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New York City's electricfication program for Heat

I began to read just the very beginning and skimmed some other areas and can already see that the fundamentals they are claiming appear to be the latest popular myths without foundation in real life. The report starts out by saying

steam boilers are only 80% efficient and hot water boilers are 95% efficient. We all have steamers that are firing at 82 % efficiencies and up to 86%, with advanced condensing setups around 92% ( such as Chicago's Art Institute), with many equipped with load sensitive modulation in the larger models so they can maintain these efficiencies nearly year round. In addition these numbers ignore the huge increases in electrical usage of hot water systems and other factors.

That district systems are very costly to maintain. I've already seen from personal experience that large scale commercial heat pump systems have an equipment life of about 14 years in northern Indiana, so the majority of the equipment needs to be replaced every 15 years or so. I suspect this is much more costly than maintaining district systems.

The report bases thier pollution reduction on data from 2005 instead of current data. From the reading I've done in the past, New York City overall has been making extensive improvements to the steam infrastruture since 2005......maybe the housing authority has not? Those that regularly work with steam can regularly achieve 15 to 20% reduction in fuel usage ( and the corresponding reductions in pollution) with basic proper maintenance and repair to get system operating properly. With upgrades in control and using up to date technologies ( steam outdoor reset using variable vacuum or pressure reset using Orificed radiators) combined with common sense improvements ( insulating behind radiators and TRV's), large additional reductions are possible. We have a number or buildings that have seen fuel usage reductions of nearly half while still using largely conventional systems.

I didn't see anything about the efficiency of combined heat and power, though I only skimmed through parts of the report. I have seen university studies that placed the efficiency of combined heat and power at about 350% of that of condensing hot water systems. I would say that efficiencies at that scale would cut emissions dramatically at a much lower cost that completely gutting heating systems in the building and replacing them with systems that have a dramatically shorter life cycle.

It will be an interesting read, but the introduction doesn't sound like they have really done thier homework.
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Comments

  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 13,852
    Kindly refer to my rant -- for that's what it is -- in the thread on the Economics of heat pumps. I'm not going to type it again -- my blood pressure is already high enough.

    Suffice it to say that if you're sipping lattes in a Silicon Valley coffee shop, or hanging out in your tastefully furnished home office in your raised ranch near DC, unicorns and rainbows are wonderful. Otherwise, not so much.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • ratioratio Member Posts: 2,612
    Well, you know, COVID.
  • jumperjumper Member Posts: 1,530
    Some thoughts:
    •In Toronto region we've had all electric subdivisions since the sixties.There are ways to economize.
    • Extended no power condition in Toronto a few years ago and HHW people wondered about draining system for fear of freezing.
    • Some years before that ice storm downed power supply to Montreal. People had been persuaded to trash oil burners so a small generator couldn't keep heat on.
    •How much will it cost to upgrade NY electric distribution to be able to heat when needed most? 10° below zero.
    •Will NYC buildings maintain existing heating systems for emergency backup?
    • Eventually, after we're all long gone, NG will be more expensive than electricity. Why not cross that bridge then?
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 13,852
    Allgood thoughts, @jumper . I agree. See my second rant on the other thread. Where are my blood pressure meds?
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • ratioratio Member Posts: 2,612
    I've been wondering for a while now, who are we trying to save all that oil for? Poor people?
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,061
    We're trying not to burn all the fossil fuels that are in the earth because that makes a lot of carbon in the atmosphere. Which, if you believe scientists who aren't crazy, isn't great.
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • The Steam WhispererThe Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 576
    The objective of the program is to meet lower emission targets, not save fuel. I believe NYC is one of the many cities that has filed suits against the carbon fuel suppliers over the damage that has been caused by climate change. I don't think Chicago has done yet, but it should. We have gone from about 2 to 3 freeze/thaw cylces per winter to 10 to 14, which is destroying streets. The typical street in Chicago now needs to be resurfaced about every 3 to 4 years.
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  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 7,539
    And don't get me started on electric cars
  • ratioratio Member Posts: 2,612
    They're suing the oil companies because of climate change‽ The mind boggles.
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • The Steam WhispererThe Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 576
    Doesn't boggle my mind. They are directly connected. Much like the suits against the Tobacco industry... they knew their product was harmful, but continued to promote it, deny the problems and refuse to address the direct pollution issues. My Christian Denomination, Presbyterian USA, after decades of trying to get the fossil fuel industry to address even the obvious issues of strip mining and oil spills, is now completely divesting itself of all fossil fuel companies.
    Yeah, electric cars. Let's replace one 30% efficient power source ( IC engines) with another 30% efficient power source ( electricity), instead of moving to a 50% efficient power source ( diesel engines) or maybe even better diesel/electric like the railroads started using 60 years ago.
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  • ratioratio Member Posts: 2,612
    Yeah, but they couldn't be selling it if we weren't buying it. Until they start going after the biggest users, the goal isn't to reduce usage.

