Climate Science Glossary

Term Lookup

Enter a term in the search box to find its definition.


Use the controls in the far right panel to increase or decrease the number of terms automatically displayed (or to completely turn that feature off).

Term Lookup


All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

Home Arguments Software Resources Comments The Consensus Project Translations About Support

Twitter Facebook YouTube Mastodon MeWe

RSS Posts RSS Comments Email Subscribe

Climate's changed before
It's the sun
It's not bad
There is no consensus
It's cooling
Models are unreliable
Temp record is unreliable
Animals and plants can adapt
It hasn't warmed since 1998
Antarctica is gaining ice
View All Arguments...

New? Register here
Forgot your password?

Latest Posts


Checklist: How to take advantage of brand-new clean energy tax credits

Posted on 25 January 2023 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Samantha Harrington. While predicated on accepted scientific findings, this article includes conclusions of the author and is presented to our readers as an informed perspective.

Imagine it’s a cold February night and your furnace breaks. You want to replace it with an electric heat pump because you’ve heard that tax credits will help pay for the switch. And you know that heat pumps can reduce energy costs and the carbon footprint of your home.

But it turns out that your home needs a new electric panel to support a heat pump. Your house is freezing and you don’t have the time to make that improvement. You’re forced to stick to a gas-burning furnace that will last 15 to 20 years, so you lose out on the tax break and cheaper energy bills — and you’ve locked in fossil fuel pollution from the furnace that will likely continue until the late 2030s or beyond.

This example shows why it’s important to make a plan now to make the most of new federal clean energy tax credits available under the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, said Sarah Lazarovic, the head of communications and brand at Rewiring America, a nonprofit that advocates for widespread use of clean electricity.

These new tax credits are designed to help consumers move away from highly polluting furnaces, home appliances, and cars in favor of newer, cleaner technology — such as heat pumps, induction stoves, and electric vehicles — that run on electricity.

Lazarovic suggests making a pledge to yourself: “From here on out, everything I buy is going to be electric, because otherwise I’m literally just throwing money away.”

Here are nine items to put on your checklist between now and 2032, the year when tax credits are scheduled to expire or start to decline.

THIS YEAR: Get a home energy audit

Home energy audits help you understand how much energy your home uses and improvements that can reduce that use. The energy-efficient home improvement tax credit will help cover the cost of home energy audits. The credit covers 30% of the cost of a home energy audit and is capped at $150.

“A home energy assessment should be your first step before making energy-saving home improvements, as well as before adding a renewable energy system to your home,” according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

SOON: Find out if you need a new electric panel or need to rewire your home to support heat pumps and other electric appliances

If you have an older home or just aren’t sure if your home is ready to support electrification, contact a trusted electrician or contractor. Tell that person you’re hoping to replace your gas furnace or other appliances with their electricity-based equivalents in the next 10 years. Ask if those upgrades will require a new electric panel or wiring. If so, start that process as soon as you can. That way, if you have any surprise furnace breakdowns, your home will be ready.

The energy-efficient home improvement tax credit will help offset the costs of updating your electric panel and wiring. That credit is worth 30% of the cost, including installation. The full amount you can get for home improvements is capped at $1,200 each year. For more details about this tax credit, check out Rewiring America’s fact sheet.

SOON: Improve insulation in your home

A well-insulated home stays warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Improving your home’s insulation reduces your heating and cooling needs, potentially enabling you to purchase a smaller, cheaper heat pump when the time comes.

The Inflation Reduction Act includes a 30% tax credit for energy efficiency improvements, capped at $1,200.

If you’re making other efficiency upgrades, such as updating windows, doors, or your electrical panel, consider spreading those improvements over several years to get the most of the credit. For example, if you used $1,200 worth of credit on insulation in one year and bought new windows that same year, you’d hit the cap with the insulation alone and would miss out on credit for the windows.

OVER SEVERAL YEARS: Replace your windows

Drafty windows are a common source of energy leaks from a home, particularly older residences. The Inflation Reduction Act includes a 30% tax credit for window improvements. As described above, the tax credit for home energy efficiency improvements, which includes electric panel updates, insulation, and efficient doors and windows, is capped at $1,200 each year. Windows alone are capped at $600. It’s important to remember that these caps reset each year.

“If someone were to contemplate replacing all of the exterior windows in their home, they actually may want to do that over several years beginning in 2023,” said Tom O’Saben, director of tax content and government relations at the National Association of Tax Professionals.

OVER SEVERAL YEARS: Replace exterior doors

Like windows, doors can also be drafty and energy-inefficient. And like windows, the tax credit available for doors is 30%. The credit you can get for one exterior door is capped at $250, and $500 is the cap for all exterior doors.

