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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-12 08:37am
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Skgoa wrote:
How many engineer alive today were around back then? How many companies have gained experience on doing this?

Companies like Ford not only have retained information from their earliest workings, but also have maintained working models of their earliest products (which you can see, and even ride in yourself, at Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan). Aficionados like Jay Leno likewise have working models of early electric cars in working condition. The old technology is not lost, and you can be sure it was looked at when designing the new.

Quote:
How many computer simulations have been done back then and is the data from that in single or double precission?

I know this comes as a shock to you whippersnappers, but people have built and designed things for most of human history without using computers. It's possible, you know.

Quote:
Broomstick wrote:
Quote:
There are even (rough) plans/ideas to put electromagnetic coils into roads to power cars through induction while they are driving.

What a fucking stupid idea - do you have ANY idea how much that would add to the cost of road building? How does that hold up to actual weather conditions? My area regularly has an annual temperature swing from -25 C to +35 C, and some years the extremes run from -28 C to +38 C. We already have a problem with pavement cracking/buckling/deteriorating due to just the temperatures, much less the ice, ground heaving, etc. What the hell will that do to your in-pavement induction coils?

That idea is not suitable to vast swathes of the temperate zones. Forget it, outside of a very few limited areas with extraordinarily stable climate.

"Old woman yells at clouds." :roll: I don't know much about building roads, so I'm just going to put my faith in the fact that the actual experts are saying "we are looking into it." It might very well cost much more than putting down a strip of tarmac. But e.g. the german Autobahn costs millions per kilometre to build anyways.

You know have to know a lot about building roads to understand that they are subject to buckling and warping due to weather extremes, you just have to live somewhere with seasonal weather. You don't have to know a lot about electrical delivery systems to know they're generally stiff and don't respond well to stretching forces. Thus, the average person can figure out what the hell is wrong with this induction coil in the pavement concept. Either name some magical, flexible conductor suitable to the job or admit this is pie-in-the-sky SF daydreaming.

I've been hearing about schemes to either heat pavement or otherwise utilize electrically powered gimmicks to improve driving surfaces since the 1970's. It hasn't happened - oh, wait, you will occasionally see a small section of pavement, a sidewalk or parking space perhaps, that is electrically heated but such systems are expensive and prone to failure, requiring regular maintenance if not outright replacement. Which is why you don't see entire roads outfitted like that.



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: 2012-10-12 09:10am
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Broomstick wrote:
You DON'T have to know a lot about building roads to understand that they are subject to buckling and warping due to weather extremes, you just have to live somewhere with seasonal weather. You don't have to know a lot about electrical delivery systems to know they're generally stiff and don't respond well to stretching forces. Thus, the average person can figure out what the hell is wrong with this induction coil in the pavement concept. Either name some magical, flexible conductor suitable to the job or admit this is pie-in-the-sky SF daydreaming.

I've been hearing about schemes to either heat pavement or otherwise utilize electrically powered gimmicks to improve driving surfaces since the 1970's. It hasn't happened - oh, wait, you will occasionally see a small section of pavement, a sidewalk or parking space perhaps, that is electrically heated but such systems are expensive and prone to failure, requiring regular maintenance if not outright replacement. Which is why you don't see entire roads outfitted like that.


typo correction mine.
Magical, flexible conductor? copper rope: http://www.alcoltd.com/copper-braid-ima ... oducts.jpg

but really this sounds like an interesting exercise in setting limits - I'd expect a report to come back saying: it'll cost this much and waste this much energy. it will be viable when XYZ happens / is developed.



"Aid, trade, green technology and peace." - Hans Rosling.
"Welcome to SDN, where we can't see the forest because walking into trees repeatedly feels good, bro." - Mr Coffee


Last edited by D.Turtle on 2012-10-12 02:44pm, edited 1 time in total.
Fixed the quote tag. - D.Turtle

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-12 12:06pm
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D.Turtle wrote:
One big ass reason: No matter what somebody might think is the best solution, if one wants to look at the real world, one has to factor in politics. And nuclear power has not been politically viable in a large part of the world for quite some time.
So are we discussing what the best technology is to avoid a climate disaster, or what the most popular (a.k.a. politically expedient) technology is? Because if it's the latter, we might as well just choose oil and coal and be done with it.

D.Turtle wrote:
Of course there also non-political reasons for going towards solar and not nuclear, things like the cost of nuclear (and most other conventional) power plants going up, while the cost of solar has been constantly dropping and is continuing to drop and will continue to drop (because the costs are mostly technology/development- and not resource-based).


This is irrelevant. So what if the cost of solar is dropping? It is still currently an order of magnitude more expensive than nuclear, with no indication that it will ever become the less expensive choice.

Hillary wrote:
Nuclear will not give all the answers. Nor will solar, wind, oil, gas, tide, bioenergy or human powering of dynamos. Saying we should concentrate all our efforts on Nuclear is as much folly as pretending we don't need it at all. There will be places in the world where solar power is more effective than nuclear. There will be advantages to using small scale solar systems in the home, for using windmills, for producing biogas from agricultural waste. These things are all happening in a cheap and effective way in parts of the world where grid electricity is expensive or impossible to get. There's no reason why these can't be scaled up to provide part of the energy solution.

Of course there will be some niche applications where solar is better than a nuclear reactor (like on the front of my calculator), but that hasn't been the proposition by the solar crowd in this thread. Rather, the discussion regarding solar has been about solar power being a potential large-scale solution to the energy demands of large nations. And my request for an argument showing a solar advantage in that role has still gone unanswered except for fallacious remarks about safety, which have been made contrary to the actual established safety statistics of the technologies in question.

But I also take issue with the implication of your post that an ideal power infrastructure will include many types of technology. Why is that? This seems like a misguided attempt at compromise to me, or perhaps some variation of a golden mean fallacy. Why should a power grid include some of everything? Power should only be produced by whatever technology is the best at producing it. Instead of merely listing off a bunch of competing technologies and assuming that they all probably have some utility, why not offer some substantive arguments about the benefits of each one of them, and in what circumstances they are actually the best choice?

Hillary wrote:
These are also less dangerous technologies than nuclear (which will ALWAYS carry a risk to the local community, even if this is much less than the scaremongers suggest) which surely carries some form of benefit.
Please provide some evidence that shows solar (or other competing technologies) are less dangerous than nuclear, and please define what you mean by "dangerous".

On a per-energy basis, nuclear is safer than solar, wind, oil, gas, coal, etc. This has been established over and over again in multiple threads where the statistics have been presented. Nuclear is safer that solar, just deal with that already.

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-12 03:04pm
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Magis wrote:
So are we discussing what the best technology is to avoid a climate disaster, or what the most popular (a.k.a. politically expedient) technology is? Because if it's the latter, we might as well just choose oil and coal and be done with it.

I am discussing both the best and the most popular technologies. Since oil and coal are causing the climate disaster, they are obviously not going to be the solution. Nuclear could be a solution, but has humongous political and popular problems with it. Renewable energy sources can also be a solution, but are currently mostly somewhat more expensive, which requires additional political/public will to support them in spite of the currently higher costs.

It can be a useful method to go and look at a scenario where a completely new energy infrastructure can be built up without looking at any of the already installed infrastructure, political viability, etc but it is also obviously not the only way of looking at it - nor may it be the best way of looking at it in order to find out what approach is best in reality.

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This is irrelevant. So what if the cost of solar is dropping? It is still currently an order of magnitude more expensive than nuclear, with no indication that it will ever become the less expensive choice.

Even going with the numbers Aerius (no friend of solar) provided, solar costs somewhere between two and four times as much as nuclear. Looking at the trends of the last 20 or so years, that will mean cost parity within three to eight or so years.
Quote:
Of course there will be some niche applications where solar is better than a nuclear reactor (like on the front of my calculator), but that hasn't been the proposition by the solar crowd in this thread. Rather, the discussion regarding solar has been about solar power being a potential large-scale solution to the energy demands of large nations. And my request for an argument showing a solar advantage in that role has still gone unanswered except for fallacious remarks about safety, which have been made contrary to the actual established safety statistics of the technologies in question.

