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Thread: Solar Energy Revolution On The Backburner

  1. #1 Solar Energy Revolution On The Backburner 
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    I fail to understand each day why humanity has waited to punce on one of the greatest opportunities of our time. The suns energy blankets the earth and most of it goes to waste. Air Pollution would not exist with the exception of small amounts.

    Humanity could really use this as a means to provide itself with infinite energy
    without any emissions. That something has been around for a while now but has
    yet to really catch on. I recently installed them in my own home well I had them
    professionally installed but I wish I had done it myself. I am trying to spread
    awareness about this because living entirely off the grid is amazing.
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    Solar energy really is 100% free forever after you buy panels of course the
    initial cost is really the only drawback to it.

    I really hope that
    humanity will not continue to ignore the vast amounts of energy that blanket the
    earth each day to do so would be foolish. I have recently seen some very good
    news that more nations are adapting solar lights and even small public
    transportation ferries. Cars could be 100% electric and charged instead of
    fueled. I hope someone will see this and investigate the concept further for it
    truly is amazing to be self suffecient entirely.

    Why do you think humanity has yet to make the transformation to a solar powered society?


    Last edited by Harold14370; April 5th, 2012 at 05:13 AM.
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    Why do you think humanity has yet to make the transformation to a solar powered society?
    Insufficient ability to transport it to cloudy and high latitude places from reliable solar locations, lack of effective mass electrical storage, and manipulation of fossil fuel markets by producers and the industry to nip most solar initiatives dead before they get going.


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    The basic problem is that it's not already built, therefore it's all but impossible.

    Too much sunken cost in everything else needing to be paid off, the necessity of competent governmental control including massive investment up front to the detrimant of very powerful existing interests, and the scale of the unified political entity required in temperate zones (the US is no longer capable of building its interstate highway system, either, should it disappear overnight).

    Some place like China (tens of billions committed on solar panels alone, thermal more likely in the near future as domestic markets take over) or Mexico (if it ever has a competent government) will be the first.
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    The answer is very, very simple.

    It is all about $$$$. Solar panels are still too bloody expensive!

    As soon as solar panels become cheap enough to provide electricity at a lower cost than other sources, they will spring up everywhere. While they are too expensive, they will be limited and supply niche markets only.
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    I agree...though they'd probably be more capatitive by comparison if fossil fuel actual cost to include hiden subsidize, enormous military budgets to protect oil interest and environmental effects were included.

    And even if free we couldn't use them for much more than 20% of our needs until storage is solved and inferstructure is built to transport it across continents.
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  7. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    The basic problem is that it's not already built, therefore it's all but impossible.

    Too much sunken cost in everything else needing to be paid off, the necessity of competent governmental control including massive investment up front to the detrimant of very powerful existing interests, and the scale of the unified political entity required in temperate zones (the US is no longer capable of building its interstate highway system, either, should it disappear overnight).

    .
    Yeah. Sunken costs also include people who have paid too much for coal-rich real estate. If people stop burning coal, the land value of their holdings will plummet and they're out all that money. Same situation as all those home owners who bought during the high point of the housing bubble.

    All around, people who'v sunk money into the old tech want the status quo to continue until they can finish paying of the mortgage, but nobody's having the common sense to try and prevent current investors from making the same mistake and sinking more money into it. The problem is just going to perpetuate.

    Perhaps an "investment in old tech" tax may be the way to go. Hard as it is to convince people that sometimes investment (in the wrong thing) can be bad for the economy.
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    The answer is very, very simple.

    It is all about $$$$. Solar panels are still too bloody expensive!

    As soon as solar panels become cheap enough to provide electricity at a lower cost than other sources, they will spring up everywhere. While they are too expensive, they will be limited and supply niche markets only.
    The great catch 22 of our time. If they don't first become cheap, they'll never reach sufficient mass production to become cheap.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ProfessorX View Post
    Solar energy really is 100% free forever after you buy panels of course the
    initial cost is really the only drawback to it.
    There are a few other drawbacks as well. The cost of disposal of worn out or obsolete solar panels, the generation of toxic waste in the manufacturing process, the unsightly clutter of solar panels on rooftops, the accidents which occur during installation of solar panels, and the biggest drawback is the intermittent nature of the power generated.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    The great catch 22 of our time. If they don't first become cheap, they'll never reach sufficient mass production to become cheap.
    Not really.
    There is enough demand for solar cells for niche applications already. They are in large scale manufacture today. The cost problems are not due to small scales. They are due to insufficiently mature technology. It will happen in time.
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    [QUOTE=Why do you think humanity has yet to make the transformation to a solar powered society?[/QUOTE]

    Technically speaking it's all solar power, always was - Oil, Coal and Gas are all fossil products of sunlight captured by plants long ago.
    Modern solar cells just cut out the 'middleman' and go straight to the source. At present domestic solar cells are about 40% efficient. Hopefully in the future, this figure can be improved to the far higher efficiency panels used in space projects. New materials like Graphene may lead to cheaper more efficient units.

    I would argue that the only truly non-solar power generated at the moment is from nuclear powerstations that use fission as oppsed to our sun which is powered by fusion. Fossil fuels remain in use as they are at present, cheaper to turn into energy [ however inefficient ]. Again break throughs in new materials like room temperature superconductors might tip this balance.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tszy View Post
    I would argue that the only truly non-solar power generated at the moment is from nuclear powerstations that use fission as oppsed to our sun which is powered by fusion.
    True. Although it could be argued that as all the elements heavier than helium (apart from a tiny amount of lithium) were created in supernovae, even that is "solar" power

    "We are stardust, we are golden ..."
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    The great catch 22 of our time. If they don't first become cheap, they'll never reach sufficient mass production to become cheap.
    Not really.
    There is enough demand for solar cells for niche applications already. They are in large scale manufacture today. The cost problems are not due to small scales. They are due to insufficiently mature technology. It will happen in time.
    I often get into these discussions with Porsche owners, over whether a Porsche can really count as "hand made" if it still comes off an assembly line. You have to not look at economy of scale as an "if or not" question. Is there an assembly line or not? That tells us very little because not all assembly lines are as automated, or as efficient as all others.

    Typically, however, the larger the scale, the more efficient the assembly line. If nothing else, the ability of the manufacturer to buy raw materials in larger quantities at once, with more frequent purchases determines a lot about how those resources will be acquired and shipped, and what price the shipper will be willing to give.
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    Solar panels, PV stuff, are probably a side issue, niche market tech - it's kind of strange that so many discussions of solar power emphasize them. Thermal solar, in various forms, is much more likely for large scale centralized power production.

    Again, though, probably not the US - we're committed elsewhere.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Solar panels, PV stuff, are probably a side issue, niche market tech - it's kind of strange that so many discussions of solar power emphasize them. Thermal solar, in various forms, is much more likely for large scale centralized power production.

    Again, though, probably not the US - we're committed elsewhere.
    Mostly because PV are everywhere already, from solar trickle chargers on cars, calculators, light poles and construction signs. That they last 30+ years, are plug and play and portable and work even on bright cloudy days (which concentrated solar can't) adds to its allure. PV prices are still dropping dramatically as well.
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    Solar cells are still an improving technology and there are few investors who want to lay down hard cash for a product that could drastically improve in a year. As the posts above mentioned, the capacity for absorbing sunlight is currently limited at under 50%, but steadily improving. Nanomaterials among other things will hopefully spur the solar revolution, unfortunately the time for the solar revolution has not yet occurred.

    Plus, there are other issues with going all electric. For one, electricity is great for powering houses. However, it's not nearly as useful for powering cars. Cars running off electricity simply cannot compare in terms of power and range with cars running off gas -unless you're interested in dropping roughly $100k for a tesla roadster. Plus, the battery packs for these cars are expensive and not environmentally friendly. By switching to all electric cars with our current technology, you would not be doing the environment or your wallet a favor.

    At this point, solar is not a feasible option. The future may hold the answer, but we currently are just not ready for it. There's a lot of gaps left, which will be solved by time, research, and hard work.
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    Well, there has been improvement in battery technology too... For example it was recently announced IBM has developed a solid metal battery that run on (breathing) oxygen, and also there might be other less publicized article about improving battery or new concept for battery, and we can't read them all (ie: there's also a concept of battery made using graphene layer sandwiched with water).

    Its not just solar that appear in headline constantly with increase in efficiency, there's also battery technology and energy storage technology experiencing improvement (eg: molecular catalyzer which reduce energy requirement for electrolysis allowing cheaper production of hydrogen), and also there exist a clear political pressure for switching to solar energy (eg: power utility willing to pay to people who produce electricity using solar panel).

    Solar is possible.
    Last edited by msafwan; April 29th, 2012 at 03:05 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by msafwan View Post
    Well, there has been improvement in battery technology too... For example it was recently announced IBM has developed a solid metal battery that run on (breathing) oxygen, and also there might be other less publicized article about improving battery or new concept for battery, and we can't read them all (ie: there's also a concept of battery made using graphene layer sandwiched with water).

