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Rival data centre bid

By Gungahlin Al 31 October 2008 39

Putting the lie to TRE’s accusation that investors would stay away from Canberra in droves, another investment group has revealed advanced plans for a data centre and associated stand-by power station.

On 666 this morning, two reps of the proposal explained that they have identified a site, have had discussions with Liberals and Greens (nothing sinister there – just ran out of time to meet ALP one said), and are very cognisant of resident concerns about siting, viewsheds, etc.

It was a refreshing perspective from them, as opposed to the vitriolic anti-Canberran, let us do what we want or we’re taking our bat and ball elsewhere approach of TRE.

And given that one criticism I have put forward of TRE’s proposal is that in this era we shouldn’t be building GHG-emitting power stations – even if they are less-worse than coal, this new proposal is looking at solar thermal for supplementing their grid power requirements plus providing for stand-by needs.

UPDATED: Amanda Bresnan is claiming this development vindicates Green policies.

What’s Your opinion?


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Rival data centre bid
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And yes, I now realise (too late) that my second sentence in the above post, is, ummm, grammaticaly challenged.

more water vapour = more rain.

Based on the articles quoted above, it’d hard to tell whether this is true or not. One article says that global average precipitation seems to remain constant, and that global average precipitation remains constant also says that climate change alters where and when precipitation occurs. So an individual location may get more, less, or the same rainfall.

We need to be careful about comparing whether steam is ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than carbon emissions, because I don’t think the articles identified give us enough info. The argument was originally ‘whether steam is bad’.

johnboy 9:45 am 03 Nov 08

more water vapour = more rain.

Maybe if we built hundreds of these things we could wash our cars.

Digga 9:40 am 03 Nov 08

Ok, thanks for confirming – so you’d know that the gas turbines also output huge amounts of steam? It was raised in the issues of the submissions to ACTPLA by the CPR Inc group. They had a page on their website specific to steam effects on the flight path and heat-island effects etc:

http://www.canberrapowerstation.info/info-smog.html

It depends on whether the water vapour output has a greater impact to the environment. In this case, I have no idea. The point was I was trying to argue was against a perception that steam and/or water vapour is environmentally harmless.

Digga 8:00 am 03 Nov 08

So to summarise, it’s better to have solar-derived (whether photovoltaic, solar-thermal or otherwise) than huge gas-fired turbines outputting 50,000 cars’ equivalence of Carbon per year?

Just checking. 🙂

Fair enough. It must be said that this has been one of the more interesting threads of late.

RuffnReady 6:35 pm 02 Nov 08

Sure. No problem. But your post could easily be misinterpreted, so I felt I’d clarify. 🙂

To clarify, I realise the effect will be minor in the quantities we’re talking about here, I just had an issue with someone saying they didn’t care.

It’s true that atmospheric has a far greater influence on greenhouse warming than GHGs, but the quantity of steam we are talking about would have no effect on the hydrological cycle whatsoever, and would’ve entered the cycle in some manner anyway… which has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the effect that dumping hundreds of billions of tons of previously captured carbon (ie. underground and separate from the natural terrestrial carbon cycle) into the atmosphere in a short period of time (on a climatic/geological scale) is having on the climate.

I agree. The issue was with primarily with comment 5.

RuffnReady 5:11 pm 02 Nov 08

caf said :

Your link above actually says Further, globally there must be an increase in precipitation to balance the enhanced evaporation, which is what I would expect.

The important question is whether the additional water vapor released by a thermally based power station (whether Solar Thermal, Coal-fired or Nuclear is irrelevant) has a comparable global warming effect to that of the carbon dioxide released when the same energy is produced from fossil fuel sources. It would seem that the water vapor effect is negligable as compared to the carbon dioxide effect.

Not quite.

The reason H2O is not relevant here is that it is re-assimilated into the global water cycle as would have happened via some route or other – that is, the H2O doesn’t persist in the atmosphere at higher concentrations than it otherwise would.

The same cannot be said for CO2 which persists in the atmosphere for about 100 yrs ( http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/02/aerosols-the-last-frontier/ ) after it is released (the carbon cycle runs a lot slower than the hydrological cycle). Also note that the H20 was an existing part of the hydrological system, whilst the carbon we are putting into the atmosphere has been underground and thus removed from the current cycle for hundreds of millions of years. That is the problem – it’s like dumping a artificial carbon bomb into the carbon cycle, and that’s why we are seeing rapid affects on the climate, and ocean acidification as the oceans (which are big plankton carbon sinks, produce 75% of the world’s oxygen) try to soak up the extra atmospheric carbon. At the same time, we have massively deforested the planet which has reduced the ability of land-based ecosystems to absorb carbon. Bad situation all round, but water vapour due to human effects has NOTHING to do with it.

