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#101 2021-07-09 18:15:10

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 1,154

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Pedro A. Prieto and Charles A.S. Hall carry out a detailed EROI analysis for Spain's photovoltaic industry in their book 'Spain’s Photovoltaic Revolution: The Energy Return on Investment'.  They arrive at an overall EROI of 2.45.  Hall (the original father of the EROI concept) explains that most energy payback studies fail to include a lot of energy inputs.  For example, it is common to include the embodied energy of the modules and inverters, but not the support frames, concrete foundations, grid connections, backup powerplant and storage.  Also, an assessment of the energy cost of labour is usually left out.  This is significant, because people employed in energy production are not free to work in other non-energy related industries.

An EROI of 2.45 in Spain would equate to an energy payback time of about 10 years.  The UK averages about 50% of Spanish insolation levels.  So I do not believe that a 13 year EPB time is overly pessimistic.  I am not an expert in EROI studies, but I am inclined to listen to the man that invented the concept.

Last edited by Calliban (2021-07-09 18:16:51)


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#102 2021-07-09 18:39:54

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,854

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

From what I see of PV manufacturing facilities, I imagine they run on electricity. Do you know differently?

If so, then China is not as dominated by coal as you claim.

Hydro, wind, solar and biomass account for 38% of electricity generation.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrici … r_in_China

This is nonsense about them not replacing the energy used to make them. Nearly all analysts say the energy replacement period is about 2-3 years.




kbd512 wrote:

90% of the photovoltaic panels in the world come from China and they're using coal to make them, not previously manufacture solar panels, wind turbines, or magic pixie dust.  Unless someone here can refute that point, then you're repeating your ideology, as if that's supposed to mean something to anyone who can count.  We're transforming coal, oil, and gas into photovoltaic panels that have a lifespan of 15 to 25 years, at most, before they need to be replaced.  Over that period of time, dependent upon where they're installed in the world, they may not return all of the energy that was invested into producing them to begin with, which means that when, not if, we run out of coal, oil, and gas, there is no way to sustain the use of wind and solar energy into perpetuity.  What about that do we refuse to understand?

Scroll to Page 56 of the following report from IRENA:

International Renewable Energy Agency - Future of Solar Photovoltaic - Deployment, investment, technology, grid integration and socioeconomic aspects

Resource Consumption per 1GWe (extrapolated from Figure 25 on Page 56, materials required for a 1MWe solar photovoltaic plant):

70,000t of glass - 3,077kWh/t (I think that's actually per short ton since my source is from the US, not metric ton, but let's pretend anyway)
Energy Efficiency Improvement and Cost Saving Opportunities for the Glass Industry - An ENERGY STAR® Guide for Energy and Plant Managers

If that link doesn't work for you, it's an archived OSTI Report from 2008, produced by the Energy Analysis Department, Environmental Energy Technologies Division, Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720

56,000t of steel - 770kWh/t (a little less than 500kWh/t using EAF, but only when it's recycled scrap)
*Numerous sources are available for this info, and I've already provided it several times, so I'm not repeating it here
43,120MWh

47,000t of concrete - 1,028kWh/t (Portland cement; global average from actual collected data over several decades, although it can be a lot more efficient than this, dependent upon the process used)
Energy Efficiency and CO2 Emissions from the Global Cement Industry
47,000MWh

19,000t of Aluminum - 12,500kWh/t (newest smelters presently operational) to 15,000kWh/t
*Numerous sources are available for this info, and I've already provided it several times, so I'm not repeating it here
237,500MWh

7,000t of Silicon - 50,000kWh/t to 65,000kWh/t (50kWh/kg to 65kWh/kg, per the document below from NREL)
Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Module Manufacturing Costs and Sustainable Pricing: 1H 2018 Benchmark and Cost Reduction Road Map
350,000MWh to 455,000MWh

7,000t of Copper - around 19,444kWh/t (if it came from rich ores in Chile or Congo, but can be a lot more if it came from somewhere else)
Historical, Current, and Future Energy Demand from Global Copper Production and Its Impact on Climate Change
136,500MWh

6,000t of plastics - 5,744kWh/t (since this is the energy savings associated with 1 metric ton of recycled plastic, producing 1t obviously consumes even more energy)
FAQ - Benefits of Recycling
34,500MWh

848,620MWh of energy merely to produce the materials required, not to ship them half way around the world or transform them into finished goods.  This amount of energy can be overcome if the plant is located in a desert.  If it's not, then it may require half of the plant's useful service life to overcome.

Since we like using countries located in deserts as our models for solar power cost, the Ouarzazate Solar Power Station cost $2.5B, produces produces 1,470GWh/yr, and was built over the same timeframe that the $5B Watts-Bar #2 nuclear power plant was built, which produces 6,825GWh/yr.  If we do some simple math, a plant that was double the cost produced 4.64X as much power output, despite running at far less than nominal capacity.  If it ran at nominal capacity, then it's producing 5.66X as much power output for double the purchase price.  Ouarzazate is selling power from OSPS at $0.19/kWh.  It actually costs TVA $0.0241/kWh to supply power from Watts-Bar (and yes, they charge more than that for the power, because they're in business to make a profit).

*** Edit ***:
Ouarzazate Solar Power Station is located in Morocco and came online in the same year as Watts-Bar #2.  The plant in question now has storage sufficient to produce power for an additional 8 hours after the Sun goes down, so you would need 2 Ouarzazate generating stations to produce 24/7/365 power, and they would cost every bit as much as Watts-Bar to purchase.  This would mean 2,940GWh/yr, still 2.32X less than Watts-Bar #2 running at 2/3 of its nominal output or 2.83X less output than Watts-Bar #2 running at full nominal output (95% capacity factor).  However, that's not what Morocco actually did.  They used natural gas as a backup for their unreliable energy, and that's why the electricity costs so much.

During the same period of time that Watts-Bar is producing power, 100% of installed wind and solar will have to be replaced a bare minimum of 3 times if Watts-Bar #2 operates for 60 years the way Watts-Bar #1 almost already has (Watts-Bar #1 is literally a few short years shy of 60 years of operations), so there's no way in hell that a photovoltaic generating solution is less expensive over time.  Imagine how expensive nuclear power would be if we were scrapping nuclear reactors every 20 years.  Since that's clearly not how nuclear power works, why can't we produce a wind turbine or photovoltaic panel (with precisely zero moving parts) that lasts longer than about 20 years before it's degraded to the point that we need more panel surface area to replace the power it's no longer producing?

Energy Savings by Material:
14,000kWh/t for recycled Aluminum (re-melting Aluminum is fairly easy to do, drastically less energy intensive than making it from scratch)
5,774kWh/t to 7,200kWh/t for recycled plastic
4,100kWh/t for recycled office paper (yes, that's for friggin typing paper!)
2,778kWh/t for recycled Copper (not listed in the document, but still very relevant)
642kWh/t for recycled steel (re-melting steel consumes more energy than re-melted Aluminum)
602kWh/t for recycled newspaper (amazing how much energy goes into making what's essentially toilet paper, huh?)
42kWh/t for recycled glass (takes almost as much energy to re-melt glass as it does to make from scratch, but you still save by recycling)

This sophomoric "plan" to try to use wind and solar for everything is not a serious solution to conserve our natural resources or to sustain a habitable environment for humans to live in, but it is a better than average way to "light the afterburner" on materials consumption.

Renewable Capacity Statistics 2021

All we're doing is increasing CO2 emissions at break-neck speed through absurd over-consumption of concrete, glass, plastic, Aluminum, Copper, and Iron, required to prop up the sophomoric ideas of our "green energy" people.  Namely, the notion that you can require 10X to 1,000X more energy input using an energy production and storage methods that are 10X to 1,000X less efficient than nuclear alternatives, in terms of materials and therefore energy consumption.  That is precisely why CO2 emissions keep increasing as more and more wind and solar power comes online.  These non-working ideas continually demand more and more concrete / glass / plastic / metals, so the associated energy to endlessly produce more and more of those materials over time.

Solar panels aren't made with sunshine.

The blast furnaces that produce steel use lots of Oxygen, but the refining process is certainly not powered by the wind.

There's no such thing as "doing more with less" whenever our "less" endlessly requires more and more.

That is the simple truth of this matter.  It's always been that simple.  Heck, even Michael Moore eventually figured this out, and he's about as mentally disabled by his ideology as anyone I've ever had the displeasure of listening to.

We've been relentlessly pursuing the fanciful daydreams of these possibly well-intentioned but insufferably indoctrinated people.  They have achieved "critical mass" over time, through mass-indoctrination rather than actual education.  They either can't count high enough to understand the nature of the problem or maybe can't think far enough ahead, or don't actually care enough to know that they're being lied to.  We have no shortage of charlatans, or equally uneducated people, who are falsely claiming that they're going to make the climate change boogeyman go away with this little-examined fantasy that's filled with rosy projections of the future, but little to no account of what actual performance has indicated.

We can either deal with a few million tons of radioactive nuclear waste that will all neatly fit onto a single football field (over more than half a century of nuclear power generation), or we can deal with hundreds of billions to low trillions of tons (every single year, from now until the Sun inevitably runs out of fuel) of toxic waste generated by mining the stunning quantities of materials required for anything wind or solar powered that will still fail to provide 24/7/365 power and require more frequent replacement.  The false "cheap-ness" of wind and solar power is an illusion.  When you can no longer drink the ground water because it's been thoroughly contaminated with Arsenic and Lead, then you will come to appreciate the benefits of using a reliable energy source that doesn't stop producing power when the Sun disappears over the horizon.

Solar is cheaper than natural gas, but your electricity bill relentlessly increases as more and more wind and solar power are added to the grid- well beyond the highest fraudulently manipulated estimates for what coal or natural gas or nuclear actually cost... because wind and solar are the "cheapest energy available".  That's why the typical German pays $0.3/kWh, with more installed wind and solar than just about any other country, as a total percentage of their electricity supply, while the typical American pay $0.1/kWh using natural gas.  That's not a marginal increase / decrease that can be explained away, it's a factor of 3 increase for the same product (moving electrons delivered to your outlets).  If you have re-wired your brain to believe that the wind and solar power actually cost less than the alternatives, then you're suffering from mass-indoctrination.  In the real world, money talks and BS walks.  I'm calling BS on how "cheap" wind and solar power are, until someone can adequately explain that discrepancy; or practices the slightest bit of intellectual honesty through the simple straightforward admission that the Sun don't shine in Germany, and thus solar power is not a "silver bullet" that cures all power generating problems.  My explanation for that major discrepancy is simple fraud perpetrated for ideological reasons.  That requires no Special Olympics gold-medal caliber mental gymnastics to understand.


