Floating Power Plants; The Coastal City Solution Sure To Be Increasingly Popular

Building new things in an existing city is hard. Usually, new development means tearing down existing structures. Doing so for apartment complexes or new skyscrapers is one thing, but infrastructure is much more complicated, both from an engineering perspective and an economical one. Not only do people not want to foot the tax bill for things they may not see an immediate benefit from, but it can be difficult to find the space for bigger roads, more pipelines, or subway tunnels in a crowded urban area. It’s even harder for infrastructure that most consider an eyesore, like a power plant or electric substation. It’s no surprise then that some of the largest cities in the world have been making use of floating power plants rather than constructing them on dry land.

The latest city to entertain a bid for a new floating power plant (FPP) is New York, which is seeking to augment its current fleet of barge-based power stations already in operation. It already operates the largest FPP in the world at Gowanus in Brooklyn, which is able to output 640 MW of electricity. There’s also a 320 MW plant nearby as well, and the new plants would add eight 76 MW generators to New York City’s grid.

Let’s take a look at what goes into these barge-based generator designs.

Aerospace Grade Parts for Power Production

Existing power plant barge at the Gowanus generating station in Brooklyn

The new power plants are produced by Siemens and use “aeroderivitave” gas turbines for power production. Aeroderivitave turbines are, like the name suggests, based on aircraft technology and are very similar to a jet engine. The high quality of materials and high tolerances in the aviation world are put to use making power rather than pushing airplanes. They are also more reliable than other types of generators, like diesel piston generators, because they have comparatively few moving parts. Typically, gas turbines like this are used for peaking power production rather than base load, such as the afternoon in the summer time when air conditioners are running. They can be turned off and on quickly, unlike base load plants like nuclear or combined cycle turbines. And these also float, which comes with advantages like being semi-moble and not taking up valuable real estate in the city.

Another benefit of this specific FPP is that it helps to modernize New York’s generation capabilities. The old plant used several turbines that burned fuel oil. This fuel type has fallen out of favor recently as the price of natural gas has plummeted with the rise of hydraulic fracturing. Natural gas is also reported to be cleaner and more efficient than fuel oil, easing a small amount of environmental concerns associated with burning fossil fuels.

Pier-Based Power Generation

Not all floating power plants float, either. Some companies are offering similar plants, based on water, but are actually built on permanent piers rather than barges. Waller Marine builds jack-up plants (in addition to several other designs of FPP) like this which also facilitate liquid natural gas (LNG) tankers offloading their fuel to ports without the need for pipelines or large land-based storage facilities. If LNG is the preferred fuel over natural gas, this is a much more efficient way to deal with the tankers that are involved in delivering this type of fuel.

Some other ideas for delivering more power to urban areas have been floated as well, but the logistical concerns have kept them from holding water. Offshore power plants have been proposed but, aside from wind farms, haven’t been built because of the difficulty of transporting the power via undersea cables, maintaining the plant, and several other considerations. These problems seem to be mostly economical, however, and make sense for wind generation, but for fossil fuel or nuclear plants the solution seems to be to locate the plants on barges close to shore rather than further out to sea to make the logistics easier. The power transmission lines can simply be attached to the ship from land, with enough slack to allow for the tides, and some of the FPPs actually include step-up transformers to tie directly into the land-based electric grid. Undersea cables are incredibly expensive compared to overhead lines, and the other benefits of barge-based plants outweigh offshore generation capabilities in most cases.

Floating Power Plants On the Move

Of course, these FPPs in New York aren’t the only ones in the world. Large FPPs are also active in India, Venezeula, and many other coastal cities. They also weren’t the first floating power generating facilities, either. The SS Jacona was built in the early 1900s and then converted to a mobile power plant to help provide power to a local utility in Maine after a blizzard knocked out much of the transmission infrastructure in the area. It was then commissioned for various purposes during World War 2. The first nuclear-powered power ship was built in the 1960s and commissioned for use at the Panama Canal where it provided 10 MW of electricity during the late 60s and into the 70s. It became an invaluable resource when a water shortage prevented a hydroelectric dam on part of the canal from operating, and allowed boats to traverse the canal lock system without a decrease in the amount of electricity available to the surrounding areas.

