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PCAST suggests 6 key components for climate change strategy to President Obama; adaptation and mitigation

23 March 2013

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a letter to President Obama describing six key components the advisory group believes should be central to the Administration’s strategy for addressing climate change. The letter, responding to a request by the President last fall for input, calls for a dual focus on mitigation and adaptation.

President Obama established the current PCAST in 2010 as an advisory group of leading scientists and engineers who directly advise the President and the Executive Office of the President; one of the members serves as the Assistant to the President for Science and Technology (the Science Advisor). PCAST’s charter is to advise the President on matters involving science, technology, and innovation policy, including, but not limited to, policy that affects science, technology, and innovation, as well as scientific and technical information that is needed to inform public policy relating to the economy, energy, environment, public health, national and homeland security, and other topics.

The first component aims to reduce the damage resulting from changes in climate (“adaptation”), while the last five aim to reduce the pace and magnitude of these changes (“mitigation”). Both approaches are essential parts of an integrated strategy for dealing with climate change. Mitigation is needed to avoid a degree of climate change that would be unmanageable despite efforts to adapt. Adaptation is needed because the climate is already changing and some further change is inevitable regardless of what is done to reduce its pace and magnitude.

—PCAST letter to the President

The six key components are:

1. Focus on national preparedness for climate change, which can help decrease damage from extreme weather events now and speed recovery from future damage.

According to PCAST, a national climate preparedness strategy should include:

  1. mechanisms to create, regularly update, and communicate national climate preparedness plans, including regional assessments and sharing of best practices;

  2. mechanisms to create, regularly update, and communicate to citizens indices of extreme events that capture these leading indicators of climate change on a global, national, and regional basis;

  3. maintenance and improvement of the Nation’s capabilities in weather forecasting and climate-change prediction to help those in harm’s way take actions to protect themselves in both the short- and long-term;

  4. plans for infrastructure modernization that incorporate the impact of future climate change, and also serve to support the development of advanced infrastructure for the 21st century economy; and

  5. changes to Federal policies on disaster relief and insurance to ensure that economic incentives are aligned with long-term safety and security, and that financial capital, when invested following a disaster, is used not just to rebuild, but to rebuild better.

To accomplish those goals, PCAST recommends:

  • Creation of a National Commission on Climate Preparedness charged with recommending an overall framework and blueprint for ongoing data collection, planning, and action.

  • Designating Departments to serve as leads to oversee the annual creation of climate preparedness plans at home and abroad. A logical choice, PCAST said, for domestic preparedness would be the Department of Homeland Security, with the Department of Defense playing the lead role for climate preparedness plans involving events overseas that affect our national security (as they already have responsibility for this).

  • Developing an infrastructure renewal plan that integrates climate preparedness and other benefits to the US’ economy./p>

  • Improving coordination and support for research efforts on climate change preparedness.

2. Continue efforts to decarbonize the economy, with emphasis on the electricity sector. Key recommended steps here are:

  • Support continuing expansion of shale-gas production, ensuring that environmental impacts of production and transport do not curtail the potential of this approach. Continuing substitution of gas for coal (and in some instances for oil) will remain an effective short- and middle-term decarbonization measure and an economic boon only insofar as methane leakage from production and transport is held to low levels and drinking water is not adversely impacted, PVCAST noted.

  • Continue implementation of Clean Air Act requirements on criteria pollutants (such as SO2 and NOx) and hazardous air pollutants (such as mercury) to include creating new performance standards for CO2 emissions from existing stationary sources, which would follow the performance standards for new plants released in March 2012.

  • Accelerate efforts to reduce the regulatory obstacles to deployment of CCS, and continue political support for the large CCS projects currently underway.

3. Level the playing field for clean energy and energy efficiency technologies by removing regulatory obstacles, addressing market failures, adjusting tax policies, and providing time-limited subsidies for clean energy when appropriate.

The PCAST letter suggests as worthy of consideration:

  • Leveling the playing field on access to capital through special tax benefits.

  • Broadening the tax credit for wind to include all forms of renewable energy, replacing the annual renewal with a longer time horizon of 5 to 10 years.

  • Eliminating market failures that prevent the adoption of technologies for energy efficiency.

