July 10 News: U.S. Passed 10 Gigawatts Of Solar Capacity

US solar PV market segmentation image (Credit: PV Tech)

The United States is now one of four countries to achieve 10 gigawatts of solar power capacity, and installations are only expected to accelerate. [CleanTechnica]

America’s solar market has broken through the clouds to shine as only the fourth nation to pass the 10 gigawatts (GW) installed solar capacity milestone.

Fast-growing solar photovoltaic (PV) deployment levels since 2010 pushed the US into the ultra-exclusive 10 GW club, reports NPD Solarbuzz in the latest North America PV Market Quarterly report.

“The US has now joined an elite group of maturing solar PV markets,” said Christopher Sunsong of NPD Solarbuzz. “Only Germany, Italy, and China have more installed PV capacity than the US.”

Solar PV has become one of America’s fastest-growing energy sources in recent years. NPD reports the solar PV market has expanded at a compound annual growth rate of 50% since 2007, and 83% of the 10 GW capacity was installed within the past 14 quarters. During the first half of 2013, more than 1.8 GW of new solar PV capacity was installed in the US.

But instead of peaking, NPD predicts installations will accelerate over the next 18 months. Cumulative solar PV installations are forecast to grow an additional 80% by the end of 2014, putting the US on track to pass 17 GW installed solar PV capacity.

Sen. David Vitter dropped his opposition to EPA nominee Gina McCarthy yesterday, saying he would support and up-or-down vote in the Senate. [LA Times]

After initially refusing to comment on the story, Google said that the reason they were hosting a fundraiser on Thursday for Sen. Jim Inhofe was because the corporation has a data center in Oklahoma, not because it agreed with the Senator’s position on climate change. [Guardian]

New “smog-eating” pavement, developed by Dutch scientists, can reduce air pollution by up to 45 percent [Huffington Post]

Peru unveiled a program that will provide solar panels to poor households currently unconnected to the electricity grid, which could benefit 2 million people. [Latin American Herald Tribune]

The House accepted two budget amendments that would partially replace proposed funding cuts for renewable energy and environmental cleanup by cutting the Department of Energy’s administrative budget. [The Hill]

The U.S. produced and burned less coal this year than estimated, yet the U.S. Energy Information Administration expects exports to tick up 1.8 percent. Consumption is still expected to jump 6.7 percent from last year as natural gas prices rise. [Platts]

House Republicans are upset at President Obama’s proposed climate policies after a utility decided to close two coal plants in Pennsylvania. [The Hill]

So remember that time the Senate decided to not permit oil and gas exploration in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge? The State of Alaska may have forgotten, as it proposed an exploration plan for the refuge on Tuesday. [AP]

EPA’s recent retreat on a study linking fracking to drinking water contamination in Wyoming is not the only time the agency has retreated on fracking investigations and studies. [High Country News]

New York is spending $22 million in an attempt to save one of its lowest-lying neighborhoods from being swallowed up by the ocean, raising questions as to whether this type of aid is worth it in areas projected to suffer the greatest from sea-level rise and storm surges. [New York Times]

Antarctic krill, which play an essential role in the Southern Ocean ecosystem, could struggle to hatch as oceans become more acidic. [Guardian]

Another USA Today special report on climate change features the impact of intensifying drought in the U.S. [USA Today]

The Great Barrier Reef’s coral cover has declined 50 percent since 1985, and its overall condition is now classified as “poor” — changes due in part to extreme weather in Australia. [Guardian]

For many species, evolution is too slow a process to keep up with the Earth’s rapidly changing climate, a new study has found. [Science Daily]

However, if you can fly and have a short lifespan, adapting to climate change should not be a problem for you. A new study on a population of great tits near Oxford found that small birds whose populations evolve quickly to adapt to new environments stand a better chance of surviving high-carbon emissions scenarios. [LA Times]

62 Responses to July 10 News: U.S. Passed 10 Gigawatts Of Solar Capacity

  1. prokaryotes says:

    James Hansen: Fossil fuel addiction could trigger runaway global warming

    Without full decarbonisation by 2030, our global emissions pathway guarantees new era of catastrophic climate change

  2. prokaryotes says:

    Compilation: Half Meter Rainfall Deluge in Sichuan China | Dramatic Footage Worst Flood in 50 Years

  3. prokaryotes says:

    James Hansen: The Runaway Greenhouse Effect

  4. prokaryotes says:

    Notice how deniers voted down this video… there are distinct spikes when suddenly dozens of negative likes appear in the stats. And this happened after the video was posted at WUWT…

  5. SecularAnimist says:

    prokaryotes quoted: “Without full decarbonisation by 2030, our global emissions pathway guarantees new era of catastrophic climate change”

    The good news is that full decarbonisation by 2030 is easy, given the powerful and mature non-carbon renewable energy sources and energy efficiency technologies we have at hand now — let alone the far more powerful technologies that have already been developed and are nearing commercialization, let alone the even MORE powerful technologies that are currently in the research phase.

    The explosive growth of solar power in the USA reported above is just more evidence of how quickly and easily this can be done.

    Keep in mind that growth is occurring with minimal, if any, support from the kinds of public policies that have promoted the even more rapid growth of distributed solar in other countries (e.g. feed-in tariffs and national renewable portfolio standards).

    There are no real technical or economic obstacles to phasing out ALL fossil fuel use by 2030, with the majority of the reductions occurring in the next 10 years.

    The only real obstacle is the entrenched wealth and power of the fossil fuel interests, who will do whatever it takes to perpetuate business-as-usual consumption of fossil fuels, and delay the “DRACONIAN” transfer of trillions of dollars in wealth to other sectors of the economy, for as long as they can get away with it.

  6. Mike Roddy says:

    This is no time to celebrate. Only 3 GW of utility scale solar plants have been completed (though another 5 GW are under construction). That means that so far 70% of solar is on rooftops, or in very small commercial arrays. There’s a place for that market, but it’s not much of a threat to coal and fracked gas, which are running merrily along.

    10 GW is not much, considering solar’s potential, and the urgent need to act. It’s 1% of the grid. We don’t need happy face spins, we need serious decarbonization. We are a very long way from that now.

  7. BillD says:

    The numbers don’t mean much to me–but if we are still behind Italy surely our progress is very modest.

  8. SecularAnimist says:

    Mike Roddy wrote: “… so far 70% of solar is on rooftops, or in very small commercial arrays. There’s a place for that market, but it’s not much of a threat to coal and fracked gas …”

    It’s not true that distributed solar is “not much of a threat” to coal and gas.

    If you look at the countries with very high penetration of distributed, end-user PV — like Australia, Japan and Germany — you will see that it is very much a “threat” to fossil fueled electricity generation. Certainly the fossil fuel corporations and the electric utilities that are heavily vested in fossil fuels think it is a “threat” to their profits and indeed their entire business model — and they say so, openly.

    And that, of course, is why Koch-funded front groups like Americans For Progress are attacking and resisting the implementation of ANY public policies to promote the growth of distributed end-user PV, all over the country, at the local, state and federal levels.

    Yes, there is “a place” for distributed on-site PV in “the market” — and that place is producing the vast majority of the USA’s electricity supply.

    Regarding utility-scale solar, first keep in mind that there is no rigid dividing line between “utility-scale” and “end-user” solar. Some of the private, corporate PV installations being built in the USA are bigger than those being built by municipal utilities.

    And as for the REALLY BIG utility-scale solar power plants, both thermal and PV, as we have discussed here before, those are just now taking off. Thanks to the Obama administration’s policies for expedited approval of such projects on non-environmentally sensitive sites, there are more of them being built on public lands than ever before, and even more of them approved for construction, and even more rapidly moving through the approval process.

  9. James Richard Tyrer says:

    10 Giga-Watts rated capacity, and just how much energy does that much solar PV capacity actually generate? It does not, as people might think, generate as many kwh as 10 new Westinghouse AP1000 nukes. In fact, it doesn’t even come close to producing as much as 3 of them. The reason is that you have to consider the capacity factor. Just considering geometry solar starts out with a theoretical capacity factor of 25%. That must then be further derated for the weather.

