Vicious Cycle of Air Conditioning

Making ourselves cooler is making the earth warmer.

air conditioning system
via US Department of Energy

A CNN column about the European heat wave spurring the continent to catch up with those of us across the Pond on air conditioning our homes observes,

Europeans’ — and indeed the world’s — embrace of AC, however, is relevant far beyond the humble pie they appear to be digesting without a burp.

As temperatures climb inexorably upward, which science attests they will until greenhouse gas emissions are curbed, the world finds itself in an ostensibly inextricable bind — called the vicious circle of air conditioning.

Namely, AC is an extremely energy-intensive means of cooling space. According to a World Bank report from 2019, cooling tech such as refrigerators, air conditioners, and other devices chalk up as much as 10% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. This is more than double the footprint of aviation and maritime together! At this rate, cooling emissions could double by 2030 and triple by 2100, added the report.

When the mercury has shot up this year, energy demand from cooling of all kinds, including fans, went through the roof — thus so will emissions. Last year’s record hot summer was one factor — among others, including post-Covid-19 lockdown recovery — in the European Union’s 6.3% jump in emissions over 2020, according to the European Commission.

In other words, the hotter the planet gets, the greater the need — in many places in Asia and the Middle East, and parts of the US and Europe, an existential need — for cooling.

The column calls for the replacement of our current means of generating power with cleaner energy, which I’m for in theory and haven’t invested the time in to know whether I support it in short-term practice. I’m mostly just amused by the notion, obvious once it’s pointed out, that our natural response to a warming planet is to cool ourselves through mechanisms that further warm the planet.

FILED UNDER: Environment, Science & Technology, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Stormy Dragon says:

    If only there was some sort of power source where the availability was strongly correlated with the periods during which air conditioning use surges, like bright intensely sunny days… /sarc

    6
  2. James Joyner says:

    @Stormy Dragon: The columnist advocates solar among other options. Given that people have been promoting solar for at least the last four decades, I can only assume that it’s harder in practice than in theory. Otherwise, we’d have solar panels on all our houses.

    It does appear we’re getting closer to that future. Solar panels have gotten radically cheaper to produce. But there’s considerable inertia to overcome, given existing infrastructure is already in place.

  3. Argon says:

    I’m sure we could find funding for a start-up company to solve the AC problem using Bitcoin and blockchain technology.

    3
  4. Mister Bluster says:

    The central air conditioning system for my 1977 model trailer house crapped out years ago. I still haven’t had it repaired. Mostly because I don’t want to pay the electric bill. My 1/2 acre is well shaded and my window fan runs 24/7. The one day a week that I deliver the paper the AC in my 2013 Ford Fusion works just fine. The rest of my daytime hours are split between MickeyD’s and Panerra. Both have cheap coffee and free, reliable internet service. The Panerra has actually done something to the HVAC system so that it is actually pleasant in here and not North Pole Below Zero.
    At home I can sleep at night since the fan gets the indoor temp to a comfortable 78º f.
    My place is all electric. Heat, water heater and stove. I pay what the electric utility calls the “Equalizer”. That amount is adjusted every three months. Two months go I was notified that my electric rate would increase by as much as 64% due to the increasing cost of electricity. I was relieved when the increase turned out to be 50%.
    I sure hope the Cost of Living Adjustment for Social Security in January reflects the rate of inflation.

    Social Security Checks Should Soar in 2023, but Won’t Be Anywhere Close to the Largest “Raise” Ever
    FOOLED YOU!

    Sleepytown AccuWeather
    Thur. 100+
    Fri. 100+
    Today. High 90s

    3
  5. JKB says:

    @Argon: solve the AC problem using Bitcoin and blockchain technology

    Just the opposite. Bitcoin and blockchain technology mining create a lot of heat. That heat could be captured and used for heating purposes as it is removed from the servers. The servers consume all the cooling effects from removal of the heat by the refrigeration cycle.

  6. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Our weather is nice today–the high will be ~78, but tomorrow starts 5 days of low to mid 90s–and I live in a foothills/river gorge region where the temps will be a little cooler. Down Liddite’s way the temps will be high 90s all the way through the following Monday.

