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#276 2023-12-25 17:36:30

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 3,396

Re: Why the Green Energy Transition Won’t Happen

I think undersea CAES and liquid air energy storage are promissing technologies.

If the liquid air storage plant is located on a coast, then seawater can be used to provide the evaporation heat needed.  This is convenient because we can just pump it through a heat exchanger.  We don't need solar collectors or any other heat storage, because seawater provides all of the thermal energy required.  The liquid air could be stored in an aluminium lined concrete underground tank.  The soil itself will provide insulation once a stable temperature gradient is established.  One way of making this especially cheap to build would be to store the liquid air in pools, with a floating cover to keep rainwater out.

Sea temperatures around the UK are far less variable than air temperatures.
https://www.thebeachguide.co.uk/sea-temperature

Undersea CAES is also promissing because the air tanks can be ballasted concrete shells.  This should last for decades or centuries once built.  There really isn't anything to wear out.  Any country with a coastline or deep lakes could build undersea CAES.  Even landlocked countries like Switzerlant coukd use this.  The UK has no shortage of coastal and North Sea territory that coukd be used for this purpose.  It is an asset that can be built up gradually over many decades.

Last edited by Calliban (2023-12-25 18:01:33)


"Plan and prepare for every possibility, and you will never act. It is nobler to have courage as we stumble into half the things we fear than to analyse every possible obstacle and begin nothing. Great things are achieved by embracing great dangers."

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#277 2023-12-27 00:56:52

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 7,410

Re: Why the Green Energy Transition Won’t Happen

Calliban,

I already stated that the 17kWh of energy doesn't represent all of the energy input into making Aluminum, merely the electrical power consumed per kilogram, on average.  We've manufactured a grand total of about 1.5 billion metric tons of Aluminum throughout the entire history of Aluminum smelting.  We'd need to smelt another 4 billion metric tons of 100% virgin Aluminum to make enough conductor wire for this all-electric future.  Without the benefit of those 388 additional nuclear reactors, that means burning a ludicrous quantity of coal above and beyond what we already do.

If we're going to emit more CO2 than we would have otherwise emitted if we had simply burned more coal, then what is the actual point of doing that?

We should stop pretending that so-called "green energy" is reducing CO2 emissions, since it's clearly not doing any of that.  PR campaigns are not equal to actual emission reductions, of which there have been precisely none.  There are plenty of people attempting to conflate activity with accomplishment.

If 75% of the 1.5Bt of all existing Aluminum is recycled metal, then most Aluminum currently in circulation is not virgin metal.  At our present "real manufacturing rate", we have added 17.25Mt of brand new / never existed before Aluminum to the current year and running total / all-time production.  That's not terribly impressive, relative to the quantity required for an all-electric future.

To begin producing 200Mt of virgin Aluminum per year is an increase in Aluminum ore mining and smelting of 11.6 TIMES the current rate.  We would need to maintain that production rate for at least 20 years.  If such a production rate could be achieved, then creating Aluminum conductor wire would represent the largest single-purpose energy expenditure on Earth.  All other uses for energy by sector (agriculture, mining, manufacturing, residential, commercial, transportation, etc) represent smaller slices of the entire energy consumption pie.

4,048,000,000,000,000Wh <- US 2022 electricity consumption
3,400,000,000,000,000Wh <- Total amount of electricity to smelt 200Mt of Aluminum per year
4,000,000,000,000,000Wh <- Total amount of energy to smelt 200Mt of Aluminum per year (20kWh/kg)

The remainder of the energy input is heat energy that can be supplied by electricity or coal or natural gas, but it must be provided just the same.

Who here thinks we're going to add another United States, in terms of electrical energy consumption, without burning a lot more coal, oil, and gas?

If anyone here thinks otherwise, then where are all those brand new hydro dams or nuclear reactors or geothermal wells coming on line to provide that much additional electricity?

It can't come from wind turbines or photovoltaics that don't exist, because those are the energy making machines which require 100% of that as-yet "not manufactured" Aluminum or Copper conductor wire, merely to deliver their power to the grid, or to be constructed to begin with.

US EIA includes 5 to 7 hours of electrical energy storage in their figuring.  That is not enough energy to subsist upon the proposed stored energy reserves from sunset to sunrise.  The reason behind that figure is that even DOE and NREL thinks renewable electrical energy using electro-chemical batteries is completely impossible beyond that 5 to 7 hour mark, because there's not enough Lithium, Copper, and a slew of other metals.  Said figure is still an absurdity backed by nothing except the daily energy deficit for wind and photovoltaics at the times when the energy would be consumed.  It's demand matching energy storage and nothing more.

Their model does not take seasonality into account at all.  Since wind / solar / hydro energy ultimately come from the effects of solar radiation, and we receive 50% less sunlight in winter than in summer, 5 to 7 hours is not nearly enough.  If you look at global ambient / solar radiation energy received over the course of a year, anywhere outside of the tropics, it's a sine wave with a period of 1 year that includes substantial peaks and troughs.

Solar-insolation-as-a-function-of-the-month-of-the-year-and-latitude-in-the-northern.png

As Professor Michaux pointed out to everyone in Europe, this requires a dramatically over-capacity renewable energy system, or 6 months of energy storage capable of slow release during the winter months.  Hydro can do that, but nothing else can.  If the renewable energy system was built to 200% of its summertime-capacity, then it would require even more metals, energy input, and electrical equipment to buffer the power fluctuations.

For onshore wind, 8.76TWh/year, the output of a 1GWe nuclear reactor, requires triple the build-out due to the 33% capacity factor.  A single 3MWe wind turbine produces power about 33% of the time, so 8.76GWh/year.  That means 1,000 of those 3MWe wind turbines are required to replace the 1GWe reactor, and when the wind isn't blowing, total power output is still zero.  These turbines will cost $4B, which is just shy of the cost of that 1GWe reactor, and they will remain in service for 20 years at most.  Over 60 years, they'll need to be replaced at least twice, so $12B in capital cost for purchasing, completely ignoring inflation / devaluing of currency from printing more money backed by nothing.