    So, solar PV needs another power source for backup to provide at least part of the 75% or more of the rated power capacity which it doesn’t always generate.

    OTOH a new AP1000 is rated at 1.1 Giga-Watts and most nukes run at a capacity factor of over 90%.

  10. James Richard Tyrer says:

    You naively ignore the inherent intermittent nature of wind and solar PV. That is the “real obstacle” to phasing out fossil fuel and replacing it with wind and solar PV.

    Perhaps you don’t even understand that there is no way for the grid, with only a few small exceptions, to store electric energy. So, without backup by hydro electric or natural gas fueled turbines, wind and solar PV can not be integrated into the grid. No, then can not replace coal fired power plants because coal fired power plants can not be quickly turned on and off.

    There is a technical solution to this and that is storage. However, economically storage is not yet available except for pumped hydro and there are limited locations where that can be installed since it requires a suitable mountain. So, you could say that storage is the technical obstetrical as well as the economic obstacle since in needs to be available at a reasonable price.

  11. BobbyL says:

    Follow what is going on in Germany to see if decarbonization is hard or easy, at least for electricity. They are going for it with all politicans on board. The intermittency problem is real and it can’t be solved with storage. Their solution is a smart grid which will cost many billions. The smart grid raises all kinds of privacy issues since every appliance has a characteristic electricity use signature but they are going forward. We don’t really don’t have time to wait for the result but it will be available eventually. Of course since Germany has no oil or gas reserves they have a big incentive to get off fossil fuels and the people are willing to pay two-thirds more for their electricity. Obviously this type of move to get off fossil fuels is not going to happen anytime soon in the US so it is pretty much a waste of time even discussing it unless one enjoys academic discussions.

  12. James Richard Tyrer says:

    It is hard to say if solar PV is a threat to coal. Solar PV can not by itself replace coal because coal provides baseload power and without storage solar PV is intermittent and can not. That is why solar PV is clearly not a threat to natural gas — because natural gas fueled turbines are needed for backup.

    The real threat to coal is natural gas and the costs of pollution control and ash disposal.

    Things will change when economically feasible storage becomes available but that will be a while. However, it will be the cost of solar PV plus storage that coal will have to compete against.

    There is no threat to the profits of public utilities. They are government regulated monopolies and they are guaranteed a profit.

    Americans for Prosperity appear to be opposed to utilities buying expensive power from large scale solar projects because they conclude, correctly, that it will result in an increase in electric rates. I haven’t heard any opposition to rooftop installations. However, I expect that there will be a major political upheaval when a significant percentage of a utilities customers have rooftop installations and action has to be taken on the fact that net metering is not a workable business model. I already see that some utilities are considering acting on it sooner rather than waiting till later.

    Other than working out the business model and the economics, distributed roof top is really better if the price of inverters can be reduced and reliability increased by using a different design. Large scale solar just doesn’t seem feasible. I saw a figure, and I checked the math, that it would take 50 square miles of silicone solar PV panels to generate as much electricity as one Westinghouse AP1000 nuke.

    And despite what you said about expedited approval, these large solar projects are getting canceled.

  13. SecularAnimist says:

    James, with all due respect, you ignore the reality of what is actually happening with solar power in the real world today.

    Huge amounts of solar (and wind) power are already being integrated into the power grids of countries all over the world — notably Germany, Italy and Australia — and even without storage they are drastically reducing the demand for grid power from ANY source.

    That’s the beauty of distributed PV: it delivers electricity onsite, with no transmission costs, exactly when it is most needed — during times of peak demand, which occurs during the sunniest times of day.

    And again, with all due respect, the notion that storing energy is some kind of insurmountable problem is silly. We have multiple ways to store energy — thermal, kinetic, and chemical. Battery technology in particular is developing so rapidly that residential battery storage will soon become as affordable and common as gas furnaces or any other major appliance.

  14. James Richard Tyrer says:

    Germany burns wood to replace coal and counts it as renewable energy.

