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Thread: solar power economics

  1. #201  
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    So do you think it might be possible to set up the industry so it creates equally high paying, and unskilled, jobs?
    Coal mining is not "unskilled". And yes, it's possible: one way to set up industry so that it pays laborers a living wage is through labor unions, suitably protective tariffs, graduated scale income taxes bearing heavily on the wealthy, etc. That's how we did it before, and it worked for generations.

    Why shouldn't we be expected to work something out where the burden of change is shared equally by all, rather than concentrated largely on the shoulders of a few?
    Of course. That's why we invented government - to get the externalized costs matched up with the externalized benefits.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    There's not much doubt in my mind that renewables will be more labour intensive than coal; the high pay many miners earn is simply a product of the high productivity and profitability of modern mechanised mining and high job numbers simply reflect the alarming rate of expansion of global consumption of coal.
    That's not actually true. The reason for their relatively high wages is because of the successful result of unions. If you go back a century ago, working conditions for coal miners were abysmal; their pay was low and their lives were quite short.

    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    The question is why should they do that for us? Why shouldn't we be expected to work something out where the burden of change is shared equally by all, rather than concentrated largely on the shoulders of a few? If they give up that paycheck, most of them know they're not going to get another one. They'll spend the rest of their lives working at McDonald's or something, because they have no college degree and no experience doing anything else but what they do.
    Only if the current economic model of neoliberalism continues to perpetuate itself, with its dependence on job exports. The nature of renewable energy production ensures that most of those jobs cannot be outsourced, and it will probably be the case that the renewable industry will also provide quite a bit of manufacturing jobs. The renewable energy industry should do well to capitalize on this fact when campaigning in Congress about the many benefits of renewable energy, of which include a more stable climate and a safe and ecnomically prosperous nation.

    Also, it's really not just the money. Senators and Reps respond to whatever will get them votes in their own district. They really couldn't care less what would get them votes in any other district. So, if you're a Senator for the state of Kentucky and you know a large number of your constituents work in coal mining, the coal mining industry's money is not what is motivating your decisions. Money is good, but votes of individual citizens is the bottom line of what will get you reelected. The more people you have hoping to make a livelihood from a decision, the more angry voters you will have if you oppose it. The more loyal supporters you will have if you back it.
    The problem with our political system is that it is highly dependent on lobbyists. Even if you have a large number of people who want "Green Jobs", it isn't going to happen unless you have the money to represent those interests. As it stands, the fossil fuel corporations have all the money; they therefore get all the influence in Congress.

    It also doesn't help that they are the ones who pay for all of their political campaigns too. Those are what get them the votes, not so much the people's consent.
    Last edited by Xelloss; September 20th, 2011 at 02:44 PM.
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  3. #203  
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Goes to show the major problem with the way renewables are being positioned, and the biggest obstacle they'll have to overcome. They have to be able to do more than just undercut coal and NG. They have to be able to replace all of coal's jobs. We've got multi-generation coal miners who are proud of what they do and who don't want to do anything else.
    They can replace all of coal's jobs, and they are currently doing so right now. Here is a recent report on the number of jobs that are created by the renewable energy sector: Green Jobs Reach 2.7 Million: The “Clean Economy” Starts Delivering on its Promise of High-Wage Jobs, Brookings finds | ThinkProgress

    They already create more jobs than the fossil fuel industry. The solar industry alone employs over 100,000 Americans, and is growing rapidly.
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    It's one thing for an ill-informed or misinformed voting public to choose to ignore the best scientific advice and put their short term interests first, it's another for political parties and leaders that supposedly seek the best for their nation to deliberately cultivate that misinformation amongst voters to achieve that outcome.

    Will this be like the financial messes of much of the world where failing democratic economies have to seek financial backing from the Communist Chinese to keep their markets afloat? It is ironic as well as disappointing that leading democracies are the ones building their futures on a free market doublespeak version of climate science purchased by the highest bidders via investment in tankthink, lobbying, strategic political donations, PR and advertising.

    The oft made claim that climate activists want totalitarian solutions is mostly wrong but it pushes the right buttons for interests that are seeking to prevent democratic governments from producing adequate solutions. Stalemate on serious emissions policy doesn't leave more time to develop better policy, it entrenches and exacerbates the problem. Encouraging coal miners to disbelieve how serious it is can only make them dig their heels in. Or be aroused to deep anger and violent hatred for 'socialist' greenies and scientist who are opposed to coal mining. However if coal miners live within a society with leaders that values it's scientific advice and who refuse to tolerate and encourage dangerous misinformation about climate change they would probably be much more amenable to accepting the decline of coal mining and to moving with the needs of the time into other forms of employment.
    Last edited by Ken Fabos; September 20th, 2011 at 05:27 PM.
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  5. #205  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xelloss View Post

    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    The question is why should they do that for us? Why shouldn't we be expected to work something out where the burden of change is shared equally by all, rather than concentrated largely on the shoulders of a few? If they give up that paycheck, most of them know they're not going to get another one. They'll spend the rest of their lives working at McDonald's or something, because they have no college degree and no experience doing anything else but what they do.
    Only if the current economic model of neoliberalism continues to perpetuate itself, with its dependence on job exports. The nature of renewable energy production ensures that most of those jobs cannot be outsourced, and it will probably be the case that the renewable industry will also provide quite a bit of manufacturing jobs. The renewable energy industry should do well to capitalize on this fact when campaigning in Congress about the many benefits of renewable energy, of which include a more stable climate and a safe and ecnomically prosperous nation.
    There's our main problem alright. In order to argue for the economic viability of renewables these days, you have to cast them into the neolibertarian economic model..... which is a failed and sad model to begin with. If they did fit that model, it would probably be a strike against them, not in their favor, but such is today's political environment.

    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    So do you think it might be possible to set up the industry so it creates equally high paying, and unskilled, jobs?
    Coal mining is not "unskilled". And yes, it's possible: one way to set up industry so that it pays laborers a living wage is through labor unions, suitably protective tariffs, graduated scale income taxes bearing heavily on the wealthy, etc. That's how we did it before, and it worked for generations.
    Good point. Also labor unions, and some very bitter strikes, are the only reason coal mining was ever able to become the lucrative profession that it is today in the first place. But I'm sure the Tea Party has enough cognitive dissonance in its ideology to conveniently forget that.

    Why shouldn't we be expected to work something out where the burden of change is shared equally by all, rather than concentrated largely on the shoulders of a few?
    Of course. That's why we invented government - to get the externalized costs matched up with the externalized benefits.
    That's why the neolibs hate government "interference" so badly. They don't want those things matched up.
    If you wouldn't bring a knife to a gun fight,.... then what is the use in bringing a gun to a nuclear war?
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post

    This is 200 MW PEAK, average is more like 57 to 80 MW, depending on which source you find more credible. Until hailstorm comes along, when output may very well drop to zero. And did you mean Morocco? Generally AC transmission of high voltages is preferred on this planet, which one do you come from?

    Caveat emptor, dotcomrades.
    Maybe Wild Cobra could add some light to that, but apparently long range transmission is usually high voltage DC. I don't fully understand why. I think it's because energy seeps out of an AC wire if it gets too long, in the form of radio waves.
    AC is cheaper and is inexpensive to change voltage from high voltages to regional local 120/240 VAC, 480 3 phase, etc. DC is cheaper once you pass a certain distance. Not only that, it is impractical to transmit AC past certain distances. Kojax is correct in that as the transmission line length increases, it becomes more and more like an antenna for AC, and the power is radiated.

    A short wave radio operating at 30 mhz has a wavelength of 10 meters. A 1/4 wavelength wire of 2.5 meters will effectively radiate 100% of the power. If we scale that t0 60 hz, the wavelength is 5,000 km, or 3,107 miles. 1/4 wavelength is 1250 km or 776.7 miles. Asd you approach 1/2 wavelength, you would effectively short out your transmission and blow things up.

    Now you don't just suddenly lose power as you hit a certain length, you lose it at any length. However, it is effectively zero at short lengths, the percentage of loss just increases with length and goes to 100% as you get to 1/4 wavelength. This is just the radiative losses. There are also resistive losses of the power line, dissipated as heat, which is why the longer distance you go, the higher voltage used, to compensate for resistance loss. There is a second power relationship with prefers higher voltages to maintain efficiency. It's cheaper to compensate for resistive power loss with higher voltage than it is larger cable size.
    Last edited by Wild Cobra; September 22nd, 2011 at 03:20 PM.
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    Indeed? Very illuminating, thank you. Would then a superconducting grid be exclusively DC?
    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
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    On the jobs of coal miners - I suspect that short term the bigger threat to their jobs is mine managers not emissions reduction efforts, which so far are resulting in... continuing strong growth of the mining, export and use of coal.

    But the humble but well paid truck drivers at coal mines are beginning to be replaced by robot trucks - Catepillar's Command 793F are just one of an emerging range of driverless trucks increasingly being used in mines. If these companies could replace other parts of their workforce they would not hesitate, but they will always choose to blame environmentalism if they can for the jobs they do shed.
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    Ominous news for professional drivers everywhere, no doubt. But will society gain as a whole from increased production? Today it is hard to imagine going back to hand operated spinning wheels and looms, even for some environmentalists...
    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
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    We aren't going to be impoverished by taking the climate problem seriously but we almost certainly will be impoverished by failing to do so. We have a range of technologies that can and do produce useful energy in quantity besides digging stuff up and burning it and are not done finding ways to do so cheaper and better. We also have a sufficient understanding of the workings of our climate to understand why choosing the cheap and easy fossil fuel without regard to the externalised climate impacts and costs will be the most expensive choice over the longer term.
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    http://www.dblinvestors.com/documents/DBL_energy_subsidies_paper.pdf


    Today, as we seek to move towards a more independent and clean energy future, the truth is that renewables — from a historical perspective — are if anything under-subsidized. This weak support is inconsistent with our nation’s own historical energy narrative, which suggests:
    Today’s market for cheap power results in part from substantial investment by the federal government in innovative technology.
    It takes a substantial amount of money, invested over several years, to bring an electricity generation technology to maturity.
    Although energy subsidies can and do serve many policy purposes, the most basic relate to furthering the development and commercialization of technologies deemed to be in the public interest.

    Last edited by inow; September 26th, 2011 at 10:20 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    We aren't going to be impoverished by taking the climate problem seriously but we almost certainly will be impoverished by failing to do so.
    Impoverishment can come from acting too soon.

    There are many technologies on the way for replacing current greenhouse gas emitting methods. Some are ready to be implemented, but others are not.

    For example battery electric cars are currently available, but the technology needs to be improved before they can fully replace fuel operated vehicles. To be too assiduous in forcing replacement by low emitting technologies will prove very expensive.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    We aren't going to be impoverished by taking the climate problem seriously but we almost certainly will be impoverished by failing to do so.
    Impoverishment can come from acting too soon.

    There are many technologies on the way for replacing current greenhouse gas emitting methods. Some are ready to be implemented, but others are not.

    For example battery electric cars are currently available, but the technology needs to be improved before they can fully replace fuel operated vehicles. To be too assiduous in forcing replacement by low emitting technologies will prove very expensive.
    And battery vehicles only move the emissions to another place. In the US, that means mostly coal, which is a horrible CO2 emitter, and well as unacceptable amounts of mercury and acids.
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    To M.W.
    While that is true, using electricity from coal powered plants to operate battery electric cars still releases a lot less CO2 than simply using petrol cars. This is due to greater efficiency. But still not a perfect solution.

    Personally, I think that coal power should be phased out and replaced, primarily by nuclear. If we can develop thorium based nuclear power in a year or three, so much the better.
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    As time goes by, and the closed peer review process of AGW is revealed, I'm pretty sure people will calm down over the issue.

    This isn't a greenhouse gas thread and I'm not trying to make it so. Can we please focus on the actual merits rather than what the political scientific consensus is?

    I am all for emission free power. I can see supplementing our use, but for now, it is still rather expensive. When it becomes a cheaper alternative, we will be ready for it.
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    coal power should be phased out and replaced, primarily by nuclear. If we can develop thorium based nuclear power in a year or three, so much the better.
    Thermal solar is available now, cheaper and quicker built.
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  17. #217  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wild Cobra View Post

    I am all for emission free power. I can see supplementing our use, but for now, it is still rather expensive. When it becomes a cheaper alternative, we will be ready for it.
    Yeah, but without getting into mass production, it never will become cheaper.

    Cell phones and personal computers had the advantage of appealing to a luxury market, so rich people could supply the "startup" purchases to get them into mass production, and once they had reached mass production and stayed there for a while the price dropped like a rock. Solar doesn't have that. Rich people have no reason to want solar panels. Electricity is electricity. There is no luxury market to push them to that point. However, history shows us that were they to somehow reach that point by another means, a drop in price would be all-but-absolutely certain.

    Computers and cell phones are actually very relevant examples because photovoltaic cells are manufactured in a similar manner, using similar technology. The main difference is that the process doesn't have to be quite as precise.

    Solar cell - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Quote Originally Posted by wiki photovoltaic Berman price reductions

    The first improvement was the realization that the existing cells were based on standard semiconductor manufacturing process, even though that was not ideal. This started with the boule, cutting it into disks called wafers, polishing the wafers, and then, for cell use, coating them with an anti-reflective layer. Berman noted that the rough-sawn wafers already had a perfectly suitable anti-reflective front surface, and by printing the electrodes directly on this surface, two major steps in the cell processing were eliminated. The team also explored ways to improve the mounting of the cells into arrays, eliminating the expensive materials and hand wiring used in space applications. Their solution was to use a printed circuit board on the back, acrylic plastic on the front, and silicone based glue between the two, potting the cells. But the largest improvement in price point was Berman's realization that existing silicon was effectively "too good" for solar cell use; the minor imperfections that would ruin a boule (or individual wafer) for electronics would have little effect in the solar application.[8] Solar cells could be made using cast-off material from the electronics market.
    Basically, if we wait for it to get cheaper before we start investing, we run into a serious chicken-egg problem. Cheap price drives people to buy it. People buying it causes a cheap price. But how do we get the process started?
    If you wouldn't bring a knife to a gun fight,.... then what is the use in bringing a gun to a nuclear war?
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    There is no separating the issue of energy from the climate issue.