That's why nearly all new East Coast wind turbine projects have already been killed.  Someone who can do simple math pointed out the obvious to the people who underwrite the loans.  Wind turbines are dramatically more expensive than nuclear reactors over the same period of time that nuclear reactors would remain operable, but far less reliable over a year of operation when compared to nuclear reactors.

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#278 2023-12-27 01:20:07

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 7,410

Re: Why the Green Energy Transition Won’t Happen

Here are the ugly but very real "bottom line" numbers for 100% "green energy":

4,048,000,000,000,000Wh / 8,760,000,000 = 462,100 wind turbines
$5,545,200,000,000; at $12,000,000 per wind turbine and its 2 replacements

4,048,000,000,000,000Wh / 8,760,000,000,000 = 462.1 1GWe nuclear reactors
$2,310,500,000,000; at $5,000,000,000 per reactor

NREL says $1.06/W for large scale photovoltaic farms, so let's see what photovolatics and pumped hydro energy storage would cost...

11,090,410,958,904Wh/day, so 462,100,456,621W/hr

462,100,456,621W * 2 = 924,200,913,242W (else you don't have an electric grid during the winter)

924,200,913,242W * $1.06 = $979,652,968,036

$979,652,968,036 * 3 replacements at 20 year intervals = $2,938,958,904,108

Naturally, there's a "minor problem" with only using photovoltaics.  They produce power 11% of the time, on average.  There's a 100% guaranteed total loss of power every single day, as reliable as the Sun, although we call it "night".  Pumped hydro is the cheapest form of mass energy storage, so, $106/kWh to $200/kWh.  Let's be as kind as we can, and assume 80% of the electrical energy needs to be stored.

(3,238,400,000,000,000Wh / 1,000Wh) * $106 per kWh = $343,270,400,000,000

$343,270,400,000,000 + $2,938,958,904,108 = $346,209,358,904,108

$2.3T for 462 reactors
$5.5T for 462,100 wind turbines
$346T for photovoltaics plus pumped hydro energy storage (cheapest possible)

If the pumped hydro storage cost is closer to $200/kWh then double the $346T figure.  Lithium-ion batteries are $393/kWh to $581/kWh, so quadruple to quintuple that much.  The US alone would have to spend a quadrillion dollars on "green energy", if it meant photovoltaics and Lithium-ion batteries only.  We're only 1/5th of the world's energy consumption, so 5 quadrillion dollars for all electric grids.  This does not include extra grid capacity for electric vehicles or economic growth, merely the money we would spend to maintain what we presently have.

Nuclear reactors are suddenly looking at lot like the economy model for renewable energy, the Honda Civic of "green energy".  It's not fast or sexy like a Tesla, but it runs reliably for a really long time.

My solar thermal energy generation and storage scheme falls somewhere between nuclear reactors and wind turbines, but it would be as reliable as nuclear power because it's still an over-glorified steam kettle at the end of the day.  We need to stop chasing after this utterly impossible all-electric fantasy.  My proposal was primarily aimed at powering transportation, plus commercial and residential power not used for lights or computers.  If the 75% of the energy already involving low grade heat was delivered direct, that means only 100 nuclear reactors would be required, because everything else would be run off of heat and pressure energy from the Sun.  Oh my gosh!  We already have 100 nuclear reactors.

The number of turbines installed in the U.S. each year varies based on a number of factors, but on average 3,000 turbines have been built in the U.S. each year since 2005.

462,100 wind turbines per year / 3,000 new installs per year = 154 years at the present rate

A wind turbine only lasts for 20 years, maximum.  That means we'd need to install 23,105 new wind turbines per year, forever.  We'd also have to recycle the wind turbines with near 100% efficiency, or eventually we run out of metal, regardless of what metals we use.  Whenever the wind stops blowing, the grid crashes.  Grid crashes will become daily events.  Since it can take hours to days to match the load to generation, the grid will never be fully functioning, nevermind stable.

How do you buffer terawatt-scale power fluctuations for an energy system that has to be internally balanced, because it's so large it can be buffered with gas turbines?

The simple answer is that you don't, because it's not remotely practical to do.  The more individual generators you have to sync onto the grid, the more impractical this becomes.  You either design your renewable energy generating systems such that they don't have a built-in requirement to be balanced to within 1/1,000,000th of a second, or else you no longer have an electric grid.  The third option is spending enough on energy storage to make the US military's budget look like a rounding error.  Clearly, none of those options are realistic.

Alternatively, you have gas turbines spinning 100% of the time, consuming hydrocarbon fuels in the process, producing CO2, and falsely claim that "green energy" produced all of your electricity, whilst ignoring the entire rest of the year when it did not, and of course ignoring the fact that those gas turbines were still spinning, but dumping their power into the ground because you get brownie points for allowing the unreliable energy onto the grid while forcing your electricity rate payers to eat the cost of operating the gas turbines and the wind turbines and the photovoltaics, all at the same time, even though one or all three are literally dumping electricity into the ground whenever demand is less than generation.  This is what we're presently doing with our "green energy" machines.  This is why CO2 emissions only increase as more "green energy" is brought online.  It's deceptive marketing and blatant fraud.  When the gas turbines quit spinning, the grid will crash that same day, so then everyone will know beyond any shadow of a doubt, what was actually providing the electric grid's badly needed stability.

Producing more and more CO2 while claiming that we're not seems like a really bad plan.  The CO2 sampler on Mauna Loa doesn't lie, so maybe we should stop lying to ourselves about what we're actually doing.  We need a realistic plan implemented by people who can do basic math.  Perfection isn't required, merely an acceptance of what will or won't work at a global scale.  We have nuclear thermal, solar thermal, and geothermal.  Those work everywhere, from a technical standpoint.  Some places have lots of wind.  There is no practical way to scale-up electrical energy storage or anything else, except coal / oil / gas.