WHEN IT BREAKS: Replace your furnace with a heat pump

Heat pumps can both cool and heat your home. In the summer, they pull heat from the air of your home and move it outside. In the winter, they pull heat from the outdoor air into your home to warm it. Heat pumps are more energy-efficient than conventional air conditioning or heating, and they run on electricity rather than natural gas or oil.

Read: A big source of carbon pollution is lurking in basements and attics

Several different kinds of heat pumps are available, so work with your contractor or energy efficiency professionals to determine which type makes the most sense for your climate and living situation.

The energy-efficient home improvement credit offers a 30% credit for heat pumps, but the tax credit for heat pumps and heat pump water heaters is capped at $2,000 annually. For the most savings, you will likely want to purchase your heat pump and heat pump water heater in separate years.

The average cost of a new heat pump and installation is $5,500, according to Forbes, but prices can vary widely based on the size of the heat pump you need. A 30% credit on that average cost would be $1,650, well below the $2,000 cap. These credits are nonrefundable, so you would need to owe at least $1,650 in tax to get the full credit.

If you need an electric panel upgrade to support either a heat pump or a heat pump water heater, you can get up to $600 in tax credits for that upgrade. As described above, the $600 counts toward a $1,200 total annual cap on improvements, which includes new windows and doors, so you may also want to plan those updates for different years.

WHEN IT BREAKS: Replace your water heater with a heat pump water heater

Heat pump water heaters use electricity to pull heat from the air to warm water. They can be two to three times more energy efficient than conventional water heaters.

The average new heat pump water heater costs between $1,500 and $3,000, according to Forbes. The same tax credit for the heat pump applies to the heat pump water heater. So if you spent $2,000 on a heat pump water heater, you would get a tax credit of $600.

Because the tax credit for heat pumps and heat pump water heaters is capped at $2,000 each year, you may want to plan to purchase them in separate years to get the highest possible credit.

WHEN IT BREAKS: Replace your combustion engine car with an EV

Two credits can help you save on an electric vehicle: The clean vehicle credit applies to new vehicles, and the credit for previously owned clean vehicles applies to used vehicles. Tax experts said that there are lingering questions for the IRS to answer about the requirements vehicles must meet to qualify.

Read: Don’t get fooled: Electric vehicles really are better for the climate

“In most cases, when the IRS comes out with guidance, they tend to not penalize people who went off of original somewhat ambiguous guidance,” O’Saben said. But, he added, if you want to be conservative, you might want to wait for more clarity before purchasing a vehicle.

The clean vehicle credit is for $7,500 and applies to new vehicles that:

  • Are electric vehicles with batteries of at least seven kilowatt-hours or are hydrogen fuel cell vehicles
  • Cost less than $80,000 for vans, SUVs, and pickup trucks, or under $55,000 for all other vehicles
  • Completed assembly in the U.S., Canada, or Mexico. You can check this U.S. government website to see if a specific car meets this requirement.
  • Meet requirements related to where battery components are manufactured and the source of critical minerals used in the batteries. Those requirements will grow more stringent over time.

In addition, the adjusted gross income of the person or people purchasing the car must be under $300,000 if their tax status is married filing jointly, under $225,000 for head of household status, or under $150,000 for single or married filing separately status.

Starting in 2024, you will have the option to transfer your tax credit to the dealer at the time of the sale, reducing the upfront cost of the car. Luscombe said questions remain about how this process will work and how dealers will ensure that buyers are qualified.

If you’re interested in buying a used car, similar restrictions apply — but with lower income and vehicle cost thresholds. Your adjusted gross income must be under $150,000 if your tax status is married filing jointly, or under $75,000 if your filing status is single or married filing separately.

For a vehicle to qualify for the credit for previously owned clean vehicles it must also:

  • Meet the requirements for a clean vehicle used in the clean vehicle credit
  • Have a model year at least two years earlier than the date of sale
  • Weigh less than 14,000 pounds
  • Cost less than $25,000.

This credit is for either $4,000 or 30% of the cost of the vehicle, whichever is smaller.

LONGER TERM: Explore getting a renewable energy system to power your home

Not every home is suitable for a renewable energy system, but if your property can support one, the residential clean energy credit can help you pay for it. Systems that qualify for the credit include:

  • Home solar
  • Qualified battery storage
  • Solar water heating
  • Fuel cells
  • Geothermal heat pumps
  • Small wind energy

The residential clean energy tax credit amount is 30% of the cost of a qualifying system, including installation. After 2032, the credit percentage starts to decline.

O’Saben of the National Association of Tax Professionals said he’s already seeing some price quotes include anticipated tax credits. “When you see a quote for a solar panel project, in the fine print, it’ll say, ‘The final price assumes a 30% credit,’” he said.

