Guest contribution by Willis Eschenbach
I see Joe Biden is about to propose a new carbon target. That goal would be to cut half of 2005 CO2 emissions by 2030. So I thought I’d see what that would mean.
In 2005, the US emitted almost exactly 6,000 megatons (MT, one million tons) of CO2. Unlike most countries, CO2 emissions in the US have decreased since 2005, and we are currently at around 4,900 tons per year. In order to achieve the fantasy goal, we would have to reduce our CO2 emissions by 1,900 tons of CO2 per year.
Now, the amount of CO2 emitted per petawatt-hour (PWh or 10 ^ 15 watt-hour) of fossil fuel consumption in the US has been slowly decreasing since around 2009. We currently emit around 213 tons of CO2 per PWh of fossil fuel used for energy. If the trend continues, the average for the next nine years will be around 208 tonnes of CO2 per PWh.
This means that we will have to replace around 1,900 tons of CO2 / 208 tons of CO2 per PWh ≈ 9 PWh of fossil energy by 2030.
The only zero-emission source currently available to replace these is nuclear power. We can add wind / sun to the mix if we want, but as Texas and Germany recently demonstrated, we still need to have full backup for the times when the wind dies and the sun sets. Nuclear is not ideal for this, but the modern modular units promise more flexibility in this regard.
Now we have to calculate the required nuclear power plant capacity. To do this, we divide the 9 PWh / year of electricity that we have to deliver by the number of hours per year, 8,760. This gives us approximately 1,030 GW (gigawatts, 10 ^ 9 watts) of new nuclear power plant capacity that is needed.
But there is a problem. That is average generation capacity … but we need enough generation capacity for peak periods, not just average times. I can’t do better than citing a commenter from a previous post:
I think you missed something, Willis
These 22 TW are average performance. However, generating plants, transmission facilities, transformers, breakers and all these things have to be designed for the PEAK demand.
Most distribution systems in the United States have a peak-to-average ratio (PtA) of around 1.6 to 1.7. Except for the New England ISO, which runs at 1.8. Some systems in Australia have an annual PtA ratio of around 2.3. I expect Arizona will run this high in isolation, which of course it never is.
If you take 1.8 as the estimated total PtA ratio, you have to meet a peak demand of 22 * 1.7 terawatts or 37.4 TW.
But no power system can survive with generation that meets demand. So add 15% for reserves if parts of the system fail due to maintenance, breakdowns or the like. The result is that you need a peak generation of 43 TW. So roughly double all of your numbers of what needs to be built.
As a result, instead of 1,030 GW of new nuclear power plant capacity, we need double that or 2,060 GW of new capacity.
From now until January 1, 2030, if Biden’s plan is to cut our emissions to 3,000 tons of CO2 per year, it will be roughly 454 weeks.
This means that EVERY WEEK UNTIL 2030, starting this week, we will excavate two 2.25-gigawatt nuclear power plants, conduct feasibility studies, obtain licenses and permits, excavate, manufacture, install and commission two 2.25-gigawatt nuclear power plants have to.
To give you an idea of how utterly ridiculous the idea of adding two nuclear power plants per week to the grid is, the typical time from feasibility study to grid connection for nuclear power plants is on the order of ten or eleven years. Here is an overview of the timeline.
Figure 1. Typical nuclear power plant schedule from initial study to final launch. SOURCE.
After all, switching from direct fossil fuel use to electricity will be very expensive. Nuclear power plants typically cost $ 7 billion per gigawatt … and since we need 2,060 gigawatts of new nuclear power plant capacity, that’s about $ 14 trillion per gigawatt …
How big is a trillion dollars? If your family had started a business when Jesus was born and made a million dollars a day from then until now, you still wouldn’t have made a trillion dollars. A million dollars a day for 2,000 years … less than a trillion.
But wait, as they say on TV, there’s more to this wonderful offering. Moving from burning fossil fuels directly to using electricity would mean upgrading our entire electrical transmission network, including substations, switches, transmission lines, transformers, and cables to and within each home. Then every house like me would need new electric stoves, water heaters, and space heaters. Can I tell you how much I don’t like cooking on an electric stove? And who pays for my new stove?
Conclusion? This is just another liberal, environmentally brilliant idea. This plan is just like putting your child on a cloak, insisting that they fly through the air and jump off the roof like Superman …
… It will never fly and someone will be seriously injured …
Finally, let me point out an underlying reality regarding all of this. Although I have asked again and again in a large number of forums, no one has been able to tell me what this alleged “CLIMATE EMERGENCY” actually is and where I might find evidence that it exists.
Deaths from climate-related phenomena are at an all-time low. If you think climate catastrophe deaths are an emergency, point to the beginning of the “emergency” in the graph below.
The storms have not increased, and there has been no increase in the strength or frequency of hurricanes … no “emergency”.
Even the IPCC says there is only one in five chances (“low confidence”) that global droughts will intensify. Also, the “damp areas did not become more humid and the dry areas became drier”. No flood or drought emergency.
Global weather catastrophe losses as a percentage of assets at risk (global GDP) are decreasingnot increasing.
Tide meters show no increase in the rate of sea level rise, and the alleged acceleration in satellite measured sea level is merely an artifact of changing satellites.
Yields of all major food crops continue to rise, and people are being fed, clothed, and housed better than ever before against the vagaries of the weather.
The land temperatures have already risen more than the dreaded 2 ° C, without catastrophic consequences … so no historical “climate emergency” despite the rise in temperature.
The number of forest fires has not increased worldwide. Here is the NASA satellite data.
Finally, an “emergency” is defined as “a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation that requires immediate action”. Alarmists have been warning us over and over again for 50 years that none of their doomcasts has come true and no significant action has been taken. So, by definition, it cannot be an emergency.
So before we spend trillions of dollars on an unattainable plan to fully restore all US energy supplies, let’s wait until someone can tell us the big secret – exactly where that mysterious “CLIMATE EMERGENCY !!!” is, and when it started
One final note: temperature changes with altitude at a rate of around 1 ° C per 100 meters. Even if we could magically reduce our emissions to zero tomorrow, and IF (big, if) the “CO2 Roolz temperature” theory is correct, reducing US emissions to zero would make the earth in 2050 by something like this Much cooler cool than you would if you were up three flights of stairs. You can find details in my post “Going To Zero”.
So what is being proposed by our “President” is a meaningless gesture that is impossible to achieve, and even if it could be carried out, it would do nothing to solve an imaginary “emergency” …
… How the mighty have fallen. We have waged and won real wars against real enemies. Now we can’t even win fake wars against imaginary enemies.
Here on our beautiful hill in the woods, I spent the day putting new handles on a shovel, pitchfork and hoe. I was successful in two out of three. Frustrated, I picked up my chainsaw and continued the endless task of reducing the fuel load in the forest around our house. I was quite successful there at cutting and pulling brushes and logs, and I returned with the required number of fingers and toes too … life is good.
My best wishes to everyone
USUAL REQUEST: When leaving a comment, please include the exact words you are talking about. I can defend my own words. I cannot defend your interpretation of my words.
DATA SOURCES: The US energy consumption comes from the US Energy Information Agency under “Energy Summary: Primary Energy Consumption by Source”.
The CO2 emissions are also from the US Energy Information Agency under “Summary: US Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Energy Use.