Electric power is beginning to be practical for short duration high performance flight - air racing and aerobatics. The electric motor and propeller assembly is lighter than the conventional gasoline engine/propeller - as long as the battery size is kept small enough that there isn't a weight penalty over conventional design, performance should be fine. This translates into ten or fifteen minutes of high power setting flying - sort of airshow or race length.
Several projects are underway.. here's one.
and here's a more heavily financed project with backing from Siemens. An existing Extra 300 is modified. The Extra 300 is a world class aerobatic mount
With anything like this there are probably a variety of interpretations, but it is clear what we have now is nothing but pandering...
Before the speech, Bush had asked his advisors for a proposal that could make dramatic change without dramatic government intrusion. Bush wanted to work with the market, not pick winners and losers. His advisors suggested a gas tax. Make gas a lot more expensive and people will start choosing other fuels. Of course, this would never fly because most members of Bush’s political party had sworn not to raise taxes of any kind. I imagine someone in the Council of Economic Advisors standing up to say, “Clearly, the best solution would be to tax oil but … we’re Republicans.”
Then, one of these advisors, Benjamin Ho, “reached into the economics literature for an almost subversively clever alternative,” Breetz writes. That alternative: Tell oil companies that they must use an unrealistically high quantity of alternative fuels or pay a penalty — in this case $1 per gallon. It’s functionally equivalent to a gas tax, but it doesn’t look like one. If that doesn’t make sense, you can read how it works here, but remember this is incomprehensible by design. The Bush administration didn’t expect the alternative fuels to emerge out of thin air — it chose a number so big that it would force companies to pay a penalty and push gas prices up. Setting a mandate for 35 billion gallons of alternative fuels would add about 20 cents to the price of gas, on top of the existing 18.6 cent federal gas tax.
Energy requirements for data centers have leveled off. Traditional inefficiencies have been attacked and fewer larger servers are being more efficiently utilized. A report from a highly respected team
United States Data Center Energy Usage Report
Arman Shehabi, Sarah Smith, Dale Sartor, Richard Brown, Magnus Herrlin
Environmental and Energy Impact Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, Stanford University
McCormick School of Engineering, Northwestern University
Nathaniel Horner, Inês Azevedo
Climate and Energy Decision Making Center, Carnegie Mellon University
Federal Energy Management Program, U.S. Department of Energy
The tl;dr from the report:
This report estimates historical data center electricity consumption back to 2000, relying on previous studies and historical shipment data, and forecasts consumption out to 2020 based on new trends and the most recent data available. Figure ES-1 provides an estimate of total U.S. data center electricity use (servers, storage, network equipment, and infrastructure) from 2000-2020. In 2014, data centers in the U.S. consumed an estimated 70 billion kWh, representing about 1.8% of total U.S. electricity consumption. Current study results show data center electricity consumption increased by about 4% from 2010-2014, a large shift from the 24% percent increase estimated from 2005-2010 and the nearly 90% increase estimated from 2000-2005. Energy use is expected to continue slightly increasing in the near future, increasing 4% from 2014-2020, the same rate as the past five years. Based on current trend estimates, U.S. data centers are projected to consume approximately 73 billion kWh in 2020.
Many factors contribute to the overall energy trends found in this report, though the most conspicuous change may be the reduced growth in the number of servers operating in data centers. While shipments of new servers into data centers continue to grow every year, the growth rate has diminished over the past 15 years. From 2000-2005, server shipments increased by 15% each year resulting in a near doubling of servers operating in data centers. From 2005-2010, the annual shipment increase fell to 5%, partially driven by a conspicuous drop in 2009 shipments (most likely from the economic recession), as well as from the emergence of server virtualization across that 5-year period. The annual growth in server shipments further dropped after 2010 to 3% and that growth rate is now expected to continue through 2020. This 3% annual growth rate coincides with the rise in very large “hyperscale” data centers and an increased popularity of moving previously localized data center activity to colocation or cloud facilities. In fact, nearly all server shipment growth since 2010 occurred in servers destined for large hyperscale data centers, where servers are often configured for maximum productivity and operated at high utilization rates, resulting in fewer servers needed in the hyperscale data centers than would be required to provide the same services in traditional, smaller, data centers.
The global warming goal of 1.5° to 2.0°C over the pre-industrial era is laudable and perhaps the damage could be handled. Unfortunately, given the current level of commitment , getting there is fantasy.
Commentary on prices in current systems from Berkeley's Haas Energy Institute. For reference burning a gallon of gas releases about 20 pounds of carbon dioxide. So divide these numbers by 50 to get a rough idea of how much this would tack onto a gallon of gas.
What happens if the world went all out burning through the known reserves of fossil fuels - about five trillion metric tonnes? The likely results are frightening ... average global temperatures rise from 6.4° to 9.5°C and temperatures in the Arctic soar by as much as 19.5°C. This is much greater than earlier estimates and would result in widespread ecosystem collapses
The paper appears in Nature Climate Change (behind their paywall)
The climate response to five trillion tonnes of carbon
Katarzyna B. Tokarska1, Nathan P. Gillett2, Andrew J. Weaver1, Vivek K. Arora2 & Michael Eby1,3
1School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria 2Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis, Environment and Climate Change Canada, University of Victoria 3Department of Geography, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6, Canada
Concrete actions to curtail greenhouse gas emissions have so far been limited on a global scale1, and therefore the ultimate magnitude of climate change in the absence of further mitigation is an important consideration for climate policy2. Estimates of fossil fuel reserves and resources are highly uncertain, and the amount used under a business-as-usual scenario would depend on prevailing economic and technological conditions. In the absence of global mitigation actions, five trillion tonnes of carbon (5 EgC), corresponding to the lower end of the range of estimates of the total fossil fuel resource3, is often cited as an estimate of total cumulative emissions4, 5, 6. An approximately linear relationship between global warming and cumulative CO2 emissions is known to hold up to 2 EgC emissions on decadal to centennial timescales7, 8, 9, 10, 11; however, in some simple climate models the predicted warming at higher cumulative emissions is less than that predicted by such a linear relationship8. Here, using simulations12 from four comprehensive Earth system models13, we demonstrate that CO2-attributable warming continues to increase approximately linearly up to 5 EgC emissions. These models simulate, in response to 5 EgC of CO2 emissions, global mean warming of 6.4–9.5 °C, mean Arctic warming of 14.7–19.5 °C, and mean regional precipitation increases by more than a factor of four. These results indicate that the unregulated exploitation of the fossil fuel resource could ultimately result in considerably more profound climate changes than previously suggested.
Pumped hydro, assuming you have a proper location, is the cheap way to store energy on a large scale. You pump water uphill to a reservoir and then let it run downhill through turbines to generate electricity as needed. Cheap and efficient as batteries go and they can ramp from standby to full power in ten seconds - much faster than fossil fuel plants.