The average cost of a home solar system in 2022 was about $26,000, according to Home Advisor, and that cost is expected to fall over time. That price would result in a credit of $7,800. This credit is nonrefundable, so you would need to owe $7,800 in taxes to get the full credit, but unused credits can roll over to the next year.

Read: Three common myths about solar energy, demystified

BONUS TIP: Stay on the lookout for coming rebates

Federal tax credits aren’t the only way to save on clean energy systems, electric vehicles, and home improvements. Rebates expected to go into effect in late 2023 will help cover heat pumps, electric stoves, wiring, weatherization, and more. But uncertainty remains about how the funds will be distributed.

The advantage of these rebates is that they will be point-of-sale discounts — in other words, you’ll pay less upfront rather than waiting until the next time you pay taxes to receive a credit.

If you can afford to wait to replace appliances until the rebates go into effect, especially if you qualify as low-income, factor that into your plan. The rebates are expected to cover 100% of the costs for electrification projects for low-income consumers and 50% for moderate-income consumers. Rewiring America’s Inflation Reduction Act savings calculator can help you to understand which rebates and tax credits could benefit you.

If you are a renter, Rewiring America’s Lazarovic recommended talking to your landlords and advocating for clean energy systems.

In addition to federal credits, many states and utilities also offer clean energy tax credits or rebates. This database will help you find incentives available in your area.

“It seems like a lot because it is a lot. There’s tons of money. There’s tons of decisions to be made,” Lazarovic said. “If you do one thing in the first half of this year, call a contractor or call an electrician to know where you stand for getting your heat pump installed or your new induction stove.”

0 0

Printable Version  |  Link to this page


Comments 1 to 22:

  1. Electricity is a delivery method, not a power source. My fear is getting trapped in the higher cost. You can make electricity from natural gas for instance, but not the reverse, and over 80% of electricity is still made from coal, gas, etc. Here is a blurb about electricity costs ( in Ca. ): Bureau of Labor Statistics, Geographic Information, Western
    News Release, 1/18/23: The 26.0 cents per kWh Los Angeles households paid for electricity in December 2022 was 57.6 percent more than the nationwide average of 16.5 cents per kWh. Last December, electricity costs were 69.0 percent higher in Los Angeles compared to the nation. An intregal part of this article is that electricity is a better costing alternative. It actually appears as a trap. 

    0 0
  2. peppers,

    My first observation is that you may have cherry-picked a location and a month as the basis for the claim you try to make.

    My quick internet search for the broader matter of "california electricity prices" identified the following NYTs article "Why Are Energy Prices So High? Some Experts Blame Deregulation." that seems to provide an excellent explanation.

    It appears that all of the states that 'deregulated' their electricity systems have seen their rates increased relative to the regulated states. And the higher costs are not due to the way the electricity is generated. They are due to the way that the deregulated system operates.

    0 0
  3. Peppers,

    Five of the ten tips do not involve electricity.  What is your beef?

    In any case, in order to control Global Warming we need to switch all energy use to electricity.  The heat pumps described in two tips are much more efficient than fossil heaters.  More efficient appliances save money even if electricity is expensive.  

    Similarly, electric vehicles are cheaper to own than ICE cars because they are much more fuel efficient and they require much less maintenance. 

    The remainng tips suggst that you plan ahead so that you can take advantage of as many rebates as possible.  What is wrong with that? 

    Please pay more attention to the articles you comment on.

    0 0
  4. peppers,

    The latest data on US electricity generation appears to be on the following EIA Frequently Asked Questions response "What is U.S. electricity generation by energy source?"

    That indicates fossil fuels are 61% of the generation mix in 2021. But that is declining. The 2022 percentage will be lower.

    And the decline may be rapid. When was the "Over 80%" you referred to? In the recent past? Or are you recalling data from further in the past. The more recent the "over 80%" data point is the more rapid the decline of fossil fuel generation has been.

    Anther important point is the fatal flaw of the developed socioeconomic-political systems that 'focus on the positives of lower cost' and 'dismiss or excuse any consideration of harm done'. More harmful is cheaper in most situations.

    0 0
  5. HI Forever (again!) and Micheal,

    We do need to reduce co2 emissions.

    Forever, correct at 61% from fossil, 19% nuclear and 20% alternatives from the Dept of Energy. I am a proponent of the nuke, based on outcomes of that becoming much cleaner, using own waste and the liquid salt as coolant being safer.

    I did not look in to deregulating, but I see the outcomes of different types of fuel based on my observations over 45 years of landlording. Running electric heaters as opposed to natural gas is 5 times more expensive. $35 of NG heats a month of $170 electric heat in an apartment.

    When I critique this article it is in the ways we fool ourselves that we are operating in achievable or useable terms. It takes 3 years of co2 ( of the replaced gas car) to make a Tesla, 2 to 3 years based on location and use factors. The diesel mining of the lithium, aluminum being 8 times more emitting than making steel, same plastic in the car, etc.

