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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-04 09:51pm
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Singular Intellect wrote:
Zaune wrote:
SI, we've had this discussion several times. I'm entirely in agreement that solar power is an extremely important technology that we could be using a lot more effectively than we are at the moment, but it is not and almost certainly never will be a panacea. Its output is subject to too many variations based on things we cannot control,

Do you have specific objections? My previously cited example of Alaska utilizing solar power assumed a measly 0.1 kWh per square meter per day. The reality is actually somewhere between 8 to 12 times greater in yield even for the most northern points, like Point Barrow, Alaska 71°23′20″N 156°28′45″W.

Just how fucking conservative do I need to be here to demstrate the massive amounts of energy available?
Tiling 1% of Alaska in solar cells, or for that matter 0.1%, sounds a lot more appealing if you don't know much about Alaska. Most of it is remote, howling wilderness, and/or steep. It also snows a lot, which is not good for solar panels' ability to draw power...

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-04 10:06pm
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Simon_Jester wrote:
Tiling 1% of Alaska in solar cells, or for that matter 0.1%, sounds a lot more appealing if you don't know much about Alaska. Most of it is remote, howling wilderness, and/or steep. It also snows a lot, which is not good for solar panels' ability to draw power...

Yes, Alaska is an isolated example simply demostrating the available energy from solar, using ridiculously conservative figures. Perhaps I'm mistaken, but I would assume Alaska doesn't actually need a tenth of total US oil consumption for it's own needs.

As for your 'snow' objection, that is why you have panel technology that would incorperate cheap superhydrophobic coatings that are self cleaning, automatic wipers, heating the panel surfaces enough to prevent ice/snow buildup, or worst case scenario 'everything else broke down at once and its all not fixable just because', you now have seasonal job openings in the energy sector. Aren't jobs a good thing?



"Now let us be clear, my friends. The fruits of our science that you receive and the many millions of benefits that justify them, are a gift. Be grateful. Or be silent." -Modified Quote

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-04 10:50pm
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Singular Intellect wrote:
Zaune wrote:
SI, we've had this discussion several times. I'm entirely in agreement that solar power is an extremely important technology that we could be using a lot more effectively than we are at the moment, but it is not and almost certainly never will be a panacea. Its output is subject to too many variations based on things we cannot control,

Do you have specific objections? My previously cited example of Alaska utilizing solar power assumed a measly 0.1 kWh per square meter per day. The reality is actually somewhere between 8 to 12 times greater in yield even for the most northern points, like Point Barrow, Alaska 71°23′20″N 156°28′45″W.

You DO realize that Barrow, Alaska has months of continuous night during the winter? The sun sets mid-November and isn't seen again until mid-January. What sort of storage system is required to store sufficient energy for sixty and more days until the sun rises again? Rises, that is, for a few minutes - in reality, you'll need to store sufficient power to keep your little town going until the sun is above the horizon long enough to give you more energy than you're using in a 24 hour period.

With climate change making the equatorial and tropical regions more and more inhospitable humanity will move towards the poles. For solar power that's great in summer... not so much in winter. Solar power may look good as an average value, but it's not dispensed evenly. Some days are cloudy, and in the high latitudes some are more dark than daylight.

On top of that - 1% of Alaska is about 14,780 square kilometers. I'm pondering how many resources will go into "paving" that area with solar collectors, and how much it will cost to do this. Who the hell is going to pay for this? And you can't make solar collectors out of random stuff, they require very specific components. What is the annual output of such materials? How long will take to refine enough raw material to make the stuff needed to make all those solar panels? Who is going to install them? And what about maintenance, and eventual replacement because, you know, nothing lasts forever and you'll need some sort of link from the solar panel fields to the end user.

It's clear you have never actually built something in the real world. The logistics are significant.