    All my electric-car-driving buddies get mad at me when I call their car a coal burner...

  • The Steam WhispererThe Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 576
    "Yeah, but they couldn't be selling it if we weren't buying it."

    The same can be said for Tobbaco, Cocaine, Heroin, and McDonald's hamburgers.... all are marketed towards either Physical or Psycological addiction. Most U. S. citizens can't think of any world other than one than involves conspicuous consumption.... it is "Un American to think otherwise" Even the corporate world where profit is all that matters is sucked in. I have seen business after business lose profits because they refuse to even do the simplest improvements to save on energy costs to improve the bottom line. The conversion to LED lighting from flourescent is a clear example... the payback is only about 1 to 2 years, especially with the rebate programs in Chicago, yet almost none have made the change. U. S. Citizens are addicted to energy use, even when it a detriment to thier own financial and ultimately physical health, due to cultural myths and sales tactics that support completely nonsensical energy usage


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    ethicalpaul
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 13,852
    Relax. After the evening meditation...

    There is one absolutely critical point which gets overlooked in all of this fandango: it is impossible to legislate human behaviour. It's been tried, several times over the last few millennia, and it doesn't work. At best you end up with a larger or smaller group of disgruntled people. At worst, you end up with a flourishing criminal enterprise.

    What is needed -- and is entirely feasible in regards to energy usage -- is a thoroughly reasoned and engineered approach which accomplishes the desired (and highly desirable) end of reducing a whole variety of environmental and health problems without penalising anyone more than the absolute minimum required.

    What annoys me is that it can be done, without hair shirts and fines, without making life more miserable for the people who depend on modern transportation or live in dense cities or rural areas, without condemning huge swathes of the world's population to a permanent low standard of living. Without great chest thumpings and virtue signalling by a remarkably entitled but relatively small group...
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
    SuzookSolid_Fuel_Man
  • The Steam WhispererThe Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 576
    I disagree, because we have already legislated human behavior. If we did not pass legislation to continue building more and more roads and highways beyond those that were for national defense, we probably wouldn't have suburban sprawl and massive use of energy for automobiles. If we didn't legislate land giveaways for fossil fuel companies, we wouldn't have so many fossil fuels available. If we didn't legislate laws for mortgages that ignore the cost of energy for a home, we probably wouldn't have so many wasteful homes. This list can go on and on.
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  • The Steam WhispererThe Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 576
    Actually, I forgot one of the most obvious. If we did not legislate that the Federal Government would Insure Nuclear Power Plants, we probably would not have currently cheap Nuclear Generated Electricity ( the long term cost are considerably disputed and look like they are being dumped on the Federal Government). I don't believe there are any privately insured Nuclear Power Plants anywhere in the world.... so much for allowing the market ( the people) to decide these things.
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  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 13,852
    True enough -- but I think we are looking at very different things. The examples cited above are all instances where legislation was -- and is being-- used to regulate or to provide goods or services which are desired by the people, but which need (roads are the best example) coordinated effort by society to accomplish.

    I'm thinking more of legislation which seeks to prohibit or severely curtail activities which people desire or want. The poster child is, of course, Prohibition -- but there could be many other examples (some dismayingly current -- "no, you can't visit your dying mother in the next county because of Covid" being a good example).

    Forcing people to do what they do not wish to do has a rather poor track record; facilitating and organizing what they do want to do fares rather better. The trick is to convince the people -- in a positive way -- that they want to do something and that they won't lose by it and then, and only then, facilitate it.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,061
    Gas companies put lead in fuel, car companies went along and consumers couldn’t have cared less. Paint companies put it in their paint and kids ate it up— All to the detriment of all of our brains and well-being. 