    Its not just solar that appear in headline constantly with increase in efficiency, there's also battery technology and energy storage technology experiencing improvement (eg: molecular catalyzer which reduce energy requirement for electrolysis allowing cheaper production of hydrogen), and also there exist a clear political pressure for switching to solar energy (eg: power utility willing to pay to people who produce electricity using solar panel).

    Solar is possible.


    Solar is more than possible.

    Solar power is already 100% powering, many American homes, at this moment.



    (The facts are), many Americans already get 100% of their needed power, from solar and wind systems, in their own backyards. They even have extra energy, that they sell back to the power companies. And certain solar power systems are not as expensive, as people think they are.

    These personal solar power systems, also (become) much cheaper, than using the coal powered grid (after the coal plants, raise your monthly bill). These bill increases are the reason, so many Americans get 100% of their power, from personal (home) solar/wind power systems. And for these bill increase victims, solar power is much cheaper, than the coal powered grid.

    Coal power plant (think tank) workers, have to be giving these people, their negative views about solar power.
    How else could one be against (current) solar power, with these (present day) above stated facts??




    Also our present day, home solar power systems, are old technology.



    The following youtube link, is around 2 minutes long, and it shows a (new) inexpensive solar power system.

    A Solar Cell 1000 Times More Powerful - YouTube



    This youtube link is around 3 minutes long, and shows a new solar system, powering a stirling engine.

    European Solar Powered Stirling 10 Kilowatt Generator - YouTube







    I think that its ironic, that all of our human technology, will lead us back to getting energy from the sun.
    And also getting energy, from the temperature difference, that happens in different depths of soil and water.


    And this is even happening with space travel. Perhaps the fastest moving space craft in our near future, will be powered by a solar sail.
    Last edited by chad; July 6th, 2012 at 04:27 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by chad View Post
    Solar power is already 100% powering, many American homes, at this moment.



    (The facts are), many Americans already get 100% of their needed power, from solar and wind systems, in their own backyards.
    I doubt this very highly. Please supply some supporting evidence for these statements.
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    German Solar Subsidies to Remain High with Consumers Paying the Price - SPIEGEL ONLINE

    Photovoltaics are threatening to become the costliest mistake in the history of German energy policy. Photovoltaic power plant operators and homeowners with solar panels on their rooftops are expected to pocket around €9 billion ($11.3 billion) this year, yet they contribute barely 4 percent of the country's power supply, and only erratically at that.
    When night falls, all solar modules go offline in one fell swoop; in the winter, they barely generate power during the daytime. During the summer, meanwhile, they sometimes generate too much power around midday, without enough storage capacity to capture it all. The distribution network is also not laid out in a way that would allow the country's thousands of owners of photovoltaic arrays -- a term used to denote an installation of several panels working together -- to feed into the grid as well as draw power from it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by chad View Post
    Solar power is already 100% powering, many American homes, at this moment.



    (The facts are), many Americans already get 100% of their needed power, from solar and wind systems, in their own backyards.
    I doubt this very highly. Please supply some supporting evidence for these statements.


    The following youtube link, was originally broadcasted by Fox news. It shows a house getting 100% of its power, from a solar power system. The link is 1 minute and 35 seconds long.


    A Secret Method For Getting Free Power for Your House - YouTube



    Chad.
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    Chad, I will accept that Fox news is a highly reliable news source. But are you really citing a Youtube video as evidence?
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    Regardless of what some people think of solar's efficiency as a power source, in the right circumstances it's one of the best financial investments you can make. My recent power bill - autumn and winter sunlight period - had a solar feed-in credit for over $100 on it. That's likely to be the minimum amount I can expect from any quarterly billing period. Our minimum annual return on solar investment has to be between $400 - $500 per annum, probably a bit more in a typical Adelaide summer. (The last one was very cool, wet, cloudy and rainy by our standards.)

    The initial outlay was around $3000 so that's 13+% minimum guaranteed return. Forever.

    You may not be able to get such a good deal / cheap price (they were desperate to sell at the time we bought). But any financial investment with a written in stone, permanent, never ever reduced return of more than 4 or 5% each and every year has to be worth a look. (It's certainly a lot better than superannuation has done for the last few years.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by chad View Post
    Solar power is already 100% powering, many American homes, at this moment.
    Your "many" is a few hundred.
    I know a few of these people. And those doing this for the most part are getting by on a fraction of the available energy of typical consumers, augmenting their system with propane frigs, stoves, dryers, etc to avoid the big using appliances, and paying the equivalent of double to triple for the electrical power they are getting over the lifetimes of their systems in battery replacement if off the grid. Those selling back aren't 100% powering, because they are drawing when the sun is down.


    How else could one be against (current) solar power, with these (present day) above stated facts??
    Because your "facts" are wrong, shallow, and ignore many practical realities.

    --
    Sorry neither Faux News or Youtube are reliable sources unless connected to an unbiased credible agency. The Israeli News story is neat, but lets not forget the relatively small geography area where concentrated power is practical--in the US it would work only in the desert SW for example.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Chad, I will accept that Fox news is a highly reliable news source. But are you really citing a Youtube video as evidence?


    What kinds of sources, should be used as reliable sources?


    Since I am new to this forum, could you please tell me the kinds of sources, I should list as evidence in forum threads.


    Thank you,
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by chad View Post
    Solar power is already 100% powering, many American homes, at this moment.
    Your "many" is a few hundred.
    I know a few of these people. And those doing this for the most part are getting by on a fraction of the available energy of typical consumers, augmenting their system with propane frigs, stoves, dryers, etc to avoid the big using appliances, and paying the equivalent of double to triple for the electrical power they are getting over the lifetimes of their systems in battery replacement if off the grid. Those selling back aren't 100% powering, because they are drawing when the sun is down.


    How else could one be against (current) solar power, with these (present day) above stated facts??
    Because your "facts" are wrong, shallow, and ignore many practical realities.

    --
    Sorry neither Faux News or Youtube are reliable sources unless connected to an unbiased credible agency. The Israeli News story is neat, but lets not forget the relatively small geography area where concentrated power is practical--in the US it would work only in the desert SW for example.





    You said "I know a few of these people. And those doing this for the most part...."

    You are listing (yourself) as a source with this statement.
    By your own logic, you are saying this forum can use (you) as a trusted source, but youtube videos made by (solar experts) can not be used as sources.

    What makes (your) personal solar energy statements, to be a trusted source, and (solar expert's) in youtube video links, to be a non-trusted source?



    2.) Then you list yourself as a source again.




    But the incredible thing is, Professor David Fairman (a solar energy researcher) is the person that is speaking, in that youtube video.
    And you are telling this forum, to trust (you) more than Professor David Fairman.

    What solar energy research qualifications, do (you) have, that make (you) a more trusted source, than Professor David Fairman, in matters of solar energy?
    Last edited by chad; July 10th, 2012 at 08:21 PM.
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    Chad, did you actually watch the video? It was remarkably fact-free. What we did learn was:
    The operations manager of the company that installed was sure solar is the future.
    The homeowner could afford it because the utility company paid for 60 percent of the cost.
    It was cloudy at the time, but it doesn't matter because when the sun comes out, THAT'S ALL SHE NEEDS to power her house. Wow. What does she do the rest of the day? I'll tell you what, she gets her power from the grid.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Chad, I will accept that Fox news is a highly reliable news source. But are you really citing a Youtube video as evidence?


    There are actually rules and traditions, in science.

    When a scientific group is presented with a group of sources, all of the sources are (fully) looked at. Certain sources are then omitted and dis-missed. Our traditions of science omit and dis-credit sources, that are a conflict of interests or sources that lie ex. ex.



    You stated in this forum, that (you) highly trust Fox news as a source. But let us look at the credibility of Fox news, using the traditions of science.


    Fox news has a reputation for lying to its viewers. (This is the kind of source, that would be omitted and dis-missed, in a real scientific group.)



    For example,

    The following are a few of the lies, Fox news tells its listeners.

    1.) Fox news states "tax cuts increase government revenues", (but all respected economists, within the economic community, state that this is un-true and a lie.)
    2.) Fox news states "global warming is not happening", (But 97% of all climate scientists state "global warming is happening", this is another untrue statement and lie that Fox news states.)


    Also many experts (like college professors) state, "Fox news is a form of propaganda."


    Any real scientific group, would omit and dis-miss Fox news as a trusted source. Fox news would be omitted and dis-missed as a source, because they clearly lie, and many highly educated experts consider them to be a form of (propaganda).







    In your above post, you have tried to omit and dis-miss, my youtube listed sources.

    But I (personally) currently trust these youtube sources. But I am fully open, to any (scientific) oriented dis-crediting of those sourcers.




    Can you dis-credit my (2) above posted youtube link sources, by using the traditions of science?

    Can you connect my (2) sources, to any behavior, that would cause a real scientific group, to omit and dis-miss them as sources?



    (Can you dis-credit my youtube sources, following the traditions of science?)



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    Chad, why do you insist on turning every thread you post in to a political rant?

