This is a plan for a wind turbine hub in the North Sea on Dogger Bank, that could up to 180GW by 2045 in time to help Europe achieve net zero emissions. The “Dogger Bank”, is the sunken Doggerland, a region of the North Sea that used to be above the sea in the last ice age. It is far from land, so winds would be much more steady.
It has now split into two projects. The Sofia Offshore Wind Farm is developed by a UK company and will supply power to the UK.
The rest of it is being developed by companies in Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands as the North Sea Wind Power Hub
The shallowest parts are only 15 meters below sea level making it an ideal place to build artificial islands (a bit like the Chinese artificial islands in the South China sea) and build sea turbines like this. The turbines could be towed into place as is already done for offshore wind. This video briefly describes it:
This is an offshore wind farm near Ireland, just a view from a plane.
And this is a an artist’s impression of the new dogger bank wind farm.
There is a lot of interest, and if this goes ahead, the timeline is to add 70GW to 150GW by 2040 and then the full 180 GW by 2045.
More about it here:
180 GW is a significant amount, the same as the total installed power capacity for gas in 2017 in the entire EU, and more than the installed power capacity for coal.
The advantage is that it is very far from land, so there is nothing to interrupt the wind.
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ASIDE ON DOGGERLAND
For more on the renewables, you can skip this and go on to the next section but thought some of you would be interested.
During the ice age, when the sea was much lower, with lots of water locked up in huge ice sheets kilometers deep, this was dry land where woolly mammoths and ice age human hunters roamed
This shows roughly where it was during the height of the ice age around 10,000 BC.
There were definitely humans there, artifacts such as worked antlers have been found.
What doggerland looked like - artist’s impression - Image credits: Wessex Archaeology.
Searching in Doggerland – artistic representation. Image credits: Laura Spinney
So did humans live there? Archaeologists are trying to find settlements. They reconstructed the likely landscaped and looked for places where humans would have wanted to live - and they have found a worked flint
Two views of it here:
So there is some possibility of finding human settlements there.
This gives a rough idea of its position relative to the UK and the former land at a time when it still existed as an island but when the UK was no longer connected to mainland Europe.
Anyway - now it seems humans are likely to return there to build artificial islands. I wonder if anyone will eventually live on those islands? Where some of us used to live so long ago.
YES - RENEWABLES CAN POWER THE WORLD
I won’t go into this in detail here, but answer most of the myths about how it’s supposedly impossible to power our planets from renewables here - it also goes into peaking power and energy return on energy invested:
If you have been told that Wind farms harm wild birds - it’s true - but it just means they have to be sited carefully.
- Wind farms and solar farms need to be sited carefully to protect wild birds, bats and insects - but biggest risk by far is … the domestic cat! Responsible for 63 extinctions, wind farms for 0 extinctions
You often get those who denigrate renewables pointing at various problems that have arisen in Germany with its very fast very early roll out. Remember that as a pioneer they installed renewables when it was far more expensive than for anyone else and they ran into many problems as pioneers that others learnt from.
It is no surprise at all that pioneers run into more problems to solve than those who come in later to the scene!
He gives as an example that when he visited London he was surprised to see that it was still lit by gas, when Amsterdam had already converted to electricity. Was that an expression of English conservatism?
But he decided that no, it wasn’t. It was just that London had been an early adopter of gas lighting, and the costs of converting such extensive gas lighting to electricity with the supplies having to run under asphalted streets far outweighed the benefits.
While Amsterdam had no such obstacles because first, it never had the extensive gas lighting, and second, it had old fashioned paving which made the electric cables easier to install. So Amsterdam got ahead by being behind!
So London in it struggle to get ahead in everything technological had actually ended up further behind than the more slowly developing Amsterdam.
Germany could be like London in that example, and China, say, like Amsterdam.
