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Old 11-08-2015, 09:54 AM   #501
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Read in another forum that the new Canadian PM isn't so keen on tar sands oil.

However, the province of Alberta needs it badly because their fiscal situation was poorly managed and they had looked on tar sands to rescue them. But tar sands oil extraction isn't economically viable unless oil is at least $70.
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Old 11-08-2015, 10:01 AM   #502
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Read in another forum that the new Canadian PM isn't so keen on tar sands oil.

However, the province of Alberta needs it badly because their fiscal situation was poorly managed and they had looked on tar sands to rescue them. But tar sands oil extraction isn't economically viable unless oil is at least $70.

Suncor has got their costs down to $27 a barrel, I read. The whole situation of winners and losers makes for interesting investment opportunities. Appears Suncor is already playing role of vulture. Who knows if ultimately they will be a winner or not.
http://www.fool.ca/2015/11/05/why-su...the-oil-sands/


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Old 11-08-2015, 05:46 PM   #503
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I occasionally get magazines I don't subscribe to. I guess they get my name from the ones I do subscribe to (mostly woodworking mags). For some reason recently I've been getting Time, as well as SI and Rachel Ray's mag.

A recent Time article was about fusion, how it's being taken out of the universities and national labs by start-ups who are trying new things instead of just working on the "science". Their goal is progress and profit as opposed to publishing papers. It was interesting. Anyway, their goal is to get past the point where the energy they get out of the process is greater than the energy they put into it. They are claiming that they will reach that point in the next 5-10 years, as opposed to the old "it's 30 years away and always will be" saw. I know it's a magazine article, but it did make me think.

This is one instance where I'd gladly take the loss of value of my oil stocks if they could actually get fusion working. Of course, I doubt it would be a one day process, so I'd probably have time to sell (probably at a loss) and buy into the new tech (probably at an inflated value).
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Old 11-08-2015, 05:49 PM   #504
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Actually they're building a big facility in France I believe.

As for startups doing it better, I would hope so but if it's something like it produces 5% more energy than it consumes, it won't be terribly exciting.
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Old 11-08-2015, 07:33 PM   #505
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Actually they're building a big facility in France I believe.

As for startups doing it better, I would hope so but if it's something like it produces 5% more energy than it consumes, it won't be terribly exciting.
Eh, it is exciting if it produces 0.01% more energy than it consumes. One gram of deuterium releases 10^12 joules of energy in a fusion reaction.

At 5% we could have things like climate controlled outdoor baseball stadiums in Fairbanks, AK in January.
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Old 11-08-2015, 08:50 PM   #506
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Eh, it is exciting if it produces 0.01% more energy than it consumes. One gram of deuterium releases 10^12 joules of energy in a fusion reaction.

At 5% we could have things like climate controlled outdoor baseball stadiums in Fairbanks, AK in January.
Wait a minute, I thought burning fossil fuels was going to do that for us anyway!

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Old 11-08-2015, 10:24 PM   #507
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Eh, it is exciting if it produces 0.01% more energy than it consumes. One gram of deuterium releases 10^12 joules of energy in a fusion reaction.
How many ergs is that?
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Old 11-08-2015, 10:42 PM   #508
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Lessee now, at 0.01% efficiency, 1 kW of net useful energy requires 10,000 kW input, or 9,999 kW heat rejected.

If a coal-fired power plant has 33% efficiency, 1 kW net energy requires 3.03 kW input, or 2.03 kW heat rejected.

So a fusion power plant would be dumping more than 4,500 times more waste heat into the environment than a nasty old coal-fired power plant for the same useful power output.

El Nino would become El Grande and Antarctica would disappear a whole lot faster.
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Old 11-09-2015, 08:54 AM   #509
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The real heat pollution source is the sun. Over 1000 watts per square meter and the stuff gets everywhere. How much waste heat does the sun dump into the environment over a mid size city?
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Old 11-09-2015, 09:40 AM   #510
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I'm much less excited about coal than oil. The main reason is that I think it can be slowly replaced without fundamentally changing infrastructure (unlike oil). If you plug alternative energy sources into 'the grid' customers don't really care or have to do anything. To switch from gas to electric cars requires a bunch of remaking and rethinking at the consumer level on up.