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#279 2023-12-28 20:06:28

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 3,396

Re: Why the Green Energy Transition Won’t Happen

Kbd512, I agree that attempting to rebuild our energy system based upon intermittent electricity sources is a bad idea. The link below is one that we have both seen before and it provides approximate numbers for the main materials needed for a TWh of electricity from various different energy sources.
https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files … pter10.pdf

In reality, the material investment for a TWh of wind or solar electricity will depend upon where the thing gets built.  This is something that proponants of these technologies never seem to appreciate.  The quality of the resource varies hugely from place to place.  In the UK, wind resource is about the best in the world.  Where I live in northern England, wind speeds are frequently gale force.  Conversely, solar energy resources are weak in the UK.  Only an idiot would build grid connected solar here.  Nuclear power based upon light water reactors, consumes roughly one tenth of the material budget of wind power and one hundredth of PV solar.

There has never been any doubt in my mind that nuclear energy is the most resource sustainable option for electricity, mechanical power and high grade heat.  There are a lot of options to explore with nuclear technology, but a bog standard PWR is hard to beat from an economic standpoint.  The problems that it faces are political and institutional.  There are a lot of political people who really are quite determined that nuclear power cannot be allowed to work.  In my opinion this is largely due to an emotional prejudice in favour of energy source that these people deem natural.  They want to prevent the successful deployment of nuclear power because they need the problems that it would solve.

That said, I do like to explore what can be done with intermittent energy.  Partly it is just scientific curiosity.  But also, if the leftwing morons hold nuclear power back to the point where all of the industries that support it dwindle and die, I want a contingency plan that will maintain some approximation of an industrial economy.  We can do that with wind power in the UK.  Unfortunately, this isn't a solution that can be applied equally everywhere.

Last edited by Calliban (2023-12-28 20:28:26)


"Plan and prepare for every possibility, and you will never act. It is nobler to have courage as we stumble into half the things we fear than to analyse every possible obstacle and begin nothing. Great things are achieved by embracing great dangers."

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#280 2023-12-29 15:58:40

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 7,410

Re: Why the Green Energy Transition Won’t Happen

Calliban,

Leftist morons are holding nuclear power hostage, because it invalidates their beliefs and worldview.  In simple terms, it makes them look stupid, not because anyone else is so stunningly brilliant, but because they argue for absurdity and idiocy as "virtues" that they've never had and never will have because they don't have any concept of basic morality.  They were never taught to value people unless they can somehow control them like sock puppets.  They lack any control over or meaning to their own lives, because they can't answer useful questions about humanity in the complete absence of agreed upon morality.  Organized religion was previously used to enforce morality, because it was the "glue" that held society together.  Leftists have no willingness to view duty to each other as important and necessary.

That's why leftists latch onto every nutty idea that comes along, like climate change or transgenderism.  It's the closest thing to religion that they have to look forward to.  They proclaim that the world becoming a few degrees warmer or cooler over decades or centuries is equivalent to "The Apocalypse", despite the fact that every diurnal cycle is a radically more extreme version of the same.  The temperature changes 20 to 50 degrees, every single day, but most of the time nobody dies as a result.  Well, great.  You took the worst aspects of the traditional Abrahamic religions without any of their redeeming features.  Did that help them or anyone else?  Of course not.  How could it?

If we had built 3 additional reactors at every existing nuclear power site, 50 years ago when it would've mattered far more than it does today when the damage is already done, then 100% of America's electricity generation would be CO2 free, for about as long as I've been alive.  That would've been simple and easy to do, but it also would've taken away one of their favorite play toys- climate change.  Whenever leftists can't figure out how to polarize an issue to divide people, and then to weaponize it to pit brother against brother, they no longer have any interest in it, because it's not something they can use to subvert a well-functioning society.

If 100% of the power was already CO2-free because we built out the nuclear reactor fleet, then our leftists would have no political cudgel to attempt to use to control society.  All they've done with the trillions of dollars already squandered on their "green energy" scam, is using other peoples' money to enrich themselves while increasing CO2 emissions, every single year.

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#281 2024-01-02 07:06:55

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 3,396

Re: Why the Green Energy Transition Won’t Happen

The link below is the wiki article on the Thelnetham windmill near Diss in Norfolk.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thelnetham_Windmill
https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/5028370

The windmill is equipped with patent sails, making it more efficient than the fabric reaction sails that were common on older wind machines.  The fan tail on the back of the cap is an English invention, that keeps the blades facing into the wind without operator action.  The Dutch were able to improve upon sail design even further in the 1930s, with Decker sails, made from aluminium.  Even better blades could be produced today, using the aerodynamics knowledge and CFD techniques developed for larger wind turbines.

The Thelnethan windmill is a brick tower mill.  It was constructed in 1819 and remained in use grinding grain for 105 years until 1924, after which it was abandoned for 55 years.  In 1979, it was restored by enthusiasts and is still used to grind grain to this day.

Windmills like this were used to provide mechanical power for a lot of applications in Europe well into the 20th century.  Eventually, electricity, petrol and diesel engines supplanted them.  But if we are headed into an era where liquid fuels are scarcer and electricity is less reliable and more expensive, the mechanical windmill is a technology that could make a comeback in places with a sufficient wind resource.  The impressive thing about these direct mechanical devices is their longevity.  This mill has stood for over two centuries and has produced flour for 150 years.  The energy expenditure of building the mill would have been considerable.  But the lifetime of the tower is measured in centuries.  With modern paints and sealants, the sails could be made to last a human lifetime.  Longevity significantly improves the energy return on investment of any energy producing device. These devices are things that we build once and benefit from practically forever with good maintenance.