    Once a law got passed it all went away. Easy.
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,339
    Gas companies put lead in fuel, car companies went along and consumers couldn’t have cared less. Paint companies put it in their paint and kids ate it up— All to the detriment of all of our brains and well-being. 

    Once a law got passed it all went away. Easy.


    Something else that was forced to change that it seems jamie is forgetting.  Lead plumbing........ 
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    ethicalpaul
  • SuzookSuzook Member Posts: 215
    ratio said:

    Yeah, but they couldn't be selling it if we weren't buying it. Until they start going after the biggest users, the goal isn't to reduce usage.

    All my electric-car-driving buddies get mad at me when I call their car a coal burner...

    Love this. I always tell my buddies, just because the car doesn't burn gas while driving it, doesn't mean it's not burning gas while charging it with the electric used to charge it. They must think electric comes from lightning.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 13,852
    "We are the experts, and you will have to do this for your own good. It's going to hurt you, and you won't like it, but shut up and take your medicine."

    Or... "We are enlightened, and you must do (or stop doing) this because we know what's good for you. Shut up and take your medicine".

    It works for small children (sometimes). It's tough to make it work for adults, unless you have first convinced them that it is, in fact, for their own good.

    But we are well off in the weeds of psychology here and human behaviour, so... perhaps best let it be?
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • SlamDunkSlamDunk Member Posts: 910
    edited November 13

    I believe it would make very good environmental sense to legislate all electric homes/ buildings, but it wouldn't make great economic sense. Whole populations would would have to find new work. Imagine if every roof top with sun exposure could have solar panels to feed the grid and propane, natural gas, and oil for heat was abandoned. And, if all cars were battery powered while only heavy equipment, trucks, industries, jets and trains were the only consumers of fossil fuel. The number of exhaust pipes and chimneys pumping climate changing gases into the atmosphere would be reduced by, say 75, percent.

    Great! But what happens to all of the businesses associated with or depend on the viability of fossil fuels? That is about 75% of the economy. Would it make economic sense to drill for fossil fuel if a barrel of oil costs more to fill than to sell? No, so the price of a barrel of oil would have to be rise. So what happens to the remaining businesses that rely on fossil fuels? They have to charge a lot more to survive. Would you be willing to pay $2000 for new tires for your Prius?

    I wish I new the best way to move forward because then I would know were to invest money!
  • hot_rodhot_rod Member Posts: 14,075
    Greed is probably one of the best word to sum up how decisions are made, especially with fuel providers.
    How is it gasoline prices can double in a few weeks time?
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 13,852
    It possibly would make good sense, @SlamDunk , but with several conditions. First, it would be necessary to produce the required amount of reliable (24/7) electricity without causing equal or greater environmental or social damage. This is a concern which the renewable folks aren't close to managing. Let us consider just one generating plant in one city: Big Allis (the Ravenswood Generating Station). Big Allis turns out 2,850 megawatts of power, about a fifth of New York's current power requirements. A brief stint with paper and pencil shows that to produce the equivalent power from solar photovoltaics would take about 40 square miles of land completely covered with panels. To produce all of New York's current electric power would take 200 square miles. More or less. If we add to that converting all the fossil heating load to electricity, a ball park might be around 500 square miles, again with a margin of guesstimate. Would this be environmentally beneficial? Mind you, we are talking completely covered here -- no allowance for grass or forests or such things. Would it be socially acceptable? It might be, if the panels were, let's say, in northern Vermont where there is no one to complain about living in the dark all the time.

    There are other considerations along those lines...

    Then there is another one: who, exactly, is going to pay for this? It is instructive, perhaps, to look at the history of the CERCLA legislation -- which says, in a nutshell, that some types of contamination are really horrible (quite true) and need to be cleaned up (also quite true) and society orders you, the current property owner, to pay to clean it up. Oops. A tour through almost any of the older manufacturing cities will show you acres and acres of vacant land and empty buildings. Why? It's cheaper to simply walk away from the property and abandon it. The corollary here is simple, but unpalatable: if society determines that it is in society's interest to force conversion to all electric, then the burden cannot be placed on the victim -- the property owner. Society has to put their money where their mouth is.

    Good luck with that.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,061
    Great! But what happens to all of the businesses associated with or depend on the viability of fossil fuels? That is about 75% of the economy.