Yes, niche applications like providing 5% of electricity of Germany in the first half of 2012 (renewables in total provided almost 26% of electricity). Solar energy costs have gone down drastically over the last 20 years, have shown no sign of slowing down, and are rapidly approaching grid parity (and in some areas have already reached it).

Quote:
But I also take issue with the implication of your post that an ideal power infrastructure will include many types of technology. Why is that? This seems like a misguided attempt at compromise to me, or perhaps some variation of a golden mean fallacy. Why should a power grid include some of everything? Power should only be produced by whatever technology is the best at producing it. Instead of merely listing off a bunch of competing technologies and assuming that they all probably have some utility, why not offer some substantive arguments about the benefits of each one of them, and in what circumstances they are actually the best choice?

And once we have omniscient knowledge about which path is best, and everybody agrees on that path being the best, it will always require some amount of trial and experimentation and utilization of various technologies in order to find some solution that apparently works for the moment, but even that solution will change as technologies mature, new ones arise, circumstances change, etc.

Live in the real world.

Quote:
On a per-energy basis, nuclear is safer than solar, wind, oil, gas, coal, etc. This has been established over and over again in multiple threads where the statistics have been presented. Nuclear is safer that solar, just deal with that already.

Nuclear appears safer on a deaths per energy produced look. However, nuclear always carries the risk of contaminating - and making mostly inhabitable for humans - land areas for decades. Solar does not carry that risk.

Broomstick wrote:
Sure, right now electrics are a viable choice for short distance driving, such as in a heavily urban area. They suck at long distance travel. Depending on where you live that may or may not matter. As someone who completes a 1600 km round trip several times a year (including this very week - hence my delay in replying to you) I'm sorry, an electric car does not serve my needs. A hybrid that runs on electric the first, oh, 300-400 km of that trip then gets inferior gas mileage the remainder due to having to haul around discharged batteries as deadweight until I can locate a charger and take the time to do the recharge sort of sucks, too.

Broomstick: Look at this data from 2008 in the US
Image
Less than 1% of daily trips (making up 15% of daily miles driven) were more than a hundred miles. For the vast majority trips, short ranged electric capability would be a huge money saver. Some inconvenience for longer trips - or with hybrids slightly worse gas mileage - wouldn't erase that advantage for many people.

It reminds me of people driving huge cars/pickups all the time because of the 2-3 times a year they might actually need that space. Never mind that they could have saved tons and tons of money by having a smaller, more efficient car and renting a car or trailer for those 2 or three occasions.

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-12 05:43pm
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D. Turtle, just to bolster a your point about grid parity for solar, here's some useful information:

Solar Power Less Expensive than Analysts Purport
Quote:
(Editor’s note: this is NOT even taking health, energy security, and environmental costs into account — not what this study is about — and it STILL finds that solar has reached grid parity in many places!)

The real cost of implementing solar power is being deliberately hidden from the public according to a study conducted at Queen’s University in Canada.

“Many analysts project a higher cost for solar photovoltaic energy because they don’t consider recent technological advancements and price reductions,” says Joshua Pearce, Adjunct Professor, Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. “Older models for determining solar photovoltaic energy costs are too conservative.”

In addition, Dr. Pearce is certain that solar photovoltaic systems are near a ‘tipping point’ at which point they will be able to produce energy for approximately the same price as traditional sources of energy, and are at that point in places.

“It is clear PV has already obtained grid parity in specific locations,” according to the study, “and as installed costs continue to decline, grid electricity prices continue to escalate, and industry experience increases, PV will become an increasingly economically advantageous source of electricity over expanding geographical regions.”

When analysts attempt to determine the cost of solar photovoltaic systems, they include the costs of installation and maintenance, finance charges, the system’s life expectancy, and the amount of electricity it is able to generate.

However, Dr. Pearce notes that studies currently out there are simply ignoring the 70 percent reduction in the cost of solar panels since 2009.

Another key point Pearce and his team brought up is that the lifetime of a solar installation is far longer than 20 years (what has been used in previous LCOE analyses). Pearce says, ““we should be doing our economic analysis at least on a 30-year lifetime.”

Additionally, Dr. Pearce says that research now shows that the productivity of top-of-the-line solar panels only drops between 0.1 and 0.2 percent annually, rather than the much higher 1 percent drop used in many cost analyses.

Ignoring system and installation costs — which Dr. Pearce notes can vary widely — equipment costs are determined on dollars per watt of electricity generated. One study released in 2010 estimated that the equipment cost of solar photovoltaic systems was $7.61, while in 2003 another study set the amount at $4.16.

According to Dr. Pearce, the real cost is now under $1 per watt for solar panels purchased in bulk on the global market.


Summer Solstice Solar Survey: Consumers Around the World Think Their Country Has the Most Solar Power Installed

Image
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Applied Materials puts out an interesting Summer Solstice Solar Energy Survey annually. While it covers a range of topics, one of the most interesting findings this year, in my opinion, is that consumers of various countries think their country is the solar leader (when it is not).

“Respondents of each country believed their country has installed the greatest number of solar panels. Almost six in 10 (57%) Americans say the U.S. has installed the most solar panels, 43 percent of Chinese think it is China, and half (52%) of India thinks it is their country,” Applied Materials writes.

Pretty hilarious.

Only 17% of respondents responded that Germany was the world leader.

Of course, as CleanTechnica readers know, the top countries in absolute numbers (MW of installed solar power) as of the end of 2011 were:
1.Germany — 24678
2.Italy — 12754
3.Japan — 4914
4.Spain — 4400
5.USA — 4383
6.China — 3093
7.France — 2659
8.Belgium — 2018
9.Czech Rep. — 1959
10.Australia — 1298

But those rankings change when you look at installed solar power in relative terms (i.e. per capita, per GDP, and relative to electricity production).

Other highlights from the survey include the following:

■“Nearly half of consumers (46%) believe that growth of solar will positively impact the job market by creating jobs. The U.S. is most optimistic with nearly six in 10 (58%) responding as such. Every country, city and community has the potential to directly benefit from the growth of the solar power industry with on-the-ground jobs in system integration, installation, sales and marketing, and project development.”
■“Over half (55%) understand that when compared to the cost of traditional energy sources, like coal, solar energy is less expensive.”
■“Nearly six in 10 (58%) consumers in China believe that the projected rate of solar energy adoption to15 GW by 2015 is too slow of an adoption rate. And when respondents in India were asked about the government’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s goal of increasing the contribution of renewable energy to six percent of India’s total energy mix by 2022, more than half (51%) voiced concern that the rate of adoption was too slow.”

Expanding on that last point, Applied Materials writes:

“The reality is that the cost of solar has fallen dramatically over the last year. Today, PV module prices are below $1/Watt, which means that in many countries solar power has reached a point where it is cost competitive with retail energy prices – that is, that solar is at parity with grid power. Last year, we reported that 28 countries would be at grid parity at the end of 2012. Today, that number has surpassed 100. To put that in perspective, these 105 countries make up 98% of the world’s population, account for 99.7% of the world’s GDP and consume 99.2% of the world’s energy related to CO2 emissions. We’ve graphically illustrated this and encourage you to share it to help raise awareness.”

Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1eZub)


Solar PV Close to 50c/Watt
Quote:
US Energy Secretary Stephen Chu earlier this year suggested that solar PV without subsidies will be cheaper than both coal and gas if it could get its costs down to around $1/watt by the end of the decade – an event that would trigger a total re-examination of the way electricity was produced in the world’s largest economy.

That meant cutting the cost of modules to round 50c/W, and then bringing the balance of module costs down with it. The latest research says that the module cost target will happen by 2016. Which also means that forecasts by Chinese officials and the Indian government that solar PV would reach wholesale parity with fossil fuels by 2020 (or 2017 in the case of India) are likely to occur even earlier.

GTM Research this week published the latest version of its five-year cost outlook for solar PV. Its first take was to admit that its previous predictions about costs, deployment and consolidation in the industry had been wildly misplaced. Like others, it has struggled to get its spread sheets around the stunning reduction in costs over the last few years, and misread the impact of feed-in tariffs, consumer demand, and the ability of Chinese manufacturers to lower costs.

