Zero carbon emissions for major airline -- Do you think this is achievable? If so, how?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by pburger, Apr 13, 2021.

  1. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    May 29, 2007
    Messages:
    11,128
    Location:
    New England
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    PaulS
    Don't worry, Bill Gates is talking about seeding the atmosphere with sunlight blocking materials. I'm sure that will turn out dandy.
     
  2. TxJim

    TxJim Filing Flight Plan

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2021
    Messages:
    22
    Location:
    San Antonio, TX
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    TxJim
    .

    Electricity comes from holes in the wall. We just need more holes.
     
    SoonerAviator likes this.
  3. Cap'n Jack

    Cap'n Jack Final Approach

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2006
    Messages:
    7,916
    Location:
    Nebraska
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Cap'n Jack
    Electricity is fungible. The car doesn't care how the power is generated. I could just as easily say it's difficult to connect a vehicle to a gas or coal powered generator. But if I'm in IA, KS, or parts of the NE USA, there's a good chance the car is using electricity from renewable sources.

    I also suggest that you are only looking at part of how cars are used. For the past 16 months, I haven't driven more than 60 miles, and the current battery technology certainly works for that sort of driving. I've personally seen a large number of EVs used China, and it works well for them. When traveling on business, it is rare for me to drive more than 120 miles from one place to another. Will batteries be good for everyone? Not at this time. But that doesn't mean that current technology isn't useful to a lot of people, even if it doesn't meet your needs.

    I suspect (and hope) the energy requirements to make more batteries will come down as old ones are recycled, as is currently done for lead-acid cells. The article cites Germany, and they don't seem to be much heavier in coal than the USA: https://www.destatis.de/EN/Themes/E...tion/Tables/gross-electricity-production.html In fact, Germany seems to use a higher proportion of renewable electricity than the USA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_sector_of_the_United_States
     
    Katamarino likes this.
  4. Llewtrah381

    Llewtrah381 Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2010
    Messages:
    88
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Llewtrah
    Shame on me for not doing my internet homework beforehand. This looks to be exactly what they’re talking about, on their website:

    https://hub.united.com/united-pledges-100-green-2050-2649438060.html

    The wording is a tad misleading but it is indeed a net zero and planning to use this technology and not “...relying solely on the purchase of carbon offsets...”

    I had never heard of this technology. Interesting! And promising. I suspect solar (photovoltaic or otherwise) will be used to power the process.

    Again, this is capitalism at work. This CEO wouldn’t endanger his personal millions in compensation just for a PR stunt, IMHO.

    “The Stone Age didn’t end because of a shortage of stones” /a Saudi oil sheik, I believe
     
  5. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2007
    Messages:
    18,568
    Location:
    PUDBY
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Richard Palm
    True. I was just pointing out that if the purpose of reducing emissions is to reduce the environmental impact, then we need to consider the emissions from electricity generation as well. The more transportation is electrified, the more electric generation capacity will have to be expanded.
     
  6. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2007
    Messages:
    18,568
    Location:
    PUDBY
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Richard Palm
    A problem I see there is that if a significant portion of transportation is shifting to electric, then wind and hydropower would have to be greatly expanded if they're going to be relied on to avoid using fossil fuels. Maybe wind power could be increased, but I'm not sure how much opportunity there is to expand hydropower.
     
  7. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2007
    Messages:
    18,568
    Location:
    PUDBY
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Richard Palm
  8. Pi1otguy

    Pi1otguy Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,177
    Location:
    Fontana, CA
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Fox McCloud
    Just over 20 years ago it used to be over 50% coal. Once large scale energy storage becomes widespread the mix will shift. And it won't all be lithium batteries either.
     
    aterry1067 likes this.
  9. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 En-Route

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2016
    Messages:
    3,146
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    midwestpa24
    The environmental impact of the actual wind turbines is largely ignored as well. Each turbine requires hundreds of gallons of lubricating oil, which often gets dumped on the ground when the seals fail. The design lifespan is 20 years, but from what I've seen around here in Iowa they don't usually make it that long. The composite blades were billed as being recyclable, but the retired turbines here have had their blades dumped in a landfill in buried. Any effort to publicize that gets buried as well.

    There is also the hundreds of endangered and protected birds that have been killed by the blades that no one cares about. If a powerplant killed one endangered slug they would be fined.