    The climate thing is either a serious threat to our future or it's not. Based on the conclusions of the world's leading scientific institutions I believe that it is serious and action to reduce emissions is urgently needed. Even if it weren't the 'highly likely' and was a mere even chance the problem should rate high as being worth avoiding and betting our futures on climate science being wrong - whether outright or it's extent and seriousness looks like a very unwise choice. The costs and consequences that are worth avoiding are fundamental to why the change to our energy production is needed - discount the 'value' of those costs and the choice to shift away from cheap fossil fuels will look unnecessary and the costs of doing so look more like more a matter of fashion than of real need. We can democratically choose to act as if it's not a significant threat but that can't make the consequences go away - there is no defaulting on the actual climate effects of raised ghg levels nor can we successfully repeal the scientific 'laws' that make CO2 a key player in our climate no matter how popular.

    We aren't at the point where democratic processes should be suspended although in past crises - the WW's spring to mind - such extreme actions were considered necessary. However, the media, business, political leadership and public accepted the real and imminent threatening seriousness of large scale warfare. The current circumstance is built on media, business and political leadership failing to accept the seriousness of the problem and deliberately campaigning to encourage the voting public to believe it isn't serious. Without an informed public, without leadership that takes the scientific advice it gets seriously and without leadership that discourages belief in myths such as 'puny humans can't change the world's climate' or global conspiracies of scientists seeking to undermine civilisation, a voting democracy can be led to vote against it's own and the wider world's best interests.

    Given the framework we exist within the key policy option IMO that can bring about change looks like carbon pricing that put the external costs into the economics of energy - not picking future energy choices by decree but creating a framework that reflects the real costs of various choices. Without carbon pricing the winner will be fossil fuels for their abundance and up front costs as well as due to the advantages that come with being the encumbent with long standing political friendships and a strong home ground advantage - level playing fields being a hypothetical figment promoted in tandem with denial of the problem.

    Whether the end result will be predominately a renewables or predominately nuclear fueled world I don't know but it looks to me like the fossil fuel powered cheap and easy option will end in much worse than mere tears.
    Last edited by Ken Fabos; October 2nd, 2011 at 07:58 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Basically, if we wait for it to get cheaper before we start investing, we run into a serious chicken-egg problem. Cheap price drives people to buy it. People buying it causes a cheap price. But how do we get the process started?
    I don't think you can automatically assume that solar power will become a viable replacement for current electrical power generating methods, just because somebody will pour money into it.

    I could propose that we generate electricity by attaching generators to stationary bicycles in health clubs all over the country. I could also point out that the government subsidies for health club stationary bicycle generators have been nonexistent. This is no doubt due to the influence of big coal, big nuclear, and big solar.
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    I don't think you can automatically assume that solar power will become a viable replacement for current electrical power generating methods, just because somebody will pour money into it.
    Pouring money into thermal solar and the like will produce lots of electrical power. That would replace the proposed nukes and proposed coal that currently powerful interests would prefer we pour money into, and we'd be better off to at least that extent.

    If we get big price reductions, possibly even to the point of matching the subsidized and artificially suppressed prices of nuke and coal power, so much the better.
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    Iceaura

    Currently solar power, combined with geothermal, tidal power, wave power and a whole raft of such alternatives, produces less than 1% of the world's electricity. Wind power is the fifth biggest power generator and produces less than 2%

    Over 97% of the world's power is produced by burning coal or natural gas, hydroelectricity or nuclear. There are very good practical reasons for this. There are very good practical reasons why solar and others like it produce so little. This may change in time, as the technology for solar power etc. improves, and I welcome the change. Right now, though, they barely get past the starters block, and we cannot (yet) rely on them as solutions.
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    Back to the original topic: Dye-sensitized solar cell - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia .

    As stated above, i don't believe that silicon based solar cells can solve our energy problems, mainly because pure silicon is too expensive and the production process is too complicated, and will generate other (waste) problems. But maybe such alternative cells could be a solution ? In the end, we do have enough area available where we can harvest solar energy, therefore IMO the more important parameter of PV are not size and efficiency, but cost vs. energy output.

    Most interesting i find this last paragraph on the wikipedia page:

    Market introduction: Several commercial providers are promising availability of DSCs in the near future:[30]
    • Dyesol officially opened its new manufacturing facilities in Queanbeyan on the 7th of October 2008. It has subsequently announced partnerships with Tata Steel and Pilkington Glass for the development and large scale manufacture of DSC BIPV. Dyesol has also entered working relationships with Merck, Umicore, CSIRO, Japanese Ministry of Economy and Trade, Singapore Aerospace Manufacturing and TIMO Korea[31][32]
    • Solaronix, a Swiss company specialized in the production of DSC materials since 1993, has extended their premises in 2010 to host a manufacturing pilot line of DSC modules.[33]
    • SolarPrint founded in 2008 by Dr. Mazhar Bari, Andre Fernon and Roy Horgan. SolarPrint is the first Ireland-based commercial entity involved in the manufacturing of PV technology. SolarPrint's innovation is the solution to the solvent based electrolyte which to date has prohibited the mass commercialisation of DSSC.
    • G24innovations, founded in 2006, based in Cardiff, South Wales, UK. On October 17, 2007, claimed the production of the first commercial grade dye sensitised thin films.[34][35]
    • Hydrogen Solar is another company making dye-sensitized cells.[36]
    • Konarka, announced in 2002 that they were granted licensee rights to dye-sensitized solar cell technology from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL).
    • Aisin Seiki has worked with Toyota Central R&D Labs to develop dye-sensitized solar cells (DSC) for applications in cars and homes.[37]
    • Sony Corporation has developed dye-sensitized solar cells with an energy conversion efficiency of 10%, a level seen as necessary for commercial use. Sony has been supplied materials by Australia´s Dyesol[38][39]
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    PV is NOT the answer and never will be. This is particularly true for terrestrial PV applications regardless of cost.

    Why is Prince so definite about this?

    Consider: Maximum thermodynamic efficiency is function of high vs low temperatures when heat engines are used, as is prevailing practice today in generation of electric power, at efficiency of around 40%, already greater than maximum THEORETICAL efficiency of photovoltaic cells. Assume a boiler made of tungsten, melting at 3680 * K, raised to this temperature by a mirror of arbitrary size, which, being merely a reflective surface, can be confidently assumed to be less expensive than any photovoltaic device. Situate mirror and boiler in stable location near-Earth space- in shadow of mirror is radiator of waste heat and condenser, temp near 3* K. This DWARFS any possible photovoltaic output imaginable for the simple reasons that it is more concentrated AND harvests more of available spectrum.
    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
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    Go ahead and dream. Imagine your silicon or whatever is cheaper than dirt. All you have to do is shovel it into a box filled with wires, and there's your solar cell. It still costs something, it still needs an inverter, and it only works on a sunny day. You still have to spend the money to build something that works at night on cloudy days. What's that going to be?
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    Consider: Maximum thermodynamic efficiency is function of high vs low temperatures when heat engines are used, as is prevailing practice today in generation of electric power, at efficiency of around 40%, already greater than maximum THEORETICAL efficiency of photovoltaic cells. Assume a boiler made of tungsten, melting at 3680 * K, raised to this temperature by a mirror of arbitrary size, which, being merely a reflective surface, can be confidently assumed to be less expensive than any photovoltaic device. Situate mirror and boiler in stable location near-Earth space- in shadow of mirror is radiator of waste heat and condenser, temp near 3* K. This DWARFS any possible photovoltaic output imaginable for the simple reasons that it is more concentrated AND harvests more of available spectrum.
    What is the use of a melted boiler?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Basically, if we wait for it to get cheaper before we start investing, we run into a serious chicken-egg problem. Cheap price drives people to buy it. People buying it causes a cheap price. But how do we get the process started?
    I don't think you can automatically assume that solar power will become a viable replacement for current electrical power generating methods, just because somebody will pour money into it.

    I could propose that we generate electricity by attaching generators to stationary bicycles in health clubs all over the country. I could also point out that the government subsidies for health club stationary bicycle generators have been nonexistent. This is no doubt due to the influence of big coal, big nuclear, and big solar.
    Clearly you didn't read the rest of my post. I outlined the reason why I believed that economy of scale would make an impact on the price. Solar cells are made using the same manufacturing process as microprocessors. Microprocessors came down substantially in price once they had been on the market for a while and the upfront costs of setting up the very expensive clean rooms and machinery required to make them had been paid off. It follows that solar cells would also go down in price. Comparing this to the stationary bike option is somewhat disingenuous in light of that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Go ahead and dream. Imagine your silicon or whatever is cheaper than dirt. All you have to do is shovel it into a box filled with wires, and there's your solar cell. It still costs something, it still needs an inverter, and it only works on a sunny day. You still have to spend the money to build something that works at night on cloudy days. What's that going to be?
    It depends how cheap real estate is in your area, really. I live in Oregon. We have this huge desert covering the Eastern half of the state. There's a lot of room to set up a really really huge solar farm there if the cost of solar panels dropped enough to make them cheap enough to truck out there.

    As already mentioned, converting all of the energy into hydrogen, and then into Methane to be burnt in Gas turbines would use up 64% of the energy, leaving 36% available. At a certain price per solar panel, that would be highly cost effective. 36% efficiency is plenty if it's cheap enough.

    However, Oregon also has plenty of hydro electric to handle baseloading, so we probably wouldn't see any of the energy going to waste unless we run a power surplus. And that can be solved just by building more HVDC lines out to the surrounding states, or beef up the one we've got. California's basically a big bottomless pit. They'll consume it all if we can get it to them.
    If you wouldn't bring a knife to a gun fight,.... then what is the use in bringing a gun to a nuclear war?
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    Discussing the maximum conversion efficiencies for PV as if they are some kind of limiting factor - or as if that could give an insightful comparison to other energy sources is little more than unhelpful distraction. It gives the false impression that a highly reliable technology with a good energy return on energy invested and that has - usually - no moving parts doesn't work very well. That would be a false impression.

    The efficiencies that matter are energy return on investment and cost efficiency as we don't have to pay for the sunlight - every bit beyond the energy costs of production is a gain and what isn't used isn't costing anything. Whilst it's advantageous to reach higher efficiencies due to the reduction of material and installation costs per watt, tapping 10 or 20% percent is plenty so long as the cost of doing so is low. Recent prices for a pallet of panels in Australia have gone down as low as $A1.20 per watt peak - more or less equivalent in $US. No racks or installation of course and I'm not sure the lowered price represents a very profitable transaction for the supplier but not so long ago that price was considered impossibly optimistic. There is no looming barrier to that price going down even further; on the basis of the continuing innovation at both lab and factory level the bigger surprise would be if the costs failed to continue their downward trend.

    Now if sunlight were a costly and limited resource, with a requirement to pay for the 'lost' energy it might matter. Or if it didn't become the same heat that arises from the same sunlight hitting any other absorbent material (becoming some kind of pollution) the maximum conversion efficiency of the current crop of PV might be relevant. It's not.
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    Ultimately opinions on how worthwhile shifting to more expensive and constrained energy options appear to depend upon how important people consider reductions of emissions. In one sense it is all optional - we can choose to stick with fossil fuels irrespective of the climate consequences simply on the basis of it's being easier and cheaper - cheaper based on up-front cost without the difficult to estimate costs of those climate consequences in our calculations. If climate science is completely wrong this might prove to be a good choice but should climate science prove to be right or even the wrong kind of wrong - ie it's worse - then insisting that keeping abundant energy cheap must have priority over reducing emissions doesn't seem so reasonable. The problems mostly arise because of the nature of the climate/emissions problem - most emissions having occurred over the past few decades means that there's a lot of climate change in the pipeline that's yet to be fully realised. It's effectively irreversible - there's no practical way to draw the excess CO2 out of the atmosphere that isn't more costly than adopting measures that reduce the rates of emissions. We are currently back to strong emissions growth in line with the highest growth scenario looked at by the IPCC and others. Some estimates of how much warming is currently masked by aerosol pollution run at over 1 degree C and without that we'd be already past the 2 degrees that has been suggested as the upper limit before dangerous climate consequences arise. This makes a 'let's wait and see until even the most skeptical and adamant opposer of action on climate is convinced' approach inherently dangerous. This looks to me like a situation that requires prevention via forethought based on best available science, cooperative planning and coordinated action rather than relying on disbelief, prayer, crossed fingers and the magic of unregulated market forces.

    So when I hear people say it's too expensive and economically contraining to get out of fossil fuels I can't help wonder if that view is based on the belief that the science of climate is wrong (in the 'right' way) - ie even if a real problem it's less serious and less urgent than the mainstream scientific view that's come to us via the world's leading scientific institutions and the IPCC.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Over 97% of the world's power is produced by burning coal or natural gas, hydroelectricity or nuclear. There are very good practical reasons for this. There are very good practical reasons why solar and others like it produce so little.
    Sure there are. But feeding Bechtel's shareholders is not a priority of mine - there are also good practical reasons for winding up the current arrangements, and cutting some deals more to our general advantage.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    Consider: Maximum thermodynamic efficiency is function of high vs low temperatures when heat engines are used, as is prevailing practice today in generation of electric power, at efficiency of around 40%, already greater than maximum THEORETICAL efficiency of photovoltaic cells. Assume a boiler made of tungsten, melting at 3680 * K, raised to this temperature by a mirror of arbitrary size, which, being merely a reflective surface, can be confidently assumed to be less expensive than any photovoltaic device. Situate mirror and boiler in stable location near-Earth space- in shadow of mirror is radiator of waste heat and condenser, temp near 3* K. This DWARFS any possible photovoltaic output imaginable for the simple reasons that it is more concentrated AND harvests more of available spectrum.
    What is the use of a melted boiler?
    Point is to run boiler at temperature just SHORT of melting, consistent with maintaining structural integrity, to obtain maximum heat differential and hence, greatest thermodynamic efficiency for heat engine, probably using helium as working fluid- obviously Prince is no engineer as must be obvious also that this approach is clearly superior to photovoltaic. Hopefully question is answered satisfactorily.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    Discussing the maximum conversion efficiencies for PV as if they are some kind of limiting factor - or as if that could give an insightful comparison to other energy sources is little more than unhelpful distraction. It gives the false impression that a highly reliable technology with a good energy return on energy invested and that has - usually - no moving parts doesn't work very well. That would be a false impression.