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If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-04 11:05pm
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Singular Intellect wrote:
As for your 'snow' objection, that is why you have panel technology that would incorperate cheap superhydrophobic coatings that are self cleaning, automatic wipers, heating the panel surfaces enough to prevent ice/snow buildup, or worst case scenario 'everything else broke down at once and its all not fixable just because', you now have seasonal job openings in the energy sector. Aren't jobs a good thing?

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

I know your location is listed as somewhere in Alberta but seriously, dude, do you fly south for the winter every year?

WHAT are these "cheap, superhydrophobic(expialidocious) coatings"? Do they actually exist, or are they still sci-fi at this point? Can you name one? How resistant are they to daily wear and tear?

Self-cleaning? Seriously? You don't think that something might occasionally go kerflooie with 14,000+ squire kilometers of solar collector, much of it distributed through wilderness instead of conveniently located in cities? (Alaska doesn't have dense population centers)

You're talking about a heating system robust enough to melt the snow off something in temperatures as low as -49 C. Are you serious? You're not talking about just a small area, either, even if just considering Barrow's solar farm, and even if you just turn the damn heating system off in December since it's nothing but night during that month anyhow. You'll still have to crank up the heat in late January to start using your power collector again.

And expecting people to make service/repair calls in those conditions? You know what Inuit do during arctic blizzards? They stay indoors.

Are you fucking nuts?



Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid. - Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

Sam Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-04 11:06pm
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You do realize that a big part of why solar's getting so cheap these days is because we've moved a shitload of the production to China, where fun stuff like this goes down. It's nice when there's no environmental or safety regulations and you can use slave labour if you want to. If we were to manufacture solar panels in a responsible manner, it would cost at least 10-15 times as much and use a hell of a lot more energy since the wastes would actually have to be handled/recycled/disposed of properly.

Oh, and yeah, ~15,000km2 of solar panels, let's say each of them is half an inch thick. Which is about 10 times the yearly global production of glass, cause guess what, those solar panels are either made with glass and/or covered with glass for protection.

PS. To replace all global electrical generation with solar would require about 5.5 trillion m2 of solar panels. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to calculate how much material this would require.



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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-04 11:51pm
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Everyone else has covered the economics of collecting solar energy pretty well, so let me just briefly address your suggestion for storing it now I've stopped banging my head on my keyboard.

Hydrogen's energy-density per volume is lousy; by the time you've compressed it to the point where you can gebnerate a useful amount of current by burning it you're little better off than you'd be with lithium batteries, and significantly worse off than with zinc-air. Wikipedia's article on energy density has a comparison chart, I'll let you do the math. And that's without even getting into the safety issues.



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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-05 12:20am
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aerius wrote:
PS. To replace all global electrical generation with solar would require about 5.5 trillion m2 of solar panels. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to calculate how much material this would require.

Where are you getting your figures from?

World wide energy consumption for the entire year of 2008 was 474 exajoules (474×1018 J=132,000 TWh).

Divide by 365 days in a year and daily energy consumption is roughly 362 TWh daily.

Take your 5.5 trillion m2 and assume a pathetic 1kWh m2/day (real world average is 6 kWh m2/day, never mind we'd obviously setup solar harvesting in solar rich areas), and we have a yield of available energy of 5,500 TWh. Assume only 10% efficiency of solar collecters and you're down to 550 TWh per day, 188 TWh more than necessary. Using pathetic solar panel efficency and pitiful insolation figures.

If I were to use the more standard 15% efficiency of solar panels and the real world average insolation figure of 6 kWh m^2/day, your 5.5 trillion square meters would yield 4,950 TWh per day, almost fourteen times the total energy consumption of everything.

I ask you again, where the fuck are you getting your figures from? That, or show the flaw in mine.



"Now let us be clear, my friends. The fruits of our science that you receive and the many millions of benefits that justify them, are a gift. Be grateful. Or be silent." -Modified Quote

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-05 12:41am
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aerius wrote:
You do realize that a big part of why solar's getting so cheap these days is because we've moved a shitload of the production to China, where fun stuff like this goes down. It's nice when there's no environmental or safety regulations and you can use slave labour if you want to. If we were to manufacture solar panels in a responsible manner, it would cost at least 10-15 times as much and use a hell of a lot more energy since the wastes would actually have to be handled/recycled/disposed of properly.

