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Environmental change - What can we do?

Discussion in 'Speaker's Corner' started by Avenged7Fold, Oct 30, 2018.

  1. Poneros

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Feb 18, 2015

    Posts: 2,217

    Those are nice local wins, but: "Buses, 2- and 3-wheel vehicles, and rail accounted for 6% of total world transportation energy use." Nonetheless, even if everything in transport switched to electricity powered the fundamental problem still remains: how are we going to get all the batteries for that, as well as everything else we'd require batteries for too?


    How are these countries going to be more energy independent with renewables exactly? - it all boils down to money, unless we're talking infinite timespan. So whether they spend money on oil & gas & coal, or on other resources required to switch to renewables, it's all about the green either way. And why would the switch to renewables (I'm assuming you're proposing) drive massive economic growth, when economic growth and development is so intrinsically linked to energy density & price, in which case renewables flat out lose in every single case, with the exception of hydro/geoth which I'm ignoring because those are all already tapped out & geographically limited anyway.

    Google's project solar is just wishful thinking, falling prey to the old "in theory, theory and practice are the same, in practice, they aren't", meaning they're using numbers to help them make their case but if adjusted to reality and the issues that naturally arise in the real world, the whole calculation gets thrown off. Hence it's still much cheaper to stay connected to the grid and buy your energy that way than invest in solar for your home. A big problem with having this wide-scale adoption of solar, even if just for residential, is you still have major issues with base load. Here demonstrated for brevity with a picture:

    [​IMG]

    The gripes against Solar come from contact with reality. At wide scale it's not possible (not economically, but simply) to adopt it - issues with base load, storage, variability etc. To say auto OEMs are lazy is to underestimate how cutthroat that business is, it's simply not possible to be lazy & still alive, and since you mentioned Telsa hear it from the man himself.

    And no, solar power today isn't "cheaper", nor cleaner than Nuclear. And if not for nuclear & others propping it up, since it's at such low deployment levels, the costs would be much, much higher (5x at best), and in fact progress mostly stalled now for both Wind & Solar, so anyone expecting huge drops in prices or gains in efficiency is going to be waiting for Godot. But a very common sense test would be to look at Germany. No one has pushed Solar harder than this country and yet, what do they have to show for $222 BILLION of investment? Barely 6% of its energy comes from solar. Now let's think about this for a second, how many countries in the world are on the level of Germany and can afford to pay $222 Billion to have 6% of its energy come from solar too (adjust for proportion accordingly)? Think also of the opportunity cost, because $222B would buy you a LOT of nuclear power (and not only) & could've helped bring fusion to reality (or much closer to). Now THAT's something worth looking at, and truly revolutionary. Solar is not that.
     
  2. StriderX

    Capodecina

    Joined: Mar 18, 2008

    Posts: 16,356

    And the money spent on guarding the facility would be just as immense in the increasingly turbulent future, makes Nuclear a confusing option. It's still the best mind you, but we shouldn't stop adding more Wind and Solar becaus of it. They all have a place in energy generation.
     
  3. satchef1

    Mobster

    Joined: Apr 17, 2009

    Posts: 3,571

    The projected construction cost of Hinkley Point C is £20bn. It will produce around 20TWh of electricity per year, at a guaranteed minimum price of £92.50 per MWh. To match that with residential solar (because the figures are easy to find), you'd need to spend around £25bn installing 20GW of solar panels (10% load) across 5.25 million homes. The break-even point would come at 2.5 years. Beyond that, solar is cheaper at a rate of £1.85bn per year (minus minimal maintenance costs).

    The notion that Solar is considerably more expensive than Nuclear is false. Even in the dreary British Isles it's competitive. Mediterranean countries would need around 8GW of panels to get the same result (so around £10bn cheaper than Hinkley's construction cost, with minimal ongoing cost).

    It's storage that's the problem. Giving 5.25 million homes a battery storage system would add around £25bn at today's prices. There could be some considerable economies of scale if building solar farms and pairing with large storage solutions. But even then I doubt the break even point would be below 10 years. Solar and wind simply cannot be the main source of generation until storage prices drop considerably, which is largely why the focus in this country is on having a scalable baseload from nuclear and gas. When the wind is blowing, we get cheap, green energy. When it isn't, the lights stay on.