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#103 2021-07-10 03:20:18

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 1,154

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

louis wrote:

From what I see of PV manufacturing facilities, I imagine they run on electricity. Do you know differently?

If so, then China is not as dominated by coal as you claim.

Hydro, wind, solar and biomass account for 38% of electricity generation.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrici … r_in_China

This is nonsense about them not replacing the energy used to make them. Nearly all analysts say the energy replacement period is about 2-3 years.

You can download a copy of Charles Hall's EROI assessment here.  Decide for yourself.
https://b-ok.cc/book/2115154/30a325

62% of Chinese electricity generation is coal based.  Hydro accounts for most of the remainder.  Chinese coal production accounts for 52% of global coal production.  That is a staggering amount of coal.  Chinese coal reserves are only 13% of global coal reserves (only half those of the US) and yet they dig more coal out of the ground than the rest of the world combined.  Their R/P ratio is one of the worst in the world and yet coal still accounts for 57% of their overall energy consumption.

No wonder the Chinese are in a desperate hurry to diversify into other energy sources.  Their coal production peaked way back in 2012.  That tells me that all growth in their real goods economy since 2012 has been supported by other energy sources.  But they already import most of their oil, with their own oil production being past peak (2015).  They are also the world's largest importer of LNG.  They have pushed hydro about as far as it can go.  So the only energy sources that they can get much expansion out of are nuclear, wind and solar power, all of which they are pushing hard for obvious reasons.  But they are cutting subsidy for new wind and solar projects.

Given that an economy is basically an energy system, it looks to me as though Chinese economic growth is just about tapped out.  The question in my mind is whether they can expand these alternatives rapidly enough to avoid absolute decline in their real goods economy.  The next five years will be interesting to watch.

Last edited by Calliban (2021-07-10 03:54:48)


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#104 2021-07-10 08:19:36

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 1,154

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Given the results presented by Hall and Prieto, it would be worthwhile examining options for reducing embodied energy in solar PV projects.  A couple of options come to mind:

(1) PV projects intended for grid connection will achieve better utilisation of labour and other physical resources if they scale up as much as possible, to at least 100MWp;

(2) Thin film PV uses about 1/4 of the semiconductor material of crystalline and polycrystalline cells;

(3) High strength, basalt fibre reinforced concrete could be used to build physical modules, saving on embodied energy of aluminium and steel;

(4) Modules could be assembled on tilted earth berms, using soil from the site, rather than steel frames in concrete foundations;

(5) Utilities could use a combination of wind and solar power to reduce interseasonal intermittency;

(6) Energy storage strategy needs to be careful consideration.  A combination of grid controlled end-use thermal storage, battery storage (probably sodium sulphur) providing several hours of storage, open cycle gas turbines to cover long-term lulls and some limited demand management.

The challenge would be to deliver a system capable of getting whole system EROI above 11, the limiting value for maintaining an industrial society.


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#105 2021-07-10 08:35:53

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,024

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

All great improvements if the site to place them on has the clear open path to the sun but for the majority of where the power is needed we are limited in such site locations.

Power companies have off loaded the cost to maintain infrastructure and are now trying to be brokers of power...

Since the electrical connection wires are owned buy the power companies, the solar is bought cheaply by them but the reduced levels of cost are not passed on to the consumer.

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#106 2021-07-10 12:50:45

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,854

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Since 2013 when that book was written and 2020, the levelised cost of solar panel generated electricity declined from $100 per megawatt hour to about $40 per MWH.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_e … energy.svg

So a reduction of 60%.  Did the coal price reduce by 60% over that period? No. Taking Australian coal as a guide, it started at $96 in Jan 2013 and was at $81 in December 2020, having spent the majority of the period higher than or within 20% of  the starting price.

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/PCOALAUUSDM

Given other price factors (e.g. the rise in real Chinese incomes) I think it is reasonable to conclude that energy input per unit is declining - most analysts ascribe that to economies of scale and technological developments.



Calliban wrote:

Pedro A. Prieto and Charles A.S. Hall carry out a detailed EROI analysis for Spain's photovoltaic industry in their book 'Spain’s Photovoltaic Revolution: The Energy Return on Investment'.  They arrive at an overall EROI of 2.45.  Hall (the original father of the EROI concept) explains that most energy payback studies fail to include a lot of energy inputs.  For example, it is common to include the embodied energy of the modules and inverters, but not the support frames, concrete foundations, grid connections, backup powerplant and storage.  Also, an assessment of the energy cost of labour is usually left out.  This is significant, because people employed in energy production are not free to work in other non-energy related industries.

An EROI of 2.45 in Spain would equate to an energy payback time of about 10 years.  The UK averages about 50% of Spanish insolation levels.  So I do not believe that a 13 year EPB time is overly pessimistic.  I am not an expert in EROI studies, but I am inclined to listen to the man that invented the concept.

Last edited by louis (2021-07-10 12:52:02)


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#107 2021-07-10 14:03:52

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,601

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Louis,

I think you're either being deliberately obtuse or more naive than Pollyanna ever was.  You're being presented with verifiable facts collected from dozens of sources across the globe, and all of them fly in the face of your ideology.  You can keep repeating your ideology back to me until you turn blue, but it won't change where all of that steel, concrete, and glass came from.  It wasn't from wind and solar power.  I can promise you that much.  A Star Trek type replicator didn't cause bolts, screws, and angle iron to materialize out of thin air, either.  It's an extension of fossil fuels, plain and simple.

Yes, the Chinese have solar panels and wind turbines, and lots of them at that.  They use them to supply expensive and unreliable power to domestic consumers to make it appear as though they're doing something that they're objectively not.  That's why you can't go outside in Beijing or Shanghai without wearing a respirator, assuming you want to be counted amongst the living a few years later.  This isn't a "knock" on China, either.  They're using whatever is available, because they have to!  They were using wind and solar before, during, and after the pandemic, but when all of their heavy industry was shut down, the air quality over their cities miraculously improved.  Why was that, do you suppose?  I don't have to guess at it- all of their heavy industry is powered by coal, oil, and gas, just as it's always been.  Whenever the Sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow, which is every single day, they use coal and gas to make up the difference.  I can guarantee that their steel industry doesn't wait of the Sun to pop over the horizon or the wind to start blowing, before they start making steel.  Sand obviously contains lots of silica, yet we don't make semiconductor wafers from sand.  Instead, we mine for quartz, we heat that quartz to temperatures hot enough to melt it using natural gas, and then we throw most of it away because even the high purity silica in quartz contains numerous defects that make it totally unusable as a photovoltaic cell or microchip.  All that Aluminum that solar panels use for structural support didn't come from sunshine and rainbows, either.

Despite all the solar panels and wind turbines that China makes, they don't use solar and wind power to produce Iron or Aluminum or Copper or Silicon semiconductors.  If they did, then nobody could afford to buy them at the scale required.  They use blast furnaces.  The blast furnaces don't run on electricity, they run on coal and gas.  Electric Arc Furnaces are only used to re-melt / recycle scrap metal, which would be steel that's already been through at least one blast furnace.  By tonnage, most of the steel used is not recycled, it's virgin material, dug out of the ground using gigantic diesel powered mining machines, shipped to the blast furnace on giant diesel powered ships and rail cars, produced using giant gas and coal blast furnaces, shipped again to metal working factories where steel is shaped or machined into the parts necessary to make other machines (bars / tubing / plates / sheet, bolts, screws, brackets, etc), shipped again to wherever it will be used on yet another diesel powered ship, then trucked to the exact site where it will be installed using a diesel powered truck.  When it's time to recycle the materials, if they're recycled, then most of that process except for mining and refining is repeated in reverse, and then it moves forward again, all using fossil fuels.

This is nonsense about them not replacing the energy used to make them. Nearly all analysts say the energy replacement period is about 2-3 years.

If 9 out of 10 lawyers are also liars, do you also accept the opinions of the lawyers that lied to you?

If more and more wind and solar keep coming online every year, then why do the CO2 emissions keep increasing, year after year after year, with boring regularity?

Germany's CO2 emissions are exactly the same as the year they started implementing wind and solar power at scale.  How can that be?  In what world does that even make sense?  In bizzaro world, perhaps?  How do our emissions keep increasing if we're continuously preventing more emissions using wind and solar or electric cars or becoming more energy efficient?  Unless...  WE'RE NOT!  Does the possibility even exist in your mind that you might be "missing something" about the way this actually works?

You can't use an energy resource that requires 10X / 100X / 1,000X times more material input (ultimately energy input, because that is what all those materials actually represent) than fossil fuel extraction, given a net energy output lower than any economically recoverable fossil fuel source in existence, and then somehow still extract more energy from it than you put into the entire process, because that's not how math works.  2 plus 2 does not actually equal 5, even if you're a liberal.  Merely stating that the energy input is "free" doesn't make any difference, either.  While the Sun delivers as much power in 1 hour as humanity uses in a year, unless we had the ability to cover the entire surface of the Earth with solar panels, that has zero effect on how much power we can actually extract from sunlight in a practical manner.  It's another one of those useless factoids meant to distract people to prevent them from applying enough critical thinking skills to understand the nature of the problem.

IT'S A T-R-A-P, LOUIS!

Do The Math - The Energy Trap

From the article:

Another aspect of the trap is that we cannot build our way out of the problem. If we tried to outsmart the trap by building an 8-unit replacement in year one, it would require 32 units to produce and only dig a deeper hole. The essential point is that up-front infrastructure energy costs mean that one step forward results in four steps back, given EROEI around 10:1 and up-front investment for a 40 year lifetime. Nature does not provide an energy financing scheme. You can’t build a windmill on promised energy.

