Archive for April, 2011

0.83*AMO + 0.44*PDO = NHT

April 27, 2011

Wyatt et al.  published an interesting paper which shows in essence that natural oscillations define the North Hemisphere Temperature (NHT): no need to look for CO2 or other AGHG, natural variability is the Occam razor. See poster here.

North Hemisphere Temperature = blue curve. 0.83*AMO+0.44*PDO = red broken lcurve; both are nearly identical!

Joseph d’Aleo and Don Easterbrook did the same for US temperatures in a paper published Sep. 2010 in Energy & Environnement:

So we now have 2 independent papers, each covering a different region of the globe, and each coming to the same conclusion: temperature is driven by oceanic oscillations (which may themselves represent the influence of changing cloud cover and solar activity).

French shale gas

April 23, 2011

As many other “old Europe” countries, opposition to shale gas exploration (exploration,exploitation is not even insight for the moment)  becomes hysterical in France. The single source of “information” seems to be the “Gasland” movie, especially the moment where a guy holds a cigarette lighter below the tap, and a flame burst out of it. Nobody seems to make a single look to the arguments of the other side, as for instance Energy in Depth, the website of the small US gaz producers.
The french newspaper “Le Figaro” has a welcome editorial titled “Lâcheté” (cowardice). The original French text is here; I made a quick translation which follows:



Yves Thréard

Le Figaro, 23-24 April 2011 (translation: Francis Massen)

There may be good reasons to fear the pollution of the atmosphere, but certainly one should equally be afraid of the pollution of the brains. The explosive polemics kindled by the opponents to shale gaz are telling of this state of affairs.

“France has no oil, but she has ideas” was the slogan of the 70’s. At least at that time there was hope, even if tempered by some insouciance. Today, this is not the case anymore. Ecologism, the fundamentalist deviation of ecology, has fouled ambient air. Fear reigns everywhere: from taking risk, to innovation and progress. One should not be astonished to see the French depressed, pessimists and defeatists!

Our country’s underground seems to hold billions of cubic meters of shale gaz. A quantity corresponding to one century of gas consumption, and as such representing potential considerable economies for the public finances. The gigantic energy needs make this manna so appreciable.

These are in summary the conclusions of a report delivered this week to the government. The authors show both the advantages and the inconveniences of this new energy resource, and they stress that it would be silly not to use it. Their statement makes heavy riddles in the ecology-correct waters. But it is not sure at all that the report will have any effect. France being the country of the holy grail of the precautionary principle, irrationality pairs up with pusillanimity. The debate over shale gaz, similar to that on photovoltaic’s, has been made in opposition to common sense, in an incoherent way and without really informing the public. This was enough to wake up the bigots of negative growth and the adepts of the oil lamp. The media reported in a benevolent manner, and didn’t stop to repeat the catastrophic example of the USA with plenty of shock images.

The next election being in one year, the whole shale gaz case seems to become closed. With the blessing of the government, a proposition of law seeking to forbid any exploration and exploitation will be examined as an urgent matter the coming 10th May.

GMO’s, shale gas …. France does not stop to yield to the obscurantism of the merchants of ecologism.. This is regrettable and cowardly.


The official website presenting the shale gas/oil problem is here , the preliminary abstract of the report is here (in French).

There will be no climate wars

April 22, 2011

We all are used to a deluge of catastrophic articles predicting millions of climate refugees (like that 2007 UN report that misfired spectacularly) and climate wars triggered by climate change. So it comes as a welcome surprise to read in today’s “LE FIGARO”, which is the largest French conservative newspaper, a refreshing article “Il n’y aura pas de guerres climatiques”. The author is Bruno Tertrais, a researcher of the Foundation for Strategic Research. He also has written a recent book “L’Apocalypse n’est pas pour demain” (apocalypse will not happen tomorrow), published in March 2011.

The text of his “Le Figaro” article is here (in French)

Energy storage for intermittent producers

April 21, 2011

Renewable energy sources like wind and solar are intermittent, and can not deliver the mandatory base load electrical power without any storage solutions. POWER news has an interesting article “Energy Storage Enables Just-in-Time Generation” which covers  in a non technical manner several storage possibilities.

Very telling is a figure showing the various energy sources from PSCo (Colorado) at a certain day, and the problems caused by “excessive” wind power at a time of the day when it is not needed:

The red curve shows the difference between Supply and Demand:  ideally it should be flat zero! Being able to store excessive wind (or solar) produced electricity gets more and more urgent. The absence of affordable storage possibilities is the biggest obstacle in implementing a larger share of these energy sources.

The POWER news report presents half a dozen storage techniques, some well known, and some very interesting. Absent is the Redox flow battery, which was much hyped a couple of years ago as THE solution for wind energy storage (see here).

I like the simplicity of the Isentropic PHES System, which is simply two vast tanks filled with gravel: one will be heated by compressed argon up to 5oo°C, the other cooled down to -150°C. The temperature gradient will drive a heatpump-generator combination to generate energy;  during storage the generator works like an electrical motor and the heat-pump as a compressor:

According to an interview with the director of Isentropic,  such an assembly could deliver the same storage capabilty as a pumped storage reservoir requiring 300 more land area.

I remember well that using rocks to store heat from thermal solar collectors was fashionable in Sweden, up to the moment where the inhabitants became aware that these granite rocks delivered large quantities of radon gas too!

Another somewhat “sexy” system uses a 500m deep, 6m large bore-hole containing water and a large weight, which will push up the water into a turbine to produce electricity;  for storage the turbine reverses as a pump (more here).

Whereas the price of a pumped storage installation is given as 100 $/KWh, those of the Isentropic sytem are said as low as 10 to 50 $/kWh; Power Gravity’s system should be about 150 $/kWh.

Here in Luxembourg the SEO is augmenting its pumping storage reservoir by adding an 11th  turbine rated 200 MW. Estimated cost is 150 million Euro (about 210 million US$), for a working time of about 4 hours, delivering 0.8*200*4 = 640 MWh per cycle (0.8  is the overall efficiency, slightly better of that of the solutions presented above): this would amount to approx.  328 $/kWh,  so I am somewhat dubious on the costs given above. Anyway, as space is at premium in most European countries, small footprint storage solutions will probably be the only way to go to make wind and solar electricity more reliable and acceptable.