Monday, September 17, 2012

The bridge we need? Fracking depends on context.



Whether fracking for gas really is a bridge to reduced greenhouse emissions depends on context - does gas replace coal, or not?

That may seem too obvious to be worth discussing, but it's helpful to me as a matter of geography and chronology, especially chronology.  The reason for time being important depends on whether you accept that the long-term trend of significant decline in solar power costs, faster than efficiency for coal, will continue in the future and reach grid parity.  Similar evidence for wind, if not quite as dramatic.  I'm mostly buying these arguments.

On the geographic scale of the middle and eastern US, fracking has clearly replaced coal, and seems beneficial from a climate perspective (ignoring the other environmental issues).  In the western half of the US and much of western Europe, coal is much less important a power source, and gas from fracking seems more competitive with low emission energy.  When you add the chronological aspect that fracking will take 5-15 years to really develop, the same time period when renewables are approaching grid parity, then the argument for its development seems a lot shakier.

Exporting gas from the US will also take a decade or more, so again from a climate perspective, that only makes sense if the exports replace reliance on coal.  Maybe in China, India, and other developing markets, the climate would be better off if they had more gas.  Exports to Europe would be bad, I think. Not sure where the gas is really anticipated to go.

Fracking is an emerging issue here in California, where we have very little coal use to displace.  And even more locally in Santa Clara County, we've got lots of shale, where we've stored in underground aquifers a year's worth of drinking water for 1.8 million people.

46 comments:

Jay said...

Shifting from coal to gas would be an obvious early step - and one that the big EU economies have had some success with. UK, Germany & Co. have been able to cut emissions by 20% or so since Kyoto that way (with conventional ng).

But...

1. Anyone know what the carbon intensity of fractured gas is? I don't, and I've tried looking.

2. Last I looked (a week or two ago) US gas prices had shot up 70% after a barmy air conditioned summer and those dual fired plants that had switched were expected to switch back to coal. US NG has been cheap because the gas market was depressed by a lack of storage capacity - I don't think anyone knows yet (or is telling) what fractured gas might do to prices in a functioning market.

Traditionally shale oil and gas has been seen as scrabbling around in the dirt because the EROI has been marginal. That's what you need to work out to know whether or not it can be part of a good energy policy.

TheTracker said...

"On the geographic scale of the middle and eastern US, fracking has clearly replaced coal, and seems beneficial from a climate perspective (ignoring the other environmental issues)."

On timescales of greater than a couple hundred years, sure. In the shorter term, it depends on who you read. You have less CO2 but also more methane and less aerosols. So on a twenty-year timescale, shale gas seems to offer accelerated warming relative to coal. Most of the studies I found but the break-even point somewhere between twenty and a hundred and twenty years:

http://theidiottracker.blogspot.com/2012/09/bottom-line-does-switching-from-coal-to.html

TheTracker said...

"Anyone know what the carbon intensity of fractured gas is? I don't, and I've tried looking."

Debatable. The link above has about a half-a-dozen studies with estimates.

EliRabett said...

One of the hidden gottchas here is that mining coal releases a hell of a lot of methane and other hydrocarbon gases (why you think those damn mines blow up bucky?). With fracking the problem is that the process also releases a lot of gas that is not captured.

Turboblocke said...

If you build gas powered generating plant then you are locking in emissions for the lifetime of the plant. You're also gambling that gas will remain cheaper than renewables for the lifetime of that plant. That seems like a risky bet to me on a level playing field, so what do the people pushing for gas know that we don't know?

Anonymous said...

Dr. Lumpus Spookytooth, phd.

With the massive gains in ice in Antarctica, quite frannkly we need every state possible burning as many fossil fuels as possible, before everything freezes over.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Lumpus Spunkydrawers has arrived:

Stupid clean up, aisle 3.

Stupid clean up, aisle 3.

Jeffrey Davis said...

"With the massive gains in ice in Antarctica ..."

I just downloaded the data. What massive gains are you talking about?

Anonymous said...

Dr. Lumpus Spookytooth, phd.

@jeffrey davis


looks like you must have downloaded the wrong data. Real climate tends to present false information.

http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/timeseries.south.anom.1979-2008

david lewis said...

Howarth says he took into account what is known about methane leaking from coal mining when he came up with his study which found that the net climate effect of using gas is a lot worse than what a lot of people had been assuming, i.e. the methane leaks from mining, processing and using gas are a lot worse than the methane leakage from coal processing.

The thing is, what can be done about leaking methane? A lot, but.

