Renewable Energy Research - Internet Flamewars


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    [Tesla is apparently recharging ’emissions free’ electric cars with a diesel generator][1]


    [1]: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/05/28/friday-funny-tesla-is-apparently-recharging-emissions-free-electric-cars-with-a-diesel-generator/



  • I bet that shell station about half a block away said "no" to a Tesla charging station and he got all pissy.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    That's actually supposed to be a battery swap station (the only one?) except that when you charge cars off a generator in front of the bay doors, you can't really pull cars up there to swap the batteries.


  • SockDev

    I fail to see how that's a bad idea; it's not like charging from the mains is guaranteed emissions-free, the generator will be running at peak efficiency, and solar panel tech isn't good enough to match the output of a decent diesel generator.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @RaceProUK said:

    I fail to see how that's a bad idea

    It demonstrates in a way plugging it in to a charger doesn't that there's not really any such thing as an "emissions-free vehicle." Which was the point of the post.



  • It's a good reminder that plug-in electric isn't the solution that some think.

    It might be part of it, but without the generation infrastructure all it does is move the emissions elsewhere.

    Unless you are in France (mostly nukes) or Iceland or similar. Build some nukes and then we'll talk about being green and low-carbon dioxide.



  • I expect, somewhere in the next 10 years, someone will find a cheap, efficient way to synthesize simple hydrocarbons. Someone else will develop an efficient fuel cell for simple liquid hydrocarbons. And we'll never hear about this battery nonsense again.



  • Lockheed Martin claims to be about 5 years from producing a commercially-viable fusion reactor design. Haven't heard much about it since their announcement last year though.



  • I agree it's far more likely we'll figure out a good way to synthesize gasoline before we come up with an electric car that can meet all of the requirements of a gas/diesel car (including range). Finding a battery orders of magnitude better than ones we have = science fiction. Synthesizing gasoline = real, but not quite economical.

    That said, I drive a hybrid because with a hybrid you make virtually no sacrifices and get a huge boost in economy and range. (Sacrifice: it takes my car about 0.5 seconds to kick-on the gas engine if I get a green light going uphill. Big whoop. And that's only a big deal because I bought a Fusion, which is pretty damned huge and heavy as far as hybrids go.)


  • SockDev

    @blakeyrat said:

    Finding a battery orders of magnitude better than ones we have = science fiction.

    The alternative is hydrogen, but then you have the storage and transportation problems. Not to mention the health and safety nightmare of keeping large quantities of a highly explosive gas.



  • If you recall, Bush Jr's big transportation plan featured nuclear plants and hydrogen. It was a good plan (even if the hydrogen hadn't worked-out, we'd still have a much improved power grid), but even with a majority in both houses, you can't fight the anti-nuclear lobbies in the US, so it was hopeless from day one.

    Our Navy runs hundreds of nuclear reactors in perfect safety, in peace and in war, in rough seas, underwater, etc. We have all of the skill and talent we need for safe nuclear power, we just lack any politicians willing to say "fuck you" to Greenpeace.


  • SockDev

    Not forgetting of course that modern reactor designs, if left to their own devices, will shut themselves down automatically. And the technology for hydrogen power has existed for decades; after all, it took men to the Moon and back.

    We have the technology already; all that's in the way is Greenpeace, NIMBYism, and health-and-safety red tape.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @RaceProUK said:

    Not to mention the health and safety nightmare of keeping large quantities of a highly explosive gas.

    It's not really that much worse than dealing with gasoline; that's also a highly explosive inflammable gas, and it's heavier than air so it pools, unlike H2 which heads straight out to space given a chance.



  • @dkf said:

    It's not really that much worse than dealing with gasoline;

    You don't need to pressurize a gas tank.



  • Pray tell, what's the expense (energy and consumption of a non-renewable raw material) for getting the uranium? What do you do with the spent fuel?

    Except for that, I would agree.

    ... There is also the small fact that most reactors except a few modern experimental reactors are constructed according to a design that is aimed at producing material for nuclear bombs, rather than being as clean and efficient as possible...



  • @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    Pray tell, what's the expense (energy and consumption of a non-renewable raw material) for getting the uranium?

    Significantly less than getting coal for an equivalent amount of resulting power.

    Keep in mind: nuclear is a base-load. The alternatives to nuclear are coal, gas, and hydro. It doesn't compete with wind, solar, or any other non-base power sources. And it's obviously and hugely superior to coal and gas, and possibly also hydro.

    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    What do you do with the spent fuel?

    Turn it into nukes and drop them on poor people.