Same also for Africa, least developed continent, but if it can learn from the others as it industrializes it may be able to do it far more rapidly than you’d expect because it doesn’t have to replace any existing infrastructure - far less, and just install lots of new renewables from scratch.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT
It is NOT because we risk societal collapse or the end of civilization or human extinction. As a reminder of the positive things going on:
- Positive side of climate change facts, after two years of action, heading for 3°C with 1.5°C well within reach
- The IPCC’s own worst case climate change example - a 3°C rise by 2100
- 24 Ways World Is Better - Famine Hugely Reduced - Literacy Soaring - Life Expectancy Up - Degraded Landscapes Restored, ... good news journalists rarely share
- Yes our generation’s children are headed for a world with nature and wonder in it - and their children too
This summary table which is the source of many of the figures in the IPCC report in 2018 is a good overview of some of the main reasons politicians have decided we need to target 1.5 C. Every half degree counts, but there is no cliff edge at 1.5 C.
Summary table (and they give the calcs that are the basis for these figures in this paper)
Figure 15.Summary of key differences in climate impacts between a warming of 1.5◦C and 2◦C above pre-industrial and stylized 1.5◦C and 2◦C scenarios over the 21st century. Square brackets give the likely (66 %) range.
It’s from this article, cited by the IPCC in 2018 which is the source for e.g. their coral reefs % risk figures:
See also my
- No Scientific Cliff Edge Of 12 Years To Save Planet (or 18 Months) - Can IPCC Challenge 'Deadlines Make Headlines' Misreporting?
The UK has already committed to carbon zero by 2050 which makes it 1.5 C compatible.
The EU especially with the green wave in the European elections has a decent chance of doing the same before the next round of climate pledges in 2020.
- Ursula von der Leyen’s proposed green new deal will make Western Europe the first 1.5°C compatible continent if passed
The UK previously targeted roughly 80% reductions by 2050 as does the EU. It’s long term goal currently is 80 to 95% below 1990 by 2050 (79 to 94% below 2010)
It is a major challenge to get that last 20% to get all the way to carbon zero by 2050. But we can do it.
In particular it means zero emissions for cars - so most cars here will probably heed to be electric long before.
It means zero emissions for planes too which probably means offsetting though you can also make aviation fuel from renewables and water and CO2 as for the Audi e-gas, or from methane with carbon capture and storage for the CO2.
As recommended with the 1.5 C IPCC report it involves offsetting. There is a lot of potential for reafforestation and also for improving soils.
Another thing that will help is to use more crop rotation for instance, back to the old system where our livestock are on the fields one year then it is ploughed and used for crops and after a few years of that goes fallow and the livestock are back on it which both reduces fertilizer use and increases organic and carbon content.
We also have a proposal to phase out all peat sold in the UK., which is not necessary for gardening and rewet the peat banks which are currently emitting carbon dioxide and should be sinks. We can do a lot also with sequestration in salt marshes which actually store ten times more carbon than temperate woodlands and forty times more than tropical rainforests (which despite the impressive vegetation often have very thin soil). Preserving our salt marshes helps with biodiversity.
WHY MEAT MATTERS
Another thing they recommend that we do to help us get all the way down to zero emissions, according to the UK report, is to reduce meat consumption by 20%.
There is a proposal for school children to have a required one meat free day a week at school. That is also better for their health. The meal would not be cheese but involve pulses and such like. It is a proposal at present. This makes much more difference than you would think, since the total land area given over to meat production.
27% of our land area is used for livestock - so, for dairy and meat. Only 7% of the Earth’s surface is used for crops. This ingenious map shows this graphically
For details see my We can feed everyone through to 2100 and beyond
It also matters how the animals are raised and you can make a big difference in CO2 emissions depending for instance on how much feed they get (which has to be grown as crops to feed them). .
It also matters what kind of meat you eat. Poultry for instance is much better than beef especially if the poultry are free range rather than fed lots of chickenfood
It is a striking difference. At the lower end of the range, poultry and fish from fish farms have similar greenhouse gas emissions to the upper end of the range for tofu.
