India is reopening 100 coal mines to ensure that their electrification program stays on course in the face of new realities. International coal prices has more than doubled since the start of 2022, so coal mining is again profitable.
One would think that the world is trying to reduce the number of coal plants. Not so!
Australia has at least one ally in trying to save the world, the United states of America! California has already eliminated their coal plants, but they are also a great importer of electricity, much of it produced from coal. In the next ten year the U.S. utilities plan to shut down or change the fuel on over 200 coal fired plants, 48 in 2022 alone. Meanwhile , coal is getting scarce. There will be spot shortages this year.
There will be brownouts and rotating blackouts this summer, especially in California and the mid-west.
Natural Gas prices has more than doubled from around $3 per Mega BTU to over $8, while spot price in Europe is over $26 per MBTU. To quote Barack Obama: “Electricity prices will naturally skyrocket”. This means electricity prices have only begun their rise.
The National Electric grids are aging and under increasing stress. The Biden administration has one solution. Commandeering American industry to make more solar panels with components made nearly exclusively from China and lower the import tariffs on solar panel components. California is already producing too much solar power if the wind is also blowing, but not during times of greatest demand, leading to a desperate need for pumped storage or large, very expensive battery banks. California has already given its first warning: Don’t charge your electric vehicles now, or the whole grid will go down. See here.
Yet there is hope. We can switch our electric grid to nuclear energy, but not the dominant Uranium 235 nuclear plants that requires evacuation zones, lots of cooling water and a large regulatory overhead to ensure their safety. No, instead go back to the original source of nuclear power, before making nuclear bombs became the driving source of nuclear development. Thorium based nuclear power, especially the Liquid Fluoride molten salt Thorium Reactor (LFTR). It breeds more fuel than it uses by about 3%, and it generates 0.01% of the nuclear waste of a Uranium 235 plant. It is more efficient and inherently safe. My preference would be to make them in an assembly line and deliver them on standard trucks rather than build them on site. LFTR reactors does not need water for cooling. My preference would be a 100 MW reactor with the molten salt containing the fissile material separated from the cooling system, which could be either gas or molten lead. They could then be spread out over the country with no need for water, be placed near population centers since there is no need for evacuation zones. This would make it possible to have local grids, eliminating the need to expand the national grid.
And with an assembly line production the core units can be delivered in three standard size containers. The total cost including power generation and the permanent enclosure will be less than two dollars per watt, and fuel cost is essentially nil, since Thorium is already mined in excess quantities in rare earth mining.
I do want to save coal for important uses, such as making chemicals and fertilizer, and in the future to produce aviation fuel. By all means, switch to electric vehicles, but not until the electric grid is converted from Coal and Natural Gas to nuclear!
At the climate change conference in Scotland President Biden suggested to reduce the level of methane emissions 30% worldwide by 2030.
First, let us see where the sources of methane are:
First, let us see that one third of greenhouse gases come from natural causes. To achieve 30% worldwide reduction by 2030 we must reduce anthropogenic methane by 42.8%
The first source is from ruminants, that is animals that chew their cud. There are over 150 species of ruminants like goats, sheep, elk, moose, bison, gnu, yak, reindeer, deer, all kinds of antelopes and so on, but for now let us concentrate on domesticated cattle, something we can control. There are about 1 billion cattle in the world, see picture
We can, at great expense collect the methane from the dairy cattle.
The next challenge is rice paddies. About 18% of all methane emissions emanate from rice paddies. Thanks to rising CO2 levels they are now more productive, India had a record harvest this year. China had too many floods to have a record harvest. Rice is the staple food for over half the world’s population, so it is best to tread carefully on forced reductions. But there is hope: There is a patented GMO modified rice that has less roots and thus produce less methane. See https://lenbilen.com/2015/07/29/growing-gmo-modified-rice-eliminates-methane-pollution-an-inconvenient-truth-for-green-heads-a-limerick/ Unfortunately GMO modified food is banned in much of the world, and I doubt these attitudes can be changed before 2030, so no reduction in rice paddy methane production will occur, instead methane production from rice paddies will increase slowly with increasing CO2 levels.
Next comes biomass burning and fermentation. There are many possible solutions.Over 200 years ago North Korea began to have methane stoves at their farms. They put compost in a closed cistern and led the gases from it into the stove and had heat to cook and heat for the house. It is labor intensive, but can be implemented many places. But seriously, field burning is very bad for the environment. The year-to-year spring variation in Arctic black carbon (BC) aerosol abundance is strongly correlated with biomass burning in the mid-latitudes. Moreover, current models underestimate the contribution of BC from biomass burning by a factor of three. Check the scientific paper on the issue: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/11/05/black-carbon-aerosols-heating-arctic-large-contribution-from-mid-latitude-biomass-burning/ While arctic snow is increasing in fall and winter it melts earlier in the spring thanks to black carbon changing the albedo of the snow. We should attempt to reduce biomass burning by at least half and reduce worldwide methane emission by 5%. The trick is to change the habit of subsistence farmers and western arsonists and the carelessness of people setting all the wildfires in the American west.