    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    ... There is also the small fact that most reactors except a few modern experimental reactors are constructed according to a design that is aimed at producing material for nuclear bombs, rather than being as clean and efficient as possible...

    So? It's not 1962 anymore.

    I'm opposed to building new reactors because OLD REACTORS!

    I'm opposed to driving cars, because the Model T had a crank-starter that could break your fingers if you weren't careful!

    I'm opposed to commercial air flight because planes of that size are descended from WWII carpet bombers!

    I'm opposed to buying PCs, because the PC architecture was spearheaded by IBM, and IBM built tabulating machines to track numbers during the Holocaust!

    etc.

    If you just want to turn off all modern society, then go out into the wilderness and do it. But don't be a fucking hypocrite and apply your strong morals to nuclear power and nothing else.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @mott555 said:

    Lockheed Martin claims to be about 5 years from producing a commercially-viable fusion reactor design.

    People have been saying that for 30 years.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @blakeyrat said:

    You don't need to pressurize a gas tank.

    And gas(oline) doesn't seep through your tank walls, either.



  • "Nuclear power is clean (...er than coal and gas)!"

    Energy produced by nuclear power today is based on outdated technology. There are modern alternatives, not being built because they are not economically feasible that would produce cleaner energy, but we are not there today.

    Rather than spending the effort and money to create cleaner nuclear power we should invest that into research and development of renewable energy.



  • @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    Energy produced by nuclear power today is based on outdated technology.

    Ok.

    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    There are modern alternatives, not being built because they are not economically feasible that would produce cleaner energy, but we are not there today.

    No; they're not being built because anti-nuclear wussy-pants like you are scared and wetting yourself after just hearing the word "radiation".

    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    Rather than spending the effort and money to create cleaner nuclear power we should invest that into research and development of renewable energy.

    Then what do we do for base load?

    Build more coal plants?

    Dam more rivers, in the small parts of the world where that's even feasible in the first place?

    Burn more natural gas?

    What's your plan, Svahnberg?


    BTW I like how you just ignored this point when I made it in my last post. Nuclear is a base-load power supply. No renewables (currently practical) are. None.



  • If it was economically viable to build new nuclear power plants, they would be built.

    I am not an energy researcher, but the trend in Swden/Europe is towards water, wind, and sun. On the micro-scale, heat exchangers from rockbed/lakes/ground/air are very popular. Solar panels are popular in Germany, I hear.

    Other research include using the motion of waves, pressure from pedestrians on tiles, etc. Also, a lot of research goes into making things more energy efficient.

    Or we can just throw up our hands in the air and give up.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @blakeyrat said:

    Nuclear is a base-load power supply.

    Current configurations of nuclear reactors are base-load. Which isn't to say that fast-start systems are impossible. They just need very different designs.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    If it was economically viable to build new nuclear power plants, they would be built.

    They're being built in the UK.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    BTW I like how you just ignored this point when I made it in my last post. Nuclear is a base-load power supply. No renewables (currently practical) are. None.

    You are right. Only 50% of Sweden's enegy needs are hydrogen based.



  • Correction. Not hydrogen, of course, but water.


  • SockDev

    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    If it was economically viable to build new nuclear power plants, they would be built.

    Economical viability isn't the main obstacle; the main obstacle is NIMBYism and ecomentalists that scream 'Radiation! OH NOEZ!' every chance they get. And they scream it loud enough that governments and corporations have to cater for them.


  • mod

    @blakeyrat said:

    And it's obviously and hugely superior to coal and gas, and possibly also hydro.

    The only real reson I would rank nuclear above hydro is that hydro is location dependent. You can't just drop one where ever you need, which means that you need to worry about transport. You don't have the same limitations with nuclear. Point of reference: hydro isn't really a viable local solution for Phoenix.

    Of course there's also the fact that we're running out of viable hydro locations and the environmental impact of damming a river.


    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    Rather than spending the effort and money to create cleaner nuclear power we should invest that into research and development of renewable energy.

    If people weren't lobbying against nuclear so much, the obstacles to investigating these technologies would likely disappear.


    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    If it was economically viable to build new nuclear power plants, they would be built.

    They are economically viable. They aren't politically viable.



  • That is a big deal, yes. And the legacy we leave to future generations. My main argument is that it is Yet Another Non-Renewable source of energy.



  • @abarker said:

    The only real reson I would rank nuclear above hydro is that hydro is location dependent. You can't just drop one where ever you need, which means that you may need a huge electrical transport grid. You don't have the same limitations with nuclear. Point of reference: hydro isn't really a viable local solution for Phoenix.