High-impact beef producers create 105kg of CO2 equivalents and use 370m2 of land per 100 grams of protein, a huge 12 and 50 times greater than low-impact beef producers.
Low-impact beans, peas, and other plant-based proteins can create just 0.3kg of CO2 equivalents (including all processing, packaging, and transport), and use just 1m2 of land per 100 grams of protein.
Aquaculture, assumed to have relatively low emissions, can emit more methane, and create more greenhouse gases than cows. One pint of beer can create 3 times more emissions and use 4 times more land than another. This variation in impacts is observed across all five indicators they assess, including water use, eutrophication, and acidification.
However consumer habits can change. It’s better for your health to eat 20% meat too. It’s not impossible that we do this. Many people are choosing to eat less meat.
The EU is already projecting a reduction in meat demand by 2030 for most meat except poultry. By a small amount, only 1% by 2030 but a larger reduction for beef and a large increase in poultry, which is the right direction to help with CO2 emissions.
However there are much larger shifts in parts of Europe.
CONSUMERS CHOOSING TO EAT LESS MEAT
Waitrose - a UK supermarket chain store who have a range of vegan foods they sell, found in 2018 that one in eight Britons are now vegetarian or Vegan and a further 21% are flexitarian - largely vegetable based diet with occasional meat. In total a third of Britons have deliberately reduced their meat consumption through diets or totally eliminated it.
Much of this is in the younger 18 to 34 age group.
About 60% of vegans and 40% of vegetarians surveyed said they had adopted the lifestyle over the past five years, with 55% citing animal welfare concerns, 45% health reasons and 38% environmental issues. People in the 18-to-34 age group were more likely to switch to veganism, with much less enthusiasm among the over-55s. Many of the vegan and vegetarian respondents said they missed bacon sandwiches and pork scratchings.
Nick Palmer, head of “Compassion in World Farming, UK, said:
“It’s extremely encouraging to learn how many Britons are choosing to reduce their consumption of animal products. Science proves that the healthiest diet is one that is plant-heavy. By eating less meat, fish, eggs and dairy and choosing higher welfare when we do, we can all help animals, people and the planet.”
Especially so in the Nordic region of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Åland. Also amongst young people.
About 30% of Swedish young people eat more plant based diets because they want to reduce their environmental footprint. In Denmark, 8% of Millennials (18 - 35) are flexitarian, choosing not to eat meat a certain number of meal times in the future.
A 2015 survey found that 24% of Nordic consumers predict they will eat less meat in the future. 20% of Danes already eat less meat than they used to.
I got those figures from Solutions Menu A Nordic guide to sustainable food policy by the Nordic co-operation
- Nearly One-Third of Swedish Youth Eating More Vegan Foods to Reduce Carbon Footprint
- Europe is going veg
That 20% reduction in meat can also be a reduction in waste which has a great deal of potential too. We waste 20% of the meat on our plates.
Reducing food waste also makes a huge difference. About 20% of the meat that gets to the consumer is wasted. Not wasting that meat would also hugely reduce the pressure on tropical rainforests and other ecosystems and make it easier to restore them and help with carbon sequestration.
According to them, we waste
“30% for cereals, 40-50% for root crops, fruits and vegetables, 20% for oil seeds, meat and dairy plus 35% for fish.”
Remembering that the land set aside for crops worldwide is roughly equal to the area of China, then that’s up to a third of the area of China, perhaps more, could be freed up for crops if we reduced food waste for crops grown directly for humans.
Then there is the land used for meat and dairy. The 20% waste that the FAO report is less than for other food products percentage wise, but meat uses so much more land area. That’s 20% of the total area of the Americas used for animals that are killed and made into food, but never eaten.
We can make a big difference in the pressure on crops and pastureland created by felling forests, just by making sure less meat gets into the household waste.
