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#26 2018-12-31 22:14:04

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,615

Re: The Science of Climate Change

Louis,

You keep claiming things that have no basis in tangible economic fact.  You don't seem to be a big fan of numbers whenever they don't tell you what you want to hear.  If we can merely control the construction costs of solar power plants, then perhaps they can start to become the technology of choice.  I'm agnostic on energy solution choice, but I'm also pro-arithematic and pro-power availability.  If the climate changers back off of their evidence-free claims that they're saving the planet from global warming, which humanity is utterly incapable of affecting in any meaningful way, now or for the foreseeable future, then I'm fine with burning more natural gas.  However, I never again want to hear any blather from them about reducing CO2 emissions when their solution of choice does nothing of the sort for decades to come.  Grid scale batteries are NOT going to magically fall from the sky overnight.  Nothing of the sort exists, nor will it exist in the foreseeable future.  Each and every year we make batteries that are just a little better than the prior year models.  Meanwhile, nuclear power continues to provide the vast majority of the world's CO2-free electricity.

1. If the solar panel manufacturing plant is 100% automated and requires zero maintenance, something which occurs nowhere in the world at the present time, then the "floor" is the cost of the materials.  The materials aren't cheap, either, and the costs of the non-automated factories are already considerable.  If anything, the construction costs associated with battery factories will fall decades before the cost of solar panel factories.

2. The "solar storage problem" is being resolved, year by year, with increasing consumption of fossil fuels.  I used the cost of Topaz Solar Farm because the numbers only get worse as you go down in scale, not better.  You never cite any numbers because you either don't have any or refuse to do the math because it doesn't agree with your assertions.

Topaz produces 66.74GWh/km^2.  America used 4,017,555GWh of electricity in 2017.  That implies a land area of 60,197km^2, meaning a continuous coverage of the surface of 245km by 245km.  That's $1,892,744 per GWh of output per year.  That's just the construction costs.  That amount is $7,604,205,047,318.  For a mere 7.6 trillion dollars, we could re-power America with cheap and abundant solar power...  Except when the sun doesn't shine, which would be every day of the week into perpetuity.

The types of common PWR's recently constructed at Watts Bar cost $5B per 10,000GWh per year.  That's $500,000/GWh of output per year.  That's roughly $2,008,777,500,000 and assumes we replace all of our existing reactors, which already provide about 20% of America's clean energy.  Solar continues to provide such a paltry amount of electricity here in the US because people who can count refuse to pay more for the same product.

It's hilarious that you attempted to imply that LCOE dictates that solar is cheaper than nuclear since the cost of electricity must also include a fossil fuel powered backup.  It's equally funny that you believe that another solar power advance is just around the corner, despite decades of history to the contrary.

Germany is now burning fossil fuels since they've decided to shut down their reactors.  With the amount of money they've wasted on solar panels, they could've already achieved zero CO2 emission from electricity production.  Unfortunately, Germans claiming to want green energy have also lost the ability to do basic math.  This is exactly what happens when well-intentioned but mathematically-illiterate people are permitted to have their way.

3. The security issue with nuclear reactors is already well handled in the US.  We already use our Marines to protect nuclear reactors and weapons.  I also think you underestimate just how difficult it is to obtain fissile materials from a nuclear reactor.  The materials can't simply be handled with your bare hands, even if you're willing to die for your cause, and aren't for sale for any amount of money unless the Democrat Party is in charge, in which case they'll happily sell America's nuclear materials to our supposed enemies to fund their next campaign.  Maybe you have a point about that.  That's really your only argument, which is not based upon math or money, as none of your arguments ever have been.

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#27 2019-01-01 05:24:52

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,865

Re: The Science of Climate Change

Although you claim to like the numbers you don't seem willing to discuss the numbers set out in all the levelised cost comparisons.

In my view a sensible general approach (obviously solutions will vary around the world) would be to grow wind and solar at a steady pace for the next 20 years, along with a range of renewables, and wherever possible replace coal with natural gas. I think renewables should be in the 80% plus range eventually, and ultimately 100%. During the next two decades I think we will resolve the problem of energy storage.

I favour this policy whether or not the climate changers have it right about carbon emissions.



kbd512 wrote:

Louis,

You keep claiming things that have no basis in tangible economic fact.  You don't seem to be a big fan of numbers whenever they don't tell you what you want to hear.  If we can merely control the construction costs of solar power plants, then perhaps they can start to become the technology of choice.  I'm agnostic on energy solution choice, but I'm also pro-arithematic and pro-power availability.  If the climate changers back off of their evidence-free claims that they're saving the planet from global warming, which humanity is utterly incapable of affecting in any meaningful way, now or for the foreseeable future, then I'm fine with burning more natural gas.  However, I never again want to hear any blather from them about reducing CO2 emissions when their solution of choice does nothing of the sort for decades to come.  Grid scale batteries are NOT going to magically fall from the sky overnight.  Nothing of the sort exists, nor will it exist in the foreseeable future.  Each and every year we make batteries that are just a little better than the prior year models.  Meanwhile, nuclear power continues to provide the vast majority of the world's CO2-free electricity.

1. If the solar panel manufacturing plant is 100% automated and requires zero maintenance, something which occurs nowhere in the world at the present time, then the "floor" is the cost of the materials.  The materials aren't cheap, either, and the costs of the non-automated factories are already considerable.  If anything, the construction costs associated with battery factories will fall decades before the cost of solar panel factories.

2. The "solar storage problem" is being resolved, year by year, with increasing consumption of fossil fuels.  I used the cost of Topaz Solar Farm because the numbers only get worse as you go down in scale, not better.  You never cite any numbers because you either don't have any or refuse to do the math because it doesn't agree with your assertions.

Topaz produces 66.74GWh/km^2.  America used 4,017,555GWh of electricity in 2017.  That implies a land area of 60,197km^2, meaning a continuous coverage of the surface of 245km by 245km.  That's $1,892,744 per GWh of output per year.  That's just the construction costs.  That amount is $7,604,205,047,318.  For a mere 7.6 trillion dollars, we could re-power America with cheap and abundant solar power...  Except when the sun doesn't shine, which would be every day of the week into perpetuity.

The types of common PWR's recently constructed at Watts Bar cost $5B per 10,000GWh per year.  That's $500,000/GWh of output per year.  That's roughly $2,008,777,500,000 and assumes we replace all of our existing reactors, which already provide about 20% of America's clean energy.  Solar continues to provide such a paltry amount of electricity here in the US because people who can count refuse to pay more for the same product.

It's hilarious that you attempted to imply that LCOE dictates that solar is cheaper than nuclear since the cost of electricity must also include a fossil fuel powered backup.  It's equally funny that you believe that another solar power advance is just around the corner, despite decades of history to the contrary.

Germany is now burning fossil fuels since they've decided to shut down their reactors.  With the amount of money they've wasted on solar panels, they could've already achieved zero CO2 emission from electricity production.  Unfortunately, Germans claiming to want green energy have also lost the ability to do basic math.  This is exactly what happens when well-intentioned but mathematically-illiterate people are permitted to have their way.

3. The security issue with nuclear reactors is already well handled in the US.  We already use our Marines to protect nuclear reactors and weapons.  I also think you underestimate just how difficult it is to obtain fissile materials from a nuclear reactor.  The materials can't simply be handled with your bare hands, even if you're willing to die for your cause, and aren't for sale for any amount of money unless the Democrat Party is in charge, in which case they'll happily sell America's nuclear materials to our supposed enemies to fund their next campaign.  Maybe you have a point about that.  That's really your only argument, which is not based upon math or money, as none of your arguments ever have been.


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

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#28 2019-01-01 08:05:31

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,615

Re: The Science of Climate Change

Louis,

What are the UK's current costs for wind and solar and gas turbines?

On average, UK electricity rates are already 1/3 higher than US electricity rates.

What do you imagine more solar and wind will do to those rates?

Total generation in 2017 was 11,479GWh.  That's the output of a single reactor.

If cost doesn't matter, the environment doesn't matter, and the availability of electricity doesn't matter, then solar and wind and gas are the perfect solution.  Just don't expect your electricity rates to go down.

Here's another fun little fact.  Radon222 is closely associated with Methane.  Have fun breathing in more Radon from using all that Methane.  More people in the UK die from Radon exposure every year than from the entire history of your nuclear program, to include nuclear weapons production.

Just to put things into perspective for our anti-nuclear zealots, approximately 1,000 Britons and 21,000 Americans die from Radon inhalation every year, mostly associated with Methane releases, but vanishingly few Americans and Britons have ever died from radiation associated with the Uranium and Plutonium boogeymen and the few who have were generally involved in nuclear weapons production.

Fewer people die of Carbon Monoxide poisoning than lung cancer from Radon.  The first and last fatality from a radiation release associated with production of commercial nuclear power in the US was Robert Peabody.  Mr. Peabody died from radiation exposure in 1964.  That was 54 years ago.

The radioactive Iodine and Cesium eventually become no more radioactive than background radiation.  Gallium and Arsenic from solar panels are toxic forever.  Solar panels last about 20, maybe 30 years tops before they degrade.  Wind turbines never seem to last that long, maybe 15 to 20 years tops.  Being generous, the entire installed solar power grid will have to be replaced twice in the next 60 years.  Most reactors that haven't been shut down by anti-nuclear zealots have lasted 50 to 60 years.

After producing 25TWh of electricity, the quantity of nuclear waste produced, if it were stacked on a football field, would be 52 meters high.  This is the US definition of nuclear waste, where we stick fuel in the reactor for 18 months, burn up 2% to 5% of its total energy content, and then never bother with reprocessing it to get the remaining 98% to 95% of the remaining energy in the Uranium.  The quantity of solar panel waste would be around 16,000 meters high.  Have fun recycling those cubic kilometers of solar waste.  Arsenic, Cadmium, Chromium, Gallium, and Lead are toxic forever, to name but a few of the substances in the cheap Chinese solar panels.  Send all those panels back to China so they can incinerate them and put all that green energy into the air and water.

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#29 2019-01-01 11:14:08

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,865

Re: The Science of Climate Change

I did post the link for levelised cost comparisons.  Here it is again....

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_e … lectricity

In the UK onshore wind at £62 per MWh is about 33% cheaper than nuclear at £93.  Offshore wind is currently more expensive by about 10%.

New nuclear is being given a GUARANTEED price of £92 per MWh for the next 30 years even though natural gas comes in as low as £66  and even though we are likely to wind and solar plus storage falling in price hugely.

You will no doubt tell me that you have to have the infrastructure to account for intermittency. Well yes, but natural gas can deliver that at a much lower price.

There is still going to be huge scope for cost reductions in wind and solar.



kbd512 wrote:

Louis,

What are the UK's current costs for wind and solar and gas turbines?

On average, UK electricity rates are already 1/3 higher than US electricity rates.

What do you imagine more solar and wind will do to those rates?

Total generation in 2017 was 11,479GWh.  That's the output of a single reactor.

If cost doesn't matter, the environment doesn't matter, and the availability of electricity doesn't matter, then solar and wind and gas are the perfect solution.  Just don't expect your electricity rates to go down.

Here's another fun little fact.  Radon222 is closely associated with Methane.  Have fun breathing in more Radon from using all that Methane.  More people in the UK die from Radon exposure every year than from the entire history of your nuclear program, to include nuclear weapons production.

Just to put things into perspective for our anti-nuclear zealots, approximately 1,000 Britons and 21,000 Americans die from Radon inhalation every year, mostly associated with Methane releases, but vanishingly few Americans and Britons have ever died from radiation associated with the Uranium and Plutonium boogeymen and the few who have were generally involved in nuclear weapons production.

Fewer people die of Carbon Monoxide poisoning than lung cancer from Radon.  The first and last fatality from a radiation release associated with production of commercial nuclear power in the US was Robert Peabody.  Mr. Peabody died from radiation exposure in 1964.  That was 54 years ago.

The radioactive Iodine and Cesium eventually become no more radioactive than background radiation.  Gallium and Arsenic from solar panels are toxic forever.  Solar panels last about 20, maybe 30 years tops before they degrade.  Wind turbines never seem to last that long, maybe 15 to 20 years tops.  Being generous, the entire installed solar power grid will have to be replaced twice in the next 60 years.  Most reactors that haven't been shut down by anti-nuclear zealots have lasted 50 to 60 years.

After producing 25TWh of electricity, the quantity of nuclear waste produced, if it were stacked on a football field, would be 52 meters high.  This is the US definition of nuclear waste, where we stick fuel in the reactor for 18 months, burn up 2% to 5% of its total energy content, and then never bother with reprocessing it to get the remaining 98% to 95% of the remaining energy in the Uranium.  The quantity of solar panel waste would be around 16,000 meters high.  Have fun recycling those cubic kilometers of solar waste.  Arsenic, Cadmium, Chromium, Gallium, and Lead are toxic forever, to name but a few of the substances in the cheap Chinese solar panels.  Send all those panels back to China so they can incinerate them and put all that green energy into the air and water.


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

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#30 2019-01-02 02:53:57

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,615

Re: The Science of Climate Change

Louis,

Thanks for posting the cost figures.  Take that cost for wind and triple it, unless future generations of Britons don't require electrical power.  In a maritime environment, those wind turbines won't last more than 20 years.  All of them are made from composites and alloy steels, which don't hold up particularly well in salty ocean air.  The steel components can and should be coated with something to increase their useful service life, but the delivery portion of the video below makes me think that they're not doing that.  The RF-85 surface treatment would do wonders for the lifespan of the metallic components and won't change the part dimensions at all.

Here's a video of one of GE's Haliade 150 units being fabricated:

Offshore wind turbine: Haliade 150 - 6 MW

Note the use of large composite molds and alloy steel.  I know it's low alloy steel because it already has rust on it during the machining process.  The use of stainless would easily double the cost for those parts.  GE's design is better than most due to the way aerodynamic loads are transferred to the tower, but aerodynamic loads generated by such large wings are enormous and fatigue failure is inevitable.  Apart from serious corrosion issues that require constant maintenance, that's why none will last more than 20 years or so.  Composites are susceptible to moisture intrusion, which leads to catastrophic failure, but the strength-to-weight ratio of metals are far too low for this application.  This is the ultimate failure mode for marine vessels fabricated with composites.  If the gel coat cracks or is improperly applied, the part is trash.

