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[Discuss] Eclipses Re: Great talks last night, however...

Bill Bogstad <bogstad at> writes:
> So lets say that I accept everything you say about both the
> inefficiency and unclean
> characteristics of solar PV + battery storage.   Are the current
> incumbent solutions (Oil, Coal, Natural
> Gas) any better on either characteristic?  When doing your efficiency
> calculations,
> please don't cheat.   i.e. Do total life cycle back to when the
> material was first buried
> underground.  I suspect that even turning corn into ethanol is more energy
> efficient then the process that created fossil fuels.

This book is helpful on this topic:

It's a little old, but the way he calculates makes me think his numbers
should hold up pretty well over time. He avoid economics, so I'm
thinking the recent advancements in solar (mostly concerning price per
unit energy?) don't change things. He does concentrate on the picture
from a U.K. perspective, though. It's kind of like a Doctor Who episode,
where the aliens somehow always come to England, but with renewables
instead. Still, people on this list probably can take his calculations
and apply them to Massachusetts easily enough.

I'm wondering maybe for MA if the answer shouldn't be buying lots of
Quebec and Labrador hydro (my old country is not paying me to say this,
honest) to fill in the power troughs left by solar and wind. I mean,
what, you can turn on gas power quickly too, I think, but that's a
greenhouse gas, and, jesus, if we ever leave this era of low natural gas
prices anyone with a few panels up will quickly find a way to appreciate
every last kwh they generate even if it's not coming quite at the right
time. What's NE ISO's mix at now, like 60% natural gas? And the next
proposed major step (with the first being largely taking advantage of
gas prices dropping to be less than coal as I understand it? or perhaps
that's unfair) for MA's climate change policy is to switch to electric
cars. Yikes.

Nuclear still sounds like a needed thing, but I have a hard time
imagining a new plant around here anytime soon, and the ones we have are
winding down. More reason to fear a gas hike, not to mention the
difficulty of building sufficient renewables quickly enough, their
disappointingly low power generation per unit land area numbers, or
their intermittency.

And then there's stuff like this:

Mike Small
smallm at

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