Today some tentative baby steps were taken on Anthony Watts blog at WUWT towards a cleaner energy future. The reason I say it's tentative baby steps is not that Anthony was promoting clean energy but because he was discussing it. That's one teensy weensy step forward from his usual nonsense that "global warming isn't happening or if it is it won't be bad". He posted two articles that are (sort of) related to cleaner energy:
- a clean energy plan for California
- safe fracking
A clean energy plan for California
Anthony posted two articles, the first was about a paper in Energy, by a large team from Stanford, UC Davis, Cornell and elsewhere, setting out a plan to shift California to renewable energy (archived here).
Needless to say, Anthony was against the plan as were most of those commenting. His headline was: "California’s future energy pipe dream". If Anthony had been born 100 years earlier he would undoubtedly have called the advent of horseless carriages a pipe dream, along with air travel and telecommunications.WUWT is in the business of naysaying. They want to remain part of the problem and are not interested in working toward solutions. Still, it's a baby step that WUWT is even discussing how to wean the world off fossil fuels.
Here is some of the same press release, this one from Stanford University:
The study concludes that, while a wind, water and sunlight conversion may result in initial capital cost increases, such as the cost of building renewable energy power plants, these costs would be more than made up for over time by the elimination of fuel costs. The overall switch would reduce California’s end-use power demand by about 44 percent and stabilize energy prices, since fuel costs would be zero, according to the study.
It would also create a net gain, after fossil-fuel and nuclear energy job losses are accounted for, of about 220,000 manufacturing, installation and technology construction and operation jobs. On top of that, the state would reap net earnings from these jobs of about $12 billion annually.
According to the researchers’ calculations, one scenario suggests that all of California’s 2050 power demands could be met with a mix of sources, including:
- 25,000 onshore 5-megawatt wind turbines
- 1,200 100-megawatt concentrated solar plants
- 15 million 5-kilowatt residential rooftop photovoltaic systems
- 72 100-megawatt geothermal plants
- 5,000 0.75-megawatt wave devices
- 3,400 1-megawatt tidal turbines
The study states that if California switched to wind, water and sunlight for renewable energy, air pollution-related deaths would decline by about 12,500 annually and the state would save about $103 billion, or about 4.9 percent of the state’s 2012 gross domestic product, in related health costs every year. The study also estimates that resultant emissions decreases would reduce global climate change costs in 2050 – such as coastal erosion and extreme weather damage – by about $48 billion per year.
“I think the most interesting finding is that the plan will reduce social costs related to air pollution and climate change by about $150 billion per year in 2050, and that these savings will pay for all new energy generation in only seven years,” said study co-author Mark Delucchi of the University of California, Davis....
...To ensure grid reliability, the plan outlines several methods to match renewable energy supply with demand and to smooth out the variability of wind, water and sunlight resources. These include a grid management system to shift times of demand to better match with timing of power supply; and “over-sizing” peak generation capacity to minimize times when available power is less than demand. The study refers to a previously published analysis that demonstrated that California could provide a reliable grid with nearly 100 percent clean, renewable energy.
Now the dot points above don't look identical to the plan as outlined in the paper itself, which includes some offshore wind, for example. You can read the full press release here. And you can read the paper here.
No, not safe-cracking - the second article at WUWT was about fracking or hydraulic fracturing (archived here). That was also a "no, no, no" article. WUWT wasn't objecting to fracking. Rather Anthony was quibbling about three sentences at the very end of a booklet by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Not that he would know anything about the matter other than what he read on the internet. He doesn't live in Colorado let alone the town of Erie.
(You might say that fracking can't be classed as clean energy and I agree. However there seems to be general agreement that replacing coal with gas is an interim step towards clean energy. Fracking is also used to extract hard-to-get oil as well, so it's not really clean energy.)
Anthony's article had a very misleading headline: "Union of Concerned ‘Scientists’ frackivists taken to task for willful misrepresentation of facts in Erie, Colorado", which suggested the UCS booklet is against fracking. It isn't. The booklet is a guide to policy makers and communities to help them assess proposals to undertake fracking in their region. It isn't an anti-fracking booklet. What is does is list some questions to be considered to make sure that if fracking is permitted, it is as safe as can be reasonably expected.
Anthony didn't comment on the booklet as a whole. It's a fair bet he hasn't read it. He doesn't even seem to read many of the articles he puts up on his blog. What he did was slam the Union of Concerned Scientists for the portrayal of what happened in a town in Colorado. Mind you, this was a few lines only on the last page (page 18) of the main section of the booklet. Apparently there's a fight going on between some local politicians and community groups in regard to who should take credit for limiting adverse impacts of fracking in a community in Colorado. Anthony's going with the local authority. This makes a change, because people like Anthony Watts don't usually side with "Authority".
It looks like a political storm in a teacup to me. In most situations, local authorities respond to community concerns. Did the local authorities bring all stakeholders together to work out the agreement or not? If not, then surely it was remiss. If so, then surely that is a good thing.
The irony of the WUWT article lies in the fact that Anthony misrepresented the UCS booklet (wrongly suggesting it was an anti-fracking booklet) to complain that it misrepresented the situation in the town in Colorado.
Jacobson MZ, et al., "A roadmap for repowering California for all purposes with wind, water, and sunlight", Energy (2014), http://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/CaliforniaWWS.pdf
Science, Democracy and Fracking. A guide for community residents and policy makers facing decisions over hydraulic fracturing. The Union of Concerned Scientists. (available here)