Most of that food waste is happening in the developed countries, there is a fair amount happening in developed countries too, but the reasons differ. In developing countries there is almost no food waste by consumers and most is wasted due to the food rotting because they can’t afford to refrigerate it and other losses on the way from the farms to the consumer:
The IPBES report had some striking figures here:
- “Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food (222 million tonnes) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tonnes).”
- “The amount of food lost or wasted every year is equivalent to more than half of the world's annual cereals crop (2.3 billion tonnes in 2009/2010).”
Think how much the pressure on land for agriculture would be reduced if we were to reduce food waste just a little.
There is food waste in the developing countries too, but there it happens at the production and storage side of things. This is not shown in that table above. It’s a similar percentage.
For poorer countries then part of the problem is cold storage. In developed countries, farmers use refrigerated lorries, but poorer countries can’t afford them. If you transport tomatoes to market over long distances in a flat truck then much of it goes rotten before it gets there. To take an example, the Punjab region of India and Pakistan is the world’s second largest producer of fruits and vegetables but loses 20-50 percent of total production.
An Indian pilot study looked at transport of Kinnow in the Punjab, a fruit that is often transported 2,500 kilometers in open trucks all the way from Abohar in the Punjab to Bangalore in southern India, with loses as high as 32 percent. The pilot found that the payback period for pre-cooling equipment is only two years and for the refrigerated trucks just over four years.
Slide from this presentation.
This reduces CO2 emissions as well, by 16% for the same amount of fruit sold.
Another thing that will help is that all new homes should be passive homes. I think that one is a near future requirement. We have a new design of affordable passive home from Hastoe that should make that a reality which will greatly reduce heating costs in homes.
These are ones that need almost no energy to keep warm in winter and cool in summer. It is through clever design to retain heat where needed and to ventilate when needed. They can save 75% of energy compared with conventional new builds and 90% compared with old stock.See What is a Passive House?
The EU requires that all new buildings have to be nearly carbon zero by 2020.
As they said in the IPCC report and for IPBES this will be transformative of society and it is this sort of thing we have to do if we wish to stay within 1.5 C. However it is also all beneficial, there is a lot of synergy here, that it is also helping to protect nature services if done well.
Another proposal is to make Nature recovery networks where there are green lanes going through new estates, to connect together our "Sites of Special Scientific Interest" to help nature recover on its biodiversity.
NEED FOR ELECTRIC CARS
Norway is leading the way, showing the rest of us that it is possible, with more than half, 58% of new sales of cars now electric.
It plans to phase out new electric cars by 2025
These electric cars will also help with the fluctuations of renewables, because owners can keep their cars plugged in while parked, and they will automatically buy the electricity when it is low in price when too much is being produced and sell it back when there is a shortfall, so your car can earn money all the time while parked.
This is already happening in a pilot scheme in the small Portuguese island of Porto Santo.
There are many other ways to do it.
HOW CAN WE DEAL WITH THE FLUCTUATIONS OF WIND AND SOLAR?
The EU has enough potential for developing future pumped hydro storage for 123 TWh according to a 2013 report. That is enough to store all the output from 5000 gigawatts of power stations for one day.
They have a Project Sheet here showing all the HVDC and pumped storage and other facilities already built or in progress or planned.
For other examples, The Australia National University has found 22,000 potential pump hydro sites in Australia. So many that they say that you only need to use the best 0.1% of them, and can afford to be choosy.
Of course it has to work all the time. Coal based fossil fuel though isn't a good mix with renewables, it doesn't respond quickly enough, especially coal responds only slowly - not once the country is close to 100% renewables. Nuclear also only responds slowly. That is except for gas (methane). A lot of current peaking power is done through gas powered stations which can ramp up an down quickly. This does reduce CO2 emissions because burning gas produces less CO2 than coal for the same power output.
Longer term, Hydro and batteries are the best mix for most places.