Why do we not see more mechanical windmills today?  I think part of the reason is institutional inertia.  The skills needed to build and work these devices has disappeared.  It wouldn't occur to most people today to build a windmill if they needed mechanical power.  Most end use devices today are electrically driven.  So a mechanical solution would require developing new machines that run off of a different energy source.  These factors stand in the way of redeveloping the mechanical windmill.  In its favour are technological simplicity, low embodied energy materials, longevity and technological advancements in mechanical power transmission.  When most windmills were built in Europe, between the 17th and 19th centuries, mechanical power transmission was poorly developed.  Transmission based on belts and rope drives was cumbersome and impractical.  Power transmission was limited to the very short distances provided by the rotating shaft.  This required that power consuming equipment was within or directly ajoining the windmill itself.

Nowadays, there are several mechanical power transmission options that could be used.  There are the traditional line shafts, rope drives and jerker lines, improved with modern materials.  But we also have hydraulics and compressed air, which weren't really practical until the end of the 19th century.  A revival of the mechanical windmill, could use hydraulics or compressed air to power entire factory networks of machines.  This allows complete freedom in factory layout.  Hydraulics and air can transmit power over long distances.  Energy losses depend upon pipe diameter, roughness and flow speed through the pipe.  So it wouldn't be difficult to have several windmills supplying a hydraulic main which distributes power throughout a town or industrial estate.  Or a hundred or so hydraulic windmills could drive a single ground based hydraulic-electric generator, feeding power into the grid.

These old wind machines were complex with a lot of moving parts.  It occurs to me that cost could be significantly reduced by using the rotating shaft to drive a modular piston air compressor.  This then allows a great deal of freedom in factory layouts, with compressed air lines being routed in much the same way as electrical cables.  I think the old systems of line shafts are obsolete now.  Air can be stored in ballasted concrete shells underwater.  This allows work to continue even on days where windspeeds are lower.  Air compression generates a great deal of heat.  The temperature of this heat can be determined based upon the compression ratio of each stage in the compressor.  Heat is typically removed by water cooling.  In this way, mechanical wind machines will generate mechanical power through compressed air and hot water, for heating, washwater and industrial use.

The demand for heating is much greater in winter than it is in summer.  This is convenient because it coincides with the period when windpower is most abundant.  Undersea CAES can provide a useful buffer for daily mismatch between supply and demand.  The interesting thing about this is that ballasted concrete tanks don't really have any life limiting degredation issues.  The net forces acting on the structure are all compressive.  This means that after the initial cost of building and emplacing these tanks, they are cumulative assets.  Storage capacity can be built in gradually, with tanks lasting centuries once installed.

I think the way forward with redeveloping the mechanical windmill is to develop some standardised designs.  This allows builders and manufacturers to accumulate experience, reducing build time and lowering capital cost.  The windmill should also make use of a standardised piston air compressor, supplying air at pressure 100psi.  This is standard workshop pressure and there is already plenty of machinery on the market that uses air at this pressure.  So we don't need to develop entirely new end use equipment using compressed air.  Hydraulics are an option as well.  Hydraulics are often used in equipment that requires high power over short duration.  Because hydraulic fluid is incompressible, hydraulic machinery is more energy efficient than compressed air.  For large factory applications it may be prefereable.  But energy storage is more difficult.  Raised weight accumulators and water towers provide limited storage.  But for industrial scale energy use the cheapest solution may be to adapt demand to supply.
****************

Additional 1: This is an interesting site detailing historic windmills and wind engines all over the world.
http://www.windmillworld.com/

Additional 2: The Dutch Tjasker was an extremely simple tilted horizontal axis wind turbine used for drainage.  The horizontal axis is connected directly to an archimedes screw pump, which raises water over a head of just a few feet.  Only one moving part - the shaft itself.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tjasker

With modern technology we could improve upon this by attaching the archimedes screw to any of a number of vertical axis wind turbines.  These can pump equally well regardless of wind direction.  The Tjasker was made entirely from wood.  This is a low embodied energy material that is easy to work with.  Using the simple archimedes pump, we could generate useful power by combining seveeal hundred low head wind pumps with a small hydroplant that drives mechanical equipment.

Additional 3:Amish wind powered compressor.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Oc0b4aBOyBw

Last edited by Calliban (2024-01-03 07:00:05)


"Plan and prepare for every possibility, and you will never act. It is nobler to have courage as we stumble into half the things we fear than to analyse every possible obstacle and begin nothing. Great things are achieved by embracing great dangers."

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#282 2024-01-09 05:30:03

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 3,396

Re: Why the Green Energy Transition Won’t Happen


"Plan and prepare for every possibility, and you will never act. It is nobler to have courage as we stumble into half the things we fear than to analyse every possible obstacle and begin nothing. Great things are achieved by embracing great dangers."

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#283 2024-01-10 10:27:40

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 3,396

Re: Why the Green Energy Transition Won’t Happen

Power transmission usually relies on copper or aluminium alloys, due to their much lower resistivity.  Steel is almost useless for conducting AC power, due to the skin effect.  However, if power transmission is DC, then pure iron is a contender.
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/rail101- … aniel-pyke

The resistivity or iron is 5.77x that of copper.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electri … nductivity

This means that a pure iron cylindrical conductor must be 2.4x wider than a copper conductor of the same resistance.  The iron conductor would be about 5x heavier.  The plus side is that iron is a lot cheaper and more abundant than copper.  So this is something that we could use if copper prices ever get too high.  Copper coated iron cables already exist.  This is no good in situations where power density is important, like inside an electric motor.  But it may be possible to replace copper cabling with iron in situations where flexibility and weight are not important.

Last edited by Calliban (2024-01-10 10:35:41)


"Plan and prepare for every possibility, and you will never act. It is nobler to have courage as we stumble into half the things we fear than to analyse every possible obstacle and begin nothing. Great things are achieved by embracing great dangers."

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#284 2024-01-10 21:58:50

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 7,410

Re: Why the Green Energy Transition Won’t Happen

Calliban,

40 billion metric tons of Iron vs 8 billion metric tons of Copper vs 4 billion metric tons of Aluminum, to attempt to make everything electric using existing electrical and electronic energy technology, doesn't really move the needle in the right direction.  The real issue is that the fundamental physics of electricity cannot be bargained with.  We cannot make everything electric or electronic for any reasonable metal, energy, and ultimately economic input cost.  There is no "all-electric future".

