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#26 2021-08-05 18:07:05

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,914

Re: The Form Revolution

I think this article is helpful.

https://www.anl.gov/article/reshaping-t … -batteries

JCESR solved the problem by addressing both the cost of the energy storing materials and the design of the battery, since both contribute to the cost of the final battery. Analysis by the JCESR team showed that for multi-day storage, the entire battery must have a cost less than that of the energy-storing electrodes alone in batteries such as today’s lithium ion. Therefore, the long-duration storage challenge requires new materials solutions.

So I think this is really saying that because with a long term storage battery you are not going to be discharging on a frequent basis, then  the capital cost of the battery has to be much lower than an output management battery like lithium-ion operating on a daily cycle. The reason is that for the lithium battery there will be at least one charging cycle every day and so a minimum of 365 charges over the year or 3650 over a decade against which the capital cost can be spread. But for a long term storage battery you might discharge maybe only 50 times over the year or 500 times over the decade. That's why the battery's capital cost has to be much lower for long term storage because it is shared between far fewer charges. 

So, I think this is the sort of thing referenced in other articles. I am not sure how sensible a way of looking at the costings it is.

Long term storage means you can store energy that would otherwise be earthed during surplus periods. That makes the whole system more efficient. I prefer to look at the whole system cost of delivering reliable non-intermittent energy.

Some of these articles omit the context - the context is that wind and solar energy in many parts of the world are now very cheap energy sources, so if you can stop them being intermittent, you have a real advance.


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#27 2021-08-06 06:30:56

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,709

Re: The Form Revolution

Louis,

I think long duration output batteries will still be discharged on a routine basis, because they must be, in order to pay for the battery.  A power company won't build something that it never intends to use.  The key is having a battery that can charge / discharge at the same rate as the energy generating technology feeding power to it, and to be able to do that day after day for years on end.

For example, a power company builds a solar power plant in the middle of a desert, because that is the best possible place to put it.  The Sun is pretty much a given in that locale, meaning there will never be a week without Sun, but every day the rotation of the Earth mandates that the energy storage solution cycle to provide power output as the Sun disappears over the horizon.  Thus, the battery must work with the power generating technology to soak up every electron not demanded to power nearby homes and businesses.  We know what a daily power demand cycle looks like, because it's largely driven by AC usage.  Every other load is small by way of comparison.  Modern lights and electronics account for around 10% of the total power demand.  The demand cycle is basically a sine wave, with minor peaks associated with morning and evening activities when people go to or come home from work.  As the Sun heats up the Earth, the AC units work harder to maintain livable temperatures indoors, peaking in the late afternoon, following peak heating from the Sun.  The battery must soak up the off-peak-demand delta between what the Sun provides and then discharge that retained power through the rest of the evening and night, into the next morning, until the Sun reappears over the horizon and begins the next cycle.

US EIA has a graph of average daily electric power demand variation from New England in 2010 that shows a fluctuation between 10GWe and 16GWe.  For most hours of the day, the power usage hovers around 15GWe, so any proposed power generating solution needs to supply about 15GWe, and can supply no less than 10GWe since demand will never dip below that level.  If they're using wind or solar, then a battery is needed to fully cover that 1GWe peak.  If there are any seasonal or periodic lulls in generation, then they may need stored power supplied for 2 to 3 days at most.  If power output merely dips by half during 3 days (5GW * 24hrs per day * 3 days), that's 360GWh of power storage required, which is wildly impractical for any current battery technology to provide.  There are lots of periods with little Sun, but most of the time it's windy in New England.  There's not a crazy amount of snow most of the time during the winters, but there's enough to render solar panels functionally useless during that time, as all of them will be encrusted with snow and ice by the next morning.

That simple math, albeit involving very large numbers, is why I told tahanson43206 that any battery that provides less than 16GWh of stored power is uninteresting to me, because it's not operating at a scale anywhere near what is ultimately required by one of the smallest states in the United States, much less any of our larger states that consume a lot more power.

If the battery can't do that without drastically increasing the cost to something wildly in excess of what a base load power plant produces, on-demand, then it's not a practical technology.  You need a single battery technology that covers both cyclical and immediate demand variations.  This is no different than a coal fired power plant keeping excess coal onsite to cover a missed shipment from the mines.

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#28 2021-08-06 07:01:31

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,709

Re: The Form Revolution

Human civilization operates at the terawatt-hour scale.  If any proposed technology can't scale to that level in a practical way, then it's not a solution for human civilization.  That's what we're trying to do- we're trying to replace the last 100 years of fossil fuel-based technology with a variety of new technologies that scale to providing terawatt-hours of power in a practical way.  As more and more of us are learning, it's not an easy thing to do, and not simply a matter of money.  I hope this battery will succeed where others were too impractical to begin with, but we need tests at significant scale and extreme environment tests.  After this 1MW / 150MWh test, we need a 1GW / 150GWh test, and we need environmental tests in Death Valley, the Amazon, and in Antarctica.  If it survives those three locales, then it'll survive anywhere on the planet, guaranteed.  We can test 1MW / 150MWh pilot projects in those locales, no need for the 1GW test there, but after the 1MW test, a 1GW test is necessary to ensure that the technology scales as required.  After that, we need to figure out how expensive retrofitting the grids will be, and if there are any throughput constraints on production, such as yearly Iron and Zinc production, since those are the primary materials used.  I expect that someone thought about this already, but yearly demand needs to be quantified for a 10 year transition plan.

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#29 2021-08-06 07:32:59

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 1,197

Re: The Form Revolution

It terms of energy storage that can scale to TWh and is relatively cheap, this looks very promising to me.  The larger the scale, the more efficient it becomes.  Liquid air is stored in an underground tank.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryogen … gy_storage

To get the best efficiency, it needs to make use of a source of waste heat.  But that won't be a problem if we built a couple of CCGTs at the site.  Cryogenic energy storage would reduce by half the amount of natural gas needed to produce each MWh.  To increase storage capacity, you simply build a bigger tank.  The bigger the tank, the less problem you have with heat gradients into the stored liquid.  To store 1TWh (1000GWh) you would need a stainless steel lined concrete tank, some 200m in diameter and 200m tall.  A storage capacity of 1TWh is about 1.2 days worth of UK electricity consumption.  Maybe four such facilities would be needed in the UK and roughly 10 times more for the entire US.

