1. Planning for storm surges
It seems the trickiest bit of planning for sea level rise is dealing with the increased risk of storm surges. Scientists have been taking a look at New York City.
The biggest they know about was a 3.2 metre surge in 1821, a one in 500 year event. Most buildings have a 60 to 120-year usable lifespan. With a 3-foot rise a once a century surge of 5.7 feet above tide level could occur every three to 20 years.
2. The world’s most beautiful mosque may be vulnerable
The world’s most beautiful mosque may be vulnerable to rising seas. I assume they would have thought of storm surges.
One thing that continues to bother me is the notion that we need to provide for one metre of sea level rise by 2100. What I read indicates a consensus midpoint of about 1.2 metres. I’m not so worried about the 0.2, but it is surely foolish not to take account of the risk that the level may exceed 1.2. The midpoint has become the maximum as far as I can see.
3. Cost of renewables
At BraveNewClimate a post by Peter Lang critiques a paper Simulations of Scenarios with 100% Renewable Electricity in the Australian National Electricity Market by Elliston et al. (2011a). It’s quite detailed and technical. The bottom line is:
Despite the lack of costings, the EDM-2011 study is a useful contribution. It demonstrates that, even with highly optimistic assumptions, renewable energy cannot realistically provide 100% of our electricity generation. The baseline simulation does not have sufficient capacity to meet peak winter demand, has no capacity reserve, and is dependent on a technology – gas turbines running on biofuels – that currently exist only at small scale and at high cost.
Lang made an estimate of cost and concluded:
The costs for the simulated 100% renewable electricity system are estimated to be $568 billion capital cost, $336/MWh cost of electricity and $290/tonne CO2 abatement cost. That is, electricity would cost seven times more than now, and CO2 abatement cost would exceed current carbon prices by 13 times the starting price for the Australian carbon tax and 30 times the European carbon price (at time of writing).
The electricity supply would be unreliable.
Any largely renewable electricity system for the NEM would be high cost, as demonstrated here.
4. Trainer looks at Grattan
Also at BNC Ted Trainer takes a look at the Grattan Report on renewable energy technologies. He also finds 100% renewables as prohibitively expensive. A big problem, he says is that the report doesn’t look at the real problem of covering all intermittency. He says no-one has analysed the data sufficiently in Australia, but in Europe you can find several days at a time when there is negligible sun and wind.
The answer for Ted is no surprise. We can’t sustain high energy societies:
Trainer 2010b and 2011 detail the case that the limits to growth predicament cannot be solved by technical reforms to or within consumer-capitalist society and that there must be radical social transition to some kind of “Simpler Way”. This vision includes developing mostly small and highly self-sufficient local economies, abandoning the growth economy, severely controlling market forces, shifting from representative to participatory democracy, and accepting frugal and cooperative lifestyles.
5. Wave and tidal power
Seven of the the eight full-scale prototype devices installed worldwide are in UK waters, making the country the current world leader in the development of wave and tidal energy technologies.
The government has also recognised that marine power could provide up to 27GW of capacity in the UK by 2050, much of which is expected to be deployed after 2020.
But the report warns that an overly cautious approach to deployment may allow other less risk-averse countries to steal the UK’s lead.
6. Hansen’s hyperbole(?) on tar sands
This report on the actual effect on the climate of burning the Canadian tar sands gets stuck into Hansen and McKibben for their hyperbole.
This is what what Hansen said. I’m not sure there is anything he needs to resile from there if you read carefully what he says.
This report puts the emphasis perhaps where it should be. If we burn all the world’s coal the temperature will go up by 15C.
7. Speaking of coal
China increased its consumption of coal by 9.7% and 11% for natural gas. There was also some good news:
Overall energy consumption per unit of GDP declined another 2% — continuing the 19.1% decline in energy intensity since 2005. In addition, solar installations increased by an astonishing 547% and wind installations grew by 48% last year.
And the really bad news is that their emissions are expected to double those of the US by the mid-2020s.
Go here for some interactive graphics.
8. Land ice loss
Using satellite measurements from the NASA/German Aerospace Center Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), researchers have measured the loss of Earth’s land ice between 2003 and 2010.
The total global ice mass lost from Greenland, Antarctica and Earth’s glaciers and ice caps during the study period was about 4.3 trillion tons (1,000 cubic miles), adding about 0.5 inches (12 millimeters) to global sea level. That’s enough ice to cover the United States 1.5 feet (0.5 meters) deep.
About a quarter of the average annual ice loss came from glaciers and ice caps outside of Greenland and Antarctica (roughly 148 billion tons, or 39 cubic miles). Ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica and their peripheral ice caps and glaciers averaged 385 billion tons (100 cubic miles) a year
the estimated ice loss from high Asian mountain ranges like the Himalaya, the Pamir and the Tien Shan was only about 4 billion tons of ice annually. Some previous ground-based estimates of ice loss in these high Asian mountains have ranged up to 50 billion tons annually.
9. EV rev heads
New Scientist reports on charging around the track in electric racing cars. Apart from enjoying it they reckon new technology will be developed.
So far they are harnessing the power created when the car goes through dips and bumps, they’ve turned the car’s bodywork into a battery, installed inductive charging mats into the race track. They are also working on aerodynamics and using superior battery technology.
320kph is exciting, and impressive, and no doubt some of the technologies will find their way into production models.