4. Sustain research on next-generation clean-energy technologies, and remove obstacles for their eventual deployment.

Some technologies are far from being economically competitive today, but are very likely to be important contributors to a low-carbon energy system several decades from now. Examples include electric cars, geothermal heat pumps, and advanced biofuels. As the Nation works to lower greenhouse gas emissions in the next decade, it is critical that investments in “game-changing” research and development on advanced energy technologies continue in order to ensure that at least some of them become competitive in the years ahead.

...A balance is needed between investments that will lower emissions in the near-term and investments, such as “game-changing” research on advanced energy technology that may have only a small effect on emissions over the next few years but will be critical to achieving success in the long run.

—PCAST letter to the President

Recommendations include:

  • Sustaining and, if possible, augmenting the investment in research and development in energy innovation, focusing on the critical technologies that have the potential to dramatically lower our greenhouse gas emissions in the long run.

    PCAST suggests that new emphasis be placed on creative management and reform of applied research programs in nuclear, fossil fuels, renewables, and energy efficiency.

  • Noting that nuclear power requires special attention, PCAST recommends implementation of the recommendations put forward by the Blue Ribbon Commission (BRC) on America’s Nuclear Future.

5. Take additional steps to establish US leadership on climate change internationally. Recommendations here include:

  • Exploring the possibility of a new North American climate agreement.

  • Continuing work towards increased cooperation with China on the climate challenge.

6. Conduct an initial Quadrennial Energy Review (QER). In 2011, the DOE published a Quadrennial Technology Review (QTR) as the first step toward a full QER that would cut across all Federal departments and agencies, as recommended in the November 2010 PCAST Report to the President on Accelerating the Pace of Change in Energy Technologies Through an Integrated Federal Energy Policy.

PCAST recommends official initiation of the full review. The QER will provide an analytical underpinning for policy tradeoffs, such as those between hydrocarbon production, climate change mitigation, and expanded manufacturing. This in turn may help with a more productive bipartisan dialogue on clean energy innovation and the economic, environmental, and security threads of energy policy, PCAST suggests.

March 23, 2013 in Climate Change, Climate Change Adaptation, Policy | Permalink | Comments (66) | TrackBack (0)

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>>>"Wind has a capacity factor of about 25% and solar is at 10% because the the energy source is intermittent."

You forgot that the electricity demand is also highly fluctuating, thus requiring modulation of gas turbine generators output. Likewise for the intermittency of wind and solar. A large enough grid can allow for wind's output to balance out with solar's output.

Eventually, with very high penetration of wind and solar, wind can provide base load and solar thermal with storage and hydroelectricity can be modulated in response to supply and demand, and so can standby gas turbines, as well as CHP fuel cells running on renewable hydrogen.

>>>"So Roger are you saying that you will work repairing stuff based on the the value of a cheap commodity you do not make very much of? You may want to check out the homeless shelter first because you are not going be able to pay rent."

I don't quite understand your statement. The repair costs of solar and wind installations are figured into the Levelized Cost of Energy. These are well-known quantities that allow advance cost and pricing planning. These costs are going down with improving reliability. Solar and wind workers will be paid competitive wages with benefits, just like anyone else.


“ENRON ”

You all know that ENRON was not start as a power company? ENRON was a natural gas company that expended into everything. After the deregulation of natural, the electric market was next. ENRON got into building CCGT (big time), wind turbines (now GE wind), internet, water treatment, and worse of all power trading.

At the time, I worked for a power company that became and energy company. ENRON was number one while we were number two in that sector (power/gas). Wall Street faulted us for being too conservative and thought we should be more like ENRON. We brought value to our customers by lowering customers cost through excellence not smoke and mirrors.

Providing power is a public service. You can make a decent living but it is not a place for the greedy. It is a sure route to failure. The other route is poor management. If you are lucky you get your electricity from one of the good ones.

Well there is no question Enron was willing to take risks with its power plants if paid enough per mwh. Racking up pollution fines and running a plant well past the point it bloody well should be shut down for maintenance just because cal was offering insane deals was in the end massively foolish...

I remember one of my friends worked at such a plant and they damn near ruined billions in equipment running it too hard and far past when it should have been idled for maintenance.. wound up wrecking a lot of stuff in the process. And cal didn't freaking pay the damn bills to boot. Had to be sued to pay up.

But 99% of that was California being realy a nightmare power wise BEFORE deregulation. And being too moronic to understand just how fubared it was going to be when dereg hit.