Mining Bauxite for Aluminum
278kWh/t or 1GJ/t of Bauxite ore

Alumina Production from Digestion
2,083kWh/t to 3,333kWh/t of gibbsite Bauxite ore
3,055kWh/t 5,000kWh/t of böhmite or diaspore Bauxite ores

Clarification / Precipitation / Calcination
red mud separated from Sodium Aluminate and hydrated Alumina crystal production
Crystals are baked at 900C to 1,300C for metallurgical grade Al2O3
834kWh/t (GSC / FBC stationary calciners) to 1,251kWh/t (rotary kilns); the "Bayer Process"

Hall-Héroult Process for Aluminum smelting from pure Alumina
Still the only process for primary Aluminum production (not scrap recycling)
Requires temperatures 950C to 960C
13,000kWh/t; 15,000kWh/t in US, on average, and modern electrolyzers are 94% to 96% efficient

3,055kWh + 834kWh + 15,000kWh = 18,889kWh (21MWh/t in US, on average; 19MWh/t in China)
All global producers range between 19MWh/t and 22MWh/t, with most around 20MWh/t to 21MWh/t

Carbon Anode Production for Hall-Héroult Process is also 444kWh/t of Carbon anode material

Iron Ore Mining
42.5kWh/t of Iron ore

Liquid Iron with 5% Carbon BOF (Basic Oxygen Furnace); Year 2000; Pig Iron
3,611,114Wh/t to 3,888,892Wh/t

Liquid Steel BOF (Basic Oxygen Furnace); Year 2000; Virgin Steel Production
2,916,669Wh/t to 3,194,447Wh/t of liquid steel

Liquid Steel EAF (Electric Arc Furnace); Year 2000; Steel Scrap Recycling
583,334Wh/t to 666,667Wh/t

Hot Rolling Sheet Steel
555,556Wh/t to 666,667Wh/t

Cold Rolling Sheet Steel
277,778Wh/t to 388,889Wh/t

US National Average Energy Consumption from 24 Years Ago in Wh/t Best and Worst Case
Iron Wiring (Iron Ore + Liquid Iron + Hot Rolling):
42,500 + 3,611,114 + 555,556 = 4,209,170
42,500 + 3,888,892 + 666,667 = 4,598,059
Hot-Rolled Steel (Iron Ore + Liquid Iron + EAF + Hot Rolling):
42,500 + 3,611,114 + 583,334 + 555,556 = 4,792,504
42,500 + 3,888,892 + 666,667 + 666,667 = 5,264,726
Cold-Rolled Steel (Iron Ore + Liquid Iron + EAF + Cold Rolling):
42,500 + 3,611,114 + 583,334 + 277,778 = 4,514,726
42,500 + 3,888,892 + 666,667 + 388,889 = 4,986,948

4,000,000,000t of Aluminum wiring * 20,000,000Wh/t = 80,000,000,000,000,000Wh
8,000,000,000t of Copper wiring * 8,333,340Wh/t (1970s Copper energy input) = 66,666,720,000,000,000Wh
8,000,000,000t of Copper wiring * 25,000,020Wh/t (2020s Copper energy input) = 200,000,160,000,000,000Wh
40,000,000,000t of Iron wiring * 4,209,170Wh/t = 168,366,800,000,000,000Wh

This is why we used to only use Copper for electrical devices.  Copper required the least amount of energy input, decades ago.  Engineers try things the easy way first.  We electrified everything we reasonably could with the technology that was available at the time.  Unfortunately, ore quality of all types has declined over the decades, so Aluminum looks like the only viable candidate metal for an "all-electric" future.  Professor Michaux seems to understand the relationship between ore grinding size and energy input, but few other people seem to comprehend it.  The finer you have to grind the ore to get at the Copper, the greater the energy input.  Aluminum wiring still means adding a United States annual electrical energy consumption equivalent, for 20 years.  That means burning coal and gas like mad.  Without any "green energy" machines that can be created without first having the conductor wire metal available, I fail to see how this is going to work.

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#285 2024-01-11 09:17:04

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 3,396

Re: Why the Green Energy Transition Won’t Happen

Kbd512, you are quite correct that from an energetic viewpoint, it makes no sense replacing copper with pure iron.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embodied_energy

The emboddied energy of copper is estimated to be 42MJ/kg, whereas iron is estimated at 25MJ/kg.  Given that we need roughly 5x the mass of iron to do the same job as the copper conductor, there would appear to be no energetic (and by extension, cost) advantage to using iron over copper.  Interestingly, there is also no energetic advantage to using aluminium instead of copper.  I only raise the option of using iron because it is a material available in abundance.  We face no short term supply limitations on Iron.  But there doesn't seem to be enough copper to go around, as the ore grade keeps dropping.  And aluminium is a very energy hungry material.

I have never been of the opinion that electricity was a suitable substitute for liquid fuels in transportation or space heating.  Our generating capacity would need to at least triple to make that possible.  That just isn't on the cards.


"Plan and prepare for every possibility, and you will never act. It is nobler to have courage as we stumble into half the things we fear than to analyse every possible obstacle and begin nothing. Great things are achieved by embracing great dangers."

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#286 2024-01-11 18:00:16

kbd512
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Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 7,410

Re: Why the Green Energy Transition Won’t Happen

Calliban,

I don't see the point to mindlessly pursuing electrification without asking basic questions about what we're accomplishing.  Whether or not this is actually cleaner and better for the environment is highly questionable.  What this looks like to me, is that we're doing the exact opposite of what we're claiming to do, and that climate change is bad, so let's accelerate the process to an absurd degree by consuming absurd quantities of energy in a vain attempt to overturn the basic math and physics of intermittent energy systems.

