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We have been blessed with a new Mark Z. Jacobson paper! cell.com/one-earth/abst… Hot take thread. 1/22 (or so)
Paper seems like the same one he has written before and I am not sure what is new. Some comments which are relevant to his other works as well. So lets get started. 2/22
When he computes the costs for BAU alternative he adds climate (28.4 trillion) and health (30 trillion) costs to the total tally which mean that energy "costs" is about the same as the global GDP. Seems a tad high. 3/22
Source for these numbers is Mark Z. Jacobson and they are colossally larger than for example widely cited IMF figures. By computing climate, health, accident, congestion etc. costs together they managed to get a 4.7 trillion "subsidy".
imf.org/en/Publication… 4/22
Jacobson got these by using much larger carbon cost of 500$/ton CO2 and moving to an alternative reality for health costs. Overall he claims a social cost of
42.9 cents/kWh for the BAU electricity. Seems silly. 5/22
I am somewhat sympathetic with high climate costs, but one should then remember that with 500$/ton CO2 many options Mark choose to exclude from his Excel files (like CCS) become very much viable. 6/22
Jacobson also ignores (as he has done in the past) other ways to address both climate and health impacts than his WWS dream. If one were to replace everything with
say nuclear energy both climate and health impacts would collapse compared to Mark's BAU alternative. 7/22
Health costs also have a huge regional variation. Finland has a value 1.5 cents/kWh while China has 21.4 cents/kWh. His estimates for global social costs have therefore very little relevance (even if correct) at local levels. 8/22
Poor countries have high health costs from energy which should already indicate that these costs are strongly poverty related rather than fossil fuel related as such. 9/22
Mark claims his result shows the lowest cost solution, but of course this is not so since he has chosen to constrain his options so strongly by excluding technologies that output cannot be far from whatever he assumed as an input. 10/22
Mark says his vision has a capital cost of $73 trillion by 2050. Systems backbone would be 12092GW of windpower (onshore and off-shore) and 21588GW of photovoltaics which in total would cost...I think... around 53 trillion based on his numbers. 11/n
Yearly installation rate (starting now) for wind power would have to be around 10x the size of the existing industry and for photovoltaics maybe around 6-7 times the current size of the industry. 12/22
Jacobson uses electricity costs for ALL energy, also heat. Says this is fine because externalities are so large, but that part was already messed up. Also, since he conflates electricity and heat and uses heat sector to dump electricity I suspect large costs are hidden. 13/22
There is an average 522GW load for electrolyzers. I cannot find what the capacity is, but it must be higher... 14/22
Size of the electrolyzer market is now around 100MW/year so to get capacity this high (assuming Mark's 10-15 year lifetime) needs about 1000 times larger industry than what exists today. We are firmly in the crackpot territory here. 15/22 energy.gov/eere/fuelcells…
Lets spent Mark's 53 trillion of wind+PV for nuclear power plants with a capex of 5k$/kW. We get 10.6 TW of electrical capacity.End use load in WWS was 8.7TW average...so about the same except that now also
almost 20TW of heat could also be there... 16/22
Lithium could be used for transport and not wasted in electricity sector. With broader tool set dependence on scify would also be considerably lower. 17/22
Futhermore, this infrastructure would have maybe 60 year lifetime... roughly double from Mark's system. Thus the yearly capital expenditure is much smaller. Some of this is hidden by the fact that Mark stops his scenario at 2050 before the system needs to be rebuild. 18/22
Mark assumes almost 50 year lifetime for photovoltaics (src MZJ of course). I am not sure where that comes from. More credible sources use 30 years. atb.nrel.gov/electricity/20… 19/22
It seems Mark needs about 50TWh of Li-ion batteries by 2050. This means abut 1.7TWh/year from today or about 10x the current industry size. He needs more lithium than the global reserve base by 2050. I think we are back in the crackpot territory here. 20/22
Mark only computes levelized cost of electricity and doesn't explain how one is supposed to end with the infrastructure he types into his Excel files. The kind
of wind and PV volumes he assumes would push the market value of their production very quickly to zero. 21/22
Man does his like citing himself and other 100%RE fundamentalists! I think I counted around 39 self citations and they pretty much determine all he does. Almost zero output from the outside. What could go wrong? 22/22.
Mark's vision is not the lowest cost one. Huge technology and cost risks in batteries, electrolyzers, pumped hydro storage... When those risks materialize, holes in the energy system will be filled with fossil fuels. Petty about the climate. 23/22 (Damn that was close)
Also!!! Has anybody bechmarked Mark's simulated production profiles against the real world wind production for example? I think I have never actually seen that. Does it only live on a computer.
ALSO!!! Mark uses 2% discount rate since we are supposed to have a long time horizon for ethics reasons. Absolutely agree!
Do I really think we should only built nuclear power plants? No of course not. Intention here was just to highlight the unnecessary costs and risks of the 100%RE fundamentalism.
...and why is it that food and land use are ignored? Those are major sources of emissions and big reason why I am a vegan. How can he claim to have addressed climate change without dealing with these? Is his ”model” adequate?
Hydrogen fuel cells etc. are apparently important, but why cannot I find costing for those? Aircraft...where are they? Mark used to talk about hydrogen powered aircraft if I remember correctly. Now these wonders are hidden somewhere? Where?
That PV lifetime of about 50 years? I wonder if that is needed so that optimization within WWS constraints doesn’t just lead to wind power only?
Pitty... Petty... Putty... Whatever
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