A lot can be done. Eg. as shown by this graphic taken from page 15 GAO-11-34 "Opportunities Exist to Capture Vented and Flared Natural Gas, Which Would Increase Royalty Payments and Reduce Greenhouse Gases". GAO compiled existing data on oil and gas operations subject to federal royalty payments in the US. The GAO graphic shows methane leaks are far lower in the San Juan Basin, which happens to be controlled by BP. And BP happens to have a policy to reduce these emissions, because around when the Kyoto Protocol was signed, BP threw in the towel on the climate science denial campaign and its CEO issued instructions to the company to look like they were doing something. (Read Challenged by Carbon, by Lovell)

But. BP has been making money controlling methane leaks in the US, duh, because they can sell the methane. Why don't the other companies stop their leaks? They'd rather invest new capital finding more fossil fuel. Food for thought, for those who might otherwise think putting a price on carbon would be enough to stabilize the composition of the atmosphere, if there are any who think that. Revkin wrote a column discussing this, back when I could stand reading him.

One thing that comes to my mind repeatedly when I see discussion such as Brian's blog post here, which describes the issue as renewables vrs fossil fuels, is how did radioactivity from nuke power come to be perceived as so dangerous while radioactivity from any other source, such as from radioactive shale gas for instance, is ignored?

Does anyone care that the US shale gas deposits are the same formations that were identified after WWII as the largest body of uranium ore that existed in the US? That gas extracted from these deposits is radioactive and exposes consumers to far more radioactivity than the total exposure they'd get if they used nuke generated electricity? I wrote a post on this a while ago.

Caldeira and Myhrvold's study concluded that if you actually want a substantial effect you've got to go with conservation, nukes, and renewables and forget further development of fossil sources.

TheTracker said...

Howarth says he took into account what is known about methane leaking from coal mining when he came up with his study which found that the net climate effect of using gas is a lot worse than what a lot of people had been assuming, i.e. the methane leaks from mining, processing and using gas are a lot worse than the methane leakage from coal processing.

Howarth makes some pretty pessimistic assumptions. Fossil fuel funded studies make optimistic ones. Most of the others come down somewhere in the middle: the break-even point for natgas is out there, but it's at least several decades away.

Food for thought, for those who might otherwise think putting a price on carbon would be enough to stabilize the composition of the atmosphere, if there are any who think that.

Que? Last time I checked methane had carbon in it. A carbon price should include a methane price based on its global warming potential and sampled leak/loss rates.

One thing that comes to my mind repeatedly when I see discussion such as Brian's blog post here, which describes the issue as renewables vrs fossil fuels, is how did radioactivity from nuke power come to be perceived as so dangerous while radioactivity from any other source, such as from radioactive shale gas for instance, is ignored?


I go back and forth on which is more asinine; greens that hate on nukes, or nuke promoters who hate on renewables (like the BNC boys). The enemy of the enemy is my friend. Fossil fuel power is the enemy. The alternatives ought to quit bickering with each other and concentrate on getting to a world with more low carbon energy of every kind and description.

J Bowers said...

"With the massive gains in ice in Antarctica, quite frannkly we need every state possible burning as many fossil fuels as possible, before everything freezes over."

#nobber

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Lumpus Spunkydrawers, Yup, we will only have to wait 230 years for the minimum sea ice extent in the SH to double or >1000 years for the maximum to double

...if current trends hold...

...which they won't...

Would you like some mustard with your red herrings?

Jeffrey Davis said...


I guess you didn't notice that there hadn't been a big gain in Antarctic ice.

Current: 15.0818291
2011: 15.0916395

Now, what the hell were you talking about?

Jim Eager said...

Jeffery, we have to give credit where credit is due. Lumpy, just discovered the annual cycle of winter verses summer ice coverage in Antarctica.

Stupid clean up in aisle 3 indeed.

Anonymous said...

OT, but PBS has gone completely Faux Noise on us. Pro-science folks are encouraged to wield their brickbats (cordially and civilly) in the comments section.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2012/09/why-the-global-warming-crowd-oversells-its-message.html

David B. Benson said...

Unfortuantely it ain't so simple as merely calcualting the LCOE of solar PV, wind turbines and nuclear power plants (NPPs). First and foremost the different characteristics of the generators must be taken into account when adding/replacing in an existing power grid. Second, the exact wording of the laws and regulations governing the activities of the grid operators as the electicity utilities are highly regualted 'natural' monopolies. Third, the disparity between wholesale and retail prices for electricity.