Akademik Lomonosov floating nuclear power plant [image via Innovate Now]
While it’s feasible that any nuclear-powered vessel, like an aircraft carrier or a submarine, could be used in a pinch as a floating power plant, some purpose-built nuclear-powered FPPs are still being constructed today, mostly by Russia to provide power and heat to cities that are hard to reach by land. The Akademik Lomonosov floating nuclear power plant was constructed last year and was sent to Pevek, a small port town in extreme northeastern Russia. Shipping all of the materials over rail and building the plant on land would have been too difficult comparatively because of the extreme size of Russia, so this was a preferred option. Some express valid concerns over having a nuclear power plant in the ocean, and there have been nuclear accidents in the ocean in the past, but hopefully the engineers and designers of the plants have mitigated the risks the best that they can.

More Floating Power on the Horizon

It seems as though the construction of these plants, both nuclear- and fossil fuel-powered, will increase as the demand for energy rises especially in developing countries with access to large ports. Even some of the downsides of building these types of plants may turn out to be advantages in the long run, such as having to deal with hurricanes and typhoons. As long as they can be moved relatively quickly, they could be taken out of the path of the storm and then brought back in, while a land-based plant may suffer more severe damage. Rising sea levels as a result of global warming will also present challenges to coastal cities in the future, but power barges and FPPs will be immune to these risks as long as the surrounding power grid infrastructure is available. For certain, expect to see more of these units in the future.

62 thoughts on “Floating Power Plants; The Coastal City Solution Sure To Be Increasingly Popular

    1. Nor are they used for such.

      These power plants are a result of the intermittency of increasing amounts of renewable power, which requires new capacity that can be brought on- and off-line quickly. They’re less efficient than conventional power plants, and they cost more per Megawatt because the system consists of multiple small units with duplicated infrastructure and controls — both for speed (ramping rate) and for redundancy because the frequency and power balance of the grid has become more and more critical.

      These plants see typical utilization rates around 50-60% – with multiple plants sharing the load.

    2. I heard a story from a guy who works at a methanol plant that used to generate their own electricity with gas turbines, burning waste gas left over from the methanol production process. A couple of the turbines had been running for 40 years and they decided to take them apart to figure out why they hadn’t broken down in such a long time. They found no mechanical wear *at all*, because of the well maintained oil system that fed the hydrodynamic bearings.

      When a gas turbine is running there is no metal-on-metal contact, so nothing wears. The vast majority of the wear and tear that does happen to an aircraft engine occurs during start up while the oil pressure is still coming up. As an example, one way of scheduling maintenance on aircraft engines is to refurbish every 1200hours of running time, but each time it’s started another 2-3 hours is added to the running total.

      Industrial turbines have a much easier life than aircraft engines because weight and space are not a constraint, so everything can be made much sturdier, so they have plenty of safety margin in the design.

      1. There’s more to go wrong in a turbine than the bearings.

        My old mechanics professor used to give an example of an elevator pulley that had been working happily for 30 years until one day it just suddenly snapped the axle clean off. Moral of the story: stress fatigue cracks grow at an exponential rate. They start microscopically small and they stay happy like that for years and years until one day…

      2. “Waste Gas”..
        Ha! The big reveal..
        My gas turbines burned waste gas, the quality was sketchy so they were started on diesel.
        Up to speed, switch to methane, then connect to Edison.
        Also, the gas was actually nasty, carrying debris such as dirt, bugs, etc.
        My crews were cleaning filters until I installed a venturi scrubber to knockout the crap.
        Even then, the control valves suffered over time. Throttle valves don’t like dirt.

    1. That’s pretty cool. Amazing it’s so flexible. At first I admit I knee-jerked and had the impulse to say this tech was crazy, but honestly we’ve had nuclear reactors on sea vessels for ages. Just most of the time they’re powering the vessel itself. It’s a pretty mature technology by now, and the safety record is quite phenomenal.

      Wonder where we’d be now if people didn’t sensationalize nuclear accidents and gave equivalent reporting to deaths caused by fossil fuels and associated phenomena.