    As I moderator, I STRONGLY suggest you stop this practice, as it will not be tolerated forever. Now I have to go through this to remove all of your rant to a thread in politics. We're getting tired of the extra effort.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Chad, did you actually watch the video? It was remarkably fact-free. What we did learn was:
    The operations manager of the company that installed was sure solar is the future.
    The homeowner could afford it because the utility company paid for 60 percent of the cost.
    It was cloudy at the time, but it doesn't matter because when the sun comes out, THAT'S ALL SHE NEEDS to power her house. Wow. What does she do the rest of the day? I'll tell you what, she gets her power from the grid.


    Solar power systems like hers, use the suns energy to charge batteries.

    There will be a very large battery bank, (in) or around her house.


    When the sun is fully covered by clouds, or when its night time, the batteries supply electricity to the house.






    You stated " I'll tell you what, she gets her power from the grid."

    What is your evidence, for the above statement?



    How are you able to conclude, that she does (not) have a huge battery bank?
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    Quote Originally Posted by chad View Post
    Do you think your above statements, fit within the rules and traditions of science?

    Let us look at my 1. and 2. examples, listed bellow (but especially 2.)




    1.) You said "I know a few of these people. And those doing this for the most part...."

    You are listing (yourself) as a source with this statement.
    Yes I am the source. But I sit here wondering if you know a single family actually doing it.... a single home with actuall people living in it who are 100% solar power home. I don't know someone doing it, and I pay attention to this stuff and worked on active solar design in the early 1980s. Those that are doing close to it (I know a couple families in Maine) are mostly living with the power demands of folks from the 1930s, supplimenting thier power with wind and diesel generator, paying huge upfront cost and overall over the course of the life of their equipment (batteries etc) far more per KW than those connected to the grid.

    2.) Then you said "but lets not forget the relatively small geography area where concentrated power is practical--in the US it would work only in the desert SW for example."
    Yawn.
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    Chad

    What a load of garbage.
    Certainly a house can be powered by solar cells with batteries for storage. At a cost. The youtube you posted stated that there was a 60% subsidy on the cost which shoots it down in flames immediately. Instead of a home owner paying, the taxpayer does. Not an advance!

    I have friends who set up their home in that way, but for a different reason. They live so far from the electricity grid that they had no choice. They are constantly complaining about how much it costs them and how much maintainance effort they have to keep putting in just to keep the power running. Not a good option!

    A third factor that is worth taking into account is safety. Domestic solar cells as a source of power costs human lives at a rate about 100 times as high as nuclear, including Chernobyl, when you calculate it out as fatalities per unit of electricity generated. The reason is the people who install solar cells and fall off ladders. Only a few so far, but the amount of power generated that way is so small that, when calculated out, deaths from solar cells make nuclear look like mothers milk.
    http://nextbigfuture.com/2008/03/dea...y-sources.html
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    Quote Originally Posted by MeteorWayne View Post
    Chad, why do you insist on turning every thread you post in to a political rant?

    As I moderator, I STRONGLY suggest you stop this practice, as it will not be tolerated forever. Now I have to go through this to remove all of your rant to a thread in politics. We're getting tired of the extra effort.

    My post was not a political rant.
    I was dis-crediting Harolds stated source, (within the traditions of science.)

    Harold listed Fox news as a highly trusted source. So I dis-credited his source.
    And I fully 1000% followed the traditions of science, when I discredited his stated source.


    And who first brought up politics, me or Harold?
    Fox news is well known, as a highly (conservative) news group. Fox news is (fully) about politics.
    Harold brought up a highly political source, in a thread about solar power.
    Why is it that Harold can state (highly) political groups as sources, in a thread about solar power, and I am not allowed to dis-credit these sources?




    The following is of a slightly different subject, but it also involves politics in science.
    And other forum members agree with me, about the following. (But people like you, are blind to the following.)
    And I think maybe (you) are about to suspend, or ban me from this forum, because you are unable to understand the following things.


    For example,

    Exxon mobile's (paid) scientists, lie to the public and state "global warming is not happening."

    And it is politics that is involved in these scientific lies being stated to the public. Sometimes politics needs to be spoken about in certain science threads. With all of the corporate scientists that lie to the public, politics needs to be spoken about to get to the truth.


    And the same thing happens within the science of economics. There are economists that lie for corporations, they say "tax cuts increase increase government revenues." So in a conversation about economics, sometimes politics must be spoken about to get to the truth.


    The same thing happens in the science of farming. The scientists that work for the fertilizer industry, are involved in a conflict of interest, and they lie and say bad things about organic farming.


    Are forum members not allowed to expose these scientists?

    Science is about getting to the truth, but how can we get to the truth, if we are not allowed to say certain words?


    With all respects,
    Chad.


    Perhaps I do rant. And I write longer posts than most people. And I am emotional. Its who I am.
    Are the above valid excuses, to ban someone from a scientific discussion?

    When I get back from my most likely suspension (for speaking the truth). And if you dont ban me from this forum forever. I am going to check out all your posts. I want to know if you are a republican.

    Are you attacking me because of your political beliefs?


    I am sorry for my dis-respectful tone, and I wish I had the time, to make this post polite, but I dont.
    But one of the traditions of science, is free and open communication, so I will post it.


    I am sorry if I was disrespectful.

    Have a nice day/night,
    Chad.
    Last edited by chad; July 6th, 2012 at 04:54 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Chad

    What a load of garbage.
    Certainly a house can be powered by solar cells with batteries for storage. At a cost. The youtube you posted stated that there was a 60% subsidy on the cost which shoots it down in flames immediately. Instead of a home owner paying, the taxpayer does. Not an advance!

    I have friends who set up their home in that way, but for a different reason. They live so far from the electricity grid that they had no choice. They are constantly complaining about how much it costs them and how much maintainance effort they have to keep putting in just to keep the power running. Not a good option!

    A third factor that is worth taking into account is safety. Domestic solar cells as a source of power costs human lives at a rate about 100 times as high as nuclear, including Chernobyl, when you calculate it out as fatalities per unit of electricity generated. The reason is the people who install solar cells and fall off ladders. Only a few so far, but the amount of power generated that way is so small that, when calculated out, deaths from solar cells make nuclear look like mothers milk.
    Deaths per TWh for all energy sources: Rooftop solar power is actually more dangerous than Chernobyl

    You made ((some)) interesting points above. I never heard those things before.

    But I believe I am about to get suspended from this forum, or banned. And at this moment I have other things to do. I hope the next time I come to this forum, I do not see the suspension page.


    You said "What a load of garbage."

    Its nice to cross paths with you again.

    Chad.
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    What kinds of sources, should be used as reliable sources?
    Preferably those peer reviewed in a scientific journal.
    Further down the list....
    Articles and aggregations of data from government sources that do science or engineering (NASA, NOAA, department of agriculture, etc)
    From unbiased organizations such as the national science foundation.

    near the bottom.....
    quotes from non experts in the field...no degree, or aren't' publishing anything related.
    random pulls from YouTube, blogs etc. Though in some cases one of the more credible agencies might behind the media which raises it up a notch.

    And you do rant Chad, often unable to resist pulling in irrelevant details from completely other topics into these pages. You also have huge red bottons that are pretty easy for others to push--a slight comment you feel compelled to comment on in tirades whether they are related to the thread or not. Your quote ("Exxon mobile's (paid) scientists, lie to the public and state "global warming is not happening." ). Honestly no one gives a damn and it doesn't have a thing to do with this thread--even if it is true. The mods are tired of reading and trying to clean up the mess.

    Lastly you say your sorry so much it's loosing meaning. We only ask that you think before you go on another tirade and start typing....or at least before you hit the enter key. Perhaps ask yourself: Is it on topic? Is it supportable with a credible source either now or if I'm asked to varify or central to my entire argument if it can't be. Am I going to have to say I'm sorry after I post it?
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    Quote Originally Posted by chad View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Chad, did you actually watch the video? It was remarkably fact-free. What we did learn was:
    The operations manager of the company that installed was sure solar is the future.
    The homeowner could afford it because the utility company paid for 60 percent of the cost.
    It was cloudy at the time, but it doesn't matter because when the sun comes out, THAT'S ALL SHE NEEDS to power her house. Wow. What does she do the rest of the day? I'll tell you what, she gets her power from the grid.


    Solar power systems like hers, use the suns energy to charge batteries.

    There will be a very large battery bank, (in) or around her house.


    When the sun is fully covered by clouds, or when its night time, the batteries supply electricity to the house.






    You stated " I'll tell you what, she gets her power from the grid."

    What is your evidence, for the above statement?



    How are you able to conclude, that she does (not) have a huge battery bank?
    There are two ways I am able to conclude that. One is that battery backed solar systems are prohibitively expensive as compared to grid connected systems. That's why hardly anybody attempts to install one. The other way I know is that the utility company is paying for part of the installation. They would have no reason to do that if the solar system was off their grid. If it is on their grid, they can take credit for any power produced to meet their state mandated quota of renewable power.

