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Thread: Wind and solar

  1. #1 Wind and solar 
    Forum Cosmic Wizard icewendigo's Avatar
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    How does wind power compare with solar these days?Are there wind turbine designs that minimize bird and bat being swatted?If you were president of an island where people dont want to import any gas/oil/coal nor any uranium, and had a budget that would enable you to put solar panels on each house and each office building, would you take part of this budget to install a certain percentage of wind power for night time power? I guess a mix of both would be better than all one or the other?


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    It's not so much the turbine design but the placement and design of the windfarm itself that affects birds. And remember, far more birds are killed in collisions with buildings than could ever be killed by turbines. I remember reading (but didn't save) a reference to altering turbine operation in bat flight areas. Basically a sound or vibration signal that would warn bats to avoid without increasing operation noise and affecting people nearby.

    If I had an island to run, I'd look at offshore wind. Much more consistent and there are some nifty new designs allowing the turbine to move in way that funnels the wind for optimum production. Tidal might be an option if it's placed in conditions anything like some of those islands off Scotland.

    As for intermittency. I'd get my very best diplomat / marketing person to go around the various firms producing or developing storage technology and offer them a mutually beneficial deal.


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    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    If I have an island why would I not also use wave and perhaps tidal power?
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    If I have an island why would I not also use wave and perhaps tidal power?
    Waves are bigger near shallow beach (but island has little beach), and tidal is greater near a gulf (or depend on surrounding terrain/continent, but island is at open sea). Putting a wave generator on open sea would yeild no power (won't work for conventional technique), and water only rise slightly on an island: you couldn't even collect enough seawater to make a hydroelectric-dam (for tidal).
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    Wave power is undeveloped. Current technology is not yet suited to long term power generation. A number of wave power pilot plants have been utterly destroyed by the occasional rare storm. Tidal power is practical only in rare situations where tidal currents are suitable.

    Wind and solar are still more expensive than alternatives and suffer the drawback of being intermittent. As the wind blows harder or less hard, the power generated goes up and down also, which is not really very good. Solar power is still much, much more expensive than conventional methods, and of course, the sun does not shine at night. Storing energy from when the sun does shine is always wasteful, and a lot of energy is lost.

    It is likely than wind, sun, wave and tidal power will become more useful and less expensive with more development, but will never supply more than (say) 20% of need globally, due to their variability.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Solar power is still much, much more expensive than conventional methods, - - - - . Storing energy from when the sun does shine is always wasteful, and a lot of energy is lost.
    This repeated assertion of yours has been debunked with many links, evidence, argument, etc. in several threads and over many months now.

    If you continue to fail, as in the past, to back it up with evidence or argument, repeated posting of it is trolling.
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    Iceaura

    I have repeatedly posted data on the cost of solar power. You choose not to believe it, but that is your problem.

    As far as loss of energy with storage...
    Ever hear of the laws of thermodynamics?
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    If you want some more data on solar pricing, here's a good overview below. Two things worth noting that I at least hadn't really thought through clearly.

    One is the comparison price - do we compare new solar PV installation with the price exisitng companies use for their established, read old, fully amortized, facilities or compare with the price of power from newer facilities. The second point is raised in the comments rather than the article. What about the costs of the grid itself. Introducing point-of-use solar PV means that existing infrastructure will last a bit longer - whereas as CSP or other large-scale generation will require new additions and control capacities to the distribution network.
    Solar Grid Parity 101: How the Cross-Over Occurs | ThinkProgress
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by msafwan View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    If I have an island why would I not also use wave and perhaps tidal power?
    Waves are bigger near shallow beach (but island has little beach), and tidal is greater near a gulf (or depend on surrounding terrain/continent, but island is at open sea). Putting a wave generator on open sea would yeild no power (won't work for conventional technique), and water only rise slightly on an island: you couldn't even collect enough seawater to make a hydroelectric-dam (for tidal).

    I often wonder why we don't just create artificial mini-gulfs. If I get a chance to go beach combing any time soon I could take pictures to show what I mean. I know of at least two locations on the Oregon coast where there are natural nearly - circular tide pools maybe a hundred feet in diameter, where the water level rises and falls (or at least swirls a bit) with each wave coming in. I can only imagine how much energy either of them would generate if someone were to harness them. One of them requires quite a lot of hiking in order to visit, so chances are I won't get to it.

