Fossil Free… How?

No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it…
Albert Einstein

Click on “fireofenergy” to link to my list of real experts on the MSR and LFTR.

Ever heard of excess CO2 and excess carbonic acid on a global scale?

I was reluctant to believe, so I found out for my self. The ppm CO2 has risen by 80 in just my lifetime alone. Thus, by burning fossil fuels on an increasingly global scale, we are altering the biosphere of an entire planet. Nature has provided the right amount of CO2 to keep the planet from becoming a “snowball earth”. Humanity has almost doubled it (when considering how much the oceans have absorbed). Thus, too much will cause serious alterations to the biosphere of an entire planet.


Not just warming, but probably more importantly, ocean acidification, which is the conversion of excess CO2 into carbonic acid in contact with the oceans.

Lately, there has been talk about global warming not being so bad. I didn’t think that it was already happening, either. Sadly, there are already signs. The ocean is already swelling despite natural variations foretelling more serious events yet to come. Mere sea level rise is the least of our worries… and

Bad tuna, caused by global coal emissions.  Such fall on algae, then really small fish eat that, then medium small fish eats 100 of those, you get the picture… Actually, tuna isn’t tainted as much as other large fish, but still, this proves that we MUST switch to a better energy source!

“People are being told to eat less fish”


Natural gas can help in the meantime, by displacing coal because it is the cleanest of the fossil fuels. But NG is no cure for excess CO2.

Compared to the average air emissions from coal-fired generation, natural gas produces half as much carbon dioxide, less than a third as much nitrogen oxides, and one percent as much sulfur oxides at the power plant. However, in absolute terms it does contribute substantially to global carbon emissions, and this contribution is projected to grow.

Consider, that if all the world’s coal plants were switched over to NG, less than half of the CO2 from coal would be emitted, because it is burned more efficiently at higher temperatures… That is, about 34% for coal and 39% for NG.  And up to 60% for Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT)

Also, NG is used to back up renewable energy (RE) sources.

A large NG power plant is designed to provide additional electrical supply above the baseload (which is provided by other power plants such as coal or nuclear, 24/7). This is needed when there is more demand, as when people turn on the AC.

Large solar can effectively reduce the need for these peaker NG powered plants, unless  it’s cloudy.  Sometimes, more NG is used than if there was no RE system on site because of the inefficiency required to ramp up peaker plants, as with the solar farm with intermittent clouds in the daytime. I have not yet found a link to back up this claim but it is obvious that until cheap storage is used, NG (and other fossil fuels) will be used to back up wind and solar at various different levels.


The following is an incomplete list of all the low carbon energy sources available to humanity as has been proven up to the present:

  • Tidal
  • Wave
  • Ocean current
  • OTEC
  • Algae
  • Ethanol and other biofuels
  • Geothermal
  • Wind
  • Solar
  • Nuclear

There are many variations, especially in the “Big Three”, wind, solar and nuclear.

Solar Energy

dish Unless noted otherwise, images made by Bryce, paint shop pro and by me, years ago

Consider: an all out theoretical installed solar global power system.

PV could in theory be stored in batteries, but we all know that just isn’t happening anytime soon on a global scale. The molten salt storage scheme has already been developed and proven, but not yet on a cost efficient scale of economy because it is not cheaper than fossil fuels.

Now, just how much would it cost to plaster the world’s deserts with a bunch of mirrors, a generator (hopefully, the Brayton cycle turbine) and heat storage? Keep in mind that the cost for molten salt (there are now ideas about molten glass for heat storage) is way less than batteries and requires far less space than pumped hydro per unit of energy stored. In fact, the storage for a power tower is less than that of the (more common)  CSP trough because it is of a higher temperature and therefore requires less of it.

According to IEA, total world energy supply was about 144,000 TWh (from wikipedia). Capacity factors for a good CSP tower is up to 70% (estimated). I will assume 50%.

144,000 / 8760 (hours in a year) = 16.5 x 2 (for 50% CF) = 33TW CSP towers needed to be installed = 33 billion KW (or 33,000 one gigawatt plants). At (a whopping) $10 per watt of installed capacity, that’s $330 trillion!

