Does Wind Power Create Greenhouse Gases

Joseph asks…

What evidence is there that significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions will cripple the economy?

A common argument we see against addressing global warming is that reducing our greenhouse gas emissions significantly will cost way too much and cripple our economy.

But according to the IPCC, “Bottom-up studies suggest that mitigation opportunities with net negative costs have the potential to reduce emissions by around 6 GtCO2-eq/yr in 2030, realising which requires dealing with implementation barriers.”

That’s a 20% decrease in worldwide emissions, and we save money in the process!

“Both bottom-up and top-down studies indicate that there is high agreement and much evidence of substantial economic potential for the mitigation of global GHG emissions over the coming decades that could offset the projected growth of global emissions or reduce emissions below current levels”

“In 2050, global average macro-economic costs for mitigation towards stabilisation between 710 and 445ppm CO2-eq are between a 1% gain and 5.5% decrease of global GDP (Table SPM.7). This corresponds to slowing average annual global GDP growth by less than 0.12 percentage points.”

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So clearly the IPCC thinks we can significantly reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions with little impact on global economies. So where’s the evidence that they’re wrong?

Windmill Farms answers:

There is no such evidence (just like there is no real evidence “against” global warming).

But the IPCC is flat wrong, nevertheless. Their model asumes an essentially stacic technology component. Everything pooints to the exact opposite. That break s down into two economic effects–one direct, the other indirect.

Investment in new technology that either produces clean energy cost-effectively (as wind power already does) or cuts fossil fuel conumption will create new jobs as the companies producing those products expand. That means improved buiness, more jobs means more consumer spending and increased tax revenues. All promote economic growth.

Expensive? Sure.But the expense is in the form of investment-and that returns a profit. The iPCC model treats the expense simply as a cost.

From an economic perspective, significantly cutting energy costs leaves more money in consumers pockets (ultimately we are talking hundreds of billions of dollars annually. That money will then go to buying other goods and services, stimulationg economic growth and also creating jobs.

The IPCC model is correct as far as it goes. But we are entering a technological shift–and they do not take that into account. Historically, EVERY time a major technology shift takes place (and this is going to be one fof the biggest of all time) you get a surge of economic growth as a reslt. That has happened with every major technology.

Daniel asks…

What would happen positively if natural gas was decreased?

would this be correct? Natural gas is a byproduct of petroleum so by decreasing petroleum, natural gas is also decreased.

Windmill Farms answers:

No, natural gas is not really a byproduct of petroleum, but sometimes it is a coproduct. In some geologic systems organic material is converted directly to natural gas, either by thermogenic processes (heat) or more often by biological processes. Considerable amounts of natural gas in shallower reservoirs is produced by bacteria. Those bacteria have no role in making oil. Even in deeper natural gas reservoirs, there are many that contain only natural gas. In the past natural gas was considered a byproduct of petroleum as many petroleum reservoirs have gas caps or associated gas, but most gas producers today deliberately drill for natural gas or what is known as natural gas liquids, which includes ethane, propane, butane, and pentane. There are still places in the world where natural gas is considered a waste product and is burnt at the wellsite, such as northern Russia (which is the brightest spot in the night sky), but most oil producers capture the natural gas and either sell it or reinject it into the reservoir in order to enhance production of oil.

In the thermogenic process of creating oil known as catagenesis, at higher temperatures oil is broken down into natural gas, and at even higher temperatures the natural gas is converted to graphite.

Using less petroleum, or even producing less petroleum on a world scale generally implies the greater use of natural gas. Even the adaptation of solar and wind power will require more use of natural gas. Electric utilities openly state that they have to build power plants with generation capacities equal to any amount of solar or wind power on their grid because they must have a way to quickly replace the power generated by the solar and wind energy when it stops generating, as it does frequently. Natural gas fired power plants are the only type that can quickly fire up and begin generating to help this peaking demand. If anything, the less petroleum we use, the more natural gas that will be needed to replace it.

Natural gas usage also has environmental benefits. It releases less carbon per therm of energy than any other type of hydrocarbon fuel, including biofuels like ethanol which actually require natural gas in their manufacturing process. Using natural gas to replace gasoline, heating oil, diesel fuel, ethanol, biodiesel, coal, petroleum coke, and other hydrocarbons will reduce the amount of carbon being put into the atmosphere.