    The efficiencies that matter are energy return on investment and cost efficiency as we don't have to pay for the sunlight - every bit beyond the energy costs of production is a gain and what isn't used isn't costing anything. Whilst it's advantageous to reach higher efficiencies due to the reduction of material and installation costs per watt, tapping 10 or 20% percent is plenty so long as the cost of doing so is low. Recent prices for a pallet of panels in Australia have gone down as low as $A1.20 per watt peak - more or less equivalent in $US. No racks or installation of course and I'm not sure the lowered price represents a very profitable transaction for the supplier but not so long ago that price was considered impossibly optimistic. There is no looming barrier to that price going down even further; on the basis of the continuing innovation at both lab and factory level the bigger surprise would be if the costs failed to continue their downward trend.

    Now if sunlight were a costly and limited resource, with a requirement to pay for the 'lost' energy it might matter. Or if it didn't become the same heat that arises from the same sunlight hitting any other absorbent material (becoming some kind of pollution) the maximum conversion efficiency of the current crop of PV might be relevant. It's not.
    Silly. Provide for us please some data to back up assertions. In practical terms, for example, tell one and all how many PV panels have been PRODUCED using power from this same source exclusively. Would this not be "sustainable" in the strictest sense of the term?

    Commonly, know-nothing advocates of PV piddle power invoke example of Moore's Law of semiconductor chips to project ever-increasing viability of PV technology.

    Not even wrong.

    Moore's Law regards only increasing density of transistors per area of chip. PV cells are ONE BIG DIODE, always have been, always will be, therefore comparison is meaningless. Even PV makes more sense in orbit, not on roof. Electricity for all its versatility is difficult to store efficiently in bulk quantities and supply must match demand which inevitably fluctuates, independent of weather conditions, ergo, makes zero sense to rely upon source which is weather dependent and completely unavailable half the time even under otherwise ideal conditions. Said ideal conditions will entail sophisticated mounts to track path of Sun across sky daily in all seasons, which in turn requires energy, and YES, "moving parts".
    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    Ultimately opinions on how worthwhile shifting to more expensive and constrained energy options appear to depend upon how important people consider reductions of emissions. In one sense it is all optional - we can choose to stick with fossil fuels irrespective of the climate consequences simply on the basis of it's being easier and cheaper - cheaper based on up-front cost without the difficult to estimate costs of those climate consequences in our calculations. If climate science is completely wrong this might prove to be a good choice but should climate science prove to be right or even the wrong kind of wrong - ie it's worse - then insisting that keeping abundant energy cheap must have priority over reducing emissions doesn't seem so reasonable. The problems mostly arise because of the nature of the climate/emissions problem - most emissions having occurred over the past few decades means that there's a lot of climate change in the pipeline that's yet to be fully realised. It's effectively irreversible - there's no practical way to draw the excess CO2 out of the atmosphere that isn't more costly than adopting measures that reduce the rates of emissions. We are currently back to strong emissions growth in line with the highest growth scenario looked at by the IPCC and others. Some estimates of how much warming is currently masked by aerosol pollution run at over 1 degree C and without that we'd be already past the 2 degrees that has been suggested as the upper limit before dangerous climate consequences arise. This makes a 'let's wait and see until even the most skeptical and adamant opposer of action on climate is convinced' approach inherently dangerous. This looks to me like a situation that requires prevention via forethought based on best available science, cooperative planning and coordinated action rather than relying on disbelief, prayer, crossed fingers and the magic of unregulated market forces.

    So when I hear people say it's too expensive and economically contraining to get out of fossil fuels I can't help wonder if that view is based on the belief that the science of climate is wrong (in the 'right' way) - ie even if a real problem it's less serious and less urgent than the mainstream scientific view that's come to us via the world's leading scientific institutions and the IPCC.
    Way out of "fossil" fuels?

    Is nuclear, period. Only practical alternative. Nuclear fusion indeed will allow us to replicate Sun, as needed. Why rely on attenuated energy one full AU away when it can be had full strength at range of a few meters, 24 hours a day, regardless of clouds, dust, bird droppings, and similar inconveniences?

    No good reason.
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    I think that solar produced exclusively by solar is something that requires carbon pricing - should the legitimate business of manufacturing solar cells be forced to employ the more expensive energy option when no other energy source is required to do so? They are not primarily in business to reduce emissions even if there a strong hopes that they will do so - that's going to take strong policy measures like carbon pricing. When coal and gas don't pay for the externalised costs they leave us with they can retain their fake market advantage which extends even to selling power to factories that produce solar cells. Like the conversion efficiency red herring it is a fake argument.

    I have no ideological objection to using nuclear - put carbon pricing in place and let renewables and nuclear battle it out; I'm not so keen to have nuclear - which IMO requires strong international enforceable regulation - introduced by decree. What I believe we shouldn't do is fail to reduce emissions even if it sends energy prices higher. As for solar in space - if it's so practical to beam power down why not beam it up from where it's sunny and back down to where it's not at a fraction of the cost of launching it all into space? The main proponents seem far more interested in getting themselves into space than solving our energy and emissions problems. It's no more realistic than fusion - which has been consistently outperformed by PV. Which is why both fusion and space solar look more like distractions introduced mostly by people that don't think the climate problem is all that serious. It won't result in fusion or space solar, just undermine the will to do what we know can be done. Like nuclear fission - which at least does exist and work - it's not primarily proposed in order to promote a low emissions future but to prevent a low emissions future being built on renewables.

    The big fossil fuel interests only give the appearance of being supportive of mass use of nuclear; the day they believe nuclear could really replace them they will show themselves to be far better resourced and more implacable opponents of nuclear than anti-nuke greens. Currently it suits them to have the nukes vs renewables fight carried on without their direct involvement - it helps prevents and delays a clear commitment to either.

    I can't take too seriously the impossible to implement proposals like space solar or fusion being offerred up as solutions to a problem by people who don't believe it's serious enough to warrant such massive commitment and investment.
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    Electricity for all its versatility is difficult to store efficiently in bulk quantities and supply must match demand which inevitably fluctuates, independent of weather conditions, ergo, makes zero sense to rely upon source which is weather dependent and completely unavailable half the time even under otherwise ideal conditions.
    Electricity demand is not at all "independent of weather conditions", and many common demand fluctuations actually track solar supply rather well.

    The presumption that people will be idiots, and not provide for storage or grid reliability or the like, is borderline deceptive.
    Is nuclear, period. Only practical alternative. Nuclear fusion indeed will allow us to replicate Sun, as needed.
    Nuclear fusion is science fiction, as of now, and the farthest thing from a "practical alternative" on the table.

    Thermal solar is easily built, and compared with nuclear both cheap and hassle free.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Electricity for all its versatility is difficult to store efficiently in bulk quantities and supply must match demand which inevitably fluctuates, independent of weather conditions, ergo, makes zero sense to rely upon source which is weather dependent and completely unavailable half the time even under otherwise ideal conditions.
    Electricity demand is not at all "independent of weather conditions", and many common demand fluctuations actually track solar supply rather well.

    The presumption that people will be idiots, and not provide for storage or grid reliability or the like, is borderline deceptive.
    Is nuclear, period. Only practical alternative. Nuclear fusion indeed will allow us to replicate Sun, as needed.
    Nuclear fusion is science fiction, as of now, and the farthest thing from a "practical alternative" on the table.

    Thermal solar is easily built, and compared with nuclear both cheap and hassle free.
    Cheap and hassle free in Minnesota or Alaska winter, certainly- in same sense that swimming pool in such conditions is "Cheap & Hassle Free!", because is not operating. Funny, in such locations, persons persist in needing even MORE electric power for lights and heat, in part due no doubt to conspicuous ABSENCE of sunlight, hmmmm?

    Is such a good idea, what happened to Solar One? Fire!, no hassle there, so made Solar Two out of rubble of Solar One, then converted to telescope, now site has nothing, all very cheap. Ice, you are way off base, you like thermal solar, go to space!

    The Solar Project - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Utilities know to the penny how much is fuel cost, so why, if what you say is TRUE, are such entities switching over to solar thermal ASAP? Instead such utilities as DO produce solar thermal power, even with natural gas backup, go BANKRUPT.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_E...rating_Systems

    Because maybe what you say is not so true, perhaps maybe. Oh, look, above, more fire and explosion, but of course no "hassle".

    PS. Moon landing was science fiction when Prince was born, has been HISTORY for most of his life. Fusion was fact before moon landing and is in fact source of much vaunted solar power, so your statement is bizarre in extreme.
    Last edited by The Finger Prince; October 5th, 2011 at 06:24 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    I think that solar produced exclusively by solar is something that requires carbon pricing - should the legitimate business of manufacturing solar cells be forced to employ the more expensive energy option when no other energy source is required to do so? They are not primarily in business to reduce emissions even if there a strong hopes that they will do so - that's going to take strong policy measures like carbon pricing. When coal and gas don't pay for the externalised costs they leave us with they can retain their fake market advantage which extends even to selling power to factories that produce solar cells. Like the conversion efficiency red herring it is a fake argument.

    I have no ideological objection to using nuclear - put carbon pricing in place and let renewables and nuclear battle it out; I'm not so keen to have nuclear - which IMO requires strong international enforceable regulation - introduced by decree. What I believe we shouldn't do is fail to reduce emissions even if it sends energy prices higher. As for solar in space - if it's so practical to beam power down why not beam it up from where it's sunny and back down to where it's not at a fraction of the cost of launching it all into space? The main proponents seem far more interested in getting themselves into space than solving our energy and emissions problems. It's no more realistic than fusion - which has been consistently outperformed by PV. Which is why both fusion and space solar look more like distractions introduced mostly by people that don't think the climate problem is all that serious. It won't result in fusion or space solar, just undermine the will to do what we know can be done. Like nuclear fission - which at least does exist and work - it's not primarily proposed in order to promote a low emissions future but to prevent a low emissions future being built on renewables.

    The big fossil fuel interests only give the appearance of being supportive of mass use of nuclear; the day they believe nuclear could really replace them they will show themselves to be far better resourced and more implacable opponents of nuclear than anti-nuke greens. Currently it suits them to have the nukes vs renewables fight carried on without their direct involvement - it helps prevents and delays a clear commitment to either.

    I can't take too seriously the impossible to implement proposals like space solar or fusion being offerred up as solutions to a problem by people who don't believe it's serious enough to warrant such massive commitment and investment.
    Here is quick response answering questions: 1.) No reason, but it hasn't happened yet, has it? Nor will it ever. 2.) Space is where Sun is strongest and most constant- also refer to above post for reasons solar thermal in space beats PV. Also, obviously there is no incentive to launch such installations when they can be fabricated from space resources, as, in time, they most probably will be.
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    FP there is no genuine proposal to build the space power systems you find so appropriate. They are a figment. No manufacturers in orbit to make solar power stations, no asteroid mines to resource them. No space launch capability sufficient to do any of these things exist or are in the pipeline. Fusion hasn't produced a single erg of usable electricity. We should bet the future of the world on waiting for these science fictions to be realised, massively increasing the use of coal and gas in the meantime whilst refusing to make the best use the technologies we have? And people who want to make wide use of photovoltaics are the ones with heads full of airy nonsense?

    Seriously, the very best use I can see for coal power is to make photovoltaics, solar thermal and wind turbines. Get the economic playing field more levelled - ie substantial pigovian taxation on emissions and we will see pv factories run from renewables and nuclear fission. Before that happens these industries should not deliberately make themselves less competitive to please the people who most want them to fail.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    FP there is no genuine proposal to build the space power systems you find so appropriate. They are a figment. No manufacturers in orbit to make solar power stations, no asteroid mines to resource them. No space launch capability sufficient to do any of these things exist or are in the pipeline. Fusion hasn't produced a single erg of usable electricity. We should bet the future of the world on waiting for these science fictions to be realised, massively increasing the use of coal and gas in the meantime whilst refusing to make the best use the technologies we have? And people who want to make wide use of photovoltaics are the ones with heads full of airy nonsense?

    Seriously, the very best use I can see for coal power is to make photovoltaics, solar thermal and wind turbines. Get the economic playing field more levelled - ie substantial pigovian taxation on emissions and we will see pv factories run from renewables and nuclear fission. Before that happens these industries should not deliberately make themselves less competitive to please the people who most want them to fail.
    True enough, but this approach remains the best from a technical point of view. As for "technologies we have", allow me to suggest nuclear fission and eventually fusion, both with decades of development behind them and excellent track records for reliability and safety. You will NEVER see PV factories run from PV power. It has nothing to do with "wanting [them] to fail", and everything to do with engineering reality.

    Engineering reality is something more solar advocates should acquaint themselves with and you, dotcomrade, are no exception- fortunately, it is interesting reading.

    And you want "space launch capability"? Fusion drive will give all we could ever want. Solar cells, not so much...
    Last edited by The Finger Prince; October 6th, 2011 at 12:33 AM.
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    FP - again, put in place the market mechanisms that reflect the full and true costs and the choices will become clearer.

    Without those market interventions or tough regulation the incumbent fossil fuels will continue to own the market and grow it at a pace not seen to date. The science of climate is quite mature enough to tell us that there will be serious long lasting consequences and costs to that business as usual choice and waiting to see will make the problem much worse as more long lived coal power plants are built without restraint. Having been built there will be stiff resistance to early closure - which an honest assessment of the climate problem tells us clearly will be needed. Factor that in and the costs of alternatives don't look nearly so bad. Carbon capture and storage is fossil fuel industry greenwash; 3.57 times as much CO2 as black coal burned, a gas that can't be shovelled onto big trucks and dumped into shallow holes. It belongs with space solar and fusion as being a nice idea but economically and practically beyond reach.