    You used Fox news as your source of information. I was merely congratulating you on an excellent choice of news media. Now you are bashing your own source. Actually, having watched the video, I think it was a crappy job of reporting on that particular story.
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    Quote Originally Posted by chad View Post
    You said "What a load of garbage."


    Chad.
    Sorry if you took that the wrong way. That comment was directed at the youtube clip.
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    The cost of disposal of worn out or obsolete solar panels
    I just spotted this from earlier. Solar systems are not the sort of thing you update or replace like tv or computers or phones. The solar hot water system we installed at our old house 20+ years ago is still going strong. And it's still enough to manage hot water for a household of 4 with a dishwasher and washing machine - with no backup from power or gas for 7 or 8 months of the year. Wish I still had one, I knew it cut down our power bills. I just didn't realise how much it saved us.

    Considering the not-very-nice and massive waste disposal issues around phones and computers and other constantly replaced items, solar is much less of a problem.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Chad

    What a load of garbage.
    Certainly a house can be powered by solar cells with batteries for storage. At a cost. The youtube you posted stated that there was a 60% subsidy on the cost which shoots it down in flames immediately. Instead of a home owner paying, the taxpayer does. Not an advance!

    I have friends who set up their home in that way, but for a different reason. They live so far from the electricity grid that they had no choice. They are constantly complaining about how much it costs them and how much maintainance effort they have to keep putting in just to keep the power running. Not a good option!

    A third factor that is worth taking into account is safety. Domestic solar cells as a source of power costs human lives at a rate about 100 times as high as nuclear, including Chernobyl, when you calculate it out as fatalities per unit of electricity generated. The reason is the people who install solar cells and fall off ladders. Only a few so far, but the amount of power generated that way is so small that, when calculated out, deaths from solar cells make nuclear look like mothers milk.
    Deaths per TWh for all energy sources: Rooftop solar power is actually more dangerous than Chernobyl


    Notice how (you) can talk about taxes and politics, in a solar power thread, and no one attacks you. It must be nice.
    I am actually (not) allowed, to talk about taxes or politics, in a thread like this one, but it seems everyone else can.
    But thats just the way it is, so I will move on.



    You seem to be saying, lots of negative things, about solar power in this thread.

    But adelady says "Regardless of what some people think of solar's efficiency as a power source, in the right circumstances it's one of the best financial investments you can make."

    And you can also go to youtube, and see 100's of people, that are in love with solar power.



    And are you honestly saying, "that solar power is dangerous, because people fall off ladders installing solar panels?"
    The above is very misleading. It would seem that these statistics, should fall under (construction safety) or (the need to use a safety harness system, while working on a roof.)

    These deaths are not caused by solar power, they are caused by (poor) construction safety procedures.


    Its always a pleasure skeptic,
    Chad.
    Last edited by chad; July 6th, 2012 at 08:48 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by chad View Post
    These deaths are not caused by solar power, they are caused by (poor) construction safety procedures.

    Dead is dead.

    If you die due to radiation from a nuclear accident or falling off a ladder while trying to install solar cells, the end result is the same.

    Domestic solar cells have killed a number of people from ladder accidents. That can be, and has been quantified in relation to power output. It makes solar cells one of the most hazardous forms of generating electricity.

    The same thing applies to wind energy. Because, to generate an appreciable amount of electricity, a large number of tall wind towers are needed, and these need maintaining, there are many fatal accidents from falls etc. This makes wind power also quite hazardous (less so than solar cells, but a lot more than nuclear) in terms of fatalities per unit electricity produced.
    http://www.wind-works.org/articles/BreathLife.html

    In fact, the only major form of generating electricity that is as safe or safer than nuclear is burning natural gas. And gas leaks are one of the major sources of methane emissions, which is a very, very serious contributor to global warming.
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    Notice how (you) can talk about taxes and politics, in a solar power thread, and no one attacks you. It must be nice.
    Notice his mentions of politics and taxes are directly related to the topic of the thread.....solar is subsidized by tax dollars which makes it in reality more expensive than many buyers seem to want to consider. He doesn't talk about oil, corrupt corporations, or any of the other unrelated junk that we find in some of the unwelcome rant postings.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    The cost of disposal of worn out or obsolete solar panels


    I just spotted this from earlier. Solar systems are not the sort of thing you update or replace like tv or computers or phones.
    I didn't make this up. It's a real issue.
    Solar Panel Toxic Manufacturing Byproducts, Product Disposal Needs Greater Oversight, Report Urges : TreeHugger
    The report says that little attention is currently paid to the environmental and health costs of the rapidly expanding solar industry; that "most widely used solar PV panels are based on materials and processes from the microelectronics industry" which could cause an avalanche of e-waste at the end of their productive lifetime of 20-25 years; and that many of the newest panels with higher rates of efficiency use "extremely toxic materials with unknown health and environmental risks."
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    I know it's a real issue.

    But that "lifetime" of 20-25 years is, firstly, a gross underestimate of a reasonable lifetime for panels. And most of us would be more likely to increase the number of panels rather than replace all of them if they were just a bit less efficient (rather than wrecked by a tree falling on them or whatever).

    Recent evidence from Japan suggests that life expectancy is longer than expected.[1] A company that reuses old panels reports that it has tested 330 panels made in 1984. 90% of these units can still generate 80% or more of their initial output. The industry expects that products made today will be even more durable than those made in the 1980s. The backing materials used to create the solar panels should be less susceptible to discolouration. So typical lives of thirty or more years can probably be assumed.
    How long do solar panels last? - Scitizen

    If we're really concerned about waste from the micro-electronics industry, let's start with waste from the high turnover products of the micro-electronics industries.
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    all forms of energy are bio hazards, coal, oil, rare earths, etc....
    it boils down to
    choose your poison
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    Quote Originally Posted by tszy View Post
    Technically speaking it's all solar power, always was - Oil, Coal and Gas are all fossil products of sunlight captured by plants long ago.
    Modern solar cells just cut out the 'middleman'...
    Thank you. This is important when we're talking about long-term or eternal sustainability.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Why do you think humanity has yet to make the transformation to a solar powered society?
    Insufficient ability to transport it to cloudy and high latitude places from reliable solar locations...
    Inspired by Tszy, I beg to differ: The Pacific Ocean is an enormous solar energy collector, prevailing winds then transport moisture-laden air to the Pacific Northwest, where it falls as rain and is tightly focused into literal streams of kinetic energy. We need only to intercept existing solar-source energy streams. Photovoltaic panels here are kinda reinventing the wheel, and can't beat the entire surface area of an ocean. Besides, the most practical energy storage is a reservoir and hydro turbine anyway... in "cloudy and high latitude places" like the Pacific Northwest such watersheds receive rainfall volumes to make the photovoltaics they're supposed to service, redundant.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Yeah. Sunken costs also include people who have paid too much for coal-rich real estate. If people stop burning coal, the land value of their holdings will plummet and they're out all that money. Same situation as all those home owners who bought during the high point of the housing bubble.
    What?!~$?
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    I think solar works very well but there are constraints. The biggest constraint is that it's expensive and people are too cheap.

    A full, honest and true accounting of the relative costs of energy doesn't look to exist, and if it does there are enough credible and persuasive people, even some trained experts, willing to dispute it. The externalised costs - the climate impacts defy quantification but loom large whilst other lesser but not insignificant external costs enter the equation - are currently a matter of free choice and we are being urged by credible and persuasive people to choose en-masse to simply avoid paying them. It doesn't seem to matter that major costs continue to accrue and the consequences look irreversible and extremely serious.
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    A concern I have over photovoltaic is that the manufacturing costs (environmental) may be hidden in the supplier. Then it is not really fair to compare how "green" bought photovoltaics are vs. domestically made energy e.g. the environmental cost of damming a river in New Zealand vs. photovoltaics bought by damming a river in China to run the factory that makes them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    I think solar works very well but there are constraints. The biggest constraint is that it's expensive and people are too cheap.
    Storage is the biggest problem right now--and would cripple it as idea even if its generation was near zero cost.
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    Storage is the biggest problem right now--and would cripple it as idea even if its generation was near zero cost.
    Depends. In my local environment, and presumably in similar 'Mediterranean' style climates, there's a huge problem with power demand being extremely peaky. Our power charges are in the top ten most expensive in the world. Why? Because we have to accommodate several shortish periods each year where the power demand is completely out of whack with the rest of the year. We either have to have lots of back up generating capacity lying idle for 330 or more days a year or we have to import very expensive power to top up during those few 3-or-more-days-above-40C heatwaves. 6 days above 35C is a bit demanding as well.

    Solar has the great advantage of working best during exactly those periods of highest demand. Not only does it supplement the power supply, it cuts down stress on the transmission network because each household generating lots of its own power between say 11am and 4pm reduces the draw for that small area and might even be supplying its neighbours (if noone's home until after 6pm for instance).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Storage is the biggest problem right now-
    No.

    As Adelady points out, it can be used for peak demand. If the cost was low, it would be in widespread use.