A few wheat ranchers around here have their own wind turbine but most people have to be content with the decision to install solar PV. Given the retail prices in some sunny regions doing so makes sen$e and some governments require what is called a feed-in tariff for the unused portion of the power gnerated. That will work up to about 30% on the instantaeous demand. Above 30% utilties will probably have to curtain it to maintain grid stability and reliability.

Of course there is no power from the turbines when the wind does not blow and nothing from the solar PV when the sun does not shine. Since storage is too expensive, even pumped hydro usually, that means there has to be a reserve to meet the demand when to so-called renewables cannot deliver. New NPPs can be used in that role to a certain extent, but cannot throttle back further than about 30% power level and the operators would prefer not to go below 60% power level.

Miguelito said...

The Howarth study certainly gets alot of airplay in the media and on environmental websites. Unfortunately, what's been largely ignored since is the deluge of peer-reviewed studies demonstrating the original conclusion about natural gas was likely the correct one, that using natural gas, including shale gas, for power generation results in about 40 to 50% fewer GHG emissions than coal, including methane "leakage".

Jiang et al. 2011. Life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of Marcellus shale gas. Environmental Research Letters. (Funded by Sierra Club).

Venkatesh et al. 2012, Uncertainty in Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions from United States Coal. Energy & Fuels.

Venkatesh et al. 2011. Uncertainty in Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions from United States Natural Gas End-Uses and its Effects on Policy. Environmental Science & Technology.

Cathles, 2012. Assessing the greenhouse impact of natural gas. Geochemistry, Geophysics, and Geosystems.

Weber and Clavin, 2012. Life Cycle Carbon Footprint of Shale Gas: Review of Evidence and Implications. Environmental Science & Technology.

Alvarez et al. 2012. Greater focus needed on methane leakage from natural gas infrastructure. PNAS.

Hultman et al. 2011. The greenhouse impact of unconventional gas for electricity generation. Environmental Research Letters.

Stephenson et al. 2011. Modeling the Relative GHG Emissions of Conventional and Shale Gas Production. Environmental Science & Technology. (Shell study)

Burnham et al. 2012. Life-Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Shale Gas, Natural Gas, Coal, and Petroleum. Environmental Science & Technology.

In fact, it appears there's little difference between conventional gas and shale gas and that the Howarth study is an outlier that relies on inflated methane leakage and a 20-year GWP (not to mention focusing on pre-power generation and not post-power generation emissions) to condemn shale gas as worse than coal.

The only study supporting Howarth is Wigley 2011 (Coal to gas: the influence of methane leakage. Climatic Change), which he says demonstrates swapping out coal for gas won't really lead to any long term reductions. However, when you look at the assumptions behind his model, Wigley has coal emissions higher in 2100 than in 2010 (gas is only swapping out some of the coal such that the amount growth in coal usage slows, but doesn't stop). Condemning gas as not being able to help because of this is ridiculous, of course, because in a big P policy world, the point would be to reduce coal usage overall using all sorts of methods.

Further, alot of Howarth's "leakage" was the result of vented gas during flowback. Of course, most companies don't do this, but either flare or do green completions (ANGA recently submitted a gas-producer survey to the EPA that demonstrates this; frankly, this topic still needs more study to get solid estimates, though the ANGA data is a start). And it's a moot point anyways: new EPA regulations will require flaring of flowback over the next few years and then, after that, the use of green completions, so that all the flowback gas is captured and fed into pipelines. So, goodbye big GHG impact, if it was even happening in the first place.

Finally, I'm not aware of many people at all in the business of understanding energy (and life-cycle analyses of GHG emissions) who give much credence to the Howarth study.

Miguelito said...

I should also say that, while I hope costs for solar and wind continue to fall, we always have to be aware of the risk that they won't keep falling forever: it's still early and there isn't mass deployment yet (not deployed as much as coal-fired and gas-fired power generation or hydro, anyways).

If we see expansion of solar and wind power to those levels, expect some growing pains, like demand for resources (like silica and rare earths), labor (engineers capable of building this stuff), and other things that will increase some costs.

David B. Benson said...

Miguelito --- The LCOE of solar PV will continue to drop. However, the wind turbines now appear to have fully mature technology and the prices are starting to rise in accordance with the rise in materials cost.

Miguelito said...

David B Benson

Solar will continue dropping in the short term at least, but there's going to come to a point where they will be "mature" like wind turbines. This could be on mass deployment. Again, scaling up puts all sorts of pressures on the manufacturing process that weren't there before (some gains in productivity, but other costs--again, raw materials and manpower--can go up and sometimes offset that).


