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The Small Steps That Will Lead to a Low-Carbon Economy

Steven Cohen's picture
The Earth Institute, Columbia University
  • Member since 2018
  • 101 items added with 42,472 views
  • Nov 24, 2015 3:53 pm GMT
Steven Cohen's picture
Thank Steven for the Post!
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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Nov 24, 2015

Steven, what evidence do you have that a series of interconnected microgrids, with an exponentially more complicated network of high-resistance, low-voltage wiring, and exponentially more complicated, tedious maintenance requirements, will somehow be more efficient than the grid feed you plugged into to type your article? None?

That’s what I thought, because it goes against every physical property of electricity and every design maxim of engineering.

And you seem unjustifiably impressed by SEIA’s sales pitch:

“Without question, the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) has helped to fuel our industry’s tremendous growth. Since the ITC was passed in 2006, more than 150,000 solar jobs have been created in America, and $66 billion has been invested in solar installations nationwide. We now have 20 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar capacity–enough to power 4 million U.S. homes–and we’re helping to reduce harmful carbon emissions by 20 million metric tons a year. By any measurement, the ITC has been a huge success for both our economy and environment.”

Possibly a huge success in marketing terms. Me, I’m impressed by the atrocious waste of money: it took 150,000 jobs and $66 billion to save 20 million metric tons of carbon emissions. That’s what 2-1/2 Indian Point-size nuclear plants save every year, with enough money left over to pay 145,000 out-of-work solar installers to stay home and blog about how dangerous nuclear energy is (at least they don’t have to worry about falling off the roof).

Is there an engineer in the house?

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Nov 27, 2015

Microgrids are great for isolated villages which lack a grid connection, but in New York City?  With fossil fuel generation, and with or without battery-backed renewables?  What non-sense.

What NYC needs is a good, stiff connection to the regional power grid (which I suppect they already have), and power import contracts for regional nuclear power and Canadian hydro.  They should also start implementing a greatly expanded district heating system (hot water based, not old-fashioned inefficient steam), powered by local nuclear combined-heat-and-power plants, with the new ultra-safe Gen III LWR (e.g. AP1000) and SMRs (see NuScale) or perhaps eventually the TRISO fuel based reactors (eg. the VHTR, HTGR, or FHR).  This addresses the quote from the article:

Multifamily housing is the largest building sector in New York City, comprising 64 percent of square footage in buildings above 50,000 square feet. Heating is the largest energy end use in this sector, causing the vast majority of carbon emissions.”

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