    Double check the article. They've invested €222bn in renewables since 2000, not exclusively solar. Renewables generated 33.1% of Germany's energy last year.

    €222bn also doesn't buy that much nuclear power. Again referencing Hinkley (because it's the easiest reference for figures), they would need 10 such power stations to replace the contribution of renewables, at a cost of around €220bn. Germany currently pays around €50 per MWh for wholesale electricity. Hinkley C's energy will cost at least double that.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018
  4. Poneros

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Feb 18, 2015

    Posts: 2,217

    Solar in the UK frequently drops to zero. Wind over the last 12 months has varied between 11.1 GW and 0.05 GW.

    If we build 10 times as much wind power we'd have far more than we need (and have to pay far more than nuclear to build so much), but on a bad day generation would still drop to 0.5 GW. If we built 100 times as much wind, which we can't afford to do, we'd still only get 5 GW on a bad day. 1,0000 times as much wind and on a bad day we might get enough power. But 1,000 times as much wind would generate 50,000 TWH a year, 140 times as much electricity as we use, so we'd have to pay, assuming a low strike price of 6.5p per KWH, £9.10 for every KWH we actually use. That would increase an average household electricity bill to more than £30,000 a year. It would also increase emissions to over 1,400 grams of CO2 per KWH, which is far worse than just burning coal.

    We can't build enough unreliable generators to guarantee enough power.

    We can't pay for enough storage to do so, either.

    The only existing technology that meet our emissions targets is nuclear.

    The issue whenever someone brings up how cost competitive solar/wind is compared to nuclear is that they ignore so many additional costs that switch to renewables from nuclear (or fossil fuels) would entail, and they just sweep it under the rug as if the cost of energy generation was the sole cost and everything else was free.

    Hinkley point isn't really a good example of how expensive nuclear is. It's expensive right now because it's barely done at all, so economies of scale are not there. Were countries to do it like France, then you'd see much more competitive prices. If you look at China and what they're building the costs are tremendously lower. Had nuclear not been so demonized politically then we'd have much better economics for them.

    Solar thermal has lower capacity factors in weak sunlight (ie Europe in the winter). For Spain, the capacity of the solar thermal plants in July is more than 45%, in January it's 6%. The amount we'd have to build to supply peak loads in northern Europe in winter would be many times as much as would be required to supply average loads throughout the year. That means very high prices and high emissions.

    Let's be very clear: there is absolutely not going to be any meaningful reduction of GHG emissions without nuclear. Like wind and solar, it doesn't make sense to turn down nuclear power. But nuclear is reliable, we could build enough nuclear to reliably meet demand (and this will be easier as we electrify transport and heating because it will enable much more demand shifting). Wind and solar can't sensibly load follow either, but they are also unreliable, and can't be guaranteed to produce significant power when we most need it.

    So the choices are wind/solar/gas, which will have high costs and high emissions, or nuclear which will have lower cost and much lower emissions.

    My bad about the $222Bn. If you replace Hinkley point, it won't be with renewables, it will be with more coal/gas, just like the germans are having to do. Because again, despite all their investment and (false) green-consciousness, they still have to rely on fossil fuels because renewables simply aren't up to the task. They're nice garnishes, but never will they be a main course.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018
  5. Mercenary Keyboard Warrior

    Sgarrista

    Joined: Aug 4, 2007

    Posts: 7,535

    Location: Wilds of suffolk

    The last I saw on this was that there are 3 things that need to line up basically to trigger the ice age, and that actually only one of those was at the correct point. I think they predicted that the next point all 3 would be in the "correct state" was actually 20,000 years off yet.

    iirc one was to do with our orbit, another was the angle of the planet (which fluctuates over time but to a pattern), the last I forget. Actually it could have been surface ice. On the logic that once you have more surface ice you reflect more energy, if that lines up with less incoming energy (hence the importance of our orbit and planet angle) then you start an ever increasing feedback loop. The loop doesn't stop until you get to the point the other two are encouraging heating and as such you start to melt the ice, which reflects less heat etc etc
     
  6. Mercenary Keyboard Warrior

    Sgarrista

    Joined: Aug 4, 2007

    Posts: 7,535

    Location: Wilds of suffolk

    Personally I think we have to get over the issues with nuclear and throw some serious weight behind it for now. Its not like it lasts forever, although the waste almost does when measured in human lifetimes.