We can mess with the numbers to get different results. If only half the total energy invested is up-front, and the rest is distributed across the life of the resource (mining and enriching uranium, for instance), then we take a 4% hit instead of 8%. Likewise, a 40-year windmill at 20:1 EROEI and full up-front investment will require 2 years of its 2-unit gap-filling contribution to install, amounting to an energy cost of 4 units and therefore a 4% hit. It’s still bigger than the do-nothing 2%, which, remember, is already a source of pain.  Anyone want to double the pain? Anyone? Elect me, and that’s what we’ll do. Any takers? No? Wimps.

This energy trap of our own making would be slightly less disconcerting if any windmills actually lasted for 40 years, but since nearly all of them are quite remarkable if they last half that long, you can begin to understand why some of us are very uncomfortable with this "no solution" solution masquerading as an actual solution.  After a composite wing structure starts to crack, you can stick a fork in it, because it's done, as in, done done.  After that happens, you either saw it up into large pieces and bury it in a landfill (a wildly unsustainable practice that will also leach toxic compounds into the water supply), or figure out how to separate paint, gelcoat, glass fiber, carbon fiber, foam or balsa wood core material, and epoxy resin binder.  Silicon is so brittle that fingertip pressure is sufficient to shatter it into a million tiny razor sharp shards.

Without understanding the nature of this problem, you're building a house of cards.  If you do understand what you're asking for, then you know full well that it doesn't work at all without constant and extreme resource input, which we've never invested into energy production itself because it's so absurdly inefficient and counter-productive to do.

How Solar PV Can NOT Power A Carbon-Free Energy Revolution, In 4 Charts

From the article:

“If the industry grows faster than a critical amount” says Dave, “then the fossil energy subsidy grows bigger and bigger:  The limit is given by (ERoEI/Lifetime)*100 % per year, so if the ERoEI is 25, you can grow at 100%, but if it is 2.5 you can only grow the industry at 10% – anything above that can never be energy positive.”

The article then states:

They projected that “the payback year has a 50 percent likelihood of occurring between 2012 and 2015.” In other words, there’s a good chance the cumulative solar energy generated by every PV system in use as of today equals the cumulative electricity consumed in producing those system to date.

This is “largely due to steadily declining energy inputs required to manufacture and install PV systems.”

How can there be steadily declining energy inputs when all the ore grades for the materials involved are getting worse, and the ERoEI of the fossil fuels is going down too, and may not be available within 10 years?  As usual, it’s what you leave out of the EI part of ERoEI that matters, and I doubt Pedro would have left anything out, because he’s run solar farms in Spain, and knows full well what goes IN to make them work…..  For instance, the article gloats over the fact that the cost of PVs has dropped 99% over the past 25 years (from $10/W to $1/W now), but that’s mostly because robots are now making them instead of people.  How much energy went into build the robots and the factories where they are being built?  ALL made with low ERoEI fossil fuels?  And their numbers must grow to keep up with production growth too….

Can you tell I’m still sceptical?

It's all built upon falsehood after falsehood.

One of the guys who, by his own admission, was and is both emotionally and financially invested in photovoltaic power (he ran a large photovoltaic electricity co-op in the US for many years), flat-out admitted that he didn't have the heart to tell the people who have pinned their hopes to commercial photovoltaic electric power generating technology that it was horribly unsustainable and only feasible in any form due to the massive over-consumption of fossil fuels.  He went so far as to say he kept lying to them and to himself, not only because he wanted so badly to believe that it could work, but that he allowed his beliefs to overpower what all the math was telling him about the solution.

After you remove all ideological, emotional, and financial attachments to your beliefs about a technical subject matter, such as electric power generation, and only consider the results, it paints a very stark picture of what a future without fossil fuels actually looks like.  It's downright ugly.  But hey, it was fun while it lasted.

We have about 10 to 20 more years before fossil fuel prices must increase dramatically (supply and demand).  When that happens, the expansion of wind and solar will end overnight, and never recover until such time as we truly have a complete manufacturing process in place that is not 100% dependent upon fossil fuel power.  We may have to resort back to sailing ships because we might not otherwise be able to afford to power them.

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#108 2021-07-10 14:48:02

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,601

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

louis wrote:

Since 2013 when that book was written and 2020, the levelised cost of solar panel generated electricity declined from $100 per megawatt hour to about $40 per MWH.

Louis,

The entire reason solar is as cheap as it is, comes down to cheap fossil fuels and robots replacing humans in factories, and governments / banks handing out "free cash" to anyone who says they have a "green energy" project (a project that costs lots of green, but doesn't deliver much energy compared to nuclear reactors, per dollar spent).  If you want more solar panels, then you need to burn more coal / oil / gas to make more robotic factories, and mine more and more ores, which requires more and more fossil fuel energy.

If photovoltaic power alone is $40/MWh, then your assertion that nuclear power is more expensive is objectively false, despite the fact that the US pays about double what the Chinese pay for a 1,250MWe class nuclear reactor ($5B vs $2.5B).  TVA's actual operating costs for Watts-Bar #2 is $24.10/MWh.  There's no possible way that solar plus Lithium-ion battery storage is any cheaper, or will ever be any cheaper in our lifetimes.  If Tesla manages to get batteries to $50/kWh, then your purported solution is $50,000/MWh of storage.  All solar farms without storage are only one half of an actual solution.

1,250MW(1) * 12(2) * 50,000(3) * 2(4) = $1,500,000,000 USD

$1,500,000,000 USD * 4(5) = $6,000,000,000 USD (more than the cost of Watts-Bar #2)

1. A Watts-Bar sized battery
2. Hours of storage to cover the part of the day where solar provides no power
3. Dollars per MegaWatt-hour of Lithium-ion battery storage
4. Limiting Depth-of-Discharge to 50% so the battery can last for at least 10 years
5. Number of complete battery replacements over 40 years, assuming the nuclear reactor doesn't last for 60 years (as Watts-Bar #1 already has)

Take away the ability to burn coal and gas, which was what we were doing to begin with, if government regulations mandate that, and your PV-powered dreams are dead in the water.

Saying, "We'll get more for our money during the next battery replacement.", is not an answer, either.  Inevitably, someone on the left will say, "Remember that one time on that one day where we didn't have power?  Well, we should have 16 hours or 24 hours of storage now."  Trust me, someone at the power company or the government or the public (with a financial interest in the project) will find a way to jack up the price to make the second / third / fourth batteries every bit as expensive as the 1st one was, if not more so.  I worry about grid collapse, not going a single day without power.

Lead-acid batteries are already at $50,000/MWh or less, yet you don't see anybody using those for anything other than short-term UPS batteries, home solar storage setups, or car batteries, despite the very low cost and 95%+ recycling rates.

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#109 2021-07-10 18:12:52

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,601

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

SpaceNut wrote:

Since the electrical connection wires are owned buy the power companies, the solar is bought cheaply by them but the reduced levels of cost are not passed on to the consumer.

SpaceNut,

There are laws in every state that limit the profit margins that public utilities may make for providing commercial electric power, even here on the supposedly deregulated Texas grid.  If they're charging more to deliver the same electrons down the same wires, then it's because it actually costs them more money to provide the power.  The gigantic unmistakable "clue" that something doesn't add up here, presuming you're not ideologically / emotionally / financially invested in the outcome, is that THE POWER COSTS THE CONSUMER M-O-R-E M-O-N-E-Y!  That's a bigger red flag than the Chinese flag, and a lot of people are ignoring it because they either can't count or don't like what objective reality is offering up to them if they can count.

If someone could invent solar panels and batteries that lasts 60 years or more, the fact that we would pay a lot more money and use a lot more energy up-front would be far less of an issue, but the fact of the matter is that we can't.  As with every other technology in life, there are trade-offs to be made.  That guy (the one who owns a battery R&D company) said they know how to make a battery that lasts for 20 years, but then you give up fast charge / discharge rates and the cost goes up dramatically.  If the non-gold-plated / plain Jane Lithium-ion is too expensive, then how much do you suppose the fancy 20 year service life Lithium-ion battery costs, and can any country on the planet afford to make them in the quantities required to power a grid when the Sun disappears over the horizon?

You can get a 500 pound V8 engine that makes 250hp (work truck) and lasts 20 years for $5,000.

You can get a 500 pound V8 engine that makes 500hp (performance car or SUV) and lasts 5 years for $15,000.

You can get a 500 pound V8 engine that makes 2,500hp (racing boat) and lasts for 5 hours for $50,000.

You can get a 500 pound V8 engine that makes 5,000hp (drag racing car) and lasts for 5 seconds for $150,000.

You can NOT get a 500 pound V8 engine that makes 5,000hp and lasts for 20 years.

It doesn't matter who made it, what it's made from, how much money you spent on the design or materials, nor how long you use it at a crack.  This is the level of performance some people are expecting from solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries without understanding what they're asking for.  It's unattainable at any price.  That's neither the engine's nor the engineer's fault.  Simple physics and known materials science can't provide that level of performance, but not for lack of trying.

You can invoke CFRP composite connecting rods and crankshaft, ceramic metal pistons, burn Hydrogen, whatever...  It simply doesn't matter.  All of this stuff has been tried before, and many times at that.  It doesn't work because nothing we have or know how to make will allow it to work.  Billions of dollars worth of research inevitably comes to the same conclusion, every time someone "new" (to engineering) has a brilliant idea that's going to "change the world as we know it".

If you need 5,000hp for 20 years, you either buy a heavy duty electric motor (stationary application like a factory's conveyor system), a big honkin diesel engine roughly the weight a semi-truck's tractor if weight is no issue (shipboard applications and heavy duty mining trucks), or you buy a gas turbine (aircraft or warships) if weight is an issue.  Either way, those are the only feasible solutions to that problem statement, if both 5,000hp and 20 year durability matters.  They're not interchangeable, either.  You can't stuff the mining truck's diesel engine in an aircraft and still expect it to fly.

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#110 2021-07-10 18:26:39

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,854

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

I think the problem you have is that you are taking little scraps of truth and building a very large edifice that doesn't reflect reality.

Reality is there in the price and more specifically the price reduction. All that you say could be true in theory but the price reduction says it doesn't make sense.

It's clear from all the price graphs that coal cost cannot possibly account for the huge reductions in the price of solar power electricity generation, because the coal price has stayed pretty stable over the decades (as an average, though it fluctuates a lot in response to demand).