    I would really like to see a calculation pn how far it is viable to transport nuclear fuel and spent nuclear fuel before the gains in emissions are nullified. I don't have these figures, but I suspect it is not as far as you would think.


  • mod

    Most such transports are by water or rail. In terms of emissions, this is far more efficient than moving by truck. To improve the efficiency of shipping spent fuel, many reactors have pools for temporarily storing spent fuel. That way they only need to send a shipment when they have a certain quantity ready to go.

    As for finding figures, I doubt you could find any. Specifics are highly classified to prevent hijackings.



  • @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    If it was economically viable to build new nuclear power plants, they would be built.

    The ONLY reason it's not economically viable (speaking for the US) is due to the millions of anti-nuclear wonks who'll put up endless ribbons of red tape for any company even attempting to build one.

    Again: note that in the Navy, where the Government can reduce the red tape to a sensible level, nuclear has been hugely successful.

    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    I am not an energy researcher,

    That's obvious.

    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    but the trend in Swden/Europe is towards water, wind, and sun.

    Oh well that narrows it down.

    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    On the micro-scale, heat exchangers from rockbed/lakes/ground/air are very popular. Solar panels are popular in Germany, I hear.

    Neither is base-load.

    DO YOU SIMPLY NOT KNOW WHAT THE TERM "BASE-LOAD" MEANS? IS THAT THE PROBLEM HERE?

    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    Other research include using the motion of waves,

    Possibly viable.

    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    pressure from pedestrians on tiles,

    Ludicrously impractical.

    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    Also, a lot of research goes into making things more energy efficient.

    Well of course. But that only takes you so far, especially when battery technology is the limiting factor in almost every case and (like I said above) there's no reason to believe there are any imminent breakthroughs in battery capacity coming anytime soon.

    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    Or we can just throw up our hands in the air and give up.

    Or! You can just build safe, practical nuclear plants and nip the problem in the bud!

    @dkf said:

    Current configurations of nuclear reactors are base-load. Which isn't to say that fast-start systems are impossible. They just need very different designs.

    Considering the expense, I'm not sure why you'd even bother designing a nuclear plant capable of fast-start.

    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    You are right. Only 50% of Sweden's enegy needs are hydrogen based.

    Meaning what?

    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    Correction. Not hydrogen, of course, but water.

    Oh.

    The problem is damming rivers (the only practical way of getting power from water) is:

    1. Only viable in certain locations (sure, the Cascades here in Washington State are pretty reliable, but ask California how their hydro-power systems are doing after 4 years of drought)

    2. Construction projects equally huge, or more huge, than nuclear plants, with correspondingly huge environmental impacts. Look at the costs we've had to endure here in the US to un-dam rivers in the interest in preserving salmon. The blocking of which almost lead to the extinction of our national symbol.

    @RaceProUK said:

    Economical viability isn't the main obstacle; the main obstacle is NIMBYism and ecomentalists that scream 'Radiation! OH NOEZ!' every chance they get.

    He's technically correct, ignoring that it's only economically nonviable because you need to spend hundreds of millions to appease the Greenpeace morons. Without that capital outlay, there'd be no problem.

    @abarker said:

    The only real reson I would rank nuclear above hydro is that hydro is location dependent.

    Do you consider extinction of river species important or not? That's really the determining factor.

    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    And the legacy we leave to future generations.

    Future generations are going to call us fucking morons, as they should.

    "You had something better than coal plants for 70 years, and you didn't stop burning coal? NOT EVEN IN RICH FIRST-WORLD COUNTRIES? YOU MORONS!"

    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    My main argument is that it is Yet Another Non-Renewable source of energy.

    Your main argument ignores the entire idea of base-load generation, because you're an idiot and have no idea what you're talking about.

    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    I would really like to see a calculation pn how far it is viable to transport nuclear fuel and spent nuclear fuel before the gains in emissions are nullified.

    Dafuq? You don't transport the FUEL, you transport the resulting POWER. The nuclear plant itself stays nicely in the middle of nowhere.

    Why would the emissions of a few 18-wheeler trucks hauling fuel nullify the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF HOUSES SUPPLIED POWER BY THAT FUEL FOR YEARS, EMISSION-FREE? That makes less than no sense.

    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    I don't have these figures, but I suspect it is not as far as you would think.

    I'm beginning to think you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. None. At all.


  • area_deu

    @blakeyrat said:

    The nuclear plant itself stays nicely in the middle of nowhere.

    There is a distinct lack of "nowhere" over in Europe.
    We don't know where to even put used fuel rods!

    It's of course all much easier in a country that has more sparsely-populated areas like the U.S. ...



  • @aliceif said:

    There is a distinct lack of "nowhere" over in Europe.