But (and this is a big “however”) the power does not have to be reduced by a factor of 2/3rds to account for the thremodynamic losses as in the real world’s combustion processes, thus this would be a WAY overbuild.

Another way to look at it is to divide the aprox 500 quads of total primary world energy consumption by 3.414 (which is btu/Wh) to get 146,000 TWh. This number accounts for ALL energy input. Again, 2/3rds of that is wasted as heat even before going through the power lines because of the inefficiency of converting heat to useful power.

With further efficiency improvements (like electric cars, led lighting, passive solar site planning for houses, more insulation for houses, etc) the total price tag should be less than $100T. But wait, IRENA puts estimates of costs to about $5.70 (not $10 as I had) after economies of scale are figured in (assuming 2020).

Thus, about one hundred thousand 100MW CSP towers costing about $60 trillion (plus financing) is most probably, the only way any renewables will provide 24/7 power to replace fossil fuels.

That is about how much a concentrated solar power tower system (with heat storage) would cost to power the entire global population, complete with the energy to charge electric cars for everyone, as based on 100,000 100MW plants at a 50% Capacity Factor.

solartube1An idea I thought of many years ago… A parabolic trough sized down to a tube

60 Trillion Dollars…

Here, I seek to trivialize this huge amount of money.

60,000,000,000,000 divided by 7,000,000,000 billion people = less than $8,600 each.

We could add in another 60 trillion dollars to account for finance charges, and still, that would only be 3.58 per person for twenty years per work day.

How much does it cost the average person for all energy expenses? The average household spends over $5,000 per year…

Divided by the 2.2 people (or so) per household, that breaks down to $9.46 per household per work day indefinitely. Americans currently pay over 2.5 times the amount it would cost to provide a total global solar power infrastructure if every person on the planet chipped in.

Granted, every person on the planet can NOT help pay for this. In fact, just 20% enjoy about 80% the wealth.

Each of “us” in the top of this wealth bracket would have to pay close to 5 times… or about $14 per working day. Surely, developing China can afford to pitch in more.

They will likely do so by use of nuclear power (if not CSP)–Nuclear-Power/#.UgfQ6tLvHE0. And

However, even with money, we would have to build most of the solar with fossil fuels because it takes up to a year just for the CSP (and wind power) to recoup all energy costs associated with them and it takes about three years for solar panels. Imagine setting aside that much time’s worth of solar energy, just to build itself, double the time for a doubling, and extra time for replacing the old. Not happening in today’s hurried world…


Nuclear Fission

I understand that my family receives more radiation than most because we live at a 7,000 foot level. We have (unintentionally) chose to remove over a whole MILE of atmospheric protection from radiation. I never heard of anyone living around a nuclear plant to be subject to radiation (unless there was a continued lack of water to the solid fueled core).

It seems we are mired in a debate which lacks scientific reasoning, that is either diffuse and intermittent renewables OR fossil fueled depletion and certain devastation. Nuclear is left out because of the media scare tactics, political misrepresentation and overall scientific illiteracy (and concern about the very real possibility of and actual meltdowns).



Just 1 ton of thorium could power a city for a year… From Energy from Thorium

A meltdown proof version, MUST become mass produced. I believe we need only about 60,000 100MW of such, to power a growing planet. The next best energy option, CSP towers with molten salt storage, would require almost twice as many, necessitating WAY more land, powerlines, international grid policies (for those with weak renewable energy sources), and even WAY more replacements. Yes, nuclear plants last at least twice as long as wind and solar (also consider the damage caused to the mirrors from just one powerful sand storm).

Price, even in the face of today’s advanced machine automation, overshadows CSP.

So does the effects of excess CO2. Consider that as the biosphere begins to fry, weather patterns will become more extreme (and possibly,  more sandstorm damage to the solar installations).

We must seek to inform that the physical and chemical effects of excess CO2 is real, and that there IS a way to overshadow fossil fuels with a much superior form of unlimited low carbon energy.

There are many different ways to split the atom.