You're left with the barmy idea that the CCP government in China is subsidising our solar power generation through cheap investment loans to its own industry. If so, for once in my life I would like to say "Thank you CCP".




kbd512 wrote:

Louis,

I think you're either being deliberately obtuse or more naive than Pollyanna ever was.  You're being presented with verifiable facts collected from dozens of sources across the globe, and all of them fly in the face of your ideology.  You can keep repeating your ideology back to me until you turn blue, but it won't change where all of that steel, concrete, and glass came from.  It wasn't from wind and solar power.  I can promise you that much.  A Star Trek type replicator didn't cause bolts, screws, and angle iron to materialize out of thin air, either.  It's an extension of fossil fuels, plain and simple.

Yes, the Chinese have solar panels and wind turbines, and lots of them at that.  They use them to supply expensive and unreliable power to domestic consumers to make it appear as though they're doing something that they're objectively not.  That's why you can't go outside in Beijing or Shanghai without wearing a respirator, assuming you want to be counted amongst the living a few years later.  This isn't a "knock" on China, either.  They're using whatever is available, because they have to!  They were using wind and solar before, during, and after the pandemic, but when all of their heavy industry was shut down, the air quality over their cities miraculously improved.  Why was that, do you suppose?  I don't have to guess at it- all of their heavy industry is powered by coal, oil, and gas, just as it's always been.  Whenever the Sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow, which is every single day, they use coal and gas to make up the difference.  I can guarantee that their steel industry doesn't wait of the Sun to pop over the horizon or the wind to start blowing, before they start making steel.  Sand obviously contains lots of silica, yet we don't make semiconductor wafers from sand.  Instead, we mine for quartz, we heat that quartz to temperatures hot enough to melt it using natural gas, and then we throw most of it away because even the high purity silica in quartz contains numerous defects that make it totally unusable as a photovoltaic cell or microchip.  All that Aluminum that solar panels use for structural support didn't come from sunshine and rainbows, either.

Despite all the solar panels and wind turbines that China makes, they don't use solar and wind power to produce Iron or Aluminum or Copper or Silicon semiconductors.  If they did, then nobody could afford to buy them at the scale required.  They use blast furnaces.  The blast furnaces don't run on electricity, they run on coal and gas.  Electric Arc Furnaces are only used to re-melt / recycle scrap metal, which would be steel that's already been through at least one blast furnace.  By tonnage, most of the steel used is not recycled, it's virgin material, dug out of the ground using gigantic diesel powered mining machines, shipped to the blast furnace on giant diesel powered ships and rail cars, produced using giant gas and coal blast furnaces, shipped again to metal working factories where steel is shaped or machined into the parts necessary to make other machines (bars / tubing / plates / sheet, bolts, screws, brackets, etc), shipped again to wherever it will be used on yet another diesel powered ship, then trucked to the exact site where it will be installed using a diesel powered truck.  When it's time to recycle the materials, if they're recycled, then most of that process except for mining and refining is repeated in reverse, and then it moves forward again, all using fossil fuels.

This is nonsense about them not replacing the energy used to make them. Nearly all analysts say the energy replacement period is about 2-3 years.

If 9 out of 10 lawyers are also liars, do you also accept the opinions of the lawyers that lied to you?

If more and more wind and solar keep coming online every year, then why do the CO2 emissions keep increasing, year after year after year, with boring regularity?

Germany's CO2 emissions are exactly the same as the year they started implementing wind and solar power at scale.  How can that be?  In what world does that even make sense?  In bizzaro world, perhaps?  How do our emissions keep increasing if we're continuously preventing more emissions using wind and solar or electric cars or becoming more energy efficient?  Unless...  WE'RE NOT!  Does the possibility even exist in your mind that you might be "missing something" about the way this actually works?

You can't use an energy resource that requires 10X / 100X / 1,000X times more material input (ultimately energy input, because that is what all those materials actually represent) than fossil fuel extraction, given a net energy output lower than any economically recoverable fossil fuel source in existence, and then somehow still extract more energy from it than you put into the entire process, because that's not how math works.  2 plus 2 does not actually equal 5, even if you're a liberal.  Merely stating that the energy input is "free" doesn't make any difference, either.  While the Sun delivers as much power in 1 hour as humanity uses in a year, unless we had the ability to cover the entire surface of the Earth with solar panels, that has zero effect on how much power we can actually extract from sunlight in a practical manner.  It's another one of those useless factoids meant to distract people to prevent them from applying enough critical thinking skills to understand the nature of the problem.

IT'S A T-R-A-P, LOUIS!

Do The Math - The Energy Trap

From the article:

Another aspect of the trap is that we cannot build our way out of the problem. If we tried to outsmart the trap by building an 8-unit replacement in year one, it would require 32 units to produce and only dig a deeper hole. The essential point is that up-front infrastructure energy costs mean that one step forward results in four steps back, given EROEI around 10:1 and up-front investment for a 40 year lifetime. Nature does not provide an energy financing scheme. You can’t build a windmill on promised energy.

We can mess with the numbers to get different results. If only half the total energy invested is up-front, and the rest is distributed across the life of the resource (mining and enriching uranium, for instance), then we take a 4% hit instead of 8%. Likewise, a 40-year windmill at 20:1 EROEI and full up-front investment will require 2 years of its 2-unit gap-filling contribution to install, amounting to an energy cost of 4 units and therefore a 4% hit. It’s still bigger than the do-nothing 2%, which, remember, is already a source of pain.  Anyone want to double the pain? Anyone? Elect me, and that’s what we’ll do. Any takers? No? Wimps.

This energy trap of our own making would be slightly less disconcerting if any windmills actually lasted for 40 years, but since nearly all of them are quite remarkable if they last half that long, you can begin to understand why some of us are very uncomfortable with this "no solution" solution masquerading as an actual solution.  After a composite wing structure starts to crack, you can stick a fork in it, because it's done, as in, done done.  After that happens, you either saw it up into large pieces and bury it in a landfill (a wildly unsustainable practice that will also leach toxic compounds into the water supply), or figure out how to separate paint, gelcoat, glass fiber, carbon fiber, foam or balsa wood core material, and epoxy resin binder.  Silicon is so brittle that fingertip pressure is sufficient to shatter it into a million tiny razor sharp shards.

Without understanding the nature of this problem, you're building a house of cards.  If you do understand what you're asking for, then you know full well that it doesn't work at all without constant and extreme resource input, which we've never invested into energy production itself because it's so absurdly inefficient and counter-productive to do.

How Solar PV Can NOT Power A Carbon-Free Energy Revolution, In 4 Charts

From the article:

“If the industry grows faster than a critical amount” says Dave, “then the fossil energy subsidy grows bigger and bigger:  The limit is given by (ERoEI/Lifetime)*100 % per year, so if the ERoEI is 25, you can grow at 100%, but if it is 2.5 you can only grow the industry at 10% – anything above that can never be energy positive.”

The article then states:

They projected that “the payback year has a 50 percent likelihood of occurring between 2012 and 2015.” In other words, there’s a good chance the cumulative solar energy generated by every PV system in use as of today equals the cumulative electricity consumed in producing those system to date.

This is “largely due to steadily declining energy inputs required to manufacture and install PV systems.”

How can there be steadily declining energy inputs when all the ore grades for the materials involved are getting worse, and the ERoEI of the fossil fuels is going down too, and may not be available within 10 years?  As usual, it’s what you leave out of the EI part of ERoEI that matters, and I doubt Pedro would have left anything out, because he’s run solar farms in Spain, and knows full well what goes IN to make them work…..  For instance, the article gloats over the fact that the cost of PVs has dropped 99% over the past 25 years (from $10/W to $1/W now), but that’s mostly because robots are now making them instead of people.  How much energy went into build the robots and the factories where they are being built?  ALL made with low ERoEI fossil fuels?  And their numbers must grow to keep up with production growth too….

Can you tell I’m still sceptical?

It's all built upon falsehood after falsehood.

One of the guys who, by his own admission, was and is both emotionally and financially invested in photovoltaic power (he ran a large photovoltaic electricity co-op in the US for many years), flat-out admitted that he didn't have the heart to tell the people who have pinned their hopes to commercial photovoltaic electric power generating technology that it was horribly unsustainable and only feasible in any form due to the massive over-consumption of fossil fuels.  He went so far as to say he kept lying to them and to himself, not only because he wanted so badly to believe that it could work, but that he allowed his beliefs to overpower what all the math was telling him about the solution.

After you remove all ideological, emotional, and financial attachments to your beliefs about a technical subject matter, such as electric power generation, and only consider the results, it paints a very stark picture of what a future without fossil fuels actually looks like.  It's downright ugly.  But hey, it was fun while it lasted.

We have about 10 to 20 more years before fossil fuel prices must increase dramatically (supply and demand).  When that happens, the expansion of wind and solar will end overnight, and never recover until such time as we truly have a complete manufacturing process in place that is not 100% dependent upon fossil fuel power.  We may have to resort back to sailing ships because we might not otherwise be able to afford to power them.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#111 2021-07-10 18:42:54

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,854

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

The real price of fossil fuel is pretty stable over decades so that can't explain 50% or more reductions per decade on PV power generation.

Of course robotics in PV factories is most definitely a part of the story. That is technological advance of which there is more to come. The nature of PV Panel manufacture means it works well with robotics. The robotics revolution will continue. You currently have 100s of (mostly) men installing utility scale PV. Robotic systems can be developed.

The experience on new nuclear in the UK (built by the CCP - sure we can trust them) is that they won't deliver electricity for less than about $100 per MWH (they have a guaranteed price of £90 per MWH in the UK).

Lithium ion looks economic for diurnal storage but for a viable green energy storage system in somewhere like the UK you probably need to be able to cover perhaps 75% of your normal output for up to 3 days (a worst weather event where you have an extremely low wind and solar ouput for 3 days). I douibt lithium ion batteries are the right solution. Probably a combination of (manufactured from air/water) hydrogen and methane plus liquid chemical batteries that can easily be scaled up are the answer. You don't need to change overnight. This is something that can be introduced gradually over the next 30 years as the continued green energy price drop allows.

I used to be a bit sceptical about hydrogen but the more I read about it, I think at the utility scale it is probably a major way forward, as simple electrolysis of water becomes economical. We're really not far off that. I think I saw a figure of $200 per MWH for manufacturing hydrogen.




kbd512 wrote:
louis wrote:

Since 2013 when that book was written and 2020, the levelised cost of solar panel generated electricity declined from $100 per megawatt hour to about $40 per MWH.