When Louis was still posting on this forum, he opined that "throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks" is a valid way to do energy systems engineering.  Assume that there was some merit to the argument, even though we both know, with what we know right now, that it's not.  We're not even doing that much.  We're pursuing electrification without actually reducing CO2, sustainability, or environmentally cleaner results.  I cannot make an intellectual argument for pursuing a singular solution to every energy problem.  Even with nuclear power, putting all your "energy eggs" in one basket is a bad strategy for long term survival.

Anyone who thinks were going to reduce or merely arrest the rate of increase of our CO2 emissions, while adding another United States' worth of energy draw over the next 20 years, is not playing with a full deck.  We have to mine enough metal to make those green energy machines to begin with.  I believe we can decrease the energy input into the individual machines using novel designs, sort of like the various vertical axis wind turbines.  However, at some point we have to connect millions of those machines to an electric grid, and there is nothing remotely practical about that prospect.  It looks like a purposefully embedded failure point.  I can't believe that it's not obvious to an engineer.

Very low embodied energy values for Copper mostly applied to grades of ore that aren't available today.  Aluminum energy input is fixed and fairly well known.  If you were to compare Copper from the 1970s with Aluminum back then, then yes, Aluminum production would be dramatically more energy-intensive.  I'm not so sure that still applies.  Energy input is a major part of what makes Copper more expensive today than Aluminum.  Copper energy investment will be site and equipment-specific, which makes it a variable unknown quantity, apart from the clear deterioration of ore grades which requires exponentially more power to grind to finer grain sizes.  Unlike Copper, there will be no shortage of Aluminum or Iron ore any time in the near future.

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#287 2024-01-14 12:21:56

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 28,812

Re: Why the Green Energy Transition Won’t Happen

The National Security Council's first climate position John Kerry steps down from Biden administration

Which is all part of the dissastifaction for not being able to get this change as it was the extreme condition created rather than a smart steps to reduce energy costs, pollution levels and stablize the world wild swings or weather.

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#288 2024-01-20 12:20:07

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 28,812

Re: Why the Green Energy Transition Won’t Happen

A Clean-Energy Bet Goes Bad for Power Companies

U.S. power companies raced to get in on the offshore wind boom a few years ago. Now some are rushing to get out.

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#289 2024-01-20 20:18:05

kbd512
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Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 7,410

Re: Why the Green Energy Transition Won’t Happen

SpaceNut,

All this stuff is going away because...

1. The money from the Baby Boomers is no longer part of the circulating supply, because they've now retired.  They can't take the market volatility, so they pull their money out of the stock market / investment market.  There is no replacement supply of actual value to substitute for their labor and ingenuity.  I define "actual value" as something real that can solve real problems.  For example, a skilled engineer who knows how to design an electric motor or combustion engine is providing real value with his or her labor.  You can't replace what they know and what they can do with any amount of money or automated machinery, so their "worth" to society and humanity writ large is quite real and irreplaceable.

2. The notion that there is enough metal to implement this "electric everything" type of civilization is fundamentally at-odds with the quantity of available ore, mining equipment, and the energy to do that mining.  This is highly perplexing to me, because it was such an easy calculation to perform and it required no deep thought or high complexity analysis to perform.  We're pulling #Mt of metal from the ground each year, we need #Mt of metal to build these green machines we want to create, so this is how long it will take to do it.

3. Short-lived electronic devices being used as the energy generating system is taking planned obsolescence to a wildly unsustainable level.  I realize that we use this paradigm for personal electronics and computers, appliances, and motor vehicles, but we can't scale this up to the entire energy system.  The green energy machines live for 1/3rd as long as the hydrocarbon or nuclear energy machines.  We could barely make things work to the degree required with hydrocarbon and nuclear energy.  Something that requires 10X / 100X / 1,000X more energy and materials is a non-starter.

4. The energy economy is little different than any other living and breathing form of life.  When we sucked the oil / "life blood" out of our energy system, but there was nothing that was even remotely ready to replace it.  It's utterly insane, to me at least, that anyone thought oil and coal could easily and swiftly be replaced by electricity.  I saw zero evidence of that actually happening.  It was more like haphazard large-scale experimentation with no coherent strategy and no due diligence on the fundamentals of "making it happen" (energy input, labor, metals, energy storage to account for intermittency, and broad general strategy beyond "make it bigger" / "consume more metal").  Simply "declaring" that oil was "dead" and had been "replaced", didn't actually cause that to happen, because the "green energy" machinery that was built was woefully inadequate to that colossal task and far more expensive than anyone thought it would be.

5. The social narrative that "green energy was replacing hydrocarbon energy" or "EVs are replacing gasoline" was blatantly false.  The only people buying these "green energy" machines were people for which cost and practical usability were not serious issues.  They bought them for social or "coolness" reasons.  That's fine, but it's not a societal "sea change".  20 years after we started toiling away to make this stuff work, we don't have very many "artifacts of success" to point to.  We have plenty of artifacts of what was created, but none of those things have created the outcome we said we were after.  The primary artifact of success would be CO2 emissions reductions, but we have none of that.  We do have a lot of nebulous claims that are very difficult to objectively quantify (we saved # millions of tons of CO2 per year by doing X vs Y, this is greener than that, electricity is cheaper than gasoline, etc).

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#290 2024-01-21 16:44:28

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 3,396

Re: Why the Green Energy Transition Won’t Happen

How is it that left leaning media elites and politicians managed to convince themselves that the world was about to transition to a renewable electric future?  How could they ignore the impossibly large material requirements that this would entail?  I think the answer is two fold.

(1) The sort of ideologically minded people that become obsessed with a vision like this, tend to be weak in technical understanding.  They are more likely to have social science degrees than physics or engineering degrees.  So they aren't really exposed to technical details or able to understand them.  Talk about power density and grid frequency control will go right over their heads.