    With emissions pricing we may well see fission grow to be the leading energy source but it still has a way to go - the current nuclear technologies cannot be expanded sufficiently without hitting up against uranium supply constraints. Breeder systems have not had a great track record and it could be another decade or two to see a working IFR version of breeder reactor actually working. If renewables cannot do the job and it takes a bit of high energy cost pain to overcome the reluctance to invest in nuclear it's still a better situation and more likely to lead to actual emissions reductions than ongoing expansion of the use of fossil fuels while we wait for miracles like cheap fusion. The default option is the one that will be the most painful; we fail to act soon the slow tsunami of climate impacts will put dreams of asteroid mines and orbiting solar power forever beyond reach as it eats away at the environmental capital that underpins food production (ie global security implications) whilst requiring ever more catch up spending on cleaning up after weather catastrophes and on adaptation to be better prepared for the next.
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    Ken

    Most of the quibbles about nuclear fission energy can be overcome by using thorium instead of uranium. Thorium is about 150 times as abundant (and cheap) as the isotope uranium 235. All the thorium can be used, unlike uranium isotope mixes.
    Thorium - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I quote :

    "Some benefits of thorium fuel when compared with uranium were summarized as follows:[21]

    • Weapons-grade fissionable material (233U) is harder to retrieve safely and clandestinely from a thorium reactor;
    • Thorium produces 10 to 10,000 times less long-lived radioactive waste;
    • Thorium comes out of the ground as a 100% pure, usable isotope, which does not require enrichment, whereas natural uranium contains only 0.7% fissionable U-235;
    • Thorium cannot sustain a nuclear chain reaction without priming,[22] so fission stops by default."

    The main disadvantage is simply that, because it is less radioactive than uranium 235, it is harder to sustain an energy releasing action. However, researchers seem to have mostly overcome that, using uranium 233 (tiny amount) to initiate and maintain the reaction.
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    Skeptic I think the main disadvantage with thorium reactors is that they don't exist. I also think people misestimate the true opposition of fossil fuel interests to any alternatives; they may appear to have no strong anti-nuclear position and often offer up the old 'if it's such a big problem go nuclear' line (with strong certainty that it's not going to happen) but when push comes to shove they will be as implacably opposed to nuclear intruding into their highly profitable market as anti-nuke greens are - and with far greater influence over policy makers. Only the dismaying rate of growth of the extraction and use of fossil fuels along with record profitability allows them to pretend they'd be okay with mass nuclear. Without the interventions in the energy market embodied by carbon pricing it'll be a continuing case of divide and conquer - with continuing rising emissions being the inevitable consequence. If you want to see widespread adoption of nuclear and ultimately see a major decline in the dumping of CO2 support the introduction of that market mechanism and back a steeply rising price on carbon dioxide emissions. I think the capacity for rapid growth of renewables is consistently underestimated but let a regulated market sort winners from losers - the regulation part being necessary to sort high emitters from low.
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    Thorium reactors have been built and most definitely can be built again- one obstacle is, ironically, current uranium based nuclear industry, just as current space industry is hobbled by reliance upon obsolete chemical propulsion, both relics of WWII and Cold War priorities.

    In actual fact, it is inevitable that such technologies be perfected and it makes more sense to do so sooner than later.

    Solar advocates frequently ignore the FACT that their pet panacea is UNAVAILABLE on a daily and seasonal basis- no means to store electricity in bulk exists at the moment, either. Batteries? Yeah, try stuffing a few megawatts into a battery and see what you get. Your objection works against you, see?
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    I have read that India planned to start up a thorium power plant this year but there does not seem to be much information available on the current status of this project. Does anyone have any information?
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    Ken Fabos, Palo Verde installation referred to above produces 3.3 gigawatts on 16 square kilometers of land area.

    How much area would be required for solar to provide equivalent?

    Maximum possible terrestrial solar energy at equator, equinoxes, 24-hour average, is 300 watts per meter square. This is at 100% efficiency of conversion, so unrealistic. Solar Two, also mentioned above averaged 3.2 watts per meter square. To be generous and maybe a little lazy, let us suppose 3.3 watts per meter square instead.

    Calculation is straightforward, draw your own conclusion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post

    Engineering reality is something more solar advocates should acquaint themselves with and you, dotcomrade, are no exception- fortunately, it is interesting reading.
    Absent investment, that engineering reality will always remain where it is. People keep saying "let's wait to invest till the technology improves." But without investment how would the technology improve?? Usually things like this don't happen in a vacuum. There has to be an available financial incentive or the "best and brightest" will direct their attention elsewhere.


    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    Is such a good idea, what happened to Solar One? Fire!, no hassle there, so made Solar Two out of rubble of Solar One, then converted to telescope, now site has nothing, all very cheap. Ice, you are way off base, you like thermal solar, go to space!

    The Solar Project - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Utilities know to the penny how much is fuel cost, so why, if what you say is TRUE, are such entities switching over to solar thermal ASAP? Instead such utilities as DO produce solar thermal power, even with natural gas backup, go BANKRUPT.

    Solar Energy Generating Systems - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    This is the main problem with the power grid. Electricity doesn't have varying quality, so price is all that distinguishes one electric company from another. It's almost impossible for any newcomer to break into an industry if price is the only available basis for competition because the mature/established competitors will always have refined their production process over time to give them the advantage in that area.

    What you're witnessing is an artefact of the nature of the industry, not a specific trait of solar or wind power. I think you'll find your beloved Thorium has exactly the same problem. Thorium upstarts are not going to be able to compete with the already matured Uranium nuclear industry, at least not right out of the box. For the same reasons.
    If you wouldn't bring a knife to a gun fight,.... then what is the use in bringing a gun to a nuclear war?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury View Post
    I have read that India planned to start up a thorium power plant this year but there does not seem to be much information available on the current status of this project. Does anyone have any information?
    Prince is dismayed to find no more recent news. Perhaps this link will be of some interest:

    Energy From Thorium Discussion Forum • View topic - U.S., India nuclear deal approved
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    And so:

    INDIA
    The Kakrapar Nuclear Power Station Complex
    India already has a 220MW reactor running on thorium. The Kakrapar 1 reactor uses solid fuel rods in a retrofitted reactor chamber. The neutrons to initiate fission are supplied by a plutonium core.

    When India was developing a nuclear weapon capability it was forbidden by the international community from importing uranium for their existing reactors in an attempt to reduce proliferation. This experience concentrated the minds of policy makers and using the thorium fuel cycle became a very important priority for India. (India has large reserves of thorium). Ever since then, they have been developing civilian applications for power generation from thorium but, at present, only in their existing solid fuelled reactors.

    India has not so far announced any interest in LFTR or MSR technologies. This comment on the Nuclear Green blog run by Charles Barton could help to explain why.

    Quote
    "David asked...
    So, why are the Indians not pursuing LFTR technology? If our numbers are right and the development is somewhat "open-source" already why is this technology not being pursued yet metal fuelled Thorium reactors or Fast breeders are being pursued?

    This seeming avoidance of a technology makes me wonder if there are aspects to LFTR we have overlooked? If a handful of engineers in the 1960's could assembly one, what would stop India? They have some really good engineers and scientists there.

    Charles Barton replied ...
    David, 'the Indians are following a plan that was created almost 2 generations ago, before the LFTR became a possibility. There is a significant question as to why that complex and expensive plan is still being followed by the Indians, in light of the thorium breeding potential of the LFTR. The Indian failure to embrace the LFTR cannot be attributed to some great difficulty that was unique to the LFTR and exceeded the challenges of the three stage program. Perhaps the most likely explanation is that since the Indians had until very recently access to a very limited amount of uranium, they needed the significantly greater breeding capacity of fast reactors, in order to obtain enough fissionable uranium to start a large number of thorium based reactors."
    Unquote
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    When India was developing a nuclear weapon capability it was forbidden by the international community from importing uranium for their existing reactors in an attempt to reduce proliferation. This experience concentrated the minds of policy makers and using the thorium fuel cycle became a very important priority for India. (India has large reserves of thorium). Ever since then, they have been developing civilian applications for power generation from thorium but, at present, only in their existing solid fuelled reactors.
    Which goes to show what happens when an external market stress is brought to bear on a problem. Of course..... that couldn't happen for solar technology...right?



    India has not so far announced any interest in LFTR or MSR technologies. This comment on the Nuclear Green blog run by Charles Barton could help to explain why.

    Quote
    "David asked...
    So, why are the Indians not pursuing LFTR technology? If our numbers are right and the development is somewhat "open-source" already why is this technology not being pursued yet metal fuelled Thorium reactors or Fast breeders are being pursued?

    This seeming avoidance of a technology makes me wonder if there are aspects to LFTR we have overlooked? If a handful of engineers in the 1960's could assembly one, what would stop India? They have some really good engineers and scientists there.

    Charles Barton replied ...
    David, 'the Indians are following a plan that was created almost 2 generations ago, before the LFTR became a possibility. There is a significant question as to why that complex and expensive plan is still being followed by the Indians, in light of the thorium breeding potential of the LFTR. The Indian failure to embrace the LFTR cannot be attributed to some great difficulty that was unique to the LFTR and exceeded the challenges of the three stage program. Perhaps the most likely explanation is that since the Indians had until very recently access to a very limited amount of uranium, they needed the significantly greater breeding capacity of fast reactors, in order to obtain enough fissionable uranium to start a large number of thorium based reactors."
    Unquote
    I also suspect that their military prefers uranium reactors so as to make it easier for them to expand their nuclear arsenal. But you know they're not going to go out and admit that.
    If you wouldn't bring a knife to a gun fight,.... then what is the use in bringing a gun to a nuclear war?
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    Ken Fabos, Palo Verde installation referred to above produces 3.3 gigawatts on 16 square kilometers of land area.

    How much area would be required for solar to provide equivalent?
    Last time I ran the numbers a patch of high desert in the American southwest 100 miles on a side, if devoted to thermal solar at current best efficiencies and with current best technology, is enough to power the US.
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    Except, as I have pointed out many times, thermal solar power, at a cost of 31 cents per kw hour, compared to nuclear at 12 cents is currently totally out of the ballpark.
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    Electricity generated in a high desert in the southwest doesn't do much good unless you live in the desert in the southwest and want to use the electricity in daylight hours.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Electricity generated in a high desert in the southwest doesn't do much good unless you live in the desert in the southwest and want to use the electricity in daylight hours.
    True enough.

    It has been demonstrated, REPEATEDLY, that without substantial subsidies PER KILOWATT HOUR, solar companies go bankrupt. So-called subsidies for nuclear industry vary, depending upon whether or not Price Anderson Act costs are included and who is figuring costs. All estimates of which Prince is aware on PER KILOWATT HOUR basis indicate nuclear is best investment.

    IF Iceaura is correct in his 1000 square mile estimate, which Prince reserves judgement upon, equivalent area would provide 160 Palo Verde installations producing 528 Gigawatts without interruption. Of course this is not done, because of transmission inefficiencies- as previously stated, nuclear can be situated anywhere and expected to perform at same level regardless of site factors, indeed, may operate totally submerged. Since much of USA population is located near coastlines, building on offshore platforms which can then be submerged is an option, as water is very effective radiation shielding. Such facilities would be unaffected by even tsunamis, as wave is less dangerous at depth or in deeper water.

    This would add to construction costs, but modularity and mass production have been demonstrated to lower production costs many times over. Crazy idea? Compare to THIS ONE:

    http://www.infrastructurist.com/2009/09/21/dubious-green-schemes-the-solar-roadway/

    This one wants 25,000 square miles of PV panel. Judging by amount of wear and tear to concrete and asphalt roads locally and ongoing construction/destruction witnessed by Prince, these 25,000 square miles could fit into 10 block radius of major urban area.

    Subsidy?

    Try $100,000 going nowhere fast...
    Last edited by The Finger Prince; October 9th, 2011 at 03:15 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    .
    I also suspect that their military prefers uranium reactors so as to make it easier for them to expand their nuclear arsenal. But you know they're not going to go out and admit that.
    Yes, these reasons are why USA, UK, and former USSR used uranium/plutonium option. Soviet era RBMK reactor at Chernobyl was used to produce plutonium for weapons as well as power for local use. Britain contributed the Windscale fire incident- they tended to push there plutonium production a little too hard, as evidenced by the percentages of Pu-240 in the fallout from their tests. Hanford Works in USA produced plutonium safely for 43 years of operation. India is known to have nuclear capability and there is no need to belabor the point.
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    I have to belabor the point a little bit so you can see where I'm going with it.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Electricity generated in a high desert in the southwest doesn't do much good unless you live in the desert in the southwest and want to use the electricity in daylight hours.
    True enough.

    It has been demonstrated, REPEATEDLY, that without substantial subsidies PER KILOWATT HOUR, solar companies go bankrupt. So-called subsidies for nuclear industry vary, depending upon whether or not Price Anderson Act costs are included and who is figuring costs. All estimates of which Prince is aware on PER KILOWATT HOUR basis indicate nuclear is best investment.

    ....


    Subsidy?

    Try $100,000 going nowhere fast...
    Now compare that with the funding the Department of Defense in the USA almost certainly poured into the nuclear industry when it was starting out.

    Too bad solar panels can't give us a nuclear bomb, right?
    If you wouldn't bring a knife to a gun fight,.... then what is the use in bringing a gun to a nuclear war?
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post

    Now compare that with the funding the Department of Defense in the USA almost certainly poured into the nuclear industry when it was starting out.
    It was, however, very much a case of the bomb coming first.
    The attitude was, "We gotta bomb, and we got surplus uranium. We might as well build a power station."

    It was never : "We gotta power station, so let's build a bomb."

    Weaponry always is given a higher priority than civilian electricity.
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    Apologies for my 'thorium reactors don't exist' statement - not quite true, however if I was a power company looking for a thorium reactor to replace a coal plant ... I wouldn't be able to get anything but an experimental one.