    These changes, or proposed changes do not occur overnight. They come in steps, which gives the economy time to change in response.

    No one has ever said "let's pull all fossil fuels out of Massachusetts today".

    What they say is "let's not allow new construction in San Francisco to use gas" (a city with a moderate climate where there is precious little new construction).

    But some people respond as if the government has taken away all their halloween candy.

    It's these little steps over time that slowly increase demand for better technology without breaking the economy.
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • The Steam WhispererThe Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 576
    edited November 13
    Moving closer back to the New York city program, I think someone already asked the big question I have, where are they going to get all of this supposedly cleaner electricity to power all this equipment? It certainly not going to be from rooftop solar panels on site, because the capacity is not even there for small single family homes to go off grid, let alone large housing complexes. Solar panel efficiency has skyrocketed over the years ( probably 10 to 20 times more efficient than the early 70s) but still is only about 20%, IIRC. I will need more time to read the report. I would think that the most effective way to reduce the pollution issues is to use the power sources more efficiently....like the City had reported just a few years prior.
    Getting the existing systems working properly or upgrading those existing systems with better technologies I would strongly suspect would reduce the emissions by 30% overall, some buildings more, some less. By systems, I not only mean the heating systems, but I mean windows, air leakage, insulation, etc.

    Here in Chicago, the research done on upgrading the standard Chicago Bungalow has shown that just air sealing the top of the structure and insulating the ceiling yields 30% reductions in heating fuel usage.. with nothing yet even done to address windows and the heating systems. Studies on upgrading windows by adding single pane low-E storm windows cut heating fuel usage by 11% (leaving the original windows in place). Then add changing out the oversized current cast iron boilers, which after making the above upgrades would probably be about 3 times oversized, to properly sized cast iron boilers would probably cut another 15% to 20% or so from the bill. I've been able to document the savings from going from 2 x oversized new design cast iron hot water boiler ( stack damper and electronic ignition) to one properly sized that achieved savings of around 7 to 10 percent, while operating at higher temperatures. If you multiple and add that all together, that's a 50% reduction in heating fuel usage and the associated emissions. The savings in cooling would add to these reductions. Going to LED lighting can easily cut another 1/3 off most homes electric usage, for further reductions. With the exception of the boiler replacement, which would just happen when the old boiler failed, the financial payback on these items is around 7 to 8 years.

    I really think they are looking at how to reduce emission poorly. Large buildings are inherently more efficient that single family detached homes ( which is why single family detached homes are rarely built in most developed countries) because the volume they enclose for each square foot of exposed surface is much greater than single family detached housing. They should definitely get the large building existing systems working optimally, since the initial investment in can yield much greater results than that same investment in many more smaller buildings and systems. However, the really inefficient use of energy is the vast quantities of small inefficient buildings, which adds up to very high emissions per sq ft of living space. I believe they are using the wrong metric... just the amount of emissions, versus using the metric of emissions per sq ft. of living space. I think this is on top of using inaccurate efficiencies as the basis for massive spending to rip out complete systems to replace them with new systems and seem to ignore the massive costs involved in future replacements of these new systems every generation. All that money spent, could upgrade an awful lot of detached homes for huge emission reductions. I still need to read more however......
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  • SlamDunkSlamDunk Member Posts: 910
    "...because the capacity is not even there for small single family homes to go off grid, let alone large housing complexes."

    It depends...

    I would have agreed with you until a couple weeks ago when a neighbor barn and put generac solar panels on the southern side of the roof. He says it generates 40Kilowatts and can power his house, garage and new barn. he said he made 120 dollars in three months. I'm guessing from the excess being fed to the grid.

    Then, there is my employer who dedicated five acres out of 250 acres to put in a 4Mega Watt solar field. I was assured it generates a lot of money for the company.

    I have great southern exposure on my roof and can easily put enough panels up there to power our house. Just cant get excited to do it yet.

  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 13,852
    And, @SlamDunk , you live in a suburban or rural area. Works just fine there, and if you have enough battery capacity you can go completely off grid.

    No argument at all.

    However, kindly revisit my comment on the power required for a city -- in which I made a minor error, by the way. The actual ground area which would need to be 100 percent covered with panels to power New York City is 700 square miles, not 500. That's a little over twice the area occupied by the city (that's all five boroughs: Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Bronx, Staten Island).