Landfills produce methane. The gases should be captured whenever economically defensible. It is possible to recover this methane in maybe one third of the landfills, reducing worldwide methane by 3%.
Mining and burning coal produce methane. While U.S has reduced its coal production by half in the last twenty years China is set to increase its coal consumption until at least 2030. India and much of the developing world are dependent on coal and will increase their consumption. See figure:
So no matter what u.s. will do, methane from coal will increase by probably 2% worldwide, and that assumes better mining, storing and burning practices.
Lastly methane leaked from gas production can be reduced by capping used oil and gas wells, recovering seepages, in short being environmentally vigilant. Properly managed, maybe half can be reduced world wide. This would reduce Methane leaks by 4%.
Total savings worldwide by 2030 using the best assumptions are: Ruminants: 4%, Rice Paddies: 0%, Biomass: 5%, Landfills: 3%, Coal: -2%, Gas production: 4%; for a total of 14%, less than half of what President Biden promised at the Glasgow Climate conference, or less than a third if he meant total methane production.
I am a conservationist. I care about the earth, and I want to leave the world a better place. I am not the least worried about methane, even though I am well aware that it is a 25 times stronger greenhouse gas than CO2.
Here is the deal. There are methane sinks in nature that nearly offset the methane sources:
So we can see, the methane levels are in close balance. But the Methane levels are increasing:
And the methane level in the atmosphere will continue to increase for a while. Yet, I am not worried. Here is the kicker. Methane is the don’t care gas when it comes to global warming, or climate change if you prefer that term. Methane absorbs in the same light bands as water vapor, and this is where climate models fail. If water vapor absorbs 99% of the energy at a certain wavelength and Methane absorbs another 50% of the energy at the same wavelength the sum is not 149%, but 99.5%. You cannot absorb more than all energy available at a certain wavelength. With this in mind we can look at the absorption spectra for water vapor and methane.
In the upper plot the red represents the incoming radiation absorbed by the ground, the white area represents energy absorbed in the atmosphere. The blue area represents the total energy escaping the earth, the white under the curves represent energy absorbed by the atmosphere causing the greenhouse effect, the three curves represent three temperatures, from left to right 310K, 260K and 210K.
As we can see, water vapor absorbs nearly everywhere except in the region of visual light (thank God it is so, or we would be in eternal fog), and the so called atmospheric window. Methane absorbs in three wavelengths, the first two around 2 and 3 micrometers, but there water vapor absorbs nearly all energy in the atmosphere, and it is at a wavelength where solar influx is very low and earth radiance back to the sky is negligible, so they do not matter at all. The third wavelength, around 8 micrometers is where earth radiation is high, but even there water vapor is the dominant factor. Remember Methane concentration is less than 2 ppm and water vapor is counted in percent in the tropics, and even around the poles is the dominant absorbent. That is why I am saying, as a greenhouse gas, methane doesn’t matter.
Let us instead concentrate on things that do matter, deforestation, real pollution, and above all, clean and available water. Wind and solar uses up too many resources, and we will still depend on coal and natural gas to provide electricity when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow, and our hydroelectric power storage is insufficient to accommodate much more of temporary energy sources. The only long time solution is to go nuclear, specifically LFTR until fusion energy is commercially viable.
Obama twice called Americans “lazy” Wednesday during a Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) town hall at Souphanouvong University in Laos during his ongoing visit to Asia. The comments are sure to irk conservatives who have previously claimed Obama is being unpatriotic when he criticizes Americans while overseas or at home.
“You know I believe that the United States is and can be a great force for good in the world but because we are such a big country we haven’t always had to know about other parts of the world,” Obama said. “If you are in Laos you need to know about Thailand and China and Cambodia because you are a small country and they are right next door and you need to know who they are. If you are in the United States, sometimes you can feel lazy and think, ‘You know we are so big we don’t have to really know anything about other people.'”
The president again threw out the “lazy” label when describing an overall lack of urgency in Americans’ attitudes toward climate change and the environment.
“Usually, if you see the environment destroyed, it’s not because that’s necessary for development,” Obama said. “It’s usually because we are being lazy, and we’re not being as creative as we could be about how to do it in the smarter, sustainable way.”
Obama in Laos: We’re lazy.
Destroy the environment: Crazy.
His pet peeve: CO2.
Ban all coal, that will do.
Just look at the sky: It is hazy.
