What Next? – For the 21st Century

by L J Furman, MBA on January 22, 2013

in Connecting the Dots, Energy, President Obama, Renewable, Sustainable, Sustainable Energy

Barack-Obamajoe-biden

What should we do now?

  1. Strengthen the safety net.
  2. Reverse the Citizens United and Florence v Burlington rulings.
  3. Place reasonable restrictions on Second Amendment rights, as  reasonable restrictions exist on First Amendment rights. And tax properties and income of religious institutions.
  4. Address Climate Change.
  5. Develop a Renewable & Sustainable Energy Infrastructure – Clean & Green within 15.

As President Obama said, in his Second Inauguration, (White House . Gov / The Atlantic)

The commitments we make to each other …  do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us.  They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.

“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. 

“The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.  But America cannot resist this transition, we must lead it.

As the President said, “The commitments we make to each other …  do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us.”  Nor do Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security contribute to the deficit, since these programs are funded for the next 25 years,  until 2038.   However, we should expand Medicare to cover ALL Americans and expand the mission of the VHA to cover all citizens. Call it the CHA, the Citizens Health Administration.  Fund it by raising the rate, in a progressive manner, eliminating the ceiling on Social Security, and taxing Capital Gains and distributions from trust funds at the same rates as “regular,” W2, income. See my earlier post, “How to Fix Social Security.”

Arguably, any increases to the deficit triggered by unemployment will be offset by spending on for food, clothing, heat, shelter and education by the unemployed person, and increased productivity and taxes when he or she goes back to work.

There are and should be reasonable restrictions on the First Amendment right to free speech. We cannot, as Justice Holmes noted, “Shout ‘Fire’ in a crowded theater.” We should not be able to open fire in a crowded theater, public school, pub, restaurant, college classroom, elementary school, etc. The President should not ease up on his calls for reasonable restrictions to our rights as guaranteed by the Second Amendment.

And we should tax buildings used as houses of worship, and schools and other properties owned by religious institutions.

A “Corporation” to a lawyer, is a “nexus of contracts,” a set of agreements. People and corporations may own corporations. People and corporations may not own people.  The President must compel Congress or the Supreme Court to overturn Citizen’s United. And consider whether Florence v Burlington conflicts with the the Fourth Amendment.

President Obama and Vice President Biden, as pictured above,  each have what might be called a “MegaWatt Smile.” While their smiles can move us, they can not turn on lights, air conditioners, computers, or refrigerators.   The President also said,

“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. 

“The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.  But America cannot resist this transition, we must lead it.

OffshoreWind2

Japan is planning a 1.0 gigawatt wind farm off the coast near the site of the Fukushima reactors. They are also planning on 100% renewable, sustainable energy infrastructure by 2040. We can do it too, by 2028, for about $975 Billion. Clean and Green within 15. (Refer to This post on Treehugger.com)

Imagine ribbons of wind turbines up and down the east and west coasts, along the Gulf coasts and around the islands of Hawai’i.  In addition to clean renewable energy they would form artificial reefs – supporting fish, shellfish, amphibians, marine mammals, and humans.  At close to $3 per watt, 100 giga-watts would cost $300 Billion.

And add to that another 100 GW of land based wind capacity. At closer to $2,00 per watt it would cost another $200 Billion.

Solar? Utility scale solar is approaching $3.00 per watt. On the residential scale it’s below $4.00 per watt.  Add 100 GW of solar at 3,50 per watt: $350 Billion.

We can drill pretty deep wells for oil and gas, which we burn for heat. We know how to tap geothermal energy for heating and cooling.  What if we drilled to tap heat? But it might take 10 to 15 years to develop Deep Geothermal as an energy source.  It would be a terrific base load generating technology. A recent estimates at Yale‘s Environment 360 blog,  here, suggested the cost to be $40 Billion for 100 Gigawatts -  $0.40 per watt.

Meanwhile, lets add 100 gigawatt-equivalents if efficiency, at $2.00 per watt-equivalent. That’s $200 billion, and probably an overestimate of the cost of efficiency.

And tie it all together with an advanced “Smart-Grid.” That would probably cost.another $100 Billion.

This new clean and sustainable energy  Infrastructure would probably cost in the ballpark of $1,15 Billion.  If my estimates are off by 50%, $1.725 Trillion. See Table 1, below.

Renewable / Sustainable Energy Infrastructure
Technology GW or Equiv Per Watt Est. Cost
Offshore Wind 100 $3.00 $300.00
Land-based Wind 100 $2.00 $200.00
Solar 100 $3.50 $350.00
Efficiency 100 $2.00 $200.00
Smart Grid $100.00
total 400 $1,150.00
Fudge-factor $1,725.00
Table 1

If instead we were to build a new nuclear and coal infrastructure? 100 GW of new nuclear would probably cost $17.00 per watt, like the Turkey Point plants in Florida,  or $1.7 Trillion.  100 GW of coal with carbon sequestration – because we need to control carbon dioxide emissions to address climate change -would cost in the neighborhood of $18.00 watt, like the aborted Purgen Plant in New Jersey, or $1.8 Trillion.  Natural Gas with sequestration - because we need to control carbon dioxide emissions to address climate change when burning any subsurface carbon – would probably cost $15.00 per watt, for a total of  $1.5 Trillion. Add 100 Gigawatt Equivalents for $2.00 per watt, and another $200 Billion and we are looking at $5.2 Trillion. see Table 2, below.

New Carbon & Nuclear Energy Infrastructure
Technology GW or Equiv Per Watt Est. Cost
Nuclear 100 $17.00 $1,700.00
Coal w Sequestration 100 $18.00 $1,800.00
Natural Gas w Seq. 100 $15.00 $1,500.00
Efficiency 100 $2.00 $200.00
total 400 $5,200.00
Table 2

And when you factor in costs of security, environmental clean-up, lost ecosystem services, increased mortality and morbidity,well, I don’t know. Another $4 or $5 trillion?

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