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Old 04-21-2016, 08:39 PM   #101
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OK, I missed the fact that the $1.6B cost was in 1985 and needs inflation adjustment.

The current lithium battery cost is getting down there, but we do not know how to include facility cost, inverters, power transformers, and the cost to tie it to the grid, etc...

I think the life of the lithium battery is still a big obstacle. Can we ever get it to the point where their lifespan can compete with machines like turbines, where one only needs to perhaps change the bearings after so many years and not toss the whole thing? Most batteries are considered consumable, even the rechargeable ones. Using them as capital equipment is scary.
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Old 04-21-2016, 10:19 PM   #102
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I agree with all of that. The politics around nuclear are bad. The people who believe CO2 is a problem are many of the same people who believe nuclear is an unacceptable solution. And the people who don't believe CO2 is a problem are not at all interested in paying more for electricity generated by nuclear power. So where's the coalition to support nuclear supposed to come from?
No idea, and that's my frustration. When I hear the Secretary of State quoted after Fukushima as saying, "I believe we're sending millions of gallons of reactor coolant to Japan to help them," it makes me want to bash my head through the drywall.

No, we're not shipping Japan millions of gallons of water, Madame Secretary... Even our highest politicians know next to nothing about the industry.
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Old 04-21-2016, 11:15 PM   #103
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Even our highest politicians know next to nothing about the industry.

See the thread on living in a bubble...
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Old 04-22-2016, 05:34 AM   #104
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That's about what a Nuke costs for the same name plate capacity. Only you can count on nukes to run at ~98% capacity factor, so you'll get far more MWh from them.
Nukes run a bit lower than that:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capaci...ar_power_plant

And that's when everything is ok. Many countries have shut down their nukes for months on end to investigate micro-tears, security etc .. I've seen numbers ranging from 70% to 90%. Obviously much higher than solar.

The biggest issue with nukes is liability when stuff goes bad, and decommissioning costs. In practice this means nukes only get built when backed (implicitly or explicitly) with government guarantees.

Nuclear power is a fat tail risk, which is why personally I'm not too fond of it anymore (used to be a big fan, and lived next door to one).
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Old 04-22-2016, 05:36 AM   #105
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This is good stuff. We want a lot more of these (but need to find a way to finance them at $1.6B a pop).
My perception is that most locations than can be exploited like this already are?
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Old 04-22-2016, 07:03 AM   #106
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And that's when everything is ok. Many countries have shut down their nukes for months on end to investigate micro-tears, security etc .. I've seen numbers ranging from 70% to 90%. Obviously much higher than solar.
In the U.S. when they're well run they run at over 90% capacity factors and only shut down for refueling. Here's Exelon's 10-K disclosure:

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During 2015, 2014 and 2013, the nuclear generating facilities operated by Generation achieved capacity factors of 93.7%, 94.3% and 94.1%,
respectively
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Old 04-22-2016, 08:07 AM   #107
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Interesting.

I found this link - US is around 90%.
US Nuclear Capacity Factors - Nuclear Energy Institute

What really surprised me is the huge increase since the 1980s, when it was below 60%.
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Old 04-22-2016, 08:17 AM   #108
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What really surprised me is the huge increase since the 1980s, when it was below 60%.
Some of that reflects the learning curve of a new technology. A lot of it reflects the complete absence of any kind of motivation on the part of management. Companies earned a return for building the plants not generating electricity from them. If they generated too much power from there existing fleet they wouldn't need to build more. And building more is what added to rate base and grew earnings.

Improved regulatory oversight got that first bump up in performance between the 80's and 90's. That last leg up was deregulation of generation in some parts of the country.
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Old 04-22-2016, 09:20 AM   #109
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My perception is that most locations than can be exploited like this already are?
I have read the above often, and also think that is true.

So, if we want to do more of this, we will have to settle for poorer sites, which will be more costly to build, or the terrain geometry is not ideal for high efficiency, etc... I think it's similar to oil drilling. We run out of oil at a few thousand feet down, so now we drill as deep as 7 miles.

And "clean" as pump storages are, they may not be considered "green" by some. Their reservoir water level fluctuates as much as 100 ft in the course of the daily operation, which means the reservoirs are useless for recreation use. There may be impacts on wildlife in the area, etc...

It's just not easy. Else, we would have more solar and wind generation already.
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Old 04-28-2016, 02:01 PM   #110
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Out of curiosity, I looked for the aforementioned "largest battery in the world" pumped storage in Google Earth. See captured photo below.

It is not apparent in this picture that there's almost a 1,300-ft elevation drop between the two reservoirs. The closeness of the two reservoirs makes for lower piping friction loss in operation.

This is good stuff. We want a lot more of these (but need to find a way to finance them at $1.6B a pop).
Or we could just push heavy concrete blocks up a slight grade on a rail . Supposedly scaleable up to 3GW with all off-the-shelf technology.