Louis,

The entire reason solar is as cheap as it is, comes down to cheap fossil fuels and robots replacing humans in factories, and governments / banks handing out "free cash" to anyone who says they have a "green energy" project (a project that costs lots of green, but doesn't deliver much energy compared to nuclear reactors, per dollar spent).  If you want more solar panels, then you need to burn more coal / oil / gas to make more robotic factories, and mine more and more ores, which requires more and more fossil fuel energy.

If photovoltaic power alone is $40/MWh, then your assertion that nuclear power is more expensive is objectively false, despite the fact that the US pays about double what the Chinese pay for a 1,250MWe class nuclear reactor ($5B vs $2.5B).  TVA's actual operating costs for Watts-Bar #2 is $24.10/MWh.  There's no possible way that solar plus Lithium-ion battery storage is any cheaper, or will ever be any cheaper in our lifetimes.  If Tesla manages to get batteries to $50/kWh, then your purported solution is $50,000/MWh of storage.  All solar farms without storage are only one half of an actual solution.

1,250MW(1) * 12(2) * 50,000(3) * 2(4) = $1,500,000,000 USD

$1,500,000,000 USD * 4(5) = $6,000,000,000 USD (more than the cost of Watts-Bar #2)

1. A Watts-Bar sized battery
2. Hours of storage to cover the part of the day where solar provides no power
3. Dollars per MegaWatt-hour of Lithium-ion battery storage
4. Limiting Depth-of-Discharge to 50% so the battery can last for at least 10 years
5. Number of complete battery replacements over 40 years, assuming the nuclear reactor doesn't last for 60 years (as Watts-Bar #1 already has)

Take away the ability to burn coal and gas, which was what we were doing to begin with, if government regulations mandate that, and your PV-powered dreams are dead in the water.

Saying, "We'll get more for our money during the next battery replacement.", is not an answer, either.  Inevitably, someone on the left will say, "Remember that one time on that one day where we didn't have power?  Well, we should have 16 hours or 24 hours of storage now."  Trust me, someone at the power company or the government or the public (with a financial interest in the project) will find a way to jack up the price to make the second / third / fourth batteries every bit as expensive as the 1st one was, if not more so.  I worry about grid collapse, not going a single day without power.

Lead-acid batteries are already at $50,000/MWh or less, yet you don't see anybody using those for anything other than short-term UPS batteries, home solar storage setups, or car batteries, despite the very low cost and 95%+ recycling rates.

Last edited by louis (2021-07-10 18:44:45)


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#112 2021-07-10 20:38:19

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,601

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Louis,

louis wrote:

I think the problem you have is that you are taking little scraps of truth and building a very large edifice that doesn't reflect reality.

Cheaper solar panels were enabled by 2 things:

1. Cheap coal / oil / gas consumed by China.

2. Robots building the solar arrays.

3. Loans can be had at effectively zero interest rates.

There was no other magic that took place.  The ores cost the same or more than they did, because the qualify of all ores have been declining as depletion occurs.  Real estate isn't any cheaper today than it was 10 or 20 years ago.  Zero interest rates are definitely different than what they were 20 years ago, but how long can that last?  Robots cost even less than humans, but somewhere along the line the human worker still needs a job to do, in order to make money to pay for this silliness.  When all the coal and all that "free money" are gone, then what?

louis wrote:

Reality is there in the price and more specifically the price reduction. All that you say could be true in theory but the price reduction says it doesn't make sense.

Has there ever been a case where cheap energy, factory automation, and zero interest rate loans increased prices?

louis wrote:

It's clear from all the price graphs that coal cost cannot possibly account for the huge reductions in the price of solar power electricity generation, because the coal price has stayed pretty stable over the decades (as an average, though it fluctuates a lot in response to demand).

It wasn't coal alone.  Nobody here is claiming that coal allowed the Chinese to pull rabbits out of their hat.  That's a straw man.

Do you not see how contradictory some of your own statements about this are?

Coal prices stayed pretty stable, except that they were all over the map as demand waxed and waned.  Seriously?

Trading Economics - Commodities - Coal

Yeah, that looks pretty stable to me.  From a low of $50USD during 2016 and 2020, to presently over $130USD and climbing like a Saturn V.

We basically quit using coal in the west, in favor of gas and oil, and that's why coal prices didn't go up more than they did.  We aren't building any new coal fired power plants, because we have natural gas and shale oil coming out the wazoo (for now).  The developing world that's producing all these things you're so enamored with is reliant upon coal and oil.  If they had access to natural gas, could afford to install CCGT, and had the expertise to operate the plants, then they would use them, guaranteed.

louis wrote:

You're left with the barmy idea that the CCP government in China is subsidising our solar power generation through cheap investment loans to its own industry. If so, for once in my life I would like to say "Thank you CCP".

Yes, the Chinese are as desperate for cheap energy as every other nation, especially since they have most of the world's heavy industry over there.  When all the cheap energy has been depleted, what must happen to prices (for absolutely everything, not just photovoltaic panels)?

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#113 2021-07-10 20:59:30

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,601

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

louis wrote:

The real price of fossil fuel is pretty stable over decades so that can't explain 50% or more reductions per decade on PV power generation.

Absurdly false.

louis wrote:

Of course robotics in PV factories is most definitely a part of the story. That is technological advance of which there is more to come. The nature of PV Panel manufacture means it works well with robotics. The robotics revolution will continue. You currently have 100s of (mostly) men installing utility scale PV. Robotic systems can be developed.

Yes, automation for mass manufacture is a technological advance, and I'm unaware of any instance where it didn't reduce production costs.

louis wrote:

The experience on new nuclear in the UK (built by the CCP - sure we can trust them) is that they won't deliver electricity for less than about $100 per MWH (they have a guaranteed price of £90 per MWH in the UK).

How do you guys manage to make nuclear power cost more than we do?

The NRC dinks with issuing permits for 10+ years, and we still can't make nuclear power cost as much as you guys do.

louis wrote:

Lithium ion looks economic for diurnal storage but for a viable green energy storage system in somewhere like the UK you probably need to be able to cover perhaps 75% of your normal output for up to 3 days (a worst weather event where you have an extremely low wind and solar ouput for 3 days). I douibt lithium ion batteries are the right solution. Probably a combination of (manufactured from air/water) hydrogen and methane plus liquid chemical batteries that can easily be scaled up are the answer. You don't need to change overnight. This is something that can be introduced gradually over the next 30 years as the continued green energy price drop allows.

Burning methane is NOT contributing to the purported goal of dealing with climate change and fossil fuel depletion.  There's nothing "green" about it, just as there's nothing green about transforming fossil fuels into solar panels and batteries.

If you don't think Lithium-ion batteries are going to provide grid storage, then you're not alone, because a battery that stores as much power as Watts-Bar #1 and #2 produces over a 24 hour period, over the plant's service life, would cost more than both reactors combined.

louis wrote:

I used to be a bit sceptical about hydrogen but the more I read about it, I think at the utility scale it is probably a major way forward, as simple electrolysis of water becomes economical. We're really not far off that. I think I saw a figure of $200 per MWH for manufacturing hydrogen.

$100/MWh for nuclear power was too expensive, but $200/MWh for producing Hydrogen is "not that far off", yet you don't see the problem with your logic, do you?

This is an ideological and emotional problem for you, isn't it?

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#114 2021-07-10 21:02:59

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,024

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Right now the solar power complete kits of panels, batteries, inverters are running about a $1.50 a watt for these chinese system such as the 4KW 48V 20-Panel Off Grid Solar System with 195W Mono Solar Panel of would just barely power my home if its sunny every day as that is just 12 kw hrs of possible power from them. If we get every other day sunny then you need to double the system and if its only 1 in 3 days you need one more....
Of course this is an off grid system meaning no power company back up....plus it would cost more if you have this done for you rather than do it yourself as the kit above is for.
Also you need to jump through the state and town regulations for the install which can as well increase install as well as cause taxation for having them.

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#115 2021-07-10 22:28:44

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,601

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

SpaceNut,

I'm running solar right now and lots of it, with a pair of Tesla PowerWalls, yet the entire system (~$65K installed cost, IIRC) is insufficient to power a single AC unit in our home, for any period of time.  If we had to do that, we'd need a lot more panels- more than would fit on our roof, despite the size of our house.  It's a grid-tie system and the net effect, over the period of a year, is to basically cancel out our rather considerable electric power bill.  We installed the system to make our power bill the same every single month, meaning $367/month, every month.  The alternative was wild fluctuations between $200 to $1,500 per month.  The interior space is about 6,500ft^2 (5,500ft^2 on the first two floors), it has 3 AC units (one for each floor), and a pool (the pumps love those electrons, and eat them like candy).  Beyond that, what our home solar system does accomplish is to "chop the peak off the demand curve", so that the power company has a stable, meaning not wildly fluctuating throughout the day, amount of power that they need to supply to the grid.

If everybody could afford to do the same thing and it was practical for them to do it, then this would make supplying power to the grid an easier task.  That said, I don't imagine that every person in America can afford a $65K+ grid-tie home solar system.  I wouldn't demand public money from everyone at gunpoint, which is essentially what the "Green New Deal" simpletons want, to try and make every power generating solution a solar panel or wind turbine and every power storage solution a battery.  It doesn't matter what they want if simple physics won't allow it to work.  I didn't set the rules about how this universe works to shatter their "green dreams".  It's always worked the way it's always worked, and I don't know of anyone who knows how to change that.

We don't need more intermittent power at a grid level.  What we do need is stable CO2-minimized base load power that uses real hardware, not notional hardware that might be available 20 / 30 / 50 years into the future.  For cities in America, that means a new generation of small modular nuclear reactors that use abundant and cheap Thorium fuel and a non-water-based thermal power transfer cycle.  We can put them wherever they're least likely to be damaged by flooding or earthquakes.  If that means they build one in my backyard, so be it.  I understand how the technology works, how and why it fails, and I'm not afraid of it.