The new Haliade-X series will have individual turbine blades that are 107m in length, which is just 10m shy of the wingspan of StratoLaunch.  These turbines will be 260m in height.  The Eiffel Tower is 324m in height for comparison purposes.  Efficiency or capacity factor in a wind turbine is governed by the swept area of the turbine blades and that drives the enormous size of such systems.

You claim that future cost reductions will be huge, but the design of future solar farms and wind turbine farms is taking them in the same direction as nuclear reactor designs of the 1950's and 1960's.  The individual systems are enormous and immovable, just like large nuclear reactors.  In point of fact, all present solar and wind systems and all future designs consume far more steel and concrete than 1960's era 1,000MW class fission reactors.

I'm not sure how much more efficient you think solar and wind turbines will become, but even if the theoretical limits of efficiency are achievable the technologies will produce orders of magnitude more waste that must be recycled much sooner than waste from a nuclear reactor.  I noticed you ignored that point.  Anyway, the tips of the Haliade-X are as high as the Eiffel Tower.  The swept area is larger than most of the largest sky scrapers in the world.  Such large systems can achieve greater capacity factors, but in 20 years someone will be on the hook for a replacement system.  I see this stuff as short-term feel-good solutions to long-term problems that short-term solutions won't resolve.

There's no such thing as a 100% wind or 100% solar solution, which means you need to buy a wind system, a solar system, and a gas turbine system to match the output of a nuclear system for stable base load power.  That makes the costs of wind, solar, and gas turbines additive.  You have to pay the construction and maintenance costs for all three systems, whether you're using them or not.  You also have to triple the number of grid interconnects to supply the power from those systems, which adds even more cost both for construction and maintenance.

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#31 2019-01-02 13:29:34

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,865

Re: The Science of Climate Change

I think that's why offshore wind is something like 66% pricier than onshore wind - ie all the factors you mention have already been taken into account.

But wind energy will come down in price.  We have sea platforms in the North Sea still standing tall nearly 80 years on.  We won't have to rebuild the towers, even if we have to replace the turbines and possibly blades (even then  we have aircraft that have been flying for 40 years, so I am not sure we need to replace blades after 25 years). We don't have to build new tracks to the turbines on land. Turbine life can be extended with more intensive maintenance. Yes, there'll be some loss of efficiency but the cost per KwH will be coming down all the time.

Longer term, the reduction in wind energy cost will level off, but there is still a long, long way to go with solar. With conventional panels, we could get efficiency up to 40% longer term I think. But printing of ultra low weight PV film would in any case revolutionise costs.

In a few decades we should also have orbit solar power beaming energy to Earth via microwave beams.  Progress is already being made in that direction.




kbd512 wrote:

Louis,

Thanks for posting the cost figures.  Take that cost for wind and triple it, unless future generations of Britons don't require electrical power.  In a maritime environment, those wind turbines won't last more than 20 years.  All of them are made from composites and alloy steels, which don't hold up particularly well in salty ocean air.  The steel components can and should be coated with something to increase their useful service life, but the delivery portion of the video below makes me think that they're not doing that.  The RF-85 surface treatment would do wonders for the lifespan of the metallic components and won't change the part dimensions at all.

Here's a video of one of GE's Haliade 150 units being fabricated:

Offshore wind turbine: Haliade 150 - 6 MW

Note the use of large composite molds and alloy steel.  I know it's low alloy steel because it already has rust on it during the machining process.  The use of stainless would easily double the cost for those parts.  GE's design is better than most due to the way aerodynamic loads are transferred to the tower, but aerodynamic loads generated by such large wings are enormous and fatigue failure is inevitable.  Apart from serious corrosion issues that require constant maintenance, that's why none will last more than 20 years or so.  Composites are susceptible to moisture intrusion, which leads to catastrophic failure, but the strength-to-weight ratio of metals are far too low for this application.  This is the ultimate failure mode for marine vessels fabricated with composites.  If the gel coat cracks or is improperly applied, the part is trash.

The new Haliade-X series will have individual turbine blades that are 107m in length, which is just 10m shy of the wingspan of StratoLaunch.  These turbines will be 260m in height.  The Eiffel Tower is 324m in height for comparison purposes.  Efficiency or capacity factor in a wind turbine is governed by the swept area of the turbine blades and that drives the enormous size of such systems.

You claim that future cost reductions will be huge, but the design of future solar farms and wind turbine farms is taking them in the same direction as nuclear reactor designs of the 1950's and 1960's.  The individual systems are enormous and immovable, just like large nuclear reactors.  In point of fact, all present solar and wind systems and all future designs consume far more steel and concrete than 1960's era 1,000MW class fission reactors.

I'm not sure how much more efficient you think solar and wind turbines will become, but even if the theoretical limits of efficiency are achievable the technologies will produce orders of magnitude more waste that must be recycled much sooner than waste from a nuclear reactor.  I noticed you ignored that point.  Anyway, the tips of the Haliade-X are as high as the Eiffel Tower.  The swept area is larger than most of the largest sky scrapers in the world.  Such large systems can achieve greater capacity factors, but in 20 years someone will be on the hook for a replacement system.  I see this stuff as short-term feel-good solutions to long-term problems that short-term solutions won't resolve.

There's no such thing as a 100% wind or 100% solar solution, which means you need to buy a wind system, a solar system, and a gas turbine system to match the output of a nuclear system for stable base load power.  That makes the costs of wind, solar, and gas turbines additive.  You have to pay the construction and maintenance costs for all three systems, whether you're using them or not.  You also have to triple the number of grid interconnects to supply the power from those systems, which adds even more cost both for construction and maintenance.


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

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#32 2019-01-03 22:26:57

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,615

Re: The Science of Climate Change

Louis,

Could you please start quoting responses as shown below unless you decide to respond to one of my posts in a point-by-point manner?:

louis wrote:

Post #31

If you respond to me, personally, I can typically follow what you were responding to without even bothering to quote the post you responded to, but the example shown above removes all doubt.

Thank you.

Doing that makes it faster to scroll through the posts on a topic and everyone who knows how to use a chat forum can easily determine what / who someone was responding to.  Whenever I go back and edit previous posts, it's typically to correct spelling and/or grammar (although I've mostly stopped doing this to reduce churn), but any content corrections are clearly annotated as such so that everyone who reads it will know exactly what I changed.  I'm human and will always make mistakes, although I try not to.  If evidence beyond statement of belief is provided, I'm happy to correct anything that someone believes to be factually incorrect and encourage anyone to point out anything I've stated that's factually incorrect.

I'm sure I'll receive the usual critiques for not responding with absolute brevity, but I feel that greater understanding for our readers is not possible by simply posting one-liners as responses to complex topics.  Apologies to Josh, SpaceNut, and the rest of our viewership, but thorough explanation takes more words or more eloquence than I was endowed with.  Someone who is truly interested in a topic will take the time to read through a post and someone who isn't interested will just ignore it as they always have.

Objectives

As long as you reject anti-humanism, then I think we both want the same thing, which is a future where the energy to power humanity is clean, plentiful, affordable, and available 24/7.  We clearly differ in what we think will affordably accomplish that.  None of my arguments are based in dogma or blind faith in any specific technology.  To paraphrase David MacKay, I'm all for cleaner energy and energy conservation, but I'm also for demonstrating an acceptance and understanding of mathematics, physics, and available technology.

I get my numbers from EIA, which maintains extensive and detailed information on energy statistics:

Levelized Cost and Levelized Avoided Cost of New Generation Resources in the Annual Energy Outlook 2018

I'm not sure how it is that the UK manages to make nuclear energy so much more expensive than it is in the US, but if that's the case then the UK should choose energy sources that are more affordable.  However, affordability should be judged upon past performance and all other factors affecting an actual implementation, not glowing prognostications about things to come that have never happened in the past.  It should be understood from the outset that there's no such thing as a single source solution.  I'm not advocating for the use of nuclear to the exclusion of all other energy production technologies.  I'm stating that historical records that take cost, total output, and capacity factor (TCO, or Total Cost of Ownership) into account clearly demonstrate that nuclear power is affordable and dependable enough to provide stable base load power without emitting massive quantities of greenhouse gases.  No unbiased review of history could conclude much of anything else.

I have already pointed out that ignoring the material inefficiency and waste of these so-called "renewable sources" won't change economic or technological reality.  Covering the Earth with solar panels and wind turbines may seem like a fantastic idea today, but in 20 to 30 years humanity will have an enormous quantity of difficult-to-recycle waste to contend with that makes the quantity of nuclear waste generated seem trivial by way of comparison.  No amount of blind faith that solar and wind technology will become far more efficient and affordable in the future can overcome present technological problems stemming from fundamental physics limitations.  I'm pretty sure such hubris reflects a lack of knowledge.

All present solar and wind turbine technologies are affordable at present because of massive and sustained government subsidies.  If the subsidies are a given, then that might not actually be a problem.  If someone demands an honest account of what using those technologies actually does for us at a given expenditure level and won't provide more tax money unless significant steps are taken towards ultimate sustainability, then it could make these technologies economically unviable in the future.  The same could be said of nuclear technology and that would be a valid counter-point.  However, nuclear energy receives just 1% of the total energy subsidies from the US government.  These so-called renewables receive 59% of the total subsidies.  For all the money invested in renewables over several decades, their total output still provides less than 2% of total electricity production.  If the cost-effectiveness of an energy solution matters at all, given the incredible investments into renewables, then it's pretty clear that renewables have provided very little benefit for the associated cost.  I'm sure it makes people feel good, but feeling good about what you've done and actually doing something that provides meaningful benefit to humanity are two entirely different standards for judging effectiveness.

Problems with Wind Turbines

I'll try to explain the problems and potential solutions associated with wind turbines to the rest of our readers.  Your analogy to the longevity of offshore wind turbine platforms with offshore oil drilling platforms and aircraft is particularly pertinent, since nearly all of those oil platforms are nearing the end of their useful service lives and oil platforms have nowhere near the maintenance or strength to weight requirements of either aircraft or wind turbine blades.  As the strength to weight requirements and dynamic loads go up, useful service life goes down and maintenance requirements go up dramatically.  There are ways to fudge the maintenance of steel alloy ship hulls and oil platforms that would simply be unacceptable if applied to aircraft or wind turbines.  For example, foregoing corrosion protection maintenance for a year or two might work on an oil platform, but could have catastrophic consequences if applied to an aircraft wing or wind turbine blade.  For that specific reason any aircraft that have been built / stored / operated in Florida, whether composite or metal but especially composite, have lower resale values than aircraft built / stored / operated in inland parts of the US unless it can be proven that the aircraft were sheltered in climate-controlled hangars and corrosion inspection and protection maintenance was kept completely up to date at all times.  Similarly, any aircraft that have long periods of disuse have lower resale values because their engines inevitably suffer from corrosion unless they were properly preserved for storage and that generally doesn't happen.

Aircraft Comparisons

All naval aircraft in service have had nearly every part of their airframes and engines replaced multiple times over the course of 20 years or so.  Our squadron flew aircraft that were made in the 1960's and there was virtually nothing original left on the airframes, nor the engines, nor the avionics.  Sometimes major parts and assemblies, such as engines, were replaced more than once on a single 6 month combat deployment.  After a certain number of thousands of hours of service, the depot has to disassemble the entire airframe, replace the wings, wing box or fuselage center section, along with any other load bearing portions of the airframe such as the landing gear.  Corrosion and fatigue takes a heavy toll on those parts.  That's a major reason why aircraft, especially naval aircraft, are so expensive to operate.  It's not just about the fuel, although that's also a major operational cost.

The much younger fleet of F/A-18 Hornets had virtually no original parts in their airframes, avionics, or engines, either.  Even so, the airframe of a hard-use (punishing take-offs and landings aboard an aircraft carrier that literally beat the airframe to death) and high-maneuverability (countless hard turns at high operating weights) fighter jet has nowhere near the strength to weight requirement of large wind turbine blades.  If the gravity loads that the tips of a large wind turbine blade are subjected to were applied to any fighter jet's wings, it'd either rip them off instantly or irreparably damage the airframe.  It should be apparent that while large wind turbine blades are incredibly strong and light, the loads applied to them limits service life.

Dynamic Loads

The new 120m blade Haliade-X from GE will have some of the largest blades practical for a wind turbine.  At 12rpm (one revolution every 5 seconds, just like the current 80m Haliade wind turbines), the tips of the blades will be subjected to 17 times the force of gravity and be traveling at almost 500 kilometers per hour.  17g is above the design limit loads, or load that would be expected to cause catastrophic failure, for a fighter aircraft's airframe.  In a storm, Haliade-X's blades could approach Mach.  That creates massive wave drag and turbulence in the region of transonic flow near the tips and would result in destruction of the blades.  Wind turbine blades have a design speed limit known as the "survival speed", beyond which severe damage and destruction are expected.  The 75m length B75 blades used in Siemen's offshore wind turbine offerings weigh 25t each and in typical North Sea wind conditions have to resist 200t of air pressure acting on each blade.  If windspeed in a storm doubles or triples, it should be easy to understand why something so large, thin, and light would fail.

Electric Motor / Generator Technology Limitations

An electric motor is an electric generator and vice versa, dependent upon where mechanical and electrical power fall on the input and output side of the machine.  There's no fundamental difference between the two, given what we currently understand of electromagnetic machines that translate between mechanical and electrical energy.  This technology has been with us for more than a century and continuously improved along the way with greater efficiency in the conversion process of electrical to mechanical energy or vice versa.

Current common technology electric motors and generators already in mass production achieve efficiencies as high as 98% using common and inexpensive materials for electric vehicle applications.  In point of fact, ABB achieved 99.05% efficiency last year.  This did not require new physics, fundamentally new technology, nor even superconductors.  In point of fact, certain helical copper coil configurations can achieve Ampacities or current densities that rival our best superconductors.  The larger the motor or generator becomes, the easier it is to achieve higher efficiency, but this is not even a problem for small motors and generators these days.  Ampacity is the measure of current density achievable, electrical current being measured in Amperes.