And now you will show how current production in places like Germany is 10-15 times as expensive as in China (hint: The US has imposed anti-price dumping and anti-subsidy tariffs totaling 33% of the price).

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-05 01:01am
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D.Turtle wrote:
aerius wrote:
You do realize that a big part of why solar's getting so cheap these days is because we've moved a shitload of the production to China, where fun stuff like this goes down. It's nice when there's no environmental or safety regulations and you can use slave labour if you want to. If we were to manufacture solar panels in a responsible manner, it would cost at least 10-15 times as much and use a hell of a lot more energy since the wastes would actually have to be handled/recycled/disposed of properly.

And now you will show how current production in places like Germany is 10-15 times as expensive as in China (hint: The US has imposed anti-price dumping and anti-subsidy tariffs totaling 33& of the price).

On that note, German company Manz has announced their latest CIGS thin-film solar panels that are now viable without government subsidies.

One of many developments ongoing in solar. Other examples include three dimensional solar panels, with the goal of entering the marketplace by the end of 2013 and at least 250% more efficient than standard panels, and breakthroughs like making photovoltaic cells out of any semiconducting material.

The breakthroughs, advances and growth happening in the solar industry is truly amazing. We can expect to see explosive growth in this sector very soon as the latest technologies, manfuacturing methods and large cost reductions come down the pipeline. Pure economics alone will crush other conventional sources of power, never mind environmental factors and considerations.

And this is before we start getting into the more advanced shit, like turning agricultural waste into solar paste.



"Now let us be clear, my friends. The fruits of our science that you receive and the many millions of benefits that justify them, are a gift. Be grateful. Or be silent." -Modified Quote

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-05 05:28am
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You're still ignoring the sheer quantity of raw materials required to achieve your goal of total solar.



Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid. - Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

Sam Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-05 07:37am
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World run largely on solar power would be possible if there were global power grid because half of the planet always have sun. If you had solar power plants spread around the globe in tropical deserts and transmission lines running around the world there always would be power available without massive storage requirements. Obviously costs of building something like that would be astronomical.

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-05 08:01am
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Broomstick wrote:
You're still ignoring the sheer quantity of raw materials required to achieve your goal of total solar.

Except that a huge quantity of raw materials is required no matter what method you use in order to meet humanity's current and future energy needs - even staying with the current setup.

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-05 09:00am
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Yes, but we have the infrastructure in place for petroleum, including some decent experience in containing nasty byproducts. What sort of massive pipeline do we have for what's needed for Total Solar? It's not just building the solar panels, it's building the refineries, the factories, and transporting all this around.

To return to the Barrow, Alaska example: there are NO roads going to Barrow. None. Everything that needs to go to the town goes by either airplane or dogsled. What will be the cost of shipping panels out there? Or, if we really are going to, say, pave the Sahara for solar power, what will be the cost of running a power transmission line up there? (All power in Barrow is generated locally right now, according to my information which admittedly is limited)

Sure, ANY power system requires raw materials, but different ones have different requirements, and different byproducts from production. We can't use petroleum transport systems for solar power. (Well, we can use petroleum powered trucks/boats/planes to move material objects around, but you get my meaning)



Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid. - Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

Sam Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-05 10:22am
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Sky Captain wrote:
World run largely on solar power would be possible if there were global power grid because half of the planet always have sun. If you had solar power plants spread around the globe in tropical deserts and transmission lines running around the world there always would be power available without massive storage requirements. Obviously costs of building something like that would be astronomical.


Transmitting power over very long distances is difficult to do efficiently. It's done, to be sure--the hyrdo projects in northern Quebec have to transmit electricity as far south as New England, which is well over 1000 miles. And that's done with highly-specialized transmission equipment that was designed and built for this purpose. Long-distance power transmission in Australia is reversed, where small amounts of power are sent from urban centers out to rural locations. Transmitting a continent's worth of power across oceans, however, is well beyond our current technical expertise.