“How wrong we were,” wrote GTM analyst Shyam Mehta. “We didn’t really have an accurate, even semi-quantitative, understanding of the relationship between pricing, incentives, finance and demand.” And by “we”, GTM could include not just its own researchers, but nearly the entire global energy industry.

And predictions on how the solar market is going to play out are not getting any easier. “Truth be told, we are not a long way farther along in developing an understanding of the PV market than we were back in 2008,” he writes.

But some things can be noted: “That industry has sheer momentum behind it in terms of interested, well-capitalized parties, that technology innovation will happen at breathtaking speed, helping to push c-Si (silicon-based) module costs toward the $0.50/W mark at 17% module efficiencies over the next half-decade.

“We also don’t plan to underestimate the lucre that even cooling uncapped FIT markets still have, especially in an era when system costs are fast approaching $2.00/W. We also don’t think that pricing and demand have a nice, simple relation in terms of elasticity: customers will wait to purchase equipment for months if they think prices will come down further, but then install gigawatts of PV in a few weeks if those weeks precede a major tariff reduction.” (Hello Germany, Italy, and last week, Queensland).

The report includes a few notable graphs. The first is the cost path for module – now estimated at around 75c/W and heading down to 50c/W at a rate of knots. GTM, and most others in the industry, believe it will get to the 50c/W mark by 2016 at the latest, most likely 2015.

The second graph shows how the deployment of solar PV will move away from Europe as subsidies wind down, to Asia (where feed in tariffs have just been introduced in China and Japan), and then to those countries where solar PV can thrive with no subsidies (competing on rooftops at socket parity against fossil fuel generation delivered via the grid, or, later, by matching fossil fuels in utility scale deployment).

So which companies will survive over the next few years? GTM says that the next four years will be difficult for the global PV manufacturers. “Fundamentally, this is because of the sheer magnitude of capacity in the industry that exists in the value chain today and the speed with which feed-in tariff programs in historically vital markets in Western Europe are being ratcheted down. We are in a transitional time in the history of the PV market: the training wheels of subsidies have come off, and the next few years will represent the industry’s first, uncertain attempts to ride without support.” The table shows its estimates of module costs for most of the major manufacturers by the end of 2013. Some will have already nearly made it to 50c/W.


New solar reality: Busting myths and burying fossils
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The myth is that solar energy has achieved little despite huge subsidies. The reality is that solar has achieved a great deal despite relatively low subsidies.

A new report from the Baker Center for Public Policy just released a fabulous new analysis comparing incentives for solar with historical incentives for fossil fuels, including this chart:

The report, commissioned by the solar industry’s trade group, has a number of interesting conclusions:

– Solar has had relatively small subsidies. That’s right, incentives for solar have been small compared to fossil fuels

– Incentives are working. Long term, stable incentives have ‘bridged the chasm’ to get solar past early adoption stages and to market.

– The employment potential for solar is even better than anticipated. Solar can create between 200,000 and 430,000 jobs in 2020.

– Solar power will not only be competitive, but will be a robust addition to America’s energy portfolio. Expanding the use of solar would limit the impact of price volatility and supply disruption- just rooftop solar could provide 20 percent of America’s energy needs.

These arguments are even more persuasive in light of the recent paper from McKinsey showing how dramatically the market for solar photovoltaics will grow in the coming decade. Taken together, these analyses show that we are clearly reaching the dawn of a new age for solar.

Let’s explore some of the most important takeaways from the Baker Center report:

Solar has not received a disproportionate amount of Federal Subsidies

Critics often claim that solar is unfairly subsidised. The Baker Center report squashes this claim with some nuanced analysis on the necessity and purpose of subsidies:

“Diffusion of solar energy technology in the energy markets is consistent with the less-than-smooth paths that many American industries have traveled as they entered the mainstream of commerce.”

No energy technology goes from laboratory to market overnight. As the report puts it, innovators and early adopters only constitute 16 percent of total technology adoption. Then there is a ‘chasm’ before mainstream adoption by the remaining 84 percent. What subsidies do, in bridging this chasm, is ensure that while “not all companies that enter the market early flourish … the industry itself can succeed.” Federal incentives have classically supported new energy resources during the average 30-year period between early adoption and full technology adoption.

The Baker Center found that “federal investment in solar technologies has been modest in a long-term historical context relative to other energy technologies.” As the above diagram shows, solar has not only received far less total subsidization, but it is receiving it at the point where technologies are supposed to be receiving support:

Incentives are working

How do we tell if incentives are working? The Baker Center rightly argues that the basic purpose of subsidization is to bring a technology across the “chasm” and into mainstream adoption. This being the case, the best policies are stable and long-term, giving investors strong policy signals that build confidence in the technology. As their findings show, the incredible growth rate in solar capacity over the last few years (see below) all took place while the federal investment tax credit and state renewable energy standards were in place. Tack on falling prices for PV, and you get a 77 percent growth rate in the period over the last five years. This growth is spurring more innovation in manufacturing and deployment, helping push solar PV toward grid parity at a rapid rate.

Growth in Solar PV will create jobs

Did I say jobs? I meant hundreds of thousands of jobs. The report finds that between 200,000 and 430,000 direct, indirect, and induced jobs will come from the solar industry in 2020. A recent solar jobs census found that there are already 100,000 Americans working in the sector. The connection is clear: more demand and lower costs are accelerating employment in the installation, maintenance and manufacturing of solar PV.

According to this report, solar gives you more bang for your buck — providing “more jobs per megawatt-hour than any other energy industry.”

There are also implications for global competitiveness. In 2010, the United States was a net exporter of solar PV to China, with a $1.9 billion trade surplus. If we can keep our stake in the global PV market, we will create an additional 67,000 jobs by 2030 through increased exports.

Solar is a crucial component of the US energy portfolio

Solar’s impact on the energy mix will depend on what kind of support the industry gets during this critical period. For the optimist, the report outlines a “Solar Grand Plan” projecting the technology could “provide 35 percent of total U.S needs by 2050 and 90 percent by 2100.” According to the below estimates, there are 3.9 million terawatt-hours of recoverable solar resources available through a combined set of compressed air storage and solar generation technologies.

The potential for solar is enormous in the US. But it’s not theoretical anymore. Solar PV is rapidly gaining market traction today — creating jobs, providing local economic value, and doing so with government support consistent with every other energy technology throughout history.

This doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what is going on in the solar industry. To be blunt, I lack the patience and time to address the staggering ignorance, obsolete objections and blinder vision I'm reading in this thread. Order of magnitude greater estimations of land use for solar, with PDF sources not showing the figures, numbers and assumptions for such conclusion? Complete ignorance and dismissal of super hydrophobic coatings that could be checked out in two seconds of googling that addresses question like durability, applications, etc? Whining about costs of materials used for solar technologies? Never minding no cost is greater than 'no power at all', I make no claims about any individual one shot wonder solving all problems. This kind of stupid shit is head banging on my desk frustrating. :banghead:

For solar to accomplish what I'm claiming it will, you need to factor in costs, raw materials, insolation figures, government support, subsidies, public support, growth rates, etc...just to name a few issues you really need to dig into. I'm not here to write page long essays on individual issues, never mind the sum of many.

Suffice to say that solar is going to wipe the board with pretty much all other energy sources, and we can expect to see photovoltaic technologies coupled with rapidly improving battery technologies to provide virtually all energy needs. Photovoltaic technologies will be incorperated into everything, from clothing, plastics, steels, glass, roads, roof shingles, walkways...you name it. Solar can be integrated anywhere, and when solar paints and spray on technologies become efficient and cheap enough and coupled with advanced spray on battery technologies, there really is no credible position against solar.

There will still be nicha application for things like nuclear (like submarines for one example that comes to mind), and definitely fusion once we crack that nut, but solar will easily provide all energy needs across the planet.

Let the anti solar brigade rant on about shit they know next to nothing about. They'll be eating their words in the next few years. That or I'll publicly eat 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: 2012-10-12 08:17pm
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Let's see, extrapolate exponential trends into the future and disregard material cost & supply issues, then handwave away anything that could possibly get in the way. Gee, why am I not surprised?

