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Change of Power?

Paul Hobcraft's picture
Innovation & Energy Knowledge Provider, Agility Innovation

I work as a transition advocate for innovation, ecosystems, within IIoT, and the energy system as my points of focus. I relate content to context to give greater knowledge and build the...

  • Member since 2020
  • 142 items added with 68,168 views
  • Apr 12, 2021

Everywhere in the world Power Generation is shifting. I was wanting to get a "handle" on the view of jumping to renewables or taking "bridges" in new Gas fired generation for example. I don't like the word "interim" but more comfortable with "intermediate" but how do you ensure the solutions chosen are actually on the pathway to decarbonization. How do we hold the "feet" of Power Generators to the cleaner flame? Any thoughts?

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Balancing global supply and demand will be needed from an energy efficiency as well as generation perspective. Many utilities are moving to 30-50% renewable portfolios without cost-effective utility scale power storage which is needed to be dispatchable to align with demand. China, Russia, India and other countries implementation of similar US goals and cost-effective storage will be needed in order to move the needle to a global reduction..

Hi Paul: Good question. I have two thoughts in response.

First, I am unclear on what many folks do not understand about climate change. We have a relatively short period of time to prevent the Earth from becoming a place where human life can not survive as we know it. Every vehicle that continues to burn fossil fuels, every building that is not net zero, every power plant that continues to use fossil fuel to produce electricity, every forest that is not managed in a sustainable way, and every industry that produces carbon dioxide as a by-product without capture accelerates our collective effort to change the climate in a bad way.  If a giant meteor was heading to Earth with an impact that would end all life on Earth, the nations of the world would come together immediately to try anything they could think of to avoid the impact. We need to address climate change NOW.  There is no doubt that effort will be expensive, and disruptive. It is not a time to be gentle or timid. We need to implement the needed changes now so a discussion about a smooth transition from our present situation to the promised future strikes me as not being very helpful. Every country around the world needs to begin the effort now.  Unfortunately, I have grown increasingly cynical and know that politics and greed will likely make us jump off the collective cliff like a bunch of lemmings unless there is fundamental change. 

Second, whether the foolish people of the world like it or not, there are two forces at play that may actually save us, and make the world a great place for my little grandson to grow and thrive.  Those forces when revved up like a giant flywheel are unstoppable.  Those forces are the economy and human ingenuity. The price point for the major forms of renewable energy continue to drop radically.  Like it or not, gas and oil will no longer be able to compete with the price point achievable through renewable energy technology.  Further, the investment return associated with renewable energy will be too good for any greedy person to turn down, not to mention the largest pension / investment funds in the world always on the prowl for the best possible return. A little education on this point will go a very long way.

As to human ingenuity, I am seeing technologies on the drawing board and others proven and just entering the market place that will fully disrupt how we think about generating energy and will create the much discussed circular economy based on completely sound environmental standards.

The unstoppable nature of a worldwide economy that grinds away all obstacles fueled by the fundamental human capability to invent will create the transition that many of us seek to a clean and sustainable future.  I realize that this sounds like pie in the sky.  It is not. The change is happening now and there are hundreds of trillions of dollars world wide that are backing it up.  My hope is that the transition from now til then happens soon enough to save us from ourselves.

Hope this helps your thinking.

Best, Larry


I agree with @David Rogers, today we need to focus on the energy transition and looking for ways to decarbonize without affecting the energy system's balance and also considering that it needs to be an affordable solution.


On the other hand, I believe that this is the place where hydrogen best fits in the model, maybe in the form of green ammonia that can be burnt with the new turbines from Mitsui or as a blend with existing turbines. 


This is a possibility that the oil and gas industry is looking into as a way of diversifying their offer and also to prepare themselves to this new decarbonization path.

Paul - the biggest hurdle in my opinion is that this is really the first world wide "pollution" issue.  There is no region plume or NOx from LA that contributes to smog in San Diego.  The absolute fixation of many OECD countries on "their" XX to 100% clean energy is like arguing who gets the upper deck cabins on the Titanic instead of asking how we not hit the iceberg. 

Yes, we can cost effectively get from the nominal US carbon free energy production of 40% (nuclear, hydro, renewables) to much better, but instead of spending the trillions to get from 60/70/80% to 100% we need to get third world countries from 10% to 50%. 

We also have to realize that transportation contribution to GHG will continue to grow and many of their paths to reductions run through electrification so our electrical demand will not be flat like it has been for a decade.  The good news is that car/bus batteries could be a tremendous sink for excess generation and EV2G technology could be part of the storage solution.

The key is that this solution has to be global and based on actual Kyoto performance, the world will not be honest about their actual performance.  China's media claims for being carbon free do not match their desire to continue to be treated as a developing country and NOT be held to the higher OECD standards.  

This is a great questions and one I have thought a lot about. The real problem as I see it is how quickly will replacement fuels like Green Hydrogen and Renewable Diesel be cost effective alternatives to natural gas and carbon based diesel. The other question is will gas turbine technology today be capable of burning these new fuels in the future without major modifications. If I were looking at new generation I would be asking the OEMs will their equipment operate at 100% capacity with these new renewable fuels and if not what will it take to reach that goal. The OEMs have stared to look at what it will take to be able to run on green hydrogen and the more customers ask for this ability the more OEMs will dedicate to the issue and therefor bring the transmission to other fuels quicker and more cost competitive.

The issue is no person has a reasonable and agreeable definition of the term “transition”. States that have leaped to fossil free electric power prior to cost effective power storage seem to feel that any recognition that we will still need affordable and domestically produced natural gas as a betrayal to their pledge to zero carbon. 

The path to the greener cubic foot of natural gas has become clearer as flaring reduction has gained footing in corporate ESG efforts within oil & gas. More and more energy companies are adding green power through PPAs and project investment in solar and offshore wind. 

The existing energy complex has the skills, expertise and capital to reduce emissions. A 10% reduction in existing carbon intensity generates significant emission reduction without causing economic pain. 

Keep an eye on public response if gasoline prices spike to $4, a lot of the goodwill from clear skies post pandemic when families struggling to recover are hit with increased fuel costs. 

In my humble opinion there needs to be a trade off where the Left acknowledges measurable reductions in carbon and the Right stops polarizing green initiatives as lesser value than traditional energy. Let’s do both: increase renewables and batteries as costs fall, recognize that incentivizing strategic natural gas peakers (and a few combined cycles) will be needed for next 30 years for firming and contingency. 

The grid is too complex to wave the green energy magic wand, a steady stream of solar, wind and storage should get us there. 

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