(2) Human beings are vulnerable to confirmation bias.  Because humans are emotional creatures, they become emotionally attached to ideas.  They tend to seek out opinions and articles that reinforce their beliefs and ignore those that don't.  Ideologically minded people will tend to do this even more.  Given that people tend to move in the same circles as like minded people, and there is peer pressure to conform on points of view, overr time the popular narrative becomes increasingly delusional and sharply at odds with reality.

The UK government is now having to offer £100/MWh ($125/MWh) to entice new offshore wind capacity.  This comes after an auction that attracted zero new investment in 2023.
https://www.theguardian.com/business/ni … -price-gas?

This cost does not include costs associated with grid frequency control or the increasing cost of maintaining backup power supply, from CCGT stations that are losing market share because of wind.  So much for 'cheap' renewables.  Few people seem to have realised that if this cannot be made to work in Britain, which is the windiest industrial country, it really isn't going to work anywhere.

Last edited by Calliban (2024-01-21 16:53:56)


"Plan and prepare for every possibility, and you will never act. It is nobler to have courage as we stumble into half the things we fear than to analyse every possible obstacle and begin nothing. Great things are achieved by embracing great dangers."

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#291 2024-01-21 16:56:00

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 28,812

Re: Why the Green Energy Transition Won’t Happen

The other part of that is the resistance to change that makes profits less for other energy gouging systems and in the end over pricing those alternative energy sources. Recently I saw adds indicating that solar panels that had stocked pile are now being sold at half what they were, but I am sure that's not getting passed down to those wanting to have them.

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#292 2024-01-21 17:35:24

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 3,396

Re: Why the Green Energy Transition Won’t Happen

This article is a few years old now, but it shows some interesting trends.
https://euanmearns.com/uk-offshore-wind … -analysis/

Although average wind speed increases with height above the ground, real wind turbines appear to generate about the same amount of power per unit swept area, regardless of hub height.  What has been increasing as turbines get larger, is capacity factor.  Add up all the MWh's a turbine produces in a year and then divide it by the number of MWh it would have produced if the wind had blown at the turbine's max rated wind speed for a whole year.  That is capacity factor and it usually sits between 20 and 40%, depending on where the turbine is.  Capacity factor is all about generator capacity.

Capacity factor has been trending up as turbines grow in size.  This tells me that increasingly, manufacturers are opting for generators that are smaller than the mechanical capacity of the turbine .  They are choosing to shed load mechanically in high wind speeds, to keep the smaller electrical generators working at peak capacity for more hours.  This makes some sense if a large part of the power generated by the turbine under high wind conditions would otherwise have to be curtailed.  A smaller generator avoids some of the need for that and has lower capital cost.  But it also tells me that as wind capacity increases, we are approaching diminishing returns.  Capital equipment is being used less efficiently.  We are using smaller generators because the peak output from larger ones woukd be wasted anyway and smaller generators are cheaper.  But the amount of materials needed to construct a wind turbine is roughly propirtional to the cube of hub height.  If rated power per unit swept area is not increasing, then wind turbines are getting less efficient in terms of material invested per MWh harvested.  That doesn't bode well from a sustainability perspective.

Last edited by Calliban (2024-01-21 17:42:19)


"Plan and prepare for every possibility, and you will never act. It is nobler to have courage as we stumble into half the things we fear than to analyse every possible obstacle and begin nothing. Great things are achieved by embracing great dangers."

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#293 2024-01-22 14:01:08

kbd512
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Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 7,410

Re: Why the Green Energy Transition Won’t Happen

Calliban,

The sort of "confirmation bias" I was hoping to receive, was that as we brought more of these "green energy" systems online, that our CO2 emissions would go down, rather than up.  I can't find a single article, scientific study or merely educated opinion, asserting that such has been the case.  That is a direct scientific evidence-based refutation of the assertion that these green energy machines are having their desired impact on global CO2 emissions.  We're going to arrive at 70% wind and solar, but only then will our CO2 emissions go down?  What if we cannot maintain or even reach that level of energy mix?  Do our emissions still go up?  If so, that's not a good plan.

We now have substantial installed wind turbine and photovoltaic farm capacity in most or all industrialized countries, yet our CO2 emissions continue to trend further and further away from a downward trajectory.  There is no greater refutation of conventional wisdom that I or anyone else can offer than our actual measured CO2 emissions trend line.  It simply cannot be the case that emissions increased at an even faster rate when the entire premise of building those machines was achieving a net emissions reduction.  Where is that elusive reduction in CO2 emissions that was supposed to come with more green energy consumption?

Since we're clearly not headed in the desired direction, the intellectually honest thing to do would be to take stock of where we're at, what we've done, why what we attempted hasn't worked the way we thought it would, and to move in a new direction that at least has a chance of producing the desired outcome, because it hasn't been tried before.  Electrification was a technological dead-end, so long as material resource and mining capacity and input energy constraints were involved, as they always will be.  We're still basically ants in the grand scheme of things.

Some of us will assert that we didn't "try hard enough", but that ignores CO2 emissions reality and ultimately, energy / labor / materials scarcity reality.  The reason we haven't built more electrical machines is not that they don't work or we don't know how, but that we can't lay a hand to sufficient energy / labor / materials to make them significantly faster than we already are.  We've devoted enormous amounts of money and brain power and political will power to this endeavor with no positive change to show for our efforts.  There's no willingness to accept the wisdom of the "sunk cost fallacy".  20 years from now, all the existing equipment will require near-complete replacement, meaning more of the materials, energy, and labor to do that.  When some or all of that simply doesn't exist, then what?  Mass starvation, riots, death, and destruction?  That's monumentally asinine.

If we continue on with our present course of action, when the hydrocarbon fuels run out, we won't magically achieve "green energy"- we'll go back to the technological Stone Age, with all the horrific living conditions humanity endured under it.  You won't find many willing participants to play that game.