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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-05 12:31pm
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Broomstick wrote:
Yes, but we have the infrastructure in place for petroleum, including some decent experience in containing nasty byproducts. What sort of massive pipeline do we have for what's needed for Total Solar? It's not just building the solar panels, it's building the refineries, the factories, and transporting all this around.

To return to the Barrow, Alaska example: there are NO roads going to Barrow. None. Everything that needs to go to the town goes by either airplane or dogsled. What will be the cost of shipping panels out there? Or, if we really are going to, say, pave the Sahara for solar power, what will be the cost of running a power transmission line up there? (All power in Barrow is generated locally right now, according to my information which admittedly is limited)

Sure, ANY power system requires raw materials, but different ones have different requirements, and different byproducts from production. We can't use petroleum transport systems for solar power. (Well, we can use petroleum powered trucks/boats/planes to move material objects around, but you get my meaning)

And the growth of solar (and other renewable) energy production will divert some of the flow away from those traditional paths. You were pointing out the huge amount of effort required in order to generate enough power through solar. Yes, that effort is humongous. However, you have to compare it with the effort required to generate that power through traditional means. And in that comparison solar is doing increasingly better (aka less and less effort and materials in order to generate larger and larger amounts of energy) - while traditional energy production (with the possible exception of nuclear) is moving in the opposite direction (aka requiring more and more effort in order to generate less and less energy).

Thats why looking at the absolute amount of effort required to generate energy to power civilization through solar (and other renewables) is somewhat misleading.

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-05 02:36pm
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Singular Intellect wrote:
aerius wrote:
PS. To replace all global electrical generation with solar would require about 5.5 trillion m2 of solar panels. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to calculate how much material this would require.

Where are you getting your figures from?


https://www.lincolninst.edu/pubs/dl/203 ... nd-Use.pdf

Singular Intellect wrote:


You might want to look up the global reserves of Indium, which is anywhere from 6000 to 25,000 tons depending on what price you're willing to accept. And while you're at it, you might want to price out what gallium & indium cost, you know, considering that your proposed solar program is going to use up the entire global production several times over. It's already at $3-$5/gram for the high purity grades required for solar panels.

Quote:


I like how they claim 250% more without stating what the baseline is or using any numbers. 250% better than what? A 5% efficient solar cell? 10% 20% Who the fuck knows?

Quote:
The breakthroughs, advances and growth happening in the solar industry is truly amazing. We can expect to see explosive growth in this sector very soon as the latest technologies, manfuacturing methods and large cost reductions come down the pipeline. Pure economics alone will crush other conventional sources of power, never mind environmental factors and considerations.

And this is before we start getting into the more advanced shit, like turning agricultural waste into solar paste.


If you're gonna do that it means I get to pull out the CANDU self-sustaining thorium cycle along with LFTR. Oh hey, look, free energy forever! Hell, I might as well claim fusion is within reach based on all the research we're doing if we're going by your standards.



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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-06 07:43am
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Singular Intellect wrote:
And this is before we start getting into the more advanced shit, like turning agricultural waste into solar paste.

Let me quote something from the article you apparently missed:

Quote:
So far so good — now time for the reality check. At the moment, even with the efficiency-boosting nanoforest, Mershin’s solar panel only has an efficiency of 0.1%. To be of any use — to power more than a single LED light from an entire house covered in these cheap solar panels — an efficiency of 1 or 2% is required.

Also:

Quote:
These molecules are then stabilized and spread on a glass substrate that’s covered in a forest of zinc oxide nanowires and titanium dioxide “sponges.” When sunlight hits the panels, both the titanium dioxide and the new material absorb light and turn it into electricity, and the nanowires carry the electricity away. In essence, Mershin has replaced the layer of silicon in conventional photovoltaic cells with a slurry of photosynthesizing molecules. “It’s like an electric nanoforest,” he says.