Look, a single nuke plant (Bruce NGS) generates more energy in a year than the entire global installation of solar power. It cost about $7.8 billion to build, adjust for inflation to 2012 dollars and it's $14.4 billion. Let's just say there's no way in hell the world's solar installations cost that little. Installed cost is still about $3/watt despite what the industry claims (look up the cost & capacity of any major solar project), if I'm generous and give you a 15% capacity factor it works out to 36GW of installed capacity for solar, at $3/watt that's $108 billion to provide the same energy as a nuke plant. And this leaves out the energy storage issues that solar has to deal with. Remember that million ton lake of molten sodium & potassium salts (which btw uses up the entire global production of KNO3)? Or those proposed gas conversion plants? Or pumped hydro? Oh, let me guess, god will provide. Goddamnit, you solar power blowhards are just as bad as Creationists.



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aerius: I'll vote for you if you sleep with me. :)
Lusankya: Deal!
Say, do you want it to be a threesome with your wife? Or a foursome with your wife and sister-in-law? I'm up for either. :P

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-12 08:58pm
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Funny how assesments of nuclear versus solar seem to shit all over your claims:

Nuclear Vs Solar: Clash of the Numbers
Quote:
A very interesting and controversial study emerged recently, comparing nuclear and solar costs no less.

The study, “Solar and Nuclear Costs – The Historic Crossover“, was prepared by John O. Blackburn and Sam Cunningham for NC Warn, a climate change nonprofit watchdog. The paper, focused on the costs of electricity in North Carolina (US), describes the solar photovoltaics (PV) business, summarising its history of sharply declining prices, along with the very different path taken in recent years by nuclear power, whose costs have been steadily rising.

The conclusion is that as of 2010, North Carolina is witnessing a historic crossover between the price of nuclear power and that of solar PV: the crossover is said to be happening at 0.16 $/kWh. Very important note: these costs are calculated as net figures after subsidies. Where do the numbers come from? The study collected figures from local solar industry sources, to come up with a “capital cost” for solar PV electricity, and relied on a study on nuclear price trends by Mark Cooper, “The Economics of Nuclear Reactors: Renaissance or Relapse?“, for a comparison with nuclear power. The “net prices” are then obtained by deducting from those “capital costs” whatever forms of subsidies, rebates and tax credits are available in the US. This means the conclusions of such study are not about a Levelized Cost Of Electricity (LCOE) comparison, but rather about the final cost to consumers, given the existing incentives. A lot of discussion could be triggered by the method alone, as its results are heavily dependent on the local level of support to either technology. Nonetheless, there are much more interesting data from this paper than just its controversial conclusions. Capital costs of both sources of energy (before subsidies, a sort of levelized cost) are indeed discussed, but what is even more interesting (and as yet most unnoticed by the media) is the scale of the comparison. We’ll see why.

The figures shown for solar energy are explained in the report’s appendix, and calculated for a very small 3kW (peak) PV system with the following parameters: $6,000/kW installed cost, 6% borrowing rate, 25-year amortization period, 18% capacity factor (meaning 1,560 kWh/kWp per year), and a 15% derating factor to account for system losses. From these values, a capital cost of 35¢/kWh results as the current electricity price of a residential PV installation. Then, by taking into account the 30% and 35% Federal and state tax credits (yielding a net system cost of $8,190 from the original $18.000), the authors calculate a net production cost of 15.9¢/kWh.

On the other side, nuclear power costs from new projects under construction or planning around the world are estimated in the region of 12–20$¢/kWhat the plant site, before any transmission charges. Transmission and distribution costs – the authors argue – would raise the delivered costs of new nuclear plants to residential customers to 22¢/kWh. According to the authors, plant cost escalations announced by utilities since Cooper’s paper was published suggest an even higher figure, but 16¢/kWh is eventually considered as a mid-range value, also net of available subsidies, for comparison to the calculated costs of a small residential PV plant. That’s the crossover point.




Photo: Bigod on Flickr.

A critical review

This study, and its conclusions, have caused reactions of all kinds, and weighing in subsidies hasn’t helped finding common ground between advocates of the two different technologies. One response that really drew my attention though, is that from the Italian Nuclear Association (AIN), member of the European Atomic Forum (FORATOM), the American Nuclear Society (ANS) and the European Nuclear Society (ENS). In an official note through the italian media, they point at the use of subsidies as a deceitful means to get to wrong conclusions in favour of PV. Not happy with this, AIN also suggests that the real capital cost of a 3kW PV system would be around 63¢/kWh! As an end to the official response, the nuclear association clarifies what the real costs are for modern nuclear plants under construction: 10 to 15¢/kWh. I find their response even more intriguing than the study itself.

Now, I won’t go in further detail on the issue of subsidies, as I believe that a proper apple-to-apple comparison should be that of levelized costs. This said, I think the study’s results are indeed a bit deceiving, but actually not so much to PV’s advantage. The nuclear association’s official response only adds an amusing note to this clash of the numbers. Why do I suggest that? well, let’s go back to the start. A small residential PV system with a peak output of 3kW is being compared to the figures of a huge centralised nuclear plant (new designs like the EPR reactor have a 1600MW output), some 500,000 times (!) greater in terms of power output (and even more in terms of annual generation, given the different load factors). This is David Vs Goliath.

While I can understand the reasons behind this choice by the authors (aiming at final electricity customers of North Carolina), if a proper comparison were to be made that should be between levelized costs (LCOE) of utility-scale plants on both sides. In this scenario, we find that bigger solar plants, even just at a 100kW rating, already achieve levelized costs below 20¢/kWh in sunny regions (like southern Europe or a good part of the US), with system prices already below €3,000/kW as of Q2 2010 (as witnessed by the German Solar Energy Association BSW). The influential website Solarbuzz posts regularly updated figures on electricity costs for 100kW roof-mounted plants: August surveys show a figure of 19.14¢/kWh. Multi-MW plants, clearly benefiting from some economies of scale with installaton costs now around €2,500/kW, are already in the 15¢/kWh ballpark without the aid of any incentives.

So what about the Italian Nuclear Association’s claims? Their 63¢/kWh figure for a residential PV plant is based on a load factor of 10%, something achievable even under the skies of London and hardly comparable with North Carolina or any sun-friendly region on Earth. Spain and southern Italy can easily achieve 16-18% load factors, sunny States in the US go even higher. Obviously, AIN dare not suggest a comparison with utility-scale PV projects. But they do end giving us an outstanding piece of information. New nuclear appears to have costs up to 15¢/kWh. I don’t recall any ufficial nuclear body admitting such high figures before, but it’s good to finally get some clear numbers after the worrying reports published by the likes of Moody’s and Citi Group in their recent due-diligence on nuclear power. Granted, it may well be that costs for those badly over-running construction sites like the European EPR plants in Finland and France will be even higher, which helps explaining the increasing requests of late for subsidies, incentives and loan guarantees made by nuclear utilities. Gone are the days when claimed levelized costs for nuclear power were about 3-4¢/kWh; it now seems nuclear projects in the developed world will not be completed without a big helping hand from governments and taxpayers.

In a business where quick-to-install, modular renewables like PV are outpacing all economic projections and show costs decreasing by the month (triggered by plummeting incentives and ever higher production volumes), the economic outlook for the once proudly cheap nuclear energy has never been as bleak.


Nuclear vs Solar – Can Renewable Energy Ever be Cost Effective Enough to Compete?
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Solar power has long been plagued with unsubstantiated claims that whilst it’s a great source of renewable energy, it’s just far too expensive as a viable source of power on a large scale compared to nuclear. However, particularly over the last 18 months, the cost of solar power has fallen dramatically, for example, in the UK the costs have decreased by about 30% per installed kWh.

Firstly, why has solar power become so cheap? This is mainly due to increased competition. Many countries over the last two years have introduced generous subsidies to encourage the adoption of solar panels, which have received a lot of attention in the news. This has driven demand from homeowners wanting to find out more about solar power, creating a growing market. Whenever there is a large market, the ability to offer products at the lowest margins possible means that a healthy profit can be made, driving innovation. Manufacturers have streamlined the solar panel production process, and the solar modules themselves offer greater efficiency.