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#294 2024-01-22 19:10:28

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 28,812

Re: Why the Green Energy Transition Won’t Happen

Statistics still showing upward climb.
https://www.statista.com/statistics/109 … -historic/
but we do know that during the covid shutdown it did drop so we must be still in an over producing mode.
it does appear to oscillate.
https://www.climate.gov/news-features/u … on-dioxide

So what is the carbon footprint for solar manufacturing?
https://solarisrenewables.com/blog/what … facturing/
https://www.iea.org/data-and-statistics … ack-period
https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2023/0 … ate-change
https://www.solar.com/learn/what-is-the … ar-panels/

I have seen ads saying that solar panel being sold at 50% claim due to overstock from overseas produced panels.

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#295 2024-01-23 09:02:05

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 28,812

Re: Why the Green Energy Transition Won’t Happen

The US needs 22m acres for the solar energy transition – here’s what that looks like roughly the size of Maine, or an area larger than Scotland.

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#296 2024-01-23 09:12:30

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 16,943

Re: Why the Green Energy Transition Won’t Happen

As a reminder re the Guardian's report of the US Bureau of Land Management report...

Elon Musk estimated that a square 100 miles on a side would be sufficient ... that would be 6.4 million acres.

The BLM estimate of 22 million acres is probably closer to the eventual total, because Musk's design would be optimized in every way possible.

In reality, optimal performance is unlikely in any of the sites.

Google estimates the land area of the United States at 3.8 million square miles.

There's definitely enough room for the BLM's 22 million acres.

(th)

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#297 2024-01-23 11:42:45

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 3,396

Re: Why the Green Energy Transition Won’t Happen

Peter Zeihan's latest distribution, regarding the 3.5GWe wind farm being constructed in New Mexico.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=aUsjzgNx_8Y

I'm not sure what he is saying about more consistent wind speed at higher altitude is actually true.  What does happen as you rise within the 2km thick boundary layer where the atmosphere interacts with surface features, is that average wind speeds increase in accordance with the wind profile power law.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_profile_power_law

This generally increases the power density of the wind stream.  Manufacturers can take advantage of this by producing a turbine with superior power density, or keeping power density the same and using a smaller generator with better capacity factor.  This is why capacity factor appears to be greater for larger turbines.  It isn't that the wind is more consistent at height.  The generator reaches peak output at a lower effective windspeed than it potentially could.  It makes capacity factor look better.  But it does mean that any extra energy the mechanical parts of the turbine harness above a certain threshold gets wasted.  That power has to be shed by adjusting blade angle.  Larger turbines are more difficult to engineer, so that increase in capacity factor comes at a cost.

That isn't to say that this development has no value.  If wind turbine capacity factor rises to 60%, it does open some possible ways in which wind could meaningfully contribute to the grid.  It would work something like this.  Say we build a wind farm with a peak capacity of 3GWe.  The first 1GWe, we treat as baseload power.  This 1GWe is backed up by open cycle gas turbines.  These have relatively high fuel cost, but low capital cost.  If capacity factor of the windfarm is 60%, then we would only be using the OCGT powerplant occasionally, because output would drop beneath 1GWe for only a small number of hours each year, say 10%.  The other 2GWe of potential output from the windfarm is more variable and would account for perhaps half of its annual generation.  We would use this power to heat a thermal storage tank in a local district heating network.  This heat can be stored relatively cheaply.  We still have to pay for a backup power plant.  But the reduced capital cost of the OCGT and its low capacity factor, reduces the cost of this overhead.  You do need to have heat distribution networks for this idea to work, because the grid cannot control millions of individual storage heaters.

The relatively large materials investment associated with a wind farm remains a problem, which is essentially unsolvable.  This problem stems from the low power density of the wind and is an unchangeable feature of the resource.  Perhaps there are ways of using mechanical power transmission to reduce this problem, by couple a single large generator to a dozen turbines.


"Plan and prepare for every possibility, and you will never act. It is nobler to have courage as we stumble into half the things we fear than to analyse every possible obstacle and begin nothing. Great things are achieved by embracing great dangers."

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#298 2024-01-23 22:47:25

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 7,410

Re: Why the Green Energy Transition Won’t Happen

Calliban,

If wind turbines can be designed to directly produce heat and pressure to circulate a working fluid through a centrally located electric generator, then we don't need to synchronize hundreds to thousands of electric motors to the grid.  This is the way all commercial electric power plants were intended to operate, and did operate, prior to using intermittent energy.  They did not require control electronics to operate, or if they did, they were all located in one place.  Solar thermal provides the same ability to install a generator hall.  This is doable.  It's a model for a sustainable user maintainable implementation of wind and solar power.  Any decent commercial plumber or electrician knows how to make that work.  It's something that can be taught to new hires within a few months of on-the-job training.  It doesn't require an electrical engineering degree prior to even thinking about working on the system.

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#299 2024-01-28 11:06:55

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 3,396

Re: Why the Green Energy Transition Won’t Happen

How to build a small solar power system.
https://solar.lowtechmagazine.com/2023/ … er-system/

The latest article from low tech magazine.


"Plan and prepare for every possibility, and you will never act. It is nobler to have courage as we stumble into half the things we fear than to analyse every possible obstacle and begin nothing. Great things are achieved by embracing great dangers."

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#300 2024-01-28 17:25:47

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 7,410

Re: Why the Green Energy Transition Won’t Happen

How to Build a Low-tech Solar Panel?

George Cove, a forgotten solar power pioneer, may have built a highly efficient photovoltaic panel 40 years before Bell Labs engineers invented silicon cells. If proven to work, his design could lead to less complex and more sustainable solar panels.

Apparently, we can make photovoltaics without Silicon-based semi-conductors, which are potentially far easier to recycle than current photovoltaics and much longer-lived, with dramatically lower temperatures to fabricate these Tin-Antimony based semi-conductors.  Recycling would not involve toxic chemicals or grinding up the semi-conductor waste, and there may be no need to physically protect the device from the environment.  The downside is lower efficiency.  The use of more common and less energy-intensive semi-conductor materials probably negates any inefficiency in power production.

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