Question from Steve Kirsch – Nuclear power plants.


“you want 3 TW of new nuclear. that’s a 2.3GW plant every week for 25 years… you have 1X 3GW plant a week for 25 years which would overshoot your goal. am i missing something?” First, and to be clear, I don’t “want” 3TW. In doing the numbers on what would be required to stay under 450ppm of CO2 it looks like you need to create 11.5-12TW of clean power as well as keeping demand at current levels (16TW). I tried to agnostically apportion that 11.5 TW across known working technologies, solar PV, solar thermal, wind, geothermal, nuclear, and biofuels. It’s a thought experiment, and I would be happy with any solution for climate change, hence more or less of any one of these is fine with me as long as it all adds up. And yes, 450 isn’t necessarily a ‘safe’ target, so I’d be happy for that […]

Plastic waste to fuel?

Another link with a question mark from Tim O’Reilly. He does like to antagonize me:

$10 per barrel oil sounds awesome. But… with everything that sounds too good to be true I think I’d like to ask a few more questions:

My reply:

Awesome. (If true, and we gather all plastic) that can cover around 0.5% of our oil use for transportation. Very likely it’s a plasma or similar type of gasifier “infrared energy”. hmm that could be interpreted as just heating it… About 0.5% of oil is used for making plastics, so best case, that’s what you’d get back if we gathered all of it.


probably the reason their $10 a barrel is a believable number is that they get paid $160/tonne for disposing of the waste (that’s a typical number in the US). So if it costs $140 to process a ton of waste, they get […]

Green Buildings, a question from Graham Hill.

This request came from my friend Graham Hill at Treehugger:

I am wondering if we are not quite looking at the right metrics when it comes to buildings being green. And i’d be interested in your thoughts. and ideas about who would really know a lot about the lifecycle/energy considerations of buildings.

Here’s what I think we should be looking at from a carbon perspective: I think we want a measurement of CO2 Emitted per person hour. Here’s how you might figure it out:

(Total Building CO2) = (CO2 of Embodied energy of materials used) + (CO2 of Energy used in construction) + (CO2 of Energy used throughout building’s life) + (CO2 of Energy used to disassemble bldg at end of life) – (CO2 of Embodied Energy of materials reclaimed at end of building’s life)

(Total Building Person Hours) = (Number Building “Users” (density)) x (Hours Used Per Person)

Figure […]

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