    The main push is faith. That these processes will get better. But more than faith, this delves in to propaganda as well. Few to none of these things will address the issue except to cause more spending and higher bills. Tell me we are just hopeful these things will later address the situation and Ill see it as an honest communication to me.

    But switching to electric can allow a larger bite of alternatives, when they can come in to play. Thats all that is being said. And many times the cost is supposed to be sucked up I guess. As if people have this money.

    I also see this power beaming, aiming sunlight from orbit to power stations on earth. 24/7 is the key. THAT would be a wonderful use of money and tech. And the new nuke... All better than setting groups of people against other groups down here on earth.

    Micheal, probably the most useful things on this list of ten are the 5 items of insulation, double pane windows and etc. We can afford to want that in the US, if we dont care to feed anyone else with those funds. We are at 15.6 per capita on emissions in the US and China emits twice what we do. But they are 4 times larger, meaning thier per capita is 7.5. If we could come to match thier per capita we would affect the co2 total 7% globally.

    That does not strike me as fatalistic. It makes me want to aim efforts to things that will properly solve this. And as important, not have us fracture and fight and lecture on another on this.

    Thanks tons, D

    0 0
  6. Peppers,

    Your main concern seems to be that the transition to renewables and an electricity based energy system is going to cost people money in various ways. And it will and personally I think we should just acknowledge that. However read the research studies and it wont cost so much as to be impractical, even based on known technologies now. Theres plenty of material easily googled.

    You also mentioned that we are taking a leap of faith that the technology will improve and become cheaper in the future. Theres some truth in this to an extent. We can actually be quite confident that the technology will improve and costs will drop a certain amount, based on what we know, and various studies anaylse this, but we dont know with the same certaintly if the costs will drop a whole lot.

    However we have no real other option than a new energy system, as a civilisation because we will run out of fossil fuels anyway or extraction costs will get prohibitive, sometimes in the next 50 - 100 years. A transition to an economy based on electricity or synthetic fuels is therefore inevitable. We will either sink or swim. The climate problem has just bought the issue forwards.

    I do see some positives: In New Zealand electric cars with just modest tax payer subsidies are now cost competitive to buy with mid price family friendly ICE cars and approximately four times cheaper to run. The point being they are now an attrractive package all things considered and sales have increased recently. Plenty of studies show the planet does have enough raw materials for the transition.

    Solar and Wind are now providing much lower cost power than fossil fuels (refer to the Lazard energy analysis available free online) although as we need to build storage costs will probably go back to where fossil fuel costs have been.

    In my view nuclear power has its place because its clean zero carbon energy, but there isnt enough uranium to power the world entirely by nuclear power for significant lengths of time. Remember the uranium gets pretty much used up and cant be recycled as well as the materials used to make solar and wind farms. And building nuclear power stations is a painfully slow process. So nuclear power can only be part of the solution at best. Fusion power might be a good long term solution but is still decades away despite some recent advances.

    Gas where I live does provide relatively low cost cooking and heating. For people very dependent on gas the transition to things like heat pumps would be expensive for them. This is an area where the government will have to assist people with the costs, and it seems that America is doing this given other articles on this website.

    For all those reasons I strongly support the move to zero carbon energy with renewables as the main component of that,  and I strongly support electrified transport, perhaps with some PHEV as well, although Im getting a bit doomy like Evan about how quickly we will do all this. However its better to at least try to make some progress than just bury our heads in the sand.

    0 0
  7. Peppers,

    Your post is confusing.  It is not clear what you are in favor of and what you are railing against. 

    In post 1 you rail against electricity and the OP for supporting using more of it in our homes.  In post 5 you support some uses of electricity but apparently not others.

    Your data on heating homes using either gas or electricity is way outdated.  A heat pump is more than three times more efficient than past electrical resistance heating so the cost of electrical heating by your numbers would be less than $60.  Gas is much more expensive but since you have no reference it is impossible to know how much more expensive.  Gas in 2022 was about triple the cost in 1999 and double the cost in 2021.  source  Gas prices are unikely to come down since so much is now exported.  In addition, if you install a heat pump you get air conditioning for free.  That is important in areas like Wshington state where the new temperatures need air conditioning becaause of global warming.

    I find it amusing that you support pie in the sky like nuclear power and power beaming when neither of these technologies can compete on price with existing solar and wind.  Solar and wind are the cheapest power in the world today.  Installing as much renewable energy as possible as fast as possible will lower everyones power bills and clean up the environment at the same time.  Your claims about more expensive power are simply false.

