2023 Climate Solutions Symposium
Questions Answered by Panelists
Questions posed to Monty Alger
Wow, look at the emissions from Petroleum Product Suppliers - that doesn't include the end use? Answer: Yes, that includes scope 3 emissions for products supplied to the market. Details are available: https://ccdsupport.com/confluence/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=98598975
Why should students be interested in the sustainable energy corps? Answer: Most students are aware of climate change but aren’t directly involved. This provides an opportunity for students to learn about climate change, engage in evaluation and analysis of solutions. And to be prepared for internships and future jobs. This is a great way for them to take new ideas to the market place as well as learn about some of the current market challenges to that solutions can be designed.
If interested, how can people engage and learn more? Answer: The AIChE Institute for Learning and Innovation (ILI), www.aiche.org/ili is being developed to connect companies with students as a bridge from learning to workplace. The Sustainable Energy Corps is an initiative that is part of the ILI.
Questions posed to Joel Yu
There has been a lot of press about Virtual Power Plants? How do microgrids fit into the picture? Answer: DOE’s recent VPP Liftoff Report is helpful reading for those interested in VPPs. (Pathways to Commercial Liftoff: Virtual Power Plants (energy.gov)) Microgrids are contemplated as a significant VPP opportunity. In Enchanted Rock’s view, microgrids actually provide more value to the grid and to electric customers than traditional power plants or the VPPs that are intended to displace traditional generation. Microgrids provide additional flexibility and resiliency to grid operations that are not currently valued or compensated in wholesale markets or utility tariffs.
Why not solar? Are there non-emitting resources that can compete with natural gas microgrids for backup power or for flexible grid supply? Answer: If we are optimizing a system for resilience, solar and storage do not provide a significant benefit relative to the cost. If we roll in a parallel optimization goal to decarbonize at a local level v. reliance on decarbonized power via utility service at grid scale, then there is some amount of solar and storage that can pencil out. I would point attendees to NREL REopt tool (https://reopt.nrel.gov/) to try running various scenarios. Ultimately, outputs from the model that propose solar and storage may often not be technically feasible for an on-site deployment based on the land availability on the customer’s property. For a robust analysis on the opportunity to decarbonize resilience with alternatives to diesel backup generation, see the whitepaper we commissioned with the Brattle Group (https://enchantedrock.com/white-paper-decarbonized-resilience/).
What hurdles remain for broad adoption of microgrids in Texas? Answer: Enchanted Rock has been advocating for full access to ERCOT markets so that microgrids, currently rules only allow microgrids to participate around the margins. We have also been pushing for interconnection reform to allow microgrids and other distributed resources to connect and export to the grid in a timely and cost-effective manner. Resources currently interconnecting to the distribution grid face discriminatory cost allocation and technical requirements that unduly favor bulk-power connected generation.
Questions posed to Gene Preston
What capital / operating cost estimates do you use for nuclear? Answer: Nuclear capital costs are NREL estimates. Nuclear is $7440/kW. Links are in the spreadsheet https://egpreston.com/ERCOT22A.xlsx to data sources.
Isn't there a need to flatten the peak so that the issue of a cyclic effect of the rampant use of Power leads to increased temperatures in the future? Answer: The summer peak could be flattened with battery storage however its a waste of money because the battery would have to be charged up anyway with fossil energy before the peak of the day. One reason a lot of solar looks attractive is because it has an opportunity to charge up the battery instead of using gas energy. This can help lower the gas capacity needed. However its not as useful as you might think because storm Elliott requires as much gas capacity as during the summer peak and the solar is kaput in the winter for charging up the batteries. In the winter the gas peakers get to run at near full output for 24 hours continuous. The summer peak demand is easier to meet than the winter peak demand.
It seems like Natrium, with the molten salt storage, would be a good fit for industrial heat? Answer: The question about usefulness of nuclear heat is a good one however its another topic with not enough time to present at this symposium. If you want to see fantastic thermal storage look up models look on my web page https://egpreston.com for the 22C and 22C1 cases.
Demand side management isn't only about peaks, it is about total demand and flexibility. Answer: Demand management is already in the load data downloaded from ERCOT. Adding more load management would harm customers. Load management was not in the model per se but already in the input data.
What is the best solution going forward? Answer: The best solution going forward in ERCOT is the nuclear option I presented in my talk.
Why do you list climate change recognition as the most important item for the Texas government to acknowledge? Answer: If climate change is not recognized there is no reason to transition off fossil fuels if they can be obtained and used. Problem with the Texas Legislature is that even if they don't recognize climate change, others in the utility industry do such as insurance companies, financiers wanting a steady reliable revenue stream for decades on fossil plants, no threats of pending legislation etc. So even if the Legislature is blind to climate change the rest of the world isn't and it makes a difference.
Questions posed to Isuru Seneviratne
There have been many interesting ideas from the panelist thus far especially the one before the current presenter. However, how do all these ideas pan-out for the current global realities? For example, on 31 July 2023, the UK Prime Minister saw the need to approve more oil and gas production licences in the North Sea; and more recently, some of the climate change policies were delayed by the Prime Minister’s pronouncement citing affordability issues for consumers. Answer: To stop global warming, we need to curb the consumption of fossil hydrocarbons. Curbing the supply of hydrocarbons from any one area has a very marginal impact on demand. New York provides a great case in point: New York has a similar potential to Pennsylvania for unconventional gas. The state banned fracking on the premise that elevated gas prices would reduce demand. However, gas consumption has increased materially (gas use for electricity generation is up by a third). NY just buys the gas from PA.