Russell said...

Lumpus is available at better fishmongers under the trade name Antarctic Codswallop.

As with the Patagonian Spookytoothfish caught near submarine nuclear test sites, it is best prepared in a crock pot.

Anonymous said...

@jeffrey davis

ho ho, when we look like a fool we must lie. Better look at the data set again Mr. Davis. 16 is a bigger number than 15, kind sir.

Jeffrey Davis said...

re:"16 is a bigger number than 15, kind sir."

Yes. It is. And 3343434 is a bigger number than 12.

It sounds like Science needs a narrative in addition to mere numbers.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Methinks Lumpus is nervous about something. He always has to throw in a jolly "Ho Ho!" when his little sphincter starts to tighten up. Uh, Lumpus, you do realize you are looking at a sample with yearly variation on top of any trend, don't you?

It's the trend that matters, moron, and the trend ain't there.

david lewis said...

Its funny how many reject Howarth's work.

Howarth pointed out that NASAs Shindell's work was good enough for Keith Shine, one of the originators of the GWP concept, that methane's GWP should be raised to conform with what Shindell thinks it is, i.e. about 30% greater than IPCC AR4 figures.

Howarth's other main point was that methane leakage is drastically underestimated. Eg. he pointed to the DOE study "Estimate of methane emissions from the US natural gas industry" which he says shows the DOE ignores accidents, and that the DOE studied only plants the industry wanted them to study.

Citing the paper "Direct Measurement of fugitive emissions of hydrocarbons from a refinery" he notes that when you show up with sophisticated equipment capable of remote sensing methane in the air what you find is a lot more methane is leaking than anyone imagined or was willing to admit to imagining prior to your arrival. Funny thing, that.

He noted that well head emissions are ignored by the DOE. The figure he used for leakage from pipelines was in between what accounting data shows is lost in Texas and the latest direct measurements from pipelines in the EU. This seemed reasonable to Howarth because the US system is older than in the EU but not all of it is as old as the system in Texas.

He claims his conclusion is in the range Hayhoe et.al. found in their "Substitution of natural gas for coal: climatic effects of utility sector emissions", pointing out that the main reason his data is different than Hayhoe et.al. is the fact he used Shindell's higher GWP figure. He didn't have the benefit of all the studies done after he published....

He also cites "The atmospheric cycling of radiomethane and the fossil fraction of the methane source" to back up his claim that the amount of methane anthropogenically leaked in the atmosphere is greater than has been estimated in the past.

The thing is, if you want to dump on Howarth and dismiss everything he says, you need to keep in mind he didn't do the studies he got his data from. He reviewed studies that exist.

It seems clear that the actual methane leakage of US operators going after oil and gas in any formations should be measured before anyone confidently says much about it.

The industry itself convinced the GAO years ago that in the US, its leakage rate was lily white, when it wasn't. Back then, industry convinced GAO that the problem was in the rest of the world, where leaks were unbelievable.

I concluded after reading Howarth and some of his references, and after interviewing the GAO officials connected with their reports on methane leakage, that Howarth wasn't going to be the last word, but that there is something to this methane leak thing, here in the US and in the rest of the world, that makes it believeable that the use of natural gas in the entire world so far has indeed been worse than coal on shorter time frames such as 100 years or somewhat less.

david lewis said...

PS. The GAO study to examine to understand how far away from reality industry estimates of methane leakage are is GAO-11-34. Who is going to accuse GAO of being a load of whacko broccoli snorting planet huggers out to get the US oil and gas industry?

GAO reports that industry operators told it that 0.13% of the methane it extracted is "vented or flared". GAO pointed out that US EPA and US WRAP data derived independently from industry show leakage 30 times higher. Etc.

GAO used estimates based on the higher figures when coming up with its headline conclusion that Uncle Sam was being leaked out of his fair share of royalties....

When the report came out, industry did not say that GAO was blowing the leakage problem out of proportion. They did not comment on the fact that their own data as supplied to GAO was taken by GAO to be bogus.

Because GAO was officially concerned only about the small portion of US oil and gas operations that are subject to federal royalty payments, the 30 times greater than industry supplied leakage data GAO used to calculate what was lost to Treasury only resulted in a figure of $23 million. Industry spokespeople chose as their strategy to respond to the report to advance a claim that the amount was insignificant. When I called one of these spokespeople, Kathleen Sgamma to be precise, she did not contest GAO data.