    Ironically, our hottest forecast day here will be only “partly sunny.” So much for cloudy weather bringing relief.

  7. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JKB: You have no idea of what sarcasm is, do you?

    5
  8. Cheryl Rofer says:

    I’m mostly just amused by the notion, obvious once it’s pointed out, that our natural response to a warming planet is to cool ourselves through mechanisms that further warm the planet.

    Entropy. Second Law of Thermodynamics

  9. JKB says:

    Without AC moving heat, we would do as in the past. Shutdown all heat producing devices, such as studio lights, computers, cameras, server farms, and try to improve non-mechanical ventilation by opening windows. But CNN does none of that. They’d rather berate the elderly who are using just a bit of energy to keep their small homes tolerable.

    What’s the carbon footprint of home AC units compared to CNN’s many office buildings with their massive heat producing devices inside. It would be double benefit as well as the lights wouldn’t produce the heat and the HVAC system wouldn’t be moving that heat outdoors.

    Humans can tolerate higher temps if you manage the humidity effectively, but heat-producing computers and such cannot, they need intensive cooling.

    2
  10. James Joyner says:

    @JKB: The editorial isn’t ‘berating’ anyone for using A/C, just pointing out the irony of it all.

    3
  11. Lounsbury says:

    @James Joyner: bother my comment disappeard.

    The facile comment to which you respond is missing as well regrettably significant factors in heat-waves as hitting USA and Western Europe, which are notably solar PV at elevated temperatures has material declines in efficiency (unless itself cooled). So “it’s sunny PV solves” is superficial. Additional challenge in RE is that for both Solar and Wind there is an often correlated effect of heat depressing production of both. Of course add in drought and you have a triple hit to the fundamental REs. (lest this be misunderstood, carbon fuel facilities also take efficiency hits – this is not an argument against RE but rather noting that Green Left simple-mindedness is wrong-headed in this risk area).

    The need for non-intermittants baseload is presently being highlighted in the European context in this crisis.

    Re article linked, it somewhat overemphasises path dependency and somewhat under/misses system issues re pure intermittants as well as the now more and more clear issue of Siting (and populist / popular resistance to the very significant square Hectareage needs of significant RE generation, issues the Green Left is generally blind to or likes to pretend do not exist (or through sheer innumeracy do not understand). It misses / skips grid stability and serious frequency issues relative to scaling up RE, particularly solar in a grid.

    Sun and wind aren’t consistent throughout the day or the year, and sometimes the best places for power don’t actually have many people living there. The windiest parts of the country—often in the interior regions like the Great Plains—have fewer people to use that power than crowded coastal cities. The aging American electrical grid doesn’t currently have the ability to distribute power from renewables over long distances, says Matt Oliver, energy economist at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

    These challenges of intermittency and geography are not insurmountable—batteries and water can store energy, and better transmission systems can be built. But the solutions will require massive investments to develop and build the needed infrastructure.

    emphasis added.
    Storage adds significant expense, and none of the battery storage options currently proven at scale production are major scale economical over life-span calculation for batteries. Non-trivial issue. Clearly the economics are improving but not there yet for batteries, whereas grid upgrading is clear, known tech, and simply needs to be enabled / pushed.

    The issue of continent scale grid upgrade – particularly for North America but not only – to enable scale and efficiency as well as timing of production balancing are important barriers.

  12. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    “… and better transmission systems can be built. But the solutions will require massive investments to develop and build the needed infrastructure. […] The issue of continent scale grid upgrade – particularly for North America but not only – to enable scale and efficiency as well as timing of production balancing are important barriers.”

    An excellent point. Now add in that one of the key barriers is called “Congress,” specifically the Republican Congressional Caucus, and maybe we can move on this. Provided that the voters will assist.

    1
  13. Tony W says:

    @James Joyner: We just installed solar – just north of $18,000, and it will take about 5 years to break even on the purchase – but they are warranted for 25 years.

    Best part is I get to run my AC without any guilt!

    2
  14. Gustopher says:

    @Lounsbury:

    Storage adds significant expense, and none of the battery storage options currently proven at scale production are major scale economical over life-span calculation for batteries.