    There are other forms of power generation which can be used for baseload, to provide the electricity at levels able to cope with the average demand. I make no bones about the fact that I am in favour of nuclear power. It is the only large scale generating method in widespread use that does not generate large amounts of greenhouse gases, and it is one of the safest methods.

    If nuclear provided baseload, and solar was cheap (which it is not), solar would be used widely for peak demand.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Storage is the biggest problem right now-
    No.

    As Adelady points out, it can be used for peak demand. If the cost was low, it would be in widespread use.
    Up to about 20% of overall use and less for peaks. Beyond that we need massive storage and ways to transport it to other regions to get benefit. Both were obvious her in WA state this past year, when months went by of the utilities telling wind producers they weren't needed because of plenty of water and no way to store or move their excess to other regions were energy is always in short support sans fossil fuels in the middle of the country. Imagine being a solar or wind producer who can't sell energy for any cost for months of the year--that's exactly what happened and will be a very common story as alternative energy production comes on line without major changes to how we use energy regionally and on a national scale and without massive storage options. I doubt the problem is unique to the US, Europe seems to have very similar problems managing their solar, wind etc.
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    Posts above should be prefaced with, "In my area..."

    For Lynx_Fox demand is highest during the rainy winter.
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    Some regions can produce surplus energy relatively cheaply, for part of the year. We want to bottle that energy somehow and even ship it around the world without distance transmission loss. Personally I favor making hydrogen fuel and putting that on tankers, from places like solar-blessed Australia and hydro-blessed Chile. I would like to see Kuwaitis buy this fuel to drive their cars, after they've pumped out all their oil.
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    Pong

    Why not use that hydrogen to make methane and even methanol.
    Hydrogen is a curse to store or transport, with massive losses. It is also dangerous. But if you have surplus hydrogen, it can be converted into more complex fuels which are much easier to store, and transport. Methanol, for example, can drive a standard car with very little modification.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Pong

    Why not use that hydrogen to make methane and even methanol.
    Methane and methanol combustion produce CO2, hydrogen doesn't. That's a good reason isn't it?

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Hydrogen is a curse to store or transport, with massive losses. It is also dangerous.
    I agree with the first points. However it is safer than other fuels. Leaked hydrogen does not sink, puddle, or accumulate; rather it evacuates with unrivaled insistence, straight up if possible. It does not splatter or saturate or stick to clothing. An open hydrogen explosion plumes vertically unlike the wide fireball of other fuels like gasoline. A hydrogen fire produces no pollutants - no smoke.

    I'm wary of hydrogen fuel cell technology. Research into using hydrogen fuel is directed towards eventual profit, and patentable - possibly exclusive - fuel cell schemes appeal to companies that would like to control the market. Not much business interest in promoting or developing a basically old-school unpatentable internal combustion engine for hydrogen. Not much interest in promoting anything that could be "free for all" for that matter. I fear hydrogen could languish for the same reasons Robertson (square-socket) screws do.

    Anyway, it can't begin until some areas have times of massive electrical surplus, since the entire hydrogen fuel cycle is terribly inefficient.
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    Lynx Fox, I think we need to consider that the major energy providers (in Australia and probably elsewhere as well) don't want to have to deal with wind or solar. They don't want to invest in the kinds of grid upgrades to distribute and even out the fluctuations, just as they don't want to invest in energy storage. That is probably a direct consequence of them not wanting to bear any burden of responsibility for reducing emissions; they see their role as producers of energy and prefer not to see themselves as producers of climate change ("what climate change?") and they are finding (in Australia) they have growing political support for that position. They are strong lobbyist against carbon pricing, against mandatory targets for emissions reductions, against schemes that encourage use of renewables. I'm cynical enough to think that having a whole lot of wind farms idle and solar power unused in preference to reducing power output from fossil fueled power plant suits them just fine. Sure, the technology has a long way to go (despite impressive improvement), but the incumbent energy providers still see serious emissions reduction as a problem to avoid rather than confront.
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    I mostly agree, though in the US the utilities are very well connected to the government agencies which in just about every state maintain strong oversight and even operations decisions as well as brokering standards, and sometime huge subsidizes for new projects. I don't have much hope we'll get serious in the US for many years; we've for the most part rejected even successful and proven solar thermal applications for hot water and space heating, house standards for insulation, glazing and thermal mass, and even the greenest projects are strongly resisted by environmental as well as private utilities. Even when we do the right things, it's often badly focused, such as given big tax discounts on solar for even the cloudiest places like Seattle--damn irresponsible.
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    solar was cheap (which it is not), solar would be used widely for peak demand.
    Solar is much, much cheaper than the usurious prices and near extortion from the power utilities when we were in the middle of a classic SE Australian heatwave not many years ago. The mere fact that it's there dampening the peak (and therefore the prices) is a huge advantage in supply/price negotiations.

    It's less urgent. Less is needed. The 'power' balance between the negotiating parties is equalised.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong View Post
    Methane and methanol combustion produce CO2, hydrogen doesn't. That's a good reason isn't it?
    No.

    When you make methane and methanol from hydrogen, you consume CO2. When you burn those fuels, you release it again. It is mostly in balance.
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    It's in balance because you get the CO2 out of the atmosphere?

    I totally agree this extra step would improve storage and transport, but it's taking a good cut of energy from an already inefficient fuel. Still, I'm the one proposing we dam every river in British Columbia, to fuel the world. Perhaps tankers supplying generators would carry hydrogen, and tankers supplying auto fuel would carry methanol.
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    Pong

    The world is full of energy. Energy is not limited. As you know, I am in favour of great development of nuclear, and especially that based on thorium. This source alone has the potential to supply ten times what humankind currently uses each year, for the next thousand years. By then, deuterium based fusion power should be available, and there is enough deuterium in the sea to last humanity 100 million years.

    The problems are :
    1. Human stupidity which prevents us making fullest use of the safest of all bulk electricity sources
    2. Storage of energy in a form easy to use for things like cars.

    Incidentally, damming every river is not smart. Lakes for hydroelectricity storage are actually major sources of greenhouse gases. The reason is that the feeding rivers sweep down organic matter, which ferment at the bottom of those lakes to release methane.
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    damming every river is not smart.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    I know everyone thinks that hydro is wonderful, but it's like all 'wonderful' things. Too much can be bad for you.

    The effects on fish populations and migration alone should give us cause to pause. Add in landslides, sediment accumulation in the dams, the loss of nutrients from sediment transfer for downstream riverbanks ...... and all the rest. Just looking at the accumulating disasters attributable to the Aswan dam should give everyone reason to think really, really hard about this.
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    Adelady

    Every proposal here in New Zealand for a new hydroelectric power scheme is met by massive protests. Mainly for the reasons you gave. Every new lake so formed is at the cost of a stretch of river, and sometimes that cost is just too high.

    At the same time, every proposal for a wind farm is also met with massive protests.. I dread to think the reaction if the government seriously proposed a nuclear power plant. The nuclear paranoia, based on ignorance, is incredible!
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    At the same time, every proposal for a wind farm is also met with massive protests.
    I keep wondering whether there isn't an opportunity for an extremely clever marketing guru there.

    Hydro? We'll never be able to get silt dependent cities like Alexandria and Shanghai up to the levels they should have been if we 'undo' those hydro dams. Nor will we get back fish and dolphins that have gone extinct.

    Coal? We'll never be able to rebuild those mountaintops in the USA.

    Nuclear? We'll have a hard time finding the money to un-build a nuclear plant if we change our minds.

    Wind? If we change our minds or find something better - no harm, no foul. We just take the turbines down, recycle the bits and the only lasting reminders they were ever there are some concrete pads and some power transmission infrastructure we can still use elsewhere.

    See what I mean about a guru. I don't have whatever imagination it would take to assemble words as simple as the idea that wind is undo-able in a way that other power generation options aren't.
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    Adelady

    As you say, there are problems with each and every kind of electricity generation. We should, though, be moving towards methods that do not generate greenhouse gases. This means nuclear, wind, solar, tidal, ocean wave, and geothermal.

    Wind is still a very minor method, contributing less than 2% of global electricity. Nuclear is big, contributing about 14%. Solar, ocean wave, tidal, geothermal together contribute less than 1%. The reason for these percentages is primarily money, how much it costs to make electricity using that method. (Although geothermal is more dictated by presence or absence of geothermal resource).

    So, if we limit ourselves to those few, then nuclear becomes far and away the most economic. It is also the logical candidate for base load supply. Wind and solar, ocean wave, and tide are all erratic in output.

    In spite of all the arguments posed to date, the primary problem with nuclear power is political. Basically the fact that most people are idiots and fear nuclear, when there is less to fear than from almost any other source of power.
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    I daren't mention the trigger word nuclear around here. I've already memorised the sermon on the wonders of thorium, reactors that can be shut down overnight, consume other waste, and the multitudinous other wondrous marvels in store for all who finally give up and agree that my husband is the one true leader out of the energy wilderness. Don't need any revision exercises.
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    Adelady

    Clearly you are blessed with a wise and wonderful husband.
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    What I don't understand is why more solar panel systems aren't augmented with mirror arrays. I know that adds another layer of cost and complexity, but compared to the cost of adding more panels I would expect that extending the effectiveness of a few panels with motorized mirrors (that reposition themselves over the course of the day for optimum sun angle), I would think the mirrors would be the comparatively cheaper way to add wattage.