“You forgot that the electricity demand is also highly fluctuating, thus requiring modulation of gas turbine generators output. ”

I remember that Roger likes to makes stuff up ans state things he know nothing about like they are facts.

Demand is very predictable and fluctuates based on time of day. Most demand changes, most of the time are met by changing the turbine inlet control valve at coal-based plant for 2-4 cenets/kwh. Here is a link to the PJM.

http://www.pjm.com/

Roger can explain how wind decreasing at a 1000 MWe per hour is balanced by zero MWe solar production. The power industry provides power when customers need it, not when some made up scenario produces it.

“Eventually ”

Eventually wind and solar will break faster than we can fix them or replace them.

“These are well-known quantities that allow advance cost and pricing planning. ”

I have some bad news for you. Cost are what they are. When the actual cost of fixing something is higher that the value of the energy produced, the power plant does not get fixed. Duke just decided to close a nuke plant because the cost of repairing damage that occurred while modernizing the plant.

For example, your business plan says it will cost a $1b to make your nuke last 20 more years and the 'well-known' cost shows that it will save customers $2b compared to a new gas plant, then the regulators will let you recover the costs. However, if during the projects things change costs are $1-3b higher; then you can not justify the repairs.

All power projects have uncertainty.

“Had to be sued to pay up. ”

In the US, the attorneys made a fortune. We had a renewable energy project for a Washington PUD that got canceled when huge uncertainty was created and the board of directs decided they need more cash in reserve. ENRON also lost a ton of money in India because they did not pay up.

A sure way to get your business plan approved is to have the government give 75% of the cost and a loan guarantee for the rest. Then you get a RPS to force customers to buy the power. However, if your O&M is twice has high as the competition wind farm, you will go out of business.

I suspect that Roger lives in California. Wind and solar look good because of natural gas provides 50% of the power. Wind and solar reduces the demand for natural gas moderating the cost. Well until the new stuff starts breaking. The LA Times will never print a story that includes the cost of fixing wind and solar because no one cares. Lose 2400 MWe of nuke capacity and the replacement power costs a ton of cash.

W-2000 Enron and 1001+ others used fraud to improve their bottom line and more fraud to pay less taxes.

They also give $$B to politicians to make sure that Democracy will continue to be effectively replaced by Moneycracy so their scheming ways will continue to increase their revenues and the transfers of wealth from the middle and poor classes to the 3%.

The majority (97%) is being taken for a ride and will be poorer and poorer unless real Democracy is re-installed.

The day polticians arnt taking money from everyone with a pulse and then some is the day flaming hippos fly out of my arse singing hip hop.

I remember that Kit P likes to makes stuff up and state things he knows nothing about like they are facts. Stuffs like atmospheric science and climate science and economics and state-of-the-art renewable energy and mechanical engineering...he often has no clue!

Solar energy is very predictable and fluctuates based on time of day. Wind speeds can be predicted many days in advance. Clouds can also be predicted just as accurately even days in advance. Just try out weather.com to see how accurately wind speeds can be predicted ahead of time. With a large enough grid, wind slowing down in one area is made up for by wind picking up in another area.

>>>"Eventually wind and solar will break faster than we can fix them or replace them."

That's Kit P assumption as to his ability as mechanical engineer to design a wind turbine. Kit P has zero confidence in his ability as a mechanical engineer to design any mechanical contraption that would last enough to pay back for investment cost. Actual German or Japanese engineers or other American engineers from MIT or Cal Tech etc...can do a lot better than Kit P when designing a wind turbine or a solar thermal plant.

Hey Kit P, is there something magical about about a gas turbine or a steam turbine that makes them far more reliable than a wind turbine? They are all turbines powered by a stream of moving gas. In the case of a wind turbine, the gas pressure, temperature, and velocity is far far lower and slower than the pressures and temperature and velocity of the gas powering the gas turbine or steam turbine. The fact is that wind turbines as installed in Denmark is now more reliable than a CCGT as of 2005, in the last reference that I've shown you. With gas or steam turbines, you have to pay for the cost of the fuel AND paying for maintenance cost and repair cost of the machine. With wind turbine and solar PV or solar thermal plant, fuel cost is ZERO, so maintenance cost and repair cost is all the operating cost. No worry about future fuel cost escalation, nor fuel shortage. In India, many gas turbine plants have to be shut down due to NG wells run dry. You don't have that problem with wind turbine!