        1. Nuclear submarine reactors are comparatively tiny, around 20-30 MW. The trick is that the power of the reactor scales with the volume of the core, while its ability to transfer heat out in a loss-of-coolant event scales with the surface enclosing the core.

          To make matters simple, imagine the reactor core is a sphere of size X. When the power scales in X^3 and the ability to shed heat scales in X^2, when you make X smaller, at some point you reach a critical scale where the ability to shed heat becomes larger than the ability to create heat, and a core meltdown event cannot result in a loss of containment because the core cannot melt its way out of the vessel.

          In other words, if your nuclear reactor is made small enough, you can in effect just look the other way, and nothing spectacular will happen – assuming it’s basic design is sound, instead of being a borderline nuclear bomb like the SL-1 experimental reactor.

          1. The opposite is also true. The larger you make the reactor, the more dangerous it becomes, and the more it depends on just nothing ever going wrong.

            It’s just that building nuclear reactors, getting the licenses and permits, insurance, and political support, is such a long and arduous, and costly affair that you can spend ten years and a billion dollars before you even get to lay the first brick – just to cross the red tape – so nobody can build smaller reactors. Plans and designs exist, in principle, but they don’t make enough money to cover the cost of the planning and bureaucracy, so reactors nowadays have to be built monstrously large with thermal powers in the multiple Gigawatts.

            The anti-nuclear crowd has won the argument that nuclear power is too dangerous to have – by making it impossible to actually build safe nuclear reactors. The only people to have them are the military, because they don’t have to mind public opinion – they can just build the damn things.

          2. I just googled and read the SL-1 story. Fascinating! The ability to go critical in 4ms with a simple operator error was a bit of a design flaw. Interesting also that the design ‘self contained’ instead of doing a Chernobyl.

          3. “Go critical” is what you want the reactor to do. “prompt criticality” is the term when the reactor power suddenly shoots up because the fuel reacts too fast to the increase in power.

            In the reactor, there’s two types of neutrons: prompt and delayed. Prompt neutrons are released at the moment the uranium splits, and delayed neutrons are released when the breakdown products break down again. If the reactor runs on the prompt neutrons, the power goes up exponentially because it just keeps speeding up – it turns into a bomb.

            The SL-1 was designed to run on 93% enriched uranium, relying on the moderators to absorb enough neutrons to control the reaction. When the operator dropped the control rod, it went completely out of control.

          4. Also check out the “Demon core”, which is also an example of what happens when you go poking around on a piece of highly enriched uranium.

            One slip of a screwdriver and it goes.

  1. ” The high quality of materials and high tolerances in the aviation world are put to use making power rather than pushing airplanes. ”

    Trickle-down technology aka the cellphone world.

    ” It’s even harder for infrastructure that most consider an eyesore, like a power plant or electric substation. It’s no surprise then that some of the largest cities in the world have been making use of floating power plants rather than constructing them on dry land.”

    So one makes the port an “eyesore” instead of inland.

    “Not only do people not want to foot the tax bill for things they may not see an immediate benefit from, but it can be difficult to find the space for bigger roads, more pipelines, or subway tunnels in a crowded urban area.”

    Sticking it on a ship doesn’t change that. And most likely once in place their life is assured, and may need even more in the future since electrical needs tend to trend upward.

    BTW love the story photo, but would have been too provocative to place three-mile island on a barge.

    1. >”Trickle-down technology aka the cellphone world.”

      More like, “around it goes”, since gas turbines were first used for pumps and power generators, from which the technology was adapted for jet engines, and the improvements adopted back into power generators and pumps.

      The high quality of materials and close tolerances were always the case with turbogenerators, since they traditionally operate with superheated steam which is so hot it’s borderline corrosive to the turbine blades, due to the spontaneous thermal breakdown of H2O into H2 and O in the presence of an iron catalyst (hot steel).

      That is also what limits the thermal efficiency of traditional steam cycle plants to around 40%. They can’t run any hotter – so the combined cycle plant was invented where the gas turbine burns the fuel first at a higher temperature, and then the steam turbine catches the exhaust heat at a lower temperature. This can nearly double the efficiency.