Page 10, GAO-11-34: "EPA estimates showed the volume to be 4.2%, and estimates based on WRAP data showed it to be as high as 5%"

5% of US gas production at the time was 1 trillion cubic feet of methane. This is at the higher end of what Howarth told me his conclusion was, i.e. he wrote: "we believe leakage is at least 1.9% and perhaps 5.6% or greater".

And if US industry is so technologically advanced in its handling of methane leaks that its the rest of the world we should be concerned about, as US industry tells us, what about the rest of the world? What has been leaking?

Anonymous said...

@a_ray_true_believer_indoctrinated

ho ho ho, I must be nervous again! So the trend in the satellite record from 1979-present is net positive a ray, so it looks like you better run over to SkS and find a paper about the peninsula melting.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Oh, Lumpus, dear, look at the value of the frigging slope. It is not significantly different from zero, and whether it measures positive or negative can be influenced by picking a date different by 1-2 years.

Please do learn some math, someday, Punkin

Brian said...

About the claims of wind and solar price drops slowing as the technology "matures" - why hasn't that happened to computer processing power? Moore's law seems particularly relevant to solar.

OTOH, coal is getting more efficient too, but much more slowly.

David B. Benson said...

Brian --- Moore's law is not at all relevant to solar PV. It is still possible to put more transistors on a chip but it is no longer possible to run computers faster.

From the price data I have seen wind turbine technology is now fully mature and the wind turbine prices are climbing with the cost of the materials used in construction.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

David and Brian,
Moore's Law, no. Hell, Moore's law is no longer even based in physics (although it is still holding more or less).

Rosenfeld's law on the other hand might be relevant to the entire energy sector, and if we could figure out a way to increase the rate of growth above the historical value of 1%, we would be on to something.

The reason Moore's Law still holds despite the death of CMOS scaling is that it serves as a guideline for semiconductor companies as to what is necessary for economic survival. In actuality, the death of scaling has directed efforts away from traditional CMOS and toward development of new materials, device architectures and integration strategies (e.g. 3DICs). It's an exciting time to be dealing with electronics--much more exciting than 15 years ago.

Jeffrey Davis said...

I don't think our current "ho" is the original. The original post asserted that there were "massive gains" in ice in the Antarctic. Well, no. There aren't "massive gains". (Antarctica itself is losing mass, so the issue is about sea ice.) So, the lump-in-waiting wants to change the terms of the argument.

The Arctic and the Antarctic are different places: a continent will have wildly different weather than open ocean, and the Arctic (as we've seen) is basically open ocean. The two regions aren't opposites or complementary, just as the Northern Hemisphere is not the mirror of the Southern Hemisphere.

David B. Benson said...

a_ray_in_dilbert_space --- Given how exciting it was 15 years ago I don't see how anybody can survive the excitment now.

:-)

WhiteBeard said...

NG electrical generation is quite complimentary with intermittent renewables. It’s an alternative to storage, available now. Vis-à-vis coal, the plants are a bit less expensive per kilowatt to construct. They come in smaller capacity increments without losing efficiency so capital outlays can more closely match demand increments over time, as well as the finer granularity matches daily dispatch requirements more closely. CO2 capture would almost surely be easier with their inherent cleaner flue gas composition as well as the large reduction in conventional pollution. A final thought is a easing of pressure on the nations rail systems as coal is 40 % of capacity, nearly twice that of the next category.

The “bridge fuel” concept is broader than some, likely not the big bunny or his western doppelganger, are thinking. It, in concert with renewables, kills coal in the US and many other areas including much of the third world, or realistically has that potential. A generation (50-60) years worth of gas fired plants in lieu of “storage” for carbonless generation seem entirely reasonable. Especially as they only require building and not figuring how to achieve it.

NG has utility in other heating uses, giving the distribution system better economies of scale and access to more markets thus potential help in displacing highly noxious or environmental ruinous fuels. Quite a bit of flaring during petroleum production still goes on, much of it because a market is lacking without the substantial cost of a distribution system. Given the ramshackle nature of things in a good part of the world, fugitive release means a very hard look is necessity in estimating the better course.

The stampede of era of methane expansion in the US is drawing to a close. And, the interest recently focused on fugitive releases should lead to substantial curtailment in new extraction, as well as the distribution and end use parts of the system.

The only real risk I see is NG’s potential to substitute for renewables, all together, for a time. Then, I’ve always mustered beneath the Silver BBs Totem.

WhiteBeard

David B. Benson said...

WhiteBeard --- Combined cycle natgas turbines are considered to have a design life of 20--25 years.