    That might just be that we are not pricing in the externalities of not having battery storage properly.

    To simplify, energy that costs twice as much to deliver, but which has 1/4th the impact to the environment, may in fact actually be cost efficient over the long run once you account for that other 3/4ths of the environmental impact.

  15. Lounsbury says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: The error of your first demarche was and is to have made an RE explicit bundling and focusing on RE regulatory mandating, in a no-margin voting situation. While market situation is not perfect, many of the binding constraints for USA are ones that (1) red-tape cutting and stream-lining in regulatory permitting (enviro, zone)would assist on, so you have an occasion to gain some R side alliance there if the Green Left can set-aside it’s anti market ideological tendancies, (2) generation source agnostic long-distance grid reinforcement in both investment and regulatory smoothing, where again if not made explicit Green / anti-carbon there is potential to find alliances of convenience. Green Left remains too much bought into a regulate and mandate mindset, and too purist (while yes of course the anti-Green climate changing denying morons on the Right are just being utter and complete idiots, so no, not equivalent levels of dumbness, but the focus is on the tweaks to achieve tactical gains, not on the ultimate dumbnesses).

    1
  16. Gustopher says:

    @Tony W: Your AC is still generating heat. You may resume feeling guilty.

    (97% certain that the heat generated by all our appliances and generators has basically zero effect compared to the carbon.

    This makes me wonder if the needed breakthrough in energy storage will be low efficiency but clean storage of energy, like pumping water up a hill or splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. If we have clean generation, and clean storage, how much do we care about efficiency?)

    2
  17. Lounsbury says:

    @Gustopher:

    That might just be that we are not pricing in the externalities of not having battery storage properly.

    Externalities have fuck-all to do with the current storage investment and technical challenge for batteries. The stability of dominant available battery chemistry over utility level life-times is not acceptable, the cost with lifespan risk is not acceptable. It is not at this time a good investment case. This will come as the demand is there and the euros and dollars are pouring into this challenge, but it is not yet acceptable. However there are promising non-dense chemistries.

    To simplify, energy that costs twice as much to deliver, but which has 1/4th the impact to the environment, may in fact actually be cost efficient over the long run once you account for that other 3/4ths of the environmental impact.

    And this is abstract Green Lefty dreaming analysis, inapplicable to real current investment.
    Twice as much delivery cost means doubling the direct cost to the economy, which whatever theoretical justifications you dream up will not work either politically nor economically (this aside from the technical fact utility scale grid backing battery installation is not feasible (economically, stability-lifespan) with current mass battery technology/chemistry (which has been oriented rationally to radically different use-cases) – noting scaling up different chemistries for this different use-case (as in totally different drivers on weight and density than either consumer electronics or cars) has indeed kicked off but this is not for tomorrow.

    And leaving aside the tremendous “environmental impact” of batteries themselves – batteries are fucking toxic chemistry and their mining for inputs is nasty as hell-scalling up to utility scale grid levels is not environmentally friendly at all – although macro climate useful.

    This is literally my job mate, I invest hundreds of millions of euros in RE. The fundamentals on storage are not yet acceptable, no hand waiving about externalities (which while yes a fine theoretical econ concern are rabbit holes down-which one has no need to go for the current challenges). Engaging in wishful thinking analysis about pricing in externalities to justify is Lefty-academic infused impracticality.

    As with PV, as with utility scale wind, the storage case absolutely has to be achieved at energy Consumer Visible pricing basis that has a non-economy destroying pricing. This is achievable with heavy investment in both the distribution infrastructure and ongoing Venture financing to the applied new technologies. Progress is not going to be achieved with Green Left HairShirtism (and yes it also won’t be achieved with the denialism moron Right blocking either but other than JKB none of them are here).

  18. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Lounsbury: I don’t believe I was objecting that the ideas you and your sources suggest weren’t good, just that during the 70 years that I’ve been alive so far, inaction has been the model of Congress in terms of changing/upgrading public technology.

    And they’re not my demarches to begin with. I have no authority to set policy in the United States.

