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Energy greed is good!

Greed is a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (such as money) than is needed.

Fear is an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.

These are the animal spirits Keynes identified in his 1936 treatise The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money that profoundly affect economies and markets.

Expenditures on energy in 2011 totaled over 6 trillion USD or about 10% of the world gross domestic product. Meeting the world’s energy supply needs by 2035 will require $40 trillion of investment according to the International Energy Agency, and the World Bank estimates that investments of more than $90 trillion will be needed over the next 15 years to enable the switch to a low-carbon future that would let the world stay within the internationally-agreed limit of a 2°C rise in global temperatures.

The anticipation or awareness of the danger associated with people being burned alive in their homes and vehicles and being drowned in homes that have been inundated by storm surge should be motivation enough for rational people to do the right thing about climate change but, apparently, it isn’t.

That being the case, and as the science indicates, we need to start getting greedy about global warming.

Global warming is trapped solar energy.

The atmosphere and ocean are coupled but closed systems.

The atmosphere is trapping heat in greenhouse gases and in turn the accumulating heat is going into the ocean, and there is a lot of it.

The revised estimate of the Resplandy et al. paper, Quantification of ocean heat uptake from changes in atmospheric O2  and CO2 composition  shows ocean heat content is mounting at a rate of 1.21 ± 0.72 x 1022 Joules/year, which is 380 terawatts or about 21 times the 18 terawatts of primary energy that is currently being consumed annually around the planet.

Heat and work are two different sides of the same coin. Heat is the transfer of thermal energy between systems, while work is the transfer of mechanical energy between systems.

Heat is being created by global warming but to produce work, which greedy people like this writer demand, the heat has to be moved from its source through a heat engine and into the cold reservoir of the ocean abyss.  

Historically, Nature’s heat engine moves heat from the equator to the poles where it is dissipated into space, but that mechanism is no longer dissipating enough heat to maintain planetary equilibrium. The result is the North Pole is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet and the deepest waters of the Southern Ocean are also warming faster than anywhere else as witness the following NOAA graphic.  

   

To maximize the amount of energy that can be derived from 380 terawatts of global warming heat while receiving the maximum climate benefit, it is necessary to use the greatest difference in temperature between the ocean surface and the deep water at a temperature of 4°C.

As the following graphic shows, the coefficient of thermal expansion of seawater decreases to a depth of 1000 meters, where the temperature is 4°C, and increases as the depth increases and the temperature decreases.

 

As the following diagram by A.L. Gordon, Columbia University the temperature of ocean bottom waters range at the equator between O and -1°C. 

Moving heat below 1000 meters gains you nothing in terms of sea level rise nor anything in thermodynamic efficiency considering the extra energy required to move the heat to an average ocean depth of 3,688 meters and then pumping a condensed working fluid back to the surface.

The minimum surface temperature required to produce a hurricane, and conversely the best conditions for anthropogenic cooling and the conversion of global warming to productive energy, is 26oC.

The Smithsonian lists the average, annual, number and location of the Earth’s major cyclonic events as follows:

Carnot efficiency for a temperature differential of 26oC and 4oC is 1-(277/299) or 7.3% and for a temperature between 26o C and -1o C it would be 9%.

The parasitic pumping losses incurred in lifting a condensed working fluid from 3,688 back to 1000 meters, however, wipes out the efficiency that would be gained by moving the heat deeper than 1000 meters.

Melvin Prueitt, a Los Alamos physicist, in his 2007 patent application calculated the net thermodynamic efficiency of a heat pipe OTEC system at 7.6%. Mainly because the temperature of a column of vapor 1000 meters long increases about 5o C under the influence of gravity.

The Carnot efficiency of the system is 1-(277/304) or 8.9%, minus 1.3% for pumping leaves his calculated net efficiency.   

Accumulating 380 terawatts of heat in the ocean times 7.6% amounts to 28.8 terawatts, or twice the primary energy currently being derived from fossil fuels.       

Leading climate researchers claim, the only reason why ocean heat uptake has any impact on the climate is the fact the heat is highly concentrated at the surface, where the warming is therefore noticeable.

Isn’t that reason enough for moving the heat away from the surface?

Manmade heat pipes can accomplish this.

Whatever effects the atmosphere with respect to global warming effects the oceans, therefore, 1000 meters deep at the equator is the safest place for the heat of global warming. The heat would remain below the surface for about 250 years after which it can be recycled for as long as it takes for all of it to be converted to productive energy.

The environmental benefits that accrue from the movement of ocean heat off the surface are: sea level mitigation, both due to thermal expansion limitation and ice melt reduction, and reduced desertification, forest fires, tropical storms and storm surge.

In the movie Wall Street, Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko said, "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind."

Gordon Gekko was a piker. He claimed, in his last seven deals there were 2.5 million stockholders who made a pre-tax profit of 12 billion dollars, which is small potatoes compared to the $90 trillion the World Bank is seeking over the next 15 years to mitigate the climate and power the planet.

In his Terawatt Challenge, Richard Smalley said, “to give all 10 billion people on the planet the level of energy prosperity we in the developed world are used to,  a couple of  kilowatt-hours  per person, we would need to generate 60 terawatts around the planet—the  equivalent  of  900 million barrels of oil per day.”

If greed is the desire for something more than is needed, a call for 28.8 terawatts, therefore, makes this writer a piker also, but perhaps not greedy.   

As has shown here and elsewhere 28.8 terawatts can be had for between $30 and $50 trillion by 2050 while avoiding $5 trillion in annual environmental costs that would amount to $160 trillion.  

For all the patient, ethical, investors out there, a 28.8-terawatt challenge is open to all comers.

Mankind is desperately in need of a major upward surge and global warming is the challenge and opportunity of our century.

 

Jim Baird's picture

Thank Jim for the Post!

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Recent Comments

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on November 20, 2018

Jim, the combined wealth of everyone in the world is $241 trillion. In simplistic terms, let's assume 28.8 TW can be had for $40 trillion. Let's assume everyone in the world was willing to part with 1/6 of everything they own - right now - to roll the dice on OTC in hopes of avoiding future costs of global warming.

Stop right there - it's a ridiculous assumption to begin with, especially for an untested, unproven technology which might never pan out (finding "patient, ethical investors" might be the biggest challenge of all).

Your first step is to persuade a foundation or a billionaire like Tom Steyer to pony up $1 billion or so for a prototype. If you can't get it past that stage, it will never, ever happen - time to move on with more practical solutions.

Jim Baird's picture
Jim Baird on November 20, 2018

Bob, Insanity Is Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again and Expecting Different Results.

The $241 trillion wasn't accumulated by putting the first dollar in a bank and waiting for it to grow on its accord. 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on November 20, 2018

Jim, true - if we invested $1 billion, we'd only need growth by a factor of 40,000, over 32 years, to reach your 2050 goal.

How do you suggest we secure the first $1 billion with miserable odds like that?

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