      Unfortunately, all that is wasted on running the gas turbine alone in a load following configuration, where it’s less efficient than the old steam turbine, just so the greenies could collect their subsidies for their wind and solar farms by dumping uncontrolled amounts of electricity on the grid regardless of the demand or load condition. Everything else, including generator efficiency, has to yield.

      1. For a simple calculation: imagine that you have 1000 MW of wind farms with a capacity factor of 30% and 1000 MW of peak/load-following gas turbines to pick up the slack when the wind turbines ain’t turning. That’s 70% of the time on average.

        Then throw away the wind turbines and replace the gas turbines with combined cycle units of twice the efficiency. Whoops, you burn 29% less fuel and make less CO2 by not having the wind farms. In fact, you only need to improve the efficiency of the generators by 42% – not double – in order to break even.

        But that’s environmentalism for you. It’s not about the results, it’s about how it feels in your heart when you’re doing something for mother earth.

        To improve things, things must change
        We are changing things
        Therefore, we are improving things.

          1. That’s a perfectly viable idea.

            Unfortunately, most of the time when we’re talking about adapting demand, what we’re actually talking about is energy rationing – someone else choosing when and how much energy you’re allowed to buy.

        1. It’s not a binary decision of a) renewables plus only simple-cycle turbines or b) combined cycle gas plants.

          Do you have any examples of states/balancing areas that have increased per MWh CO2 by increasing renewable energy fraction? I’m not saying it hasn’t or can’t happen, but you make it sound like renewable energy cannot decrease CO2 emissions, which isn’t true.

          1. Combined cycle gas plants, also nuclear generators, CHP, etc. are too slow to co-exist with rapidly varying renewables. Their investment costs over their fuel costs are also greater, so they’re less economical when they’re forced to throttle down and run at lower capacity to give way to the renewable power.

            Renewable energy in practice does very little to CO2 output because it causes inefficiencies in the rest of the system. It’s not to say it cannot decrease emission – just that in practice it does not. There is an associated drop in CO2 production though, because the requirement for rapid power adjustments displaces coal and heavy oil in power production in favor of natural gas, which inherently produces less CO2 per kWh by having less carbon in it.

            Despite the hundreds of billions in subsidies spent on wind and solar power in the US and EU, the majority of CO2 emission reductions have come exactly from transitioning the power system to natural gas.

          2. >”Do you have any examples of states/balancing areas that have increased per MWh CO2 by increasing renewable energy fraction?”

            Germany – arguably, since their power sector has failed to reduce CO2 output despite increasing renewables – because they are largely unable to actually use the power. They sell the output across the European synchronized grid, and then burn coal for their own use. The total CO2 emissions have risen slightly since 2008.

            Another case in potential would be France, which produces 70% of their electricity with nuclear power. In order to increase the amount of renewable electricity on their grid, they would have to shut down nuclear generators and replace them partially with gas turbines.

      2. Actually, unsubsidized wind and solar is cheaper now than heavily subsidized coal, nuclear and gas in certain cases. The technology is only getting cheaper as time goes on as well. There have been significant cost reductions in the past 10 years. https://cleantechnica.com/2018/11/21/solar-onshore-now-cheapest-source-of-new-bulk-power/

        So, you’re completely wrong about it being about subsidies. In fact, maybe you should start complaining about the massive subsidies we give to the fossil fuel companies? USA spent >$649 Billion on fossil fuel subsidies last year, according to IMF and EESI. https://www.eesi.org/papers/view/fact-sheet-fossil-fuel-subsidies-a-closer-look-at-tax-breaks-and-societal-costs

        Additionally, battery backup is heading to the point where it will be cheaper than the gas turbine peaker plants. At that point, there will be no economic benefit to running those. https://cleantechnica.com/2019/03/28/battery-offshore-wind-costs-plummet-threaten-oil-gas/ and https://cleantechnica.com/2019/07/04/first-comes-renewable-energy-then-comes-battery-storage-then-comes/

        There are other energy storage technologies as well as some interesting ideas like using thermal storage to soak up excess power in off hours for heating and cooling.

        1. >”maybe you should start complaining about the massive subsidies we give to the fossil fuel companies?”

