Song: DJ Shadow "Building Steam with a Grain of Salt"
I mentioned this before, but the amount of land needed to power the United States country with renewables is simply prohibitive. From that Ezra Klein podcast:
...[In] The most cost-effective of our net-zero scenarios, [wind] spans an area that is equal to Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee put together. And the solar farms are an area the size of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.
So these are big, big areas.
The answer, of course, is Nukes Nukes Nukes! And carbon capture, which will require even more electricity.
|More useful to dream of donuts than a pastoral sustainable future.|
Rooftop solar alone could provide 40% of current consumption.
Offshore wind is a thing.
The footprint of a wind turbine is small relative to spacing, so crops can be raised underneath.
Let me ask you this, Ken - would you bet your life that the ArsTechnica article is true? There is a ton of motivated reasoning going on when it comes to climate change. People start with their desired conclusion (e.g., climate change is not a real threat; renewables can solve everything) and choose their sources accordingly.
The Ars Technica piece describes their methodology and names the data sources. Your post contains unsubstantiated assertions.
My life isn't at issue. I believe that eventual reversal of anthropogenic climate change will require renewables plus conservation, where renewables will include solar, wind, tidal, biomass and eventually orbiting solar collectors beaming energy to Earth. Plus limited amounts of fossil energy with carbon capture at the source of emission. Lots of baskets to put our eggs into.
You didn't answer my question, Ken - would you bet your life that that article is 100% accurate? Are you contending that Jesse Jenkins is lying, or ArsTechnica is better and more thorough?
Note: I used to believe what you do.
I didn't answer your question because it's stupid, and anyway I'm not a betting person. I evaluate the Ars Technica as explaining a reasonable approach to estimating a single potential energy source. I don't have enough information to evaluate the statements by Jesse Jenkins. Specifically, I don't know what mix of sources Jenkins assumes, so I don't know if it's reasonable or not. (by the way, in my catalog I forgot hydro and geothermal). Undoubtedly a sustainable economy would include energy derived from many renewable sources; the land area taken up depends on the composition of the supply.
Another issue is the basis of comparison: Jenkins' land areas sound impractically huge, but a quick Google search found that the US has nearly 7 million kilometers of paved roads; if the average road width is 6m (seems conservative), that is a paved area three times the size of Connecticut. If we can cover that area with aggregate and concrete or asphalt, covering it with a fraction of a millimeter of silicon doesn't seem so far fetched.
Ken, I hope you are right, but I will take any bet you'd like to offer. Percentage of roads covered in solar panels, global carbon emissions, etc.
In case you don't know, I'm not here to shill for oil companies. I only care about reducing suffering. I was named a DOE Global Change Fellow in 1991 and have studied these issues intensively since. I honestly believe that anyone who is not advocating an "all of the above" strategy is causing more suffering than necessary. And as I document in my latest book, I believe that many in the climate movement are traumatizing young people with lies.
But again, I hope you are right. Good luck.
Ken, you might also find this analysis interesting:
I'm not saying it is right. I'm just saying it is worth considering.
Even if we got visited by the Cheap-Nuclear Fairy, we don't have a solution for storing high-level waste. We have spent-fuel pools which require active cooling with de-ionized, highly purified water and constant monitoring. Is that priced into his model? Devanney thinks that abolishing the NRC and de-regulating the nuclear industry will bring costs down. The utilities accept regulation because it comes with indemnification. I don't think there will ever be a private consortium that will insure a nuke, much less a nationwide fleet, at any price.
Large companies much heavier capitalized than Devanney's have pretty much given up on convincing the public to accept nuclear power. I don't have a bias against it (I worked on contracts in nukes for a few years), but I don't see a future for it.
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