    Anyone that has ever flown downwind of a turbine farm knows the turbulence they produce. I half jokingly say one day science will say the turbines impact the natural atmospheric and weather patterns causing climate change.
     
    skier likes this.
  10. Cap'n Jack

    Cap'n Jack Final Approach

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2006
    Messages:
    7,916
    Location:
    Nebraska
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Cap'n Jack
    Yes, it's not very much at all. Tempted to fly between the stands and blades sometimes. :) I also reflect that my timing and reflexes would make that a total fail!
    And the FAA would consider it a conjested area, too.

    [​IMG]JAK_2042 by Jack Silver, on Flickr
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2021
  11. Cap'n Jack

    Cap'n Jack Final Approach

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2006
    Messages:
    7,916
    Location:
    Nebraska
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Cap'n Jack
    Agreed for both. It will be the economics, as much as anything, that drives where this could go. Still, electric vehicles are an improvement in the efficiency of the energy sources used by those who can make use of electric vehicles. I think most of the comparisons of petro-fueled vehicles here don't include the energy/carbon cost to make the fuel. From a 42 gallon barrel, we get about half as various fuels. I can't find a ready reference, but I think it takes about half that amount of fuel to resolve the various components of crude oil to products, including fuel- I may well be wrong on this.
     
    Palmpilot and Llewtrah381 like this.
  12. Llewtrah381

    Llewtrah381 Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2010
    Messages:
    88
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Llewtrah
    Thank you. If we want to make true comparisons between options it needs to be apples-to-apples as much as possible. It’s not helpful to cite costs and impacts for one mode as a reason not to pursue it without credibly doing the same for existing or alternative options.
     
    Cap'n Jack and Palmpilot like this.
  13. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2014
    Messages:
    6,371
    Location:
    Broken Arrow, OK
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    SoonerAviator
    Basically all hydropower in the US is already done, unless you live on the coasts and want to set up wave pattern/current generators. You can only block off so many water sources, and the environmental impacts on fish/etc. have pretty much ensured that they don't want any additional structures impeding nature. The best solution to the US power needs in the future is modern nuclear reactors. Great at baseloads, and the tech has come a long way from 3-mile island. I won't use the word "can't", but most of the modern designs are just about impossible to put into a meltdown situation. I imagine a future (maybe by 2050) where 40%-50% of the vehicles are EV, and the rest are Hybrid or ICE. A typical 2-car household could have 1 of each. 99% of housing isn't designed with charging available in the garage anyway, unless you can get by on 110V which would be less than optimal.
     
  14. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 En-Route

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2016
    Messages:
    3,146
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    midwestpa24
    I've seen numerous articles recently that all agree, the US electrical grid is not ready for widespread EV. Even now, high load days create brownouts or rolling blackouts. Many utility companies are installing remote controls on air conditioners to be able to load shed at peak times. Power companies will need trillions in investment to upgrade the distribution networks to accommodate even an average of one EV per household. Something the politicians and environmentalists want to ignore.
     
  15. Cap'n Jack

    Cap'n Jack Final Approach

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2006
    Messages:
    7,916
    Location:
    Nebraska
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Cap'n Jack
    Isn't this part of the infrastructure legislation that is being considered? Whether that bill is good, bad, or indifferent is another discussion that doesn't fit in this forum. I only bring it up because it suggests the issue isn't being ignored.
     
  16. David Megginson

    David Megginson Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2018
    Messages:
    1,308
    Location:
    Ottawa, Canada
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Canuck
    Whenever a CEO or politician sets a goal for a time after they'll be retired (or dead), be very, very suspicious.

    It would be more honest to commit to something he'll actually be around to answer for, like, say, a 10% carbon-output reduction by 2025.
     
  17. David Megginson

    David Megginson Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2018
    Messages:
    1,308
    Location:
    Ottawa, Canada
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Canuck
    An EV draws less current than many ovens while charging, but unlike ovens, all the EV chargers don't all go on at the same time every day to cook dinner — a car used only for local driving might be charging only once/week, often overnight when most of the capacity in the grid is otherwise wasted. The people writing those articles from unnamed sources probably cooked the numbers by assuming everyone is driving their electric cars at highway speed 24/7, pausing only for 30 minutes every few hours to fast charge them.

    My reply is not meant to defend the airline claim in the original post, which is equally dubious
     
  18. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2008
    Messages:
    7,315
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Dan Thomas
    upload_2021-4-15_18-10-40.jpeg
     
  19. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 En-Route

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2016
    Messages:
    3,146
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    midwestpa24
    I have a similar photo I took one foggy morning, showing the wake turbulence coming from the turbines stretching for many miles.
     