    Well France is somehow solving the problem, copy their solution. Who cares about Europe anyway?

    @aliceif said:

    We don't know where to even put used fuel rods!

    Rectum? Damn near killed 'em!

    @aliceif said:

    It's of course all much easier in a country that has more sparsely-populated areas like the U.S. ...

    All of Europe doesn't have a single Utah? I find that hard to believe.


  • SockDev

    @blakeyrat said:

    All of Europe doesn't have a single Utah? I find that hard to believe.

    There's the Spanish plains, but they're not building nukes there; instead, they're building those solar mirror farms. Which actually makes more sense; the locations where those mirror farms are get more than enough sunlight to make them viable.



  • This is going to sound like a bad excuse but it is time to put the kids to bed. I will have to come back to you tomorrow on this.

    50% water power sounds suspiciously like base load to me.

    Nuclear power do not magically appear. You have to put things in to the reactor first, and remove them once the magic energy has been wizarded out of it. Those things (lets call them uranium and spent fuel) needs to be mined and then transported to and from the reactor.



  • @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    50% water power sounds suspiciously like base load to me.

    It is, but that's not the point.

    You're lucky if you live in an area where you can run your base-load on hydro and don't give a shit (for whatever reason) about the environmental impact of large dams. Congratulations.

    Not all countries are like that. Very very very few are, in fact.

    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    Nuclear power do not magically appear.

    Wow. I take it back, you're an expert on this subject.

    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    You have to put things in to the reactor first, and remove them once the magic energy has been wizarded out of it. Those things (lets call them uranium and spent fuel) needs to be mined and then transported to and from the reactor.

    Yeah, 1/1,000,000th the quantity of equivalent masses of coal.

    The point is to stop burning coal; that's what's doing the harm. The sooner we stop burning coal, the better.


  • mod

    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    needs to be mined and then transported to

    This is also an issue for coal. If you are factoring it in for nuclear, you have to factor it in for coal. The two cancel out. But don't forget that you'll need multiple shipments of coal during the years the nuclear plant is using that one shipment of uranium. Nuclear just pulled ahead.

    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    and from the reactor.

    So nuclear was already ahead at the fuel shipping stage. It pulled way ahead during the electrical production stage. Now we tack on the little bit necessary for shipping the nuclear waste out to a disposal facility. We'll be generous and just cancel out another one of those coal shipments.

    Looks like the shipping has a negligible impact, even if you don't have any specific figures.


  • SockDev

    @abarker said:

    Now we tack on the little bit necessary for shipping the nuclear waste out to a disposal facility.

    IIRC, some reactor designs can run on the spent fuel; may want to double-check that though


  • mod

    @RaceProUK said:

    IIRC, some reactor designs can run on the spent fuel; may want to double-check that though

    Yes, there are designs like that. Are there actually any in service?

    In either case, @Mikael_Svahnberg's argument is worthless.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    we just lack any politicians willing to say "fuck you" to Greenpeace.

    Earlier this year Greenpeace wilfully committed attempted mass murder on innocent fishermen. Again. We need to get that club jailed.



  • @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    I am not an energy researcher, but the trend in Swden/Europe is towards water, wind, and sun. On the micro-scale, heat exchangers from rockbed/lakes/ground/air are very popular. Solar panels are popular in Germany, I hear.

    Solar is a bad joke.
    It is only economically viable (outside of obvious desert regions) because the poorest are taxed to pay the richest to install the boondoggles. (Feed-in tariff)
    In the UK owners are paid around 4 times the market rate for the energy small plants generated, even if they used it all themselves. This money is taken from the people who cannot afford the upfront cost.
    In Germany, similar rules apply.

    Wind is a good technology, but does not scale well as maintenance costs are very high to extortionate, as well as dangerous. (Up high in windy conditions, far from help.)

    Water involves damming a river or tidal basin, destroying the habitat and in some cases homes or farmland.
    It is also responsible for killing by far the most people of any coal replacement - almost as bad as coal mining itself.

    Water also remains a clear and present danger throughout its service life and beyond - dams burst.

    Nuclear is safer than water, more efficacious than wind.



  • @mott555 said:

    Lockheed Martin claims to be about 5 years from producing a commercially-viable fusion reactor design. Haven't heard much about it since their announcement last year though.

    The latest news I could find, from March 2015, not very detailed: Lockheed Martin Claims Sustainable Fusion Is Within Its Grasp; mostly puff.

    This one is much more interesting because it takes a more critical look at their reactor and the possible problems. Also, it lists several other "third party" designs that are in the works. October 2014. Does Lockheed Martin Really Have a Breakthrough Fusion Machine?