(Just for the record: CO2 is totally transparent in visual light, it is water vapor, a much more efficient greenhouse gas that makes it hazy. Plus of course real pollution)
p.s. Here is one more
CO2, the life-giving gas, not “Carbon Pollution”. A Limerick – and explanation.
Appearing at a CNN town hall in Columbus, Ohio, on Sunday, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton promised that in her administration, “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”
This adds one more verse to the Hillary Nursery rhyme:
Let us go over the main contributors to Methane gas generation.
The biggest contributor to Methane generation worldwide is Rice paddies, with about 20%. Of this U.S.A. has 1.2% of the worldwide rice production, so if we eliminate domestic rice production we will reduce the our Methane budget by a quarter of one percent, assuming people switch to potatoes and pasta.
Next, also about 20% of the Methane generation are wetlands. These swamps are most cherished by environmentalists, since they are spawning grounds for all kinds of life. No one seriously wants to drain all swamps anymore, so no cuts there.
Third, with about 12% are Ruminants, Methane belching from cows and people eating beans. We could make a dent in this methane production if people totally switched their diet. Maybe a fart-tax would price beef and dairy products out of the market? Don’t forget bean-tax!
Fourth is termites with about 8%. No, Orkin would not be able to handle this. Besides, Orkin uses strong poisons.
Fifth, also about 8% is Biomass burning. Our country is already doing much better than the rest of the world. Much of this burning is sticks and straws and cow-chips for the third world dinner fire.
Sixth is landfills , also about 8%. The largest landfills are already being fitted with methane recovery pipes, which is good. We may recover yet another couple of percent of the Methane budget.
Seventh is coal mining, contributes about 8% world-wide. Obama has promised to obliterate coal mining in the U.S. Unfortunately for him China is consuming over half of the world’s coal, so even if we did away with all coal mining, that would reduce the world-wide Methane budget by less than 2%.
Eighth is gas production, about 8%. The U.S. petroleum industry already burns off the methane, converting it to CO2, or recovers it as fuel. Not so worldwide. There can be improvements there, but not more than 2% of the worldwide budget.
Next is Methane wells in the ocean bottom and algae blooms in waters over fertilized by nitrates. This is probably under-estimated at 5%. U.S. has done great strides in for example the Chesapeake Bay, but more can be done. We could possibly gain 1% in the Methane budget from ocean cleanup.
The result? No way can we reduce Methane output by 40 – 45% unless we totally change our standard of living, our eating habits and our life-style.
How much reduction in global temperature would it give us? Less than 0.1C!
It turns out that there exists methane-eating bacteria, and they grow better with increased temperature, stripping the coal atom from methane, converting the rest to methyl alcohol and digesting that too. The Arctic, rich in methane eating bacteria may well be a methane sink, not a methane source.
Background: NY Times, Business day:
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is expected to propose as soon as Tuesday the first-ever federal regulation to cut emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming, by the nation’s oil and natural-gas industry, officials familiar with the plan said on Monday.
The proposed rule would call for the reduction of methane emissions by 40 to 45 percent over the next decade from 2012 levels, the officials said. The proposal was widely expected, after the Environmental Protection Agencysaid in January that it was working on such a plan.
The new rules are part of Mr. Obama’s broad push for regulations meant to cut emissions of planet-warming gases from different sectors of the economy. This month, Mr. Obama unveiled the centerpiece of that plan, a regulation meant to cut emissions of carbon dioxide by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, a move that could transform the way the nation produces and consumes electric power.
The new rules on methane could create a tougher regulatory scheme on the nation’s fossil fuel production, particularly on the way that companies extract, move and store natural gas.
Environmental advocates have long urged the Obama administration to crack down on methane emissions. Most of the greenhouse gas pollution in the United States comes from carbon dioxide, which is produced by burning coal, oil and natural gas. Methane, which leaks from oil and gas wells, accounts for just 9 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas pollution — but it is over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, so even small amounts of it can have a big impact on global warming.
The oil and gas industry has resisted methane regulations, insisting that new rules could stymie a booming natural gas industry and that voluntary industrywide standards are sufficient to prevent methane leaks. Mr. Obama is pressing efforts to cut harmful emissions as he works toward forging a United Nations global warming accord in Paris in December. The aim of the accord is to commit every nation to enact policies to cut greenhouse gases. The United States has already submitted a plan to the United Nations laying out how it will cut domestic greenhouse gas emissions by up to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.
Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, recently made a devastating admission… the goal of environmental activism is not to save the world from terrifying environmental calamity, but to end capitalism.
“This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,” she said.
Referring to a new international treaty environmentalists hope will be adopted at the Paris climate change conference later this year, she added: “This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history.”
This brings us to verse 25 of the Obama Impeachment song (as if sung by President Barack Hussein Obama to the tune of “Please release me, let me go”)