    No energy source exists in isolation and solar and wind do tend to compliment each other - grids need adaptations to make them better able to cope with variable sources at widely spaced sources in order to reduce disparity between supply and demand. The capacity to do so is far greater than is currently the case and it won't be a case of all or nothing but can and should evolve as it grows, but it does require a genuine commitment to implementing solutions to these problems which is currently lacking. A good system of variable pricing will also encourage a 'make hay while the sun shines' pattern of usage to take advantage of power when it's cheap - and improving weather prediction skill gives a degree of planning capacity. We could also see a booming market for on-site energy storage as a result - variable pricing might be a far better incentive to really attack the problems of large scale storage than the current resistance from the mainstream energy sector. A home in most locations could do okay with relatively small back up storage combined with high efficiency smart appliances and barely notice a few days of constrained supply - I would note that for many people in the developing world solar is already impacting the lives of people in a positive way with lighting (batteries are a weak point but not so weak that lighting and communications aren't used into the night). A bit harder for energy intensive industries grown up on a cornucopia of cheap dirty energy with no responsibility for the externalities but those also need to be putting greater efforts into solutions rather than their current preferred option of undermining the political will to force the issue.

    An aggressive program of grid upgrades to suit the kinds and locations of emerging and potential energy sources is not happening - the energy sector is not an aggressive leader in the development of solution to climate impacting emissions, they are aggressive opponents of solutions - especially of the kinds of pricing of emissions that would force them to invest in solutions.

    So much depends on strong leadership in actually making the kinds of planning decisions that are not happening - and that goes for nuclear too; without emissions pricing it too will continue to fail to thrive. Steeply rising energy prices are the only incentive that will overcome widespread reluctance to embrace alternatives including nuclear.

    If necessary big energy users may need to relocate to where low emissions energy is most abundant and reliable - be that hydro, geothermal or nations with heavy investment in nuclear, but my point remains that reducing emissions relatively soon is necessary - failure to do so, even if at the cost of higher price and less reliability of supply - will ultimately hurt us more and more permanently than facing higher prices and less reliability of supply.
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    Quote Originally Posted by akeptic
    Except, as I have pointed out many times, thermal solar power, at a cost of 31 cents per kw hour, compared to nuclear at 12 cents is currently totally out of the ballpark.
    Repeating those silly numbers is not going to make them useful or reasonable. All you have to do is look at the comparison between PV solar and thermal solar in that source, to realize it is full of shit.

    There is no nuke power on earth for $.12 kwh total cost, as Japan is taking its turn at demonstrating.

    There are operating thermal solar plants kicking power out at less than $.15 kwh, and sober claims of less than $.06 kwh at current tech without further R&D even.
    Quote Originally Posted by harold
    Electricity generated in a high desert in the southwest doesn't do much good unless you live in the desert in the southwest and want to use the electricity in daylight hours.
    Because the Hoover Dam is useless for power, and even overnight storage or stored distribution is impossible, right?

    Sheesh. Talk radio is debilitating stuff, mentally, it would seem.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    There is no nuke power on earth for $.12 kwh total cost, as Japan is taking its turn at demonstrating.

    There are operating thermal solar plants kicking power out at less than $.15 kwh, and sober claims of less than $.06 kwh at current tech without further R&D even.
    Denying data does not make it go away.

    I guess it is possible there may be solar thermal plants generating power at 15 cents per kwh, if you disregard capital costs. But the average cost, including capital, is 31c per kwh. Trying to pretend otherwise does not make what you want to come true. You need Tinkerbell for that!

    Iceaura

    The simple fact remains that over 97% of the world's electricity is generated with coal, natural gas, hydro or nuclear. Solar is a small fraction of 1%. Guess why?
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    The simple fact remains that over 97% of the world's electricity is generated with coal, natural gas, hydro or nuclear. Solar is a small fraction of 1%. Guess why?
    Because humans are generally short-sighted, and prioritize a few extra bucks in their pockets today over a lot less cancers in their children tomorrow.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I guess it is possible there may be solar thermal plants generating power at 15 cents per kwh, if you disregard capital costs. But the average cost, including capital, is 31c per kwh.
    Average of what? Research setups, tower, thermocouple, fresnel, medium temp rooftop, and parabolic reflector with hot salt?

    There isn't any average thermal solar, and you can tell your number the is bullshit because it's too close to the PV solar number - a much more expensive technology in general.

    The Andasol plant in Spain is currently making money selling power for about $.21 kwh. Plants in the SW US would of course be cheaper to build and more efficient, all else equal, and claims of $.06 (including capital costs) kwh are not immediately dismissible.
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    The simple fact remains that over 97% of the world's electricity is generated with coal, natural gas, hydro or nuclear. Solar is a small fraction of 1%. Guess why?
    Ignorance, greed, corruption, and lack of military benefit explain a lot. Because it pays its costs - very little of the cost of a thermal solar plant is externalized - explains much of the rest.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post

    Now compare that with the funding the Department of Defense in the USA almost certainly poured into the nuclear industry when it was starting out.
    It was, however, very much a case of the bomb coming first.
    The attitude was, "We gotta bomb, and we got surplus uranium. We might as well build a power station."

    It was never : "We gotta power station, so let's build a bomb."

    Weaponry always is given a higher priority than civilian electricity.
    Most likely the same civilian contractors who got the contracts to build the military's nukes took all their R&D, and fabrication capital and turned it to make the civilian reactors as well. That would be the logical way for things to work out. Military spending can fill the gap I described earlier. Similar to the case of rich people buying the first cell phones, military spending provides you with a customer that doesn't care about the price, which allows you time and money to refine your process to the point where it's ready to enter the consumer market.

    Imagine what might happen if suddenly the development of better/cheaper solar panels was crucial to a current military objective.

    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by harold
    Electricity generated in a high desert in the southwest doesn't do much good unless you live in the desert in the southwest and want to use the electricity in daylight hours.
    Because the Hoover Dam is useless for power, and even overnight storage or stored distribution is impossible, right?

    Sheesh. Talk radio is debilitating stuff, mentally, it would seem.
    Yeah, in fact, the Hoover Dam functions as storage too. Letting water accumulate behind a dam is the same thing as pumped storage. Every time they turn off the turbines and quit letting water through, the potential energy just stays there waiting to get used tomorrow. The only limitation is that you can't let too much of it accumulate or it will break the dam. (But you could say the same thing about overcharging a battery.)

    With enough HVDC lines going out of it, a combination of solar field + Hoover Dam would yield just incredible amounts of electricity to the surrounding region. In general, hydro+solar is a pairing with very strong synergy.
    If you wouldn't bring a knife to a gun fight,.... then what is the use in bringing a gun to a nuclear war?
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by harold
    Electricity generated in a high desert in the southwest doesn't do much good unless you live in the desert in the southwest and want to use the electricity in daylight hours.
    Because the Hoover Dam is useless for power, and even overnight storage or stored distribution is impossible, right?

    Sheesh. Talk radio is debilitating stuff, mentally, it would seem.
    Hoover dam is located near Las Vegas and that's where the power is used. Overnight storage and distribution are not included in the costs you are quoting.
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    The power is used across Nevada, Arizona, and California, not just by Las Vegas.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by harold
    Electricity generated in a high desert in the southwest doesn't do much good unless you live in the desert in the southwest and want to use the electricity in daylight hours.
    Because the Hoover Dam is useless for power, and even overnight storage or stored distribution is impossible, right?

    Sheesh. Talk radio is debilitating stuff, mentally, it would seem.
    Hoover dam is located near Las Vegas and that's where the power is used. Overnight storage and distribution are not included in the costs you are quoting.
    To repeat my previous post: a hydro-electric dam has built in "pumped storage". If solar/wind is used to amplify Hoover's output then how to store the energy during off hours is not an issue. Just turn the dam completely off when the sun is shining, allowing water to accumulate behind it, and open the turbines to full capacity on cloudy days. It's not perfect because sometimes there will simply be too much water and the dam will have to run even while the sun is shining, but that's hardly the kind of problem that would cause a brown out.
    If you wouldn't bring a knife to a gun fight,.... then what is the use in bringing a gun to a nuclear war?
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by akeptic
    Except, as I have pointed out many times, thermal solar power, at a cost of 31 cents per kw hour, compared to nuclear at 12 cents is currently totally out of the ballpark.
    Repeating those silly numbers is not going to make them useful or reasonable. All you have to do is look at the comparison between PV solar and thermal solar in that source, to realize it is full of shit.

    There is no nuke power on earth for $.12 kwh total cost, as Japan is taking its turn at demonstrating.

    There are operating thermal solar plants kicking power out at less than $.15 kwh, and sober claims of less than $.06 kwh at current tech without further R&D even.
    Quote Originally Posted by harold
    Electricity generated in a high desert in the southwest doesn't do much good unless you live in the desert in the southwest and want to use the electricity in daylight hours.
    Because the Hoover Dam is useless for power, and even overnight storage or stored distribution is impossible, right?

    Sheesh. Talk radio is debilitating stuff, mentally, it would seem.
    Talk radio is not the issue, Hoover Dam is also remote from most of continental USA and is vulnerable to drought(environmental conditions again) and is better suited to use during peak demand rather than base load, as is all hydropower. Most good hydro sites are already in use and not all are close to major population centers, example, South Florida. By contrast, nuclear facilities can be installed anywhere needed and if hurricane strikes will be available when needed, being shielded from inclement weather out of necessity in any case. If you have some relevant point to make, please feel free to do so. The example of Palo Verde cited above is proof that your claims regarding expense of nuclear power are inaccurate- this facility is unaffected by events at Fukushima.

    Saying stuff over and over does not make it more accurate and solar thermal is nearly as silly an idea as paving roads with PV panels, though both have been tried:

    Idaho's Solar Roadways | Solar Power - PV Panels
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post
    The power is used across Nevada, Arizona, and California, not just by Las Vegas.
    True, as is power from Palo Verde. 3.3 gigawatt vs 2.074 gigawatt PEAK for Hoover Dam according to source:

    Orders of magnitude (power) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    For further comparison, 29,250,496,000 kilowatt-hours were derived from Palo Verde in 2008.

    http://www.eia.gov/neic/rankings/rankbyplantgeneration.htm

    Versus output for Hoover Dam:

    "The ten-year annual average for 1999 through 2008 was about 4.2 billion kilowatt-hours. The maximum annual net generation at Hoover Powerplant was 10,348,020,500 kilowatt-hours in 1984, while the minimum annual net generation since 1940 was 2,648,224,700 kilowatt-hours in 1956."
    http://www.usbr.gov/lc/hooverdam/faqs/powerfaq.html

    Though this may not continue:

    http://www.powermag.com/coal/Global-...08_165_p4.html
    Last edited by The Finger Prince; October 10th, 2011 at 03:34 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    Apologies for my 'thorium reactors don't exist' statement - not quite true, however if I was a power company looking for a thorium reactor to replace a coal plant ... I wouldn't be able to get anything but an experimental one.

    No energy source exists in isolation and solar and wind do tend to compliment each other - grids need adaptations to make them better able to cope with variable sources at widely spaced sources in order to reduce disparity between supply and demand. The capacity to do so is far greater than is currently the case and it won't be a case of all or nothing but can and should evolve as it grows, but it does require a genuine commitment to implementing solutions to these problems which is currently lacking. A good system of variable pricing will also encourage a 'make hay while the sun shines' pattern of usage to take advantage of power when it's cheap - and improving weather prediction skill gives a degree of planning capacity. We could also see a booming market for on-site energy storage as a result - variable pricing might be a far better incentive to really attack the problems of large scale storage than the current resistance from the mainstream energy sector. A home in most locations could do okay with relatively small back up storage combined with high efficiency smart appliances and barely notice a few days of constrained supply - I would note that for many people in the developing world solar is already impacting the lives of people in a positive way with lighting (batteries are a weak point but not so weak that lighting and communications aren't used into the night). A bit harder for energy intensive industries grown up on a cornucopia of cheap dirty energy with no responsibility for the externalities but those also need to be putting greater efforts into solutions rather than their current preferred option of undermining the political will to force the issue.

    An aggressive program of grid upgrades to suit the kinds and locations of emerging and potential energy sources is not happening - the energy sector is not an aggressive leader in the development of solution to climate impacting emissions, they are aggressive opponents of solutions - especially of the kinds of pricing of emissions that would force them to invest in solutions.

    So much depends on strong leadership in actually making the kinds of planning decisions that are not happening - and that goes for nuclear too; without emissions pricing it too will continue to fail to thrive. Steeply rising energy prices are the only incentive that will overcome widespread reluctance to embrace alternatives including nuclear.

    If necessary big energy users may need to relocate to where low emissions energy is most abundant and reliable - be that hydro, geothermal or nations with heavy investment in nuclear, but my point remains that reducing emissions relatively soon is necessary - failure to do so, even if at the cost of higher price and less reliability of supply - will ultimately hurt us more and more permanently than facing higher prices and less reliability of supply.
    OK, so you can get HORSES off the shelf, low cost operation, they eat GRASS, right? And make more horses to boot, so putting horses on treadmills each generating one horsepower is the preferred solution?

    Get on the clue bus already.

    Nuclear electricity is STABLE for base loads, whereas demand fluctuates. Fluctuating supply from silly inadequate wind and solar, both predictably unpredictable, adds gratuitous complication and stress to system. Energy from nuclear is already stored in heart of atom, period. Better to have too much than not enough and use surplus for desalination or pumped hydro storage, etc. Failing to thrive? Yeah, that is the way it is: Four of the world's largest ten power production facilities are NUCLEAR, the only competition being large-scale hydropower. The difference, as Prince continues to point out, is that NUCLEAR can be placed ANYWHERE, in quantity required, regardless of site. Some "failure".

    So you would uproot cities rather than build infrastructure to accommodate them? Good luck with that...traditional approach is very much the other way around.
    Last edited by The Finger Prince; October 10th, 2011 at 04:38 PM.
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    Roads paved with solar probably belongs with space power satellites as a nice idea that's unlikely to reach lift off - except that people developing the idea have actually got as far as a trial. Which puts it a long way ahead of SPS then. No technical reasons it can't work but the combined costs of building roads and building solar separately are probably going to be lower than attempting to integrate them.