A superconducting motor or generator can achieve high current density in the conductor material by lowering the temperature of the material below its critical temperature, below which resistance to the flow of current drops like a rock (it literally looks like a cliff on a meter) to nearly zero as long as the Ampacity of the superconductor material is not exceeded.  Current is flow, or the flow of electrons through the conductor.  Voltage is pressure.  Think of current as water flow and voltage as water pressure.  In most non-superconducting applications not related to electrical heating, high pressure and low flow is desirable to limit heat buildup from resistance in the conductor.  Think of resistance as a water strainer inhibiting water from flowing through the pipe / conductor.  There are obviously limits, however.  High voltage can easily fry things, just as high current flow can really heat up the conductor.

Although superconducting motors and generators can and do increase the power-to-weight ratio of a given machine, this is only achievable at significant cost and complexity associated with maintaining the superconductor at moderate to deeply cryogenic temperatures.  Our highest temperature High-Temperature Superconductors / HTS materials require temperatures around what's required for LOX or LCH4.  Here on Earth, this mandates the use of expensive and maintenance intensive cryocoolers.  Thus, most motors and generators don't use superconductors to increase efficiency due to the associated expense and, as I previously indicated, it provides vanishingly little improvement over current materials.  Current non-superconducting electric motors have power-to-weight ratios substantially in excess of the most efficient gas turbine engines on the planet.  With known physics and assuming the use of superconductors, there's virtually nothing that can be done to substantially improve upon current motor and generator design.  That means there is no fundamental improvement upon existing motor and generator technology that is possible because known physics and engineering and materials don't allow for that to happen.  We're well within bad breath distance of the zenith of motor and generator technology.  All wind turbines and gas turbines that produce electrical power, which is the vast overwhelming majority of electric generators, are limited by this issue.

Materials Strength-to-Weight Problems

CFRC / CF = Carbon Fiber Reinforced Composite
GFRC = Glass Fiber Reinforced Composite; S-glass is stronger than E-glass and carbon fiber and carbon fiber is stronger than E-glass, but E-glass is the cheapest material
CNT = Carbon NanoTube
EPS = Expanded Polystyrene Foam; used in beer coolers and packing peanuts
XPS = Polystyrene Foam; used in composite aircraft, not the more common / much weaker EPS; variable density / strength / stiffness, but about 4 times that of Balsa for a given weight
CMC = Metal Ceramic Matrix Composite

Now let's discuss the physics of more efficient wind turbine blades.  The only known way to make wind turbines substantially more efficient is to make the blades longer to increase the swept area and to position the device higher in the atmosphere where wind speed is more constant.  Small changes in blade geometry can't yield improvements in power conversion efficiency and capacity factor worth their cost or other performance effects.  As airfoils go, wind turbine blades are already highly efficient and heavily optimized for their intended operating regime.

As previously indicated, building something so strong and light is a real challenge.  Unfortunately, doubling blade length typically increases blade weight by a factor of three.  The blades are already so long that only GFRC's have sufficient strength to weight, but even the weight of GFRC's is too high for significantly greater blade length.  The only way to increase the blade length / size over current blade designs is to switch to CFRC's to improve stiffness for a given weight to limit blade deflection under load.  Unfortunately, CF is actually weaker than the commonly used S-glass for a given weight.

There are other extremely exotic and expensive suitable materials such as CNT's and Graphene, but there is presently no economical or practical ways to make composites from those materials.  The strength to weight ratio of all known metals and ceramic metal matrix composites is far too low to improve efficiency for this particular application.  The aerodynamic loads on turbine blades are considerable, but gravity / centripetal force has already overtaken aerodynamic loads in the largest designs from GE and Siemens.

CFRC's are multiple times the cost of GFRC's for the material alone, never mind present fabrication methods.  According to University of Cambridge, the wind energy sector uses ten times more composite materials than the motor vehicle and aerospace industries combined.  The spar cap layups in wind turbine blades are already CFRC's, but the entire blade would have to be made from various CFRC's and lighter foams, such as XPS, instead of Balsa to make longer blades.  The individual wind turbine blades in question are already approaching the entire wingspan of the largest aircraft ever constructed.  Making such extremely large, light, strong, stiff, and efficient blades is a very time consuming and expensive process.

Pound for pound, S-glass fiber is the strongest fabric used in weight critical aerospace composites, not carbon fiber as so many erroneously believe.  Carbon fiber is much stiffer than S-glass or E-glass for a given weight, but only in one direction.  There are also stronger fibers than S-glass that are used in composites, such as Kevlar or Spectra, but only at the expense of additional weight and only in tension.  The weight is already the primary problem, which is why S-glass and carbon fiber are used in wind turbine blades.

NASA has created and tested CNT composite overwrap pressure vessel test articles.  I believe one is scheduled to be flown into space this year or next.  The odds of us finding materials stronger and lighter than CNT is pretty low, but still possible.  CNT's have strength to weight ratios many times higher than present materials and would produce ideal mechanical properties if they weren't so absurdly expensive to make.

Although Haliade uses Balsa core material, XPS foam could potentially lower the mass of the blades and increase stiffness.  The mechanical properties of XPS are far more uniform than any natural fiber such as Balsa since it's man-made.  XPS is also recyclable.  Structural Aerogel foams can be quite stiff, but only with significant weight, and they're excellent electrical and thermal insulators, inflammable for all practical purposes, and greatly dampen vibration.  I could see Aerogel being used in the blade roots to dampen harmonics and XPS or some kind of honeycomb near the tips to increase stiffness.

GE's Haliade Wind Turbines

For anyone who thinks current wind turbines are tinker toys, check out these pictures of GE's Haliade 150 offshore wind turbines in the link below.  They're beautiful machines, but they're $11.75M per copy.  I don't believe a machine that produces twice its output, as Haliade-X should, will be any cheaper to build.

The nacelle for Haliade 150-6MW weighs 400t, the mast and foundation weight 1,500t.  Lockheed-Martin's Freedom class LCS frigate weighs 3,500t at full load for comparison purposes.  Each 73.5m blade weighs 20t.  Haliade-X will likely weigh every bit as much as a Freedom class frigate.  The blade manufacturing plant in Cherbourg, France, operated by Alstom / LM Wind Power, can produce 300 blades or 100 sets per year.  The S-glass is made with high-quality volcanic basalt.  Tensile modulus is around 90GPa for S-glass, compared to the cheaper E-glass tensile modulus of 70GPa to 75GPa.  The B75 blades made by Siemens for a similar product weigh 25t each, so this is a marked improvement in weight.

The Temple Of Turbine: One of These Wind Turbines Can Power 5,000 Homes

Video: Installation of the GE Haliade 150-6 Mw Wind Turbine

A Towering Achievement: A Look Inside A Factory For Giant Wind Turbine Blades

Wind farms: higher voltage, lower costs

End-of-Life Materials Recycling

If the sort of technology in the video link below proves successful, then at least we'll have an end-of-life solution to recycle the turbine blades.  Some have suggested that we use them in playground equipment, which is not where I'd normally consider putting delaminating razor sharp glass or carbon fibers, but I guess they're running short of feasible ways to repurpose the old materials.  Although there's a functionally limitless supply of these composites materials on Earth / moon / Mars, eventually you have to put the stuff that's broken somewhere.

IACMI Wind Blade Prototype (Composites Manufacturing Innovation)

Feasibility of Onshore vs Offshore Wind Turbines

The switch to offshore wind has to do with the average wind speeds.  The average offshore wind speeds in the UK is around 14m/s.  However, the maintenance of the offshore wind systems is 5 times as costly with current materials and techniques.  The primary problems are wind erosion of the blade leading edges, which is why composite propellers have Nickel leading edge strips, and corrosion from the maritime environment through air and water intrusion due to micro cracking of the protective gel coat.

Quarterly wind speed average in the United Kingdom (UK) from 2010 to 2018 (in knots)

Capacity Factor

If it's not clear yet, the primary drivers towards larger wind turbines are capacity factor and efficiency.  The motor / generator technology is tapped out.  There are very few ways to meaningfully improve upon a technology that's already low-cost and more than 99% efficient.  At the same time, present wind turbine designs are rapidly approaching the limits of known lightweight but strong materials.  CNT materials could potentially provide sufficient strength to weight for next generation applications, but their costs are presently measured in tens of thousands of dollars per kilogram, which means orders of magnitude of cost reduction are required for use of that material to become practical.  Even if that becomes practical, aerodynamic loads limit the maximum tip speeds of wind turbines.  Revolutionary new materials could enable two more generational improvements.  After that, physics takes over.  As these machines approach the size of sky scrapers, design and construction problems won't become less costly.  The bright side is that Haliade-X and larger wind turbines significantly increase capacity factor, just not to the extent that the such technology could provide base load power.  The CNT blades, if practical, would permit wind to provide base load power.  The machines will have to become as tall as the tallest buildings on Earth for that to happen.

Future Wind Turbine Design Efforts

As large as a 12MW Haliade-X wind turbine will be, SUNY and ARPA-E in the US want to determine if 50MW wind turbines can be built.  These next-generation turbines will be taller than the Empire State Building.  Each blade will be 200m long.  One of their biggest problems is simply assembling the components.  Nobody has a crane that tall and they can't figure out how to assemble the turbine once they get it to the platform.  I think specialized cranes that climb the tower and airships are likely the only practical solution.

Energy Infrastructure Security

Louis has asserted that only nuclear reactors are targets for terrorist attacks and require security.  I'll point out how reality differs from that assertion.  Any lone terrorist with access to a low cost drone and a pint of gasoline can utterly destroy one of these sky scraper sized wind turbines for a couple hundred dollars or less.  Large birds routinely do it without any technology or terrorism required.  Hitting a bird at close to Mach 1 is a grounding event for any aircraft, none of which are experiencing dozens of times the force of gravity in normal operation.  Each wind turbine costs as much as a business jet, yet the blades are even more fragile and flammable than a typical biz jet since the blades are constructed from S-glass, epoxy resins, and Balsa.  If you've ever seen an all-composite homebuilt airframe catch fire after a crash, you'll quickly note that what remains is typically unidentifiable as an aircraft after the fire.

As each machine becomes more efficient and expensive by becoming larger to produce more power at greater capacity in order to limit the number of machines required to produce a given level of output, greater geographic dispersion is required.  If no security force is present, then it's a much more inviting target than nuclear reactors, which always have security forces present, and much more difficult to quickly travel to.  To reduce construction costs rows of wind farms have their power cabling interconnected.  Disable one and someone may have to come out (hopefully not a given, but a short from an electrical fire could be a problem), disconnect the cabling, and then reconnect it to remove the disabled turbine from the array.  The only problem is that the cabling is on the sea bed.  That's in the "Think Grid" link I provided above.  To be fair, the same issue applies to the rest of the grid.  It's pretty fragile no matter what major infrastructure piece is disabled.

Nuclear reactors are always protected by steel reinforced concrete and sited on land, making responses to terrorist activities much faster and more decisive.  In point of fact, the extremely compact next generation fission reactors that don't use water as a coolant permit small numbers of security forces to repel all credible attacks from non nation state actors.  No similarly sized security force could credibly defend wind turbine arrays from such simple attacks, yet the power and money lost from terrorist incidents, extreme weather, and aviation accidents, both natural and man-made, is quite real.

Safety Mythology

Every year the wind turbine industry loses approximately 3,800 blades of the roughly 700,000 in service.  In 30 years of service, there will mathematically be at least 1 blade loss incident per 2 towers.  If nuclear reactors had similar reliability records, the public would be screaming bloody murder.  That's the result of zero terrorist attacks, unless one considers high winds from storms, birds, and lightning strikes to be terrorism.  The industry has pretty much proven to itself that at least one bearing assembly in every gearbox ever made for these devices will fail within 10 years, no matter what the manufacturer claims.

Conclusions

1. The cost of electricity from renewables can only go in one direction as more expensive materials, construction methods, and transport / assembly requirements are employed to improve efficient utilization of available wind resources.

Due to the size of the machines, automated robotic technologies not presently used will be required to fabricate substantially larger wind turbine blades.  Blades larger than those in current use dictate that sealift or airlift are the only practical delivery options available since roads can't be utilized to transport such outsized wind turbine blades.  LM Wind is building an entirely new factory on the coast of France for that very reason.  The blades for Haliade-X can't be transported by roads because they're too long and tall.

Some of the future airship designs, such as those from Lockheed-Martin, could potentially provide a solution to the blade transport problem because their airship needs no special facilities to land.  Their cargo airships use giant suction cups to secure themselves to the ground using a "reverse hovercraft" technology of sorts.  However, everything about future wind turbines will be as expensive or more expensive than purchasing modular fission reactors as a function of the highly specialized aerospace technology required and the limitations imposed upon utilization of the natural resource as a function of available technology and physics.

2. Offshore is preferable to onshore to achieve maximum efficiency and capacity factor through greater sustained wind speeds, but that also drives up the cost due to the maritime environment itself.

3. It remains to be seen whether service life will increase, but as of now there are very few systems that have met their design life goals without significant and costly maintenance that includes replacement of major components.  Any small manufacturing defect also shows up quickly in such heavily loaded structures.  There are no wings that routinely withstand 17g in normal operating conditions.

4. The security concerns are real, but not significant.  Birds and simple corrosion do far more economic damage than terrorism on a routine basis.  Microwave ovens aside, there are no birds in nuclear reactors, but corrosion is a problem in water cooled nuclear power plants, too.  The radioactive waste is a problem for nuclear, but there's so little compared to the waste from solar panels and wind farms that there's just no comparison between the two.

5. Any wind turbine solution based on present technology necessarily includes a gas turbine power plant backup.  These costs are additive.  You can't have one without the other and you have to pay to use both at the same time.  Pretending that the costs aren't additive is disingenuous.

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#33 2019-01-04 06:51:36

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,865

Re: The Science of Climate Change

Re your latest post, I'll respond to your conclusions.

1. I don't accept you've shown that.  There is no evidence that renewables materials will become more expensive in the long run, although obviously you can always have short term blips.

For wind turbines there is clearly a trade off between bigger (more effecient for energy production) and smaller (less expensive to construct and install). The market will find the right balance.

The outlook for PV though is quite different. You don't need bigger, more complicated installations. The outlook is that installation will become simpler and less expensive (when you can simply apply cheap film to buildings).