Gee, titanium nanowires must be totally cheap and simple to produce :roll:

All that you have shown so far is 'pie in the sky' absurd wishful thinking that pays no heed to costs of proposals you make (like cowering 20000 km^2 in panels), the rare resources that it will devour, or colossal pollution producing all these panels will cause. Hell, you ignore laws of physics and weather while you're at it, too - magical self-cleaning and heating panels that do it without consuming 100x energy they get from sun in winter? Say what? :roll:

As someone who actually lives in country with winters, let me tell you all it takes is one night snowfall to cake the panels with centimetre thick layer of ice. Making them non-stick wont help one bit - had you ever saw what happens to polished glass and enamel in winter, you'd know this. Well, unless you postulate to stick nuclear plant next to solar panels for the sole purpose of warming them, of course :roll:

Oh, and if we're in delusional cost/resource mode, you know what would make much more sense than solar panels? Well, replacing all copper wiring with pure silver, for one. Who cares about costs, we can limit energy loss by 8% that way, giving us 38 exajoules of free energy without laying a single new panel! Great! :lol: And I suspect it would cost less than all these exotic materials cowering area of Belgium, too.

Plus, have you ever took a look at the map? All developed countries are far from equator, the only are with good sunlight - in case of Canada, New Zealand, Scandinavia or Russia very much so. So, either you plate colossal area with solar panels, area with isn't some empty wasteland but one which is used to grow food and to preserve nature - or plant panels in unstable, poor countries with sun/deserts and run colossal undersea cables to areas where it's actually needed. How that makes sense compared to cheap energy from advanced nuclear plants? :roll:

You know, we know we can run country the size of France on nuclear power. We actually did it. No one ever ran country on renewable power, the only solutions that come even close are hydroenergy in nature, used in small countries, rely on unique geography and cause them no end of problems. Give it up, comparing pollution and area taken of solar versus nuclear, the first one is worse in all respects, and will die once someone makes viable fusion reactor.

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-06 09:48am
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Well, solar does has a role - for very small applications not easily connectable to a power grid. They sell solar collecting/power storing rigs right now that can be used while camping to power lanterns after dark or charge a cell phone. In some locations they can be used for powering a small home off-grid, or heating water. Powering an entire civilization? Not going to happen.

Solar power can supplement the power supply, it can't serve as one.



Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid. - Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

Sam Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-06 10:15am
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Powering all residential homes in daylight is a pretty realistic long term goal for solar. Powering a 500 Mw oil refinery or 300 Mw data center at night? Not so much.



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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-06 10:53am
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Can anyone more knowledgable than I comment upon the feasibility of large scale solar thermal schemes such as this (pdf)? (Full report and website here.)

Quote:
With a combination of energy efficiency, fuel switching from gas and oil to electrified energy services, then using a combination of commercially available renewable energy technologies, Australia’s energy needs can be met with 100% renewables. Wind and Concentrating Solar Thermal (CST) with Molten Salt Storage are the two primary technologies used, with minimal contingency backup from biomass and existing hydro. Modelling on a half-hourly timescale shows that this combination can ensure 100% reliable supply. Implementing the proposed renewable infrastructure over a ten-year timescale would require a small percentage of Australia’s industrial capacity, in terms of resources and labour force. The required investment of $37 Billion/year is the equivalent of 3% of GDP. Estimated funding cost, including generation and grid upgrades, would be equivalent to an additional 6.5cents/kWh on delivered electricity.


Even if you dispute the feasibility of wind as a major component of baseload, or converting to electric transportation, or the overall economics of the plan, the CST plants still sound rather attractive for baseload electricity generation.

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-06 01:24pm
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Shadow6 wrote:
Can anyone more knowledgeable than I comment upon the feasibility of large scale solar thermal schemes such as this (pdf)? (Full report and website here.)

