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James Greyson

Aug 6, 2011


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This is my favourite bit, "There also would be no fuel costs." Funny that we don't hear more about this in a world that is bankrupting itself and fighting wars to get more fuel! Renewables are pretty obvious so it's curious that people make such a fuss and society invests heavily in everything but. Part of this is as you say well-lubricated entrenched interests. Another part is that we're all entrenched, psychologically, in the paradigm we're in. Was reminded of this yesterday watching the age of stupid with the interviews of hyper-entrenched people opposing wind turbines. Could there be an unfortunate feedback effect where as the world gets more uncertain, people retreat implacably into acting more certain about whatever positions give them reassurance and a sense of connection with their 'gang'? I've noticed the same effect among environmentalists unwilling to consider that economic growth and physical impacts growth are separate things and could be hooked up in reverse. There is also paradigm entrenchment with society's problem solving method. Both politicians and environmentalists talk for example about 'low carbon' without realising how this defines a problem solving method that closes the door to a whole system perspective (other climate drivers, other problems, more ambition) and opens the door to decoy solutions (nuclear, most CCS). The habit of campaigning with actions rather than collaborating on new ideas and policies is another example. How can we get to problem solving that doesn't just sound like lobbying?

Kevin Huang

Sep 12, 2011


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While the advantages of a renewable energy-based economy are numerous and clear as laid out in the proposal, there are numerous hurdles (technical, social, political, and economic) that continue to provide significant challenges to the realization and feasibility of this idea. An in depth and comprehensive discussion of these barriers is beyond the scope of this brief review. These barriers include, but are not limited to: 1. While renewable resource availability exists globally to satisfy our aggregate power consumption, more thought needs to be given to the geographic distribution of the resources with respect to demand and load centers. For instance, many solar, wind, & hydro-rich resources are far from places that need that power and, thus, often not feasible as the dominant source of power generation in many locations. 2. While geothermal and hydro power can supply some level of consistent baseload power, the co-localization of the resource with end users is far from adequate (e.g., they are co-located in places like Iceland, not nearly as such in other countries). It’s not clear whether those sources can even provide the necessary level of baseload activity globally to satisfy daily and seasonal variations in power demand while still ensuring grid stability. 3. Although power can be transmitted over long distances to carry power from resource-rich regions to end users, a number of challenges remain: a. Power loss over such great distances in the transmission & distribution system b. Jurisdictional conflicts, e.g., should I have to pay for a high voltage transmission line going through my state if it is carrying power to end users not in my state? c. Balkanized policy & regulatory systems d. Regional energy interdependence 4. The current electrical power system isn’t designed to accommodate such high levels of intermittent power. Significant infrastructural modernization is necessary before renewable energy penetration into the grid can reach the levels proposed here. 5. Aside from opposition by incumbent fossil power providers themselves, the legislative majority needed to pass renewables-based legislation is often hindered by the interests of lawmakers’ constituencies rather than the merits of good policy. For instance, lawmakers from fossil resource-rich states (from whatever political party) are more likely to oppose policy shifts which may result in a loss of jobs among their constituents. Finally, when quoting numbers in units of terawatts, the proposal should accurately refer to that as “power,” not “energy,” as the watt is a unit of power (i.e., the rate at which energy is delivered or consumed). The proposal is well written, but should be expanded to address some of these more detailed issues within the energy system. While the kind of macroscale number crunching outlined here is useful as a starting point for scale, successful implementation will require much more thorough and focused solutions to address the many technical and political components of a wholesale transformation of our energy system.

Jonas Haller

Sep 30, 2011


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I like your project a lot. Mine is very similar, though mainly focusing on solar. If you do not object, we could merge the proposals? Maybe with developing action plans for every region separately, since in Europe for instance there is not much hydro remaining to be exploited, while the Southern European economies are in n urgent need of such projects to get running again (Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal) ... What do you think?

Climate Colab

Nov 14, 2012


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Test comment 11/14/12.