Setting up a debate with Mr. Coal

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By Eddie O’Connor

MR. Bienvenido S. Oplas, Jr. writes in his Oct. 10 column, “Corrupted science to justify renewables cronyism,” “if wind-solar are indeed that cheap, then will the lobby agree to (a) abolish the priority and mandatory dispatch of wind-solar to the grid, and (b) abolish the feed-in-tariff (FIT) scheme of guaranteed high price for wind-solar, other variable REs for 20 years?”

Of course, the developers of wind and solar agree to abolish mandatory dispatch. So long as the system dispatchers continue with the practice of dispatching the next batch of electricity at the lowest marginal price, wind and solar will always be dispatched first. The marginal price of wind and solar is zero. Every system dispatcher in the world dispatches the lowest marginal cost first. Remember that once plants are built every marginal unit of coal costs circa $3.5+ cents depending on efficiency. A unit of electricity from a wind and solar plant, once built, costs 0.

Regarding abolishing the feed-in-tariff. It is not hard to agree to this, as it is already abolished. Thank God. Now perhaps we will get a chance to compete head to head with dirty coal. We can then do what has been done in South Africa, Chile, Mexico, and everywhere auctions are run and hammer coal into oblivion.

Mr. Oplas seems to be unaware that in an experiment conducted in the Royal Institution in London in 1861, the great Irish scientist, John Tyndell, passed radiation through a series of gases and observed that CO2 CH4 and H2O, absorbed radiation while oxygen and nitrogen did not. This experiment is easy to replicate, and any university to which Mr. Oplas has access, can replicate it.

I apologize to non-technical readers for the following but it is the real science which has driven the world to sign the Paris accord.




All radiation is quantized. These quanta, or packages of solar radiation, only interact with certain molecules, whose electrons can be jumped to a more energetic orbital. They then fall back releasing an increment of heat.

The chart here shows the heat buildup due to the absorption of radiation by greenhouse gases (see chart).

heat content
The slope of the global heat accumulation graph tells us how rapidly the Earth’s climate is building up heat. Over the past decade, the rate is 8 x 1021 Joules per year, or 2.5 x 1014 Joules per second. The yield of the Hiroshima atomic bomb was 6.3 x 1013 Joules, hence the rate of global heat accumulation is equivalent to about 4 Hiroshima bomb detonations per second.

The data comes from peer-reviewed research (Church et al. 2011) and has also been confirmed by more recent research (i.e. Balmaseda et al. 2013).

The slope of the global heat accumulation graph tells us how rapidly the Earth’s climate is building up heat. Over the past decade, the rate is 8 x 1021 Joules per year, or 2.5 x 1014 Joules per second. The yield of the Hiroshima atomic bomb was 6.3 x 1013 Joules, hence the rate of global heat accumulation is equivalent to about 4 Hiroshima bomb detonations per second. That’s nearly 2.7 billion atomic bomb detonations worth of heat accumulating in the Earth’s climate system since 1998, when we’re told global warming supposedly “paused.” That has to be the worst pause ever.

Again let me reiterate. I am alarmed, indeed, devastated by the disappearance of some 60% of species by 2020 due to global warming. I am similarly saddened to observe that even if we can limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees we lose 90% of all the corals in the oceans.

There were those who persisted in believing that the earth was flat for hundreds of years after it was demonstrated by Ferdinand Magellan to be round. I am afraid that Mr. Oplas is a latter day flat earther for denying climate science. Delighted to debate on my next visit in May 2019.

 

Eddie O’Connor is chairman of global renewable energy company Mainstream Renewable Power.