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Old 04-20-2016, 12:00 PM   #41
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I'd summarize their argument this way: It currently costs far more per KW to build a solar plant than a fossil plant of the same size. Some of that higher capital cost is recovered through higher margins on power sales because solar plants have zero fuel costs. But as you add more solar plants, those margins compress meaning that solar plants recover less of their higher capital costs all else being equal.

And I agree with that. Essentially it's a long way of saying that it currently costs more to build a solar plant than it does to build a different kind of plant. That's well known.

But the costs of building solar plants are falling rapidly. So it's not right to frame this as some kind of static impediment to solar integration. As the capital costs of solar plants come down, so does this effect.

And if solar can get to a level where it's price per KW of installed capacity is roughly equivalent to that of a fossil fuel plant, this issue goes away completely.
I'm not sure about the absolute comparisons, as you say, they will change over time anyhow. The only point that I'm trying to reinforce here, is that the math shifts as we build LOTs of solar/wind. It can't be simply extrapolated from the paybacks at the lower % levels.

Until we have storage or lots of flexible demand shifting, it seems it will always have an effect. How big is hard to say, but not zero.

I don't agree (in pure economic terms, ignoring the health costs for now) that the issue goes away when solar capacity cost is ~ equivalent to fossil fuel. An intermittent source of power is not worth the same as power that can can run 24/7, and in the case of NG peakers, ramp up and down quickly on command.

I also think that some are overestimating declines in the price of solar. Most of the recent decline comes from the panels themselves. You still have the mounting frames, installation labor, wiring, inverters, permits, etc. The article I linked talks about some of this, like using robot installers, etc (but there goes the 'green jobs' argument!). But I'd guess that most of those costs will not be on the same decline curve as the panels themselves.

I also wonder if we shouldn't be waiting to install solar? If the price is coming down so fast, does it make sense to wait? Let the other countries buy the expensive 'early-er adopter' stuff? Yes, you'd be delaying the health benefits - it's not just an economic argument.

BTW, until we get to that higher level of solar, I'd bet we aren't displacing hardly any coal at all. Solar comes near the peak demand, the NG peakers will be fired up, and solar will displace those first. It's still fossil fuel, but NG is far cleaner than coal, and somewhat lower CO2 as well.

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Old 04-20-2016, 12:22 PM   #42
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You may want to recheck your numbers. Exxon Mobil alone had over 75,000 employees. If you're talking only those directly involved in petroleum/gas extraction, it's about 178,000 employees for the industry in the US.
I could be wrong, but I think the quoted numbers were for electricity generation in the US. The general topic of the thread (though unstated) is about electricity rather than "energy", a nuanced difference but a difference nonetheless. When the EIA quotes their numbers, they talk about "energy" which includes gas for cars, etc., and electricity. Currently wind, solar, and hydro are providing a very small portion of the overall "energy" consumption in the US, but ~13% of electricity consumption. Summarized, electrical consumption accounts for about 40% of total energy consumption in the US. This adds weight to the argument that alternative energy isn't replacing fossil fuel any time soon.

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But the costs of building solar plants are falling rapidly. So it's not right to frame this as some kind of static impediment to solar integration. As the capital costs of solar plants come down, so does this effect.

And if solar can get to a level where it's price per KW of installed capacity is roughly equivalent to that of a fossil fuel plant, this issue goes away completely. If not, then solar will remain a more expensive alternative - no question about it.
The biggest issue with solar is not necessarily cost, it's capacity.

If the US wants to get serious about getting off of oil, gas, and coal for its electrical generation, nuclear is the way to go. It safely, cleanly, and relatively cheaply provides sufficient capacity to replace fossil fuels right now, but the stigma is overwhelming.
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Old 04-20-2016, 02:06 PM   #43
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The biggest externality of oil is the defense spending to maintain fleets and forces which can conduct extended and large-scale military operations in the Persian Gulf and other flash spots which could disrupt the supply of oil.


Nuclear, aside from the waste problems, is not economically viable without federal loan guarantees. They're building new plants but they're not cheap.

And talk about externalities. A Three-Mile Island or Fukushima once every two or three decades. Lets amortize those costs in and see if it's still "relatively cheap."
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Old 04-20-2016, 03:06 PM   #44
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The biggest externality of oil is the defense spending to maintain fleets and forces which can conduct extended and large-scale military operations in the Persian Gulf and other flash spots which could disrupt the supply of oil. ...
Yes, but how much less oil would we need to be using before we would make a major reduction in forces there? A fleet and forces "which can conduct extended and large-scale military operations in the Persian Gulf and other flash spots" isn't going to scale down by 20%~40% if our share of the Persian Gulf oil flow drops by 20%~40%, etc.

And for wind and solar to replace much oil, we'd need to be converted to a fleet of BEVs, then you still have long haul trucks, trains, aircraft, etc.


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Nuclear, aside from the waste problems, is not economically viable without federal loan guarantees. They're building new plants but they're not cheap.