We can either accept that there's no such thing as affordable grid level storage of any description, so there's no such thing as a practical 100% wind and solar energy solution, or we can continue to deal in fantasies while accomplishing nothing worthwhile, as it relates to divesting ourselves from fossil fuels in a responsible and affordable way.  We've experimented ourselves to death already.  Power generation still beats power storage every day of the week.  That was true 50 years ago, it's true now, and in all probability it'll still be true 50 years from now.  If something radically changes 50 years from now, then we can stop using nuclear power.  Until then, we should move forward with solutions that actually work, irrespective of the issues some people have with technological reality.  We need a return to pragmatism.  If we can't do that, then our problems will continue to get worse.

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#116 2021-07-11 05:37:34

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,854

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

kbd512 wrote:
louis wrote:

The experience on new nuclear in the UK (built by the CCP - sure we can trust them) is that they won't deliver electricity for less than about $100 per MWH (they have a guaranteed price of £90 per MWH in the UK).

How do you guys manage to make nuclear power cost more than we do?

The NRC dinks with issuing permits for 10+ years, and we still can't make nuclear power cost as much as you guys do.

This is new nuclear. It costs a lot to build! I don't think the USA is building any new nuclear...or have I got that wrong? Old nuclear is relatively cheap, because you've paid off the capital cost.  La Rance, the tidal barrage, is one of the cheapest forms of electricity because they long ago finished paying off the capital cost. This is why I think wind energy costs will also decline rapidly as we discover many of the wind turbines can operate beyond their 20-25 years' life. 

kbd512 wrote:
louis wrote:

Lithium ion looks economic for diurnal storage but for a viable green energy storage system in somewhere like the UK you probably need to be able to cover perhaps 75% of your normal output for up to 3 days (a worst weather event where you have an extremely low wind and solar ouput for 3 days). I douibt lithium ion batteries are the right solution. Probably a combination of (manufactured from air/water) hydrogen and methane plus liquid chemical batteries that can easily be scaled up are the answer. You don't need to change overnight. This is something that can be introduced gradually over the next 30 years as the continued green energy price drop allows.

Burning methane is NOT contributing to the purported goal of dealing with climate change and fossil fuel depletion.  There's nothing "green" about it, just as there's nothing green about transforming fossil fuels into solar panels and batteries.

If you don't think Lithium-ion batteries are going to provide grid storage, then you're not alone, because a battery that stores as much power as Watts-Bar #1 and #2 produces over a 24 hour period, over the plant's service life, would cost more than both reactors combined.

I was referencing manufactured methane - from air and water. That would be sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere for the manufacturing process. It would be roughly carbon-neutral. The methane would be used to power turbines.

kbd512 wrote:

louis wrote:

I used to be a bit sceptical about hydrogen but the more I read about it, I think at the utility scale it is probably a major way forward, as simple electrolysis of water becomes economical. We're really not far off that. I think I saw a figure of $200 per MWH for manufacturing hydrogen.

$100/MWh for nuclear power was too expensive, but $200/MWh for producing Hydrogen is "not that far off", yet you don't see the problem with your logic, do you?

This is an ideological and emotional problem for you, isn't it?

Let's suppose you have a green energy utility system that is powered 70% by wind and solar (plus hydroelectric and energy from waste) at, say, $40 per MWH and 30% by hydrogen or chemical batteries at $200 per MWH, the average cost would be $88 per MWH. That's getting you into the zone. If it's 70% at $20 per MWH and $100 per MWH for 30% that's an average of $44 per MWH. That's is then both a cheap and reliable system.  Further down the road, solar plus storage could be located much closer to population centres, so you can save on your grid costs.

It's not a problem for me - I recognise you can't change a power and grid system overnight. I just think the energy landscape is changing and nations can now develop full energy independence, which I think will be good for their economies, their people and world peace!

There will be losers but when you look at countries like Venezuala, Nigeria, Iran, Iraq, Burma and Saudi Arabia you have to ask: were they really served well by the oil and gas boom?


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#117 2021-07-11 09:51:26

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,854

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

This report suggests that the cost of hydrogen from electrolysis has fallen by 60% since 2010 and is now $4 per Kg.

https://www.powermag.com/how-much-will- … ower-cost/

Further steep falls in price are anticipated.


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#118 2021-07-11 17:31:19

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,854

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Increasingly I think hydrogen from electrolysis will be the way forward at utility scale. This site suggests storage in salt caverns will be possible - that could greatly reduce the cost.

https://energystorage.org/why-energy-st … y-storage/


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#119 2021-07-11 21:34:37

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,601

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Louis,

louis wrote:

This is new nuclear. It costs a lot to build! I don't think the USA is building any new nuclear...or have I got that wrong? Old nuclear is relatively cheap, because you've paid off the capital cost.  La Rance, the tidal barrage, is one of the cheapest forms of electricity because they long ago finished paying off the capital cost. This is why I think wind energy costs will also decline rapidly as we discover many of the wind turbines can operate beyond their 20-25 years' life.

"It costs a lot to build" doesn't mean anything without context.  Purchase cost is always relative to purchasing something else.  Purchasing a Rolls-Royce Cullinan is very expensive compared to purchasing a Cadillac Escalade, but a relative bargain compared to purchasing a Bugatti Veyron, presuming the goal is to put several people into a very nice vehicle that drives well on a street or highway.  It costs even more money over time to build and operate wind and solar than it does to build and operate nuclear.  You keep comparing apples to oranges because if we compare total dollars spent to GigaWatt-hours delivered per year, over the same operational service life of a nuclear power plant (unless 20 / 40 / 60 / 100 years from now, we don't still need electrical power), you know good and well that wind and solar lose that argument every single time.  That's why none of your math ever checks out when we look at actual construction costs, as opposed to notional future costs if some cherry-picked factoid confused with a trend can unrealistically continue on into perpetuity (which never happens in real life, BTW), and therefore electricity rates paid by the consumers.  No matter what you build, someone is paying for that equipment, and it's usually the average consumer / tax payer footing the bill.

Industrialized nations function at scales of hundreds to thousands of TeraWatt-hours per year, so cherry picking the cost of a small solar power project located in the Middle East, where the governments heavily or entirely subsidized the construction costs and granted zero interest rate loans, is utterly meaningless.  If it's not, then the same creative accounting should also apply to nuclear power.

La Rance would've cost €580M if it was constructed in 2009 vs 1961 (simple 1961 to 2009 inflation) and it provides the French with 500GWh of energy per year.

La Rance Tidal Power Plant - 40-year operation feedback - Lessons learnt

The 1,350MWe Watts-Bar #2 nuclear reactor (8,322GWh/yr) was completed in 2016 and only cost $5B (€4.2B - €4.3B for 2016).  It provides as much power at full rated output as 16.644 La Rance tidal power facilities (500GWh/yr).

€580M * 16.644 = €9,653.52M <- That's enough money to purchase a pair of Watts-Bar #2 nuclear reactors at current prices.  The Chinese would build 4 Watts-Bar #2 nuclear reactors at that price.

The UK uses around 300TWh of electricity per year, so that would be equivalent to 36 Watts-Bar #2 nuclear reactors, which equates to $90B if China is building them or $180B if the US is building them.  I think we do it better, but the Chinese do it cheaper, so take your pick.

In rough terms, that's 48.6GW of installed power with a 95% capacity factor.  The UK estimates $1.15B/GW by 2040 ($1,150/kW of installed capacity) for onshore wind.  UK says their onshore wind capacity factor is 26.62%, so multiply by 4.  That's $223.56B, which is well above the cost of nuclear reactors in America.  No wind turbine in the world last for more than about 25 years, so you'll be replacing all of them in 25 years time.  That means you're up to $447.12B over 50 years, totally ignoring inflation.  That certainly looks Pence-wise, Pound Sterling foolish to me, but that's because I can count.  If we also threw in battery storage, presuming the UK doesn't wish to experience grid collapse when the wind stops blowing, then it would at least double if not triple that cost.

The UK has spent £35B on onshore wind.  That's $48.3B.  You could've purchased 10 Watts-Bar #2 BWRs for that amount of money.  To date, all types of wind turbines supply 15% of the electricity.  Nuclear power would've supplied 28% of your power for the same money spent.  The money saved when it came time to replace the wind turbines would bump provide 56% of your power.  The price tag of the wind power alone would account for 89 Watts-Bar #2 reactors, which would make an entirely electric motor vehicle fleet practical.

louis wrote:

I was referencing manufactured methane - from air and water. That would be sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere for the manufacturing process. It would be roughly carbon-neutral. The methane would be used to power turbines.

If CO2 emissions are the problem, then finding ever-more energy intensive ways to produce Methane won't be part of the solution.  Simple thermodynamics ensures that this remains a horridly inefficient process.  You may be able to afford to do this with nuclear power since the EROEI is so lopsided, but you could never afford to do it with wind and solar power, which is why nobody does it or doesn't do it without drastically increasing the electricity rates paid by consumers.

louis wrote:

Let's suppose you have a green energy utility system that is powered 70% by wind and solar (plus hydroelectric and energy from waste) at, say, $40 per MWH and 30% by hydrogen or chemical batteries at $200 per MWH, the average cost would be $88 per MWH. That's getting you into the zone. If it's 70% at $20 per MWH and $100 per MWH for 30% that's an average of $44 per MWH. That's is then both a cheap and reliable system.  Further down the road, solar plus storage could be located much closer to population centres, so you can save on your grid costs.

Let's suppose we started talking about actual costs derived from using actual equipment or processes that don't rely upon fantasy-based notional costs that are not what actual consumers will ever pay.  You don't live in the Middle East or anywhere near it.  What applies to Morocco doesn't apply to the UK in any way, shape, or form.  You both experience 24 hours per Earth standard day, with sunlight / darkness and wind, and have a breathable atmosphere.  All other environmental similarities end there.  Better than 90% of the people on Earth don't live in the Middle East, either.

Since there's no such thing as an Earth-standard day in the UK where you receive sunlight 70% of the time (16.8 hours of sunlight), the rest of this is fantasy-based thinking.  At $200/MWh, you need at least 12 hours worth of power storage when wind and solar don't contribute bean dip to the total energy supply.  The capacity factor for both solar and onshore wind is 25% or less.  The other 50% of the time, you're burning gas or you're increasing your capacity by a factor of 3 to 4 to make up for the fact that thermodynamics won't be overcome with any amount of ideology or wishful thinking.