Probably the best strategy would be to run the CCGTs, with liquid air energy recovery on a semi-continuous basis and allow the air liquefaction plant to run at maybe 60% capacity factor.  The rest of the solution could focus on demand management, through control of thermal grid loads.  Whilst a supply of natural gas is still needed, the quantity is much reduced.

Last edited by Calliban (2021-08-06 07:46:54)


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#30 2021-08-06 10:15:05

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,914

Re: The Form Revolution

I haven't seen any reference from Form Energy to "liquid air".

https://formenergy.com/technology/battery-technology/

While discharging, the battery breathes in oxygen from the air and converts iron metal to rust.

To me that sounds like they are drawing in air from the environment, rather than tanks. I could be wrong of course!

This article seems to imply it's ordinary air as well:

https://www.rechargenews.com/energy-tra … -1-1044174

Could be the air is pressurised to speed up the rusting process?




Calliban wrote:

It terms of energy storage that can scale to TWh and is relatively cheap, this looks very promising to me.  The larger the scale, the more efficient it becomes.  Liquid air is stored in an underground tank.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryogen … gy_storage

To get the best efficiency, it needs to make use of a source of waste heat.  But that won't be a problem if we built a couple of CCGTs at the site.  Cryogenic energy storage would reduce by half the amount of natural gas needed to produce each MWh.  To increase storage capacity, you simply build a bigger tank.  The bigger the tank, the less problem you have with heat gradients into the stored liquid.  To store 1TWh (1000GWh) you would need a stainless steel lined concrete tank, some 200m in diameter and 200m tall.  A storage capacity of 1TWh is about 1.2 days worth of UK electricity consumption.  Maybe four such facilities would be needed in the UK and roughly 10 times more for the entire US.

Probably the best strategy would be to run the CCGTs, with liquid air energy recovery on a semi-continuous basis and allow the air liquefaction plant to run at maybe 60% capacity factor.  The rest of the solution could focus on demand management, through control of thermal grid loads.  Whilst a supply of natural gas is still needed, the quantity is much reduced.


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#31 2021-08-06 11:46:15

kbd512
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Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,709

Re: The Form Revolution

Calliban,

The world's largest drinking water tank in Doha, Qatar, holds 436,633.45m^3 of potable water.  This tank you're proposing is approximately 14.39 times the size of that tank built in Qatar.

Since you're proposing building a larger cryogen tank than the largest in the world:

DEVELOPMENT OF THE WORLD’S LARGEST ABOVE-GROUND FULL CONTAINMENT LNG STORAGE TANK

The 2,400,000m^3 capacity Samcheok LNG Terminal was built in three stages.  The first stage cost $1.19B USD.  No word on what the other stages cost, but I presume it was similar to the first stage.  Samcheok uses a series of 12 x 200,000m^3 LNG storage tanks.  Construction at Samcheok started in 1998 and finished in 2017 or 2018.  These LNG storage tanks are every bit as large as a nuclear reactor's containment dome.

What you're proposing, if built using the same methods, is a series of 32 x 200,000m^3 storage tanks, so the US would need approximately 1,280 of those storage tanks spread across the country.  In total, the project would probably cost $320B USD, which is enough to purchase 64 of the Watts-Bar #2 nuclear reactors.  The service life a LNG tank is generally 15 to 20, so you'd need to replace those tanks again in another 15 to 20 years, which means another $320B.  The US consumed 3,955TWh of electricity in 2019, so the 561TWh that those units would provide 14.2% of the total demand.  If you purchase another 64 units, then you've covered all of the power provided by coal and a healthy chunk provided by natural gas.  The use of coal currently provides 19.3% and Natural Gas provides 40%.  Since the typical LNG tank only lasts for 20 years, before you're forced to replace them three times during the lifespan of the average PWR, you're only one more round of replacements shy of replacing them to provide all electricity without burning anything but neutrons.  On top of that, we'll also be replacing all of the existing solar panels and wind turbines three times during that same time frame.

That pretty much skewers liquid air storage as every bit as expensive as a nuclear reactor over time, with the downside that it costs money but contributes nothing to generation, which is always primary.

The more we attempt to ignore simple math, as if the future will never come to pass, the more simple math will reassert itself in basic economics.  I guess if we ignore ongoing construction and maintenance costs completely, then it looks favorable, but then we're operating off of our fantasies, rather than economic reality.

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#32 2021-08-06 12:21:47

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 7,605

Re: The Form Revolution

Here's another general media look at Form Energy

https://www.yahoo.com/news/rust-trains- … 21425.html

Rust? Trains? Why clean energy is turning to exotic ideas to fix its storage problem
Tom Metcalfe
Fri, August 6, 2021, 9:09 AM

Form Energy said its iron-air battery facilities will cost about $20 per kilowatt-hour, falling to about $10 per kilowatt-hour by the end of the decade. By way of comparison, grid-scale lithium-ion facilities cost between $250 and $300 per kilowatt-hour, Jaramillo said. The company is now working with a utility in Minnesota on a 1-megawatt storage facility that will be completed in about two years, but after 2025, “we will scale pretty quickly into the tens and subsequently hundreds of megawatts, which is the sort of scale you have to be to really make a difference on the grid,” he said.

(th)

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#33 2021-08-06 15:42:07

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 1,197

Re: The Form Revolution

kbd512 wrote:

Calliban,

The world's largest drinking water tank in Doha, Qatar, holds 436,633.45m^3 of potable water.  This tank you're proposing is approximately 14.39 times the size of that tank built in Qatar.