  19. Lounsbury says:

    @Gustopher: Efficiency always matters as efficiency drives Cost and return on investment, and thus the end cost of energy to the economy, “cleanness” has fuck all to do with the sustainability in economic terms. Energy cost is fundamental to economic growth. The reason Solar PV and wind have become grid competitive to installed gas and coal is efficiency. Efficiency, efficiency, efficiency (in invested capital which = cost of the assets relative to power generated) which drives the positive returns which drives the competitiveness.

    However you are actually thinking of energy density I believe, where utility scale grid storage has radically different needs than battery storage for say cars. Pumped storage is fine for efficiency, particularly if one integrates floating PV on reservoir illustratively.

    1
  20. Lounsbury says:

    @Tony W: Unless you are covering 100% of your power draw throughout the period of usage of AC, you are drawing on grid and unless your local grid is Net-zero, you should well feel guilty if you are so inclined to such feelings about your AC.

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: The generic you Americans, or I suppose in certain American dialects “you all”, not the you you was meant.

    1
  21. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Lounsbury: Oh and by the way, concerns about the status of the electrical grid go all the way back to when Richard F##king Nixon was President. Inaction on power questions has a long and colorful history in America.

    1
  22. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Lounsbury: How about “your country’s” or “your politicians” or “the West’s” if the problem extends farther than NA or “NA’s” if the problem is stops at the ocean. I grant you that going this direction DOES limit the amount of whinging you can do about Green Party politics, but that’s the cost of effective communication. You have to sacrifice ineffective points in favor of more salient ones.

    The Greens certainly play a role in the current issue. The problem and the inaction predates Green Party political influence by decades.

  23. Gustopher says:

    @Lounsbury: bugger me with a badger! I’d say you really told me if I could understand anything you write!

    1
  24. Lounsbury says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: You seem to have misunderstood my Green Party reference. It is to the EU. I don’t believe US Green Party is anything of interest.

    However the broader Green Left impracticality is a general issue, gretaism. Historical issues are not my concern, now is my concern.

    1
  25. JohnSF says:

    @JKB:
    That is folly.
    Unless bitcoin generation is somehow outside the purview of the laws of thermodynamics, it will inevitably generate waste heat that cannot be captured due to the inevitable inefficiencies of conversion.
    That being so, and as bitcoin production is a silly activity, it is a foolish use of finite capacity to create it in the first place.

    Of course, waste heat capture for energy use that actually makes sense in the first place is an entirely different matter, and a sensible step.

    2
  26. JohnSF says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    @James Joyner:
    An issue with solar panels in much of Europe, probably roughly north of 42 latitude thereabouts (my wild guess), is that winter insolation due to sun angles, day length, and cloud cover, make it virtually useless for a fair chunk of the year.

    So the return on capital is such that a lot of people are not going to bother, as just using mains ‘leccy works out cheaper.

    May be a case for subsidies to encourage use.
    But at that scale, you’d want to consider if it made more sense to spend the money on investing in big solar plants and energy storage systems; or nuclear reactors.

    2
  27. Lounsbury says:

    @JohnSF: Most particularly nuclear for base services (and if excess, storage, or green hydrogen duties), à la française, and utility scale wind for N. Europe. Sunny Med has better returns on solar PV. The Global Solar Atlas is a useful little tool to have a sense of things, and the European Commission PVG tool: PHOTOVOLTAIC GEOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION SYSTEM if one is passing familiar with the technological choices.

    1
  28. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Lounsbury:

    The issue of continent scale grid upgrade – particularly for North America but not only – to enable scale and efficiency as well as timing of production balancing are important barriers.

    Question: does it have to be the national grid? Couldn’t states or regions provide enough economy of scale? Say, the west coast, California, Oregon and Washington? That’s 50 million people, north of 4 trillion GDP. Or New England plus New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware, with roughly the same GDP? (The politics will not escape your notice.) It would simplify things, given the probably unprofitable job of wiring the vast emptiness in the center of the country.

