Thursday, March 07, 2019

Green New Deal Reading

I volunteered to lead an educational discussion about Green Energy and put it in context for Indivisible Beach Cities on March 27, 2019.  Group members typically do assigned pre-reading and then a member leads the discussion.  Somehow, the organizer advertised that I would be talking about Green Legislation. After some thought and research, I decided to talk about the Green New Deal and how it affects California quickly and then segue into my original topic of electricity fixation.

Firstly, read the resolution on the official house website: H.Res 109 - Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal.

It's in committee (House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources) and may change form when it emerges from committee. That's normal and does not necessarily signal anything nefarious.

Many people have written about the Green New Deal. I recommend:
Masochists may want to hate-read The Good News about the GND in the New Yorker.  John Cassidy took Mark Jacobson's comments at face value, with no push-back or evidence.  The Mark Jacobson whose calculations were so wrong and debunked by so many that he had to sue other scientists to shut them up.
“Right now, we have about ninety per cent or ninety-five per cent of the technology we need,” Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford, told me.
Yeah, right.  Moving on...

To make climate change less catastrophic, we need to reduce our total green house gas (GHG) emissions.  I've read differing figures for differing outcomes.  For the sake of this discussion, I'm suggesting that the people who are consuming the most make the most drastic reductions so that others may simply live.

I'll use the straw man bandied about of 50% reduction in California, which is feasible if we cut our transportation GHG emissions by drastically changing our housing and transportation policy. It's the only way to get those emissions reductions using the technology we have now.

For California, read the data (optional, link provided for reference):
California Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory - 2018 Edition

Note that the largest sector is transportation.  Simply, we need to drive and fly less, a lot less.  The rest is fiddling while the planet burns.

There is a lot of BS talk about  changing our electricity grid to 100% renewable energy without nuclear, large hydro and even biogas.  That was the topic I originally intended to talk about and I'll embed the links as I discuss them instead of in one list like I did for the GND.

David Roberts on Renewable energy power grid architecture: This is long and wonky, but just read the first page or so that describes the miracle of the modern electrical grid (up to the first subheading, What is grid architecture?)
The US power grid is, by some estimates, the largest machine in the world, a continent-spanning wonder of the modern age. And despite its occasional well-publicized failures, it is remarkably reliable, delivering energy to almost every American, almost every second of every day.
If you read way, way down, he discusses DERs
distributed energy resources (DERs): small-scale energy resources often (though not always) found “behind the meter,” on the customer side. Some DERs generate energy, like solar panels, small wind turbines, or combined heat-and-power (CHP) units.

Some DERs store energy, like batteries, fuel cells, or thermal storage like water heaters. And some DERs monitor and manage energy, like smart thermostats, smart meters, smart chargers, and whole-building energy management systems. (The oldest and still most common DER is diesel generators, which are obviously not ideal from a climate standpoint.)
Remember the Enron (and other players) created California electricity crisis of summer of 2000?  Remember the blackouts?  Users around CA responded by installing diesel generators which caused hellacious air pollution and GHG emissions.

This is the future we do not want.  We need electricity to be available at all times to people who need it.  Deciding who needs it and how much is debatable but ensuring the stability of the grid is not.

California and the Feds provide a lot of data for the curious.

For starters, look at the California daily electricity supply for today.
CA renewable and nonrenewable electricity sources for March 7, 2019.
Today was mild and partly sunny.  Check out two days ago, when a big storm blew through.  We had a lot less solar power and more wind in the evening, when the storm came in.
Note that the scales are different from 3/7.  Check out the wind blowing as the storm came in.
The bad news is that the sun doesn't always shine and the wind doesn't always blow.
CA is using 28,000 MW at 18:55 on 3/7/19 but renewables provide only 3,651 MW
CA is using 28,000 MW at 18:55 on 3/7/19 but renewables provide only 3,651 MW. It costs $120 Million to buy batteries to provide 100 MW for 3-4 hours. Too bad we have another 12 hours to go until the sun shines brightly again. If, theoretically, you can buy and install this many batteries, this would cost:
(25,000MW/100MW)*(12hrs/3.5hrs)*$120M = $103B

The batteries wear out and need to be replaced/recycled periodically. They are also potential environmental hazards in their own right (i.e. leaking metals like Pb or spontaneously combusting like laptop batteries.)

For context, the CA transportation commission funds about $240M/year for active transportation (walking/bicycling) projects.

This is why I say, invest in renewables, batteries and research, but spend the bulk of your money getting people out of cars.  That's where you will get the most GHG reductions for your buck.  We'll also reduce pollution and health care costs, too.

Think class 1 separated (from cars and pedestrians) bike lanes everywhere so that we can move around quickly and safely.  How about workforce housing so people can live near work and not need a car to get there?

The average road speed of cars in Los Angeles is already slower than an average woman (me) on an e-bike.  Think e-bikes instead of electric cars.  They cost less and require a lot less energy, road and parking space.  They also provide a bit of exercise.


For California, we also need to keep in mind the Water Energy Nexus (optional, link provided for reference); 12% of California's total energy use is related to water.

We've made fantastic strides in reducing our water use and, hence, our energy use. This one is really wonky and optional, but goes through the calculations in detail.  Go, California! (But especially SoCal because SFSV did piddly compared to SoCal.)

The estimated impact of California's urban water conservation mandate on electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions

I'm going to talk about energy use and generation related to water in a later post.  This post is already too long.

This post is part of a series.  Also read:

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