And talk about externalities. A Three-Mile Island or Fukushima once every two or three decades. Lets amortize those costs in and see if it's still "relatively cheap."
It probably would be. Compared to the deaths from coal mining, and coal pollution, it could look very safe indeed. Even rooftop solar is very costly in lives lost and injuries, compared to the amount of energy energy produced. And the biggest power plant disaster was a hydroelectric dam in China,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banqiao_Dam

Quote:
... approximately 26,000 people died from flooding and another 145,000 died during subsequent epidemics and famine. In addition, about 5,960,000 buildings collapsed, and 11 million residents were affected. Unofficial estimates of the number of people killed by the disaster have run as high as 230,000 people.
Even if you include Chernobyl (which you shouldn't - that was a weapons grade plutonium production machine, posing as a power plant), nuclear doesn't come close to the problems these other sources have.

edit/add: Regarding Fukushima...

Quote:
No deaths followed short term radiation exposure,[194] though there were a number of deaths in the evacuation of the nearby population,[195] while 15,884 died (as of 10 February 2014[196]) due to the earthquake and tsunami. ...

... an estimated increase of only 15 in the number of female thyroid cancer cases (and approximately five male cases). As the five-year non-survival rate for thyroid cancer is 4.2% and falling rapidly (halving each decade),[210] it is more likely than not that the number of eventual deaths will be zero.
And on the high side of the estimates...
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According to a linear no-threshold model (LNT model), the accident would most likely cause 130 cancer deaths.
130 deaths maybe, versus 26,000 and another 145,000?


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Old 04-20-2016, 04:17 PM   #45
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You may want to recheck your numbers. Exxon Mobil alone had over 75,000 employees. If you're talking only those directly involved in petroleum/gas extraction, it's about 178,000 employees for the industry in the US.

Industries at a Glance: Oil and Gas Extraction: NAICS 211


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I should have said coal power, and that number has been reduced to below 45,000 in the last few years, according to Coal Age.
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Old 04-20-2016, 04:19 PM   #46
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Nuclear, aside from the waste problems, is not economically viable without federal loan guarantees. They're building new plants but they're not cheap.

And talk about externalities. A Three-Mile Island or Fukushima once every two or three decades. Lets amortize those costs in and see if it's still "relatively cheap."
Federal loan guarantees? Sounds a lot like renewables. Nuclear plant costs are largely front end.

Second part is a perfect example of the fear and ignorance discussion about nuclear power.

Good documentary on nuclear was on CNN a couple years ago which is germane: Pandora's Promise. From an environmental activist who once protested nuclear power but changed his mind. About an hour. Good, accurate. You should watch.
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Old 04-20-2016, 04:23 PM   #47
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So let's see if you relocate near a nuclear plat or waste disposal site.
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Old 04-20-2016, 04:27 PM   #48
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I would have no problem with it. In fact, I live less than eight miles from up to six nuclear reactors at any given time. Most people in San Diego live closer than that and they aren't even aware of it. I've spent six years operating nuclear plants. I'm not afraid of stuff that's not worth being afraid of. YMMV.

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/...e-infographic/
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Old 04-20-2016, 04:29 PM   #49
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The biggest externality of oil is the defense spending to maintain fleets and forces which can conduct extended and large-scale military operations in the Persian Gulf and other flash spots which could disrupt the supply of oil.


Nuclear, aside from the waste problems, is not economically viable without federal loan guarantees. They're building new plants but they're not cheap.

And talk about externalities. A Three-Mile Island or Fukushima once every two or three decades. Lets amortize those costs in and see if it's still "relatively cheap."

I think it is foolish to think that if we did not need to import oil that the government would stop spending on the military complex....

I think there might be a slow reduction over time, but not any major 'peace dividend'....
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Old 04-20-2016, 04:31 PM   #50
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I think it is foolish to think that if we did not need to import oil that the government would stop spending on the military complex....

I think there might be a slow reduction over time, but not any major 'peace dividend'....

We are already strategically shifting away from the Gulf and towards China and the Pacific. Spending right along as normal...
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Old 04-20-2016, 05:02 PM   #51
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So let's see if you relocate near a nuclear plat or waste disposal site.
My family's cottage on Lake Erie is less than 5 miles from Davis Bessie nuclear power station. We always could find the cottage when we were out on the lake by aiming east of the cooling towers.

It also made night swims easy since Lake Erie glows in the dark...

Seriously, educate yourself about nuclear power.
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Old 04-20-2016, 05:43 PM   #52
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It's not nuclear power per se.

It's human fallibility. Speaking of educating yourself, read up on how Tokyo Electric ran its business for decades and what they wanted to do in the initial days after th disaster.
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Old 04-20-2016, 05:47 PM   #53
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My family's cottage on Lake Erie is less than 5 miles from Davis Bessie nuclear power station.
Heh, that thing came really close to going kablooey.
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Old 04-20-2016, 06:21 PM   #54
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It's not nuclear power per se.

It's human fallibility. Speaking of educating yourself, read up on how Tokyo Electric ran its business for decades and what they wanted to do in the initial days after th disaster.
Go read up on Three Mile Island and other reactor accidents including Fukushima. Click on that link I provided above about how much radiation people received around Fukushima. While you're at it, cancel your wife's next mammogram and make sure you don't go to the beach for the rest of your life.