    Note that they do have some pumped storage hydro and are building more.

  15. James Richard Tyrer says:

    I don’t think that any country has yet reached the point that they have a significant problem integrating wind and solar into their grid.

    What percentage does Germany get from wind and solar? Not total renewables; they count burning wood as renewables and they burn more of it to replace coal than you might think. And, they have hydro.

    Unless their wind and solar total more than 30% to 40% of their total electric power use there should be no problem. If they have more hydro for backup, they could handle more.

    I do have to point out that you are again naive regarding electrical engineering. You presume that: “That’s the beauty of distributed PV: it delivers electricity onsite, with no transmission costs, exactly when it is most needed — during times of peak demand, which occurs during the sunniest times of day.”

    Please note that peak electric usage comes between 4:00 PM and 8:00 PM depending on air conditioning usage.

    I presume that you think that a house with a solar panel is drawing power from the panel during the sunny part of the day. That would be wrong. You would probably have at most 5 kilo-Watts of solar PV panels. However, most homes have 24 kilo-Watt max electric service. I will use as an example that I have a heat pump that has a 50 Amp 240 Volt circuit. Now, it doesn’t use all of that but probably over 80% of it which would be 9.6 kilo-Watts. So, what is going to happen is that when the heat pump kicks on, even if you have a 5 kilo-Watt solar array (which is larger than most people have) and the sun is out and somewhat overhead, you are still going to draw current from the grid. So, basically what is going to happen throughout the day is that when you have a large load you will draw power from the grid and when you don’t, you will supply power to the grid. The point here is that the utility does have transmission costs because all day they are either supplying power to you or accepting power from you.

    I do not think that storage is an insurmountable problem. What I think is that it isn’t available off the shelf today for a price that makes it practical. I have no doubt that it will be commercially available in 10 years at a price that is a bit high but is low enough that utilities will start to deploy it. I am just not as optimistic as you are. I read about things being available in a year or two, that would be nice and I will believe it when I see it.

  16. Bart Flaster says:

    Death comes at 5:00

  17. Gingerbaker says:

    “… net metering is not a workable business model. …”

    The sooner people accept that our renewable energy future is a public rather than a private enterprise, the sooner we can get to work building it.

  18. Gingerbaker says:

    That is pure nonsense.

  19. Gingerbaker says:

    “I saw a figure, and I checked the math, that it would take 50 square miles of silicone solar PV panels to generate as much electricity as one Westinghouse AP1000 nuke.”

    Thanks, I’ll take the solar.

    Mark Z. Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi have published detailed analysis demonstrating that we could be virtually 100% renewable by 2030. The logistics work, contrary to your assertions.

    The spatial requirements for wind and solar work out to 1.0% of land area for the entire world.

  20. Gingerbaker says:

    “Americans for Prosperity appear to be opposed to utilities buying expensive power from large scale solar projects because they conclude, correctly, that it will result in an increase in electric rates.”

    Did their calculations take into account the true external costs of carbon pollution? No?

    Did they ever entertain the idea that many Americans would be happy to pay more for carbon-free electricity? No?

    No doubt their analysis is valid, however. No one could ever accuse Americans for Prosperity of being a sloppy, biased libertarian politically-motivated think tank.

  21. SecularAnimist says:

    James, with all due respect, your comments about solar energy are full of false statements. They are just a litany of bogus, anti-renewable energy talking points that have been debunked many, many, many times over.

    This is why I find discussions with nuclear proponents to be pointless and boring: they just make stuff up.

    They point to vaporware “next gen” nuclear power plants that are not yet even in commercial operation anywhere in the world as “THE ANSWER”, while denigrating and disparaging renewable energy with false assertions and outright nonsense that ignores everything that is really going on with solar and wind energy in the real world today.

    The reality is that there is really nothing to “debate” about nuclear power. It is going nowhere, and its share of world electricity generation will continue to decline as more old nukes are inevitably decommissioned and few new ones are built.

    Meanwhile, solar and wind power are booming, growing at record-breaking rates year after year (they are already the fastest and second-fastest growing sources of new electricity generation in the world).

