Rocketdoc Notes – Week of October 10, 2021

Global Warming – The Big Picture Part 2.


There has been a one month break in these blogs because I took a consulting job that ate up my spare time. I'll discuss my job in a future blog.


First, The Plan


Could solar power 40% of the U.S. electric grid by 2035? The Biden administration thinks so


Sep. 09, 2021 3:48 AM ETFSLR, SPWR...Alliant Energy Corporation (LNT), American Electric Power Company, Inc. (AEP), Azure Power Global Limited (AZRE)...By: Yoel Minkoff, SA News Editor


Unidentified Large Solar Farm


· Solar is going to play a massive role in decarbonizing the American power grid, according to a newly released plan by the U.S. Department of Energy. The Solar Futures Study shows that by 2035, solar energy has the "potential to power 40% of the nation's electricity," before ultimately hitting 45% by 2050. Further modeling indicates that the remainder of a carbon-free grid would be supplied by wind (36%), nuclear (11%-13%), hydroelectric (5%-6%) and biopower/geothermal (1%).


· How to get there? The U.S. already installed a record amount of solar in 2020 - 15 gigawatts - to total 76 GW, representing 3% of the current electricity supply. In order to accomplish the above-stated goals, the country would need to install an average of 30 GW of solar capacity per year between now and 2025 and 60 GW per year from 2025-2030. Storage will also enable more flexibility and resilience, while advanced tools like grid-forming inverters, forecasting, and microgrids would play a role in maintaining the reliability and performance of a renewable-dominant grid.


· "This is code red. The nation and the world are in peril," President Biden said on Tuesday while visiting areas slammed by Hurricane Ida. "Climate change poses an existential threat to our lives, to our economy. And the threat is here. It's not going to get any better."


· Go deeper: The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed by the Senate in August includes billions of dollars for clean energy projects. While several big policies were left out, like extending tax credits, those initiatives could still be included in the $3.5T budget resolution approved by the House. The latest study from the DOE also estimates that the transition to a solar-driven grid could "employ as many as 1.5M people in the process - without raising electricity prices."


This is pure political rhetoric. If 81% of public power was solar and wind, what do we do at night if the wind dies down? There are several technologies proposed to economically store solar and wind power (i.e., iron-air batteries and ammonia generation) but none have been demonstrated at scale. If economic energy storage doesn’t pan out, then we need to go nuclear in a big way and we are way behind China and India in developing Generation IV nuclear power.


Bottom line is that I am totally convinced that the government’s plan to overcome global warming is too little too late. They should have been researching the long-term alternatives to solar and wind power decades ago and they didn’t. Now solar and wind energy is all they have, and they are going to be forced to burn fossil fuels for the rest of the century to keep the lights on.


Right now, I see a future with more and more expensive energy combined with a two to three degrees Celsius worldwide temperature increase. The alternative is a future with widespread energy blackouts and class warfare but smaller increases in temperature. Given a choice, I think I would pick the warmer planet.


When I was in college, I worked ten days in, four days out, during the summer for the National Park service clearing and building trail in the Olympic National Park. I read now where California is banning the sale of gas-powered chain saws after 2035. I find it hard to figure why anyone would buy an electric chain saw to work in the woods. Stay tuned for more entertainment by the California State Legislature.

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