1. The cost of electricity from renewables can only go in one direction as more expensive materials, construction methods, and transport / assembly requirements are employed to improve efficient utilization of available wind resources.

Due to the size of the machines, automated robotic technologies not presently used will be required to fabricate substantially larger wind turbine blades.  Blades larger than those in current use dictate that sealift or airlift are the only practical delivery options available since roads can't be utilized to transport such outsized wind turbine blades.  LM Wind is building an entirely new factory on the coast of France for that very reason.  The blades for Haliade-X can't be transported by roads because they're too long and tall.

Some of the future airship designs, such as those from Lockheed-Martin, could potentially provide a solution to the blade transport problem because their airship needs no special facilities to land.  Their cargo airships use giant suction cups to secure themselves to the ground using a "reverse hovercraft" technology of sorts.  However, everything about future wind turbines will be as expensive or more expensive than purchasing modular fission reactors as a function of the highly specialized aerospace technology required and the limitations imposed upon utilization of the natural resource as a function of available technology and physics.

No one is questioning that maritime is, currently much more expensive, but already maritime wind is approaching nuclear energy costs in the UK. There are clearly huge opportunities for further cost savings.

2. Offshore is preferable to onshore to achieve maximum efficiency and capacity factor through greater sustained wind speeds, but that also drives up the cost due to the maritime environment itself.

Well obviously it is the "few systems" that operate well which will win out. Drone technology is obviously is obviously going to impact v. postiively on PV systems in terms of reducing installation and maintenance costs.

3. It remains to be seen whether service life will increase, but as of now there are very few systems that have met their design life goals without significant and costly maintenance that includes replacement of major components.  Any small manufacturing defect also shows up quickly in such heavily loaded structures.  There are no wings that routinely withstand 17g in normal operating conditions.

Many more birds by many orders of magnitude are killed by high or massive buildings (e.g. nuclear reactors) than wind turbines.

Both hydro and nuclear do face serious terror threats.  There are in fact lots of hidden costs to nuclear energy. Every single employee has to be rigorously checked by security services for instance. In the UK, there is a dedicated police force that works to protect nuclear energy sites.

4. The security concerns are real, but not significant.  Birds and simple corrosion do far more economic damage than terrorism on a routine basis.  Microwave ovens aside, there are no birds in nuclear reactors, but corrosion is a problem in water cooled nuclear power plants, too.  The radioactive waste is a problem for nuclear, but there's so little compared to the waste from solar panels and wind farms that there's just no comparison between the two.

Yes, of course intermittency is a limiting factor in expanding renewables energy, but gas turbines are not the only solution.  In Europe, Germany and other countries link to the Sandinavian countries with their substantial hydro resources - effectively a form of storage. Waste to energy systems can also help. Transcontinental connections are clearly part of the solution.  Ultimately this problem will be solved by battery storage. That won't just be grid storage - once you have in the UK 30 million electric vehicles operating you can tap into that reserve of perhaps 900 GWhs of storage. There are lots of other potential storage solutions of course in addition to electric batteries - some of those might ultimately prove cost effective as well.

Within the next 50 years I think we will also have solar satellite power available.  That will be a 24/7 non intermittent energy generation system.

5. Any wind turbine solution based on present technology necessarily includes a gas turbine power plant backup.  These costs are additive.  You can't have one without the other and you have to pay to use both at the same time.  Pretending that the costs aren't additive is disingenuous.


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

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#34 2019-01-04 10:14:14

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,615

Re: The Science of Climate Change

Louis,

1. When you need to use more material to make a product, cost only goes in one direction and that direction IS NOT DOWN!

Lead-acid batteries have existed for more than a century, are quite plentiful and available, yet still expensive.  Similarly, the cost of materials for wind turbines hasn't really gone down in a major way because each machine has the weight and size of a small ship and the cost of a small jet.  The fabrication methods are every bit as expensive as they ever were and the electronics and software that control them are more sophisticated than ever before and thus more expensive.  We could argue that we have much better products today for a given cost and from that standpoint, your argument is true.  That said, the cost of virtually everything has gone up and will continue to go up.  If it doesn't go up, that's a bad sign because it means the market is collapsing.

Are economies of scale possible?

Materials - To a point, but this stuff is just plain expensive, even when you buy in bulk.  Aircraft manufacturers constantly complain about the cost of composite materials.  I guess if the wind turbine industry consumes enough of these materials that prices will have to come down at some point, which is desirable for all of us who like to use composites in homebuilt aircraft.  Apart from pre-pregs, which are now more affordable at $50 to $100 per yard, I haven't seen significant movement in prices for the past 5 years or so for plain carbon fiber, fiberglass, foams, or resins.  If anything, the cost of the resins has gone up.

Labor - You're kidding, right?  The robots that work their magic for aircraft manufacturers are mostly making small parts that can be laid up around or on movable molds and fixtures.  The molds for the smallest wind turbine blades are the size of a complete pair of aircraft wings.  By their very nature, composites require a lot of hand labor.  That's fine for custom jobs, like home built aircraft, but not so great for manufacturing.  I guess the upshot is that they employ a lot of skilled laborers who can apply their craft to aircraft, spacecraft, wind turbines, and marine or automotive applications.  That's always a good thing.

You have to be very careful when you lay the fabric or you can distort it, which can greatly diminish the strength of the finished part.  A lot of finesse is required, but you can teach someone the skills fairly quickly.  There's a week or two of training and practice involved.  It's definitely not rocket science.  So my answer is a qualified maybe, but not if you're making a few hundred of a particular product per year.  I've never seen a robot do a real layup job with large pieces of different materials.  I'm sure it's doable but I haven't seen it done anywhere, possibly because it requires multiple light touches to get the fabric in the correct orientation for the layup in a way that's not at all like taping a box.  Robots can and do handle tapes of carbon fiber that are laid up around a mold in a specific pattern and set in place using a laser to form the part, but that's about it.  Tapes and yarns are much easier to handle than rolls of fabric.

Transport - Uh, no.  Negatory, Morning Glory.  This problem only gets worse.  Again, the upshot is more jobs.  From the standpoint of keeping everyone busy, wind turbines do that fairly well.  I see that as a positive thing, just not in terms of dollars and materials quantities expended per watt of electricity produced.  I guess it relates to the mathematics of the end goal.  To me, this is just another math problem to solve.

Carbon fiber costs $30 to $50 per square yard.  It cost that much 5 years ago and it's still nearly the same price today.  I just checked Aircraft Spruce again.  It's still $35 to $50 per yard.  S-glass is still $20 per yard.  E-glass is less than $10 per yard.  Foams are still $5 to $20 per cubic foot.  The resins are still anywhere from $100 to $500 per gallon.  Didn't check micro prices, but you need the beads to fill gaps and to join parts.  I suspect that's still cheap.  Balsa's not terribly expensive, but larger pieces are.  Anyway, resins / epoxies are where they really stick it to you.  There are many gallons of that stuff in a homebuilt aircraft, which would be why they turn into sticky goo puddles if they catch on fire.

Generally speaking, only aircraft manufacturers use pre-pregs and those materials must be stored in temperature-controlled refrigerators.  The spar caps in the wind turbine blades may use autoclaved pre-pregs, which is enormously expensive due to the size and temperature control requirements of such ovens, but everything else would use vacuum bagging and injected chemical-process hardening resins / epoxies with specific curing times.  The layups take so long to complete and have so many layers that autoclaving pre-preg skins would be nearly impossible.

All that said, making a bigger product doesn't make it cheaper!  If you need to use 2 square yards versus 1 square yard, the cost of the material in the component doubles if everything else is constant, which it never is.  That's grammar school level math.  The only reason they can semi-automate carbon composite propellant tank fabrication and certain aircraft component fabrication is the size of the layups and certain types of expensive thermoset resins.  They don't do layups with tens of square meters of area per ply, which is what wind turbine blades require.

Don't just claim that there are huge cost saving opportunities, provide an example.  You've made the claim, yet provided no evidence.  I've provided ample evidence as to why these things are so expensive.

3. There is no drone that installs PV panels.  This is yet another claim directly contradicted by present reality.  That said, I'd take PV over wind turbines any day if total cost and service life is a consideration.  Wind turbines are an attempt to build stronger aircraft wings than any aircraft in service has.  The failure rates are very telling.  No gearbox lives through 10 years and the blades have a near 1 in 6 probability of catastrophic failure in 30 years or less.  Any aircraft with such high failure rates would be grounded indefinitely until component quality control issues were adequately addressed.

4. Birds are killed by massive buildings with windows.  Reactor buildings are concrete and look no different to a bird than the rest of the ground.  Simple math also disagrees with you here.  There are several hundred reactor buildings spread throughout the world.  There are hundreds of thousands of wind turbines.  Wind turbines kill an estimated 140K to 238K birds each year in North America alone.  The evidence is all the bird carcasses around the wind farms.

Nukes kill more birds than wind?

Windfarms kill 10-20 times more than previously thought

My source is the US Geological Survey.  Your source is someone who wrote lies that were then posted to Wikipedia and easily debunked.  Nice try, though.  Anyway, I don't care about killing birds and you obviously don't either since you're advocating for more wind turbine farms.  My point is that a bird flying into a reactor building does zero damage to the reactor.  A bird that flies into a wind turbine tip can cause catastrophic damage if it hits the tips of the blades.  Destroyed wind turbine blades can cost a million dollars per blade and the loss of one blade can easily result in the loss of all three blades.  The larger onshore turbines can chuck blade fragments nearly two kilometers.  Remember what I said about carbon fiber having brittle failure modes?  Yeah...  That.  Care to name off a composite aircraft that hit a bird at 500km/hr while pulling 17 gees that wasn't damaged or destroyed?

4. You claim there are hidden costs in nuclear power related to security, but even the gas turbine power plants have guards here in Texas.  I've yet to get a job where a background check wasn't performed and I write software for a living.  As long as they keep daisy chaining those wind turbine power output cables together, the destruction of one wind turbine can take out the entire chain.  If losing that much power in one go is not a security concern, then I don't know what qualifies.  At least at your nuclear plants you have a dedicated Police force to protect your reactors and thorough background checks of all employees and contractors.  What are you still worried about?  You think someone's going to build a bomb with the Uranium they stuffed down their pants?  Give me a break.

5. We've been waiting for decades for grid scale batteries that were just around the corner, much like nuclear fusion.  Decades later, we'll still be waiting.  If it was as easy as waving a magic wand, we'd have done it by now.  It's clearly every bit as difficult as nuclear fusion because we've been working on battery technology since before nuclear or solar power existed and we're still waiting for "the big breakthrough".  I'd love to be wrong about that, but history has been very disappointing thus far.

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#35 2019-01-04 13:39:51

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,865

Re: The Science of Climate Change

The only issue is cost per unit of energy.  The pattern with wind turbines has been that bigger turbines have lower unit costs.

Similarly only real (indexed) costs, as opposed to dollar costs, are relevant here.

Economies of scale help a lot but ultimately one is looking for technical advances. Lithium batteries were a clear technical advance over lead acid batteries.

There is clearly a limit to how far wind turbines costs can go...we might well be within 30% of the ultimate floor. Who knows? 

But solar power is quite a different matter. There I think PV power could go down much further - we might see a 90% fall in unit cost.

This graphs shows wind energy costs per MWh fell from about $560 to about $20 over the last 50 years (indexed to 2013 dollars): 

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=graph … VZ50Ji_f0M:

Why would you best against further falls? That would be foolish I think.

This shows the huge fall in the cost of solar power:

https://www.businessinsider.com/solar-p … ?r=US&IR=T

It's clear when you look at the technology of PV power and all the research going on that we could see further falls.

Similar story with batteries - down from $1000 per KWh to about $100 per KWh and heading for below $50 per KwH. 

https://i2.wp.com/evobsession.com/wp-co … .png?ssl=1

It's really you has to explain why, looking at the price graphs, you are right to say the cost reductions are going to come to an abrupt halt (thus contradicting virtually all expert opinion).

kbd512 wrote:

Louis,

1. When you need to use more material to make a product, cost only goes in one direction and that direction IS NOT DOWN!

Lead-acid batteries have existed for more than a century, are quite plentiful and available, yet still expensive.  Similarly, the cost of materials for wind turbines hasn't really gone down in a major way because each machine has the weight and size of a small ship and the cost of a small jet.  The fabrication methods are every bit as expensive as they ever were and the electronics and software that control them are more sophisticated than ever before and thus more expensive.  We could argue that we have much better products today for a given cost and from that standpoint, your argument is true.  That said, the cost of virtually everything has gone up and will continue to go up.  If it doesn't go up, that's a bad sign because it means the market is collapsing.

Are economies of scale possible?

Materials - To a point, but this stuff is just plain expensive, even when you buy in bulk.  Aircraft manufacturers constantly complain about the cost of composite materials.  I guess if the wind turbine industry consumes enough of these materials that prices will have to come down at some point, which is desirable for all of us who like to use composites in homebuilt aircraft.  Apart from pre-pregs, which are now more affordable at $50 to $100 per yard, I haven't seen significant movement in prices for the past 5 years or so for plain carbon fiber, fiberglass, foams, or resins.  If anything, the cost of the resins has gone up.

Labor - You're kidding, right?  The robots that work their magic for aircraft manufacturers are mostly making small parts that can be laid up around or on movable molds and fixtures.  The molds for the smallest wind turbine blades are the size of a complete pair of aircraft wings.  By their very nature, composites require a lot of hand labor.  That's fine for custom jobs, like home built aircraft, but not so great for manufacturing.  I guess the upshot is that they employ a lot of skilled laborers who can apply their craft to aircraft, spacecraft, wind turbines, and marine or automotive applications.  That's always a good thing.

You have to be very careful when you lay the fabric or you can distort it, which can greatly diminish the strength of the finished part.  A lot of finesse is required, but you can teach someone the skills fairly quickly.  There's a week or two of training and practice involved.  It's definitely not rocket science.  So my answer is a qualified maybe, but not if you're making a few hundred of a particular product per year.  I've never seen a robot do a real layup job with large pieces of different materials.  I'm sure it's doable but I haven't seen it done anywhere, possibly because it requires multiple light touches to get the fabric in the correct orientation for the layup in a way that's not at all like taping a box.  Robots can and do handle tapes of carbon fiber that are laid up around a mold in a specific pattern and set in place using a laser to form the part, but that's about it.  Tapes and yarns are much easier to handle than rolls of fabric.