    I have a notion that some, at least, of the 9 million or so folks who live there might object?
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • SlamDunkSlamDunk Member Posts: 910
    edited November 13
    @Jamie Hall , I'm not suggesting it works for every city or community. Everything has limitations. Go full nuclear, how do you deal with the waste? It is Newton's third law.

    If you read my first post, you would see where I point out the economic impracticalities. I could put solar on my roof but I dont want to.

    Like @ethicalpaul says, baby steps.

    Check this out
    https://www.utunisphere.com/


  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 13,852
    I think we are all pretty much in agreement... but you have to admit that we are a pretty strange selection of people!
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
    SlamDunkZmanSolid_Fuel_Man
  • The Steam WhispererThe Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 576
    Oh, I believe the neighbor may have made money, but can solar supply all of his needs all of the time. Peak demands are the problem and of course is he running electric heating for his house.
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  • SlamDunkSlamDunk Member Posts: 910
    Cloudy days and night time hurts performance
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 14,048
    Con Ed must be laughing all the way to the bank.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
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  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 13,852
    I've actually been in the Ravenswood Station. It's impressive... but Big Allis herself, the main 1,000 megawatt generator, is just... overwhelming. Overall the station also supplies steam to the Manhattan district steam heating system.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • Solid_Fuel_ManSolid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,125
    District heating really only works if its waste heat (industrial, cogeneration, etc.) The massive losses to the ground and the cost to install and maintain said infrastructure are high. Especially when its steam (open system) and the condensate is dumped. Think of the makeup water treatment alone. 
    Closed loop would help, but NYC is beyond that as far as I can see. 

    Renewables have their place, and I've seen a significant reduction in net energy usage. 

    The idea of taxing oil companies for climate change [caused by them] seems to be a slippery slope. It will do two things, raise the cost of oil, and force some change. Who decides the change is what would need to be controlled. 

    Higher oil prices do several things, encourage people to seek alternatives, and make people poor. I'm a sparky, and a heating guy. The trend I've seen is that people invest in alternate sources of heat when oil is high and then go back to oil when it is cheap[er] than the alternatives. 

    Transportation is what I see as the biggest consumer of petroleum, and the way legislation on emissions is written and regulated consumption is much less of a priority then tailpipe emissions. Its complicated. 
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • The Steam WhispererThe Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 576
    Just think of all the savings in energy and emissions if the all of our electric generation was cogen. I believe thats were the study I read got its figure that steam can be about 350% more efficient than condensing hot water heat
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  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,339
    @Solid_Fuel_Man. Don't they go hand in hand?  More tail pipe emissions means more consumption.

    Aside from that all you really have to deal with is the waste heat produced but there's only so much that can be done with that with a certain style engine.


    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Solid_Fuel_ManSolid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,125
    edited November 14
    @ChrisJ Simple answer is NO. I'll you PM you further about that answer. Dont want to veer too far from the subject of electrification. 
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • jumperjumper Member Posts: 1,530
    Further thoughts:
    •When some of my sisters' children & friends went to law school in the sixties; I learned that a plaintiff, and perhaps even a victim, has a duty to mitigate her damages. That quaint notion seemed to go out the window in the nineties when US enjoyed tobacco law suits. Nowadays it's opioids. US DEA promoted them as preferable to opiates. Cities & states went along but now demand big bucks from guys who made the DEA approved medicines and even those (J&J) who made some ingredients. The lawsuits against Exxon have twice failed in federal court so now cities & state A-Gs want more bites at the apple in state courts? Sounds like vaunted US nation of laws has devolved to a land of unreason?
    •Going back to sixties again Ontario Hydro ran out of hydropower so it had to build thermal. Choices were oil,coal and atomic in those days. Hydro chose all three because for something as critical as electricity you avoid putting all eggs in one basket. Now solar requires backup for reliability. How many rainy days can battery handle? Well then maintain a ready to go NG facility? Duplicative expense? Prudent planners require backup for NG because if gas supply is interrupted lights go out. The backup for NG is coal. A power plant can easily store months of coal on site. A nuke can easily maintain years of fuel on site. Therefore atomic power is the first way to go toward eventual electrification. No carbon plus reliability.
    •Then there's the time factor. People who bought homes in all electric subdivisions were told that soon electricity will be cheaper than oil or gas. Eventually that will be correct. But NYC and US government can stay out of the process. It is not as if they so successfully perform their essential duties. Like prevent hoodlums from breaking windows and looting stores.
    MaxMercy
  • The Steam WhispererThe Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 576
    I've had a chance to read some more and I have seen several huge inaccuracies in the information provided. One of the worst ones is the claim that "Heat pumps are 3 times more efficient than condensing hot water boilers". This statement is made in a context of looking at both building level and grid level. In this case they apparently are only looking at the btu input versus btu output of the heat pump, ignoring the fact that electrical generation, especially without using waste steam for heating, is only about 30% efficient overall. At one point the report states they only expect a 10 To 20% reduction in energy usage and emissions from upgrading the existing steam system and also go one to say that since steam is a gas that it is harder to control than hot water.... leading to overheating. TRV's are equally effective on both systems. Later on the report points out the huge amount of overheating in most steam heated buildings. From the data shown for the sample buildings it is showing about 5F overheating on average. It's been well established that for every 1F of overheating in a building that is about a 3% increase in fuel usage. Just getting the heating properly balanced with TRVS and systems repairs would reduce fuel usage by about 15%.