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Old 04-28-2016, 04:57 PM   #111
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Or we could just push heavy concrete blocks up a slight grade on a rail . Supposedly scaleable up to 3GW with all off-the-shelf technology.
Well sure, but then you have to depend on gravity.
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Old 04-28-2016, 06:19 PM   #112
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The Bath County Station reservoir holds 28,000 acre-ft. That is 1.2 billion cu.ft. of water. Concrete weighs about 5x more than water. So, we will need 240 million cu.ft. of concrete blocks for the same capacity. What's the cost of that? And what is the cost of the hundred of thousands of railcarts and associated motors and machinery to carry these blocks?

With water pumped storage, increasing energy storage requires only building a larger reservoir while using the same turbines. And we have enough problems with that.

PS. The concrete block/railcart concept is very interesting and it surely works, technically that is. Any problem would be in the economics, not the technical aspects. What makes something works or not in real life is the cost of implementing it, in comparison to alternative approaches. I'd like to see a cost breakdown.
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Old 04-28-2016, 11:53 PM   #113
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The concept of externalities was brought home to me when my son was an infant. We lived near a busy road in a country where lead had not been eliminated from gasoline yet. When we went to the US for the summer, we had our routine physicals and found that our baby had dangerously high blood lead. We eventually eliminated paint as the potential source of the lead, and were left with auto exhaust as the only remaining possibility. Our son and every other infant that lived near a busy road in that country were bearing the external cost of that leaded gasoline.

Externalities can seem like made-up abstractions until somebody else's sh!t rolls downhill into your yard and you get to bear the consequences.......
As I drive along the highways, I see the wonderful crop farms right by the various freeways and have always thought perhaps the old leaded gas over the years went into the soil and then into the crops and cattle.
So we all got the "benefit" of leaded gas.
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Old 04-29-2016, 05:40 AM   #114
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Our electricity provider is a small rural cooperative. Almost 60% of our co-op's power comes from burning methane from a nearby landfill to generate electricity and costs 5.47c/kwh. I don't understand why we don't do more of this... the fuel is free and in many areas they just burn off the methane from landfills anyway.

I also don't understand why we do do more underwater river turbines.... unlike wind and solar, rivers flow 24/7... they would not be visible unlike unsightly wind and solar farms...

Powering the Future: Underwater turbines harness river power - CBS News
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Old 04-29-2016, 06:50 AM   #115
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PS. The concrete block/railcart concept is very interesting and it surely works, technically that is. Any problem would be in the economics, not the technical aspects. What makes something works or not in real life is the cost of implementing it, in comparison to alternative approaches. I'd like to see a cost breakdown.
I suspect you're right about the costs here. The company promoting this idea doesn't provide cost estimates and only says that it's "life cycle cost is less expensive than battery technology." I think that's a fancy way of saying "we cost more than batteries but once installed it lasts for 40 years."
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Old 04-29-2016, 07:28 AM   #116
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Has anyone done a study of the cost of defending against sea level increases? Just looking at what Venice and some of the low-land countries in Europe are spending on defense already makes me believe it will be massive.

If we get a 2.5-5 foot increase in sea levels over the next 100 years (Union of concerned scientists estimate), the cost of deal with that will far exceed the investments required to green our power and transportation (EPA says electricity generation contributes 37% of greenhouse gas and transportation another 31%).






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Old 04-29-2016, 07:38 AM   #117
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Has anyone done a study of the cost of defending against sea level increases? Just looking at what Venice and some of the low-land countries in Europe are spending on defense already makes me believe it will be massive.

If we get a 2.5-5 foot increase in sea levels over the next 100 years (Union of concerned scientists estimate), the cost of deal with that will far exceed the investments required to green our power and transportation (EPA says electricity generation contributes 37% of greenhouse gas and transportation another 31%).
Unfortunately at this point it's quite likely we'll have to do both.

Spending lots of money to replace and defend existing infrastructure is another reason why economic growth in the future will likely be lower than in the past.
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Old 04-29-2016, 07:45 AM   #118
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Unfortunately at this point it's quite likely we'll have to do both.

Spending lots of money to replace and defend existing infrastructure is another reason why economic growth in the future will likely be lower than in the past.
I don't know much about sea levels, but spending money on infrastructure contributes to higher growth.
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Old 04-29-2016, 08:03 AM   #119
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Has anyone done a study of the cost of defending against sea level increases? Just looking at what Venice and some of the low-land countries in Europe are spending on defense already makes me believe it will be massive.
The earth's climate is not stable. Look back just 9,000 years and you'll see Great Britain wasn't an island, but a peninsula. The coastline changed a wee bit.

The climate and sea levels are not static and never have been. If a coastline moves (for whatever reason) people will either relocate or build dikes or whatever they think makes sense for them. We're an adaptable species.

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Old 04-29-2016, 08:10 AM   #120
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......... Look back just 9,000 years and you'll see Great Britain wasn't an island, but a peninsula. ...........
I tend to keep old maps longer than I should, but none of them are that old.
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