    By the time any significant number of AP1000 nuclear power plants can be up and running, solar and wind generated electricity will be so plentiful and so cheap that it will be impossible to operate the nukes at a profit.

    Which is, of course, exactly why “net metering is not a workable business model” — because distributed PV is making the business model of the Big Electricity corporations obsolete.

    Well, too bad for them, because distributed solar (and soon, cheap battery storage) is something that people WANT — just as they wanted personal computers and cell phones. And since it is a technology that is already dirt cheap and getting cheaper by the minute, that is ultra-reliable and works really well, people are going to have it. Lots of people.

    And just as PCs transformed “data processing”, and cell phones transformed “telecommunications”, the widespread adoption of onsite PV is going to transform the way we generate and use electricity.

    Some utilities will adapt and prosper — and others will fight to preserve their obsolete business model, and will fail. So it goes.

  22. SecularAnimist says:

    James Richard Tyrer wrote: “despite what you said about expedited approval, these large solar projects are getting canceled.”

    Oh, really? Please list the large solar projects that “are getting canceled”.

  23. SecularAnimist says:

    BobbyL wrote: “The intermittency problem is real and it can’t be solved with storage.”

    That’s just plain false. “Intermittency” is not a problem, and it doesn’t need storage to “solve” it.

    Moreover, if you actually research what is going on with storage technologies, you’ll find that there are multiple technologies for affordably storing energy (kinetic, thermal and chemical), costs are dropping rapidly (for example, EV battery prices have dropped 40 percent in just two years!), and these solutions are already being implemented at all scales, from EVs to utility scale.

    BobbyL wrote: “Their solution is a smart grid which will cost many billions.”

    The “stupid grid” was built many decades ago to serve the needs of giant centralized baseload power plants which broadcast power to dumb consumers. It cannot deal with the emerging 21st century electricity system, which must integrate many generators — large and small scale, centralized and distributed, baseload and dispatchable and variable — with distributed storage and smart consumers. That’s why we need a smart grid — like an Internet for electricity distribution.

    Why would you want to preserve an outdated, obsolete, “stupid” grid — rather than drive economic growth by building a new and better, more sustainable and resilient smart grid?

    BobbyL wrote: “The smart grid raises all kinds of privacy issues since every appliance has a characteristic electricity use signature but they are going forward.”

    Please, spare me the crackpot conspiracy theories. Obama is not going to spy on you through your smart meter.

    What your smart meter WILL do, is to EMPOWER YOU to better manage your own electricity use, and to most cost-effectively integrate your own, onsite electricity generation and storage with whatever power you may need to purchase from the grid — for example, by charging household or EV batteries with cheaper, off-peak grid power. The proven track record of smart meters is that they save consumers money — LOTS OF MONEY.

    Which is exactly why the big power producers don’t like them, and push out all this fear-mongering conspiracy theory nonsense about them.

  24. rollin says:

    I wouldn’t believe the accuracy of this map. It gives the mid-atlantic region as having 1 GW total. New Jersey alone has over 1 GW of installed PV and another GW of projects in progress.

  25. BobbyL says:

    They count wood as carbon neutral since trees take up carbon when they grow and then it is released when the wood is burned. Wood certainly seems to be renewable as long the trees can be replaced by more trees.

  26. BobbyL says:

    Yet more evidence that Obama is serious about addressing climate change is this headline:
    Climate change to top agenda at US-China talks.
    According to John Kerry, climate change will be the focus of the week-long annual economic and strategic dialogue. I think gradually the Obama doubters will be converted to Obama believers.

  27. M Tucker says:

    Stanford climate scientist addresses misconceptions about climate change
    The notion that we’ll avoid serious damage to the world’s climate if we limit the warming of the atmosphere to a 2-degree-Celsius rise in temperature is untrue, says Stanford climate scientist Chris Field

  28. Joan Savage says:

    An earthworm study published in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta has produced a method that can track (pre)historic temperatures at local precision, using strontium/calcium ratios in the earthworm castings (poop).

