I am not a climate denier – and in fact, it terrifies me. Even though I am well past retirement, I do continue to work on potential solutions and I am currently both a teacher and a student on this topic at a local university.
We have 12 years to turn this around.
There is a huge amount of bad information around – many people are “instant experts” believing that renewables can just do it all – in a few years!!!
People like to blame the US, China and India for all the problems but in fact, Iceland uses more energy per capita than anywhere. Canada is worse than the US, and both China and India use a fraction of the annual energy per person that Canada and the US use. We need to look in the mirror before blaming others.
Energy is delivered to customers either as electricity or as a form of fossil fuel (for the most part).
Coal creates about DOUBLE the GHG emissions than created by Natural Gas – for the same heat content. Steam turbine generation (burning coal) for electricity is about 30% efficient. Natural gas in a Combined Heat and Power plant can operate at better than 80% – with emissions that are a fraction of coal generation as it exists.
Electricity delivers less than 20% of the total energy to customers in North America – to put all energy delivery on the electric grid is a huge challenge.
Solar advocates love to claim that solar power has a large fraction of the supply CAPACITY, but these sources run for relatively short periods
People seem to think that new battery technology will change everything…
Batteries are great for day-night operation or for short outages. But summer to winter storage is another matter.
I did a study on my own home. Most of the incoming solar comes between May and October. Most consumption is between November and March (including heating).
My home needs a 5 MWh battery – and at HALF of the projected price for 2025, that would cost me $250,000 US. Not affordable for most people and not enough time.
The major sources of GHG emissions in the US is Electricity generation and second is Transportation. The fleet of US personal vehicles uses more energy than the entire electric grid generates. So much for the BC estimate of 8% increase in demand from 100% EVs. (Don’t get me wrong – if the electricity supply is clean, EVs are the way of the future. I own ONE car – an EV!
Canadian Emissions come largely from Transportation and the Oil industry – this needs to be looked at.
The potential for shared driverless cars is potentially one of the best changes that we can easily implement that would REDUCE user costs, REDUCE emissions, and provide reliable transport for everyone.
We have a difficult problem ahead, but what is really needed is for all players (Utilities, solar producers, homeowners, industry etc.) to partner in finding a coordinated solution that is good for everyone. There is a role for everyone – and all can benefit, both financially and in protecting our planet.
2 thoughts on “A Few Thoughts from an OLD Canadian Engineer on Climate Change and Energy”
Hey Malcolm, this is Jacob. A student of yours from Power systems last year. I’m enjoying your blog posts. Keep them coming!
Thanks Jacob! I don’t get the chance to tell the bad stories on a blog – but can still create what I am hoping will turn into active discussion. Good luck – I trust that you will graduate in May!! and I WILL be there to watch and cheer!!