          Misleading comparison. Fossil fuels get a tiny fraction of the subsidies when you count per MWh produced. Also, demanding that I should also complain about other problems is just a diversion tactic, not an argument.

          >”Actually, unsubsidized wind and solar is cheaper now”

          That claim is true only if you ignore the cost of storage and/or load following capacity required to integrate the power to the grid. From the same article you can see that solar or wind plus storage is still many times more expensive than any of the alternatives.

          Also, the article you quote is picking and choosing their facts, such as appealing to the fact that CCGT is expensive – in the Asia Pacific region. Meanwhile in the US, gas turbines are exceedingly cheap and solar power isn’t. This is just another case of facts lost in statistics by mashing together different cases from two ends of a spectrum – and the other variant which is “Solar power is cheap! …In Abu Dhabi.”. Yes, but what about New York?

          >”battery backup is heading to the point where it will be cheaper than the gas turbine peaker plants.”

          Notice that “peaker” and “load following” are not technically the same thing, although the terms are usually interchanged. Power prices at the worst peaks can rise to thousands of dollars per MWh, because the backup and rapid response generators – the proper peakers – are very expensive since they make money by operating only a few hours or days per year. The fact that batteries are now starting to become cheap enough to compete on that market doesn’t really say much for batteries.

          Thermal storage is nice though. Wonder why nobody builds any. Oh, right: burning gas directly off the pipeline costs you 1-2 cents per kWh, or 5-6 c/kWh piped to your house, which is far cheaper than the renewable electricity plus the cost of the thermal storage system. Where gas isn’t cheap, something else usually is – such as in eastern Europe where Russian and German coal come in at 1-2 cents a kWh if all you want is heat, and they have extensive district heating systems to pipe it around the cities.

          1. Here’s another great article about renewable energy and battery storage: https://www.utilitydive.com/news/electricity-costs-from-battery-storage-down-76-since-2012-bnef/551337/

            I’m glad it’s not up to you because the economics are such that green energy will win out. Not because of subsidies but because it is legitimately cheaper and better technology. It is on an exponential curve now because of more people buying it and process changes that are reducing the cost of the technology over time. Solar panels have dropped in cost significantly (84%) since 2010 and Wind Turbines now cost less than half of what they did in 2010. You’ve clearly gotten a lot of “facts” from anti-green energy sources that sit around and try to come up with the most truthy soundbites they can in order to try to make green energy sound not so green. They will lose. I’ll leave you with this thought:

            “It is now hard to deny that wind and solar PV are as cheap or cheaper than coal and gas, just about everywhere,” said Tifenn Brandily, an analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and lead author of the report. “And combined with battery storage they are also now increasingly able to compete with fossil fuel alternatives for hours when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. Batteries are also today the cheapest source of fast-response flexibility and peaking capacity everywhere except the US where cheap gas still has an edge. As technology costs continue to decline it’s a matter of when, not if, these new energy technologies will disrupt electricity systems all over the world.”

            BTW, I know you’re going to glom onto that last part but he’s talking about it as a disruptive technology, not that it’s going to disrupt the proper operation of the power grid.

          2. “Not because of subsidies but because it is legitimately cheaper and better technology. ”

            Here’s to hope.

            The fundamental technology isn’t bad – the problem is with the application and the economic realities where different producers have to compete with each other on a market that is saturated with power produced out of phase with demand. Solar is especially vulnerable to this because there’s just one sun for everyone, so it couldn’t exist at all without price fixing through subsidies.

            I don’t believe for one second that batteries will solve the storage issue. There’s simply too many logistical and economical issues with producing hundreds of terawatt-hours worth of batteries to meet global demand for energy storage.

            Synthetic fuels and chemicals are the key.

          3. For example, a big hoopla is being made about how low the PPA prices get for solar/wind.

            But what is the PPA? It’s a power purchasing agreement where an utility agrees to buy the output of a renewable project at a fixed price, and promises to buy every kWh they make. It also includes agreements like paying for curtailment for when they can’t accept the power.