    We must get to grips with Co2 emissions and nuclear is really really positive for this. The opportunity a new wave of nuclear plants would give us to really transform energy usage is IMHO a price worth paying.

    There is plenty of opportunity to get enough renewables going, with geo and wind and solar and tidal as a planet we could easily generate enough. The main issues remain individual contries doing their own thing, rather than trying to do something more logical, and cost being the main driver. Its always going to be cheaper to just dig it up and burn it.
     
  7. satchef1

    Mobster

    Joined: Apr 17, 2009

    Posts: 3,571

    To an extent, I agree.

    Large-scale storage is a long way off, if it ever becomes viable. Distributed storage is a great solution for smoothing out a few hours worth of variable wind generation, but isn't much help if we have a freak weather event, like the wind dropping to <5ms across most of Europe for two weeks in Winter (or the opposite; a huge storm with windspeeds too high to safely operate wind turbines). It isn't yet possible to envisage a future where wind generation could form the backbone of our energy supply. At present, installing more wind turbines just results in us putting more gas generation capacity on stand-by.

    Solar is a good deal more predictable. But the load factor is too low and seasonal variability too high in Europe. We could build large solar farms in North Africa. But that idea comes with its own political issues. And there would still be some seasonal variability and no generation at night (this latter point shouldn't actually be a problem though, as demand drops considerably at night, and can be met with scalable renewable solutions).

    Nuclear is undoubtedly the short-medium term backbone for low carbon electricity generation. It's quite possible that it will never be the largest contributor to our electricity mix, but it will be the most important one, as it will be the thing ensuring that the lights don't go out. What happens in the long term? Who knows.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018
  8. satchef1

    Mobster

    Joined: Apr 17, 2009

    Posts: 3,571

    Are fossil fuels cheaper? It seems to me that their main advantage is portability; they can be transported from where they are mined to where they are needed, and then stored until required. That simply isn't possible with renewables at present.

    We could potentially build enough renewable power generation to power the planet several times over. But that doesn't solve the distribution problem; the end result would see some countries turning off excess generation capacity, while others have to turn off the lights.

    The renewable conundrum isn't about the cost of generation, or how much energy we can generate. It's about finding a way to ensure we always have energy when we need it. Even if every country in the world worked together to build a global electricity network, we would still find that we need to burn a large amount of fossil fuel.
     
  9. Mercenary Keyboard Warrior

    Sgarrista

    Joined: Aug 4, 2007

    Posts: 7,535

    Location: Wilds of suffolk

    Yes its still very cheap to dig up massive quantites of really poor qualiy coal across a lot of the planet

    My point about renewables is that precisely, whilst we keep fixating on individual countries it makes it harder to move on. The sun is always shining somewhere. Its always windy somwhere
    Whilst tidal looks good for the uk, there are places where the tidal forces are many mignitudes more powerful then we face.
    Places where its far frequently significantly more windy etc etc etc

    Bar far the easiest energy to "transport" is electricty once you put the infrastructure in place.

    We are still far to primative to be able to move from lines drawn on a map holding some significance to be able to start to setup a global grid.
    But necessity drives change, and we have to change so it will start to happen sooner or later.
     
  10. satchef1

    Mobster

    Joined: Apr 17, 2009

    Posts: 3,571

    To be honest, I assumed building a global grid was beyond the realms of possibility. Having just read up on the subject, I can see that I was wrong.
     
  11. 4K8KW10

    Mobster

    Joined: Sep 2, 2017

    Posts: 4,864

    Extracting energy directly from the atmosphere in the form of wind will cause other side effects - cooling, change of weather patterns, etc.
    But I think we can extract gravitation energy - the Sun, the Moon pull/push the Earth, create sea waves and we can use this energy, as well.
    We can use geothermal energy, from volcanos, for instance, for central heating or the likes.

    An Amazon-type rainforest can exist on the Sahara desert place.
    Actually, if Brasil continue the deforestation in there, there is a threat the region will dry up.
     
  12. 4K8KW10

    Mobster

    Joined: Sep 2, 2017

    Posts: 4,864

    The local biome in the desert? :confused: There is certainly almost nothing in the desert except a few lizards...
    We are gonna pay for it, otherwise we will pay with the destruction of the Planet Earth. Which is cheaper?

