RE: Offshore wind hits fast lane in the Atlantic
My comments below are based on the assumption that folks are actually interested in discussing, not attacking. I hope I'm right.
Hate: Data keeps pouring in and will continue to support the fact that greenhouse gases are tipping the complex atmospheric dynamics toward a warmer planet. No argument about skewed data collection points, statistical fudging, sun cycles, political/economic agendas etc. have held up upon further scientific scrutiny, and those who hang onto these arguments will only find themselves in more and more untenable positions as the trends become more and more clear. The physics of the effects of massive emissions of GHG into the atmosphere by human activities is clear and predictable. Policymakers and political leaders are going to be more and more uncomfortable aligning themselves with conspiracy theorists and denialists unless they can prove the physics to be incorrect, which they can't.
-Not one nuclear power plant would even exist without massive, and I mean massive federal subsidies, exemptions and the like. Even now, the economics has made nuclear power an extremely shaky investment as is evidenced by the EIA operating and maintenance numbers I posted above, showing nukes to be the most expensive alternative out there. The only way the feds could shove ahead the planned Georgia nukes is to guarantee billions of dollars of loan guarantees to the corporations building the nuke to be paid even if not one kilowatt was produced out of those plants. Missouri voters wisely told their utility that they could not charge for a nuke through their rates even before the ground was broken in order to raise money for the project, and the project was scrubbed.
What if the wind stops? Fortunately, the wind doesn't ever stop everywhere. Studies show that a grid of wind generation farms show enough stability that the current grid system, which switches sources all of the time, will be able to handle the issue quite nicely and as the percentage of wind generation grows, the grid will be able to keep up with that growth. Furthermore, if you use stored hydro or combine with solar, you improve your stability even more. Not an issue at all.
And as far as producing more CO2 for the biosphere, the resulting increase in acidification of the oceans will greatly harm the ocean's primary production, and increasing desertification and deforestation will decrease primary production on the land. How do we know? It's already happening.
1. Hydro is a non-starter. You simply cannot go on inventing more mountain lakes.
Actually that's what pumped hydropower is all about: using wind to pump water behind containment dams to store energy and use that stored energy when the wind dies down. Low head hydro is also very much underutilized and could provide much more local power use with minimal environmental consequences, especially in areas like New England, the Appalachians, etc.
2. Solar thermal and solar PV is a great idea in sunny climates - useless elsewhere. And transmitting electricty from Mexico to Alaska would not be cost effective.
Germany is very much a like the Pacific northwest: lots of cloudy days, and yet it is the world leader. Shows you what the potential is and that your concern is one not to worry about, no? Furthermore, all homes have rooftops, potential PV sites, and it does not require massive electrical transmission over long distances, with the attendant high costs and loss of transmission over distances.
3. Wind is hopeless as a major contributor because of the 'load factor' problem discussed elsewhere in this blog trail.
I'm not sure why you are making such a big deal about why new installed generation is a very small percentage of overall generation, and that wind is still a relatively small percentage of overall generation. Nobody else seems to be misunderstanding this. All of the projections I've seen and that are bandied about talk about how the goal is to have 20 percent of production by renewables by 2020. This seems very attainable; in fact some states such as Iowa have already attained this and are setting their goals higher. The overall strategy is
1. Don't build any new fossil fuel electric power plants
2. Keep new electrical demand to a minimum by getting serious with energy efficiency programs so that you can do much more with what you are already producing. This happens to be the most cost effective investment that people and utilities can make, by the way, when compared with a new power plant.
3. When retiring old power plants, and instead of spending billions in retrofitting them, replace them with renewables.
So far this strategy is working and with the savings from energy efficiency, even will go a long ways toward paying for itself. This should be of interest with those who don't like subsidies.
4. If you feel you must sequestrate CO2 to save the planet, coal and natural gas are completely out on cost grounds.
So that just leaves nuclear power as the major electricity provider, doesn't it?
Far from it. See my comments to Hate above. There is much more I could say on this, but I've already gone on too long.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!