In fact, in weather.com, wind speeds, direction, temperature, and cloud are given as 15-minute-interval prediction for several days ahead! Superimposing these data wind, sun and cloud data into a daily electricity demand curve and the electric utility can adjust accurately the steam turbine or CCGT output to match demand. This ain't no rocket science, but requires atmospheric science and computer science and computer networking. One must not belittle wind and solar energy because these are the salvation for humanity facing with the dire run-away global warming catastrophe in the next few decades. We must act now, we don't have time to think back and forth and belittling what will save us!

"Kit P has zero confidence in his ability as a mechanical engineer to design any mechanical contraption that would last enough to pay back for investment cost."

Actually I am sure that the nuke and biomass designs I have worked on will payback the investment costs. That is because most do pay back the costs.

They payback the cost by making electricity. I do not have a problem with incentives to build wind and solar farms. If you pay them enough for the small amount of electricity they produce, they will payback the investment.

As I see it the small amount of electricity produced by wind/solar is a feature not a bug. You can still get a large amount of energy by having a small amount of electricity produced by each of MANY systems - and you gain the protection of distributed power; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distributed_generation

With a large power plant a single point failure can cause a huge drop in energy supplied. These are unpredictable events that can colapse the grid and cause blackouts, but with energy supplied by renewables collected over a wide region any drop in power to the grid is just a slow decline that can be countered - and even countered by other renewables with different energy makeups.

Night time and the wind not blowing are not 'single point failure' but normal events.

The last two two major black outs (1996 and 2003)were caused by failure of transmission lines. Both central and distributed power plants depend on the grid.

You can design systems to keep keep supplying local power but you need a very reliable source like a diesel. The reason is our grid is 60 hz AC. The grid and the power supply must match both voltage and phase.

As I see it the small amount of electricity produced by wind/solar is a feature not a bug. You can still get a large amount of energy by having a small amount of electricity produced by each of MANY systems - and you gain the protection of distributed power
But if your capital cost per average watt is out of reach (which can be either in generation or the distribution systems required to move "renewable" energy where it's needed), it won't help you; power you can't afford might as well not be there.

You also lose the ability to schedule generation for when you need it.  If you expect the lights to come on when you flip the switch, that's important.

Night time and the wind not blowing are not 'single point failure' but normal events.

And both lead to a "slow decline" in output that can be countered.

The last two two major black outs (1996 and 2003)were caused by failure of transmission lines. Both central and distributed power plants depend on the grid.

But it was a grid designed around the idea of centralized power with the major transmission lines spreading out from a few large & remote producers.

power you can't afford might as well not be there

But cheap power only leads to waste and over consumption. In places where the cost of energy is higher people have found they don't suffer for it, they just become more efficient. You may even end up paying less if you factor in savings in costs the fossil fuel industry "externalizes." For example: Less polution means lower healthcare costs.

You also lose the ability to schedule generation for when you need it. If you expect the lights to come on when you flip the switch, that's important.

False assumption. Check out some of the links given earlier in this thread. Answers to this criticism have already been provided.
Here's some more;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llIbjC49Fjs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WO3V2uXTM6k

Energy efficiency;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6J-ijPcv1VM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4yA_kRejp0

New twist on pumped hydro storage. What to do if you don't live near a mountain;

http://theenergycollective.com/erica-grigg/48639/underground-pumped-storage-plants-green-power-mines

http://www.uni-due.de/wasserbau/undergroundpumpedstorageplants.php

Facts:

1. Wind and Solar e-energy production is increasing much faster than other sources. Those two clean energy sources will continue to grow at a fast rate and will eventually supply up to 50% of the world e-energy consumption.

2. The percentage of e-energy produced by Wind/Sun varies a lot from one place to another. Sunny places and high quality winds are not universal.

3. Intermittent clean e-energy production (wind & sun) can and should be used as second tier base loads to avoid storage.

4. Controllable e-energy production facilities, (hydro, NG etc) should be used to supply peak demands.

5. Not so controllable e-energy production facilities (Coal, Nuclear, Geothermal have to be used as first tier primary base load, not to produce unused energy.

6. USA will continue to use 6+ e-energy sources for many decades. The contribution will be determined MAINLY by the profit margins, regardless of the environmental effects unless the 97+% wakes up.

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