Transport - Uh, no.  Negatory, Morning Glory.  This problem only gets worse.  Again, the upshot is more jobs.  From the standpoint of keeping everyone busy, wind turbines do that fairly well.  I see that as a positive thing, just not in terms of dollars and materials quantities expended per watt of electricity produced.  I guess it relates to the mathematics of the end goal.  To me, this is just another math problem to solve.

Carbon fiber costs $30 to $50 per square yard.  It cost that much 5 years ago and it's still nearly the same price today.  I just checked Aircraft Spruce again.  It's still $35 to $50 per yard.  S-glass is still $20 per yard.  E-glass is less than $10 per yard.  Foams are still $5 to $20 per cubic foot.  The resins are still anywhere from $100 to $500 per gallon.  Didn't check micro prices, but you need the beads to fill gaps and to join parts.  I suspect that's still cheap.  Balsa's not terribly expensive, but larger pieces are.  Anyway, resins / epoxies are where they really stick it to you.  There are many gallons of that stuff in a homebuilt aircraft, which would be why they turn into sticky goo puddles if they catch on fire.

Generally speaking, only aircraft manufacturers use pre-pregs and those materials must be stored in temperature-controlled refrigerators.  The spar caps in the wind turbine blades may use autoclaved pre-pregs, which is enormously expensive due to the size and temperature control requirements of such ovens, but everything else would use vacuum bagging and injected chemical-process hardening resins / epoxies with specific curing times.  The layups take so long to complete and have so many layers that autoclaving pre-preg skins would be nearly impossible.

All that said, making a bigger product doesn't make it cheaper!  If you need to use 2 square yards versus 1 square yard, the cost of the material in the component doubles if everything else is constant, which it never is.  That's grammar school level math.  The only reason they can semi-automate carbon composite propellant tank fabrication and certain aircraft component fabrication is the size of the layups and certain types of expensive thermoset resins.  They don't do layups with tens of square meters of area per ply, which is what wind turbine blades require.

Don't just claim that there are huge cost saving opportunities, provide an example.  You've made the claim, yet provided no evidence.  I've provided ample evidence as to why these things are so expensive.

"Drones Help Solar Energy Companies Improve Productivity and Shorten Design Cycles" 

https://blog.dronedeploy.com/drones-hel … 3931b41297

I never claimed there were drones that currently could install solar panels.  My claim was they could help reduce installation costs. 

You've got a point about gearboxes - it's partly because the demands on them are so much greater with larger turbines.  But the vast majority of blades seem to outlive the design life of 20 years.

3. There is no drone that installs PV panels.  This is yet another claim directly contradicted by present reality.  That said, I'd take PV over wind turbines any day if total cost and service life is a consideration.  Wind turbines are an attempt to build stronger aircraft wings than any aircraft in service has.  The failure rates are very telling.  No gearbox lives through 10 years and the blades have a near 1 in 6 probability of catastrophic failure in 30 years or less.  Any aircraft with such high failure rates would be grounded indefinitely until component quality control issues were adequately addressed.

I wouldn't say I don't care about birds. The best way to save birds is not to destroy their natural habitat, and so human population control or reduction is the best approach. 

That said, 238,000 birds allegedly killed by wind turbines pales into insignificance compared with the toll from high or massive buildings: over 988 million per annum in the USA alone (yes - nearly a billion!). No one seems at all troubled by that carnage.  But even that carnage doesn't really threaten bird species - one bird hits a window, then the clever one who didn't gets to eat more and survives, has more progeny etc...basically even that huge death toll is replaceable. It's destroying birds' natural habitat that is indefensible.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national … 5034083de6

4. Birds are killed by massive buildings with windows.  Reactor buildings are concrete and look no different to a bird than the rest of the ground.  Simple math also disagrees with you here.  There are several hundred reactor buildings spread throughout the world.  There are hundreds of thousands of wind turbines.  Wind turbines kill an estimated 140K to 238K birds each year in North America alone.  The evidence is all the bird carcasses around the wind farms.

Nukes kill more birds than wind?

Windfarms kill 10-20 times more than previously thought

My source is the US Geological Survey.  Your source is someone who wrote lies that were then posted to Wikipedia and easily debunked.  Nice try, though.  Anyway, I don't care about killing birds and you obviously don't either since you're advocating for more wind turbine farms.  My point is that a bird flying into a reactor building does zero damage to the reactor.  A bird that flies into a wind turbine tip can cause catastrophic damage if it hits the tips of the blades.  Destroyed wind turbine blades can cost a million dollars per blade and the loss of one blade can easily result in the loss of all three blades.  The larger onshore turbines can chuck blade fragments nearly two kilometers.  Remember what I said about carbon fiber having brittle failure modes?  Yeah...  That.  Care to name off a composite aircraft that hit a bird at 500km/hr while pulling 17 gees that wasn't damaged or destroyed?

Well who knows how much it all costs  as it's all so secret. Nothing needs to be smuggled out - the reactor can be made dangerous. I'm not making too much of this - just saying it is a factor that doesn't apply to solar or wind (although, of course, any energy generation system has to be protected).

I am not sure cost effective grid scale batteries are that far off. If the experts are right and costs are going down to $50 per KWh of storage you could get $12 billion 24 hour storage at 10GWs. $12 billion sounds a lot, but of course, you are getting a load of free energy (wind and solar that is currently earthed during periods of oversupply) and you are offsetting the costs of gas turbine back up. Of course, you wouldn't install it in one go, you'd be gradually building it up.  For the UK, maybe over 30 years you would build up to 24 hour storage at 30 GWs.  It would cost about £40 per household per annum, but the marginal cost might be mich lower or even negative .


4. You claim there are hidden costs in nuclear power related to security, but even the gas turbine power plants have guards here in Texas.  I've yet to get a job where a background check wasn't performed and I write software for a living.  As long as they keep daisy chaining those wind turbine power output cables together, the destruction of one wind turbine can take out the entire chain.  If losing that much power in one go is not a security concern, then I don't know what qualifies.  At least at your nuclear plants you have a dedicated Police force to protect your reactors and thorough background checks of all employees and contractors.  What are you still worried about?  You think someone's going to build a bomb with the Uranium they stuffed down their pants?  Give me a break.

5. We've been waiting for decades for grid scale batteries that were just around the corner, much like nuclear fusion.  Decades later, we'll still be waiting.  If it was as easy as waving a magic wand, we'd have done it by now.  It's clearly every bit as difficult as nuclear fusion because we've been working on battery technology since before nuclear or solar power existed and we're still waiting for "the big breakthrough".  I'd love to be wrong about that, but history has been very disappointing thus far.


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

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#36 2019-01-04 14:47:15

GW Johnson
Member
From: McGregor, Texas USA
Registered: 2011-12-04
Posts: 4,576
Website

Re: The Science of Climate Change

The sense I get from these discussions is that some here believe that climate science should be disbelieved because its database is incomplete and its predictions are not perfect.  Yet those same disbelievers bet their lives every day on science in other aspects of their lives.  This in spite of there being no such thing as “perfect” science,  and in spite of it being the exact same scientific methods and evidential standards being used for climate,  as in those other aspects.   

That disparity of belief is illogical to the point of insanity.  It is clearly driven by big-money politics and the associated propaganda,  which has assumed an abnormal importance in too many folks’ thinking just because it is loud and frequent.  Too many echo chambers reinforce too many false belief systems.  And for what?  Somebody’s profit,  somewhere,  if you but follow the money.

There is clearly climate warming going on,  despite the weather’s cold snaps,  or the Arctic Ocean would not be nearly ice free in summer now.  When I was a boy,  it was impossible for a sub to surface near the pole except in a lead,  because the summer ice was 20+ feet thick. That was only 50-60 years ago.  Now the ocean is already ice-free in summer on the Siberian side,  and subs surface near the pole pretty much anywhere they want,  because the ice is now under 3-5 feet thick.

There are summer meltwater lakes all over the Greenland ice cap now.  That is something not seen at all when I was a boy,  and humans have been flying frequently over Greenland since World War 2.  There have been definite deglaciation events on the Antarctic Peninsula in recent years,  and definite signs of instability in the West Antarctic ice sheet in the last handful of years.  None of that has been seen before,  not in all of human history.  Never.

This is not a “normal” climate variation,  because it is happening on a scale of decades,  not the millennia-or-more of the geologic record.  That “this is a normal variation” claim is just propaganda driven by big-money politics.

There can be no “reasonable doubt” that something is driving this fast change.  And we already have lab-demonstratable physics,  and some hard measurements (the Keeling curve),  as to what that “something” very likely is:  the unburying and burning of too much fossil fuel in a geological “wink of an eye”.  We imprison and execute people on evidentiary standards not as good as those of science.

Despite the claims I see made by some,  I see real evidence in my electric bill that renewable grid-scale wind power in Texas is economically competitive with natural gas,  and that both are cheaper than coal now,  more especially when you factor in the life-cycle pollution cleanup inherently associated with the dirtier fuel. 

Given a grid-scale storage solution,  the intermittent renewables (both wind and solar) really could dominate the mix,  and their industries demonstrably offer more jobs that are not automatable-for-profit,  at least for some decades yet.  Some grid-scale storage solutions,  such as the flow battery,  are getting close to practicality,  despite the chronic under-investment in such technologies.  That under-investment is driven by the same evil villain:  big-money politics.

Nuclear power could fall in that same cheaper class as natural gas and renewables,  but is impeded by insane public fears of its dangers,  also fanned by illogical big-money politics.  The only real problem with nuclear is that safety and quality control is not mandated in the commercial nuclear industry,  to be of higher priority than profit,  and that consideration enforced.  It never has been.

Uniquely,  nuclear demands this prioritization,  because of its unique dangers.  Once again,  this is driven by big-money politics.   Yet the Navy’s nuclear power program demonstrates,  in no uncertain terms,  the absolute success of prioritizing safety and quality higher than money.

Seems to me the best thing to do is find some way to eliminate the big money in our politics. Then we could “get on with the war” and solve this clean energy problem.   

Getting the big money out of politics may actually make political parties as we know them irrelevant,  those also being something George Washington warned us against,  long ago.  It’s a big job,  and it will take time.  Change is uncomfortable. This one will be massive.  But it is necessary.

We should have started doing this clean energy process more than 50 years ago.  We will see more damage from warming-induced rainfall pattern changes,  from aggravated-intensity storm events,  and from sea level rise,  because of the decades of delay getting started cleaning up our act.  It really is that simple.

GW


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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#37 2019-01-04 15:41:34

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,865

Re: The Science of Climate Change

I don't disagree with much of what you say - but you do know the world is getting greener thanks to global warming? That has to be seen as an upside, given population pressure.

https://www.iflscience.com/environment/ … g-greener/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/ene … eef35fef0e

You say that there's more meltwater in Greenland. Perhaps there is. Perhaps there are more flights, noticing more meltwater. Or perhaps there's less meltwater elsewhere. Put it this way - I see absolutely no evidence of a significant rise in sea level. With a warmer world there's more evaporation - so more water must be held in the atmosphere.

Of course, global warming has not been consistent. Oddly between the late 40s and late 60s it was quite cold in Europe  that was despite increasing industrialisation and CO2 emissions.

All I am saying is that climate is very complex and we don't understand many aspects of how it works. We don't see much climate science, but we do see a lot of climate propaganda. You know the sort of thing - appeals to save polar bears when they are doing fine with climate change, their populations ever expanding.



GW Johnson wrote:

The sense I get from these discussions is that some here believe that climate science should be disbelieved because its database is incomplete and its predictions are not perfect.  Yet those same disbelievers bet their lives every day on science in other aspects of their lives.  This in spite of there being no such thing as “perfect” science,  and in spite of it being the exact same scientific methods and evidential standards being used for climate,  as in those other aspects.   

That disparity of belief is illogical to the point of insanity.  It is clearly driven by big-money politics and the associated propaganda,  which has assumed an abnormal importance in too many folks’ thinking just because it is loud and frequent.  Too many echo chambers reinforce too many false belief systems.  And for what?  Somebody’s profit,  somewhere,  if you but follow the money.

There is clearly climate warming going on,  despite the weather’s cold snaps,  or the Arctic Ocean would not be nearly ice free in summer now.  When I was a boy,  it was impossible for a sub to surface near the pole except in a lead,  because the summer ice was 20+ feet thick. That was only 50-60 years ago.  Now the ocean is already ice-free in summer on the Siberian side,  and subs surface near the pole pretty much anywhere they want,  because the ice is now under 3-5 feet thick.

There are summer meltwater lakes all over the Greenland ice cap now.  That is something not seen at all when I was a boy,  and humans have been flying frequently over Greenland since World War 2.  There have been definite deglaciation events on the Antarctic Peninsula in recent years,  and definite signs of instability in the West Antarctic ice sheet in the last handful of years.  None of that has been seen before,  not in all of human history.  Never.

This is not a “normal” climate variation,  because it is happening on a scale of decades,  not the millennia-or-more of the geologic record.  That “this is a normal variation” claim is just propaganda driven by big-money politics.

There can be no “reasonable doubt” that something is driving this fast change.  And we already have lab-demonstratable physics,  and some hard measurements (the Keeling curve),  as to what that “something” very likely is:  the unburying and burning of too much fossil fuel in a geological “wink of an eye”.  We imprison and execute people on evidentiary standards not as good as those of science.

Despite the claims I see made by some,  I see real evidence in my electric bill that renewable grid-scale wind power in Texas is economically competitive with natural gas,  and that both are cheaper than coal now,  more especially when you factor in the life-cycle pollution cleanup inherently associated with the dirtier fuel. 

Given a grid-scale storage solution,  the intermittent renewables (both wind and solar) really could dominate the mix,  and their industries demonstrably offer more jobs that are not automatable-for-profit,  at least for some decades yet.  Some grid-scale storage solutions,  such as the flow battery,  are getting close to practicality,  despite the chronic under-investment in such technologies.  That under-investment is driven by the same evil villain:  big-money politics.