But will solar ever match the low costs of nuclear energy? A recent study from Duke University, ‘Solar and Nuclear Costs – The Historic Crossover’, explains that whilst solar power is decreasing in costs, nuclear power is getting more expensive, and at an increasing rate. They predict that this year is when solar power’s cost per kilowatt hour (kWh) generated will fall to 16 cents, whilst nuclear’s cost will rise above this level.

Construction costs for nuclear power are the reason why ultimately the cost per kWh has been rising. In 2002, the cost per reactor was approximately $3 billion, compared to $10 billion for 2012 – a rate far above inflation. Overall, it seems strange that whilst the construction of one technology is getting cheaper, the other is getting more expensive.

“Regulatory ratcheting” is a term applied to how constantly changing and increasing regulatory demands on nuclear power production are causing the bulk of extra expense. The massive cost increases that result are because nuclear plants take 5-10 years to build, and modifying a project that is already under construction, especially with the complexity of a nuclear reactor, is very wasteful, difficult and time-consuming. With the amount of labour involved in building a nuclear power plant, each day of delay adds an extra $1 million in costs. The regulations involved change so often that it is a vital part of the planning process to anticipate possible future changes and to make sure the plant can be adapted to these guesses. This means that often extra, but unnecessary, features are included in the plants.

Whilst many consider nuclear power plants as a good, low carbon option for power development, very few people are willing to live near one due to the perceived safety risks. This means that there is inevitably fierce local opposition to new plants being built, and intervention groups use hearings and legal strategies to delay the construction, ultimately adding to the costs of the electricity produced. As the regulations become increasingly complicated, the potential for legal intervention rises, and elaborate inspections often can cause a bottleneck in the construction process.

An example of this is the Seabrook plant, built in New Hampshire in the USA. Local interventionists raised legal concerns that the 80 degrees Fahrenheit water being released into the Atlantic by the nuclear plant could harm aquatic life. This lead to a two year delay, and the plant having to construct a costly system to pipe water over two miles away from the shore.

The Duke University study cited earlier has received criticism in the methods used to calculate the impressive figures for solar – the cost of 16 cents/kWh was to the consumer, only after 14c/kWh of subsidy being included in the actual cost of production at 30c/kWh. However, it also didn’t include the huge subsidies given to the nuclear industry, often vital to make sure that over-budget plants get finished rather than abandoned.

It is difficult to conclude precisely when a “historic crossover” will occur. Whilst solar is steadily becoming cheaper, the costs involved with nuclear are very unpredictable because the construction process is much more complicated and heavily dependent on the ever-changing regulations and legal situation. What is clear, however, is that nuclear is overall getting more expensive, and it seems inevitable that the two will eventually crossover and solar will become a viable alternative. The difficulty is predicting when this will happen.


Wind and solar power are leaving nuclear in the dust
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We often hear that wind and solar power are nice, but they can’t deliver the power that we need. So there were probably a few raised eyebrows last week when I was quoted (here and here) saying that “Wind and solar energy are the new Niagara Falls, as they can do a similar job of replacing polluting power from coal or nuclear plants to power a prosperous Ontario in the twenty-first century.”

I was responding to an announcement by the Ontario government that they would be investing in 40 additional wind and solar energy projects, and comparing the green energy investments being made through the Green Energy Act to the decision a century ago to build the generating station at Niagara Falls. That decisions is now universally viewed as a good idea because it powered Ontario’s industrial base through much of the 20th century, but it was very controversial when it was being build due to its high cost (almost four times over budget and at an inflation-adjusted cost per kilowatt hour roughly 50 per cent higher than what we are now paying for wind).

Fast forward a century, and the main debate in Ontario is how green energy may make for nice add-on, but nuclear power should remain the backbone of the system. Greenpeace has argued that green energy is a much better investment than nuclear, but I think it’s interesting to compare the global figures for how much nuclear, wind and solar power have been added over the last few years during what has been billed as a “nuclear renaissance.”

Whether you look at it in terms of how much capacity (maximum output) is added:

Or how much power will be generated over the year:

The short answer is that wind and solar have been kicking some nuclear butt. And this doesn’t account for all the reactors going off-line due to age, so that total nuclear output has been dropping for the last few years.

So the next time a politician tries to tell you that we can’t live without nuclear, tell them we can’t afford to live with it.


Only renewables - not nuclear - could be too cheap to meter
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"Too cheap to meter": that was the infamous boast of the nuclear power industry in its heyday. It has been catastrophically discredited by history.

Yet the phrase may yet see a new life - not of course for nuclear power - but for renewable energy. As the UK government publishes its draft energy bill on Tuesday, acknowledged by all but ministers themselves as primarily an arcane way of getting new nuclear power stations built, I am in Germany.

Already, on one particularly windy weekend here, the surge of electricity drove the price down to zero. Very soon, due to the 25GW of solar capacity Germany has already installed, hot summer's days will see the same effect: electricity too cheap to meter.

Now hang on, I hear you say, free electricity is actually crazy as it means there's no incentive to invest in new, clean generation capacity, which almost every country needs as the world seeks to cut the carbon emissions driving climate change. Germany's renewable energy policy, which began with a feed-in-tariff in 1990, deals with this by continuing to pay the producer, even when the electricity is sold for nothing.

Crazy again, right? No, says Andreas Kraemer, director of the Ecologic Institute, an energy research policy centre, because the tax benefit to the Germany, via 400,000 jobs in the €40bn-a-year renewables industry is outweighs than the cost of the subsidy. Furthermore, he says, the contribution of renewable energy in cutting peak prices mean the wholesale cost of electricity is 10% lower than it would be without them. "The money flowing out in FITs is less than the money saved by the end consumer," he says. And all the while a clean, sustainable energy system is built.

But real problems do exist, and will intensify as Germany approaches its goal of 100% renewable electricity, from its current 20%. As that comes closer, the policies will have to change. Energy storage, already incentivised in Germany today, will need to be available, as will high-voltage interconnectors to move power around the continent and a smart grid to cleverly match demand to supply. It's an attractive vision: clean energy, securely supplied and coming down in price.

Compare all this with the UK, where the nuclear industry is so embedded in government it supplies staff free-of-charge to work within the energy ministry. Perhaps it's no wonder that even when half of the UK's big six energy companies bale out of nuclear on cost grounds, ministers plough on regardless.

The news that EDF, the French-state-owned giant that runs many of the UK's nuclear plants, wants to extend the lifetimes of their ageing reactors confirms their attraction to the so-called carbon floor price. This leg of government energy policy puts a minimum price on carbon emissions, delivering large windfalls to existing nuclear plants. New nuclear plants will also have to be subsidised, more than onshore wind and possibly more than offshore wind, according to recent analyses, which is shameful for a 60 year-old technology.

"In general in industry," says Kraemer, "when the production of something doubles, the cost falls by about 15%. The only notable exception is the nuclear industry which gets more expensive the more you build." Recent reports, not denied by EDF, put the cost of their new plants in the UK at £7bn each, 40% higher than previously stated.

So while mass-produced renewable energy technologies are pushing the costs downwards, nuclear energy is completing the journey from "too cheap to meter" to "too expensive to count". "It surprises me that something that is completely obvious to people in Germany is suppressed in the UK," says Kraemer.

A final note. I am here with half a dozen of the UK's most senior energy policy academics. When I mention the guarantee repeatedly given by the coalition government that new nuclear plants in the UK will get "no public subsidy", the only response are roars of incredulous laughter. Energy bill payers, who fund all the energy schemes, are unlikely to be similarly amused.


Of course, public opinion and resistance to nuclear solutions are the big nails, cement coverings and steel encasement for nuclear's coffin. But hey, you go on and keep dreaming about your nuclear fantasies, fanboy. I'm interested in the reality of energy solutions, not your wet dreams.



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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-12 09:41pm
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Do you even read your own articles? The first one quotes 2500 Euros per kilowatt of installed capacity in mass installations, which is even worse than the assumptions I made in my previous post. That works out to $3.20 per watt, which ramps the cost to $115 billion to equal the energy output of Bruce NGS, assuming a 15% capacity factor which is highly optimistic for anything outside a sunny desert.