  20. Llewtrah381

    Llewtrah381 Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2010
    Messages:
    88
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Llewtrah
    It’s been interesting to ponder this issue in the context of just having gone through a course on TheGreatCourses.com about the Guilded Age to the Progressive period (a GREAT course and I highly recommend people check out that website for others of all flavors).

    120ish years ago the car started hitting its stride. Around then there were 100-200 THOUSAND horses in NYC alone - pooping an average of 22lb and peeing a quart a DAY per horse. Despite the obvious public health and generally unsavory issues with that, many of the day tried to sabotage cars with obstacles in roads, etc. There were opponents to progress back then as there are now.

    It would be silly to believe the viability of a Tesla, F-150, Mac truck, or whatever should be judged by what was available as cars back then. People then would have probably laughed if someone said an electric car could do what a Tesla does.

    But just as forward-thinkers then got us ultimately to where we are today with cars, we’ll very likely do the same in other areas, including how we power future transportation.

    Sneer at the multi-millionaire CEO all we want - my bet is he sees what’s coming better than most of us. Again - he has skin in the game and most of us don’t. Capitalism is a very powerful force.

    Just me...
     
    aterry1067 likes this.
  21. Llewtrah381

    Llewtrah381 Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2010
    Messages:
    88
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Llewtrah
    Huh. But limited to, what, 300 feet AGL?

    Interesting, though.
     
  22. Cap'n Jack

    Cap'n Jack Final Approach

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2006
    Messages:
    7,916
    Location:
    Nebraska
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Cap'n Jack
    Agree, it is an interesting image. But I didn't notice turbulence in a C-172, at least nothing I could differentiate from thermals and turbulence away from the windmills.
     
  23. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2008
    Messages:
    7,315
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Dan Thomas
    It matters to those living downwind of them. Mostly inaudible low-frequency sound that can cause headaches and other maladies.
     
  24. Llewtrah381

    Llewtrah381 Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2010
    Messages:
    88
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Llewtrah
    Interesting. Reference? And sound falls off as the square of the distance so how close must one be to have this be an issue?
     
  25. Cap'n Jack

    Cap'n Jack Final Approach

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2006
    Messages:
    7,916
    Location:
    Nebraska
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Cap'n Jack
    Unfortunately, it's become political, so you'll find references supporting and refuting that comment. It's difficult to find which ones are truthful.
     
  26. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot En-Route

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    Messages:
    4,953
    Location:
    North Carolina once again.
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Tarheelpilot
    Anecdotally I can tell you they suck. When they built the one next to me in Kansas it was noticeable and unpleasant.
     
  27. Lindberg

    Lindberg En-Route

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Messages:
    3,844
    Location:
    North Texas
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Lindberg
    Where do you find 17-140 kW ovens?

    upload_2021-4-16_8-16-8.png
     
  28. David Megginson

    David Megginson Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2018
    Messages:
    1,308
    Location:
    Ottawa, Canada
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Canuck
    I think the graphic answers your own question adequately. The level 3 chargers are for public charging stations, as it says, not for every homeowner. Your graphic even states that the level 2 (the highest for personal/home use) is comparable to a stovetop — that's not where I got the information, but it's nice to see it confirmed. I don't know what your source was for EVs overwhelming the power grid, but I assume it's someone who took just enough truth (the super high-power charger for service stations along the highway will draw 140 KW) and combined it with a lot of BS (so let's multiply this by the number of households in America) to try to score a political point.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2021
  29. David Megginson

    David Megginson Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2018
    Messages:
    1,308
    Location:
    Ottawa, Canada
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Canuck
    Interesting. How low do you have to fly to feel it? I've never felt any difference flying around the wind farms here at 1,000 ft AGL or higher, but I imagine you'd have to be down close to their level, unless you have terrain (a ridge, etc) to throw the air up higher. I've also never noticed any disturbance in nearby water, crops, etc.
     
  30. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2014
    Messages:
    6,371
    Location:
    Broken Arrow, OK
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    SoonerAviator
    I think the idea is that the grid (substations, neighborhood power distribution/transformers, etc.) isn't built to have everyone turning on their 240V stove at 6PM when they get home on a 100-degree summer day with the A/C units going full bore. It taxes the components of the grid when a lot of the power draw is used simultaneously. It's not like the cars will be charging for hours on end all night long, but it will be right around peak load times. It becomes an even bigger problem as the ratio of EVs goes up. So infrastructure has to be dealt with now. It's less about available power in many areas so much as the equipment south of the local substations. Of course there are all sorts of scenarios that can make it better, like automated charging that waits until off-peak hours to charge and people only charging every few days.
     