Nuclear power could fall in that same cheaper class as natural gas and renewables,  but is impeded by insane public fears of its dangers,  also fanned by illogical big-money politics.  The only real problem with nuclear is that safety and quality control is not mandated in the commercial nuclear industry,  to be of higher priority than profit,  and that consideration enforced.  It never has been.

Uniquely,  nuclear demands this prioritization,  because of its unique dangers.  Once again,  this is driven by big-money politics.   Yet the Navy’s nuclear power program demonstrates,  in no uncertain terms,  the absolute success of prioritizing safety and quality higher than money.

Seems to me the best thing to do is find some way to eliminate the big money in our politics. Then we could “get on with the war” and solve this clean energy problem.   

Getting the big money out of politics may actually make political parties as we know them irrelevant,  those also being something George Washington warned us against,  long ago.  It’s a big job,  and it will take time.  Change is uncomfortable. This one will be massive.  But it is necessary.

We should have started doing this clean energy process more than 50 years ago.  We will see more damage from warming-induced rainfall pattern changes,  from aggravated-intensity storm events,  and from sea level rise,  because of the decades of delay getting started cleaning up our act.  It really is that simple.

GW


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

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#38 2019-01-04 18:47:23

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,615

Re: The Science of Climate Change

Louis,

1. Bigger aerospace machines never cost less to make and only cost less to operate when they're actually being utilized.  Whenever a bigger and more expensive machine isn't being utilized, it always costs more when it's idle.  That's just a fancy way of saying idling a semi burns more diesel than idling a pickup.  You can always haul more with the semi if there's enough loads available to make use of the extra towing capacity, but the affordability of the semi is entirely dependent on that equation as numerous owner-operator drivers here in America have discovered to their detriment.  If you can't make your numbers, then you lose your truck.  Governments just hit up the tax payers for more money, but in either case someone pays for getting the math wrong.

Reported Operating Cost and Utilization of More Than 500 Wide-body Aircraft

A larger Boeing 747-8i is not cheaper to make or operate than a smaller Boeing 787-8/9/10, but other factors are clearly at play as the link shows.  The new 747's cost $403M per copy.  The most expensive version of the new 787-10, which also happens to be the largest and not the smallest, is $326M.  The smallest 787 variant is $240M.  Theoretically, since the 747 holds 605 to the 787's 330 it should be cheaper to operate per seat per passenger mile.  Strangely, in almost every case, the 787 wins that argument convincingly due to fuel costs and butts in seats.  In one case, the operator managed to make their 787 as expensive to operate as a 747.  So, what was the difference?  Butts in seats, obviously, as the data shows.  Boeing has more orders for the 787-9 than the 747-8i and 787-10 combined.  Could there be a "sweet spot", below or above which things just cost more?  I think capacity or utilization factor is probably at play here.

As these wind turbines rapidly become the size of frigates, there's going to come a point where both physics and utilization rates kill any incentive to go bigger.  The blades are already failing at rates that would see any gas turbine or nuclear reactor of the same design shut down immediately.  The engineering problems only get worse as you scale up, thus the expense of the solution is a major factor that affects cost and ultimate viability.  That was my point.

The cost of Lithium-ion batteries has gone down due to mass manufacturing and some initial dramatic improvements in the technology we're not seeing anymore.  The prices were artificially high as a function of the limited quantities and number of manufacturers involved.  Ubiquity can obviously lower the price per unit of energy stored further, but we're not seeing the dramatic gains in capacity anymore.  Panasonic started mass manufacturing NCR18650A cells back in 2009.  Dimensions of the NCR18650 series haven't changed since it's standardized.  At that time, volumetrically speaking, NCR18650A was a 675Wh/l cell and weighed 44.5g.  In 2018, NCR18650B is a 676Wh/l and weighs 48.5g.

2009 Panasonic NCR18650 and NCR18650A Lithium Ion Press Release:

Panasonic Starts Mass-Production of High-Capacity 3.1 Ah Lithium-ion Battery

2018 Panasonic NCR18650B Lithium Ion Cell Specifications:

Panasonic NCR18650B Lithium Ion

The NCR18650B is a better battery to be sure, but because of incremental improvements to reliability and longevity.  However, cost is broadly similar to the previous product.  If you purchase 1,000 cells or more, it's around $4.75 per cell.  I checked cost several years ago when I briefly thought I could build a light single seat pattern trainer with an electric motor and I think they were $5.50 per cell or something near that.  Price has come down some, but it's almost the exact same product and individual cell weight went up, not down.  The Tesla 2170 cells only store more energy because they have greater volume (Tesla 2170 - 21mm D x 70mm L vs Panasonic NCR18650 - 18mm D x 65mm L).  The new Tesla battery stores a whopping 250Wh/kg compared to the 243Wh/kg NCR18650B.

So, cost may have fallen considerably after Panasonic started mass manufacturing them for general consumer use, but the technology dates to 2008 and is fundamentally the same 10 years later, which explains why it's much cheaper after a solid decade of manufacturing throughout the world.  100mAh has been the total volumetric, not gravimetric, energy density improvement from 2008 to 2018 decade.  I couldn't help but notice that Lithium prices have doubled in the last year alone.

2. Regarding the drones and the gearboxes, I don't bring all this stuff up to dump on one technology over another.  I'm saying that every energy production technology still has major issues to sort out, some of which are stymied by hard physics and material limitations.  There's a proper place to utilize every energy production technology we have.  If people are dead set on building giant wind turbines, I really don't care except that my wallet hasn't become thick enough to try to use only wind and solar and batteries as the energy of the future.

3. Please don't join the anti-humanist cult.  People who think they need to control other people can't control themselves, which is why they think that.  Our principle problem is not our numbers, it's our technological adolescence.  Individually and as a species, we're nowhere near as smart as some of us think they are.

As far as the birds are concerned, I think the entire argument is inane but I'm sick of the virtue signaling from these people who act as if there's no environmental consequence to using wind turbines.  All omelets require broken eggs.

4. Anything can be dangerous in the hands of an evil person.  The secrecy around nuclear technology relates to the false belief or assertion that the fewer the number of people who know how to do something dangerous, the less likely it is to actually result in a dangerous event.  It's another one of those logical fallacies that everyone just knows is true because they're willfully ignorant of history or arrogant beyond belief.

Also, if you think that people in the wind and solar industry won't paint the rosiest picture possible to sell their product, then you're not dealing with reality.  Every industry has its dirty little secrets.  The "secrets" of the nuclear industry are obviously not-so-secret, and thus you should understand the point I just made in the previous paragraph.

5. If we have enough production capacity to build grid scale batteries, then building replacement scale batteries for existing gas powered vehicles would be a more productive use of that resource if the goal is to lower CO2 emissions.  However, we're nowhere close to either goal.  The cost to store a kWh has to be measured in pennies for the grid scale solution to be an affordable like-kind replacement for gas.  Anyway, let's hope we get that big breakthrough sooner rather than later.

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#39 2019-01-04 19:41:28

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,865

Re: The Science of Climate Change

1.  You're just stating truisms. Big things require more materials. So what?

You aren't denying that the three links to price graphs for wind, solar and battery storage are correct.

But you expect us to believe that the price falls are going to come to an abrupt halt just because you say they will They won't. All the experts agree.

I repeat - all that really matters here (assuming we aren't talking about technologies that will have a worse environmental impact - and we aren't)  is the unit cost of energy.

Louis,

1. Bigger aerospace machines never cost less to make and only cost less to operate when they're actually being utilized.  Whenever a bigger and more expensive machine isn't being utilized, it always costs more when it's idle.  That's just a fancy way of saying idling a semi burns more diesel than idling a pickup.  You can always haul more with the semi if there's enough loads available to make use of the extra towing capacity, but the affordability of the semi is entirely dependent on that equation as numerous owner-operator drivers here in America have discovered to their detriment.  If you can't make your numbers, then you lose your truck.  Governments just hit up the tax payers for more money, but in either case someone pays for getting the math wrong.

Reported Operating Cost and Utilization of More Than 500 Wide-body Aircraft

A larger Boeing 747-8i is not cheaper to make or operate than a smaller Boeing 787-8/9/10, but other factors are clearly at play as the link shows.  The new 747's cost $403M per copy.  The most expensive version of the new 787-10, which also happens to be the largest and not the smallest, is $326M.  The smallest 787 variant is $240M.  Theoretically, since the 747 holds 605 to the 787's 330 it should be cheaper to operate per seat per passenger mile.  Strangely, in almost every case, the 787 wins that argument convincingly due to fuel costs and butts in seats.  In one case, the operator managed to make their 787 as expensive to operate as a 747.  So, what was the difference?  Butts in seats, obviously, as the data shows.  Boeing has more orders for the 787-9 than the 747-8i and 787-10 combined.  Could there be a "sweet spot", below or above which things just cost more?  I think capacity or utilization factor is probably at play here.

As these wind turbines rapidly become the size of frigates, there's going to come a point where both physics and utilization rates kill any incentive to go bigger.  The blades are already failing at rates that would see any gas turbine or nuclear reactor of the same design shut down immediately.  The engineering problems only get worse as you scale up, thus the expense of the solution is a major factor that affects cost and ultimate viability.  That was my point.

The cost of Lithium-ion batteries has gone down due to mass manufacturing and some initial dramatic improvements in the technology we're not seeing anymore.  The prices were artificially high as a function of the limited quantities and number of manufacturers involved.  Ubiquity can obviously lower the price per unit of energy stored further, but we're not seeing the dramatic gains in capacity anymore.  Panasonic started mass manufacturing NCR18650A cells back in 2009.  Dimensions of the NCR18650 series haven't changed since it's standardized.  At that time, volumetrically speaking, NCR18650A was a 675Wh/l cell and weighed 44.5g.  In 2018, NCR18650B is a 676Wh/l and weighs 48.5g.

2009 Panasonic NCR18650 and NCR18650A Lithium Ion Press Release:

Panasonic Starts Mass-Production of High-Capacity 3.1 Ah Lithium-ion Battery

2018 Panasonic NCR18650B Lithium Ion Cell Specifications:

Panasonic NCR18650B Lithium Ion

The NCR18650B is a better battery to be sure, but because of incremental improvements to reliability and longevity.  However, cost is broadly similar to the previous product.  If you purchase 1,000 cells or more, it's around $4.75 per cell.  I checked cost several years ago when I briefly thought I could build a light single seat pattern trainer with an electric motor and I think they were $5.50 per cell or something near that.  Price has come down some, but it's almost the exact same product and individual cell weight went up, not down.  The Tesla 2170 cells only store more energy because they have greater volume (Tesla 2170 - 21mm D x 70mm L vs Panasonic NCR18650 - 18mm D x 65mm L).  The new Tesla battery stores a whopping 250Wh/kg compared to the 243Wh/kg NCR18650B.

So, cost may have fallen considerably after Panasonic started mass manufacturing them for general consumer use, but the technology dates to 2008 and is fundamentally the same 10 years later, which explains why it's much cheaper after a solid decade of manufacturing throughout the world.  100mAh has been the total volumetric, not gravimetric, energy density improvement from 2008 to 2018 decade.  I couldn't help but notice that Lithium prices have doubled in the last year alone.

2. You're confusing different issues.  Yes, maybe someone somewhere is subsidising mega wind turbines that aren't obviously cost efficient. That's called RESEARCH.  The research results might surprise us - we might find the super-mega turbines are cost efficient.

2. Regarding the drones and the gearboxes, I don't bring all this stuff up to dump on one technology over another.  I'm saying that every energy production technology still has major issues to sort out, some of which are stymied by hard physics and material limitations.  There's a proper place to utilize every energy production technology we have.  If people are dead set on building giant wind turbines, I really don't care except that my wallet hasn't become thick enough to try to use only wind and solar and batteries as the energy of the future.

3. Even if our planet with new technology could support 10,000 billion people, I wouldn't want to live on that planet. Your philosophy is crass. Do you want to live on a planet of 10,000,000 trillion people? Yes or no? If no, then according to your own critique you are an anti-humanist. If you answer yes, I'll just multiply the number by another trillion until you get to the point where finally confess you don't want to live on a planet where people have no room to move or the whole world has been turned into a mega prison block.

The "omlettes and broken eggs" argument is what the communists arrested by Stalin, shivering and half-starving in the Gulags, used to console themselves with. I think a better way to proceed is to ask: what's the right thing to do?  Humans have the power to destroy other species but that doesn't mean it's a good thing to do.

3. Please don't join the anti-humanist cult.  People who think they need to control other people can't control themselves, which is why they think that.  Our principle problem is not our numbers, it's our technological adolescence.  Individually and as a species, we're nowhere near as smart as some of us think they are.

As far as the birds are concerned, I think the entire argument is inane but I'm sick of the virtue signaling from these people who act as if there's no environmental consequence to using wind turbines.  All omelets require broken eggs.

4.  I think these are weak arguments.  Nuclear fission power is inherently dangerous and that's why in the UK, where we never had regularly armed police before,   we had to create a special, separate armed police to protect nuclear power establishments. Face up to facts.

4. Anything can be dangerous in the hands of an evil person.  The secrecy around nuclear technology relates to the false belief or assertion that the fewer the number of people who know how to do something dangerous, the less likely it is to actually result in a dangerous event.  It's another one of those logical fallacies that everyone just knows is true because they're willfully ignorant of history or arrogant beyond belief.

Also, if you think that people in the wind and solar industry won't paint the rosiest picture possible to sell their product, then you're not dealing with reality.  Every industry has its dirty little secrets.  The "secrets" of the nuclear industry are obviously not-so-secret, and thus you should understand the point I just made in the previous paragraph.

5. It's not about "production capacity".  I once worked out that seven buildings the size of the biggest building in the USA (think it was the Space Shuttle assembly building) would provide enough battery storage for the USA.  Obviously it's a huge investment but it's definitely within the realms of the possible. It is cost that is the key factor here. You say we're nowhere close to the goal, but we've heard that before..."no one will ever buy a fast electric sports car" (tilll Tesla came along and disproved that), "wind energy will never be cheaper than coal and nuclear" (sorry, it is) and "solar will never beat other energy generation technologies in open bidding" (they have).

To me, you sound like someone on an escalator who says: "This moving staircase thing is v. slow. I could walk faster. We're never gonna get to the next floor."