And the rest of the articles have no math in them at all, it's all just estimates & projections, and that's being generous. Since you're allergic to numbers, let me post this again, and quote it in its entirety.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/ ... l-lagging/
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The Direct Costs of Energy: Why Solar Will Continue To Lag Hydro And Nukes

Wrapping up our discussion on the actual costs to produce electricity, we can determine a total actual life-cycle cost for coal, nuclear, solar and hydro needed to build and operate the number of each plants or arrays required to produce a trillion kWhrs over their life-span. Key assumptions and references are given in the three previous posts.

In 2011, a 750 MW coal fired power plant cost $2.5 billion, expected to operate at a capacity factor of 71% for the 8,766 hours each year over its 40-year life, producing 187 billion kWhrs, more or less.

750 MW x 1000 kW/MW x 0.71 x 8,766 hrs/yr x 40 yrs = 187 billion kWhrs

To produce one trillion kWhrs over their life span will require building about 5 (5.3) of them at a cost of about $13.4 billion. Fuel costs are about 2¢/kWhr @$40/ton of coal, O&M costs are about 0.6¢/kWhr and decommissioning costs are 0.21¢/kWhr. So to produce a trillion kWhrs from coal will cost: $13.3 billion + $20 billion + $6 billion + $2.1 billion = $41.4 billion or 4.1¢/kWhr.

This year, the Westinghouse AP1000, a 1,000 MW nuclear power plant, costs $7 billion, operating at a capacity factor of 90% for the 8,766 hours each year over its 60-year life, and will produce 473 billion kWhrs, more or less.

1000 MW x 1000 kW/MW x 0.90 x 8,766 hrs/yr x 60 yrs = 473 billion kWhrs

To produce one trillion kWhrs over their life span will require building about 2 (2.1) of them at a cost of about $14.8 billion. Fuel costs are about 0.6¢/kWhr for nuclear @$100/lbU3O8, O&M costs are about 1.3¢/kWhr and decommissioning costs are 0.11¢/kWhr (if put in the right geology, i.e., massive salt). So to produce a trillion kWhrs from nuclear will cost: $14.8 billion + $6 billion + $13 billion + $1.1 billion = $34.9 billion or 3.5¢/kWhr.

NRG Energy is installing a 92 MW solar array costing $300 million, operating at a capacity factor of 20% for the 8,766 hours each year over its 25-year life, and will produce 4 billion kWhrs, more or less.

92 MW x 1000 kW/MW x 0.20 x 8,766 hrs/yr x 25 yrs = 4.0 billion kWhrs

To produce one trillion kWhrs over their life span will require building 250 of them at a cost of about $75 billion, the most expensive build of any source. But all other costs are the lowest of any source – fuel costs are zero, O&M costs are only about 0.1¢/kWhr and decommissioning costs are only 0.08¢/kWhr. So to produce a trillion kWhrs from solar will cost: $75 billion + $0 billion + $1 billion + $0.8 billion = $76.8 billion or 7.7¢/kWhr. Most anticipate that this cost will come down as newer technologies are implemented, such as HPG cells and concentrated solar (see David Ferris‘s post on the left), and the capacity factor increases substantially.

Finally, The Alaska Energy Authority has been authorized by the State to build a 600 MW hydroelectric plant on the Susitna River which will cost about $3 billion and operate at a capacity factor of 44% for the 8,766 hours each year over its 80-year expected life, producing 185 billion kWhrs, more or less.

600 MW x 1000 kW/MW x 0.44 x 8,766 hrs/yr x 80 yrs = 185 billion kWhrs

To produce one trillion kWhrs over their life span will require building five and a half of them (5.4) at a cost of about $16.2 billion. Fuel costs are zero, O&M costs are 0.8¢/kWhr and decommissioning costs are 0.86¢/kWhr (the highest decom cost of any source). So to produce a trillion kWhrs from hydro will cost: $16.2 billion + $0 billion + $8 billion + $8.6 billion = $32.8 billion or 3.3¢/kWhr, the cheapest of all sources.

As discussed previously, the longer fossil fuel plants operate, the less cost effective they become, but the longer nuclear, hydro and renewables operate, the more cost effective they become, because it is all about the fuel. So the final ranking of energy sources on actual costs to produce a trillion kWhrs over their lifespan is 3.3¢/kWhr for hydro, 3.5 ¢/kWhr for nuclear, 3.7 ¢/kWhr for natural gas @ $2.60/mcf, 4.1 ¢/kWhr for coal, 4.3 ¢/kWhr for wind, 5.1 ¢/kWhr for natural gas @ 4/mcf, and 7.7 ¢/kWhr for solar. Again, these costs do not include connecting to the grid or buffering of the intermittency of renewables to prevent grid crisis. When ranked like this, the differences between hydro, nuclear, wind, coal and gas @ $2.60/mcf are pretty minor in the long-term and other issues like capital investment, emission goals, distribution and energy security should be deciding the mix we aim for by mid-century. But anticipated rising fossil fuel costs, even for natural gas, over the coming decades will change this ranking.

So which ones, what mix, do we invest in?



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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-12 09:50pm
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If only costs of solar weren't plummeting, its installations soaring while nuclear's costs weren't rising and it wasn't fighting a losing battle with public opinion. :(



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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-13 01:01am
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Singular Intellect wrote:
If only costs of solar weren't plummeting, its installations soaring while nuclear's costs weren't rising and it wasn't fighting a losing battle with public opinion. :(


And what are the trends that make you believe that the costs of solar will continue to plummet in relation to nuclear power? What is the minimum cost of solar power, taking into account materials and square footage of city-power arrays? Etc



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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-13 02:03am
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Ziggy Stardust wrote:
And what are the trends that make you believe that the costs of solar will continue to plummet in relation to nuclear power?

Running technological improvements, economies of scale manufacturing, free and practically infinite fuel source, enormous public support, environmental concerns, economic incentives, abolishment of government subsidies for the energy industry, decentralization of the energy sector, rapidly improving battery and other energy storage technologies, continously and rapidly advancing technological tools to develop solar...that's to name a few off the top of my head.
Quote:
What is the minimum cost of solar power, taking into account materials and square footage of city-power arrays? Etc

Minimum cost? 'Too cheap to meter' is something solar power can actually deliver on, since you start with free, enormously abundant reneweable energy fuel and simply keep making the harvesting technology cheaper, easier and faster to manufacture.

Civilization is starting to switch over from a hunter gather system of energy acquistion to large scale energy harvesting. In simplistic terms, it's similiar to how the agricultural revolution completely changed humanity's pursuit of food, but on a vastly smaller timeframe using vastly more advanced technologies and knowledge.



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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-13 04:56am
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Prove it. Write up a cost analysis using cost & capacity info from actual current and proposed solar projects.



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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-13 08:33pm
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Singular Intellect wrote:
Minimum cost? 'Too cheap to meter' is something solar power can actually deliver on, since you start with free, enormously abundant reneweable energy fuel and simply keep making the harvesting technology cheaper, easier and faster to manufacture.

No, it can't.

It can't because someone will have to find and mine the resources that make up the components of solar collectors. It can't because someone has to make those solar collections, then distribute them to the consumer. None of these people work for free, therefore, there will ALWAYS be a cost to solar power even if the sunlight is free.



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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-14 11:39am
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In fairness to SI, "too cheap to meter" can also refer to the idea that residential electricity users would simply be charged a flat rate per month, like a subscription fee to an Internet service. I'm pretty sure that's what they meant back in the '50s when the phrase was first used to talk about nuclear power.

Everybody with any brains at all knew that uranium wouldn't come free for the taking and that nuclear reactors would cost more than zero. But there was at least the fond hope of getting electricity down to... in modern terms you'd probably have to get electricity down to a penny per kilowatt-hour or less before it would make sense to use fixed subscription plans. Something like that, anyway.


Then again, it's SI, so he may honestly think that manufacturing and distribution costs don't matter because EXPONENTIAL GROWTH means that by 2013 they will have to pay you to get them to fabricate 90%-efficient solar panels and install them on your roof. It's kind of hard to be sure.

I wonder what his solar energy predictions from 2005 would have looked like, and whether they'd have come true.

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-14 12:27pm
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Broomstick wrote:
Skgoa wrote:
How many engineer alive today were around back then? How many companies have gained experience on doing this?