Since you're proposing building a larger cryogen tank than the largest in the world:

DEVELOPMENT OF THE WORLD’S LARGEST ABOVE-GROUND FULL CONTAINMENT LNG STORAGE TANK

The 2,400,000m^3 capacity Samcheok LNG Terminal was built in three stages.  The first stage cost $1.19B USD.  No word on what the other stages cost, but I presume it was similar to the first stage.  Samcheok uses a series of 12 x 200,000m^3 LNG storage tanks.  Construction at Samcheok started in 1998 and finished in 2017 or 2018.  These LNG storage tanks are every bit as large as a nuclear reactor's containment dome.

What you're proposing, if built using the same methods, is a series of 32 x 200,000m^3 storage tanks, so the US would need approximately 1,280 of those storage tanks spread across the country.  In total, the project would probably cost $320B USD, which is enough to purchase 64 of the Watts-Bar #2 nuclear reactors.  The service life a LNG tank is generally 15 to 20, so you'd need to replace those tanks again in another 15 to 20 years, which means another $320B.  The US consumed 3,955TWh of electricity in 2019, so the 561TWh that those units would provide 14.2% of the total demand.  If you purchase another 64 units, then you've covered all of the power provided by coal and a healthy chunk provided by natural gas.  The use of coal currently provides 19.3% and Natural Gas provides 40%.  Since the typical LNG tank only lasts for 20 years, before you're forced to replace them three times during the lifespan of the average PWR, you're only one more round of replacements shy of replacing them to provide all electricity without burning anything but neutrons.  On top of that, we'll also be replacing all of the existing solar panels and wind turbines three times during that same time frame.

That pretty much skewers liquid air storage as every bit as expensive as a nuclear reactor over time, with the downside that it costs money but contributes nothing to generation, which is always primary.

The more we attempt to ignore simple math, as if the future will never come to pass, the more simple math will reassert itself in basic economics.  I guess if we ignore ongoing construction and maintenance costs completely, then it looks favorable, but then we're operating off of our fantasies, rather than economic reality.

It is bound to be expensive.  Nothing that stores or produces GW of power can be paid for using your Friday night beer money.  For a GW of generating capacity, expect to pay billions.  For a TWh of storage capacity, more billions.  But the point of this thread is to examine energy storage options that will allow intermittent renewable energy to meet existing demand patterns.  Of course, that will never be as cheap as a high power density, pressurised water reactor that can generate power on demand from a fuel that is unimaginably energy dense.  I know that better than most other people.  But that wasn't the exam question.

Louis is looking for storage options that can take ambient energy as far as it can go.  I am prepared to humour this exploration, mainly because I get to live in poverty if we don't either solve it, or collectively decide to build 100s GW of fast reactor capacity very soon.  Either find an affordable storage technology or crack the whip and build those fast reactors and tell the nuclear regulators to **** off.  I don't see any other way out of this that doesn't involve a lot of suffering and hunger.  But as things stand, we appear not to be doing either.  Which means that famine and pestilence lie ahead.

The reason I proposed cryogenic energy storage, is that it can store 0.5GJ of recoverable mechanical energy per cubic metre of tank volume.  That is on a par with most batteries in terms of volumetric energy density.  But a tank is not a battery, it is a tank.  A battery is a manufactured energy store weighing at least 1 tonne per cubic metre, which is electrodes, electrolyte and ion permeable membranes.  Refined metals, solutions and difficult to manufacture permeable membranes.  It has to be manufactured at huge energy cost.  In contrast, a tank is an empty space with metal walls.  It will cost money, but is dirt cheap compared to any electrochemical cell.  Which is why I think thermal energy storage is our best option for energy storage.  It offers storage densities comparable to batteries, bit in media that are often cheap bulk materials, hot water, ice, rock, liquid air - things that cost almost nothing, save the tank and insulation.  Tanks of hot water, tanks of ice, tanks of liquid air.  Some of those options work best if they exist at the consumer side of the energy equation.  Others are supply side solutions.  It isn't a cheap option.  But so far as storage is concerned, it probably is the cheapest option.  But if we are forced to live on low power density ambient energy, it really is my last throw of the dice in developing a system that achieves power system reliability at an affordable cost.  It works best if we get to keep some residual gas turbine electric generating capacity.

Last edited by Calliban (2021-08-06 16:02:50)


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#34 2021-08-06 15:57:22

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 7,605

Re: The Form Revolution

For Calliban re #33

SearchTerm:Dice last throw of .... See Calliban above for defense of cryogenic storage of energy
SearchTerm:Storage energy cryogenic
SearchTerm:Cryogenic energy storage.

For Louis ... is Calliban interpreting your interest in creating this topic correctly?

He may well be, or you might be able to offer some steering adjustments for the topic.

(th)

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#35 2021-08-06 17:03:27

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,709

Re: The Form Revolution

Calliban,

I read about at least one new "revolutionary" battery technology per day that ultimately turns into a big nothing burger.  After more than a decade of reading about such technologies, I want someone to either demonstrate their technology at scale, or admit that they can't, so we can move on to other options that at least have a chance to succeed.  I do like the fact that Form's battery uses very cheap and recyclable materials, but the manufacturing side of this issue is where the technological innovation will come into play, assuming it's at all feasible.  We still have zero data indicating that it will work at scale.  If it doesn't work, then bulk thermal energy storage is our last desperate gambit at making energy storage affordable to the degree required for the technology to be an acceptable substitute for fossil fuels.  I see all of the billions of dollars ultimately squandered on development of these new battery technologies as dead-end stalling tactics that have the net effect of siphon away investment dollars from solutions that truly could work, while simultaneously serving as a distraction for the clueless public, to avert attention away from the simple fact that the problem isn't going away and the solutions aren't materializing after decade after decade of messing around with solar panels and wind turbines.