    Better yet, with the right color filters, the light reflected off of the mirrors could be limited to mostly include only the frequency the panel is optimized for, so less heat to dissipate per watt also. Maybe run a bit of water through it to dissipate what's left.

    The point is, I don't understand why obvious tweaks are being ignored. People appear content to position a few panels on their roof at a fixed angle, possibly not even a very good angle, and then just sit back and complain about their poor return.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    What I don't understand is why more solar panel systems aren't augmented with mirror arrays. I know that adds another layer of cost and complexity, but compared to the cost of adding more panels I would expect that extending the effectiveness of a few panels with motorized mirrors (that reposition themselves over the course of the day for optimum sun angle), I would think the mirrors would be the comparatively cheaper way to add wattage.

    Better yet, with the right color filters, the light reflected off of the mirrors could be limited to mostly include only the frequency the panel is optimized for, so less heat to dissipate per watt also. Maybe run a bit of water through it to dissipate what's left.

    The point is, I don't understand why obvious tweaks are being ignored. People appear content to position a few panels on their roof at a fixed angle, possibly not even a very good angle, and then just sit back and complain about their poor return.
    Do you have a solar panel at your home? Why not put one in and try your ideas. I suspect you would soon find some practical problems that would show why this isn't done.
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    What I don't understand is why more solar panel systems aren't augmented with mirror arrays.
    Mirrors are used for some large scale arrays.

    As for domestic installations, panels are now so cheap in most places that adding another panel or three is far and away the cheaper option. Going for super fancified engineering and spending more time and money on something that's not guaranteed to work in the way that a couple of extra sets of panels are certain to is a bit silly.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    What I don't understand is why more solar panel systems aren't augmented with mirror arrays. I know that adds another layer of cost and complexity, but compared to the cost of adding more panels I would expect that extending the effectiveness of a few panels with motorized mirrors (that reposition themselves over the course of the day for optimum sun angle), I would think the mirrors would be the comparatively cheaper way to add wattage.

    Better yet, with the right color filters, the light reflected off of the mirrors could be limited to mostly include only the frequency the panel is optimized for, so less heat to dissipate per watt also. Maybe run a bit of water through it to dissipate what's left.

    The point is, I don't understand why obvious tweaks are being ignored. People appear content to position a few panels on their roof at a fixed angle, possibly not even a very good angle, and then just sit back and complain about their poor return.
    Primarily because none of these things are very cost effective or energy efficient, with the possible exception of water cooling if you are on a lake.
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    Wind is still a very minor method, contributing less than 2% of global electricity. Nuclear is big, contributing about 14%. Solar, ocean wave, tidal, geothermal together contribute less than 1%. The reason for these percentages is primarily money, how much it costs to make electricity using that method.
    No. The reason is primarily money, how much the corporate investor has sunk and how much they have to lay out of pocket.

    The question of how much "it costs" is another matter entirely, and probably would have (for example) eliminated nuclear power in anything but satellites and submarines long ago, if it were the major factor.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Wind is still a very minor method, contributing less than 2% of global electricity. Nuclear is big, contributing about 14%. Solar, ocean wave, tidal, geothermal together contribute less than 1%. The reason for these percentages is primarily money, how much it costs to make electricity using that method. (Although geothermal is more dictated by presence or absence of geothermal resource).
    And of course, the ability to base load makes even more expensive technologies much more attractive because you don't needs multiple redundant capabilities.
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    I notice the Wiki entry on costs of generating power has been updated again. The following are for new plants under construction, and their estimated cost of power in American cents per kilowatt hour. (Not retail. These are base costs.)

    Natural gas. 7 cents.
    Hydroelectricity 9 cents.
    Basic coal 10 cents.
    Geothermal 10 cents.
    Wind power 10 cents.
    Nuclear 11 cents.
    Coal with carbon capture 14 cents
    Solar cell 16 cents
    Solar thermal 25 cents
    Offshore wind power 33 cents

    Cost of electricity by source - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Gas is cheaper than it was before, which I guess is due to fracking, which has released a lot more natural gas reserve. But both natural gas and coal should not be developed due to their major impact on greenhouse gas levels. Hydroelectricity and geothermal are limited according to resource availability. Wind and solar are both limited by the variability in energy output.

    I still support nuclear power. It is close to coal for cheapness, and does not release any appreciable amount of greenhouse gases. Its main problem is the paranoia that people regard it with, despite the fact that the numbers show it to be one of the safest sources of power.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    . Hydroelectricity and geothermal are limited according to resource availability. Wind and solar are both limited by the variability in energy output.

    .
    This is true. However, when you combine the two (hydro and wind/solar), they work very well together. Hydro is a wonderful baseload because often times when you shut the dam down the water pressure continues to build for later, so you're not even losing out on power by letting wind take over for a few hours.

    Of course, if you've had record rains or something, then you'd need a lot of demand in order to avoid wasting your excess input. It becomes seasonally unpredictable instead of daily unpredictable.

    I'd really like to see the Pacific Northwest continue building wind mills until we're way over filled with excess unused electricity, and then build High Voltage DC lines out to the rest of the surrounding country (or at least improve the one we have going down to California.)
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    It is true that hydro is a great base load supplier. The main problem with hydro is that the resource is limited, and there is insufficient to supply more than a part of the base load requirement. Not only that, but the politics of hydroelectric developments is pretty damn murky. If you build a dam in a totalitarian country, it will go ahead. In a free country, there is now so much opposition that building new dams is becoming increasingly difficult.
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    Coal with carbon capture 14 cents
    That wiki list is a bit peculiar. I realise it's the IEA stuff and they're always a bit strange, but who, where, when has anyone demonstrated commercially (or any other) viable CCS ?? Any demonstration plants?

    Looks a bit 'pie in the sky fluffy figures if only the world worked the way we wanted' to me. At least in this respect.
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    Good point, Adelady.

    I would have to speculate that the authors are tapping into the studies made on CCS, and the estimated costs. An earlier Wiki price estimate for CCS was 10 cents above the basic cost of generation, and now it is down to 4 cents. I assume they have made progress in cutting the estimated costs?

    Considering the direction CCS goes, the phrase "pie in the sky" seems somewhat inappropriate.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I notice the Wiki entry on costs of generating power has been updated again. The following are for new plants under construction, and their estimated cost of power in American cents per kilowatt hour.
    Once again around the rosy with this stupid list of non-comparable "estimated" costs.

    The only thing anyone can learn from such a list (try to imagine how the author arrived at the figure for "solar thermal", say) is that nuclear power has figured out how to externalize and obscure its costs, especially its risk premiums but also a fair amount of its infrastructure, better than any other power source except maybe coal with the climate and mercury problems.
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady
    That wiki list is a bit peculiar. I realise it's the IEA stuff and they're always a bit strange, but who, where, when has anyone demonstrated commercially (or any other) viable CCS ?? Any demonstration plants?
    That's EIA - a branch of the US Department of Energy, which has long been in the business of promoting nuclear power, and handing out numbers that deflect other options.

    Yes the CCS numbers are estimated from studies and projected to future plants - so are all the other estimates in that list. They don't include cleanup and other obvious major costs - for example, if you read the link, you will read that the cost of nukes specifically omits the cost of decommissioning the plants and handling the waste, the cost of mishap recovery, etc. So the number is some kind of joke, if used to compare "the cost" of power with other forms of power generation. An accurate number would be double or more.

    Farther down on the same link, we have these comparative estimates of various source power actually in operation, from Australia in Australilan dollars:
    Nuclear (to COTS plan)[19] 40–70
    Nuclear (to suit site; typical)[19] 75–105
    Coal 28–38
    Coal: IGCC + CCS 53–98
    Coal: supercritical pulverized + CCS 64–106
    Open-cycle Gas Turbine 101
    Hot fractured rocks 89
    Gas: combined cycle 37–54
    Gas: combined cycle + CCS 53–93
    Small Hydro power 55
    Wind power: high capacity factor 63
    Solar thermal 85
    Biomass 88
    Photovoltaics 120

    Notice that not even the qualitative rankings are the same.
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    I quoted American figures, since most of the people on this forum appear to be American, making that most appropriate.

    Nuclear risk premiums are excessive, due to the paranoia surrounding nuclear power. Realistically, bearing in mind the history of accidents and the damage done, hydroelectricity would carry far greater risk premiums.

    The data is there. We know that nuclear is less risky than almost any other form of generating power, in terms of fatalities per terawatt year of power generated. It is sad that the irrational greenie movement insists on this anti-nuclear propaganda, based on dogma rather than data.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I quoted American figures, since most of the people on this forum appear to be American, making that most appropriate.
    So what we have there are not accurate numbers, not reasonable numbers, not useful numbers, but "American" numbers. We're Americans here, and so deserve no better?