Companies like Ford not only have retained information from their earliest workings, but also have maintained working models of their earliest products (which you can see, and even ride in yourself, at Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan). Aficionados like Jay Leno likewise have working models of early electric cars in working condition. The old technology is not lost, and you can be sure it was looked at when designing the new.

Which completely misses the point. Engineering has changed.

Broomstick wrote:
Quote:
How many computer simulations have been done back then and is the data from that in single or double precission?

I know this comes as a shock to you whippersnappers, but people have built and designed things for most of human history without using computers. It's possible, you know.

Which completely misses the point. Engineering has changed.

Just a reminder: You do remember your orginial claim was that EVs had been tried 100 years ago and thus aren't viable, ever? And that my counter-argument was that we are seeing the beginnings of an industry wide shift that goes far beyond and above the rather simple cars that were build 100 years ago? That people own old cars changes absolutely nothing, since these are old cars and not the technology that is currently being developed.



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"Old woman yells at clouds." :roll: I don't know much about building roads, so I'm just going to put my faith in the fact that the actual experts are saying "we are looking into it." It might very well cost much more than putting down a strip of tarmac. But e.g. the german Autobahn costs millions per kilometre to build anyways.

You know have to know a lot about building roads to understand that they are subject to buckling and warping due to weather extremes, you just have to live somewhere with seasonal weather. You don't have to know a lot about electrical delivery systems to know they're generally stiff and don't respond well to stretching forces. Thus, the average person can figure out what the hell is wrong with this induction coil in the pavement concept. Either name some magical, flexible conductor suitable to the job or admit this is pie-in-the-sky SF daydreaming.

I've been hearing about schemes to either heat pavement or otherwise utilize electrically powered gimmicks to improve driving surfaces since the 1970's. It hasn't happened - oh, wait, you will occasionally see a small section of pavement, a sidewalk or parking space perhaps, that is electrically heated but such systems are expensive and prone to failure, requiring regular maintenance if not outright replacement. Which is why you don't see entire roads outfitted like that.

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-14 01:21pm
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Simon_Jester wrote:
In fairness to SI, "too cheap to meter" can also refer to the idea that residential electricity users would simply be charged a flat rate per month, like a subscription fee to an Internet service. I'm pretty sure that's what they meant back in the '50s when the phrase was first used to talk about nuclear power.

My recollection from the 1970's, when that was still be used to sell nuclear, was that no, by "too cheap to meter" they essentially meant free, not a flat subscription fee a month. That is, however, from 30-40 year old memories so perhaps not strictly accurate. "Free" was certainly the impression for some, and the authorities did little or nothing to discourage such inaccurate viewpoints.

That is also a factor on why the public soured on nuclear.



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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-14 02:02pm
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Broomstick wrote:
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How many computer simulations have been done back then and is the data from that in single or double precission?

I know this comes as a shock to you whippersnappers, but people have built and designed things for most of human history without using computers. It's possible, you know.

Which completely misses the point. Engineering has changed.

Engineering has NOT changed in some fundamental manner, the computer is just a new tool that's been adopted for engineering, they do not re-write physics and chemistry. It's a better abacus, that's all.

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Just a reminder: You do remember your orginial claim was that EVs had been tried 100 years ago and thus aren't viable, ever?

Nope, that was NOT my claim, that was what YOU read into it.

When automobiles were first invented there were several competing power sources, the big three being steam, electric, and gasoline. To start it was a level playing field with, actually, some small advantage to steam due to it being used heavily during the 19th Century. My point was that gasoline won for a reason. The range and refueling convenience outweighed its drawbacks compared to both of the alternatives, which in terms of operation were superior in some respects. When gasoline won it wasn't the super-efficient cars of today but rattling gas-guzzlers with things like carburetors that needed frequent adjusting. Now you're trying to bring back electric which has the exact same drawbacks as before, mainly very limited range and vastly longer refueling times compared to gasoline. Even with the best of today's technology that is still true and it has zero to do with whether the car is designed on a drafting board or a CAD/CAM system.

Gasoline stores more power per unit of storage media than electricity does, because even our lightest batteries are still relatively heavy. The fact that you can refuel a car in 5 minutes vs. hours is just a bonus on top of that. Recharging an electric is a hassle. Being able to plug your car in overnight mitigates the worst of it, but it doesn't really eliminate the problem.

Sure, most trips are within electric range but most people, particularly in the US, take longer trips often enough that it is a problem with the whole notion of converting everyone to electric. In some urban areas people are already operating in a mode where they don't own a car, they just rent one the few times a year they actually need a car vs. public transportation... but those are the very sorts of trips where an electric car is vastly inferior to a gas one.

Note, as well, there are NO proposals to go to long-distance electric freight-hauling trucks - if the tech was truly competitive there would be. Compare to railroads where diesel-electric engines are, in fact, the norm where they're combining the positive features of electric drive with the ease of refueling of a petroleum-based ICE. In rail, a hybrid diesel/electric won but scaling that down to private automobile size is problematic (although that's essentially what the hybrids are trying to do).

I'm thinking that if you could get an electric car that can be recharged in 10 minutes or less you'd finally see parity with gasoline from an operational standpoint, assuming the charging infrastructure is widespread. You'd still have to stop more often, but the hassle will be minimal and overlooked in most cases if there is sufficient cost difference favoring electrical storage. That will require some amazing breakthroughs in battery technology. Unless you can point to something that's at least in prototype stage, well, I just don't buy it.

I think hybrids might win out in the end, giving a car that can either be recharged from a wall socket or recharged from a liquid-fueled ICE, but that's not an "electric car". The downside, of course, is that you're having to carry around two complete power systems all the time, which adds weight to the vehicle, which is why no hybrid running purely off its gas motor can match the gas mileage of my all-petroleum-fueled small car of 50 mph on the open highway. The fantastic "gas mileage" figures for hybrids are actually calculated using both systems to maximum advantage, but again, running one on JUST gas will not give such fantastic figures, and a purely electric car will likewise get more range than a hybrid with an electric motor/storage system of similar capacity because the hybrid is hauling around all that extra crap that isn't being used in that state. A comparable issue are "multi-fuel vehicles", such as those that can run on both gasoline and natural gas (they do exist - I know a tradesman who owns one, he bought it off the local power company which has a whole frickin' fleet of them), or military vehicles that can run off a variety of liquid fuels from high-grade gasoline to diesel to, essentially, cooking oil. While there are advantages to being able to run off more than one thing there are many more complications brought on by parallel systems, only one of which is in use at a time, requirements to adjust other parts of the engine and systems, and so forth. My car only has to carry one power system, so it's lighter and thus takes less energy to move. When gas gets prohibitively expensive, though, the hybrid wins, but not until then - and the price of gas has zero to do with whether vehicle engineering is done on computer vs. drafting board.

Holy fuck, guys, we built moon-landing spaceships and the SST before we had computers as a constant in the drafting room, no, they are not essential. They are really, really useful and save a shitload of time and prototyping but they aren't essential. They won't cure a problem that isn't an engineering problem so much as a "we haven't invented it" problem or "the laws of physics and chemistry are getting in the way" problem.

Want electric cars to be viable? Then invent new battery technology. It's that simple, and that difficult.

Oh, and I noted you had zero come back for the problems of in-pavement heating and/or power sources. Again, it's not a matter of "we have computers we can solve this!" it's a matter of not having the proper materials to get the job done. Point to a flexible conductor that will get the job done or admit you've got nothing. It will have to be flexible enough to endure the normal buckling/shrinking of the heat/cold cycles of a typical year, and be resistant to both the chemicals in the pavement and to things like road salt (unless you actually can heat it sufficiently to keep up with, say, a Midwestern blizzard) and leaking vehicle fluids. We haven't got pavement that can reliably do that, hence the annual "road work" season we all loathe and joke about and we've been trying to pave roads one way or another a lot longer than we've been trying to electrify them.