We're throwing rubber dog turds (the least viable options) at a Teflon wall (basic physics), hoping that something will stick.  It's an absurd survival strategy.  It's like saying, "It takes 100 calories per day to sit around and trap animals, but 2,000 calories per day to go hunting.  We're running really low on calories here, so let's go hunting and hope for the best."  There may be some scenario where going hunting pays off, but under most scenarios everyone starves to death.  How much more hunting do we allow the hunters to do before we tell them to stop running around in circles and start setting some traps before we all keel over?  Humanity has always gone up the energy density ladder when searching for power generation and storage solutions, not down.  There's no point to providing all the education in the world if nobody starts using it.  We now have endless seas of information to throw at anyone with an internet connection, but precious few of them know how to use any of it to do something useful.  I think that's a more profound problem than energy.

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#36 2021-08-06 17:30:44

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,914

Re: The Form Revolution

Of course there's no proof the Form battery can be scaled up but equally there is nothing from a physical or pragmatic point of view that we can see at present that would appear to prevent the scaling up.

The technology's been around for 50 years now, so is known to work. The issue really has been cost but they seem to have bought in a cheap cathode technology and made other cost saving improvements that have in combination  transformed the cost profile. This is a familiar tale!  Fax technology was invented in the early 1900s but it didn't come into its own until the mid 1980s,  some 70 years later.

As far as I know bulk thermal storage only works for a day or two and that just isn't good enough to make green energy a total solution.

Hunting is always the best option if you know what you are doing - like Elon in terms of rocketry.

kbd512 wrote:

Calliban,

I read about at least one new "revolutionary" battery technology per day that ultimately turns into a big nothing burger.  After more than a decade of reading about such technologies, I want someone to either demonstrate their technology at scale, or admit that they can't, so we can move on to other options that at least have a chance to succeed.  I do like the fact that Form's battery uses very cheap and recyclable materials, but the manufacturing side of this issue is where the technological innovation will come into play, assuming it's at all feasible.  We still have zero data indicating that it will work at scale.  If it doesn't work, then bulk thermal energy storage is our last desperate gambit at making energy storage affordable to the degree required for the technology to be an acceptable substitute for fossil fuels.  I see all of the billions of dollars ultimately squandered on development of these new battery technologies as dead-end stalling tactics that have the net effect of siphon away investment dollars from solutions that truly could work, while simultaneously serving as a distraction for the clueless public, to avert attention away from the simple fact that the problem isn't going away and the solutions aren't materializing after decade after decade of messing around with solar panels and wind turbines.

We're throwing rubber dog turds (the least viable options) at a Teflon wall (basic physics), hoping that something will stick.  It's an absurd survival strategy.  It's like saying, "It takes 100 calories per day to sit around and trap animals, but 2,000 calories per day to go hunting.  We're running really low on calories here, so let's go hunting and hope for the best."  There may be some scenario where going hunting pays off, but under most scenarios everyone starves to death.  How much more hunting do we allow the hunters to do before we tell them to stop running around in circles and start setting some traps before we all keel over?  Humanity has always gone up the energy density ladder when searching for power generation and storage solutions, not down.  There's no point to providing all the education in the world if nobody starts using it.  We now have endless seas of information to throw at anyone with an internet connection, but precious few of them know how to use any of it to do something useful.  I think that's a more profound problem than energy.


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#37 2021-08-06 17:38:55

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,914

Re: The Form Revolution

Of course, that will never be as cheap as a high power density, pressurised water reactor that can generate power on demand from a fuel that is unimaginably energy dense.  I know that better than most other people.

I don't accept that at all. Firstly there is no point in looking at the battery element in isolation. You have to look at the whole system. The truth is that new solar in many parts of the globe is already coming in at 2 cents per KwHe or even lower.  New nuclear clocks in around 10 cents per KwHe. That's an 8 cent difference - I admit not everywhere on the globe but in substantial parts (including SW USA). That 8 cent difference gives you a lot of room to find a storage solution.

What you're doing is looking at old nuclear, which has paid off its capital investment, and assuming you can achieve their low prices when in fact you have to renew your nuclear power stations (which you do have to do eventually).


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#38 2021-08-06 19:42:27

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,709

Re: The Form Revolution

Louis,

louis wrote:

Of course there's no proof the Form battery can be scaled up but equally there is nothing from a physical or pragmatic point of view that we can see at present that would appear to prevent the scaling up.

I sincerely hope you're correct, because the longer we wait, the less coal / oil / gas there is.  I heard the same thing about Lithium-ion batteries 10 years ago, then solid state batteries, and now this battery.  If you're wrong, then everybody pays.

louis wrote:

The technology's been around for 50 years now, so is known to work. The issue really has been cost but they seem to have bought in a cheap cathode technology and made other cost saving improvements that have in combination  transformed the cost profile. This is a familiar tale!  Fax technology was invented in the early 1900s but it didn't come into its own until the mid 1980s,  some 70 years later.

Batteries have been around since before internal combustion engines, but they're not remotely close to providing equivalent power, nor are they ever likely to be within our lifetimes.

louis wrote:

As far as I know bulk thermal storage only works for a day or two and that just isn't good enough to make green energy a total solution.

Since that's even simpler and cheaper than electrochemical energy storage, but nobody has made that scale to the degree required, there should be an object lesson somewhere in there.

louis wrote:

Hunting is always the best option if you know what you are doing - like Elon in terms of rocketry.

Hunting is never the best option if you don't know what you're doing.  Every battery company in existence claims to know what they're doing, and that their technology is "the best technology" for X or Y or Z.  There's always scant evidence supporting such claims, but that never stops the claimants from making the claims.  I want to see someone make their toy work, rather than claiming that it'll work better next time.  If this doesn't pan out, then you'll inevitably latch right onto the next technology, proclaim it to be a revolution until that also fails, and repeat, endlessly.  The problem is that we don't have another century for some revolutionary new technology to finally pan out.

There is no part of what SpaceX has done thus far that someone else didn't already do.  SpaceX refined existing rocket technology.  They didn't reinvent rocketry or any similar nonsense.  Recall how they were going to make rockets lighter using Carbon Fiber cryogenic storage tanks.  That went nowhere pretty fast, didn't it?