    The designs all seem interesting to me, and it's further interesting that so many new designs have suddenly sprouted. It suggests that humanity is reaching a point in understanding where a workable design may be found fairly soon. But maybe not in five years; so far, everyone has underestimated the difficulties in confining gas at a close to a billion degrees Kelvin (800 million is about the minimum for fusion).

    Just skimming these, based on implied promises (which, yes, I know, worth 💩)...but if there is any value then perhaps the Lawrenceville design is the most interesting because they're thinking they can hit "billions" of degrees with their system. Higher temperatures are better...if they can simultaneously get the confinement necessary.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @lightsoff said:

    Solar is a bad joke.

    It depends on where you are. Southern Spain or the SW of the USA? Very sensible, as long as you use the right design, especially as power usage peaks when it is sunniest because of the impact of air conditioning systems. The UK? Terrible; far too many cloudy days. Guess what isn't being built here in the UK?

    OTOH, we've got lots of wind power being installed offshore. We've got plenty of windy days and plenty of shallow seas off our coasts. It also fits better with our power consumption profile.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @CoyneTheDup said:

    But maybe not in five years; so far, everyone has underestimated the difficulties in confining gas at a close to a billion degrees Kelvin (800 million is about the minimum for fusion).

    To confine that sort of thing, you've either got to operate in pulses or use something non-physical to confine the plasma. (No physical material can even come close to withstanding the continuous application of a billion-degree heat source, not by orders of magnitude.) The current focus of the magnetic containment people — the best approach I've heard of for continuous containment — is tokamaks, and they're working on building ITER as the next step in their programme. The other approaches I've looked in any detail are inertial or laser-driven containment; they might work, but they've not shown that their systems will withstand things like the neutron fluxes likely to be produced.

    It's easy to show stuff works in simulation; I bet everyone here can do that. It's a hell of a lot harder to make it work for real, with real-world buggeration factors involved. The tokamak approach has at least the advantage of showing that it probably can work; research reactors have proved quite a lot of the approach. (Lockheed-Martin's fusion approach is nice, since it's a magnetic containment approach as well. But can the fields really be controlled as well as they think? Magnetohydrodynamics — the science of plasmas — is really fucking hard; the mathematics are ferocious.)

    Meanwhile, we really ought to do something about keeping the lights on. None of the fusion power contenders are going to deliver in the next 10 years…



  • @dkf said:

    It's easy to show stuff works in simulation; I bet everyone here can do that. It's a hell of a lot harder to make it work for real, with real-world buggeration factors involved.

    This is very true: the problem with simulation is it depends on what you know. Then, when you try the same thing in reality, you find out what you don't know (your buggeration factors...though I don't think that's a word 😄...but I'll use it).

    But that's the reason I think we might now be on the verge of getting somewhere. ITER and the other researchers have been exploring the physics for 50+ years now...and they've worked out most of the buggeration factors. Enough that people like Lockheed Martin think they see an opportunity to apply different approaches--advances in other technologies--to get to the same place.

    TIme will tell; it always tells.

    But yes, it does take time to learn the buggeration factors. That's why I don't believe in the singularity: No matter how smart you/some entity is, the universe still hides its secrets and those can only be learned by experiment. Experiments take time.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @CoyneTheDup said:

    (your buggeration factors...though I don't think that's a word ...but I'll use it)

    You should read more Pratchett



  • @dkf said:

    OTOH, we've got lots of wind power being installed offshore.

    Plenty onshore too - although the scale of each onshore farm is nothing like the offshore farms.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @loopback0 said:

    Plenty onshore too - although the scale of each onshore farm is nothing like the offshore farms.

    The offshore farms are huge. They're much bigger systems individually than the onshore ones, and they're built in much larger groups. Basically, as long as you build the base strong enough to withstand the waves, offshore is a lot better for wind power: wind speeds are more reliable and higher, and you also get far fewer problems with shearing effects due to terrain, what with the sea being effectively flat…



  • @dkf said:

    The offshore farms are huge. They're much bigger systems individually than the onshore ones, and they're built in much larger groups.

    That's essentially what I said. 😄

    @dkf said:

    Basically, as long as you build the base strong enough to withstand the waves, offshore is a lot better for wind power: wind speeds are more reliable and higher, and you also get far fewer problems with shearing effects due to terrain, what with the sea being effectively flat…

    Indeed.


  • mod

    @lightsoff said:

    Wind is a good technology

    Wind also has ecological impacts. Hundreds of birds are killed by wind turbines in the US each year. Don't know about numbers elsewhere.


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