    We can use the millions of TFLOPs our most powerful supercomputers have and simulate what will happen and find out what the best solution is.
     
  13. Rroff

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 13, 2006

    Posts: 60,148

    We still have a far from complete understanding of many of these systems and a good understanding is needed so as to simulate - even for things like weather we struggle to model more than about 3 days in advance before you get a huge amount of potential different outcomes because we only understand so many of the inputs into the system and how they work.
     
  14. 4K8KW10

    Mobster

    Joined: Sep 2, 2017

    Posts: 4,864

    We struggle to model 100% precisely the weather for the following week, but we do simulate and see what will happen in 50 years, the temperatures will be a few degrees C up if we continue to dump CO2 in the atmosphere.
    So, at least we have a 100% understanding that burning coal, natural gas, petrol and woods is not gonna work.
    One of the greatest mistakes of the humankind is that we use them instead of more nuclear power plant reactors.
     
  15. D.P.

    Caporegime

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 29,325


    this is disingenuous because modelling weather has absolutely bother to do with modelling climate. Weather is chaotic and inherently unpredictable. Even with absolute perfect simulation servant predicts accurately beyond about 5 days. Climate is not chaotic but very deterministic, just complex.

    E.g, you can't predict what a random rice throw will be, but it is trivial to predict the long term expectency is 3.5.
    It is hard to know what day it will rain in December 2020, but it is trivial to know beverage temperature will be colde than July

    Using weather forecast s to criticize climate is standard denialist rubbish
     
  16. Rroff

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 13, 2006

    Posts: 60,148

    The weather was just one example - also if you actually look at some of the factors like the rainforests which have a big impact on our climate there is an intrinsic link with the weather that would need to be taken into account in modelling the outcome of increasing or decreasing the amount of the Earth's surface covered by rainforest - amongst other things rainforests produce an effect like a river in the sky.

    Weather is just like any other system if you can account for all the complexities you can model it but we are a long way from doing that - same for climate change beyond a certain level there are still a lot of unknown factors though we can produce some idea of the most likely outcomes we are still a long way from a complete understanding to fully model large scale planet changes with certainty.
     
  17. 4K8KW10

    Mobster

    Joined: Sep 2, 2017

    Posts: 4,864

    It depends on two people - President Trump in the USA and President Putin in the Russian Federation.
    Laughably, both want to sell fossil fuels... and this is a big problem for the Planet.
     
  18. Amp34

    Caporegime

    Joined: Jul 25, 2005

    Posts: 28,441

    Location: Canada

    Actually, the UK has the largest tidal ranges outside of the Bay of Fundy. Most of the west coast is ideal for tidal energy, not that the range needs to be huge if you’re not looking at white elephants like the Severn Estuary tidal plan.

    With renewables we need to move away from these huge infrastructure projects, they’re exceptionally expensive, seriously environmentally damaging and rarely if ever provide what they were meant to.

    More distributed, localised energy schemes are the future IMO, but ones that are connected to a larger grid for backup. The massive land use and damage caused by huge solar arrays and dams in particular are just transferring the problem to a different state, rather than “solving” it.

    Not that it’s going to solve the major environmental issues, but at least it’s a start.

    And you’re probably thinking of Milankovich cycles: obliquity, procession and eccentricity (rotation, wobble and distance). Each of them affect the energy given to us by the sun and each have different periods.
     
  19. 413x

    Capodecina

    Joined: Jan 13, 2010

    Posts: 15,603

    Location: Stamford

    Nuclear and renewable.
    Nuclear is best bet while we transition.

    Wind power must be the best for the UK surely? But I admit I dont understand the true costs of each
     
  20. Rroff

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 13, 2006

    Posts: 60,148

    What the UK badly needs/would benefit from the most is breakthroughs in storage technology - renewables at certain times of year can produce a lot in the UK but we don't have good coverage in that respect for times of year of peak generation versus peak demand and many outside the box thinking storage options that could be potential solutions require massive amounts of space making them not very practical for the UK.

    For instance IIRC when we get the best conditions for wind generation (up until actual gales) is when the Atlantic has influence on our weather which generally produces a lot of moderate wind but also is relatively mild (and rainy). When temperatures start dropping the UK is often the influence of high pressure blocking which tend to result in it generally being very calm wind wise.