    This adds a powerful new tool for cross-checking the data in the ‘hockey stick.’

  29. David Smith says:

    Link yields “private” video. Unable to view.

  30. Joan Savage says:

    Another 15 cm of rainfall is in the 24 hour forecast for Sichuan.

  31. David Smith says:

    James; Have you read about what’s going on in Fukushima (?) these days – huge increase in radiation in ground water on it’s way to being an ocean radiating machine, and I’d say no one knows how to stop it.

  32. Joan Savage says:

    The full article closes with the caution that more research is needed on the context of soil conditions and temperature before using the chalk balls as a paleoproxy.
    It shows promise, however.

  33. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The Dunning-Krugerites come swarming out of their hives when the politically correct dance is performed. A ‘sapient’ species choosing self-destruction. It still leaves me dumbfounded. Saving ourselves is still so easy, if only the enemies of humanity are removed from blocking the way.

  34. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Storage is a technological problem, and will be solved if enough effort is put into solving it as, for example, the tens of billions wasted on the flying fiasco, the F-35. The forty billion micturated against the wall, so far, on this boondoggle, would have propelled renewable energy to the forefront years ago. Even with deliberate neglect and increasing subsidisation of the omnicidal alternative, renewables are making giant strides. After all, it’s only the fate of humanity resting in the balance, or do you have some quibble with that truth?

  35. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    That trees are less of a greenhouse emissions problem that fossilised trees, ie coal, is a very basic concept. Strange that you have failed to comprehend it.

  36. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The Right see solar PV as a threat to their precious fossil fuels trillions, as is demonstrated by the extreme Rightwing, Greenie-hating, Queensland state regime which is contemplating, urged on by the Murdoch sewer, penalising those who have installed rooftop PV, with higher electricity surcharges. This mirrors the extreme Right, Greenie-hating, Victorian state regime, which has killed off wind power, once burgeoning, in that state, by decreeing that no wind turbine can be built within 2kms of a dwelling. Coal mines, of course, can be constructed within 100 metres.

  37. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    And they are sooooo safe, ain’t they? Mind you, I did hear of a solar PV array exploding and spraying the vicinity with toxic waste, and a ‘windmill’ coming loose and careering across the land, decapitating several innocent bystanders. By Golly, I did.

  38. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The Rightwing MSM have shut down the bad news flowing from Fukushima, with typical and practised deceitfulness.

  39. Merrelyn Emery says:

    You are spot on about the smart meters. Ours, coming in a week now, will tell us exactly how much power each device is using and allow us to completely manage our usage, ME

  40. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I see that the article speaks of ‘prodding’ China to further greenhouse emissions. The language is instructive. The Western Boss, naturally, prods the upstart, with an electric cattle-prod, one assumes. China ‘prodding’ the USA is, of course, out of the question. At Copenhagen we saw Western ‘prodding’ in full spate, as at WTO and GATT negotiations. The West, led by the USA, attempted to foist an unfair agreement on the non-Western countries, and when that was rejected, they sabotaged the talks and relied on the Western MSM propagandists to falsely label China the recalcitrant. Of course, I hope that Obama gets real, but I will not hold my breath waiting for it.

  41. BobbyL says:

    Maybe you better tell Germany about the wonders of storage before they waste 25 billion building a smart grid. They wouldn’t spend those kind of bucks for nothing. Remember the German consumers are already spending extra money to go for solar and wind. Clearly the smart grid raises privacy issues. It allows data to be collected about every appliance in a house in real time. The vasts amount of data being collected on us already raises concerns about what kind of a society this is becoming and the smart grid would add to these concerns. To try to comprehend the risks involved in all this data collection I would suggest reading the book Big Data. A Revolution that Will Transform How We Live, Work and Play by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger (Oxford U) and Kenneth Cuker (the Economist) and particulary Chapter 8: Risks and pages 152-153 about smart meters. They say “a household’s energy use discloses private information, be it the resident’s daily behavior, health condition or illegal activities.” We need to fight climate change but we can’t stomp on democratic values in the process.