In the following link, is a conservation at Climate CoLab considering the pros and cons between Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactors also known as Integral Fast Reactors and even a GE demontrated “PRISM” compared to Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors, both of which are passively safe, and which leave minuscule (but highly radioactive) wastes for a period of time on order of 1,000x less than that of current Light Water Reactor wastes.

And here’s “the book” on IFR’s called Prescription for the Planet by Tom Blees… It’s already a few years old…

However, it does not promote the molten salt reactor. The following link is a pdf slide presentation that calls it when it comes to which nuclear, which clean liquid fuels, how much energy to do so, and other pertinent information necessary to save civilization (and possibly, even the biosphere as we know it)!


In this age of fossil fuels, we should conserve. Turn off the lights, plan driving trips to maximize total efficiency, slow down when a light is red so that you won’t have to waste momentum by having to stop when you get there (because by that time, the light could be green), use less water in the bathroom, drive to the recycle place only when it is already on the way for another errand, eat less (to improve health as well), etc.

Efficiency is also a must. Soon, led lighting will be almost as cheap as the fluorescent, but twice as efficient (and without the mercury). Electric cars, even if powered by our current mix of dirty electricity, emit less CO2 than internal combustion engines and gasoline.

This is a future 3D city where electric cars drive on every level

A gallon of gasoline produces 8,887 grams of CO2 when burned in a vehicle (EPA vehicle emissions). Producing the equivalent of 10 kWhrs of electricity, including the total life-cycle from mining, construction, transport and burning, emits about 9,750 g of CO2 when generated in a coal-fired power plant, 6,000 g when generated in a natural gas plant, 900g from a hydroelectric plant, 550 g from solar, but only 150 g each from wind and nuclear (UK Office of Science and Technology 2006).

Add in the fact that not all of our electricity is coal powered, and they are surely cleaner. Other efficiency measures include passive solar house siting…

Insulation, smart grids and traffic updates and so on. Efficiency alone can also reduce many full blown coal power plants.

However, efficiency alone is NOT going to stop excess CO2, in fact, it will only cause more of it because it enables the entire world a higher standard of living which offsets its many benefits (this claim is not backed up but is inferred by increased emissions concurrent with increased efficiency at the global level, such as Americans trading their efficiency gains for larger vehicles). Neither, can we can conserve till the last drop.


The Venus Project



Only on all out deployment of fossil free electrical sources in conjunction with efficiency measures could ever stop excess CO2. Energy will also be needed to “clean up” the excess CO2. Concentrated Solar thermal Power towers with molten salt storage are the least expensive non nuclear way to power up to 10 billion people at a decent standard of living. Safe, meltdown proof nuclear (such as MSR) would be less expensive if mass produced like jet airplanes because it is far more energy dense and requires far less mass and land for the necessary low carbon global capacity build up.

Excess regulation, laws, fees, permits, taxes, enviro hype, mass media manipulations, profiting from mass scientific illiteracy, etc (which prohibits CSP or MSR by finding, and amplifying “trivial bad things” on such) should therefore be deemed as an evil twin of fossil fuels emissions. Research about the safety of nuclear may still be required, though, as an even better reactor design may result!

Biofry? is a continuing process…

Come back often and thanks for reading!

Most nuclear plants are not load followers…

In France, however, nuclear power plants use load following. French PWRs use “grey” control rods, in order to replace chemical shim, without introducing a large perturbation of the power distribution. These plants have the capability to make power changes between 30% and 100% of rated power, with a slope of 5% of rated power per minute. Their licensing permits them to respond very quickly to the grid requirements.


And tell everybody, lest the biosphere fries!


About fireofenergy

I like to promote enthusiasm for science because it offers the solutions to both economic and environmental issues, and with abundance. The tech is just about here for complete transition from fossil fuels but too many people are caught up in the political polarization to effect a realistic and positive change. Fake news created a parallel universe. Science is not a conspiracy theory. Science is what made the USA great!
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One Response to Fossil Free… How?

  1. ReduceGHGs says:

    Catchy! Yes, it is a question that may well be answered perhaps in our lifetimes. Thanks for helping spread the word!

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