  31. Cap'n Jack

    Cap'n Jack Final Approach

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2006
    Messages:
    7,916
    Location:
    Nebraska
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Cap'n Jack
    Maybe down at their level? I wasn't very high above the ones in my picture. I was departing K57 and turned as soon as I could clear them for someone else departing; I was still climbing. I didn't feel a thing. It's probably like sailing a boat in another sailboat's dirty wind if you were down in the towers.

    upload_2021-4-16_11-10-17.png
     
    David Megginson likes this.
  32. PPC1052

    PPC1052 En-Route

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2012
    Messages:
    4,927
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    PPC
    This is just the CEO's way of spinning the fact they are going bankrupt and shutting down operations.
     
    ColoPilot likes this.
  33. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 En-Route

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2016
    Messages:
    3,146
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    midwestpa24
    I've encountered light to moderate chop at 1,000 AGL when 2-3 miles downwind of the wind farms around here. As a matter of fact if I'm out tooling around VFR, I keep track of the wind direction and if I have to pass downwind of them I climb up to 2,000 AGL just to avoid getting bumped around.

    FWIW, some of the turbines around here are now 500+ feet to the upper tips of the blades. Fortunately from what I'm told, they have hit a technological plateau on how tall they can make them for now. Apparently we are at the upper height limit at what a steel monopole with a turbine can be built at, although there is research into new construction materials and designs to aim higher.
     
  34. Llewtrah381

    Llewtrah381 Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2010
    Messages:
    88
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Llewtrah
    ???

    E5B873A3-B287-4A22-A1C4-6E07205F71F8.png
     
  35. WDD

    WDD Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2019
    Messages:
    1,714
    Location:
    Atlanta / KRYY
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Vintage Snazzy (so my adult children say)
    The CEO of United Airlines will be given a lot of congratulations by his circle of immediate direct reports, media, his country club friends, and his neighbors in his high end gated community. Probably get some recognition / awards from various organizations and government bodies.

    Will still be driven in his limo, fly on his personal jet, live in a large house using enough electricity and natural gas to run a small neighborhood. You will never see him drive in a Prius.

    He will retire, spend his days living in houses made from bricks of cash he got/gets from United, and will be long dead before any of his plans come to fruition (if ever) and before the costs / consequences of his directive fall on United.
     
    SoonerAviator likes this.
  36. Cap'n Jack

    Cap'n Jack Final Approach

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2006
    Messages:
    7,916
    Location:
    Nebraska
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Cap'n Jack
    They make them now (2018) as high as about 800 feet [1, 2]

    [1] https://www.tdworld.com/renewables/...Wind AG has,plant concept - the water battery.
    [2] https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/scienc...-wind-turbine-will-tower-over-some-ncna853596
     
  37. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 En-Route

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2016
    Messages:
    3,146
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    midwestpa24
    Ah, my information is dated apparently. It was a few years ago I had that conversation with their engineer, so makes sense. I wonder how long until Iowa starts see 800 foot tall turbines.
     
  38. Llewtrah381

    Llewtrah381 Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2010
    Messages:
    88
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Llewtrah
    My guess is most of those bricks are made of United stock instead of cash, so he and his fam will continue to have skin in the game.

    This is how progress is made. Heck - this is an aviation forum. Thank goodness a couple of bicycle guys didn’t stop trying to make an airplane because of naysayers 120 years ago.
     
    aterry1067 and Cap'n Jack like this.
  39. N747JB

    N747JB Final Approach

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2011
    Messages:
    6,099
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    John
    OK, how old is this guy? I am guessing, because it's not important enough to look it up, so let's say he's 60 for the sake of argument. He will be CEO for a maximum of 10 more years, right? That is 19 years from the stated goal, the odds of him being around then are slim and being head of the company are less than zero. He's basically pandering to the woke crowd, when he should be making the planes safer and more comfortable. But, adding an inch of legroom doesn't generate headlines and twitter comments!!
     
    mondtster likes this.
  40. Greg Bockelman

    Greg Bockelman Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Messages:
    10,534
    Location:
    Yona (Say Joan ya), Guam
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Greg Bockelman