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Banning natural gas.

From: domainremoved <Bill>
Date: Mon, 09 Sep 2019 16:56:22 -0700

While reducing greenhouse gas emissions is an important goal,
it is not at all clear that banning the use of natural gas
will really help. If I use my own utility bill as an example
(and my home is well insulated), During the coldest month
in the last 12 months, the bill reported about 45 therms for
natural gas and roughly 300 kilowatt hours for electricity.
In MKS units, the represents 4.75 gigajoules for natural gas
and 1.08 gigajoules for electricity: a ratio of 4.4. The
energy use for heating peaks at night and in the early morning:
it is proportional to the temperature difference between inside
and outside the house. At night in particular, there is no
solar power, and the wind tends to die down. As we are
on the west coast, it is dark everywhere else in the U.S. as well.
If there aren't enough energy-storage facilities, or hydroelectric,
nuclear, or geothermal sources to make up the difference, you
will get the energy from power plants that burn fossil fuels.

If you use the simplest form of electric heating, this can make
greenhouse emissions worse - the most advanced power plants using
fossil fuels are about 70% efficient, so you end up generating over
40% more greenhouse gasses than if you burned the fuel at home in
an efficient furnace. To do significantly better, you will need to
use heat pumps. In the best cases, these can provide 3 times the
amount of heat as the electric power they consume, but unfortunately
the performance drops as the temperature differential between inside
and outside the home increases. Furthermore, technological advances
can't fix that - there are limits that are a consequence of the
second law of thermodynamics.

While you can buy "clean energy," it is really just a financial
arrangement: electric power is actually transmitted by an
electromagnetic field surrounding the wires and this field is not
labeled by the power sources that help generate it. If we exceed
the current capacity for "clean" sources, plants that burn fossil
fuels will take up the slack. If you just buy "clean energy", they
may just generate more during the day, which would then go to
wherever power is needed at that time, and you'll get electricity
generated by fossil fuel plants at night. You'll feel better but
it is really "out of sight, out of mind."

There is something else to keep in mind too. Since utilities like
to minimize their costs, those running power plants preferentially
use the most efficient plants, with the increment for peak loads
being handled by the least efficient ones. If you phase out natural
gas too quickly, we may end up burning fossil fuels anyway somewhere
else, but with far less efficiency so we'll need to burn more of it.


William Zaumen
Palo Alto
Received on Mon Sep 09 2019 - 16:49:06 PDT

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