    Also there's Depoe Bay, which is a very small bay surrounded by solid rock. It has impressive tidal activity as well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I have repeatedly posted data on the cost of solar power.
    No, you have 1) repeatedly posted two alternating assertions (taken from two not conflicting but rather misunderstood links) - 21 cents and 31 cents @kwh - of the cost of solar power, several times after having them both debunked. And the debunking was not subtle, or difficult to comprehend - for starters, there is simply no such thing as a single number reflecting the "cost of solar power" as you assert.

    and 2) posted similarly self-evident nonsense regarding the cost of nuclear power, in which you have not only claimed a single number for "nuclear power" cost (12 cents @kwh) but explicitly omitted risk premiums and cleanup and waste handling and security costs and unfunded deficit accumulation and medical effects and several other major costs.

    Quote Originally Posted by adelady
    One is the comparison price - - - - What about the costs of the grid itself. Introducing point-of-use solar PV means that existing infrastructure will last a bit longer - whereas as CSP or other large-scale generation will require new additions and control capacities to the distribution network.
    Widespread point of use PV will require point of use control capacities as well as grid modifications of its own, and involve distribution inefficiencies of maintenance as well as installation, storage, etc.

    The comparison from the large society investment pov is between total initial outlays and maintenance streams of the various approaches, per kwh of delivered power. This will be site and landscape specific - and also society specific, in that the arrangements for paying these costs will vary by society and affect the total sum.

    The US, for example, will have a difficult time realizing the medical cost benefits of phasing out coal plants, because they're not paid for out of the same accounts and no mechanism exists for coordinating them.
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  12. #11  
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    Iceaura

    You have not 'debunked' the figures I posted. You have tried to argue them away. But they are figures carefully calculated by experts, who know a damn sight more on the topic than you or I. I have even gone to the stage of posting a separate reference on nuclear power costs that breaks it all down to the various components, which add up to about 12 cents per kwh in total.

    Sorry, iceaura, but your wishful thinking does not change reality, or make thermal solar energy cheap, when it is, in fact, very costly.

    I agree with you on the health costs of coal power, and the environmental costs of burning coal. But the solid data does not show that dumping nuclear is a good idea. In fact, the solid data shows that nuclear should be the supplier of most of the power in any country lacking good hydroelectric and geothermal resources. The French show what can be accomplished, with more than 70 nuclear power plants, and not one significant accident ever.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    You have not 'debunked' the figures I posted. You have tried to argue them away. But they are figures carefully calculated by experts, who know a damn sight more on the topic than you or I.
    There is no such thing as a single number that tells us "the cost of solar power" or "the cost of nuclear power". That's for starters.

    If there were such a single number, it would not be both 21 and 31. Seconders.

    Your number calculators, experts all no doubt, made their nonsense comprehensible as to origin, by explicitly ignoring major costs of nuclear power and by somehow concluding that "the cost" of PV solar was lower than "the cost" of thermal solar, among other absurdities.

    But you continue to post them, argue from them, etc. That interferes with useful discussion of wind and solar power, to no purpose, but no one can stop you. Have at 'er.
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    Iceaura

    You are constantly wrong. I am sorry, but you are in error.

    First, the numbers. As I have said before, they are averages. If I report that nuclear generated electricity costs 12 cents per kwh, which it does, then that is an average over many power stations. There is a variation. I am not sure what it is, since my reference did not state. To illustrate the point, we may have some plants which generate at a cost of 9 cents per kwh, and others at 15. Average 12.

    Second : the 12 cents covers everything. I posted a second reference, which you appear not to have bothered reading, which broke down the 12 cents into the many components, from cost of fuel, cost of building and commissioning the plant, right through to cost of decommissioning. The average and overall cost is 12 cents per kilowatt hour.

    Where you may have failed to note is in the life of a nuclear power plant. This may be 40 years. In that time, the running costs will be about 2 cents per kwh. The commissioning/decommissioning costs dominate overall costs, but the running costs are so low that the overall cost over 40 years is just 12 cents.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    First, the numbers. As I have said before, they are averages. If I report that nuclear generated electricity costs 12 cents per kwh, which it does, then that is an average over many power stations. There is a variation. I am not sure what it is, since my reference did not state. To illustrate the point, we may have some plants which generate at a cost of 9 cents per kwh, and others at 15. Average 12.
    Hence useless and meaningless - we are not planning to build a copy of the managerie of nukes and CSPs we have now, and average them.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Second : the 12 cents covers everything. I posted a second reference, which you appear not to have bothered reading, which broke down the 12 cents into the many components, from cost of fuel, cost of building and commissioning the plant, right through to cost of decommissioning
    I read it and posted a list of the problems with it. It did not cover everything. The cost of decommissioning was not covered, the costs of accidents were not covered, the cost of war and security was not covered, the risk premium and other government subsidy was not covered, waste disposal was not covered, and so forth.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    The average and overall cost is 12 cents per kilowatt hour.
    We are not planning to build an average of past nukes, especially we would not be basing any relevant cost estimate on an average of past nukes not paid for yet. That would be so even if the average were competently calculated.