Some of the very first rockets used stainless steel and ULA still uses Stainless upper stage balloon tanks.
LOX/RP1 rockets were developed nearly a century ago, and LOX/LCH4 rocket engines were all the rage around the time Elon Musk was born.
Boeing and Grumman and others developed space capsules and landers.
Roton landed a rocket vertically.  Since Roton's rocket flew at the same speeds as SpaceX's booster prior to landing, it obviously works.
NASA developed PICA for interplanetary reentries and SpaceX worked with NASA to refine it into what it is today.
Rockwell developed the first reusable spacecraft, it simply didn't work very well because it was a first generation technology.
USAF developed GPS.
IBM developed modern computer chips and electronics of the type we still use today.

There's been talk of using CFRP liquid cryogen tanks for decades, but to this day nobody has ever put one into production use, not even SpaceX.  I have to believe that that's because it was wildly impractical to actually do.  Perhaps with another 20 years of refinement it can work passably well, or maybe Aluminum and Stainless remain the most practical options for all time.

Nobody has reused a heat shield on a vehicle the size of the Space Shuttle multiple times without significant refurbishment, so we'll see how well that pans out in operational practice.

One of the things the military teaches you to do is to solve the immediate problem using what you have and what you know FIRST, then figure out how you could do it better next time after the immediate threat has been dealt with.  Whether some specific person finds the immediate solution to be to their liking, or not, is of lesser importance.

SpaceX didn't wait for NASA to quit screwing around, hoping they'd develop something viable for interplanetary colonization.  That's pretty much how I feel about new battery technologies.  Apart from a handful of truly remarkable technologies that come around once in a lifetime, the rest of the battery research seems to be a never-ending science project not aimed at solving specific problems.

I do like Form's approach of using truly cheap and abundant materials that don't automatically exclude it from a viable human civilization scale solution before the first battery leaves the factory, but I'll be far more impressed after the first 1GW / 150GWh battery is in service for 10 years.  Form can make me a believer by doing that, rather than engaging in non-repeatable publicity stunts the way Tesla has.  As of right now, we're really short on details and really long on claims without evidence.

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#39 2021-08-06 20:52:41

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,709

Re: The Form Revolution

Louis,

louis wrote:

I don't accept that at all. Firstly there is no point in looking at the battery element in isolation. You have to look at the whole system. The truth is that new solar in many parts of the globe is already coming in at 2 cents per KwHe or even lower.  New nuclear clocks in around 10 cents per KwHe. That's an 8 cent difference - I admit not everywhere on the globe but in substantial parts (including SW USA). That 8 cent difference gives you a lot of room to find a storage solution.

Gravity doesn't require belief or acceptance, either, but it's very unforgiving to those who refuse to believe.

If we look at the whole system, then the whole system is more costly than competing alternatives.  The battery alone is the same cost as a nuclear power generation system that can provide 24/7/365 power.

louis wrote:

What you're doing is looking at old nuclear, which has paid off its capital investment, and assuming you can achieve their low prices when in fact you have to renew your nuclear power stations (which you do have to do eventually).

The same is true of all of these new "half solution" batteries and solar panels and wind turbines.  Thus far, the total cost is more expensive than new nuclear reactors, except in special cases where government regulators have deliberately tried to prevent the operator from obtaining an operating license.  When you build something that only lasts for 10 to 20 years, 25 years at most, then in 10 to 25 years, you have to replace all or most of it, or it ceases to provide the required power.  I've never seen any object made by man that was less expensive 25 years after the first model.  You can argue that the newest model is faster or marginally cheaper or otherwise performs better, but in real money, it always costs more.  Nuclear plants are designed to be replaced every 60 to 75 years.  Name off a battery or solar panel that's been in operation that long.  A photovoltaic or wind turbine would be replaced three times during that same time period, as would the batteries.

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#40 2021-08-07 05:30:22

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,914

Re: The Form Revolution

The article linked to below included the following nugget that helped me understand the concept:

The company’s first project is a 1 MW / 150 MWh

https://www.pv-magazine.com/2021/08/05/ … alization/

This implies the elecricity is discharged at 0.66% of capacity per hour. So for the "3MW per acre" quote it looks like there would be 450MWh storage within one acre. So 1GWh storage would require 2.2 acres. 1000 GWh storage would require 2200 acres or 8.9 sq kms (2.98 x 2.98 Kms). For a country the size of the UK, you might need something like 4000 GWhs of storage to cover a 5 day period on current consumption with no contribution from anything else. 100% dependency on battery storage is not a realistic scenario (given wind and solar will never be much below say 30% of average for any length of time and there will be contributions from other storage systems eg green hydrogen or hydroelectricity and other green energy sources). Maybe 70% would be a reasonable figure, so 2800 GWhs of storage required on current usage. But of course if you are going to rely on electricity to power your vehicles and heat your homes, you can probably double that, so the requirement might be 5600 GWhs. That would be 49.8 Sq Kms of storage required - about 7.06 Kms by 7.06 Kms. Make the facilities three storey and the area required becomes  16.6 sq,. kms or 4.07 x 4.07 kms. If you had 100 three storey sites around the country that would be an average of 0.166 sq kms required 166,000 sq metres or about 407 metres by 407 metres.  One of the  largest warehouses in the UK comes in at 93,000 sq. metres so 166.000 may be too big - perhaps you would be talking about 300 sites around the the UK  with more modest footprints of about 235 x 235 metres. Sounds doable to me if this was a 30 year programme and you were building 10 sites a year.


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#41 2021-08-07 05:51:06

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 1,197

Re: The Form Revolution

Maybe I'm missing something here.  Commodity prices have increased somewhat of late, so I will attempt to look at 5 year averages.