If 50% of the power costs $200/MWh, and the other 50% costs $40/MWh, then your average cost for power is $120/MWh.  Oh my goodness, would you look at that!  We've already arrived at a "solution" (NOT!) that costs nearly as much as nuclear power, except we're going to have to replace all of it at last 2 and possibly 3 times during the lifespan of that nuclear reactor.  Obviously that will all be F-R-E-E, or this wild fantasy of "green energy" lowering the cost of energy below that of nuclear energy will be shattered into a bazillion little pieces.

louis wrote:

It's not a problem for me - I recognise you can't change a power and grid system overnight. I just think the energy landscape is changing and nations can now develop full energy independence, which I think will be good for their economies, their people and world peace!

You can never become energy independent using low-EROEI sources that can't sustain, let alone grow an industrialized civilization.

World peace breaking out over the manufacture of solar panels and wind turbines?  Good luck with that.

louis wrote:

There will be losers but when you look at countries like Venezuala, Nigeria, Iran, Iraq, Burma and Saudi Arabia you have to ask: were they really served well by the oil and gas boom?

All of those countries were very well-served by the oil and gas boom.  Whether their leadership served those countries equally well is an entirely different question.  Venezuela was one of the richest countries in South America until the communists took over.  Now it's one of the poorest.  Ideology is not a replacement for sound economics and the personal freedom that fosters economic growth.  They did create millions of newly minted desperately poor people who will never enjoy any measure of economic prosperity unless they manage to escape.  Go figure.  Too bad so many people had to be murdered before everyone living there "figured that out".  Actually, I don't think they have "figured that out", and likely never will until they've completely self-destructed.  That seems to be the norm for communist countries.

If you're planning on a solar powered future, how will Saudi Arabia be a loser in that world?

They have all the oil required to make solar panels to begin with, cheap labor, and some of the best insolation on the planet.

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#120 2021-07-12 11:41:46

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 1,154

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Louis's world view is a fascinating piece of psychology that I cannot help poking at.  It is heavily influenced by green-tech utopianism.  The idea of colonising other planets is utopian and depends on a certain amount of wishful thinking.  So it shouldn't be surprising that board members here would be vulnerable to other types of utopian thinking and prone to wishful thinking and fantasism.  The Green movement is first and foremost an ideological movement.  In an increasingly secular and agnostic world, it provides people with certainty and meaning by replacing a belief in God, with a belief in nature, as the all kind and all giving mother, to be nutured, respected and worshipped.  A lot of people need that sort of anchor in life.  It provides emotional security in an otherwise uncertain and threatening world.  Hence many people's emotional connection to certain ideas and concepts that may appear bizarre from the outside.

The idea of generating power from the sun and wind is ideologically attractive to a lot of people.  It appears to provide a sort of natural symmetry and a lot of people, Louis included, end up obsessing over the idea.  It is pointless attempting to debate with these people using facts and figures, just as it is pointless trying to convince a religious fanatic that their specific take on morality and the meaning of life is misguided.  Exactly the same mindset is at work here.  Solar power is clearly an essential part of Louis's world view.  It is emotionally important to him in ways that many people won't understand and accepting its limitations would throw his entire world view into chaos.  Hence the reason these discussions end up going round and round in circles, with him making the same points over and over, even after they have been refuted over and over again.  You might as well blow your time trying to convince a creationist that humans and apes had common ancestors.  These people go to excessive lengths, devising quite complex alternative anti-evolutionary theories, to avoid having to accept conclusions that would sink their worldview.  Hence, the creationists intelligent design framework, which posits that complex structures like the eye, could not have evolved from simpler forms as they contain irreducible complexity.  Examples of simpler light sensing constructs available in fossil records, are ignored because they do not fit the narrative.  The last thing that these people want to do is critically examine their own theories.

Louis I think has fallen into the same line of thinking.  He rejects the idea that the economy is an energy system, precisely because the implications of this fact pour cold water on the idea of using low EROI solar energy as the dominant energy source for an industrial economy.  Studies that suggest that EROI of solar energy is too low to power an industrial society are rejected in favour of those that do not, without any understanding of specifics, simply because they fail to support the chosen narrative.  Nuclear power is hated by adherents of green-tech utopianism, precisely because it demolishes the need for solar electricity.  Why develop an expensive solar energy system harnessing the diffuse energy arriving from nuclear reactions in the sun, when we can instead build our own equivalent of the sun, with orders of magnitude greater power density?  Technological specifics are often lacking from the utopianism expressed on this board.  We hear a lot about 'solar and storage' being cheap and apparently getting ever cheaper.  But Louis often isn't interested in the specific technologies involved, nor does there appear to have much understanding as to how they work, or what their limitations are.  Likewise 'Nuclear' is often discussed by Louis in a way that suggests he lacks knowledge as to what it specifically is and how this set of technologies work.  He reached a predetermined conclusion that he was opposed to all things Nuclear
because it is a threat to the solar narrative.  With this in mind any knowledge of nuclear technology is superfluous, unless it is useful in bolstering the predetermined solar narrative.  One gets the sense that he is disinterested in the technology or even frightened to dig into these things because of what he might find.  He is obsessed with the idealism of solar energy to the point where specifics are meaningless distractions at best, or worse, exploring them may contradict the chosen narrative.  Hence, the continuous one liner statements that 'solar is now cheaper than any other energy source' without any critical analysis of the concepts involved.

What I do find a little puzzling is the obvious contradictions between the different utopianisms.  On the one hand, we witness a passionate belief in solar electricity, which has been demonstrated to be low EROI, with an enormous requisite materials budget.  On the other hand, a passionate belief in space colonisation, which cannot be carried out without bucket loads of excess energy and the sort of surplus wealth that is only available right now thanks to abundant fossil fuels (an advantage that is disappearing before our eyes).  The two worldviews are obviously incompatible with each other.  Most green tech obsessives are mindful of these sorts of contradictions and they tend to advocate simpler and less energy intensive lifestyles, in which spiritual value in some way compensates for reduced material abundance in the inevitably poorer world that a solar economy would bring.  The idea of space colonisation is ridiculous and a superfluous goal to these people.  This line of thinking is perfectly logical given the far more limiting resource base that a solar economy would impose upon humanity.  On the other hand, space travel utopians (my self included, if I am honest) shun the idea of a solar economy precisely because it renders my own utopian view of interplanetary future impossible.

What I find remarkable about Louis, is his ability to accept the solar power narrative without accepting its implications.  This sets him apart from most other adherents of the green-tech quasi-religious movement.  There is an obvious logical contradiction in his belief system that does not appear to recognise the incompatibility between an energy future based on ground based renewable energy on the one hand, and on the other, an interplanetary human society that would be impossible to build with the limited surplus energy that ground based renewable energy would impose.  Religious movements are replete with incompatibilities like this, and no believer ever seems to smell a rat, because their adherents are strongly discouraged from applying critical thinking to the chosen narrative.  Hence the idea that Christ was a multicultural pacifist, when numerous passages from the Bible paint him as a Judean racial nationalist, opposed to Roman rule, but without the resources needed to mount an armed rebellion.  These sorts of contradictions are obvious to someone on the outside.  Yet religious people are not dissuaded by them.  They find ways of reconciling the  incompatibilities of their belief system in a way that allows core beliefs to remain intact.  Louis has found ways of doing the same thing here, in spite of contradictions that would appear irreconcilable to an observer on the outside.

Last edited by Calliban (2021-07-12 12:09:12)


Interested in space science, engineering and technology.

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#121 2021-07-12 18:49:20

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,854

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

1. I wouldn't deny there is a lot of utopianism to be found in both the world of space exploration/colonisation and the world of green policy. However I think I am fairly level-headed when it comes to both. For example I reject Musk's simplistic model of colonisation. I don't think it's practical. Equally I totally oppose XR-Thunbergian nonsense economics (which would lead to the deaths of hundreds of millions possibly billions within a few years).

2. I have always been interested in energy economics and there's nothing wrong in that. I've been interested in cold fusion/LENR as well. But I am certainly enthused by the growing practicality of green energy. I think we are seeing huge potential changes in how society is organised in coming decades. Everything points to us being to supply many more of our own needs as individuals, urban areas and nations. We can see that already with solar power. We could probably create our own water supply through dehumidification - whether we would be able to deal with waste water is another matter. 3D printing is another powerful tool. So is robotics. Vertical farms, polytunnel farming - all part of the same theme.

3. I don't deny a society is an energy system. All living things are. EROI is just a rather simplistic and misleading analytical tool. I think the fundamental problem with it is that it doesn't price anything. If you price things, then you see that fundamentally price is reflecting the amount of labour put into a product or service - and it is the amount of labour that determines whether something can be done or not. This is obviously complex stuff but I would sum it up by saying that if we are confident the markets are telling us x is cheaper than y, then whatever your energy analysis might tell you, x is more practical and beneficial in the long term. Until recently green energy wasn't remotely telling us that. But now it seems to be increasingly in more and more parts of the world.

4. You can make methane, so your fuel to Mars doesn't have to be a fossil fuel. But clearly we will eventually find other ways to power craft. I don't think there are any major incompatibilities.  Spacecraft don't use anywhere near as much fossil fuel as aviation or automobiles, buses and trains in any case. The technologies we use to help us live on Mars will be useful on Earth as well. [Edit - Just to add a stat: in 2018 airlines carried over 4 billion passengers. In that year the space industry probably carried no more than 10 to orbit! Even if Musk's fantastic prognostications come true and he can build a city of 1 million permanent residents on Mars within 30 years, he would be carrying no more than about 34,000 passengers a year compared with maybe 10 billion being carried by the airlines. Of course E2E Starships could potentially change that but even in the next 30 years I doubt that will be anything more than the preserve of a small elite (not so much because of theoretical cost but because of the limits to where you can site Spaceports).


Calliban wrote:

Louis's world view is a fascinating piece of psychology that I cannot help poking at.  It is heavily influenced by green-tech utopianism.  The idea of colonising other planets is utopian and depends on a certain amount of wishful thinking.  So it shouldn't be surprising that board members here would be vulnerable to other types of utopian thinking and prone to wishful thinking and fantasism.  The Green movement is first and foremost an ideological movement.  In an increasingly secular and agnostic world, it provides people with certainty and meaning by replacing a belief in God, with a belief in nature, as the all kind and all giving mother, to be nutured, respected and worshipped.  A lot of people need that sort of anchor in life.  It provides emotional security in an otherwise uncertain and threatening world.  Hence many people's emotional connection to certain ideas and concepts that may appear bizarre from the outside.