    0 0
  8. Hi peppers,

    In addition to the responses by nigelj and michael sweet, I would add that it is very common for people to believe that 'cheaper is better'. As an engineer I understand the importance of doing something as inexpensively as possible. But as an engineer I would also always limit the alternatives being considered to 'very safe options' for good reason. And as an engineer I have repaired many built items, or limited their use, or taken them out of service because it became known that they were not as safe as they should be.

    A major problem today is the prevalence of the belief that marketplace competition naturally develops safe results and would promptly remove or correct harmful developments. The opposite is actually closer to the truth because 'more harmful is usually cheaper and easier'. And 'the positive of more profitable' makes it less likely that developed items will be corrected to be less harmful by the marketplace.

    Without external governing to limit harm done (requiring things to be more expensive) the marketplace will 'naturally' produce more harmful results in both senses of 'more'. Developed items will 'naturally' be more harmful (as harmful as can be gotten away with for as long as possible). And if/when developments are deemed to be too harmful, the replacements are likely to just be 'more' harmful options.

    That brings up the type of 'belief' you are concerned about. The alternatives implemented being 'more harmful'. Things can indeed be very harmful if the potential harm is not well investigated before the new way 'replaces' the option that is deemed to be 'too harmful'. But that means that using natural gas should have been much more expensive long ago. And it also means that nuclear generation should have been more expensive, and hydro power. Even solar and wind power should be more expensive to address the potential harmful impacts.

    The bottom line is that 'reduced energy consumption' is the required correction. And the power generated for 'essential energy consumption' needs to be 'as harmless as possible', not 'the cheaper way'.

    The promotion of, and focus on, the positives, like lower cost, can result in reduced investigation and consideration of the potential negatives. Even if negatives are known, the developed desire for the positives can cause people to ignore, dismiss or excuse the negatives. That 'desire for the promoted positives' can make people disagree with, distrust or dislike anyone trying to help others learn about the harm being done.

    0 0
  9. Thanks for all the input. Ill go over all of this in time.

    Micheal, California's 44M have 2.5 times the rate for electricity than Washington States 8M. Nothing amusing there. 

    Forever, with the sentiment that unhealthy fuels should carry higher costs to diminish theri use, why does California apply doubling electricity costs to cover State programs of exploring and implimenting alternative sources, among covering other programs of wildfires and subsidies to the poor? Of which these policies increase their poor. They are not encouraging the healthiest sources of power at all, and it is punitive in nature to the common working citizen, such as my renters.

    I was too general on the nuclear. There is enough uranium in the sea for thousands of years, but it is impractical in many ways to imagine the increased accidents and security needed for thousands more reactors. maybe not all power, but a small reactor outside each city, like so many nuclear subs. They are claming huge strides in safety and reuse of all waste, etc.

    Nigelj, no we should not bury our heads in the sand. Something must be done. But in lieu of finding a real actionable solution, punishing the populous to hope to reduce global emissions 7% (if we achieve cutting our use in half)  from the US is a bit doomy. As another said, if we settle on that we do not pursue more strongly an actual working solution. For now we need a backup when night comes, or the wind dies or snowpack is slow that year. We can work to lower needing fossil fuel to 1/3 of the time is the hieght of these goals. They are not worth doing as I see it, just to do something.

    And 7% is the amount of new consumers added to the world every year, as we passed 8B on November 22,2022, and will find 9B in 2037. Thats one a and a half times the California population added each year, spread across and increasing the energy use in every global area and zone. The US will add California's population again within 35 years.

    My 3 year old's day school is packed and Im not going to consider that this is the problem. This is what many of these solutions are based in, that the peoples behaviors are the problem. They should suffer. I am not fatalistic; im interested in the pie in the sky, or the 'pennecillin' solution to be found that will address this. Its actually, in my opinion, the only way. I do not have a moments thought it will not be found.

    I have also told I have been a landlord for decades and how do I have a 3 year old! Yes Ill be throwing him a ball at 18 from my walker!

    Thanks all. Best D

    0 0
  10. peppers @9,

    Regarding "... why does California apply doubling electricity costs to cover State programs of exploring and implimenting alternative sources ..." including the context you present it in.

    A major part of the higher California electricity cost appears to be the result of 'deregulation (shift to for-profit competition)'. That has been observed to result in higher costs in every state that deregulated their electricity supply. The higher cost is not the result of the chosen method of electricity generation. It is due to the way the 'competition system operates to maximize profit for the major electricity generators'.

    Also, the lower cost way of operating the system created situations that, under extreme wind conditions, caused failures that sparked wild fires because the very dry vegetation was not far enough away from broken power-lines. So the new operating procedure is to cut back power transmission when strong winds will blow in areas with dry vegetation. It is impractical to keep vegetation far away from where broken transmission lines may reach.

    But a part of the California electricity cost is covering the legal penalty for the wild fires caused by the for-profit competitive electrical system operation that was the result of the government decision to deregulate.