    Practically there are plenty of cheaper and easier places to put PV - even as awnings built over roads and carparks would probably be cheaper than integrating them. Sunward facing surfaces including low cost vacant land are not in short supply, transmission grids exist or can be built to feed to more populated regions so lack of suitable places to put solar isn't such a constraint that we need to put them in a harsh place like a road surface.

    Not that solar power hasn't already made it's way into roads in the form of solar powered illuminated road studs - and those are deliberately set above the road surface in order to create an audible impact for warning wandering drivers. That would have to be much harsher than if set level and flat within a low wear area of road surface.

    As for solar thermal from pipes within roads, that's being done successfully in the Netherlands (elsewhere too I believe) where a suitable aquifer allows enough thermal storage to be able to use summer solar energy for winter heating of commercial and domestic buildings and to keep roads and runways ice free. I believe that cool water is also used for cooling during summer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    Roads paved with solar probably belongs with space power satellites as a nice idea that's unlikely to reach lift off - except that people developing the idea have actually got as far as a trial. Which puts it a long way ahead of SPS then. No technical reasons it can't work but the combined costs of building roads and building solar separately are probably going to be lower than attempting to integrate them.

    Practically there are plenty of cheaper and easier places to put PV - even as awnings built over roads and carparks would probably be cheaper than integrating them. Sunward facing surfaces including low cost vacant land are not in short supply, transmission grids exist or can be built to feed to more populated regions so lack of suitable places to put solar isn't such a constraint that we need to put them in a harsh place like a road surface.

    Not that solar power hasn't already made it's way into roads in the form of solar powered illuminated road studs - and those are deliberately set above the road surface in order to create an audible impact for warning wandering drivers. That would have to be much harsher than if set level and flat within a low wear area of road surface.

    As for solar thermal from pipes within roads, that's being done successfully in the Netherlands (elsewhere too I believe) where a suitable aquifer allows enough thermal storage to be able to use summer solar energy for winter heating of commercial and domestic buildings and to keep roads and runways ice free. I believe that cool water is also used for cooling during summer.
    Is already on trial, in Idaho, where there will be much snow soon and predictable deficiencies of stupid solar road scheme will become obvious to all.

    Or maybe not, solar cheerleader types seem to have learned less than nothing from SEGS and Solar One and Two. Just because many people advocate something does not make it good idea, eg, witch hunting. Conversely, just because visionary is opposed by "experts" does not guarantee he is wrong, eg, Carlos Finlay, for decades ridiculed for his discovery that yellow fever was transmitted by mosquitoes.

    Carlos Finlay - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    What about places where no "suitable aquifer" exists? Tear up roads and move to where one DOES, I suppose? This is at least consistent with your earlier proposal. Freakin' marvelous. Actually it is making more sense to move population of Netherlands to higher ground, but is this going on?

    No.

    As for "illuminated road studs" they must necessarily be more expensive than reflective road studs in common use. Solar types are predictably reinventing wheel and making it SQUARE.

    Actually the logic of going to space for solar is just carrying principle of going where resources are most abundant to ultimate logical conclusion. In case of solar, this happens to be space.
    Last edited by The Finger Prince; October 10th, 2011 at 05:19 PM.
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  70. #270  
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by akeptic
    Except, as I have pointed out many times, thermal solar power, at a cost of 31 cents per kw hour, compared to nuclear at 12 cents is currently totally out of the ballpark.
    Repeating those silly numbers is not going to make them useful or reasonable. All you have to do is look at the comparison between PV solar and thermal solar in that source, to realize it is full of shit.

    There is no nuke power on earth for $.12 kwh total cost, as Japan is taking its turn at demonstrating.

    There are operating thermal solar plants kicking power out at less than $.15 kwh, and sober claims of less than $.06 kwh at current tech without further R&D even.
    Quote Originally Posted by harold
    Electricity generated in a high desert in the southwest doesn't do much good unless you live in the desert in the southwest and want to use the electricity in daylight hours.
    Because the Hoover Dam is useless for power, and even overnight storage or stored distribution is impossible, right?

    Sheesh. Talk radio is debilitating stuff, mentally, it would seem.
    Talk radio is not the issue, Hoover Dam is also remote from most of continental USA and is vulnerable to drought(environmental conditions again) and is better suited to use during peak demand rather than base load, as is all hydropower. Most good hydro sites are already in use and not all are close to major population centers, example, South Florida. By contrast, nuclear facilities can be installed anywhere needed and if hurricane strikes will be available when needed, being shielded from inclement weather out of necessity in any case. If you have some relevant point to make, please feel free to do so. The example of Palo Verde cited above is proof that your claims regarding expense of nuclear power are inaccurate- this facility is unaffected by events at Fukushima.

    Saying stuff over and over does not make it more accurate and solar thermal is nearly as silly an idea as paving roads with PV panels, though both have been tried:

    Idaho's Solar Roadways | Solar Power - PV Panels
    I guess it depends on how much HVDC losses come to. Maybe Wild Cobra might chime in on that? I can't find any good data for it. I don't know how much they lose.

    What makes you think Hydro is better for peak demand instead of baseloading? It's the one truly perfect baseload. It turns on and/or off almost instantly when needed.

    Also, Nuclear has to be near a good water source. It doesn't have to be a river but it still needs a lot of water. 48% of all fresh water use in the USA is for thermal electric purposes, of which nuclear is one.
    If you wouldn't bring a knife to a gun fight,.... then what is the use in bringing a gun to a nuclear war?
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    Define, please, "a good water source". THE LARGEST NUCLEAR GENERATING FACILITY IN THE NATION IS IN THE FREAKING DESERT, as Prince has pointed out above, rather tiresomely by now. You are answering your own question above regarding hydropower's suitability for peak generating needs- baseload is for demands which are predictable and relatively constant. Also water may not be available during drought, a perennial condition in the desert which dictates conservation, not profligate use 24 hours which is what is required for "baseload".

    Regardless of magnitude of transmission losses, it makes sense to minimize same, do you not agree?
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    FP I merely point out that solar thermal energy is being successfully extracted and used from road asphalt in a location which had a naturally existing aquifer for suitable storage. I didn't advocate roads paved with solar just pointed out it's not technically impossible - with mention of road studs simply to point out that solar cells can be placed where they cop a lot of physical impacts and continue to work reliably. And said that there appears to be no advantage to putting solar into road surfaces when there are easier and better suited placements. Still at that it's a lot more technically possible than space solar!

    Most of all I consider the climate/emissions problem serious enough that preserving low cost and avoiding inconvenience are insufficient reasons to be okay with failing to deal with it. Yes, putting our civilisation on a low emissions footing is difficult and expensive, even with nuclear, for which I have not seen much widespread support or firm policy commitments.

    Again - get active in promoting pricing of emissions - it's as much pro-nuclear as it is pro-solar.

    Nuclear (and space solar) or nothing combined with failure to advocate strong regulation/pricing of emissions is a position that will result in the continuing and growing reliance and use of fossil fuels and produce less actual results than the pro-renewables folk you are so contemptuous of.
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    Ken

    You would see a hell of a lot of support for nuclear rise really quickly if greenhouse gas emissions from alternatives were taxed heavily enough!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    FP I merely point out that solar thermal energy is being successfully extracted and used from road asphalt in a location which had a naturally existing aquifer for suitable storage. I didn't advocate roads paved with solar just pointed out it's not technically impossible - with mention of road studs simply to point out that solar cells can be placed where they cop a lot of physical impacts and continue to work reliably. And said that there appears to be no advantage to putting solar into road surfaces when there are easier and better suited placements. Still at that it's a lot more technically possible than space solar!

    Most of all I consider the climate/emissions problem serious enough that preserving low cost and avoiding inconvenience are insufficient reasons to be okay with failing to deal with it. Yes, putting our civilisation on a low emissions footing is difficult and expensive, even with nuclear, for which I have not seen much widespread support or firm policy commitments.

    Again - get active in promoting pricing of emissions - it's as much pro-nuclear as it is pro-solar.

    Nuclear (and space solar) or nothing combined with failure to advocate strong regulation/pricing of emissions is a position that will result in the continuing and growing reliance and use of fossil fuels and produce less actual results than the pro-renewables folk you are so contemptuous of.
    Arbitrary pricing is your answer? Nuclear is the answer, period. Space solar, fusion power, etc. are inevitable if humanity is to continue to survive, so better to develop sooner than later. This reflects a mentality of abundance and innovation, rather than scarcity and draconian regulation. Good luck getting compliance in your little scheme, feh, you think that Prince is unrealistic? Consider strong regulation/pricing efforts to control illicit drug trade internationally and success of same so far. You will have some problems ENFORCING compliance. Cigarette taxes are very high, yet people continue to smoke, despite acknowledged fact it is harmful and frequent mass media reminders to that effect.

    "Better placement" for solar is space, whether idiots acknowledge this or not. Is remote location with abundant sunshine, minimally affected by weather and diurnal or seasonal fluctuations OR FREAKING TRUCK TIRES. Next proposal will no doubt involve putting trucks on giant treadmills to generate electricity, or GREENER yet, horses. Both more "technically possible" than space solar, and profoundly stupid.
    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Ken

    You would see a hell of a lot of support for nuclear rise really quickly if greenhouse gas emissions from alternatives were taxed heavily enough!
    Would you care to elaborate?
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    Quote Originally Posted by prince
    Nuclear electricity is STABLE for base loads, whereas demand fluctuates. Fluctuating supply from silly inadequate wind and solar, both predictably unpredictable, adds gratuitous complication and stress to system
    Nuclear power can and does disappear completely and permanently in less than 20 minutes, taking entire cities and huge tracts of habitable landscape with it.

    That's why the government has to play such a large role in subsidizing it, protecting it from ordinary insurance requirements, and coddling it with military force: and even then, investors find it a poor risk.

    Greater reliability and steadier supply at much less expense would be one of the major benefits of solar with storage.
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    Here is an analysis based on scaling up the Andusol plant to 90 % capacity factor, which shows the vastly greater carbon emissions associated with solar power, based on the required amounts of concrete and steel.
    TCASE 7: Scaling up Andasol 1 to baseload « BraveNewClimate
    Ratio of materials/land requirements, for equivalent solar thermal : nuclear (both calculated at 90 % capacity factor):
    Concrete = 15 : 1; Steel = 75 : 1; Land = 2,530 : 1
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    You do not give up, do you Iceaura?

    Please note : This is a science forum. In science, data rather than dogma, rules.
    You continually make assertions that are unsupported by data. Dogma is a quality associated with pseudoscience and religion, not good science.

    When you talk of the risks of nuclear power, there is no supporting evidence. I have pointed out to you before that the accident fatality rate with nuclear power over 50 years is 8 deaths per terrawatt year of electricity generated. For hydroelectricity, it is over 800 (due to accidental bursting of dams, which do indeed wipe out entire communities.). Yet I have not seen a word from you condemning hydroelectricity. Instead a plethora of nonsense about how unsafe nuclear power is.

    You talk of reliability and low expense with solar. That is total bullsh!t. The figures I have presented to you repeatedly show thermal solar costs 31 cents per kwh compared to 12 cents for nuclear. Solar is massively more expensive than nuclear. Nuclear is reliable now, after 50 years of experience. Thermal solar will become reliable, but is still in the early stages of development which means lots of bugs to be ironed out.

    In science, Iceaura, we need good data.
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    FP, Heavy space launch capability is apparently an easy hurdle but better energy storage is impossible? It's great that you have such grand visions and aspirations - but the world we live in does have limits and the vast majority of humanity will be stuck with living within them. That we've managed to push those limits further than anyone might have imagined hasn't made them go away - on the contrary they're being achieved at the cost of an accumulating debt that's being increasingly extracted from irreplaceable environmental capital.

    For different reasons and the same reasons neither renewables or nuclear is being taken up on the scale the climate problem requires, putting humanity between a rock and a hard place. This ongoing failure isn't being fixed in any way by your shrill demands that it must be nuclear or nothing. It's not the only problem putting us there and the cornucopian view of endless growth built on limitless energy and expansion (into space?) remains deeply flawed and ends up more like a recipe for seeing a smallish population living in abundance whilst the rest subsidise their grand schemes. And get left to shoulder the burden of consequences when the inevitable crash occurs ie variations on what has gone before only much more so since we are long past being able to walk away and migrate to better pastures. Won't be room for more horses either. We are way past either being solutions.

    You rant about the stupidity of people who imagine compliance with regulation and taxation of mass fossil fuel burning can be achieved - sorry but between the developed nations of the world enough compliance can be achieved via an informed voting public - yet without strong international regulation and compliance nuclear would be a disaster. For a lot of people in poorer parts of the world solar is already bettering their lives - mostly it's the affluent and extravagantly wasteful of the industrialised nations, who treat their good fortune as an inalienable right, seem determined to view the successes of solar as failure and waste. Nuclear is simply not going to make any direct positive contribution to those billions of lives any time soon. If the net result of your efforts - as is most likely - is quick, dirty and easy coal and gas to 'lift them out of poverty' then they really will be handed a poisoned chalice.

    All up I think your contribution to solutions is zilch so far. Just hot air, impossible to implement 'solutions' and contempt for those who disagree with you.

    Sceptic - emissions pricing has to be fully inclusive, not simply applied to fossil fuels, so, sure, it may well lead to a surge of popularity for nuclear. Given that climate allows no exceptions - all CO2 being equal - allowing exceptions would only lead to the kind of non-compliance that undermines the whole intent of such pricing. Agriculture, the military, essential services, the nation's economic advantage... the jobs of coal miners, the jobs of solar manufacturers - all become excuses to fail to rein in emissions. A shame that the much beloved 'just get on and do it' attitude simply isn't good enough - we have a system called science that can give us understanding, allowing us to foresee consequences, to allow forethought and planning but it's severely under attack and the commodification of voter opinions through deliberately campaigning to undermine trust in our scientific institutions and methods is preventing nuclear solutions being implemented as much as renewable ones.
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    FP - to indulge my curiousity -

    How many nuclear plants have been built, fueled and maintained exclusively using nuclear power?