  42. BobbyL says:

    I have been dumbfounded for years wondering why climate change has not been at the top of agenda at these type of meetings. Finally it looks like things are beginning to move. I don’t know who much realer you want Obama to get. We’ve seen a speech announcing significant actions, an agreement with China to limit HFCs, and now climate at the top of an agenda of a big meeting. I think between Obama and Kerry the times really are a changin’.

  43. Joan Savage says:

    Correction! There were two earthworm studies recently in the same journal. The one published on Monday is as above and was incorrectly given by press as the source the paleothermometer.

    It is an earlier article, online June 27, which is the real ground breaker, and it is an Open Access article.

    Earthworm-produced calcite granules: a new terrestrial palaeothermometer?

    Emma A.A. Versteegh,Stuart Black, Matthew G. Cantic, Mark E. Hodson

  44. Joan Savage says:

    ..and that method uses δ18Ow values in the granules. “As the granules are abundant in modern soils, buried soils and archaeological contexts, and can be dated using U-Th disequilibria, the developed palaeotemperature relationship has enormous potential for application to Holocene and Pleistocene time intervals.”

  45. David B. Benson says:

    James Richard Tyrer — There are several commenters on this site whose minds are made up and do not wish to be confused by the facts. Thanks for trying.

    For those commenters, I point out that about 70% of the peak electricity provided over 24 hours is baseload, i.e., always in demand. Nuclear power plants (NPPs) are ideal for meeting that portion of the load.

    Indeed, NPPs can ramp and so can be used for loaded following over the daily cycle of electricity demand; this is done in France where NPPs meet about 70–80% of the total demand.

    I also point out that 4 Westinghouse AP-1000s are in some stage of construction in China and 4 more in the United States. These are Gen 3 designs and so are judged to be about 100 times sager than the older Gen 2 designs in use around the world, including France and the United States.

  46. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Bobby, if you are so worried about privacy and democratic values, why are you commenting on a site with links to social media such as Facebook? I think that cat escaped the bag a long time ago. I’ll keep the meter, ME

  47. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    But, David, let he who is without sin cast the first stone. We obdurate ones might be so ungracious as to assert that it is the solar denigrators and nuclear enthusiasts who are immune to argument. This question will soon be settled, I think, and I’d wager that renewables will win out, if sanity prevails, but I would say that, wouldn’t I?

  48. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Perhaps the Chinese suggested its prominence. Or, perhaps, and please forgive my cynicism, it has been suggested so that Obama can present one-sided demands upon the Chinese, whose rejection of these demands can be presented as yet more evidence of Chinese misbehaviour. After all the MSM hacks pushed the ‘China is the cyber-hacking villain’ canard right up until the Snowden revelations, and in most cases is still ignoring Snowden’s revelations as if they never happened (down Big Brother’s ‘Memory Hole’ they go)and still smearing China.

  49. David Smith says:

    To the promoters of nuclear power commenting today; if this is such a practical solution, then how come the developers will do nothing until and unless the federal government guarantees the loans and we the people are saddled with almost all the risk of future hazard?

  50. BobbyL says:

    I am not registered with Facebook, Twitter, etc. Anyway, I am not saying these problems involving big data can’t be addressed. I think they should be addressed and the book I mentioned makes some suggestions on what can be done. I am just saying this problem of personal data collection should be recognized and not treated as though there was no problem. The news is full of this problem with regard to the NSA. Before we go ahead with the smart grid for everyone I would like to see this issue involving uses of big data addressed by the states and the US government.

  51. BobbyL says:

    I think both Obama and the Chinese leaders are extremely concerned about global warming and how could they not be since they are aware of the same scientific facts that we are. But this isn’t like two climate activists trying to agree on what to do. Both sides have economic concerns they have to deal with as well as domestic politics. I am encouraged about their ability to agree on HFCs and am beginning to believe that they actually will be able to reach a meaningful agreement on climate change by the end of 2015. Not long ago I thought such an agreement was impossible but now I have some hope.