    The government of California is not 'applying a doubling of cost'. The real costs of deregulation are emerging.

    Regarding "They are not encouraging the healthiest sources of power at all, ..."

    That appears to be a misunderstanding resulting from the perspective of 'cheaper is better'. When all the harmful impacts of the energy alternatives are thoroughly considered all of the fossil fuel options are very harmful compared to solar or wind or hydro. Note that harmfulness is not restricted to 'human health impacts' and it also includes 'risks of harm, not just immediately identifiable harms to people'.

    A more important concern regarding the specific situation of lower income people being unable to afford the basic needs of a decent life is "Why does the socioeconomic-political system fail to ensure that everybody is able to live at least a basic decent life?" GDP has risen faster than population (globally, and in almost every region) and yet extreme poverty remains to different degrees in almost every region (the Social Democracies of Europe and some small island nations appear to be the possible exceptions). What is wrong with the developed socioeconomic-political systems? The problem is likely the popularity of the 'positives of potential personal benefit' keeping people from learning about what is harmful and how to be less harmful and more helpful to others. A lot of what has developed is harmful and unsustainable. The required changes of understanding and behaviour will shatter many 'powerful positive perceptions'.

    0 0
  11. Peppers @9, while there are several hundred billion tons of uranium dissolved in sea water attempts to extract it have not been encouraging. It doesnt look like it will ever be economic.

    There are trillions of tons of lithium dissolved in sea water and this has been extracted experimentally with quite good success. Its more costly than conventional lithium mining, but not prohibitely so and will probably be a good viable future source of lithium.  Some geothermal bores are also rich in lithium and the potential quantities are enormous. This sort of thing is all easily googled so I'm not going to spend time posting links.

    If we look back historically before the climate issue, the world has had a mixture of types of electricity generation, and many individual countries have had a mix of generation. New Zealand has had a mixture of hydro power, geothermal power,  and coal fired plant. Since the warming problem we have closed most coal fired plants added gas fired plant and added  wind power and a little bit of solar power. My point is while theres a tendency to want one singular power source thats perfect, it probably doesn't exist, and the future will also be a mixture of things including some limited nuclear power.

    0 0
  12. HI Forever,


    Ill have to study up on the deregulation someone, maybe you, mentioned that before. Apparently it is a factor Im not familiar with.

    Nigelj, I did not know about the lithium in the sea. That intriques me.

    Thx tons, D

    0 0
  13. Minerals dissolved in sea water:

    Note particulary the concentrations of uranium compared to lithium.

    0 0
  14. peppers,

    When you investigate 'deregulation' keep the following understanding regarding for-profit in mind.

    The objective of for-profit is maximiaing profit. It's objective is not:

    • minimizing harm done
    • maintaining and increasing the quality of servces and products
    • maintaining and improving the conditions experienced by workers
    • developing sustainable activity

    And note that a 'business-minded' government, like the ones often elected in regions like California, can have similar objectives of maximizing the profit of for-profit activity which compromes their leadership actions to be more harmful and be less helpful to those needing assistance ... because that is popular, and popularity wins elections.

    And an important point is understanding the ways that misleading marketing 'promoting positive perceptions like the greatness of for-profit' impedes learning about what is harmful and delays the development of popularity for being less harmful and more helpful to others.

    0 0
  15. This topic is starting to go over old ground and run off-topic a bit, but I wanted to follow up on OPOF's deregulation tangent.

    The argument for deregulation is usually "competition will bring prices down". That has not worked well in the presence of oligopolies - particularly when the different companies work together to maximize their profits.

    Deregulation sometimes created rules on how prices were determined - when supply was low, prices went up (and high supply would supposedly lead to low prices). It wasn't truly a "free market" - it was a rules-based calculation of the rates that companies could charge, that could respond to "market conditions" on a minutely or hourly basis.

    The catch was that companies would sometimes collude, so that A would shut a plant down "for emergency maintenance" on Thursday, if B agreed to do the same with their power plant the following Tuesday. Each shutdown would drive spot prices up, so that B made gobs of money on Thursday, and A got their turn next Tuesday. Both made much more profit via the gamesmanship. (Guess who got hosed.)

    Enron made a lot more money as an energy broker/trader than they did as a producer of anything - until they got caught in their accounting scandals. (The Enron page I linked to also talks about California's electricity deregulation.)

    And when Texas saw major distruptions in electricity production in 2021, some consumers saw extreme costs as the rules of "free market pricing" drove the cost of electricity sky high.

    0 0
  16. Bob Loblow and others. New Zealand has an electricity market driven by a system of spot prices, and about 5 private sector competing generating companies  and a state owned lines company.