The idea of generating power from the sun and wind is ideologically attractive to a lot of people.  It appears to provide a sort of natural symmetry and a lot of people, Louis included, end up obsessing over the idea.  It is pointless attempting to debate with these people using facts and figures, just as it is pointless trying to convince a religious fanatic that their specific take on morality and the meaning of life is misguided.  Exactly the same mindset is at work here.  Solar power is clearly an essential part of Louis's world view.  It is emotionally important to him in ways that many people won't understand and accepting its limitations would throw his entire world view into chaos.  Hence the reason these discussions end up going round and round in circles, with him making the same points over and over, even after they have been refuted over and over again.  You might as well blow your time trying to convince a creationist that humans and apes had common ancestors.  These people go to excessive lengths, devising quite complex alternative anti-evolutionary theories, to avoid having to accept conclusions that would sink their worldview.  Hence, the creationists intelligent design framework, which posits that complex structures like the eye, could not have evolved from simpler forms as they contain irreducible complexity.  Examples of simpler light sensing constructs available in fossil records, are ignored because they do not fit the narrative.  The last thing that these people want to do is critically examine their own theories.

Louis I think has fallen into the same line of thinking.  He rejects the idea that the economy is an energy system, precisely because the implications of this fact pour cold water on the idea of using low EROI solar energy as the dominant energy source for an industrial economy.  Studies that suggest that EROI of solar energy is too low to power an industrial society are rejected in favour of those that do not, without any understanding of specifics, simply because they fail to support the chosen narrative.  Nuclear power is hated by adherents of green-tech utopianism, precisely because it demolishes the need for solar electricity.  Why develop an expensive solar energy system harnessing the diffuse energy arriving from nuclear reactions in the sun, when we can instead build our own equivalent of the sun, with orders of magnitude greater power density?  Technological specifics are often lacking from the utopianism expressed on this board.  We hear a lot about 'solar and storage' being cheap and apparently getting ever cheaper.  But Louis often isn't interested in the specific technologies involved, nor does there appear to have much understanding as to how they work, or what their limitations are.  Likewise 'Nuclear' is often discussed by Louis in a way that suggests he lacks knowledge as to what it specifically is and how this set of technologies work.  He reached a predetermined conclusion that he was opposed to all things Nuclear
because it is a threat to the solar narrative.  With this in mind any knowledge of nuclear technology is superfluous, unless it is useful in bolstering the predetermined solar narrative.  One gets the sense that he is disinterested in the technology or even frightened to dig into these things because of what he might find.  He is obsessed with the idealism of solar energy to the point where specifics are meaningless distractions at best, or worse, exploring them may contradict the chosen narrative.  Hence, the continuous one liner statements that 'solar is now cheaper than any other energy source' without any critical analysis of the concepts involved.

What I do find a little puzzling is the obvious contradictions between the different utopianisms.  On the one hand, we witness a passionate belief in solar electricity, which has been demonstrated to be low EROI, with an enormous requisite materials budget.  On the other hand, a passionate belief in space colonisation, which cannot be carried out without bucket loads of excess energy and the sort of surplus wealth that is only available right now thanks to abundant fossil fuels (an advantage that is disappearing before our eyes).  The two worldviews are obviously incompatible with each other.  Most green tech obsessives are mindful of these sorts of contradictions and they tend to advocate simpler and less energy intensive lifestyles, in which spiritual value in some way compensates for reduced material abundance in the inevitably poorer world that a solar economy would bring.  The idea of space colonisation is ridiculous and a superfluous goal to these people.  This line of thinking is perfectly logical given the far more limiting resource base that a solar economy would impose upon humanity.  On the other hand, space travel utopians (my self included, if I am honest) shun the idea of a solar economy precisely because it renders my own utopian view of interplanetary future impossible.

What I find remarkable about Louis, is his ability to accept the solar power narrative without accepting its implications.  This sets him apart from most other adherents of the green-tech quasi-religious movement.  There is an obvious logical contradiction in his belief system that does not appear to recognise the incompatibility between an energy future based on ground based renewable energy on the one hand, and on the other, an interplanetary human society that would be impossible to build with the limited surplus energy that ground based renewable energy would impose.  Religious movements are replete with incompatibilities like this, and no believer ever seems to smell a rat, because their adherents are strongly discouraged from applying critical thinking to the chosen narrative.  Hence the idea that Christ was a multicultural pacifist, when numerous passages from the Bible paint him as a Judean racial nationalist, opposed to Roman rule, but without the resources needed to mount an armed rebellion.  These sorts of contradictions are obvious to someone on the outside.  Yet religious people are not dissuaded by them.  They find ways of reconciling the  incompatibilities of their belief system in a way that allows core beliefs to remain intact.  Louis has found ways of doing the same thing here, in spite of contradictions that would appear irreconcilable to an observer on the outside.

Last edited by louis (2021-07-13 06:40:30)


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#122 2021-07-13 12:02:02

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 7,208

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

For Louis .... occasionally a member of the forum will report the expected lifetime of solar panels ...

Usually the number of (Earth) years is around 20 years on the upside.

Since you are currently carrying the entire pro-solar argument by yourself, can you (possibly?) enlist help to show that there are reasons why solar cells deteriorate, and that whatever those reasons are can be countered by improved design.

I have no idea if the answer is yes or no, but I'll toss out: Can solar cells last 100 years?

If not, why not?

(th)

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#123 2021-07-13 13:08:49

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,854

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

It's a good question.

I think the industry standard is now moving to 25 years:

https://www.sunrun.com/go-solar-center/ … eally-last

https://news.energysage.com/how-long-do … nels-last/

Manufacturers guarantee 80% of the starting efficiency. It doesn't mean they stop working at 25 years. Many work quite effectively for 30 years. They don't stop dead.

The link below reports that:

" a study conducted by The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) shows a more accurate picture of solar panel degradation. This study took a look at the degradation rates for almost 2,000 solar systems across the world in a variety of climates and found that monocrystalline panels made after the year 2000 degraded at a rate of just 0.4% - less than half of the 1% rate used in the warranties."

https://www.paradisesolarenergy.com/blo … lar-panels

So it seems to be a picture of all-round technical improvement translating into cheaper  "per unit" panels. This has no doubt been one of the things driving down the price of utility scale PV power generation.

The following site explains the reasons for degradation:

https://ratedpower.com/blog/solar-panels-degradation/

  Light-induced degradation

There are different forms of mechanical and chemical degradation caused by the panel’s exposure to light, these include:

    Light-induced degradation (LID). Interaction between the crystalline silicon cells on the panel with the outside environment. LID can last days or over a week.
    Direct light-induced degradation (DLID). Direct exposure to sunlight during the initial setup period can cause the electronics within the photovoltaic cells to warp or buckle from the heat. DLID can last a few hours.
    UV light-induced degradation (UVID). Initial exposure to sunlight causes the crystalline silicon oxide on the surface of the panel to form a layer of boron dioxide that reduces its efficiency.

Potential-induced degradation (PID)

Unlike LID, PID does not necessarily affect every solar panel, but can happen if the different components, such as the photovoltaic cells and the frame, operate at different voltages. This disruption causes voltage leaks, reducing the amount of electricity the panel can send to the inverter.

Age-related degradation

By nature of their exposure to the elements, solar panels degrade over time. Heavy rainfall, snowfall, ice, as well as high temperatures cause hardening of the crystalline silicon, frame corrosion, and cell contamination. Hail, ice, dust, and sand can also cause microcracks on the surface of the panel, and damage to the seal on the panel can result in water getting inside.

Moreover, reactions in the semiconductor materials used in the cells can create shadowing that reduces the amount of light that the panel can convert into power.

I haven't been able to find any references suggesting we could extend lifespan to 100 years. Presumably that is because of the above factors which seem intrinsic to the way PV panels generate electricity (ie they largely cannot be removed as degradation factors). But certainly it looks like we can move to a 25 year lifespan and beyond. Certainly sounds like 30 years might be achievable.

A 50% increase in standard lifespan coupled with incremental improvements in output combined to greatly increased power output per unit coupled with 2 or 3 decades ago.



tahanson43206 wrote:

For Louis .... occasionally a member of the forum will report the expected lifetime of solar panels ...

Usually the number of (Earth) years is around 20 years on the upside.

Since you are currently carrying the entire pro-solar argument by yourself, can you (possibly?) enlist help to show that there are reasons why solar cells deteriorate, and that whatever those reasons are can be countered by improved design.

I have no idea if the answer is yes or no, but I'll toss out: Can solar cells last 100 years?

If not, why not?

(th)

Last edited by louis (2021-07-13 13:09:36)


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#124 2021-07-13 18:21:33

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 7,208

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

For Louis re #123

Thank you for your detailed (and documented) summary of prospects for extended life for solar cells and related technology.

I was surprised by some of the challenges you found, but I was aware of a few of them.

Here is an item that (I think) speaks to either Calliban or kbd512 who recently wrote about the difficulty of running a steel plant from renewable energy.  The solution appears to be to make hydrogen using diffuse sources, and use hydrogen to produce the intense heat needed for a steel plant.  it is a plan set for the future, but I presume it makes sense to the investors who will be supporting the venture.

https://currently.att.yahoo.com/finance … 08708.html

Eddie Spence
Tue, July 13, 2021, 10:34 AM
(Bloomberg) -- ArcelorMittal SA has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Spanish government for a 1 billion euro ($1.2 billion) investment to build the world’s first large-scale zero-carbon steel plant.

The company would build a unit that processes iron ore using green hydrogen at its plant in Gijon, a spokesperson for the firm said in a statement today. That metal would then supply a mill in Sestao that would use renewable electricity to produce 1.6 million tonnes of carbon-free steel a year.

(th)

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#125 2021-07-14 19:53:25

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,024

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Electrical overstress from drawing to much current from an already hot panel....thermal cycling from hot to cold each day and winter temperatures with a high current draw that browns the voltage but delivers the power... panel cells and even the substrate delamination's are caused by the water ingress during cold to warm cycles around freezing.

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