Have any countries used nuclear to decarbonize without solar & wind? Could Texas follow their example? Answer: All the effective deep decarbonization examples evident today have been either in places with abundant hydro, or with nuclear.
Where are the prospects for uranium resources? Mining in the Southwest has a terrible legacy. I don't think uranium mining will be welcome back so Texas can continue to consume power the way it does. Answer: * 57% of the world's uranium extraction today is via in-situ-leach (https://world-nuclear.org/information-library/nuclear-fuel-cycle/mining-of-uranium/in-situ-leach-mining-of-uranium.aspx), a process that doesn't move any rocks or have tailings ponds. ISL uses a fluid pumped into isolated channels underground to dissolve uranium, and is pumped back to the surface. Once uranium is harvested, the solution is reused many times over. Vertical monitoring wells surround the horizontal pumping wells to ensure no environmental impact beyond the target extraction areas. * Reprocessing existing spent nuclear fuel could power future (fast neutron) reactors for decades to come. * There is great potential to extract uranium from seawater.
Questions posed to Dick Hutchinson
"Determine viability of many options" seems really important to do up front. Being honest and transparent is key. Can you imagine applying that to the hydrogen and CCS options? Transition Engineering has a wicked problem exercise to define the underlying issue causing the problem before trying to solve it. Answer: The GSOP will focus on determining what can practically be done (technically, economically, and socially/politically) to successfully overcome the global warming problem using both available options and options still in R&D. Understanding the problem before trying to solve it is critical. In the wicked-problem approach problem diagram, we focus on identifying the “problem elements” of a problem before coming up with “solution work units” to address the problem elements.
You presented an excellent program, but how will the resulting solutions and plans be implemented? Answer: Our approach is to build consensus from the bottom up. The Global Solutions Program will involve thousands of engineers, economists, social/political experts and other specialists working together around the world to develop national, regional and global solutions. Because the national plans must integrate and add up to successful global solutions, this collaborative effort will, by necessity, result in consensus building among the participants. The Outreach Program in each country will continuously exchange these results with people in States/Provinces, local communities and industries and obtain their feedback and ideas. Here again, consensus will be built over the 3-year program. We believe that this grass-roots consensus along with the international army of GSOP participants will constitute a political force that effectively demands action in their own self-interest.
How did you arrive at your estimate of $2.5 billion for GSOP-Global? Answer:
Our overall rational is that larger, industrial nations are the major CO2 contributors and have much work to do. And, these have larger engineering staffs needed to execute GSOP.
We ratioed regional Gross Domestic Products for Africa, North America, South America, Asia, Europe and Oceania to the US GDP and multiplied it times the US GSOP estimate of $390 million to arrive at regional GSOP estimates.
Estimates, particularly for Africa and S. America, and even Europe were too low for their populations and areas. So, we plussed these regions up to the US level of $390 million. We plussed up Oceania to 200 FTE professionals.
We then ratioed each country’s GDP to their region’s GDP to estimate country GSOP costs within each region.
This resulted in minimal staffing for some very small countries, often island countries. So, we set minimum staffing levels at 2 full-time engineers, 2 part-time economist, 2 part-time social/political expert and 4 part-time subject-matter experts per country, plus a minimum of $50,000 for administration.
Small nations may partner with larger neighbors or with other small nations. GSOP results will be shared among all nations. Thus, all nations can participate, contribute and benefit.
Questions posed to BJ Clark, LI-COR (Gold Sponsor)
What are some of the most challenging environments that LI-COR products are deployed in? Answer: LI-COR’s instruments are designed to provide data in the most challenging environments. We have instruments on ships crossing the oceans, instruments in the artic circle as well instruments in desert/arid climates. The robust design and builds allow our customers to go to about any place in the world to collect precise and accurate data.
How has Climate Change impacted LI-COR business over the years? Answer: LI-COR has seen an increase in desire to measure greenhouse gas emissions to help build an accurate picture of where the earth is heading in terms of Climate Change. LI-COR is seen as a leader in providing the instruments users can rely on when measuring greenhouse gases due to our in-house scientists who have actually used LI-COR instruments in real world applications.
Questions posed to Benton Arnett, The Nuclear Energy Institute (Gold Sponsor)
Nuclear energy is seeing renewed interest from a wide variety of customers. In your experience, what is driving these new customers to nuclear energy? Answer: There are three main drivers for new customers looking to nuclear energy, in no particular order. The first is reliability. Nuclear is second to none in capacity factor, operating at over 90% capacity, which means that it’s nearly always on. For many industrial customers, loss of power can cost hundreds or millions to billions or dollars, so there is a premium in those industries on reliability. The second is climate change. Nuclear is the largest producer of carbon-free power in the U.S. and recognized by climate scientists as a key to combating climate change. The IPCC found that global investments in nuclear energy will need to reach $100 billion per year until 2050 to meet our climate targets. The final driver I want to touch on is the ability to provide direct process heat. Petrochemical companies, like Dow, have recognized that advanced reactors are uniquely positioned to decarbonize their large operations. Industries relying on process heat have few options for power and most are currently powered by fossil fuel. Using the high outlet temperatures possible in advanced reactor designs, these industries now have a reliable option to meet their process heat needs while shifting away from carbon intensive energy technologies.