    For decades the provision of electricity was essentially a monopoly,  and in the 1990s it was broken up into several generating companies in a competing market governed by complicated rules. This appeared to be driven by a neo liberal ideology that business competition is always best

    I'm in favour of competition as a general rule with most products and services,  but the provision of electricity looks to me like a "natural monopoly" and the attempts to break this up and create a market seems contrived and quite problematic in practice. Do you (and others) agree?


    0 0
  17. nigelj - I consulted into the sector (mostly on thermal efficiency) quite a bit over time of transition until a few years ago. My perception is that market had issues to begin with but it has improved in fits and starts. It did let non-government players into the market so you have more than just the competing SOEs at play. Small operators wanting to build a wind farm or solar farm have near equal access. Distribution of electricity is clearly a natural monopoly but I dont think generation is.

    0 0
  18. nigel:

    Yes, there is an important distinction between electricity production, and what the industry calls "transmission and delivery" (or "T&D").

    T&D is clearly a system that is a natural monopoly. Having 20 different companies all stringing cables across the land in an attempt to sell you power would be highly inefficient. Production/generation is more flexible.

    Generation, on the other hand, is very difficult to control in the context of "my customer needs power now, I will produce it and put it into the system now". It's not as though the electrons I am putting into the grid at the moment are labelled, and the same ones that are delivered to the customer that bought power from me.

    So, the "free market" generation needs to follow rules and pricing variations in a controlled fashion. And the T&D system still needs to be regulated in a fashion that is fair to all.

    As an electricity seller, I would obviously prefer to have my sunk capital costs spread over as much revenue-generating sales as possible, so if I can rig the rules to my advantage at the expense of my competitors, so much the better. The last thing I want is to spend money on generating capacity that sits idle most of the time.

    In a "free market" that is dominated by a few large producers that have the ear of the regulators, it can be very difficult for small producers to effectively compete in the market. Hence the number of states in the U.S. that have been enacting legislation to make life difficult for small renewable power operations. The politicians are pushed by the established companies/lobbyists (usually fossil-fuel driven) who want to preserve their position.

    Which goes to say that the system needs rules and regulations, and that means the government needs to be involved. And that means government involvement in trying to influence the demand side of the power/electricity equation, too.

    In Canada, traditional electricity systems used to be regulated monopolies - at least within one province or major region. Some were (and still are) state-owned, while others have seen much more privatization (even the T&D side). Prices still follow a lot of regulation. We haven't gone as deeply into deregulation as some countries, but the pressures are there.

    0 0
  19. Hi Everyone,

    I want to clarify that in my comment @10 I raised the point about deregulation in response to peppers’ implication that California has higher cost electricity because of Government pursuit of renewable electricity generation and that the pursuit of less harmful energy systems caused other harmful results.

    I also wish to clarify how my comment @12, though made regarding deregulation, directly relates to the points in the OP. The government actions, and what people do to take advantage of them, should be evaluated on the basis of ‘reducing harm done and assisting those who need assistance to live decent basic lives’.

    A very helpful, likely the best currently developed, perspective for evaluating government actions (or business actions ... or any actions) is the Sustainable Development perspective. More sustainable developments are understandably less harmful than a lot of what has been developed. And the required actions include the replacement of harmful developed activities with less harmful alternatives even if the less harmful alternative is more expensive. Developing sustainable improvements may also require shutting down harmful activity even if a less harmful replacement is not developed. However, sustainable developments must also assist people who are living less than decent basic lives sustainably improve their lives.

    For-profit and government leadership actions are only motivated to pursue sustainable development if it is more popular or more profitable than the more harmful alternatives. If everyone rigorously and competently ‘pursued increased awareness and improved understanding of what is harmful and how to be less harmful and more helpful to others who need assistance’, then for-profit and government would be strongly motivated to develop sustainable improvements. However, the freedom to ‘promote positive perceptions, including misunderstandings, that result in reduced awareness and delayed understanding of what is harmful and how to be less harmful and more helpful’ makes it challenging to motivate leadership (in business and government) to aggressively pursue reduction of harm and effective assistance for those who need assistance.

    So, in a system that allows the freedom to promote and prolong harmful developed beliefs and actions, the best hope for effectively limiting harm done is government action that promotes increased awareness and improved understanding of what is harmful. Getting that government action to happen is hard to do when harmful development is regionally popular or profitable. The grand-fathering of harmful fossil fuel extraction operations in California, not requiring already built operations to be significantly less harmful because that would result in the operations stopping (including the stopping of employment and government revenue), is an example of harmful government resistance to reducing harm done.