    I sure hope those folks here that live in New York city raise a big stink over this plan. I find it quite curious that I haven't seen any data from a system that has been thoroughly gone over with making all the necessary repairs and upgrading to technologies that the city has recommended for steam systems.

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  • Rusty18Rusty18 Member Posts: 5
    A lot of good comments above on electrification and the technical and economic challenges. Electrification is great and has an (expanding) role to play, but people who say electrify everything now don't know what they are talking about. A few more thoughts:
    • The amount of energy delivered by the gas distribution system is enormous. On a peak winter demand day, the gas grid in the NE or upper Midwest can deliver more than three times the energy delivered by the electric grid. Think about what that means for investments in expanding electric grid infrastructure if you electrify heat. This comes on top of the costs to swap out thousands of home heating systems. Efficiency measures and super efficient heat pumps bring that energy demand down, but it's still a huge number.
    • In the near and medium term, additional load from electrification is going to be picked up by gas-fired generation, not renewables. The MW comparison of gas generation and solar applies to peak demand, but not consumption. Modern gas plants have an annual capacity factor above 60% whereas solar and wind are around 25% and 35%, respectively. So even if a gas plant and a solar field have the same capacity (MW), you are going to get a lot more generation (MWh) out of the gas plant, and will need multiple times the solar MWs to to match the output of a gas power plant. Storage technologies, advanced nuclear, and maybe someday even fusion will allow for full decarbonization of the electric grid and associated heating demand, but for now it's going to be gas. And as mentioned previously, if your local grid is still coal heavy, gas is a better option in terms of GHGs than widespread electrification.
    • Electrification has a huge environmental justice component. Electrification is expensive. As wealthier people electrify, the cost of keeping up gas infrastructure is socialized on a decreasing number of people. For a lot of people, a few more bucks a month on the gas bill is not going to break the bank, but it has a huge impact on some people and only gets worse as more people drop gas. Electrification policies need to account for this. Also, the most vocal anti-natural gas proponents are often people from the wealthy suburbs who show up to meetings in their 20mpg German SUVs. The since overturned gas infrastructure ban in Brookline MA only applied heating and hot water - no one was willing to give up their viking and wolf ranges.
    • Climate change is the driver of electrification and gas utilities are already doing a lot to reduce emissions both from their own operations (methane leaks) and to decarbonize the fuel they deliver. A growing number of utilities are blending renewable natural gas from landfills, dairy operations, and WWTP into their supply. Depending on the feedstock, this gas can have net negative lifecycle GHG emissions. The main problem here is availability - there's only so much potential RNG out there. Hydrogen is the other big hope, using electrolysis to convert water into GHG free hydrogen using renewable electricity. A handful of utilities have pilot projects underway but there are a lot of technical and cost challenges (hydrogen has a lower energy density than methane so you need more of it, end-use appliances don't always like hydrogen, it leaks more easily than methane and causes embrittlement in metal pipelines, etc.). A few utilities also have cool pilots that involve electrifying neighborhoods with either solar thermal or GSHPs and using the existing utility right of way for the pipes connecting the system and houses. This gives gas utilities a potential new business model so they can continue to exist even as things electrify.

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