            The PPA does not reflect the real cost of the power. It reflects the VALUE of the power, or how much anyone is willing to pay for it. The levelized cost may be, say 5-7 cents a kWh while the PPA is 2.5 cents – and the difference is paid by the subsidies, and then some.

            That means the value of the power is 2.5 cents, while the cost to the producer is 5-7 cents, and the true cost to the society is the PPA + subsidies paid, which is still greater. That’s not a very good deal.

            The true price paid for the power causes net negative energy production, because the economic activity required to pay the price requires one to spend energy (on average) which is valued in money. Since money = energy, and you’re essentially spending a dollar to earn a dime, you’re burning more energy than you’re generating. It just seems like you’re making your economy cleaner because the proportion of clean energy used by the economy is growing – while the economy itself has to grow more and consume more energy to pay your subsidies.

            The only way it would work if there were no subsidies, and the PPA was greater than the cost of production, but nobody is willing to do that while the subsidies are available, and the power is too intermittent to use (except when diluted into a very large grid in small portions).

            Not all power is made under a PPA. The PPA is based on some estimates of availability, while the real output is anything but predictable. The portion that exceeds the PPA is sold on the spot market, where it often causes the prices to drop negative because you have to pay money for someone to bother and take it. Likewise, the portion that goes under the PPA is bought off the spot market by the renewables owner, which means some of the subsidies go into paying peaker diesel generators and gas turbines.

            This situation is far from green energy “winning out”, because the system is just not built to deal with it. It’s built to hide the fact that the system can’t handle it by all sorts of bureaucratic tricks and clever accounting.

    1. Ship might be stretching the definition a little. I assumed this would be more like the casinos where I live in Missouri. Missouri doesn’t allow gambling, so they’ve built casinos on barges, and they’re technically on the river (where they don’t have the same restrictions), but I think they’re permanently set into the river bed. I think there are (or were) rules where they had to disconnect, and be free-standing in the river a certain number of times/period of time per year, but it was purely for show/to get around regulations.

      1. Here in Los Angeles, we have the “Queen Mary” sitting in a puddle surrounded by a artificial levee.
        I’m sure it will not sink any lower. (Side note: My father in law was one of the iron workers that cut the Queen up to make it a tourist trap.) Many river currents would support a floating water powered generator system. It’s true we have many dams turning things and creating sparks, but more could be done it seems. While some say the Nukes are the answer, most suffer from the incompetent human operator/maintenance group.

  2. “Aeroderivitave turbines are, like the name suggests, based on aircraft technology and are very similar to a jet engine.”

    What’s the noise level like when the turbines are running?

    BTW, the rust on that floating nuclear powerplant doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. I sure hope it’s nothing, but can’t they put some protective coating/paint on it? (c:

    1. “but can’t they put some protective coating/paint on it? (c:”

      We are talking (writing) about Russia, a country that covers 13 Time Zones and has the economy of Italy.
      They probably re-purposed an existing barge for the FPP.

      Looking at the satellite image of Pevek, I hope that volcano the city is sitting around, is extinct!

    2. About as silent as every other powerplant? Most powerplants today use turbines, and they have been for a very long time.
      Sound can be muffled, just like a car-engine. A properly muffled engine can be almost completely silent where normal conversation can make it impossible to tell if it is turned on or off, or it can destroy ear-drums if there is even a tiny leak in it.

      1. All of my gas turbines were fitted into a container sized enclosure, fully insulated for sound and weather. Many were inside a larger building, (4 standing next to the other) and some were onside in the weather. Some were tasked as a “stand by power” service, but most were generating (Selling power) power for the local utility. Maintenance/operation crews opened access doors for system checks, none lost an eardrum. The key is proper ducting of the exhaust to a sound dampener muffler system. The steam turbines were a bit noisier, but not that bad. The gas units were smaller (10 MW) and the steam turbines were 10 MW up to 50 MW. Fun times indeed.

  3. For any thernal power station (in order of decreasing desirability: nuclear, biowaste fuel, fossil fuel) being in water might be quite helpful. As the carnot efficiency of converting a heat gradient into useful (electrical in this case) work improves with a colder cold sink having a large chilly ocean to dump heat into might be quite useful. In theory, atleast away from warm trpoical waters, powerplants with easy acces to a huge amount of water to dump the heat into might be mroe efficient than inland ones which just use a river or coastal ones which must pump water in, exchange the heat, then return it to sea.