    That type of harmful, less helpful, government/business action is the result of voters/consumers who are willing to be, or are interested in being:

    • less aware of the harm done, or believing that no harm is being done
    • convinced that they are not being harmed by the harmful action, and convinced that they are harmed by actions that would reduce the harm done
    • tempted to believe that the ‘positives that they have been convinced of justify the limited understanding they have of the harm done’
    • motivated by other interests making them less concerned, less aware, or resist learning about the developed harm being done

    All that said, I believe the most helpful and sustainable actions are the ones that result in reduced energy consumption, as long as the associated material consumption is also as harmless as possible. The health harm of vapours from spray-foam insulation, and the higher flammability of 'cheaper quicker options', comes to mind.

    0 0
  20. Scaddenp and Bob

    I will clarify. I was suggesting that both electricity generation and lines networks are natural monopolies. Generally my understanding  is that cities globally have in the past been  supplied typically  by one local generating company (private or government owned) so this is effectively a natural monoply. Not many places had competing generating companies until  this has been deliberately forced on them by governments,  and therefore this is somewhat contrived. However maybe this is wrong. I'm basing my account on material I have read somewhere now forgotten.

    I'm also just a bit sceptical of the entire competing electricity market idea. In New Zealand the entire generation and lines system was once governmnet owned and run. It was broken up into about 5 generating companies and turned into a competing market, but the outcome seems a bit underwhelming to me. Prices of electricity started climbing after years of being quite stable, and the system has failed to provide enough generation to comfortably work in dry years, and theres constant criticism of the system in the media. However its probably too late to go back to a state owned centralised system, and we just have to make the market work as well as possible. 


    0 0
  21. Considering electrical generation to be a natural monopoly may depend on scale. New Zealand, as a pair of islands (albeit large ones) represents a pretty closed system for electrical power. I imagine that makes it much easier to think of it as a single system.

    Contrast that with North America, which has a huge grid covering many states and provinces - but limits on how far electrical power can and will be transported to other jurisdictions. California wlil not be getting power from Quebec (eastern Canada), but Quebec does sell power eastern Canadian provinces and several NE US states. There are many companies that provide local transport and distribution, but there are many players in the large-scale generation scenario.

    Locally and within small regions, a "natural monopoly" may be a reasonable argument, but the game changes when it comes to large amounts of power covering huge areas.

    The inter-connectedness of these many sub-grids was exemplified in 2003, when one operator went unstable and took out large areas of the US and Canada. Some areas were without power for several weeks.

    The management of these connected grids requires extensive cooperation. It's hard to imagine it working without some regulation by government.

    Although there may be many players in the generation game at the large scale, incorporating many players at the small scale (a home with solar panels, a town with a wind generator, etc.) is much more complicated. To balance load, the grid must be managed so that large generation capacity blends with many small ones that can be much more variable. That would seem to be a lot easier when all that is in control of a single "natural monopoly", rather than a bunch of companies fighting over who gets a slice of the pie.

    0 0
  22. The points made by Bob Loblaw @21 can be described in general using the understanding that I try to present (and I am still learning/developing).

    Achieving a good result requires collaboration, even in competitions for status (competition is brilliant ... or not). That requires collaborative ‘agreed’ governing of actions of the involved/competing parties to limit the harm and risk of harm. One ‘competitor’ pursuing benefit in a more harmful or riskier way can spoil things for everyone.

    The starting point is understanding the importance of having the actions of all individuals governed/limited by the pursuit of learning to be less harmful and more helpful to Others. Governing of individuals that way is important for any group to develop sustainable improvements, including business and political organizations. And that understanding naturally leads to appreciating the importance of interacting groups being governed to not harm others and ideally help others, including business and political organizations. And that naturally leads to understanding the importance of ‘that type of governing’ being applied to all of current day human activity, including not harming future generations of humanity.

    Any collaborative effort could be seen as a ‘monopoly or oligarchy’. But that does not make it a harmful unsustainable development. The understanding is that everything needs to be governed by the pursuit of awareness and understanding of how to be less harmful and more helpful. There are a diversity of ways for that type of governing to happen. And each governing system can be harmfully compromised by the potential for ‘people or groups of people to be tempted to try to benefit from being more harmful and less helpful’.

    Harmful misleading competitors pursuing perceptions of status can harmfully compromise any political or business system/collaboration. Ensuring that participants pursuing benefit are not harmful is very challenging.

    Back to electricity generation and distribution collective collaborations:

    Harmful ‘disruptions’ need to be restricted/corrected. New developments, or change, are not always helpful harm reduction. But, established participants, especially large powerful ones, need to be unable to impede ‘helpful harm reducing disruption’. And, to be sustainable, the collective needs to pursue reduced harmfulness even if the ‘improvements’ would be more expensive, less profitable, or less popular.

    0 0

You need to be logged in to post a comment. Login via the left margin or if you're new, register here.

The Consensus Project Website


(free to republish)

© Copyright 2023 John Cook
Home | Translations | About Us | Privacy | Contact Us