5. If we have enough production capacity to build grid scale batteries, then building replacement scale batteries for existing gas powered vehicles would be a more productive use of that resource if the goal is to lower CO2 emissions.  However, we're nowhere close to either goal.  The cost to store a kWh has to be measured in pennies for the grid scale solution to be an affordable like-kind replacement for gas.  Anyway, let's hope we get that big breakthrough sooner rather than later.

Last edited by louis (2019-01-04 19:43:19)


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#40 2019-01-04 23:28:34

kbd512
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Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,615

Re: The Science of Climate Change

GW,

I'll tell you what I think is nuts.  People who should know better cherry picking from what the climate scientists have stated in their own reports and ignoring other parts of the report that disagree with their beliefs about Earth's climate.  There's no logical consistency at all in doing that.  Everyone needs to stop hyperventilating over this largely imaginary issue before they expel enough hot air and CO2 to accomplish what burning a few dead dinos never could.

I copied what the IPCC wrote about their own climate projections from their own report, verbatim, wherein they stated that they had no idea what Earth's climate would be like in the future because they have no ability to mathematically model Earth's climate accurately enough to make such predictions.  So far as I know, nothing has changed.  If that did change, then sooner or later observed temperature measurements would begin to fall somewhere within the range of their projections.  Thus far, actual observed warming hasn't made it to the bottom of the range of their projections.

Someone who is intellectually honest would recognize that there's obviously something wrong with the model and start looking through the haystack until they find that missing needle.  Someone who is intellectually honest would not start claiming that the world as we know it is coming to an end and would throw cold water on any unscrupulous misrepresentation of what the data means by anyone claiming otherwise.  Earth's climate is not a lab experiment.  Putting CO2 in a jar and shining an IR lamp on it is not an accurate representation of how Earth's atmosphere works, nor anything close to it.

We're not talking about careless mistakes or errors in a database.  It's been so long since climate scientists have started trying to guess at what Earth's climate would be like ten or twenty and now even thirty years down the road that we have accumulated a history of their past projections.  Spoiler Alert!  None of their projections came true.  Even so, let's pretend that Earth would become 3C warmer than it is today in a hundred years.  Neither the world nor human life would end, not by a country mile, nor anything close to it.

Here it comes again, from a time when the IPCC was still attempting to make honest (real peer review was still in effect in some form or fashion), rather than bureaucratic assertions about Earth's climate to continue the endless gravy train of research funding for projects that have thus far been of dubious value to humanity (all that we're left with now):

"In sum, a strategy must recognise what is possible. In climate research and modelling, we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible. The most we can expect to achieve is the prediction of the probability distribution of the system's future possible states by the generation of ensembles of model solutions. This reduces climate change to the discernment of significant differences in the statistics of such ensembles. The generation of such model ensembles will require the dedication of greatly increased computer resources and the application of new methods of model diagnosis. Addressing adequately the statistical nature of climate is computationally intensive, but such statistical information is essential."

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Third Assessment Report (2001), Section 14.2.2.2, page 774

IPCC issued reports predicting calamity a decade ago and unscrupulous buffoons took those predictions and proceeded to further them into apocalyptic scenarios, yet the warming trend didn't even reach the lower band of their projections.  That means IPCC's climate model is wrong and anything based off of it is likely also wrong.  Is that not absurdly obvious by now since coastal dwellers weren't all swept away by the ocean a decade ago?  Some of us can accept that despite best efforts, or whatever effort we are giving, that there are things we simply can't predict.  With so little actual data and so much interpolation of available data, Earth's climate happens to be one of those things.  No field of actual science would permit their members to cherry pick data from two or three interpolated data sets, change or omit any data that didn't fit the model or produced what was perceived to be erroneous results, run it back through to produce a different or desired result, and then publish those results and proclaim such work to be "peer reviewed science".  Real science doesn't work that way and it never has.

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#41 2019-01-05 07:09:45

kbd512
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Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,615

Re: The Science of Climate Change

Louis,

louis wrote:

Post #39

1. The truisms are still true.  The "so what" in this case is that wind turbines cost so much more that they really don't compete with nuclear and I'm about to show you why without pulling a single number off of Wikipedia and proclaiming the issue settled.  You can choose to ignore reality because you don't like reality, but reality isn't changing to suit your beliefs.  Scale up wind turbine usage and try to think more than the next decade into the future "when", not "if", these wind turbines begin to fail and require subsequent replacement.

Germany's Merkur array of 66 of GE's Haliade 150-6MW turbines produces 1,750GWh per year according to GE and Germany.  Therefore, an array 5.7 times as large can produce roughly the same amount of power in a year as a 1,000MW reactor.  To actually produce 10,000GWh per year, 377 of the wind turbines are required.  Merkur cost $1.7B.  An array 5.7 times as large would cost $9.7B if the Germans negotiated the same deal with GE.  That's almost twice the cost of Watts Bar #2 for the same amount of power output per year.

377 of those wind turbines weighs more than 7 Ford class aircraft carriers, not including the blades, and eventually those materials have to be recycled unless you think we can just make coral reefs out of 716,300t of Steel (mostly) / Aluminum / Copper every decade or two.  If you told the Navy they'd have to get rid of 7 carriers every 10 to 25 years and build new ones, they'd think you were nuts.  This is for a single nuclear reactor replacement.  The US has over 100 such reactors in operation.  71,630,000t of components to make and remake into advanced machinery every couple of decades?  Might be a tough sell considering the US only made 116,000,000t of steel last year, mostly with recycled scrap.  On an annual basis, we're talking about devoting a major portion of manufacturing just to wind turbine components and that process never ends.  Global production of Aluminum was 63,404,000t in 2017 and Magnesium was just over 1,000,000t, so using lighter metals that are easier to transport is grossly infeasible.

Worldwide, we made 1.6 billion tons of steel, but here in the US we recycle a lot of it because new material from China is more costly than recycled scrap that can be remelted in electric arc furnaces called mini-melts.  I've done work for a couple of steel companies, which is how I came to learn about the business.

Notice how the wind turbines are daisy-chained together to feed into the same power conversion / output platform (single point of failure)?:

GE Renewable Energy completes Merkur offshore windfarm installation

Here's a document from National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) explaining how these farms work:

Offshore Wind Energy Facility Characteristics

Assuming a capacity factor of 50% to be generous, where is the power coming from the rest of the time?  In Germany we already know the answer to that question.  They're burning more coal since they're shutting down their reactors.  The Germans also have crappy coal that's about a third or less of the energy content of Methane, although their new oxyfuel coal plant is one of the most pharmaceutically grade clean facilities I've ever seen and looks nothing at all like the coal power plants I remember as a kid.  Given that the capacity factor of current wind turbines tops out at 50%, and Haliade-X will top out at 63%, are we really talking about a solution with equivalent environmental impact?  I think not.

A 1,000MW LNG-powered gas turbine can consume 3,500t of gas per day.  Exelon Energy from my home town of Houston, Texas purchased 4 of GE's H-class 1,000MW gas turbines for $500M in 2014 for just $125M per unit.  That's a pretty good deal considering the prices of competing options and much cheaper than I thought it was, but it should be obvious how thirsty they are and that's just the cost of the unit and not the entire plant built around it.  It's a more fuel efficient backup for the nuclear power we use.  Exelon doesn't operate our reactors, but as a company, they have solar, wind (in nearly every state), a little hydro, along with lots of natural gas and nuclear.

How can a wind turbine farm that's nearly double the construction cost of a nuclear reactor on its own, yet only produces equivalent output when it's actually operating at capacity ever result in lower cost electricity?  That's before we throw in the cost of a coal or gas turbine power plant and its fuel to keep the solution running when the wind isn't blowing.  Can you even begin to understand how absurd that is?

Refueling a 1,000MW reactor every 18 months costs roughly $40M, so $1B is enough fuel for 25 years.  If GE can knock 1/3 of the purchase price off the new Haliade-X wind turbines for equivalent output and the new models actually last 25 years, then they're cost-competitive with the purchase price of a nuclear reactor, but 25 years later the reactor will be operable and the wind turbine will have to be rebuilt.  At some point, purchase price and service life matters when energy costs are scaled to national and global levels.  There's no way a wind turbine double the size of the largest existing turbines ends up 1/3 cheaper since Haliade-X's capacity factor is only 13% better than Haliade 150.

Legitimate businesses aren't making obscene profits off their sales, either.  I've seen 5% to 8% consistently and virtually every multi-billion dollar business I've done work for was under 10%, the majority being under 5%.  The rest of the operating costs are directly tied to manufacturing costs, labor costs, inventory carrying costs, and facilities maintenance.  GE as a company is not doing well financially right now, although I don't fully understand why.  It may have had something to do with aircraft power plant sales.

Anyway, the Boeing 747 vs 787 example only ends up with lower costs for the 747 if and only if it's seating capacity is nearly fully utilized on every flight.  In all other cases, the smaller airliner is cheaper to buy and operate, even with fewer butts in seats.

2. No, Louis, you're ignoring current technological reality and focusing on something I merely commented on to indicate where wind power would like to go to become cost competitive with other options such as solar and nuclear.  I've already said that solar could become more cost competitive than nuclear, just in case you missed that, but not without a suitable storage technology or nuclear backup.  Batteries aren't it.

I don't care what you have stuck in your head, we simply don't have anything that resembles an affordable and sustainable battery storage solution right now.  That could change tomorrow or it just might be the same sort of hard physics problem that fusion has to overcome.  I don't have a crystal ball and neither do you, thus I review historical trends when trying to determine what the future will likely entail.

Right now my prediction is that thin film solar combined with H2 (liquid at -253C) and/or NH3 (liquid at just -33C) fuel cells will supplant all other technologies for base load power and peak power.  As of now, the sheer cost and tonnage of batteries for practical grid storage is just absurd.  Properly protected solar panels are quite reliable.  Fuel cells that have no moving parts are also pretty reliable and significantly less maintenance intensive than gas turbines, wind turbines, and nuclear reactor steam turbines.

Current Lithium-ion Storage Costs per Kilowatt-Hour for Actual Implementations:
$100/kWh - required for the complete solution to be economically viable
$150/kWh - Tesla PowerWall
$250/kWh - Tesla car batteries
$500/kWh - utility scale storage

The cost of the entire solution has to become a half order of magnitude cheaper or Lithium-ion energy density has to become half an order of magnitude greater.  If the cost of the Lithium-ion batteries themselves was zero, then at present energy density any actual solution is still 4 times too expensive to compete with any other available storage solution and that's being quite generous.

So...  Can we please dispense with the glittering generalities of what our future will be like with current Lithium-ion batteries?

Either batteries become 5 times (half an order of magnitude) as energy dense as they are now or this just doesn't work.  Sorry.  I'm a little bummed out about not having viable batteries for an electric aircraft, too.  If that happens, then we can revisit this topic.  Until then, nobody has a clue about when it might happen and every last new technology we've come up with always has some little issue we can't seem to resolve to push it over the finish line into mass production.

3. "Each new mouth comes with a brain and a pair of hands" - Dr. Robert Zubrin

Go humanity!

I want humanity to become multi-planetary.  I want the same things Elon Musk and Dr. Zubrin want.  Go forth, explore, learn, and multiply.  Scarcity is a human brain construct associated with the anti-humanist death cult.

4. I think your arguments about wind are even weaker based on current actual cost, which is just math that can't be reasoned away to produce a desired outcome by any other name, and doesn't bring the cost of wind down to competitive standing with the purchase prices of new build nuclear reactors on a per GigaWatt-hour basis.

There are plenty of things that are far more dangerous than nuclear fission in practical application.  That'd be why nobody in the US or UK dies from nuclear power, yet plenty of people die from respiratory illnesses brought on by air pollution and naturally occurring radioactive gases in their own homes.

As far as the English Police regularly being armed is concerned, your Police are armed at the airports now.  The Police should be armed.  The criminals are nearly always armed, whether you like it or not.  That's a rational response to violent criminals.  It makes little difference where the Police are stationed because it's still a good idea.

Fear of weapons is a sign of immaturity.  Here in America having a gun is just normal, unless you're one of the airy fairy crowd who thinks they're completely above all the rest of humanity and human nature, which is sometimes and very regrettably, very violent and ugly indeed.  We're still animals.  Believing that we're not will not make it so.  Period.  Again, sorry, but that's current reality and will remain so until we mutate into beings who are no longer Homo Sapiens.  Despite all of our collective problems, I can personally deal with the fact that I'm human, as is everyone else no matter their ideation to the contrary, and subject to very human problems.

5. If you need to make hundreds of something to have a viable solution, then part of the solution is indeed about production capacity.  Huge doesn't even begin to express the amount of money involved in switching to solar / wind / grid battery storage with current Lithium-ion battery technology.  As much as the solar panels and wind turbines would cost, those costs would be dwarfed by the cost of the batteries.  I don't know what the exact dollar figure would come out to, but I'm guessing it's in the trillions.

The $2.5 trillion reason we can’t rely on batteries to clean up the grid

Deployment of Grid-Scale Batteries in the United States

At least GE is working on the site deployment problem:

GE Says Its New Battery Product Can Cut Grid-Scale Storage Installation Times in Half

This is likely a far more affordable and practical storage solution:

Gencell Energy - Ammonia Alkaline Fuel Cell Technology

Why do I think that?

* emits no CO2
* LNH3's bulk density is 682.6kg/m^3 at 1 bar and -33.41C, but remains liquid under pressure at room temperature
* LNH3's Hydrogen storage density is 1.5 times that of LH2 (essentially the same as most CH4 gelled LH2)
* fuel cells can use industrial grade H2, rather than pharmaceutical or reagent grade H2
* a form of reverse fuel cell can make Ammonia with electricity, air, and tap water
* no Platinum Group or other precious metals in these fuel cells
* 70g of Ammonia consumption per kWh (for a 5kWe portable model) / 70kg per MWh / 70,000kg per GWh (102.5m^3 tank volume per GWh)
* Ammonia infrastructure for agriculture is already well established
* Stainless Steel storage tank technology the same as for LNG or LCH4 / LOX / LN2 / LH2 / LHe2

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#42 2019-01-05 10:33:58

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,099

Re: The Science of Climate Change

I know that KBD512 has some very good points with the flaws and drawbacks that each means to produce power and while the dollars spell some other aspect of it for the business side its the consumer side that we struggle with as areas of the US are paying to much of there hard earned cash to keep the lights on in there homes.