    What kind of nuclear do you propose for places that don't have reliable water supply for cooling?

    Are you okay with unregulated nuclear?

    How will you sway the voting public to adopt nuclear - and possibly space power - as real and firm policy choices without any pricing of emissions?

    Do you think the climate problem is serious enough to limit the unregulated use of fossil fuels in the absence of a commitment to nuclear?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Here is an analysis based on scaling up the Andusol plant to 90 % capacity factor, which shows the vastly greater carbon emissions associated with solar power, based on the required amounts of concrete and steel.
    TCASE 7: Scaling up Andasol 1 to baseload « BraveNewClimate
    Ratio of materials/land requirements, for equivalent solar thermal : nuclear (both calculated at 90 % capacity factor):
    Concrete = 15 : 1; Steel = 75 : 1; Land = 2,530 : 1
    This looked highly improbable to me so I did a bit of checking, just on the concrete figures in your link. It tells us that the a nuclear reactor (not clear if the actual steam plant and auxiliaries is included or not) requires 0.24 million tonnes of concrete for a 1154 MWe plant.

    My googling produced a figure of 400,000 cubic yards of concrete for a "medium sized" reactor. A cubic yard of standard concrete weighs about 2 tons so that works out to 800,000 tons. A medium sized plant might be 600 MWe, but say it's 1154 MWe, that works out to 693 tons of concrete per MWe. If the articles claim of 1303 tons of concrete per MWe for the solar plant is accurate this gives a ratio of 1.9:1, which is a little different from 15:1. (If we used 600 MWe the ratio is about 1:1 but I don't feel justified in making that assumption.) Concrete used for radiation shielding can be up to twice the density of standard concrete but I don't know how much high density is used in nuke construction so I only used the normal density. With high density the ratio could go the opposite way.

    The concrete contains huge amounts of rebar - far more I would guess, relative to the amount of concrete, than simple foundations for a parabolic mirror, so without doing any checking I would be highly skeptical of the steel figure as well. Working for an engineering and construction firm I could find actual data for these, but I don't have the time for that. I'll leave you to correct me if I'm wrong. I assume you checked the data before posting the link so this should be easy.

    Some rebar:

    http://www.concreteconstruction.net/...m45-179289.jpg
    Last edited by Bunbury; October 11th, 2011 at 10:58 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by prince
    Nuclear electricity is STABLE for base loads, whereas demand fluctuates. Fluctuating supply from silly inadequate wind and solar, both predictably unpredictable, adds gratuitous complication and stress to system
    Nuclear power can and does disappear completely and permanently in less than 20 minutes, taking entire cities and huge tracts of habitable landscape with it.

    That's why the government has to play such a large role in subsidizing it, protecting it from ordinary insurance requirements, and coddling it with military force: and even then, investors find it a poor risk.

    Greater reliability and steadier supply at much less expense would be one of the major benefits of solar with storage.
    You CAN, of COURSE, provide an example of this alleged phenomenon? Keep in mind here, please, that nuclear explosives and nuclear power producing units are two entirely different classes of devices. As for solar "storage" what do you propose? Will it be adequate to last through Minnesota winter? If so, you might be onto something and hopefully you will be less economical with the truth than usual.

    If you must bring up the issue of subsidies, allow me to remind you and others that nuclear facilities CAN and DO pay taxes to local and state coffers, Palo Verde referenced above pays about $54.1 million annually. Compare this to tax revenue from solar thermal, IF you can find any. Investors seem to be willing to pony up nearly 6 billion dollars AFTER Three Mile Island, and not to mind unduly tax burden. Meanwhile solar thermal LUZ International investors got burned but good in 1991.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_E...rating_Systems
    Last edited by The Finger Prince; October 12th, 2011 at 01:43 AM. Reason: additional citation
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  83. #283  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    FP, Heavy space launch capability is apparently an easy hurdle but better energy storage is impossible? It's great that you have such grand visions and aspirations - but the world we live in does have limits and the vast majority of humanity will be stuck with living within them. That we've managed to push those limits further than anyone might have imagined hasn't made them go away - on the contrary they're being achieved at the cost of an accumulating debt that's being increasingly extracted from irreplaceable environmental capital.
    Took less than a decade for NASA to send manned missions to Moon and back, using obsolete chemical propulsion. Bulk electricity storage has been pursued since inception of utilities with limited success. Draw your own conclusion. Limits are not set by technology but by policy. Prince proposes perfectly plausible technological solutions to real problems which are not only feasible but inevitable.

    Informed voting public? Look at recent results of voting public, Bush, Bush, Obama. Not a very good record of achievement.

    Contempt? Not necessarily, just pointing out fallacies, inconsistencies, and absurdities.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    FP - to indulge my curiousity -

    How many nuclear plants have been built, fueled and maintained exclusively using nuclear power?

    What kind of nuclear do you propose for places that don't have reliable water supply for cooling?

    Are you okay with unregulated nuclear?

    How will you sway the voting public to adopt nuclear - and possibly space power - as real and firm policy choices without any pricing of emissions?

    Do you think the climate problem is serious enough to limit the unregulated use of fossil fuels in the absence of a commitment to nuclear?
    First question is ticklish, since to Prince's knowledge no attempt has been made to construct nuclear power generating plant using solely energy so produced, nor, in all candor, does such an exercise seem likely.

    HOWEVER:

    Multiplying cost wholesale of electricity generated $0.0633 per kilowatt hour times 29,250,000,000 Kw/hr, equivalent to stated output of 29,250 gigawatt hours annually yields 1,851,525,000. At this rate plant has paid back construction costs of $5.9 billion in less than 3.5 years, exclusive of other economic benefits, which are substantial. It should be pointed out YET AGAIN that this facility is in an ARID AREA and that this at present seems to present no insurmountable difficulties. "Unregulated" utilities of any kind seem most unlikely in view of many levels of existing state and federal regulatory bodies. Voting public is composed primarily of idiots based upon Prince's observations to date, impervious to reason, largely governed by emotion, and easily duped. "Climate problem?" Climate is largely product of nature, always has been and will be so for foreseeable future. "Emissions" problem? Estimates of reduced emissions attributable to Palo Verde include reduction of nitrous oxide emissions of 93,000 tons, SO2 of 158,000 tons, and CO2 29.1 million tons which would otherwise be released by combustion processes. It is worth mentioning that this large volume of chemical fuel would have to be transported to site incurring additional emissions in transportation, probably by pipeline or diesel electric locomotive.

    Ken Fabos, thank you for questions and participation to date. It has been in general a pleasure to respond and spurred Prince's investigations. Good night and good fortune to all dotcomrades!
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    Define, please, "a good water source". THE LARGEST NUCLEAR GENERATING FACILITY IN THE NATION IS IN THE FREAKING DESERT, as Prince has pointed out above, rather tiresomely by now. You are answering your own question above regarding hydropower's suitability for peak generating needs- baseload is for demands which are predictable and relatively constant. Also water may not be available during drought, a perennial condition in the desert which dictates conservation, not profligate use 24 hours which is what is required for "baseload".
    No reason we can't put pumps in the dam to pump water back upstream as long as there's enough sunlight *sometimes* to power those pumps. A hyro-electric dam can serve as pumped storage in every sense, not just some senses. I think it's best use is as a battery.

    What you would need for there to be a problem is both a shortage of water, and a shortage of sunlight to happen in the same area at the same time.


    Regardless of magnitude of transmission losses, it makes sense to minimize same, do you not agree?
    Efficiency doesn't matter as much when the energy is free. What are you wasting? Sunlight? I certainly hope we don't run out!! But, if we use it inefficiently we'll need more solar panels.

    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by prince
    Nuclear electricity is STABLE for base loads, whereas demand fluctuates. Fluctuating supply from silly inadequate wind and solar, both predictably unpredictable, adds gratuitous complication and stress to system
    Nuclear power can and does disappear completely and permanently in less than 20 minutes, taking entire cities and huge tracts of habitable landscape with it.
    Nuclear power plants are not nuclear bombs. The Uranium, enriched to about 10x (or maybe it's 5x? I can't remember for sure the amount) the normal content of U235, could scarcely be used to make a nuclear explosion even if a very deliberate effort were made to cause one.

    The only reason Chernobyl even blew up at all is because an excessive temperature was reached inside the reactor, and that was just a pressure explosion. It wasn't a nuclear mushroom cloud. (And the high temperature is because they used graphite as the moderator, which has the same melting point as diamond. Water is a lot safer that way.)
    If you wouldn't bring a knife to a gun fight,.... then what is the use in bringing a gun to a nuclear war?
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Nuclear power can and does disappear completely and permanently in less than 20 minutes, taking entire cities and huge tracts of habitable landscape with it.

    Nuclear power plants are not nuclear bombs.
    So?

    If the issue is the reliability of the power source, the fact that nuclear power sources - unlike any other except a hydro dam - can vanish in minutes and be unrecoverable in our lifetimes, taking large fractions of existing baseload power as well as cities, farms, aquifers, river basins, and large tracts of otherwise habitable land with them,

    needs to be included.

    A reliability calculation should take into account not only the frequency of shortfalls, but their size and extent, no?
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    Finger Prince - I'm very disappointed. You complain that people simply won't respond to reason and yet the whole of climate science is simply dismissed by you with - ""Climate problem?" Climate is largely product of nature, always has been and will be so for foreseeable future." The physics that makes nuclear power work is fine but the physics that drives our climate and makes gases like CO2 pivotal isn't?

    I'm inclined to think that you probably feel a bit the way our leading climate scientists feel - the facts, the physics, the evidence of past climate changes and the evidence of our current one, the best achievable modelling.... but people can be so freaking stupid, can't they, and dismiss and ignore what's clear and obvious? In any case where I live the continuing campaigning via tankthink, advertising, political donations and lobbying is doing a fine job of promoting the kind of view of the climate problem you appear to hold. By undermining public trust in our scientific institutions and the body of knowledge on climate, not by doing better science mind you. Perhaps the days of any inconvenient policy that's based on science and reason surviving the political process will be lost forever - the negative impacts of climate change will be put down to God, with prayer (plus a few more coal plants to run better air conditioning) the correct and best policy response. Not much chance of the logic and reason behind going nuclear being effective in that environment.

    Its disappointing knowing you aren't sincere about the need to shift away from fossil fuels - which is in line with your rants here... no practical, achievable goals beyond attacking the kinds of low emissions energy technologies you think are too expensive and too unnecessary (what climate problem?) and too stupid; your disdain and contempt has failed to persuade everyone and you have rejected the one kind of policy that would ultimately break down voter resistance to nuclear.

    It's mostly disappointing to know the ongoing nuclear versus renewables battle further entrenches fossil fuel use - and does so without advancing nuclear or renewables.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    If the issue is the reliability of the power source, the fact that nuclear power sources - unlike any other except a hydro dam - can vanish in minutes and be unrecoverable in our lifetimes, taking large fractions of existing baseload power as well as cities, farms, aquifers, river basins, and large tracts of otherwise habitable land with them,

    needs to be included.

    A reliability calculation should take into account not only the frequency of shortfalls, but their size and extent, no?
    Well, Iceaura, at least this time you included hydroelectricity in the problem, albeit reluctantly. Is this a sign that you are learning?

    As I said before, today's world is based on electricity from coal, gas, hydro and nuclear. Solar and wind are tiny contributors and will probably remain that way for many years, if not decades. This means that the options into the medium term future for those of us who live in the real world are coal, gas, hydro and nuclear. Coal kills vast numbers of people and emits enormous amounts of greenhouse gas. Naturtal gas is a limited resource, and an emitter of greenhouse gases. This means we should be eliminating coal power stations in the short term, and gas burning in the medium term.

    This leaves hydro and nuclear. Hydro kills vastly more people than nuclear (and the latest New Scientist mentions hydro lakes causing earthquakes. One such killed 80,000 people!), mainly through dam bursts. 200,000 in the Banqiao dam alone. Hydroelectricity also causes vastly more environmental damage through flooding. So, without relying on pie in the sky solar and wind, which may or may not develop as practical alternatives for large scale electricity generation, we are left with nuclear.

    As to frequency and extent of shortfalls of nuclear, we are left with almost just Chernobyl, which killed 4000 people by IAEA computer model, and led to a 100 km exclusion zone being created, which has rapidly become one of the most valuable wildlife sanctuaries in Europe. This is way better than coal, natural gas, or hydro. Way, way better.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Well, Iceaura, at least this time you included hydroelectricity in the problem, albeit reluctantly. Is this a sign that you are learning?
    It's more of a sign that you haven't been reading my posts with any comprehension - I've made that exact comparison, among many other mentions of hydro, several times.
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Solar and wind are tiny contributors and will probably remain that way for many years, if not decades. This means that the options into the medium term future for those of us who live in the real world are coal, gas, hydro and nuclear.
    Must we remind you once again that the topic is future investments, in particular future investments in solar power?

    Thermal solar is available in several formats right now, more quickly and easily built than any design of nuke, much safer, and considerably cheaper.
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    As to frequency and extent of shortfalls of nuclear, we are left with almost just Chernobyl, which killed 4000 people by IAEA computer model, and led to a 100 km exclusion zone being created,
    The fantasy world of the nuclear proponent is, we note, necessary for their argument. Without confining the casualties and damages of Chernobyl (and TMI, Fukushima, etc) to the IAEA accounted direct kills, without overlooking the dozens of "shortfalls" of nuclear power (less than a year after Fukushima!), without the continual denial of the weapons connection and the consequences of that threat now and continuing, without the goofy cost estimates per kwh long debunked and laughed at, they have no case.
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    Iceaura

    Much depends on how far into the future you are looking. In the short to medium term, solar cannot compete with nuclear on several levels. In the more distant future, (in excess of 30 years) we are urinating into the wind when we try to make predictions. Who knows? By then we might have cheap, safe, abundant nuclear fusion power. It is kind of futile predicting too far ahead. History shows that such predictions are usually wrong. Even ten years leads to major errors. Only the current situation can be determined with accuracy.