WhiteBeard said...

David,

Thanks. I was referring to my understanding of “plants” with all the attendant components. The gen sets building, transformers, etc. and attempting to show a rough time period of service life for the capitol outlay. Please, is that figure just for a gas turbine and what duty cycles are used in figuring the service lifetimes if you know?

Anonymous said...

Dr. Lumpus Spookytooth, phd.

@a_ray

whoops! You just said its all about the trend now its "oh well you can pick a few years out and show a negative slope."

Oh how quickly we move the goal posts.

"I don't think our current "ho" is the original. The original post asserted that there were "massive gains" in ice in the Antarctic. Well, no. There aren't "massive gains". (Antarctica itself is losing mass, so the issue is about sea ice"

that's just wrong.

Day 258 ice area in Antarctica is the highest ever for the date, and the fifth highest daily value on record.

Antarctic ice area is more than one million km^2 larger than the highest value ever recorded in the Arctic. By definition, excess ice has more impact on the climate than missing ice, because it occurs at lower latitudes where the sun is less oblique. There is no sun at the North Pole now, but lots of sun shining on the excess Antarctic ice at 70S.


http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/timeseries.south.anom.1979-2008

Eager, if you are saying it isn't the highest measurement, well sure I agree with that...but in my opinion you alarmists started the whole 5th highest, 12 highest, etc.

But it is still in the top 10 in recorded ice extents since 1979.

J Bowers said...

In the meantime, global sea ice shows a sure and steady decline.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Spunkydrawers, why should I argue with someone who doesn't even know what a trend is (hint: if you can change start and end points by a couple of years, you ain't got a trend)

Jeffrey Davis said...

The trend in Antarctic Ice is up for the last couple of years. The span of the difference is much smaller in statistical terms than for the Arctic. ~2 sigma vs 5-6 sigma. The trend for Antarctic ice was downward not too long ago. I wonder what lumpy was worried about then?

As glacial pulsations show, the amount of energy in the Northern Hemisphere is key. The Arctic and the Antarctic are two different beasts. Not opposites. Not complementary. Different.

Anonymous said...

Spunkydrawers wrote: "Day 258 ice area in Antarctica is the highest ever for the date..."

Hey Spunky, Tamino just demolished this imbecilic "look, a squirrel" argument that you've cribbed from Steven "it snows CO2 in Antarctica" Goddard:

http://tamino.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/poles-apart/

It's Arctic sea ice all-time record minimum day number 26, sweetie. And counting. And that's not including the number of individual date record minimum days set this year, which start back in January.

You're not just a fool, you're a pathetic fool.

David B. Benson said...

WhiteBeard --- The shortlived portions are
gas turbine
steam generator
rankine cycle steam turbine
and its kinda pointless to design pumps and the condenser to last longer, but one could. Similarly for the electic generators.

The lifetime depends on the capacity factor for equipment usage (how often used how much) but also on how quickly it is necessary to ramp up and down for load following. Traditionally combined cycle gas turbines are used for daytime load following, the intermediate load above baseline only. Then there are peaking open cycle gas tubine to shave off the peaks.

However, when used to act as balancing agents for wind turbines, matters are different and the CCGT guys really bitch about the ramp rates sometimes required (although I'm sure they appreciate being on duty 24/7 instead of just 18/7).

So since the actual life depends upon usage the right answer is nobody knows how long the equipment will be servicable (until it finally breaks enough to not be worth repair or component replacement).

WhiteBeard said...

Thanks David

J Bowers said...

Well, well, well.

Decades of federal dollars helped fuel gas boom

"The boom happened "away from the greedy grasp of Washington," the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank, wrote in an essay this year.
[...]
Over three decades, from the shale fields of Texas and Wyoming to the Marcellus in the Northeast, the federal government contributed more than $100 million in research to develop fracking, and billions more in tax breaks.

Now, those industry pioneers say their own effort shows that the government should back research into future sources of energy - for decades, if need be - to promote breakthroughs. For all its success now, many people in the oil and gas industry itself once thought shale gas was a waste of time.

"There's no point in mincing words. Some people thought it was stupid,...
[...]
Terry Engelder, a Penn State University geologist known for his enthusiastic support for gas drilling, said the story of how shale gas went from longshot to head of the pack - and how long that took - shows that serious support for renewable energy research makes sense, too.

"These renewables have a huge upside," Engelder said. "In my view, the subsidies are really very appropriate.""

J Bowers said...

And I just realised that's from FOX.