    That's a low opinion of American science. It's not all as silly as a nuke power cost estimate that omits risk premium, waste handling, decommissioning, security, military (Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, examples), and political influence costs. Or a "solar thermal" cost estimate based on some future small scale trial project, rather than prudent extrapolations and projections from the operating plants in California, Australia, et al.
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Nuclear risk premiums are excessive, due to the paranoia surrounding nuclear power.
    Paranoia has no effect on the actual risk premium of nuke power, as I referred to above.

    The commercial insurance premiums for nuke power plants are artificially capped by government, and partly covered by the taxpayer. Were they not, no nuclear power plant could be built - only governments are big enough to begin to insure those things.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Iceaura


    Nuclear risk premiums are excessive, due to the paranoia surrounding nuclear power. Realistically, bearing in mind the history of accidents and the damage done, hydroelectricity would carry far greater risk premiums.
    It's also because insurance companies don't like to cover events that would affect a very large area or many many customers all at once. Stuff like Hurricane Katrina... etc. In many home insurance policies there will be a clause that excludes any kind of sweeping area-wide disasters.

    If a nuclear melt down ever occurred, an insurance company would find itself in much the same condition as a lot of companies that are facing asbestos claims now. Nuclear contamination of any kind will likely cause health problems, and even worse: health paranoia. Anyone who gets cancer or another related illness after being exposed will have a strong case in court, even if the cause is indeterminable and other likely causes exist (like if they were smokers, or from a family with a strong history of cancer...etc).




    The data is there. We know that nuclear is less risky than almost any other form of generating power, in terms of fatalities per terawatt year of power generated. It is sad that the irrational greenie movement insists on this anti-nuclear propaganda, based on dogma rather than data.
    There is that, but also I think people are just as uncomfortable with the nuclear waste as they are with the plant itself. A lot of people don't realize how little actual waste is and/or even can be created. And of course NBY (Not in my backyard- for lurkers) makes it terribly difficult to store it anywhere other than on site.
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    There is that, but also I think people are just as uncomfortable with the nuclear waste as they are with the plant itself. A lot of people don't realize how little actual waste is and/or even can be created. And of course NBY (Not in my backyard- for lurkers) makes it terribly difficult to store it anywhere other than on site
    One of the problems the nuke industry has selling power plants to people is the history of lies, false reassurances, scams and cons and general bs they have established. Not that long ago people were buying dishes and kitchen ware painted with radium compounds, to eat from - that's how little paranoia there was. Articles were written on the topic of whether it would be worthwhile to meter electricity, it would be so cheap from a nuke, that's how much optimism and favorable view there was. People started out believing the nuke industry reps and experts.

    That kind of trust and naivety is never coming back, because it was betrayed. As the Japanese are the latest to learn, the nuke proponents are liars and technofools. They always have been, they always will be, because there's too much sunk money involved, and the industry is rooted in the military industrial establishment - dirty to the core.

    You look at something like that table of costs for power sources, sitting there on Wikipedia as if it were reasonable and informative, and as soon as you see that they have omitted the decommissioning costs and the waste handling costs you just have to laugh. We haven't even got to the mishap and violence premium (the cost of Fukushima alone - - - -), we aren't even at the point of discussing the costs of the weapons risk from proliferation and waste distribution all over the planet, we're just at the level of basic accounting for the simple physical plant, and already we're in Oz, fairytale country.

    Solar power is on the back burner, and has been for half a century, because there's no serious money for Halliburton in it, and because the notion of total cost is apparently too sophisticated a concept for too many people.
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    Iceaura

    Just read your own post.
    You go so far over the top in expressing the views of the radical green movement that no sane person could take those views at all seriously.

    And the costs presented in that Wiki list are complete. They take into account everything that they are aware of. Including decommissioning. Waste control is actually a minor cost, because there is so little of it. Compared to, for example, the coal industry with its millions of tonnes of coal ash, nuclear waste is minor. Coal ash, as I have pointed out before, contains more radio-isotopes than nuclear waste per kilowatt hour of power generated.

    You really need to try to look past the propaganda. Look at the hard data, rather than the paranoid opinions. Do what I do, and quote the numbers, rather than just bland assertions. If you learn to respect data instead of propaganda, you might learn to change your views.
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    I suspect that photovoltaics also have hidden costs. How are they made? How are they recycled? My fear is that country B imports them from country A - and perhaps ships the scrap to country C - so environmental costs are obscure. Could someone clear this up for me?
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    And the costs presented in that Wiki list are complete. They take into account everything that they are aware of. Including decommissioning.
    This is the description of those costs, quoted from your link:
    Quote Originally Posted by Wiki
    This calculation does not include wider system costs associated with each type of plant, such as long distance transmission connections to grids, balancing and reserve costs, and does not include externalities such as health damage by coal plants, nor the effect of CO2 emissions on the whole biosphere (climate change, ocean acidification and eutrophication, ocean current shifts), nor decommissioning costs of nuclear plant, is therefore not full cost accounting:
    Further, as your link reminds anyone who actually read it:
    Quote Originally Posted by wiki
    These are not minor factors but very significantly affect all responsible power decisions:
    And here I should apologize for implying, above, that Wiki is to blame for this. The Wikipedia entry is reasonable clear about those costs, what they are good for and what they omit. This is not Wiki's fault.

    Now this is not the first time you have posted that useless list of non-comparable costs, not the first time the silliness of trying to use that list in this kind of discussion has been pointed out to you, and not the first time you have gone on to lecture other people about paying attention to the data.

    It is the first time you have referred to them as "American numbers", an excellent term and one I plan to adopt for similar "data" posted in the future.

    Quote Originally Posted by pong
    I suspect that photovoltaics also have hidden costs.
    Of course. One of many reasons discussions of solar power are so often deflected into discussions of PV panels, and away from other forms, by those promoting nukes and coal and the like.
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    That wasn't my intention. I mean to promote hydro exclusively by discrediting photovoltaic. Well, for the Pacific Northwest, that is.

    When flakey local institutions put up spiffy but inoperative wind turbine and photovoltaic demonstrations, here, it's an embarrassment to the technology applied appropriately, like in California. When my local environmentalists inspire consumers to buy solar yard lights and similar gizmos that don't work, here, it discredits their movement. I need knowledge to show people how that is not helping, in this particular region.

    Rooftop water warmers do work most of the year. These unsexy appliances are ignored. In this case I'd like to argue they're better than PV. But I lack talking points.
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    In the light of Iceaura's criticisms, I have taken another look at the Wiki costs.

    1. American costs, or Australian, or French or whatever - the relative costs vary a little, but not to any major degree. This means my action in quoting American costs is justified. I could quote any of the others and the overall picture would not be much different.

    2. Hidden costs. Iceaura makes much of a few hidden costs, but fails to note that this is true for all the methods. For example : insurance for hydroelectricity would have to be at a much higher level than nuclear, since historical accidents have been much worse. Wind and solar contain the extra hidden costs, over and above that quoted by Wiki, of allowing for variations in the energy input. It is unclear which methods contain the highest hidden costs, but there is nothing to suggest that nuclear is worse.

    Nuclear remains pretty much average in costs in dollar terms per kilowatt hour. It is not the cheapest, but it is not terribly much more expensive than others. The cheapest methods are those that are resource limited (like hydro and geothermal), or pump out vast amounts of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, like gas or coal. Overall, with the aim of least cost and least environmental harm, nuclear is the best option for baseload supply (plus what hydro and geothermal are permitted by available resources), with land based (not offshore) wind power to supplement it, knowing that wind will always be variable.

    The method that Iceaura has expressed elsewhere as his favourite, thermal solar, continues as one of the most expensive, by a very large margin.
    Last edited by skeptic; July 25th, 2012 at 04:13 AM.
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    Skeptic please don't say what is "best" for everybody. We tried a windmill in Vancouver: it never turns.

    By all means say what is best for one region or another.
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  91. #90  
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    Pong

    I prefaced my statement with the conditional word "overall".

    I appreciate that in specific local areas there may be other alternatives, like Iceland with its wealth of both hydroelectricity and geothermal resources.

    However, if those kinds of situations do not prevail, as is the case in most of the world, then nuclear is definitely the best option for base load electricity supply, if you want something not too expensive, which does not contribute in any significant way to greenhouse gas levels or air pollution.

    On tonight's news there was an item about the Kingdom of Tonga, which currently generates all its electricity using diesel generators. Some assistance has allowed them to replace 5% of that with solar cells.

    Bloody hell! 5%.
    Not something I would consider grounds for celebration. They need to replace that expensive, polluting, greenhouse gas generating, cancer causing diesel generation 100%. Nothing less.

    As it happens, there is a mini nuclear reactor that would do the job perfectly.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toshiba_4S
    Why not install that? It would do 100% and give extra power for those homes that are not yet hooked up. No exhaust fumes. Power 24 hours, which solar will not do. The experts at Toshiba will install it, and replace fuel as required.