    But since this thread is about wind and solar, the 21 and 31 cent @ kwh alternating estimates for "thermal solar power" would be more the focus: The high end one was the current running cost of one plant, Andasol in Spain. The lower one was apparently gibberish, some kind of average that doesn't even account for status or scale or storage.

    So we can't really use either one for much - they give us very little idea of what costs we in the US face in choosing to put our energy investment money into this or that type of thermal solar plant rather than one of the available alternatives.
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    Iceaura

    As you said, future costs will not be the same as past costs. The fact that nuclear up to now costs 12 cents per kwh does not mean that future nuclear power will cost the same. Going by trends in technology in general, it should cost less.

    There are a number of new trends in design of nuclear power stations, which would reduce cost, increase lifespan, and reduce risk. Nothing weird about that. Technologies keep improving.

    Of course, solar will do the same. The current high costs will come down, and future systems will cost less. I look forward to that. When thermal solar can produce electricity for 12 cents per kwh or less, it will become a much more important source of energy. We are not there yet, though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    The fact that nuclear up to now costs 12 cents per kwh does not mean that future nuclear power will cost the same. Going by trends in technology in general, it should cost less.
    The highest estimate I ever ran across for nuke power was 52 cents @ kwh for US and Canadian new build in a decent location, projected lifespan averaged. That was also one of the few estimates I've seen attempt a complete accounting (estimating the eventual waste disposal costs, decommissioning costs, etc).

    As the deferred bills for the nuke mess come due, the calculated averages should rise rather than fall.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    When thermal solar can produce electricity for 12 cents per kwh or less, it will become a much more important source of energy. We are not there yet, though.
    I linked you to sites for a couple of currently operating thermal solar plants that claimed to be delivering power for around 6 cents @ kwh. You never said what you thought was wrong with their claims.
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    6 cents per kwh for thermal solar?

    Frankly I don't believe it. If that was possible, the whole world would now be building thermal solar plants. The people or organisations that build electricity generating plants are highly, highly, highly motivated by money. This cannot be emphasized enough. If they could generate power for 6 cents per kwh they would be doing it, big time.

    As I said before, 97.5% of the world's electricity generation comes from burning coal, or natural gas, or hydroelectricity, or nuclear. Thermal solar is less than 0.1%. Wind is number 4 at about 1.5%. Even geothermal is much more important than thermal solar. Even tidal power. This would most definitely not be the case if thermal solar cost 6 cents per kwh. So I do not believe it.

    It is not hard to fudge the figures to come up with something as attractive as 6 cents. I could do that with nuclear, which has a running cost of less than 2 cents per kwh. But that would be dishonest, which is something I am not. So I quote the total figure, including all costs, which is 12 cents - more expensive than natural gas, coal or hydro. At least in dollar terms.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    6 cents per kwh for thermal solar?

    Frankly I don't believe it. If that was possible, the whole world would now be building thermal solar plants.
    You posted something you described as an "average" solar power cost of 21. You also posted the Andasol reference of 31. Andasol is not the most expensive solar plant, btu it will do - so to get an average of 21, we would need something around 10 or 11 to get the arithmetic in your post to match your analysis of the 12 cent nukes.

    Just imitating your approach, there.

    So you know there are solar plants out there under 12 - and with solar, there isn't much in the hidden or deferred cost line, no security military or piles of hazardous waste on the riverbanks. What you paid is all you will pay.

    I think there are almost certainly omitted factors - like DC transmission lines, or auxiliary salt melting tanks for night power - that would boost the total cost over 6 in major power plant investment books. But under 12? That's well within reach, several ways.
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    This dandy program from Britain ought to be developed for every country.

    Despite the very misleading headline, the article gives a really good overview of the planning tool. UK switch to low-carbon energy will cost 5,000 per person a year | Environment | The Guardian

    The planner itself is at Create your pathway - Department of Energy and Climate Change

    Fun to play with even if you're not in Britain.
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