However in the UK, the Committee for Climate Change have only the briefest of mentions of hydro power. Instead they recommend large scale use of hydrogen as the backup with the hydrogen made from methane and the CO2 from the process captured and stored.
This is not 100% net zero because some of the CO2 is not captured and there is some methane lost during extraction. If not net zero it has to be offset. But it would depend on how much peaking power is required as to how much has to be offset.
It does however have the potential to become carbon negative if the methane is made from biofuel.
It is also rather inefficient for capture and storage but it can use the existing natural gas networks of pipes to heat homes etc. For peaking power, it can also be burnt in the same power plants that currently burn methane for peaking power.
This is an earlier comment from Carbon Brief Hydrogen is a “credible” option for reducing UK’s emissions if used “selectively”, according to the government’s climate advisers. and also from the CC here
The UK climate change report is here
The UK for some reason has not been supporting development of new hydro power pumped storage plants. It’s currently at 5% about half of the EU recommended 10%. It does however support an interlink with Norway to take advantage of their pumped hydro.
Over the past 30 years, the proportion of electricity generated by hydropower has remained around 2 per cent of total power generation. Hydropower has however increasingly been called upon to support the development of the UK’s variable renewable sector by providing peaking, balancing and other grid services, especially as wind generation has increased over ten-fold since 2007. ... The UK’s current interconnection capacity rests approximately at 5 per cent of total installed capacity, about half of the recommended 10 per cent benchmark proposed by the European Commission. A number of new interconnection projects are currently underway, most notably the North Sea Link, a 1,400 MW HVDC interconnection with Norway, which takes advantage of Norway’s hydropower while providing an off-taker for excess UK wind production.
According to a report here from 2017, the UK has 50 GW of pumped hydro storage that could be built as the low hanging fruit. How pumped hydro storage can help save the planet
This one talks about how it is hard to make the UK projects economic (section 3.3.1 Great Britain). This is from 2016
Such a scheme in the UK may have a capital cost in excess of ~£400 million (SSE recently proposed a 600MW scheme in Coire Glas for £800 million), implying a payback in excess of 40 years if used for arbitrage alone. Dinorwig PHES currently runs two of its turbines (each 300MW) for frequency response, gaining an availability fee ~£1900/hr for each turbine (for 109 hours per week, equating to ~£10.8 million per year). Hence even when ancillary services are considered, the payback times for PHES schemes in the UK seem too long to justify significant investments.
There is a lot of potential if we did some really major hydro project. With a 300 meters high and 2000 meters long dam we could store enough water in Strathdearn for about 6800 GW hours according to a proposal here
They say that is enough to balance the current intermitt4ent renewable energy for the whole of England.
Anyway - for some reason the report doesn't look into that. They surely have good reasons, maybe economic, maybe because they would have to be built in places of natural beauty / conservation areas, maybe ecological. What surprises me a bit is that they don't discuss it at all, don't give the reasons for not using hydro power as the main way to supply peaking power.
For the details about some of the UK projects see my:
- Rising Seas - Ingenious Ways Netherlands, Florida And Bangladesh Can Adapt - Barriers And Sponges - And Floating Gardens
- Let’s save a million species, and make biodiversity great again - UN report says we know how do it
- No Scientific Cliff Edge Of 12 Years To Save Planet (or 18 Months) - Can IPCC Challenge 'Deadlines Make Headlines' Misreporting?
- We can feed everyone through to 2100 and beyond
- Robert Walker's answer to What things are going to be Peak X?
This article originated on my quora blog as
Seven tips for dealing with doomsday fears
If you are scared: Seven tips for dealing with doomsday fears which also talks about health professionals and how they can help.
If in the middle of a panic attack, see
- Breathe in and out slowly and deeply to calm a panic attack by Robert Walker on Debunking Doomsday
- Tips from CBT - might help some of you to deal with doomsday anxieties
- STOPP skill
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