The direct as opposed to obtuse approach to energy and the environment.
image credit: Jim Baird, Thermodynamic Geoengineering
- Dec 23, 2020 10:44 pm GMTDec 23, 2020 8:46 pm GMT
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Archimedes was the first to recognized that “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.”
The second law of thermodynamics is one of the most fundamental laws of nature, and says the level of disorder in the universe is steadily increasing, which implies that the universe will end in a "heat death" in which everything is at the same temperature. With the result it is impossible to do any work and all energy will end up as the random motion of atoms and molecules.
“Heat death” is a ways off but, in the meantime, it behooves us to extract every ounce of work out of the energy that is available to us, so time becomes a factor.
Daryl Lovell, Syracuse University, in the article “Warming world will fry power plant production in coming years”, say, “There's no doubt the Earth's temperatures are going up. According to a December report by the World Meteorological Organization, 2020 is on track to be one of the three hottest years on record, already within the warmest decade to date. During the year's hottest months, many people rely on electricity-generated cooling systems to remain comfortable. But the power plants that keep air conditioners pushing out cold air could soon be in a vicious cycle in a warming world–not able to keep up with growing demands on hotter days and driving up greenhouse gas emissions to dangerous levels.”
Ethan Coffel and Justin Staller Mankin in their paper, "Thermal power generation is disadvantaged in a thermal world" say, "Thermal power plants use fossil fuels or nuclear material to generate most of the world's electricity. On hot days, when electricity demand peaks, the ambient air and water used to cool these plants can become too warm, forcing operators to curtail electricity output. Using all available observed daily-scale plant outage data, we estimate the observed dependence of thermal plant curtailment on temperature and runoff and use this relationship to quantify curtailments due to global warming. Climate change to date has increased average thermal power plant curtailment in nuclear, coal, oil, and natural gas fired plants by 0.75 – 1 percentage points; with each degree Celsius of additional warming, we project curtailment to increase by 0.8 – 1.2 percentage points during peak demand, requiring an additional 18 – 27 GW of capacity, or 40 – 60 additional average-sized power plants, to offset this global power loss. Relative to policy scenarios with global transitions to renewable portfolios or that allow aging plants to retire, thermal power generation is a systemically disadvantaged means of electricity production in a warming world.”
“Governments should be preparing for the large increases in electricity demand that will come with increased temperatures and A/C use, and ensuring that electricity supplies are sufficient to meet this rising power demand, even after accounting for the reduced power output of thermal power plants on hot days,” they conclude.
Per the following, the science tells us heat can be converted to work, but this is never a completely efficient process, so a portion of the energy always ends up as waste.
For thermal power plants using fossil fuels or nuclear material, the norm is twice the waste as energy produced. And this is magnified when politics and economics are superimposed on the science per the following.
It is unnatural to introduce obtuse constructs like politics and economics into the energy/environment equation and to do so is to ensure we get less energy, more waste and the hotter planet we are headed for.
Economists have convinced the politicians that carbon taxes make individuals and firms pay the full social cost of carbon pollution, which, in theory, will reduce pollution and encourage more environmentally friendly alternatives. In practice, however, the polluters and the politicians simply want to derive money from carbon taxes to pay for carbon dioxide removal schemes that consume energy and produce more waste, or put political money into other priorities.
It is equally unnatural and wasteful not to capitalizing on the greatest source of stored solar energy on the planet; the heat accumulating in the oceans, or not put that energy to work.
In fact, if we don’t soon start consuming ocean heat, it will consume us.
We are mutating into a new strain of ouroboros, the Egyptian serpent deity that consumed itself, which represented the formless disorder that surrounds the orderly world and is involved in that world's periodic renewal.
That renewal can’t come soon enough.