So... I suspect that consumer behavior will lag industry changes.

Also the longer term trend from the EIA is not encouraging.
http://www.eia.gov/coal/annual/

That said... I think coal will also remain well used for a few decades... Just not sure about profitability. Could be great... Really not sure... Haven't looked at it much.

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Old 11-09-2015, 01:13 PM   #511
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The real heat pollution source is the sun. Over 1000 watts per square meter and the stuff gets everywhere. How much waste heat does the sun dump into the environment over a mid size city?
True. Global warming could be controlled with a umbrella at the L1 Lagrange point. T-Al, how about a story?

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Old 11-09-2015, 01:22 PM   #512
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True. Global warming could be controlled with a umbrella at the L1 Lagrange point. T-Al, how about a story?

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Unfortunately it wouldn't stay in place. The force of the sunlight would push it.
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Old 11-09-2015, 01:42 PM   #513
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Unfortunately it wouldn't stay in place. The force of the sunlight would push it.
Even if you used duct tape?
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Old 11-10-2015, 10:39 AM   #514
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Even if you used duct tape?
Duct tape should do it. You can do anything with enough duct tape and a place to stand! You won't even need a fulcrum.

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I'm much less excited about coal than oil. The main reason is that I think it can be slowly replaced without fundamentally changing infrastructure (unlike oil). If you plug alternative energy sources into 'the grid' customers don't really care or have to do anything. ...
True, but I think most people underestimate how tough it is to replace a lot of electrical generation with alternatives.

Solar PV is currently at about 0.3% of the mix. So to take it up to something big, let's use 30% for EZ math, that is 100x the total amount of solar PV we have installed since day one. That's a LOT! We would have to install 10 times everything we've installed to date, and do that every year for ten years. Big project.

In fact, we'd probably need to bring some coal plants on line for the first 2 years, just to generate enough electricity to generate the electricity you need to make the solar PV panels! They require about 2 years worth of their output to produce them in the first place.

Then consider that most of that power is produced in about 6 hours during the day. Very roughly, that means that 30% average becomes 4x while they produce, so ~ 120% of average for those ~ 6 hours. That's offset somewhat, since we use more power during the day, but... to get that average, you also need to account for the short and cloudy days. So peak power will be huge, just to hit 30% average.

Which all means you need to either store the energy ($ and some is wasted in the conversion), or just let it be wasted. Both approaches will increase the cost significantly.

Bottom line, renewables are fairly easy to integrate into the grid when they make up a small % of average, but get increasingly difficult and expensive beyond that.

I was reading about a plan to store/shift just a few hours of power, just to level demand with production to avoid so much 'peaker' power plant expense. It involved pumped storage, and they pointed out there really aren't many places where it can be used. It was expensive, and there were still environmental concerns. And this was just for a few hours. What about a few days with limited sunshine and wind?

I calculated a while back that just trying to store a single day's output of a typical coal plant in IL would involve storing an energy level on par with the atomic bombs dropped on Japan. And we have about 20 of those plants in IL.

Maybe next gen nuclear will replace coal, and renewables will supplement the nukes?

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Old 11-10-2015, 10:44 AM   #515
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Simple storage solution for solar. Figure out the most efficient way to electrically separate hydrogen from a water molecule (there are some new processes with graphene). Store the hydrogen in a underground dry reservoir like they have done with helium. On demand, tap the hydrogen and burn it to spin a turbine, producing a byproduct of water. Repeat as needed.
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Old 11-10-2015, 11:07 AM   #516
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Simple storage solution for solar. Figure out the most efficient way to electrically separate hydrogen from a water molecule (there are some new processes with graphene). Store the hydrogen in a underground dry reservoir like they have done with helium. On demand, tap the hydrogen and burn it to spin a turbine, producing a byproduct of water. Repeat as needed.
Sure, there are various reversible chemical processes that can be applied. I recall (but not very well), some prof talking about converting a form of aluminum pellets back and forth between two states.