In Germany there have been similar model runs for meeting base load requirements through pure renewable sources. It is generally possible, with caveats. For example, one run I've looked at used a relatively large amount of bio-energy to meet shortfalls of wind and solar. In general, in order to meet base load requirements, you need a lot more in peak production through renewables than the peak load is at any one time, or you need some amount of conventional (whether coal, oil, natural gas, biogas, biomass, or whatever) power plants that can jump in at such times. Generally, solar and wind power production is pretty predictable, which makes planning in advance possible, and makes it possible to use even relatively slow reacting power plants with renewables.

The big problem is that while there are a lot of possible ways to meet all energy requirements through renewables (currently at somewhat higher prices than through conventional ways), they all require a lot of investment, and nobody is quite sure which way is the best one. In fact, there probably is no best one path, but several very good paths that differ by country or region. Denmark, for example, is already producing a surplus of energy through wind when at peak production.

The big unknown, is obviously the storage question. However, there are already ways to do large scale energy storage of the type required. One especially promising way is power-to-gas or power-to-liquid, as there is already sufficient storage capacity - at least in Germany, which would require a lot less investment in that area. Currently, the loss in energy going from power-to-gas-to-power is still quite high (30-40% for power-gas-power, but up to 62% for power-gas-power&heat), but as the price of renewables continues to fall, it might become cheap enough to do so despite those losses (and those losses will get smaller as efficiency rises).

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-06 03:42pm
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D.Turtle wrote:
The big problem is that while there are a lot of possible ways to meet all energy requirements through renewables (currently at somewhat higher prices than through conventional ways), they all require a lot of investment, and nobody is quite sure which way is the best one. In fact, there probably is no best one path, but several very good paths that differ by country or region. Denmark, for example, is already producing a surplus of energy through wind when at peak production.

This brings up two points:

First, it probably would be best to have multiple power sources. One reason for our current predicament is over-reliance on just one resource, fossil fuels, not just for power but for so many other things (plastics, fertilizer, etc.). Diversification prevents one item from becoming a bottleneck.

Second, the ideal power source or mix of sources will vary by location. Iceland, for example, already utilizes geothermal energy and arguably is in an ideal location for it, what with all the volcanoes. Solar power is rapidly being adopted out in rural areas in both Africa and India, both locations that are quite suitable for it. The Great Plains of North America have wonderful wind resources, indeed, at times the problem is too much wind rather than not enough. Utilization of renewals appropriate to the location in question combined with some reasonable amount of nuclear power will probably wind up being the answer.

Which should leave enough petroleum/coal/dead dinosaur derived resources for those applications where the stuff is truly essential. Or enable us to manufacture a reasonable substitute.



Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid. - Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-06 05:44pm
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Broomstick wrote:
Well, solar does has a role - for very small applications not easily connectable to a power grid. They sell solar collecting/power storing rigs right now that can be used while camping to power lanterns after dark or charge a cell phone. In some locations they can be used for powering a small home off-grid, or heating water. Powering an entire civilization? Not going to happen.

Yes, it can power small things. We might even eventually see perpetual cell phones always loading through solar battery, outdoor and trekking applications, etc, but I draw the line at desk lamp. Anything more powerful, like microwave oven, is very unlikely to warrant huge (from individual perspective) investment solar requires.

Thus, gadgets, yes, making more than a tiny dot on power source chart, no.

Sea Skimmer wrote:
Powering all residential homes in daylight is a pretty realistic long term goal for solar. Powering a 500 Mw oil refinery or 300 Mw data center at night? Not so much.

I'd even argue powering homes is unrealistic. As people will be forced to move to more efficient, multi-family, multi-store apartments, volume of such buildings will grow much faster than surface, making solar maybe useful to light desk lamps.

As cars will shift into electric energy and we begin to invest into fusion power, eventually power net will have surplus of energy making all solar panels but the most fantastically (Star Wars level technology, basically) efficient uneconomical, IMHO.