1 tonne of steel plate has averaged around 4000CNY (about $570/tonne) according to trading economics.
https://tradingeconomics.com/commodity/steel

According to wiki it will burn to liberate 5100MJ.  That's $0.1/MJ.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_density

Lithium costs around $6000/tonne.  It will burn to produce 43,100MJ.  That is $0.14/MJ.
https://www.metalary.com/lithium-price/

Steel plate is one tenth the cost of Lithium, but burning it will release one-ninth as much energy per unit mass.  So exactly where does the enormous enormous capital cost reduction of iron-air batteries come from?

A large part of the cost of refined metals is the energy cost associated with producing them.  Aluminium relatively expensive because it is energetically expensive.  Iron is energetically cheap, making steel very cheap.  Raw materials abundance will have a baring on finished metal cost.  But choosing cheap metals may not produce a cheap battery ($/kWh).

I go back to my previous recommendation.  1 tonne of water, heated from 10°C to 100°C, will store 378MJ of energy, 105kWh.  Do we really anticipate that we will ever build a battery that will be cheaper than a hot water tank?

Last edited by Calliban (2021-08-07 06:09:29)


Interested in space science, engineering and technology.

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#42 2021-08-07 06:39:07

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 7,605

Re: The Form Revolution

For Calliban re #41

You've been advocating hot liquid energy storage recently.

You may well have advocated other forms of heat energy storage, but I don't remember enough detail to attempt to cite them.

While not disputing (or questioning in any way) the practicality of the energy storage method, I am having difficulty understanding how a tank of hot water is a useful energy storage device for any application other than taking a shower or doing the dishes or laundry.

No doubt this failure of imagination is due to limited experience.  If you have time (and patience) please add to your earlier posts to show how electrical energy can be retrieved.   The Seebeck effect increases in efficiency with absolute temperature difference,  which is why I recently suggested it's use for an antenna system to be deployed on VASIMR vessels fed power from a transmission station on Luna.  I expect the efficiency of Seebeck is quite low if water is heated to only 100 degrees C.

If the 100 degrees C is for water heated to steam, then mechanical recovery is possible, but even that is not very efficient, and the tank is a boiler, which must be heavy enough to withstand pressure.

For all ... would it make sense for this forum to set up a topic dedicated to heat energy storage and retrieval?

We seem to be accumulating insights about this alternative as scattered contributions to topics that have nothing to do with it.

***
This topic (appears) to be about a very specific technology by a very specific company, whose stock will become valuable or not, depending upon the skill of management and the viability of the technology in the marketplace.

(th)

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#43 2021-08-07 09:13:53

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,709

Re: The Form Revolution

tahanson43206,

US EIA - Space heating and water heating account for nearly two thirds of U.S. home energy use

US EPA - Renewable Hot Water Heating

From the article:

About Hot Water Heating

Hot water is an essential part of everyday life across the United States. In homes, domestic hot water is used for showering, hand-washing, laundry, dish-washing, and other functions. In 2009, delivered energy for residential water heating accounted for nearly 2 quadrillion Btu, or roughly 18 percent of total energy use in U.S. residences. In 2003, commercial settings such as car washes, laundromats, and commercial kitchens used more than 500 trillion Btu for water heating, which was nearly 8 percent of their total fuel consumption.

2 Quads (2 quadrillion BTUs) = 586.14TWh

Our total electricity consumption hovers around 4,000TWh per year, so 586TWh is a very healthy chunk of that.

If there's no gas available, then that amount of power will have to be provided by electricity.

At 105kWh/t, that's 5,580,952,381 metric tons or 1,474,320,190,476 gallons or 2,233,818 Olympic swimming pools or 12,782 copies of the largest water tank in the world, which is located in Doha, Qatar.

Each of those drinking water tanks in Doha, Qatar cost $1B USD to construct:

World's Largest Water Reservoir Built in Qatar

From the article:

Five mega water reservoirs - the largest in the world - have been built in Qatar at a cost of nearly $5bn.

They will each have a capacity of nearly 400 million litres of water, effectively tripling Qatar's supply - a resource seen as vital for the nation's growing population.

From other articles, Qatar plans to build 40 such water reservoirs by 2036.

The United States would need to build 12,782 such reservoirs merely to supply the energy used by Americans to heat water in their homes.

That's $12,782B USD.  That's to build steel and concrete water tanks to ONLY store enough energy to supply the electricity required to heat water.

We could afford to build 2,556 1,000MWe Pressurized Water Reactors (at $5B USD per copy) for $12,782B USD.

2,556 1GWe reactors would supply 22,390TWh of power per year, or approximately 5.6 times our current total energy usage.

You have to be pretty spectacularly abhorrent at basic math to ignore something like that, but that's what our "green energy" supporters are doing.  I don't actually believe that all of them forgot how to count, they just ignore basic math whenever it doesn't support their ideology.

To Calliban's point, anything more complicated than a simple hot water tank (which is basically a hole in the ground) is going to cost more money to make, and probably a lot more, no matter the BS to the contrary.  We've spent inordinate amounts of time and money screwing around with various technologies that required either a complete suspension of basic economics or natural resource constraints in order to work the way their claimants asserted they would.  It's time to cut the BS and be perfectly honest about what this stuff will cost, how well or poorly it will actually work, and what the feasibility is for scaling up to the human civilization level.

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#44 2021-08-07 09:27:55

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,342

Re: The Form Revolution

Louis, All batteries are brought down to the 2/3 value of a fully charge voltage value and are considered to be dead at that point even thou that still have energy within them.

The company’s first project is a 1 MW / 150 MWh

This is also a half truth as well since voltage drops and we current limit the load currents to not climb as the voltage gets lower....
so whrs are not the measure for how many hours we can drain power from the battery as thats measured in ampere hours devided by the draining current in amps...

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#45 2021-08-07 09:45:39

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,914

Re: The Form Revolution

Who said the iron was being burned?  I haven't seen that mentioned anywhere. It sounds to me like a chemical process they call reversible rusting, so you add oxygen to the rust to create iron again. How they do that I've no idea but burning has not been mentioned. THis video is helpful.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1n1qZHni718

Calliban wrote:

Maybe I'm missing something here.  Commodity prices have increased somewhat of late, so I will attempt to look at 5 year averages.