  4. I don’t understand it, wouldn’t barges of solar panels and windmills be better for the environment? CO2 production, is still CO2, regardless of hydrocarbon burned. We’ve only a short time before we hit the point of no return. Well, that’s confusing too, since some sources claim we passed that milestone already, and can only hope to slow the roasting process a little. Most sources keep changing the tipping point, could be 10 years, 30 years, 100 years, maybe never. Sort of looks to me, there is little confidence in solar and wind, most just ‘green’ symbols, of we care, and doing something, ineffectual as it might be. I personally like a warmer climate, and moved to Florida 32 years ago. The hurricanes are quite as bad, as seen on TV. Plants do their best in a warm, humid climate, with 800-1200 ppm CO2. Why not just let go, ans see how it turns out? Every living thing on the planet relies on carbon to exist. The only thing that draws carbon directly from the environment, are plants. Plants provide food for everything else, and have thousands of other uses, and they even burn… The scary part, plants starve and die, around 150 ppm. Isn’t the carbon-capture/sequester target 280 ppm? Not much of a safety margin, for something that is critical to all life. We get too aggressive reducing CO2, we are likely to do greater harm, than good.

    1. “Why not just let go…” because when you see your bank balance dropping you don’t wait till the reposessors come knocking before deciding to do what you can. It’s a whole planet not some disposable item with other options. There is nothing confusing about it just look at the graphs. If you find that exponential graph comforting lay off the happy pills. 99% scientists say this is no good but you think that isn’t definite enough? Wow speechless.

    2. “There are but two ways of forming an opinion in science. One is the scientific method; the other, the scholastic. One can judge from experiment, or one can blindly accept authority. To the scientific mind, experimental proof is all important and theory is merely a convenience in description, to be junked when it no longer fits. To the academic mind, authority is everything and facts are junked when they do not fit theory laid down by authority.” from “Life-Line” by Robert A. Heinlein August, 1939.

        1. Hope that our species never meets an alien one which does have enough mental capabilities for ALL of them to think the scientific way, they will outclass us in ever possible respect. Or hope we will, they’d make a much better authority to have than one made up of beings which fall back on what Heinlein, according to the above quote, called the “scholastic” mindset.

          1. The trick is, science operates by “paradigms” which are frameworks of theories about what the empirical data actually means. The paradigm comes to be defined by the “scholastics” who refine it by studying it.

            Heinlein’s “true scientist” who just goes out there to gather data from experiments is like Adam Savage, who famously says that the only difference between science and goofing around is writing the results down.

            Yes, but then what? What does it all mean? There comes the part where you have to assume a paradigm to explain it all, and rejecting the “scholastics” for being authoritarian is simply inserting yourself in their place. After all, theories don’t work in isolation – you can’t just pick and choose your theories whenever one doesn’t seem to fit what you want to see in your data. If your explanation of the data doesn’t fit the bigger picture, then it’s more likely your explanation is wrong, or the data is wrong, even though it fits some arbitrarily chosen theory quite nicely.

      1. That’s why solar and wind aren’t the best choice, too much real estate. Not to mention, it would be expensive, if a cruise ship plowed into it, as they occasionally do , when docking, or just pulling into port, or heading out to sea… Pilot error, or just hard to steer?

  5. Sorry for small note. Ilustration picture: power socket must be upside down, not like on the picture. This position is dangerous, especially in the us kind of socket, without a protection collar (like European sockets). Please do not propagate this way for power socket installation.

  6. Hospitals require the outlet installed with the ground connector up, hot and neutral down. This is to prevent something propped against the wall from sliding down and shorting the neutral and hot, or shorting just the hot to the object that fell.

  7. Floating methanol power plants are the future, IMO. Natural gas power plants can be cheaply modified to utilize methanol. Methanol can come from natural gas or from carbon neutral resources (biogas, the synthesis of hydrogen of CO2 from the atmosphere using nuclear, solar, wind, or hydroelectric power sources.


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