    1
  29. JohnSF says:

    @Lounsbury:
    I’m still a fan of good old Carlo Rubbia’s scheme for massive solar power plants in the Maghreb, with gigantic molten salt storage systems, and a supergrid connectivity across the Med.
    A man can have dreams, eh? 🙂

  30. Lounsbury says:

    @Michael Reynolds: The entire point for efficiency is national grid – wind and solar power is distributed in geography but also in time. Efficient coast-to-coast long-distance grid infrastructure enables maximally efficient RE deliveries, not just of by the differing geographies,

    The vast emptiness of the centre is of critical interest as in your centre-West down to Texas (140 meter windmap, USGov) for on-shore wind with peak generation times that can serve distrubtion towards urban coastal centres. Equally peak solar times for generation can be distributed via long-distance contintal scale power-wheeling (and also generation balancing in cases of for example heat domes collapsing in a sub-regional wind generation as has happened with Texas in their current heat-eave – the idiots who have refused significant interconnexion because… well it escapes, I guess “because Texas”).

    The issue is not building from scratch but upgrading, and expanding (and particular additional high voltage long-distrance infra).

    You have a fucking huge country with continent span coast-to-coast. This has a real advantage which in the past the USA has capitalised on. It would be bizarrely stupid not to do so here.

    Scale efficiencies are critical to lower power costs. Lower power costs = better economics. Better economics = better pricing = better and faster adoption.

    You lot used to do big very well. But now the Green Left has to recognise their enviro rules are a barrier to RE.

  31. JohnSF says:

    @Lounsbury:
    That PVG Tool is really useful; been looking for something like that for some time!
    I’ve normally had to default to a spreadsheet of insolation figures when trying to force some real world constraint issues into the heads of some more over-enthusiatic/optimistic Greens .
    That is a much more user friendly, visualised way of doing things!
    Many thanks!

    1
  32. Lounsbury says:

    @JohnSF: Never happening I am afraid. Part of my zone, afraid the Noor facilities performance have killed this off, and the issues on water needs (solar facilities need water…), while Algeria is a retarded basket case that can’t even do Gas properly nowadays and Tunisia… only makes me sad. That said scaling PV I am hopeful for and upgrade of the interconnexion at Straights of Gibralter… particularly now the Spanish and the Moroccans are making nice after the Algerians buggered everyone over in a fit of pique (and both are buying LNG from good old Louisania terminals for delivery via Spain).

  33. Lounsbury says:

    @JohnSF: Welcome. Only know it as some of my funding €€ are EU commission backed…

  34. Lounsbury says:

    @Michael Reynolds: This may help visualise. https://www.epa.gov/green-power-markets/us-grid-regions
    If you look at this in combination with the US solar potential map and the US wind potential maps it should become clear that the economic potential – and importance. What is less clear from static maps is the Time Distribution of Generation Potential – this is of critical interest (notably on a macro scale) – surplus generation if it can’t be distributed is wasted of course.

    And surpluses that drive cost to zero (as has happened in some grids with peak generation hours on RE) are contrary to innumerate Greeny Lefties celebrations, not good things. They are bad things as they kill off the incentive to invest and scale. At the same time scale is needed so that efficicies of scale are obtained to drive down capital cost and thus lower real cost to the economy.

    So being able to distribute regional surplus in solar, wind (whatever the intermittant) that will be surplus in certain hours widely on continent scale (more or less, some distances become uneconomical) opens up more opportunity.

  35. Lounsbury says:

    @Gustopher: don’t be excessively tedious and childish, you understood perfectly well, if you can think externalities you understood.

  36. JohnSF says:

    @Lounsbury:
    Oh well, if the Maghreb is out, have to make do with Anadalucia and Sicily.
    Unfortunately higher land costs, but there you go.

    I wonder if the concept I read about some time back for combining semi-transparent solar panels with greenhouses has ever gotten anywhere? Idea was, the tricky panels combine reflection for soar-thermal, photovoltaics, and remnant pass-through for the greenhouses underneath.
    No idea if the sums could be made to add up. 🙂

    I defer to your expertise, but what was it about the Noor outcomes that kill it?
    I thought Noor 2 was still proceeding?