Shadow6 wrote:
Can anyone more knowledgable than I comment upon the feasibility of large scale solar thermal schemes such as this (pdf)?

Australia has unique advantage of having deserts, lots of sunlight, very small population (smaller than any NA/European country of note) - so there it might succeed, especially among dispersed small settlements. Still, seeing Australia also has a handful of big cities, you could easily cover 98% of their power consumption by planting nuclear plant next to each city - would be far easier, in fact.

Molten salt storage is also vulnerable to technical problems - any longer energy shortage (likely with renewable sources) turns the whole system into worthless scrap that can't be repaired in any way. I'd really thought twice before placing whole nation in position depending on it.

Broomstick wrote:
First, it probably would be best to have multiple power sources. One reason for our current predicament is over-reliance on just one resource, fossil fuels, not just for power but for so many other things (plastics, fertilizer, etc.). Diversification prevents one item from becoming a bottleneck.

I'd argue that you should always use best power source, not mix. Iceland can get by on geothermal? Great, but no one else can. That's why I argue for nuclear and against solar - the second one if worthless unless you're rich, small country with deserts near equator. Solar might be optimal for, say, Dubai or Kuwait, literally nowhere else. Bot coal and oil are pretty bad sources in the long run, like solar, so they too should not be used, at least not in car engines.

Diversification is great in theory, but in real world, it means you deliberately make part of your supply worse than it has to be. It also means shortage is much more likely, as now you have to track 5-6 resources, not one. Nuclear/fusion won't shortage at all, too.

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-06 07:29pm
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Irbis wrote:
Sea Skimmer wrote:
Powering all residential homes in daylight is a pretty realistic long term goal for solar. Powering a 500 Mw oil refinery or 300 Mw data center at night? Not so much.

I'd even argue powering homes is unrealistic. As people will be forced to move to more efficient, multi-family, multi-store apartments, volume of such buildings will grow much faster than surface, making solar maybe useful to light desk lamps.

First of all, I don't take it as a given that everyone will actually be forced to move into concrete hives. Yes, that's an urban model (and has been since big cities originated) but there will continue to be people dispersed across the landscape for various purposes where small scale housing will be more efficient than long commutes from urban multi-units. Second, with more and more telecommuting, and increased efficiency in household items from lighting to appliances, there will be less need to concentrate the population. If you only need to travel to an urban center once a week or once a month then a longer commute isn't such an issue, and if an updated single-family home is vastly more efficient in the past (which they can be) then not only can we continue to use older housing stock (yay recycling) but we won't have to build concrete cells and then force people into them.

Quote:
As cars will shift into electric energy and we begin to invest into fusion power, eventually power net will have surplus of energy making all solar panels but the most fantastically (Star Wars level technology, basically) efficient uneconomical, IMHO.

You DO realize that fusion power is still, at this point, science fiction? Other than that natural fusion generator 93 millions miles away? Can we stick to reality in this discussion? Fusion has been on the verge of being a reality for, oh, 20 or 30 years now? Why should I believe a statement like that more right now than I did in 1983?

Electric cars are fine for short, local hops. For long trips - such as the 1,000 mile round trip I'm going to make starting tomorrow morning - they are are a stupid choice. No electric car carries enough energy to make that journey without a recharge, and recharge takes too fucking long, requiring the traveler to halt more often than with a gas-fueled car. What I can travel in one day in my gas car will take at least two in an electric, and the requirement of overnight lodging wipes out any personal savings I get from using electric even at today's gas prices.

Batteries don't store energy as efficiently as gasoline, and while "recharging" my car with gas takes less than 5 minutes recharging an electric car takes hours.

I foresee a market for electric cars for short and local travel, but for long trips in places lacking the train networks of Europe it will either be "rent a gas-powered vehicle" or "own a hybrid that runs on both electric and gas" to extend the travel range. We might switch from gasoline to biodiesel or something, but liquid fuel for vehicles is just too damned handy to abandon.