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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: 2012-10-14 02:07pm
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I just wanted to note that there IS an area where I've seen solar make significant in-roads recently: street lighting. In particular, lighting on highways. It's becoming more and more common to see solar panels next to illuminated highway signs. Between improved solar tech and better LED lighting which is both bright and energy-efficient, it is now becoming more viable to use solar to light roads than stringing wire along roads. Maintenance is also a fuck of a lot easier when one merely has to replace a panel and a few meters (at most) of wire rather than keeping wires reliably strung along hundreds of kilometers, so a greater initial cost (if it even still exists) is rapidly offset by vastly lower maintenance costs. Not to mention that it's easier to move/replace such lighting.

However, it wasn't JUST improved solar that made that possible, it was also improved LED lighting which vastly reduced the energy requirements of road lighting.



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

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-14 02:54pm
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Random note: solar-powered lighting on highways also means the street lights stay on during power outages. I live in a suburban area where virtually all land not built on is covered in second-growth forests. Trees knock down the power lines. A lot.

So I'm pretty appreciative of that.

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-14 04:05pm
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Broomstick wrote:
You DON'T have to know a lot about building roads to understand that they are subject to buckling and warping due to weather extremes, you just have to live somewhere with seasonal weather. You don't have to know a lot about electrical delivery systems to know they're generally stiff and don't respond well to stretching forces. Thus, the average person can figure out what the hell is wrong with this induction coil in the pavement concept. Either name some magical, flexible conductor suitable to the job or admit this is pie-in-the-sky SF daydreaming.

You know, there might actually be an easier way of achieving the same effect. Ever heard of trolleybuses? Replace the wires with a bumper car-style grille to facilitate overtaking and it'd scale down as far as privately-owned vehicles, with either a battery pack or a conventional petrol or diesel engine as a backup. I can't see it working for cross-country highway networks -for that kind of long-distance stuff you might as well lay railway track- but it could certainly be extended as far as the suburbs without too much extra trouble. Hell, you could even put some solar panels on top of the grille to feed in a bit of current.



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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-14 04:56pm
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Bumper car grilles run into some problems.

One is sparks- having brush-type contacts running against an electrified road surface will strike sparks that can present a fire hazard. Another is safety- who wants to cross the electrified roadway? A third is wear and tear on the brushes- bumper cars are slow; at highway speeds dragging a piece of metal against pavement for a thousand miles is a pretty good way to grind it off.

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-14 05:43pm
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We actually do have something like that in my area, in the form of commuter trains that are electrically powered either via overhead gantries or "third rail" systems. These actually aren't very new - the South Shore and South Bend system dates back to the 19th Century. Of course, there have been upgrades over the year.

Here are some of the problems I remember from my commuting days on those trains:

1) Yes, overhead wires, and third rails, can and do generate sparks. We get occasional brushfires from it in my area. Efforts are made to keep highly flammable things like weeds far enough away to present minimal danger, and since the areas involved are limited this works (usually) pretty well. However, it's an on-going maintenance issue that would only increase with more use of this method of power.

2) Overhead wires/gantries/systems are subject to thermal expansion and contraction.
That means on really cold days wires might contract enough to break. We also have the problem of 100+ kph winds on a regular basis in my area, which can also break wires, especially when combined with cold, but that's not a universal problem (and we make the system work anyway - breakage is not inevitable on cold, windy days, just more likely). On really hot days they will expand and sag, sometimes to the point of getting entangled in the vehicles below, which usually results in a mile or so of wire being ripped from the anchoring system and getting wrapped up in the vehicle. Very amusing to see a train car wrapped up in wire. On the plus side, this sort of thing does seem to break the circuit so the risk of electric shock resulting from it is minimal. Also on the upside, it's very hard for someone to accidentally walk onto/trip over overhead power systems, it does cut down on pedestrian accidents.

3) Third rails are on the ground. Every year a certain number of drunken idiots people are killed after coming into contact with the third rail. There are ways to minimize the opportunities for this to happen, but apparently not eliminate them because, you know, fools are so ingenious you can't make shit foolproof. Also, it would definitely complicate any rescue for accident victims on the road if this became the default way of getting around.

4) These aren't really cheap systems to maintain. Yes, you gain some efficiency through economy of scale (and in our area, with six nuke plants, some of the power IS nuclear in origin so, yay) but there is always transmission loss, short circuits, and other problems.

5) People steal the copper. Yes, as insane as it sounds, the greater Chicago area commuter rail system has a problem with people stealing various components while they are in an active system and selling them for scrap. Sometimes the vandals managed to burn to a crisp or vaporize themselves, sometimes they get away with it. Either way, it's a fucking inconvenience to those who want to use the system as intended, not to mention it's goddamned gross to see the results of these accidents.

That said, it's a viable system that's been around for over a hundred years, but it does seem limited to commuter rails - on the same rails South Shore South Bend RR freight is pulled by standard diesel-electric locomotives. I'm not sure if this would work as a substitute for the private automobile on city streets.

But that gets back to my point that the concepts aren't new, and they have either been tried before or are currently in use in a limited fashion. Much as folks like SI like to believe the current efforts are made out of new whole cloth and computers solve everything, some of these problems - like local climate - can't be handwaved away and the people actually working on real systems in the hopes of finding real solutions really do look at past and current systems to anticipate potential problems, and to eliminate blind alleys that have already been tried.



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: 2012-10-14 06:50pm
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Digression: The reason we use gasoline for transportation is because it's ridiculously energy dense, your average car tank full of gasoline has somewhere around 2 BILLION JOULES of energy. And it takes less than 5 minutes to stuff all that energy into a ~16 gallon tank, give or take a gallon or 2 either way. 2 billion Joules. That's the same amount of energy as a Boeing 737 flying at cruising speed. And you have that in a fairly safe, highly convenient, and easy to transport form in the back of your car. We run our vehicles on gasoline or diesel for a reason, and that is the fantastic energy density and ease of use that these liquid fuels provide.

Here's where it gets fun, an electric motor is around 3 times more efficient than a gas engine, which is to say the battery in an electric vehicle would have to contain around 1/3 as much energy as a tank of gas to give the same highway cruising range. So how do various batteries and energy storage systems compare? Poorly. Very, very poorly Even if we take the maximum possible numbers as dictated by the laws of physics & chemistry, they're still off by large multiples or entire orders of magnitude. The only things that work in theory have as many or even more unsolvable issues than fusion power.

That is a bit of a problem.



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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-14 07:58pm
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This is why I often suspect the real answer to the oil crisis will be "screw it, we're powering the cars with ammonia."

Of course, that means clouds of nitrous oxide in the air...

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 Post subject: Re: 50 months to avoid climate disaster PostPosted: 2012-10-14 08:18pm
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Zaune wrote:
You know, there might actually be an easier way of achieving the same effect. Ever heard of trolleybuses? Replace the wires with a bumper car-style grille to facilitate overtaking and it'd scale down as far as privately-owned vehicles, with either a battery pack or a conventional petrol or diesel engine as a backup. I can't see it working for cross-country highway networks -for that kind of long-distance stuff you might as well lay railway track- but it could certainly be extended as far as the suburbs without too much extra trouble. Hell, you could even put some solar panels on top of the grille to feed in a bit of current.


Such a concept is absurdly more viable with induction charging devices buried in the road, which is a real idea for future highways as a way to recharge hybrid and battery powered vehicles that can move independently.

Absurd amounts of exposed overhead wires everywhere is a bad idea for even more reasons then people have already listed and the cost would be insane. Since you can't predict or control load the systems would have to be immensely over engineered, it must be able to meet peak capacity even though this might only last 1% of the year. This is a reason why electric passenger rail always got further and has retained more ground then electrified freight traffic. All electrified freight canetary in the US was taken down because it made about zero sense to maintain massively high amperage wiring to support one giant train every two hours. But this is precisely the issue you'd have trying to make all the roads electrified. Commuter rail does best with electrification because the power requirement is low but steady and near totally predictable.

Also since by nature these would have to be low voltage systems, you aren't going to run 50,000 volts through them like you could on a railway, efficiency will be low on top of everything else. Battery swapping stations make more sense in general.

Simon_Jester wrote:
This is why I often suspect the real answer to the oil crisis will be "screw it, we're powering the cars with ammonia."

Of course, that means clouds of nitrous oxide in the air...


Or oil forever, the USN is mumbling about maybe having found a way to turn seawater into hydrocarbon fuel with large amounts of energy.



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