In the internet age, the amount of misinformation and just out-and-out lies about the effects of Fukushima are out of control. You probably saw that map of "radiation spreading from Fukushima"... First of all, radiation doesn't spread. Secondly, that map was a map of significant wave heights associated with the Tsunami and had nothing to do with radioactive water or anything else related to the nuclear power plant.

Crap like that, and pictures of fish with tumors that were taken in 2006 but credited to Fukushima contamination, are the reason people have irrational fears of nuclear power. I urge you to find Pandora's Promise and watch it. I'll send you the three bucks.

Pandora

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Heh, that thing came really close to going kablooey.
I'm going to pick nits here. Read the entry. There were 3/8" of cladding left in the reactor vessel head. "Kablooey"? Not quite. You would've had a coolant (water) leak inside the containment building. The core would've been shut down and if necessary additional water injected into the core from safeguards systems. The chances of any kind of radiological event (let alone any kind of explosion) due to that kind of failure are infinitesimally small, and leaks much more severe are designed for.

When it comes to nuclear power, yeah, I'll balk at the use of the term "kablooey" because it just feeds the ignorance and fear machine.
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Old 04-20-2016, 06:50 PM   #55
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I'm going to pick nits here. Read the entry. There were 3/8" of cladding left in the reactor vessel head. "Kablooey"? Not quite. You would've had a coolant (water) leak inside the containment building. The core would've been shut down and if necessary additional water injected into the core from safeguards systems. . . .

When it comes to nuclear power, yeah, I'll balk at the use of the term "kablooey" because it just feeds the ignorance and fear machine.
Yup, you're certainly picking nits along with underselling the significance of the incident. Sure there was 3/8th inches of steel left on the reactor head . . . out of the nearly 7 inches it was supposed to have. And you probably know that that 3/8th inch lining was never designed to withstand the reactor pressure by itself.

And yeah, systems were designed to prevent a more serious incident if a breach had happened but . . " because of the location of the reactor head damage, such a jet of reactor coolant might have damaged adjacent control rod drive mechanisms, hampering or preventing reactor shut-down.'

So seeing as how kablooey is an undefined term, I'd say the Davis Bessie episode qualifies as a near miss.

Either way, Davis Bessie probably isn't the best example of a well run and well maintained power plant that we should all feel proud to have in our community.
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Old 04-20-2016, 06:52 PM   #56
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Yup, you're certainly picking nits along with underselling the significance of the incident. Sure there was 3/8th inches of steel left on the reactor head . . . out of the nearly 7 inches it was supposed to have. And yeah, systems were designed to prevent a more serious incident if a breach had happened but . . " because of the location of the reactor head damage, such a jet of reactor coolant might have damaged adjacent control rod drive mechanisms, hampering or preventing reactor shut-down.'

So seeing as how kablooey is an undefined term, I'd say the Davis Bessie episode qualifies as a near miss.

Either way, Davis Bessie probably isn't the best example of a well run and maintained nuclear power plant that we should all feel proud to have in our community.

There's a whole lot of "could've" in there that has little basis in core design. But what do I know...?

A jet of 2500 lb subcooled liquid is called "steam". They design for that too.

I'm not defending operators at those plants. What I'm arguing is that these incidents are overblown because people are ignorant and thus afraid, and it's costing us a viable alternative to fossil fuels.

If you think climate change is the biggest threat to humanity as many folks do, it'd behoove us to get serious about nuclear because renewables don't have the capacity.
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Old 04-20-2016, 07:37 PM   #57
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You're not going to know the full extent of the health effects of Fukushima for decades.

But lets say nobody else dies prematurely.

What about the economic costs of the cleanup and evacuation?

What about the opportunity costs of lost economic output from the region?

And I don't know what Japanese civil litigation is like but if that event happened in the US, that company would be sued out of business.

Anyways, the Germans had enough of nuclear power and one of the things they're relying on is solar. In Germany!
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Old 04-20-2016, 08:03 PM   #58
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You're not going to know the full extent of the health effects of Fukushima for decades. ...

What about the economic costs of the cleanup and evacuation?

What about the opportunity costs of lost economic output from the region? ...

Actually, that is all pretty well understood.


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Anyways, the Germans had enough of nuclear power and one of the things they're relying on is solar. In Germany!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy...ity_production

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In 2013 coal made up about 45% of Germany's electricity production ... German coal-fired power plants are being designed and modified so they can be increasingly flexible to support the fluctuations resulting from increased renewable energy.
and
Quote:
Eight of the seventeen operating reactors in Germany were permanently shut down following Fukushima in 2011. German coal consumption has risen during 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Sounds like they are relying on coal! Silly facts!

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Old 04-20-2016, 08:05 PM   #59
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One of the things.

Silly reading comprehension!
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Old 04-20-2016, 08:08 PM   #60
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One of the things.

Silly reading comprehension!
But they are not relying on solar. They need to get their coal plants more flexible, so they can rely on the coal plants when the sun doesn't shine.

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