Shadow6 wrote:
Broomstick wrote:
First, it probably would be best to have multiple power sources. One reason for our current predicament is over-reliance on just one resource, fossil fuels, not just for power but for so many other things (plastics, fertilizer, etc.). Diversification prevents one item from becoming a bottleneck.

I'd argue that you should always use best power source, not mix. Iceland can get by on geothermal? Great, but no one else can. That's why I argue for nuclear and against solar - the second one if worthless unless you're rich, small country with deserts near equator. Solar might be optimal for, say, Dubai or Kuwait, literally nowhere else. Bot coal and oil are pretty bad sources in the long run, like solar, so they too should not be used, at least not in car engines.

Diversification is great in theory, but in real world, it means you deliberately make part of your supply worse than it has to be. It also means shortage is much more likely, as now you have to track 5-6 resources, not one. Nuclear/fusion won't shortage at all, too.

The problem with restricting yourself to just one power source in the name of efficiency is that in the real world shit happens. Why do I still have oil lamps and flashlights in the house despite a modern power grid? Because sometimes the grid goes down.

If you go to wind or solar as a primary source then you'll need backup for when the supply is interrupted, it's just the nature of the beast, even if your backup is more expensive per unit (so when you're on backup you power down items that are luxuries rather than essentials).

And, again, it's not "nuclear/fusion", it's just fission at this point, and periodically even a nuclear plant has to be taken off-line for routine maintenance. What then? Some locations are not good for siting a nuclear plant, such as a seashore in an area prone to both earthquakes and tsunamis (hello, Fukushima). Nuclear is no more an panacea than any other solution.

Having a backup doesn't mean having "5-6 resources", it usually means 1 primary and 1 secondary power source. This isn't rocket science. It would be preferable to the current situation where, oh yes, petroleum is very efficient for our current infrastructure, which is geared to it, but a shortage means a shortage for EVERYTHING and those who control the supply have the rest of the world by the balls.



Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid. - Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

Sam Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-06 09:12pm
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Broomstick wrote:
This brings up two points:

snip

Umm, thanks for repeating stuff I wrote in my post?
Quote:
Which should leave enough petroleum/coal/dead dinosaur derived resources for those applications where the stuff is truly essential. Or enable us to manufacture a reasonable substitute.

If renewable power generation becomes cheap enough (which is just a question of time), power-to-gas could eliminate the need for fossil-fuel fired conventional power plants.
Irbis wrote:
Yes, it can power small things. We might even eventually see perpetual cell phones always loading through solar battery, outdoor and trekking applications, etc, but I draw the line at desk lamp. Anything more powerful, like microwave oven, is very unlikely to warrant huge (from individual perspective) investment solar requires.

Thus, gadgets, yes, making more than a tiny dot on power source chart, no.

Yes, its totally impossible for solar power to generate a third of the electricity in a major country like Germany:
Image
Or maybe you are full of shit.

Quote:
I'd even argue powering homes is unrealistic. As people will be forced to move to more efficient, multi-family, multi-store apartments, volume of such buildings will grow much faster than surface, making solar maybe useful to light desk lamps.

You are full of shit, as shown above. In addition, you have apparently never heard of zero-energy buildings.

Quote:
As cars will shift into electric energy and we begin to invest into fusion power, eventually power net will have surplus of energy making all solar panels but the most fantastically (Star Wars level technology, basically) efficient uneconomical, IMHO.

Fusion? Seriously?

Quote:
Molten salt storage is also vulnerable to technical problems - any longer energy shortage (likely with renewable sources) turns the whole system into worthless scrap that can't be repaired in any way. I'd really thought twice before placing whole nation in position depending on it.

Germany has enough storage for natural gas (which could be utilized for power-to-gas-to-power & heat storage) to meet the energy requirements of Germany for several months. Unless you think the sun won't shine for several months and no wind will blow anywhere for several months, it is feasible to meet energy storage requirements.

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