Methane is a greenhouse gas that has about an eight year half-life. It doesn’t stay in the atmosphere for long before it is broken down. However, the major sources of natural gas in the atmosphere are biological, and not related to natural gas production. Cows, sheep, goats, and other animals emit the most methane into our atmosphere. Methane is also produced in the soil by soil organisms, and some of this escapes into the atmosphere. Methane also seeps upward constantly from oil and gas reservoirs through natural pathways, and in places like the California coastline the sea can bubble vigorously over the large methane seeps like those offshore Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. In one place offshore Santa Barbara an oil company actually lowered a metal structure over a natural seep and now captures that methane for commercial use so it is no longer emitted into the atmosphere.

Maria asks…

What is a popular view point on Nuclear Energy?

Just wondering what a popular viewpoint was on Nuclear energy??? Whats your viewpoint on it?

Windmill Farms answers:

Every energy source has problems and advantages associated with it. Nuclear plants don’t require oil or coal or gas, don’t create greenhouse gases, and can generate power regardless of wind and sun availability. Modern designs are much safer than the Chernobyl one, and the only technical issue is waster storage. That can be managed with buried, protected sites.

An even better nuclear source would be fusion reactors, but technical problems for the high temperatures needed have not yet been solved.

Mark asks…

What do environmentalists want?

nuclear power creates nuclear waste.
coal power creates greenhouse gas emissions and open mines.
wind turbines kill low flying birds.
hydroelectric impedes the migration of certain species of fish.
petroleum creates greenhouse gas emissions
these are the big 5, environmentalists wine about them all.
what is the environmentalist solution for energy?
(please, do not tell me SOLAR, i live in the Northwest and Mr. Sun doesn’t like to come out and play during the winter.)

Windmill Farms answers:

I grew up in the NW…ever notice that it’s REALLY green there? That’s because of sunlight and (enormous amounts of) rain. Solar permeates through the clouds or you (and all the other Starbucks sippin’ treehuggers) would be dead.

Carol asks…

Why has a Nuclear Power plant not been built in almost 30 years?

Especially since it is the safest, most efficient, cheapest, and cleanest technology available? No one has ever died from a Nuclear Power Plant…….hundreds are killed each year mining for polluting coal mines.

No how many people died on 3 mile island…….NONE. Most people think Nuclear is dangerous because they are ignorant to the facts.
Actually Chernobyl killed 56 people. But you thought…thousands. And this was due to a bankrupt country that did not care about safety. US has had …..NO deaths. But hundreds every year mining coal or drilling for oil.

Over 50,000 people die a year in car accidents….there is an adherant risk in everything. But no one is banning cars.
The waste goes will go to Yucca Mountain. Very safe. Even transporting nuclear waste is as close to fool proof statistically as anything your mind can understand.

TheChin…..Your absolutely incorrect. Here are some facts for you to enjoy.

Windmill Farms answers:

The answer(s) are complex but it boils (pardon the puns) down to fear of radiation. The public has no sense of proportion when it comes to radiation (not detectable by the senses, scientific stuff, can cause cancer, etc). Of course everyone has much more radioactivity coming from them (potassium-40′s gamma rays) than they will absorb from nuclear power.

There are two types of waste being produced in nuclear power plants: low-level short half-life and the longer lived stuff. The short half-life waste has about a 30 year (maximum) half-life. In 30 years half of it will be gone. So in 210 years, we will have less that 1% remaining. Most of the waste is this sort and most of it really is shorter lived.

The second type is found in the fuel rods. The nuclides in it are very long lived, thousands of years, and dominated by Plutonium and Americium. A terrorist could not 1) just use the plutonium to make a bomb — it takes lots of careful chemistry to sort that out without being killed from the dose rate, or 2) just drive up to the storage facility to get it. Nuclear plants have enormous and well-trained security forces. Hey, where do you think veterans are finding employment?

The long-term waste can be handled in a few ways: the best is to purify the plutonium and use it in the reactors again. The next best is to just embed it in glass and bury it underground. Both are doable.

Nuclear power plants do not create the greenhouse gases that burning fossil fuel does. It does not kill tremendous amounts of migrating birds like windmills do (and the wind does not blow that strongly often enough – go to see a windfarm sometime). It does not release sulfur, arsenic, and radon like geothermal plants (and few places are good for geothermal). It does not have the enormous impact on the shoreline like a tidal powered station. It does not have the high cost and toxic byproducts like solar electric.

Those of you who want hydrogen, how are you going to get it? You need electricity to split the water. Electrcity has to come from somewhere.

Fortunately, a few new plants are being sited around the US. I hope some of the younger folks are preparing for a career in nuclear power. The average age of the workforce is now around 50. We will especially need those who can safeguard the environment from radiation and chemistry pollution.

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