    Solar thermal power may become the standard, or it may slip further behind the more developed present day options. You do not know, and neither do I. If we are to look to the future, we really should stay short to medium term to keep at least a little bit realistic.

    On the link with nuclear weapons, you have not made a case. As I have pointed out, obtaining nuclear weapons happens when a government wants such weapons. Not because of the prior existence of nuclear power. Japan has had nuclear power for many years and does not have nuclear weapons. I have no doubt that the Japanese could develop nuclear weapons if they wanted to, but they choose not to.

    And no. You have not debunked the cost estimates. You simply keep making unfounded assertions. Opinion without data is worthless.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    In the short to medium term, solar cannot compete with nuclear on several levels.
    It's cheaper, safer, and quicker to build. How does it fail to compete?
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    On the link with nuclear weapons, you have not made a case. As I have pointed out, obtaining nuclear weapons happens when a government wants such weapons. Not because of the prior existence of nuclear power.
    This is not a case, but an observation - we have nuke power programs leading to weapons and threats of weapons, with full scale war among the consequences, in more than half a dozen countries. If for some reason you expect that to stop happening, you need to make the case.
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    And no. You have not debunked the cost estimates. You simply keep making unfounded assertions.
    I have provided you with many links, in the past, and calculations, and other evidence, including better cost estimates specifically. You continue to post that debunked bs in one thread after another, as with the IAEA Chernobyl casualty figures and so forth, because your entire argument falls apart otherwise.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Nuclear power can and does disappear completely and permanently in less than 20 minutes, taking entire cities and huge tracts of habitable landscape with it.

    Nuclear power plants are not nuclear bombs.
    So?

    If the issue is the reliability of the power source, the fact that nuclear power sources - unlike any other except a hydro dam - can vanish in minutes and be unrecoverable in our lifetimes, taking large fractions of existing baseload power as well as cities, farms, aquifers, river basins, and large tracts of otherwise habitable land with them,

    needs to be included.

    A reliability calculation should take into account not only the frequency of shortfalls, but their size and extent, no?
    Ok, so you mean it can spread toxins over those regions to make them uninhabitable, not that it's going to blow them all up. Of course, if a dam bursts, a similarly large area is likely to be flooded.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    It's mostly disappointing to know the ongoing nuclear versus renewables battle further entrenches fossil fuel use - and does so without advancing nuclear or renewables.
    Agreed. Nuclear and solar shouldn't be in competition. They really should pool resources and try to lobby together if they can. Nuclear can be the base load for solar!! (If it doesn't mind being the wing man.)

    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    As to frequency and extent of shortfalls of nuclear, we are left with almost just Chernobyl, which killed 4000 people by IAEA computer model, and led to a 100 km exclusion zone being created,
    The fantasy world of the nuclear proponent is, we note, necessary for their argument. Without confining the casualties and damages of Chernobyl (and TMI, Fukushima, etc) to the IAEA accounted direct kills, without overlooking the dozens of "shortfalls" of nuclear power (less than a year after Fukushima!), without the continual denial of the weapons connection and the consequences of that threat now and continuing, without the goofy cost estimates per kwh long debunked and laughed at, they have no case.
    Yeah. I highly doubt the casualty list for Chernobyl even approaches completeness. Healthcare in Ukraine isn't quite the same as it is in the USA, so it's unlikely we're going to get really good numbers about how many poison victims succumbed to complications further on down the road.

    As it stands, if you're planning to go on vacation there it is advised not to eat food that comes from local hunters. It's too likely to have isotopes in it.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    On the link with nuclear weapons, you have not made a case. As I have pointed out, obtaining nuclear weapons happens when a government wants such weapons. Not because of the prior existence of nuclear power. Japan has had nuclear power for many years and does not have nuclear weapons. I have no doubt that the Japanese could develop nuclear weapons if they wanted to, but they choose not to.
    Actually Japan is considered a defacto nuclear power.

    Japanese nuclear weapon program - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Quote Originally Posted by Wiki Japanese Nuclear Program
    De facto nuclear state

    While there are currently no known plans in Japan to produce nuclear weapons, it has been argued Japan has the technology, raw materials, and the capital to produce nuclear weapons within one year if necessary, and some analysts consider it a de facto nuclear state for this reason.[22] For this reason Japan is often said to be a "screwdriver's turn"[23][24] away from possessing nuclear weapons.
    Significant amounts of reactor-grade plutonium are created as a by-product of the nuclear energy industry, and Japan was reported in December 1995 to have 4.7 tons of plutonium, enough for around 700 nuclear warheads. Japan also possesses an indigenous uranium enrichment plant[25] which could hypothetically be used to make highly enriched uranium suitable for weapon use. Japan has also developed the M-V three-stage solid fuel rocket, similar in design to the U.S. LGM-118A Peacekeeper ICBM, which could serve as a delivery vehicle, and has experience in re-entry vehicle technology (OREX, HOPE-X).
    It has been pointed out that as long as Japan enjoys the benefits of a "nuclear-ready" status it will see no reason to actually produce nuclear arms, since by remaining below the threshold, albeit with the capability to cross it at short notice, Japan can expect the support of the US while posing as an equal to China and Russia
    The reason I was commenting earlier on the weaponize-ability of nuclear was not so much out of fear of proliferation, but to point out the near certainty that it receives (and has received in the past) military subsidies. It's not fair to leave those out when comparing it against its alternatives.


    If you wouldn't bring a knife to a gun fight,.... then what is the use in bringing a gun to a nuclear war?
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Actually Japan is considered a defacto nuclear power.

    .


    Based on your logic, so am I.
    It is theoretically possible to make a nuclear explosion by slamming together two subcritical masses by hand. A suicide trick, to be sure, and not one I would ever do. I am not insane!

    However, the fall of the Soviet Union involved some weapons grade fissionable material going missing. If it appeared on the international black market and I bought it, I could make such a weapon. Therefore, by your logic, I am as an individual, a defacto nuclear power.

    That is nonsense, of course. It is also nonsense to call Japan a nuclear weapons power, until and unless it actually makes nuclear weapons.

    On the casualty list for Chernobyl.
    The International Atomic Energy Agency, doubtless the world's foremost authority, created a computer model to predict total deaths from the Chernobyl accident, including all fatal outcomes, and came up with 4,000. Certainly there will be a significant error factor in that result, but insufficient to make nuclear energy anything but the safest of all the Big Four methods of generating electricity.

    Coal kills mainly by respiratory illness exacerbation. Probably a million or more each year.
    Natural gas kills mainly by gas explosions, including gas pipeline accidents. At least 10,000 fatalities to date.
    Hydroelectricity kills mainly by dam bursts. Hundreds of thousands to date.

    So, even if the Chernobyl fatalities exceed the IAEA estimate, it is still, almost certainly the safest of those four, which together generate over 97% of electricity globally.
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    Out of curiosity what are the death tolls for nuclear and hydro from the time nuclear became a viable energy source to the present?
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

    The needs of the many outweigh the need of the few - Spock of Vulcan & Sentinel Prime of Cybertron ---proof that "the needs" are in the eye of the beholder.
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    Paleo
    The only significant death toll from nuclear was Chernobyl, at 4,000 fatalities according to IAEA.

    Hydro - there have been a number of dam bursts in that time, including Banqiao. So, something above 200,000, and probably less than 500,000.
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    Kojax, you said - " Agreed. Nuclear and solar shouldn't be in competition. They really should pool resources and try to lobby together if they can. Nuclear can be the base load for solar!! (If it doesn't mind being the wing man.)"

    My own experience is that a great many proponents of nuclear are like Finger Prince for whom climate and emissions are not seen as a serious problem and are largely irrelevant to the big visionary ideas they find so compelling. Not all of course - Barry Brooks of bravenewclimate.com seems to be genuine about using nuclear as a solution to rising emissions - but for too many who frequent his site it's more about attacking environmentalism's more glaring blind spots whilst glossing over their own. Pointing to inadequacies and failings is inevitable and necessary but if the point is to abandon all efforts at emissions reductions rather than force those efforts onto more effective paths it's counterproductive.

    It's not enough to simply argue for nuclear on the basis of emissions and costs using logic and reason - nuclear has serious acceptance problems; dismissing that as misinformation and ignorance, especially in the scathing style of FP isn't good enough if the intent is to see it better accepted. Even the scale of the climate problem has failed to bring much gloss to nuclear because the well funded and coordinated efforts to undermine public acceptance of mainstream science on climate works equally to undermine nuclear as a solution.

    Policy deadlock isn't stasis, it's continuation and exacerbation of the problem and the lack of constraint on growing use of fossil fuels can make the climate problem much worse over a relatively short time - Australia, the world's no.1 coal exporter is poised to triple it's output over the next few years. The number of new mines in the pipeline is staggering in it's scale. That the full climate impacts of that will take decades to be felt and disguises their real extent and feeds the view that delay is our friend.
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    Ken

    You put your finger of the truth when you said politics rather than reason is the cause of the hiatus in nuclear power development. The coal thing is worrying also. I think that is primarily due to a glitch in international treaties on global warming. The 'blame' for carbon emissions from burning coal is loaded onto the country that burns it, leaving no 'blame' attached to the country that mines it. I think it should be the other way round. If Australia faced a trillion dollar carbon tax for mining coal, it would leave the stuff in the ground.

    My own view is simple. There are four main methods of generating electricity. Plus a bunch of minor ways. The minor ways are minor because of real practical and economic drawbacks, and we cannot rely on them. Of the four main methods, only nuclear combines low emissions, low risk, and low cost.

    Maybe some day we can use thermal solar, or offshore wind, or some other technique. But that is pie in the sky. Right now, the obvious candidate for serious expansion is nuclear.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post
    Out of curiosity what are the death tolls for nuclear and hydro from the time nuclear became a viable energy source to the present?
    According to this web site
    Lifetime deaths per TWH from energy sources
    the number of deaths attributed to nuclear is 104 (not counting future deaths attributed to Chernobyl)

    Taking an estimate of deaths over 80 years, their projection is 15,000 nuclear deaths versus 195,000 hydro deaths. The hydro deaths include 171,000 due to Banqiao dam failure.
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    According to this web site
    Lifetime deaths per TWH from energy sources
    the number of deaths attributed to nuclear is 104 (not counting future deaths attributed to Chernobyl)
    And not counting the Iraq war, the current Iranian difficulties, the effects of low level radiation on anything other than cancer, the various related infrastructures, and so forth.

    And not counting risk.
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    You put your finger of the truth when you said politics rather than reason is the cause of the hiatus in nuclear power development. - - - - - The minor ways are minor because of real practical and economic drawbacks - -
    From a single post, consecutive paragraphs.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Of the four main methods, only nuclear combines low emissions, low risk, and low cost
    The most expensive, highest risk form of power production yet invented is the nuclear power plant - the risk is what drives the expense, of course, but there it is: spend hundreds of billions on extra overhead for at least some semblance of safety, and the costs start to balloon. The taxpayer will pick up a lot of the tab, as in Japan right now, but that doesn't shrink it much.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    Define, please, "a good water source". THE LARGEST NUCLEAR GENERATING FACILITY IN THE NATION IS IN THE FREAKING DESERT, as Prince has pointed out above, rather tiresomely by now. You are answering your own question above regarding hydropower's suitability for peak generating needs- baseload is for demands which are predictable and relatively constant. Also water may not be available during drought, a perennial condition in the desert which dictates conservation, not profligate use 24 hours which is what is required for "baseload".
    No reason we can't put pumps in the dam to pump water back upstream as long as there's enough sunlight *sometimes* to power those pumps. A hyro-electric dam can serve as pumped storage in every sense, not just some senses. I think it's best use is as a battery.

    What you would need for there to be a problem is both a shortage of water, and a shortage of sunlight to happen in the same area at the same time.


    Regardless of magnitude of transmission losses, it makes sense to minimize same, do you not agree?
    Efficiency doesn't matter as much when the energy is free. What are you wasting? Sunlight? I certainly hope we don't run out!! But, if we use it inefficiently we'll need more solar panels.

    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by prince
    Nuclear electricity is STABLE for base loads, whereas demand fluctuates. Fluctuating supply from silly inadequate wind and solar, both predictably unpredictable, adds gratuitous complication and stress to system
    Nuclear power can and does disappear completely and permanently in less than 20 minutes, taking entire cities and huge tracts of habitable landscape with it.
    Nuclear power plants are not nuclear bombs. The Uranium, enriched to about 10x (or maybe it's 5x? I can't remember for sure the amount) the normal content of U235, could scarcely be used to make a nuclear explosion even if a very deliberate effort were made to cause one.

    The only reason Chernobyl even blew up at all is because an excessive temperature was reached inside the reactor, and that was just a pressure explosion. It wasn't a nuclear mushroom cloud. (And the high temperature is because they used graphite as the moderator, which has the same melting point as diamond. Water is a lot safer that way.)
    True enough, but as Prince has pointed out, dams are not conveniently located to many population centers, which tend to be located in coastal lowlands, frequently in latitudes with low insolation, eg, London. Efficiency does matter even if energy is "free", means to make it useful are not. Solar will require vast areas of collection surface in any case to collect flaky, unreliable, low quality power. There are reactor designs operating today which use unenriched uranium, and no unmodified RBMK reactors exist anymore, nor will any be built after example of Chernobyl, so mentioning this incident as a cause to abandon nuclear power is a red herring, and completely ignorant OR decptive tactic. Graphite is combustible, as British found out at Windscale decades earlier than Chernobyl incident.

    And ice, in RESPONSE TO YOUR QUESTION regarding "reliability" nuclear has higher capacity factor for decades so far, as witness:
    Capacity factor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Regarding climate science, look at track record of Ice Ages and interglacials before industrialization and tell me what drove them? Freaking NATURE? Prince rests his case. Maybe Prince does more "thinking" than "feeling about issues and THAT is why we differ so much in opinion, Ken Fabos. Good science is not a matter of PR campaigns and "feelings" but about EVIDENCE. Skeptic has made the point better than anyone so far, and numerous times.
    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
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