1 tonne of steel plate has averaged around 4000CNY (about $570/tonne) according to trading economics.
https://tradingeconomics.com/commodity/steel

According to wiki it will burn to liberate 5100MJ.  That's $0.1/MJ.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_density

Lithium costs around $6000/tonne.  It will burn to produce 43,100MJ.  That is $0.14/MJ.
https://www.metalary.com/lithium-price/

Steel plate is one tenth the cost of Lithium, but burning it will release one-ninth as much energy per unit mass.  So exactly where does the enormous enormous capital cost reduction of iron-air batteries come from?

A large part of the cost of refined metals is the energy cost associated with producing them.  Aluminium relatively expensive because it is energetically expensive.  Iron is energetically cheap, making steel very cheap.  Raw materials abundance will have a baring on finished metal cost.  But choosing cheap metals may not produce a cheap battery ($/kWh).

I go back to my previous recommendation.  1 tonne of water, heated from 10°C to 100°C, will store 378MJ of energy, 105kWh.  Do we really anticipate that we will ever build a battery that will be cheaper than a hot water tank?


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#46 2021-08-07 10:38:13

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 1,197

Re: The Form Revolution

kbd512 wrote:

If there's no gas available, then that amount of power will have to be provided by electricity.

At 105kWh/t, that's 5,580,952,381 metric tons or 1,474,320,190,476 gallons or 2,233,818 Olympic swimming pools or 12,782 copies of the largest water tank in the world, which is located in Doha, Qatar.

Each of those drinking water tanks in Doha, Qatar cost $1B USD to construct:


The United States would need to build 12,782 such reservoirs merely to supply the energy used by Americans to heat water in their homes.

That's $12,782B USD.  That's to build steel and concrete water tanks to ONLY store enough energy to supply the electricity required to heat water.

We could afford to build 2,556 1,000MWe Pressurized Water Reactors (at $5B USD per copy) for $12,782B USD.

2,556 1GWe reactors would supply 22,390TWh of power per year, or approximately 5.6 times our current total energy usage.

You have to be pretty spectacularly abhorrent at basic math to ignore something like that, but that's what our "green energy" supporters are doing.  I don't actually believe that all of them forgot how to count, they just ignore basic math whenever it doesn't support their ideology.

To Calliban's point, anything more complicated than a simple hot water tank (which is basically a hole in the ground) is going to cost more money to make, and probably a lot more, no matter the BS to the contrary.  We've spent inordinate amounts of time and money screwing around with various technologies that required either a complete suspension of basic economics or natural resource constraints in order to work the way their claimants asserted they would.  It's time to cut the BS and be perfectly honest about what this stuff will cost, how well or poorly it will actually work, and what the feasibility is for scaling up to the human civilization level.

I haven't checked the maths.  But your calculation does appear to be based on the the storage of a whole year of domestic hot water.  You would need huge tanks under that scenario and you would have the added complication of piping it into individual houses.  To store a few days worth of hot water, a smaller tank could be used.  Most residential properties already have hot water tanks.  To allow these to play a role in solving the intermittent energy problem, we would simply make them bigger and make their resistance heaters grid controllable.  This in itself introduces additional complexity into the system, as the grid must now control millions of water heaters, something that would also introduce vulnerability to hacking.  There are literally no solutions to the problem of intermittent energy production that do not introduce additional costs and problems.  There is no way of cheating the second law of thermodynamics.  Intermittency is a form of entropy.

Louis wrote:

Who said the iron was being burned?  I haven't seen that mentioned anywhere. It sounds to me like a chemical process they call reversible rusting, so you add oxygen to the rust to create iron again. How they do that I've no idea but burning has not been mentioned. THis video is helpful.

Your proposed battery is storing energy by increasing the oxidation state of iron.  Whilst the heat of combustion won't give a precise value of the energy density of the battery, it does provide an approximate ceiling.  The same for a Li-ion battery.  It cannot have higher energy density than the heat of combustion of Lithium, because it is exploiting changes in oxidation state to store and release energy.

None the less, I think your original video gives enough information to fill in some of the missing information.  The energy density of a Li-ion battery is nowhere near the energy density of Lithium under full oxidation.  The iron air battery may have higher energy density because its anode is solid iron.  So whilst its ultimate energy density cannot be greater than 5.1MJ/kg, it could potentially exceed 1MJ/kg, when the mass of the cathode, electrolyte and casing are included.  That is a respectable value that rivals li-ion batteries.  One of the problems that you are stuck with is the sluggish reaction rate of iron oxidation.  That will tend to limit battery discharge rate.  In this application, that would appear to matter less.

Last edited by Calliban (2021-08-07 10:59:31)


Interested in space science, engineering and technology.

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#47 2021-08-07 11:07:45

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,342

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#48 2021-08-07 11:08:15

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 7,605

Re: The Form Revolution

A misunderstanding crept into this topic recently.

Oxygen is added to make rust given clean iron as the starting point.  That process releases energy.

Oxygen is removed from iron and returned to storage (or the air) when energy is input to the system.

Thus, the system can be said to be "charged" when Oxygen is NOT present.

The system can be said to be "discharged" when Oxygen IS present.

There are surely other ways to express these transitions using English, so I hope others will contribute their version, in addition to attempts by Calliban and others.

(th)

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#49 2021-08-07 12:15:56

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,342

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#50 2021-08-07 13:05:41

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,709

Re: The Form Revolution

Calliban,

1. 586TWh is around 1/6th of the electrical energy that America uses during a year, but that's a very poor account of total primary energy consumption.  The numbers that our renewable energy charlatans like to throw out are related to electrical energy, NOT Total Primary Energy Supply (TPES) or Total Primary Energy Consumption (TPEC).  The United States uses 4,000TWh of electrical energy every year.  No efficiency improvements have ever resulted in less energy being consumed, and our population keeps increasing, year after year, if for no other reason than the Democrats keep importing more illegals using the power of the federal government.  We're supposedly going to transition over to all-electric land vehicles, as well as electric space and water heating over the next 10 to 20 years on top of that.