RuffnReady 4:53 pm 02 Nov 08

atmospheric H2O

RuffnReady 4:52 pm 02 Nov 08

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy said :

Steam and/or water vapour cause more impact in terms of the ‘Greenhouse Effect’ than carbon emissions, and present in larger quantities also. Typical of many ‘green’ supporters not to let facts stand in the way of self righteousness..

http://www.agu.org/sci_soc/mockler.html

It’s true that atmospheric has a far greater influence on greenhouse warming than GHGs, but the quantity of steam we are talking about would have no effect on the hydrological cycle whatsoever, and would’ve entered the cycle in some manner anyway… which has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the effect that dumping hundreds of billions of tons of previously captured carbon (ie. underground and separate from the natural terrestrial carbon cycle) into the atmosphere in a short period of time (on a climatic/geological scale) is having on the climate.

Want to talk spurious? Pot calling kettle black?

Lagrange 1:54 pm 01 Nov 08

There is something about this new data centre that makes me suspicious, Wizard haven’t built crap yet, it will be very exciting if they do build their storage system… but who knows? (btw Al their technology is not designed [I don’t think] for straight thermal storage so I wouldn’t think that was the plan)

Straight solar thermal (even with thermal storage, which does not give 24hrs despite claims and does not handle non-sunny days) still seems to be missing the poing about data centres, they need to have uninterruptable power supply. (i.e. there are many options around, you wouldn’t choose one which has a higher probability of failure due to reliance on the grid) which would suggest they are planning a large battery installation (Yuk!) especially when they say the solar plant doesn’t need to be co-located. (This is of course all wrong if they use their chemical storage system, but some people have been waiting 20 years for anything to happen with that)

Lagrange 1:43 pm 01 Nov 08

Well first Berlina the water vapour from a solar thermal plant would not make any difference at all. If you were environmentally responsible, you would do a combined cycle gas plant, which would also lead to significant water vapour ’emissions’. If this water vapour had any effect it would probably cooling (in general the net effect of the low level clouds = cooling from albedo, high level = warming from greenhouse)

(I would tend to assume that the rate of precipitation is proportional to the concentration of water vapor) The link above states global average precipitation is remaining constant, simply that the location of the fall varies. As such, more water in the air with unchanged rainfall = more water left in the air. At least, that’s the logic I am using.

However you have hit an interesting topic there. It is well accepted that the ability of the atmosphere to hold moisture increases at approximately 7% per degree (water vapour feedback, it responds to the temperature change). In a system in steady state rainfall has to equal evaporation and you would naturally assume they would be proporational to the increase in moisture, but climate models only suggest 1-3%/degree. You will have to wait for some decent observations before we really know.

Gungahlin Al 6:27 pm 31 Oct 08

“Either way, more water in the atmosphere = more retained heat on planet earth.”
Comment #8 repeated.
See also albedo.

caf 5:50 pm 31 Oct 08

Your link above actually says Further, globally there must be an increase in precipitation to balance the enhanced evaporation, which is what I would expect.

The important question is whether the additional water vapor released by a thermally based power station (whether Solar Thermal, Coal-fired or Nuclear is irrelevant) has a comparable global warming effect to that of the carbon dioxide released when the same energy is produced from fossil fuel sources. It would seem that the water vapor effect is negligable as compared to the carbon dioxide effect.

Italics screwed up, but you get the idea…

I think that your assumption a) is a big leap (I would tend to assume that the rate of precipitation is proportional to the concentration of water vapor), and also that the reason water has more effect that carbon dioxide is because there is a lot more of it – on a molecule-vs-molecule basis it’s far less effective.

OK, let’s take this bit by bit.
(I would tend to assume that the rate of precipitation is proportional to the concentration of water vapor) The link above states global average precipitation is remaining constant, simply that the location of the fall varies. As such, more water in the air with unchanged rainfall = more water left in the air. At least, that’s the logic I am using.

the reason water has more effect that carbon dioxide is because there is a lot more of it – on a molecule-vs-molecule basis it’s far less effective
The articles I saw didn’t seem to assert or deny this, but to my mind it probably doesn’t matter. The scientific assertion (and what I’m basing my argument on) is that water in the atmosphere contributes more significantly to the Greenhouse Effect.

Either way, more water in the atmosphere = more retained heat on planet earth. Whether or not it’s ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than carbon based gaseous compounds is probably not that relevant. I made the argument originally in response to post 5 (and to a lesser extent post 4), and I stand by it.

Thoughts?

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