Looking back in history we did not have power to start and we used natural derived sources to make early light to make our days more productive. Things like oils, coal, gas, natural sun light and wood were used until we learned how to create power from batteries and later from magnetics which allowed waters plus wind motion to create power with solar PV plus thermal falling with in this latter century with the final category being nuclear derived to fill in the need.

The pollution from each build to, create plus operation varies and some are more severe in the clean up. With some having a more direct effect on the air, water and temperate climate that we feel and enjoy.

For me its about what can I afford to do with the cash I have and like most its to plug into the power grid and pay through the nose, live with its costs no matter what source is used to create the power which I use each day. Its only recent that we have looked at these alternatives as the power companies said not its going to cost you to bring that power source to your property that has lead to self power creation alternatives in wind, water, sun, wood, gas and coal mixing and matching what will work based on affordability of motion in off grid energy.

Many of the alternative source can be made clean or as clean as they already are via implementing the filtering and sequestration as part of the build of your own devices or design in DYI build.

Nice sources of non co2 avenues to create power as food for thought.

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#43 2019-01-05 17:50:11

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,865

Re: The Science of Climate Change

Kbd, re Post 41...

Suggest you look at Page 9 of this doc...

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents … eport.html

Wind energy electricity being offered at $18.10 per MWh.

Wind + solar + storage at $30.60 per MWh.

That's now. Before further predicted falls.

There may not be a total solar plus storage or even a renewables plus storage solution on offer at the moment but clearly that is the direction we are moving in.

I am not sure you understand nuclear power pricing.  Take a look at this Wikipedia page about the Hinkley Point C project:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinkley_P … er_station

The cost there is about £20 billion to build and in order for it to be built, you have to give a guaranteed price over 35 years of £93 per MWh.  The cost of the electricity is about £50 billion over 60 years. The output is 3.2 Gw. So for 1 Gw, you are probably look at something like £15.6 billion (just under $20 billion) proportionally. That's before we get on to potentially hidden costs.

With a wind turbine, the cost of electricity once you have paid for the turbine structure and land is v. v. low. It's really just what covers the maintenance. You don't need someone onsite monitoring it 24/7.

The only way to compare (its pointless to go on about how many tonnes of steel go in...employees used in nuclear power stations in great numbers are also consumers of resources, which is why they have to be paid and the intensive maintenance at nuclear power stations  uses huge resources over 60 years) is to compare on electricity price.  It is clear from evidence all around the world that onshore wind now always beats nuclear and that offshore wind often does.

China might be able to build and run nuclear power stations more cheaply than in the west because they have access to very cheap, virtual slave, labour. But as their economy develops, so their wages will rise.


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

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#44 2019-01-05 19:18:58

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,099

Re: The Science of Climate Change

There is something off with the dollar values per wattage as I pay for my electrical roughly $120 a month and use currently on average  25k whrs a day....
a quick google for info and here is the 2017 state average per house hold use cost for electricity
https://www.eia.gov/electricity/sales_r … ble5_a.pdf

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#45 2019-01-05 19:28:49

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,865

Re: The Science of Climate Change

SpaceNut wrote:

There is something off with the dollar values per wattage as I pay for my electrical roughly $120 a month and use currently on average  25k whrs a day....

That's about 16 cents per KWh. 

That's pretty high I think!

But obviously the prices I referenced are wholesale prices to the grid operator.  The operator has to cover the grid costs.


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#46 2019-01-05 20:32:51

kbd512
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Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,615

Re: The Science of Climate Change

SpaceNut,

I'm not pleased with the current state of affairs, but they are what they are.  When I was a kid, I was absolutely certain that we'd have electric cars, along with home solar panels and fuel cells, long before I reached the age I am now.  When those ideas fell short of their intended goals, I started to try to understand why.  There are no magic wands for us to wave, just hard problems to solve.

I'm not trying to discourage anyone from pursuing alternative solutions, but I also want them to know what they're signing up for if they attempt mass implementation of current alternative energy solutions.  The price tags attached to every solution are substantial, but some solutions are impractical at best or completely unaffordable / unsustainable at worst.  Any mass implementation of wind turbines falls squarely in the latter category without much better and less costly materials and fabrication methods.  Present wind turbine blade failure rates are also far too high, so a systematic reliability improvement program is required to lower failure rates for a given service life.

Anyway, Ammonia fuel cells may not be suitable for vehicles, and all current fuel cell vehicles use H2 or CH4, but it can definitely provide a reliable source of base load power without nuclear power when paired with solar panels or wind turbines.  Present battery technology is too far behind fuel cell technology to be practical for utility scale storage.  If better batteries were available, their most practical first uses would be in lower cost electronics and then lower cost electric vehicles since the sustained power output required for most driving patterns is quite small.

To give people an idea of how little Ammonia would be required with an average power output of 18kWe, a figure that corresponds with the average power output required to make a car go 60mph, that figure is just 1.26kg per hour.  For a 300 mile range, the fuel tank is 1/3 of a cubic foot and holds 6.3kg of LNH3.  If you consider how small that is, you can make a really strong tank at low cost.  The Tesla requires a battery pack that weighs many times what a complete fuel cell solution would weigh and costs substantially more.  LNH3 also costs less than Diesel on a per gallon basis.

As always, there are real downsides to every energy technology.  A fuel leak produces toxic Ammonia vapor, though gasoline vapors aren't particularly healthy, either.  The small quantity of Ammonia involved would tend to limit required cleanup.  In practice, dispersion of the vapors requires wind or a fan.  Farmers routinely spray mass quantities of this stuff to make their crops grow faster, but pumping or transfer typically involves gloves (gas expansion makes vapors cold, just like LCO2 or LH2) and goggles (to keep it out of your eyes).  Gencell's alkaline fuel cells also have to be rebuilt every 500 hours, but the catalyst materials are recyclable and put into subsequent fuel cells.

At present, the economics of any attempt to completely switch to renewables without using nuclear for base power is unsustainable.  As the article linked to in my last post shows, the size and thus cost of a solar or wind solution increases exponentially as you attempt to approach a 100% solution.  On cost alone, any such solution is a non-starter.  That doesn't mean there aren't instances where solar and wind can't contribute mightily to a 100% solution, though.  The reason I favor nuclear power for base load power is that the output is exceptionally stable and predictable.  Apart from naval reactors, commercial reactors are not good at ramp-up / ramp-down, which is where solar comes into play.  It just so happens that as demand peaks, largely driven by air conditioning to cool people and electronic equipment, solar provides maximum power.  That's a win-win.  We already have lots of nuclear generating stations that won't be used for anything else, so we may as well use those facilities for new reactor construction to transition away from fossil fuel generation.  We also have lots of unused land in the deserts of the midwest with virtually no other feasible uses except solar and wind power.  So, my take on this is that we put new reactors where the old reactors already are to shut down the coal and gas generating stations and we put solar panels where there's lots of wind and sunshine.

We sell the gas turbines, LNG, boilers, coal, and other petroleum products on the world markets to both help developing nations dig themselves out of their technological holes and to use the profits to fund our transition from coal and gas to solar / wind / nuclear / fuel cell.  Once the third world has plentiful sources for the master resource, they have time for education and contribution to the world economy.  That leads to lower population growth without anti-human "population control" measures.  When their children no longer die young, their economy is relatively stable, and there's an incentive to spend less time raising large numbers of children to deal with child mortality, then the population problem fixes itself.  The evidence for this is found in every country with significant economic development.  It's a universal trend.  You can't miss it.

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#47 2019-01-05 21:07:33

kbd512
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Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,615

Re: The Science of Climate Change

Louis,

Louis wrote:

Post #43

I understand that the UK's electricity requirements were about 305TWh / 305,000GWh last year, so any solution has to scale up to at least that output level to be viable from a consumption / usage standpoint.

At some point someone has to pay for the cost of any power plant.  Let's just use the numbers from the document you linked to in order to illustrate this absurdity.  To achieve a yearly production target of 10,000GWh (the output of a 1,000MW class reactor; in practice these units all output around 1,250MWe), the Haliade 150-6MW wind farm would cost $9.6B.  I used actual output from an actual wind farm (Merkur) for my previous comparison, rather than notional output from a notional power plant.  Therefore, I believe the comparison used to be accurate.  Merkur is ideally sited and has demonstrated stable output.  Our wind farms in the Midwest are all over the map from 15% to 50%.

$18.1 / MWh = $18,100 / GWh

10,000GWh / yr yields a revenue of $181M per year

Over 25 years, the revenue is $4.525B...  But the plant cost $9.6B to build.

Where is the rest of the money coming from just to pay for the purchase price of the power plant?

Someone is obviously paying for this scheme, yet you naively think it won't be you, so who else would that be?

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#48 2019-01-05 21:14:08

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 7,326

Re: The Science of Climate Change

For kbd512 ...

Because you seem to be supportive of use of nuclear energy (if not a champion) I'd be interested in your take on the problems Bill Gates has run into, since the recent deterioration of relations with China.

There are several articles on the web, including one from the Russian outlet RT ...
https://www.rt.com/business/447910-bill … ear-china/

Here is a US based link ...
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-terr … SKCN1OV1S5

(th)

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#49 2019-01-06 10:06:16

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,615

Re: The Science of Climate Change

tahanson43206,

I'm a champion of critical thinking, basic mathematics, an acceptance of the world we live in while still striving to make it better, and of humanity in general.  I also despise the anti-humanists who look down upon their fellow humans.  The anti-humanists would be the people who think they're entitled to take what other people have or those who believe in the fixed-pie-quantity theory that all of human history disproves.  If we run out of pie, then we figure out how to make more pies.  That's the American way.  The anti-humanists are, as Dr. Zubrin called them, merchants of despair and misery.  I'm not buying what they're selling and recommend that my fellow philosophy shoppers take a look around at all the other products on offer from other vendors.

I need more information about what you want to know, as to whether it's related to the technology itself or geopolitics.

If you're asking about why we're no longer transferring technology to China, that's entirely a geopolitical question with a rather lengthy answer that most people will find rather boring and not germane to any particular type of energy technology nor Earth's climate.  Suffice to say that it's another classic example of what happens when we attempt to withdraw our military.  Basically, that allows petty tribalism to take over.  We're doomed to either be the world's policeman or an initially unwilling and unprepared participant in another major war which benefits no one.  It was a mistake when former President Obama started it and it's still a mistake now that President Trump is continuing the policy.  It's another one of those sophomoric think tank ideas that somehow gained traction when those in power should've said, "Well, that's an interesting idea, but here's what we're actually doing."

If you're asking about the technology itself, it's a good use of existing reactor technology merged with a novel solution to known problems with common types of reactors.  A breeder-burner is the best way to lower total cost of ownership.  Much like Thorium-fueled molten salt reactors, it can be designed to be a mostly one-way machine, producing very little long-lived waste.  The use of Thorium, rather than Uranium, is all about elimination of long-lived radioactive waste products.  In 300 years or so, virtually everything that went into the reactor is no more radioactive than what was initially dug out of the ground.  That seems like a long time to store the waste, but recall that we've built cathedrals many centuries ago that are still standing today.  A high grade stainless steel cask won't be any worse for wear in another few centuries and the reactor can be operated for at least a human lifetime without refueling.

Most of the expense of maintaining a reactor is the use of water as a thermal transfer medium (corrosion) and fuel reprocessing (downtime and thermal cycling, which leads to stress-corrosion cracking).  If we stop using water and start using on-hand Uranium wastes, that addresses 90% of the "safety" issues and operational cost issues.  As energy production goes, there's little that could compete with a machine that has such a tiny geographical footprint and virtually no input requirements after operations start.

Ironically, a functional TWR would wipe out the nuclear fuel reprocessing industry and nearly wipe out the Uranium mining and enrichment industry.  The reason is pretty simple.  All the waste products from Uranium mining that we have sitting around in storage are what the TWR requires for fuel.  Each reactor operator would receive their little bit of seed corn of fissile Uranium and a pile of the leftovers from the Uranium mining industry.  Thorium is a secondary fuel option that would also work, but priority should be given to waste consumption.

There's enough product, a combination of what would otherwise be called nuclear waste from Uranium mining and natural Uranium, to service 2.5 times our current reactor fleet output for the next two millennia or so.  If we opt to continue feeding in natural Uranium to throw the miners a bone, so to speak, then we have a requirement for 5t of natural Uranium per GWyr (GigaWatt-year) or nothing at all if we just use existing depleted Uranium waste from Uranium mining and enrichment.  Our total disposal requirement per GWyr is just 5t.  If a 1GW reactor operates for 50 years, then we're on the hook for 50t of waste disposal.  Somehow I think we can handle that.  210t of fuel per year is required to feed existing GW-class LWR's.

Anyway, great concept that eats up the existing waste stream and optionally eats Thorium if no Uranium waste is available.  Since we're never running out of existing Uranium waste in our lifetimes, maybe several generations down the road they can think about mining more Uranium or switching to Thorium.

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#50 2019-01-06 11:52:20

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 7,326

Re: The Science of Climate Change

For kbd512,

Thanks for another of your (very impressive to me) comprehensive replies!

It confirms you are indeed knowledgeable in this specific field.

Bill Gates is in trouble, and (in my opinion) the Nation is in trouble because Bill Gates is in trouble.

Can you help?

Would you be willing to help (come to think of it) ?

Would Mr. Gates be willing to accept your help?  It would be a high level consulting position, to deal with political gridlock.

At this moment in time, the government of the United States is in a state of shock.  This might be an ideal time to overturn prohibitions against nuclear power that have plagued this Nation since the beginning of the Atomic Age, when plenty of thoughtful people had grave concerns about unleashing the genie of nuclear force.

I have no way of knowing for ** certain ** that you are the right person to play a role in removing the obstructions from the path Mr. Gates is trying to follow, but I sure do get the impression you have what it takes.

(th)


kbd512 wrote:

tahanson43206,

I'm a champion of critical thinking, basic mathematics, an acceptance of the world we live in while still striving to make it better, and of humanity in general. 

...

I need more information about what you want to know, as to whether it's related to the technology itself or geopolitics.

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