  52. Gingerbaker says:

    David Benson:

    “… I point out that about 70% of the peak electricity provided over 24 hours is baseload, i.e., always in demand. Nuclear power plants (NPPs) are ideal for meeting that portion of the load.”

    Ideal are they? Besides the obscene expense, there seems to be a major problem with the availability of the fuel they burn.

    Currently, 13% of the electricity produced world-wide is from nuclear power. At *current consumption rates*, there is only enough uranium on the planet to last about 200 years.

    You argue that we should ramp up that 13% to 70%? We would run put of uranium long, long before we reach the end of the useful lifespan of a solar panel installed twenty years ago!

  53. Calamity Jean says:

    The wind never stops blowing. It just changes its location. (And where it will be can be predicted with very good accuracy up to 36 hours in advance.) By having numerous wind farms distributed over a wide geographical area, we can be reasonably sure that we will catch wind power where it is occurring at any particular time. Just two wind farms, located about 300 miles apart, can provide baseload power about 85% of the time. Adding more wind farms increases the reliability.

    The demand for electric power is greater during the day than at night, so solar power arrives conveniently when it’s needed. Photovoltaic panels will produce some power even on cloudy days, and the Earth isn’t Venus (yet); it isn’t cloudy everywhere all at once. Excess sun or wind power in one location can get put on the power grid to be transmitted to locations that don’t happen to producing enough at any particular moment. Obviously, improving transmission will be vital. The solar day can also be extended by aiming solar panels east and west, which will become economically viable as PV prices continue to come down. Solar themal power plants also store energy as heat and continue to produce electric power for hours after sunset.

    For more energy, Google “fuel ammonia”. It’s possible to synthsize anhydrous ammonia using water, air, and electric power. Ammonia (NH3) will burn. It could be made during times of excess wind or solar power, saved in tanks, and burned to generate power during low times. Beyond that, don’t tear down all existing natural gas power plants, and on the rare days or nights that have widespread thick clouds or windlessness, burn some natural gas. Because it wouldn’t be frequent, the small amount of gas used is unlikely to make a big contribution to global warming.

  54. kermit says:

    Not to mention that horrid wind spill in Oregon a couple of years back. The countryside is still cleaning up after that, it is.

  55. kermit says:

    How do nuclear plants fare in times of trouble? Wars, weather disasters, loss of local water for cooling, prolonged or frequent breakdowns in infrastructure, floods or plagues interrupting travel by technicians, problems with waste storage, interruption of fuel acquisition. The worst risk of solar or wind is that they would become useless.

    Of course I can see why corporate executives would favor nukes; they require complex and expensive structures, centralized locations, working hand in glove with government and other advantages for a handful of rich people wanting to get richer. I don’t hate them in principle, but I do fail to see anything attractive about them for me other than being relatively GHG-free. We’d have to deal with the same sort of people (if not actually the same ones) who have gotten us into this mess. I don’t think that we can come up with a technical fix for GW warming that doesn’t entail a political and economic fix, too.

  56. wili says:

    Well put.

    Another thing that these mendacious tricksters always fail to mention is that plants that are so inflexible as to always have a ‘base load’ are as much a problem for the grid as they are any kind of ‘solution’ or ‘necessity.’

    In the wee hours of the night, mostly, electricity is hardly really needed at all. Yet these monstrous plants just keep pumping it out 24/7 whether needed or not. This is, in fact, a huge problem.

    If you can’t quickly shut down load when it is not needed, you have to _create_ need where there was none before–especially street and commercial lights blaring all night even when no-one needs them or is looking at them.

    Which also destroys dark night skies and deprives most urban dwellers of the joy of the full panoply of stars enjoyed by almost all of their forebearers for time immemorial.

  57. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The sheer dangerousness of nuclear, with its intractably poisonous wastes and their utility in creating mass devastation weapons means that a nuclear power program is one of the drivers of the surveillance and security state that the Right is imposing on all societies, to ‘keep the rabble in line’.

  58. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Too much ingestion of re-fried beans? Deadly!

  59. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Nifty nomme de folie that- Cosmo Chimica.