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2050 pathways calculator

by Thomas Wed Oct 10th, 2012 at 01:49:44 PM EST

A wonderful toy.

The 2050 calculator allows you to design an energy policy for the UK taking into account carbon emissions from the entire economy, not just electricity generation - the goal of the game being to reduce total emissions by 80% or better.

A few examples:

"I like nukes, and I dont like hairshirts":
http://2050-calculator-tool.decc.gov.uk/pathways/411111111111111111144311114144412133112113113311213 2/sankey
this cleans up the economy without exporting pollution to other nations - Which, in my opinion is what the "industry" "Bioenergy imports" and "electricity imports" sliders do.  - It also does not require any lifestyle sacrifices. Very politically palatable, if you can get people to swallow 150 Gigawatts of nukes.

"I still like nukes, and I want to get rid of oil dependence altogether"
http://2050-calculator-tool.decc.gov.uk/pathways/411111111111111114144311114144412133112113113311211 1/story
- Where the previous path dealt with the oil consumption of airlines by running carbon sequestration plants off the excess output of the nukes, this one feeds the airlines.. 17% of the surface area of the UK plowed under and planted with energy crops.
Eh. Okay, not acceptable. Not acceptable at all.

A few more or less hilarious notes: It appears that driving insulation above the natural trend would be more expensive than just feeding the heatpumps more power. This is probably an artifact of the fact that you can only "buy" generating capacity in huge chunks, and once you have bought it, incremental increases in use are free.

The most expensive item in my "all nukes, all the time" plan to fix carbon emissions?: The electric car purchases necessary. This actually makes sense.
Shifting people to public transit makes the total cost of the policy much lower without any other changes.
http://2050-calculator-tool.decc.gov.uk/pathways/411111111111111114144311144144412133112113113311211 1/costs_sensitivity

I would like finer control of the "finance cost" slider, but I suppose one cannot have everything.

Play with it, and post some toughts! For me, the primary takeaway is that almost all plans for carbon mitigation I have run across are scaled wrong. Debating whether the UK should build 4 or 8 reactors, or whether we should stick some solar cells on rooftops misapprehends the sheer scale of the problem very badly - Only heroic engineering will work. Not tens of reactors, but a hundred. Not mere parks of ocean windmills, but a huge forest of them.

Comments >> (62 comments)

Why Feedin Tariffs are the wrong subsidy

by Thomas Sun Jan 8th, 2012 at 07:25:34 AM EST

The main tool used to clean up electricity generation lately has been to guarantee certain minimum price levels for power generated with specific technologies. These feedin tarrifs have varied from "not that much more than typical production costs for baseload" (wind) to "insanely high" (solar), but they have all been aimed at getting specific green generating technologies manufactured and deployed, and forcing utilities to buy the power they produce, in the hope that this would help transform electricity production into a clean, reliable grid.

There is a number of problems, however. These tarrifs have gotten quite considerable amounts of renewable capacity built, but because the tarrifs were set per technology, rather than simply being a fixed rate for any low-carbon generation, they amounted to politicians dictating technology choice. Badly. A lot of what has been built was, and will forever be, complete lunacy. Rooftop solar in northern europe is never, ever, going to make sense. Looking outside is a sufficient demonstration of this. - that could be easily fixed, of course. A "secular" tarrif uniform across technologies would not cause people to pour billions down dead ends.

The more serious problem is the investment decisions that utilities are taking due to forcible addition of intermittent generation to the grids they operate.

frontpaged with minor edits - Nomad

Read more... (74 comments, 531 words in story)

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