While the chemical exchange might be describes as 'simple', I think large scale implementation is quite complex, costly, and will of course have conversion losses. When you add those costs back into the cost of a solar panel, I think the cost $/kWh will be pretty high. The full cost of solar isn't competitive in most places toady, even w/o the need for storage.

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Old 11-10-2015, 11:22 AM   #517
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Coal power plants are being replaced with natural gas plants. Using natural gas is cheaper and puts out about half as much pollution. Right now coal plants make up about 30% of US power generation. Its likely that most of this will be replaced with NG in time.

When it comes to transportation almost all new cars in the US are flex fuel even though they aren't advertised as such. My guess is that we will start mixing fuels at some point (ethanol, methanol, oil, etc) to reduce pollution. Methanol for example "burns clean" but you don't get as much power out of it as with oil. I'm sure there will be acceptable mixtures which compromise on the pollution vs energy.
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Old 11-10-2015, 01:00 PM   #518
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Coal power plants are being replaced with natural gas plants. ....
Yes, I think large amounts of coal power being replaced by NG is more realistic than being replaced by large amounts of renewables.

Though it seems ~ 10~15 years ago they were talking NG shortages? I guess fracking changed that, but will that be the case for decades? I don't know.

I'm curious, I'll need to look up comparisons of all the major pollutants in comparing NG to coal. I would expect NG to be far, far lower in terms of particulates, and also SOX and NOX?

edit/add: Here's some info...

Switch to Natural Gas Slashes Power Plant Pollution - Scientific American

Quote:
The researchers compared readings from stacks across the country since 1997, then calculated emissions per unit of energy produced.

Coal-based plants emitted on average 32 ounces of carbon dioxide for every kilowatt hour of energy, compared with 19 ounces for natural gas plants.

Gas-fired combined-cycle plants, using two heat engines in tandem, were even cleaner, releasing 15 ounces of CO2 for every kilowatt-hour produced, according to the study, which was accepted Wednesday for publication in the journal Earth's Future.

Fraction of the pollution
Differences in nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions between coal- and gas-fired plants were more dramatic.

Gas-fired plants emitted 7 percent the nitrogen oxides and 0.2 percent of the sulfur dioxide of coal burners, the study found, largely because nitrogen oxides can be more efficiently controlled in a gas plant and sulfur content is very low in natural gas.
Natural Gas and the Environment << good info here to, tables won't copy/paste too well though.

I also came across an article by that "Union of Concerned Scientists". Once again, I was not impressed. I've read that many of their members are not scientists at all. They present the numbers in absolute terms instead of %, and provide no basis for comparison (so is a reduction of '1,900 tons of NOx' a big % decrease or a little?) and seem to assume the 'best in class' NG COP power plant, against the 'average' coal plant. They pulled those kinds of shenanigans in the Electric Car comparison as well.

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Old 11-10-2015, 04:24 PM   #519
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Coal will certainly be around a while. But, I wouldnt expect anyone who owns shares in most of them to have anything left soon. Several of the big ones are about to go bankrupt. I remember this past winter looking at Peabody stock which had dropped from over $70 a few years back to under $20. I thought...this may be a good time for a quick trade... I lost interest on the idea, and good thing. It went under a $1 and has had to do a reverse split. So if you owned this stock in 2011 it would have been an $1100 a share stock. Now again even after reverse split its under $15. Talk about shareholder wealth destruction. Wow!


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Old 11-10-2015, 04:57 PM   #520
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From what I understand the US has enough NG to supply all of the US energy needs to 100+ years. We have abundant NG.

There are also vast quantities in the ocean. I may be miss-remembering but I think we have enough in the ocean to supply the world energy needs for hundreds of years.

My guess is that NG is what gets substituted in for oil over the next 100 years as/if oil output starts to decline.

P.S. AMLP issued its dividend. Payout is the exact same as last quarter. No cuts. World is not falling in MLP land .
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