    Incidentally, Rubbia team suggested water requirements issue could be resolved by bulk desalination. With the added benefit that residual brine salts are ideal for the storage side of the scheme. What that does to the costs, I have not a clue.

    It’s not something I keep up to date with regularly, just something that’s been a long term occasional interest.

    Along with Rubbia’s other big plan: using radioactive fission waste products in neutron beam reactor. Both extracts power, on a sizable scale, and “burns” the highly radioactive isotope in fission products into long-period, low-emission residuum.

    Win-win.

    Especially if integrated with a thorium-breeder/reactor programme.

    (I like Carlo Rubbia 🙂 Thinks big and long term.)

  37. Gustopher says:

    @Lounsbury: Blimey! A doggerel dolphin! Perchance to dream?

    I think you overestimate how much effort I am willing to put into deciphering your missives from the delusions of literacy. I tap the screen of my iPad with a gentle swipe, and let them scroll past, and whatever happens to catch my eye in transit is all that sticks.

    Will it be a curious turn of phrase? A random detail? Or will it be nothing but the nattering of a neurotic narwhal? It’s a random selection of words.

    Because, my malcontented monotreme, the signal to noise ratio of your comments is frequently below the minimal threshold. I bite my thumb at you!

  38. JohnSF says:

    @Gustopher:
    Have you considered the possibility that English is not Lounsbury’s first language?
    I’m not certain myself; but I suspect it may not be.
    Or at least, not contemporary colloquial British or American usage.
    (Apologies Lounsbury if you think I’m being presumptuous; it’s just a guess 🙂 )

  39. R. Dave says:

    Externalities have fuck-all to do with the current storage investment and technical challenge for batteries. The stability of dominant available battery chemistry over utility level life-times is not acceptable, the cost with lifespan risk is not acceptable. It is not at this time a good investment case.

    Unless I’m misunderstanding your point here, this is just wrong. Externalities have everything to do with the investment case for current battery storage projects – just as they do for solar, wind and other RE projects – in that such externalities can often be monetized, to one degree or another, in the form of tradable RECs, tax credits, and other incentives under various governmental/regulatory programs.

  40. Lounsbury says:

    @R. Dave: No, they don’t and yes you misunderstood. Current catteries chemistries and lifespans – they are not long enough – are not appopriate at this time. Well the wisdom of internet commentariat…. maunder on about externalities as you like.

  41. Tony W says:

    @Lounsbury: We actually produce between 20-25 kWh more than we consume, every day. Even with the AC running.

    The system is only a couple of months old, so I don’t know how much our behavior will change when we true up next year with a huge surplus that we sell back to the power company for pennies on the dollar.

    Sizing these things is an art.

  42. Jen says:

    @Michael Reynolds: The regional point is noteworthy, due to the way in which our system is set up. We have regional independent system operators (some large states are regions unto themselves, such as NYISO and CAISO (NY and CA, respectively).

    When regions are at or near peak, they purchase excess from nearby systems. This is what got Texas into so much trouble in Feb. 2021–MISO was near peak as well.

    The grid is more complicated than people realize. Despite the regional setup, we desperately need a national grid upgrade.

    One of the biggest stumbling blocks right now to bringing more clean energy online is grid interconnections. And transmission lines, which can take decades to build.

    On a related note, this opinion piece in the NYT yesterday seems to surface a similar issue: climate change makes asthma worse, but inhalers are making climate worse.

    1
  43. Lounsbury says:

    @Jen: It is worth noting that long-distance transmission lines need not, from a physical point of view in construction take decades. The timelines of that order are purely those of regulation blockages.

    Removing the red tape and streamlining for such infrastructure should be a greater priority than regulatory mandates on grid-carbon intensity or the like. It is the harder problem now, the RE technology has its head of steam up, the transmission/distribution infra enablement (and access of course) is the key binding constraint that needs help to accelerate solving.

    And the story of US grid interconnections, it is one that is gobsmacking, really when I was first learning of it….

    @Gustopher: I give literally zero estimation to anyone’s reading, don’t care; but I do have a degree of contempt for the tedious passive-aggressive childish pretence of ‘I am posting to ostentatiiously say I am not reading you” and similar… don’t read as you like, give no fucks. Just don’t be whinging little twat about it.