2. Fun fact.  The Sun doesn't shine appreciably for at least 50% of the time in North America.  This is an objective fact and I don't need any degree in solar physics or other scientific instruments apart from an accurate wristwatch to "know it".  I can't wish or hope this fact away, no matter how hard I try, because it's baked into orbital mechanics.

3. The wind doesn't blow hard enough to turn the most affordable 2MWe onshore wind turbines for at least 50% of the time in North America, and more like 60% in many places.  This is why I was rooting for Makani Wind Power to be successful, so that we could have affordable wind power with a capacity rating approaching a base load power plant.  We, as Americans, know how to build tens of thousands of small aircraft.  It takes skill and a desire to be a good craftsman or craftswoman, but we turn out high quality small aircraft every year.  Despite failure because Google decided to pull their funding plug, their idea was absolutely one of the best I've seen.  Now we're stuck with behemoth monuments to the stupidity of man, as General Patton would say, with more and more of them rusting in place every year.

4. All told, our overall capacity factor for both wind and solar sits at around 50%, combined.  It's even lower than that in aggregate, but let's use 50% power storage as our baseline.  The power must flow, even when the Sun don't shine and the wind don't blow.

5. The losses from transmitting and transforming electrical power are around 10%, sometimes up to 20% when electricity is distributed across state lines, such as Arizona to California.  In short, the US is not a small land mass, so converting everything to electrical will mean that lots more power will be lost to simple electrical resistance, unless we build out a network of superconducting electrical cables.

6. If we're not somehow building that kind of storage, we're not burning anything, and we're not using splitting atoms to provide power, then where is the power coming from?

This is a serious question not simply directed at you, but at anyone who is willing to answer it.

7. If we only built 586TWh of electrical storage capacity on our way to complete electrification, then that's around half of the total stored energy in the US Strategic Reserve.

Have a look-see:

U.S. energy facts explained - U.S. total energy statistics - Preliminary data for 2020

From the US EIA 2020 data stats:

Total energy consumption - 92.94 quadrillion Btu

Petroleum: 35%
Natural gas: 34%
Renewable energy: 12% (hydro power, burning wood and farming waste, wind and solar, geothermal)
Coal: 10%
Nuclear electric power: 9%

1 quad (1 quadrillion BTU = 293.07TWh)
35(oil) + 34(gas) + 10(coal) + 9(nuclear) = 88% <- Percentage of consumption attributable to "stored energy" reserves
88% of 92.94 quads = 23,969.46TWh <- TWh of energy consumption per year coming from current "stored energy" supplies
586TWh / 23,969.46TWh = 0.024447776462215 = 2.4% of current yearly energy storage

US Strategic Petroleum Reserve Capacity: 714 million barrels of oil
At any given time, we have around 600 million barrels of oil, as Louis already alluded to in other posts
1 barrel of oil = 1.7MWh
1,700,000 = 600,000,000 = 1,020,000,000,000,000 = 1,020TWh
586TWh of storage = 57.5% of our current strategic petroleum reserve
586TWh = 2 weeks worth of energy storage (except that our strategic reserve wouldn't last two week without rationing)

This is precisely what I mean by "not scaling out".

What more do our "green energy" zealots need to grasp?

None of their proposed solutions remotely approach a replacement for the massive amounts of stored energy supplied to them in the form of coal / oil / gas / nuclear.  At best, their favored technologies can slow the rate of fossil fuel depletion by supplanting some of the electricity generated by burning coal and gas.

The amount of money required to provide a 2 week supply of energy storage in terms of simple hot water tanks used to spin steam turbines, for all uses rather than only transportation, which is all that the strategic petroleum reserve provides with rationing, greatly exceeds the amount of money we'd spend by flipping the bird to the nuclear regulators and telling them we're going to start building real generating capacity to supplant burning coal and gas to try, possibly in vain, to counteract some of the worst effects of climate change.

To your point, you're absolutely correct.  There is no cheating basic thermodynamics.

6. Someone suggesting that we don't need to store at least 1/8th of merely the electrical power that we generate under an all-renewable-energy scenario is not dealing with objective reality.  Period.

7. In an all-renewables scenario that electrifies most of our infrastructure and vehicles, at least 50% of the power generated has to be stored somewhere using something.  With a 2 week total backup thermal energy storage in the form of hot water that we've heated up using the Sun, we're never more than 2 weeks from grid collapse that could take 1 to 3 months to repair.  The amount of money required to do that is astronomical.  If it's not being stored using coal / oil / gas / nuclear, then what the hell is providing the energy?

8. You can divide by 14 for a 1 day thermal energy backup, but that's $913B USD, and 182 1GWe nuclear reactors, at $5B USD a pop, purchased for the same money, still generate 1,594TWh of power per year.  That still doesn't cover the 11,985TWh of energy provided by coal and gas, but we're a LOT closer to divesting ourselves of fossil fuel energy at that point.  For equivalent cost to 7.5 days of simple hot water thermal energy storage, we no longer require coal and gas at all.  Since Qatar's energy company only expects their fresh water tanks to last for 20 years, we'd have to replace or substantially refurbish them at least 3 times in 60 years.

9. I have a "buy once, cry once" mentality to purchasing things that are supposed to be durable infrastructure that lasts for a human lifetime.  If we had to replace the nuclear reactors once per human lifetime, the total amount of money we'd spend is significantly less than competing alternatives, so if people are whining that nuclear power is too expensive, then they must be livid over the cost of solar panels and wind turbines and batteries, because 25 years from now, they're going to be replacing all of those, too.

10. Even with nuclear power as an available option, the amount of money required to replace all of our existing power generating infrastructure is staggering.

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