

    That is based on 35 years of practical experience at making electricity.

    Would there be any chance that you could throw in a link or two that you feel accurately mirror technical limits you’ve encountered ?


  34. @RBM

    I have determined that commuting to work on a milk cow is very efficient way to use grass as biofuel and reduce imports of oil. This is especially true in California with the large number of dairy cows.

    I am unable to provide a link to explain why people do not use cows more often to commute.

    The point I am trying to make is RBM is the absence of links infers that something is not practical. What I do look for in practical technology is listing of projects. It takes a little intuitive thinking to identify. For example, if biomass thermal plants are always less 50 MWe than there may be a limitation based on the transportation of biomass.

  35. A new study is out comparing different energy sources in terms of global warming, human health, energy security, water supply, space requirements, wildlife, water pollution, reliability and sustainability.
    PR at
    Full study at
    I haven't finished reading the entire study yet, but I find it interesting that he rates Wind so high above Solar Thermal that he rates Wind-powered hydrogen fuel cell vehicle above a Solar Thermal-powered battery electric vehicle despite "HFCVs require about three times more energy than do BEVs

  36. Bleah. I just chased down one set of numbers used in his assumptions and am not impressed. I was surprised at the claim that “nuclear emits about 25-times more carbon and air pollution than wind energy “, considering that other studies I’ve seen put wind CO2 emissions about equal to nuclear CO2 emissions.

    I find that Jacobson used only the energy required to manufacture the wind turbines. Which means he left out Operation and Maintenance, Decommissioning and possibly also the energy to transport the turbine and other materials to the site, and onsite construction and assembly. Also in calculating the CO2 for the energy required to manufacture the wind turbines, his calculations appear to assume that all that energy was in the form of electricity at the US mix of electricity sources.

    I don’t think I can believe his conclusions.

  37. Oh wait, somewhere else it does say “The energy required to manufacture, install, operate, and scrap a 600 kW wind turbine has been calculated to be 4.3 × 106 kWh per installed MW.37 For a 5 MW turbine operating over a lifetime of 30 yr under the wind-speed conditions given, and assuming carbon emissions based on that of the average US electrical grid, the resulting emissions from the turbine are 2.8–7.4 g CO2e kWh−1” But it’s still bizarre to assume that CO2 emitted by the trucks transporting the turbines and the concrete mixers, etc, are as low as that generated by electricity. And the “25-times more” for nuclear includes “Opportunity cost emissions due to delays

    I finally got to the part where he rates Wind-HFCV higher than CSP-BEV. CSP-BEV ranks better for CO2 emissions, mortality, effects on wildlife and water chemical pollution, but it really loses on Footprint and Water consumption. The weighted rating system seems strange too, and doesn’t include the business-as-usual gasoline/diesel scenario for comparison.
    Food for thought, anyway.

  38. Clee, if your study rates hydrogen fuel cell vehicles above electrical vehicles (no matter what power source), it is not a very good study at all.

  39. So it also appears the study does not understand the very real option of indirect dry cooling systems. Hardly surprising if it thinks HFCFs have large potential.

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