    @Tony W: then you are blissfully guilt free. And evidently in a net-metering grid I would suppose.

    @JohnSF: Transparent panels are not yet there. This will come technically but not yet here (from an economically investible PoV, the technological development is progressing).

    I defer to your expertise, but what was it about the Noor outcomes that kill it?
    I thought Noor 2 was still proceeding?

    There is quite a history on this-Noor2 is proceeding (seehttps://africabusinesscommunities.com/sustainable-energy/news/morocco-kicks-off-first-phase-of-noor-ii-solar-megaproject/ ). I have to be prudent but it is safe to observe that Country Risk is not a trivial consideration, even for generally okay Morocco. Spain is easier but Real estate – solar needs hectares and the Greeny Left has loved to abstract away from that or dream that mini-installations on homeowners rooftops solve national grid level needs. Hectares needed for real scale solar and real scale Wind is now getting to run into Greeny Left incoherences on enviro policy, and of course old fashioned NIMBY (also relevant to Transmission / Distribution).

    Oh and in re Batteries, Chemistries, Utility Scale Storage: this article is useful as also touching on EU related rules: my personal bet (against which no capital at this time), iron-air systems due to the probable cost-at-scale. But large scale battery, the available chemistries are wrong and no amount of externalities hand-waiving or dreaming of carbon pricing that will never be executed gets the dominant lithium base to scale- which is no hit against it, that batter configuration was simply never developed for this use case.

    The EU has established the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) plan to enable the widespread use of VRE. As part of SET, goals have been established for the cost (0.05 € kW-1 h-1 cycle-1) and durability (10,000 cycles and 20 years lifetime) to be achieved by 2030. Other key characteristics of battery storage systems include:

    High power density, defined as the total possible instantaneous discharge capability, in kW or MW, or the maximum rate of power the BESS can deliver when fully charged.
    High energy density in terms of kWh or MWh to support extended operation. For example, a BESS with a 1 MW power capacity and 4 MWh of energy capacity has a storage duration of four hours.
    Long cycle life is important for the BESS to provide regular charging and discharging before failure or significant degradation. However, installation and maintenance costs are still the main barriers to the penetration of storage on the grid.
    Low self-discharge enables energy to be stored for long periods and is especially important for batteries intended for longer-duration applications.
    High round-trip efficiency, measured as a percentage of the energy-charged delivered into the battery to the energy discharged from the battery, including losses from self-discharge and other electrical inefficiencies. This is an area of differences; battery manufacturers often refer to the DC-DC efficiency of energy flow into and out of the battery. For utilities, AC-AC efficiency is more important (and lower than DC-DC efficiency), as they consider efficiency from the point of interconnection to the power system, which uses AC

  44. Jen says:

    @Lounsbury:

    The timelines of that order are purely those of regulation blockages.

    Not solely regulatory blockages. There are also community issues (not wanting high-voltage lines running through scenic areas), sometimes they discover that the planned paths aren’t feasible for other reasons (cannot secure to bedrock, etc.), an unwillingness to use eminent domain for political reasons, and so on. Sometimes alternatives arise that make more sense, and plans are abandoned by power companies.

    In short, there are many reasons that transmission lines (can) take a long time to build and it’s not *just* regulatory.

  45. R. Dave says:

    @Lounsbury:No, they don’t and yes you misunderstood. Current catteries chemistries and lifespans – they are not long enough – are not appopriate at this time. Well the wisdom of internet commentariat…. maunder on about externalities as you like.

    Well, for what it’s worth, I work in the industry too – 14 years as a project finance lawyer, primarily in the energy sector and most of it in RE specifically – and I’ve worked billions of dollars worth of wind and solar deals that relied in part on the monetization of externalities via the mechanisms I mentioned. And in recent years, I’ve started to see plenty of deals with a battery storage component as well. The tech may not be there yet to make battery storage a “good investment” for society at large, if that was your point, but it absolutely is a good investment for developers and their finance parties in many RE projects.

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