    That is not the only option. The US military has a mini reactor which should do the same.
    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/36758
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  92. #91  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    1. American costs, or Australian, or French or whatever - the relative costs vary a little, but not to any major degree. This means my action in quoting American costs is justified. I could quote any of the others and the overall picture would not be much different.
    Don't use bullshit numbers when somewhat better ones are available on the very same link, would be one possibility. Especially if you think the differences are "minor".

    If you defend bullshit by calling it" American numbers", expect to attract some mockery.
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    It is unclear which methods contain the highest hidden costs, but there is nothing to suggest that nuclear is worse.
    These costs are not "hidden", they are normal and public considerations. The only problem comes from nuke proponents continually lying about them, covering them up, posting - repeatedly posting, after being called on the matter more than once in the past - numbers purporting to be comparative costs, that omit them.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Nuclear remains pretty much average in costs in dollar terms per kilowatt hour. It is not the cheapest, but it is not terribly much more expensive than others.
    You have no idea how expensive nukes are, until you have made an honest and reasonable assessment of their costs.

    Everything has costs, of course. Externalities abound in all large scale infrastructure. But that doesn't make these costs equal, or equivalent, or indifferently preferable.

    If nukes were really about the same price as thermal solar, say, that would be the last anyone should see of a nuke outside of specialty applications - the fact that they are probably much more expensive is a reduction to absurdity in this discussion.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    The method that Iceaura has expressed elsewhere as his favourite, thermal solar, continues as one of the most expensive, by a very large margin.
    You have no evidence, or argument, to support that very unlikely assertion. You have no reason to think that. So why do you?

    My guess is that "American numbers" are still governing your thinking. You might know that kind of list is worthless for this discussion, theoretically you might recognize the problems with such "data", but as long as you continue to parade them in front of your eyes you will believe what you think you see.

    And my bet you will repost that list, in updated versions, again, for the very same reason you reposted it here after last time you were called on it. Because there are things you refuse to learn.

    And so will lots of other people. Hence the backburner status of solar power, in a world of policy and discourse governed by corporate financed repetition of things like that list.
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    These costs are not "hidden", they are normal and public considerations. The only problem comes from nuke proponents continually lying about them, covering them up, posting - repeatedly posting, after being called on the matter more than once in the past - numbers purporting to be comparative costs, that omit them.
    More claims of conspiracy theory, and all words claiming such without a shred of objective evidence.....
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    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    "These costs are not "hidden", they are normal and public considerations. The only problem comes from nuke proponents continually lying about them, covering them up, posting - repeatedly posting, after being called on the matter more than once in the past - numbers purporting to be comparative costs, that omit them."

    More claims of conspiracy theory, and all words claiming such without a shred of objective evidence....
    So we have a claim of public knowledge and normal public consideration described as a "conspiracy theory". No parody possible.

    As far as my allegations of the typical behavior of nuke proponents, I quoted evidence from this forum - Skeptic's repetitive trolling with the "American numbers" - in the very post. And you are kind enough to have provided further support, there, in your own posting. So - - -
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    Iceaura

    The "American figures' are little different to the other figures. I could have chosen any set, and made the exact same point.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    The "American figures' are little different to the other figures. I could have chosen any set, and made the exact same point.
    You can't make any such point with those numbers, or any numbers resembling those numbers.

    They are not total cost numbers, they omit what are in some cases - nuclear the most flagrant - the large majority of the costs of a given power source, they are not broken down into useful categories of technology or circumstance (thermal solar is not one technology, for example), they are poorly derived from idiosyncratic circumstances; they are worthless for this discussion. Your point is bullshit. You have had this explained to you, in detail with explicit reasons, about a half a dozen times now. You continue to defend, argue from, and repost those numbers, in support of your "point".

    That is typical nuke proponent behavior. That is a large part of why solar energy is currently on the back burner, as the saying goes.
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    Iceaura

    I am sorry.
    But to simply deny data is not an argument. You continually tell me that any data I post, and I have posted plenty, is worthless. If you want to claim that data I am presenting is wrong, you must present evidence of that. You have presented no such evidence.

    The reason solar thermal energy is on the back burner is simply because it is too damn costly.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    If you want to claim that data I am presenting is wrong, you must present evidence of that. You have presented no such evidence.
    I quoted your own link to you, in which it explicitly states that the numbers you posted are not total cost numbers, and furthermore that
    Quote Originally Posted by wiki
    These are not minor factors but very significantly affect all responsible power decisions:
    You need total cost numbers of relevant technology to compare "the cost" of various power options. You don't have any. You have never had any. You don't know what they are, or how to estimate them. Therefore you can't compare "the cost" of various power options.

    And therefore you have no basis in evidence or argument for stuff like this:
    The reason solar thermal energy is on the back burner is simply because it is too damn costly.
    You are completely ignorant of the comparative costs of different kinds of thermal solar in various circumstances and with various technology employed. Since you have no idea what any of that stuff costs, you have no idea whether or not it is all "too damn costly" compared with other options.

    The real question is: Why do you, and other nuke proponents, think you know that thermal solar - the entire field of various technology in all its various forms and applications and circumstances - is "too damn costly"?
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    Iceaura

    The fact that there is an uncalculated portion of those costs is true for all modes.

    The information presented indicates little difference in cost per kwh between the main methods of generating electricity. You jump immediately to the conclusion that the unknown bits are greater for nuclear. I am sure the French, who rely mostly on nuclear, and sell electricity to other European nations would not agree with you. The Japanese, who closed their nuclear power stations and switched to fossil fuel generation, and now have to change back, would not agree with you. For them, it is the fossil fuel that is too costly.

    And the greater cost for solar thermal as quoted in the Wiki report is so substantial that some extra costs for other modes are not going to make any difference. A clear cut indicator of the high cost of solar thermal is the fact that it is still essentially a prototype technology, and not a contributor in any significant way to the commercial production of electricity. Now that may change, and I hope it does. But at this point in time, solar thermal is simply too damn costly.

    Face it, Iceaura.
    Your appraisal of nuclear power is not based on data. It is based on greenie propaganda, and you are simply in denial.

    There is a kind of environmentalism that is based on dogma, with an Article of Faith, just like religious articles of faith, saying that unnatural is bad. Based on this religious type, faith based belief, greenies disparage nuclear power, without having the data to back them up.
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    However, you're still ignoring the potential litigation costs. The problem if there's ever a nuke melt down is not so much that people will die as that people will sue, and even if they didn't sue, they'd incur healthcare costs in excess of those which any of the other power generation forms are likely to create because of the nature of the damage to their bodies (as well as to screen for suspected damage, of course.)

    If a hydro dam bursts and people drown or are crushed to death, the health costs for survivors will be things like broken bones and physical rehabilitation. I'm pretty sure that will be cheaper than chemo and the endless tests the exposed who don't get sick will want to have done just to calm their minds. The dead of course, only consume the cost of a funeral overall.

    Maybe some solar panels might have toxicity issues, and some people will certainly fall off their roofs doing self installs. Windmills cause worker casualties sometimes, because the process of setting them up hasn't been refined yet.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    The fact that there is an uncalculated portion of those costs is true for all modes.
    That doesn't mean they are similar for all modes, even by order of maginitude.

    And it doesn't mean you can ignore them when attempting to compare "the costs" of various power sources.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    The information presented indicates little difference in cost per kwh between the main methods of generating electricity.
    No, they don't. You can't compare the costs of power generation technologies until you have some idea of what those costs are for the technologies you are comparing.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    And the greater cost for solar thermal as quoted in the Wiki report is so substantial that some extra costs for other modes are not going to make any difference.
    There is no such number in any Wiki report I have ever seen. Certainly you have posted nothing that can be taken as "the cost for thermal solar" - a bogus concept in the first place - in a comparison with anything else.

    And until you have approached the subject of nuclear power's total cost, your assertion that it would make no difference is empty. You have no idea. We know for sure, since decommissioning costs are substantially greater than construction costs for all nukes and their infrastructure, that your nuke number there will at least double. Beyond that we have a large and complex calculation to undertake.

    Most people, btw, would accept considerable extra expense to be free of the political threat and physical burden of nukes. So the argument just begins with a cost comparison, even if we ever see one.
    A clear cut indicator of the high cost of solar thermal is the fact that it is still essentially a prototype technology, and not a contributor in any significant way to the commercial production of electricity.
    Normally that is not an "indicator", but a consequence, of a new technology. It would lead to lower estimates of "the cost", rather than higher, in commercial application.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    There is a kind of environmentalism that is based on dogma, with an Article of Faith, just like religious articles of faith, saying that unnatural is bad. Based on this religious type, faith based belief, greenies disparage nuclear power, without having the data to back them up.
    So far that assertion is the only argument you have in favor of nuclear power - that some dogmatic greenies don't like it. The fallacy that so perfectly exemplifies is "ad hominem argument", and it's particularly fallacious when none of the hominids referenced are anywhere in evidence.
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