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Old 08-10-20, 11:08 PM   #1
launboy
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Default Resource Use for Renewables

I hope this isnít considered political and is in the right spot. Iím not posting it to start a debate, more to hear your guys thoughts on the article. Itís a piece written by someone who to me seems somewhat cynical on the renewable energy front, but even if his numbers are off, I think his point is still valid.

https://www.americanexperiment.org/2...-deal-require/

The use of materials required do to the necessary overbuilding of a fully renewable power system are going to be very large in terms of batteries, structure, and all those higher power transmission lines aggregating the smaller generation points vs one larger generation point.

Another interesting report by the Minnesota PUC I read regarding the ďpolar vortexĒ we in this region experiences last year, stated that once it got below -25*F all of their wind turbines stopped either due to lack of wind or for safety reasons due to low temp... right when they are needed most to keep the heat on for residents. Obviously the second part could be resolved with additional engineering, but it does shed light on some of the less considered challenges of going carbon free at a utility level.

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Old 08-11-20, 09:23 AM   #2
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So here are some thoughts.

1. The article appears to be worried about the amount of metal and materials that will be needed to build the new infrastructure. I would like to see a comparison between what it took to build the current infrastructure and the new one with respect to the materials used along with a current day cost analysis of the two. Must remember that coal burning power plants require millions of tons of steel to transport the coal on a daily basis to the plant where it will be burned.

2. One of the great anti-clean energy arguments is how much money it will take to switch over. I say so what. Every politician in the country says jobs are great for the economy. Well there are the jobs. Spend the money and when the project is more or less complete we not only get the benefits of cleaner air but because of the cleaner air, much less illness in the country, hence fewer medical bills for many citizens. And maybe it would even help out with human-based climate change.

3. I also advocate for as many private homes as possible to have their own power plants and battery backup. This is not only for the obvious reason of self sufficiency. Occasionally one will hear the current president say things like we need to have more coal burning power plants for the security of our country because some bad actor might try to sabotage the plants. My thoughts say that if every one has their own power plant it is a lot harder to sabotage all of them than it would be for a few dozen or hundred coal burners short of a massive EMP.

4. The often mentioned use of cobalt was referred to in the article. I expect that within a few years that lithium batteries will no longer be using cobalt as an electrode. We know that Tesla is working on a way around that issue and if they can solve it so can many others.

5. I'm very tired right now so none of this may apply once I am properly awake.

JJ
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Old 08-13-20, 01:42 PM   #3
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I think you are exactly correct. Its not so much about saving money as saving everything.
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Old 08-14-20, 02:18 PM   #4
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I wish there would have been a cost comparison as well. Not only to the steel for rail cars and that infrastructures maintenance, but the impacts of continued mining of coal, or drilling for oil/nat gas. Only seems fair if youíre going to examine the effects of mining for RE construction.

I think a lot of money is being spent and will continue to be spent on storage technology in this century. Iíve come across multiple sites referring to needing 5-7x installed capacity relative to needed capacity due to RE variability and vast and efficient storage is the only real way to offset that. I look forward to seeing this all happen in my lifetime.
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Old 08-20-20, 09:02 AM   #5
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You can't ask a question about renewable energy without polarized political opinions being part of the answer. The fanatics will argue to the end of time to expand their power source of choice to 100 percent.
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Old 08-20-20, 09:14 AM   #6
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Ok, so any electric power grid is going to need to employ a portfolio of sources. Not only due to economic factors, but for security and reliability. The "renewable" sources should be a part of that portfolio as long as the public is behind them.

However, the only clean energy source that's highly reliable is nuclear power. Geothermal and hydroelectric come in next, and solar panels and windmills lag behind badly. As for security, they're all pretty hard targets except hydroelectric dams. Nuclear power is a political lightning rod, and as far as public support, it doesn't get much; I guess you could call that a security risk.

Economics all depends on the author of the paper. Data can be skewed and math can be weighted to support pretty much any viewpoint. Solar panels can go up fast, and start production quickly. Building a dam or a reactor plant takes more time and money upfront. After the power starts flowing, nuclear and hydroelectric are both pretty profitable, not so much with solar and wind. Even with the frivolous litigation and lobby against nuclear by the green machine at every turn, it still manages to profit and expand production capacity globally. Solar and wind are relatively new rollouts, so they still have the test of reality and economics without heavy subsidies to contend with in the future.

Solar PV in general gets worse economically as the array size increases. At the retail price levels, on a home or store rooftop, the economics are the best. Cheap to commission, starts paying bills quickly. As the size increases to the power utility level, and lower spot commodity prices enter the equation, the profitability erodes away. The grid providers are left with a hard choice: overbuild capacity to fill the void of darkness, or rely on a more reliable and controllable backup energy source. At present, the power utilities are leaning hard on natural gas to fill the void of darkness.

The raw materials required are a small piece of the pie, so to speak. As the author of the article points out, it would take vast quantities of raw materials to build out this enormous capacity. The other factor I worry about more is the landscape. Who wants to look to the horizon and see a wind farm every 20 miles? These are not inconspicuous little things, they're massive. Plus they sit around doing nothing A LOT. We don't need to build out a hundred million windmills to make our energy. Let them build a "mere" million, and employ other sources to fill out the portfolio.
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Old 08-24-20, 12:18 AM   #7
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Default A Very Strong Parallel

I see a very strong parallel between this discussion, and many other discussions on EcoRenovator, regarding say, the building of a home, and what is the cheapest heat, etc., etc.

Many people begin with heat, as a caveman sitting around a fire might do. Regarding a home, the wisest approach would be to build it to have the absolute minimum energy loss. First, orientation to the environment so as to maximize natural energy gain, and minimize energy loss. Next, very much attention to reducing to the absolute minimum infiltration. After that, the best, most effective insulation, etc. After these things are done, heating becomes almost trivial.

My point is that any scheme that seeks to maintain or increase the squanderous civilization we find ourselves in, only hastens the total collapse of civilization. It has happened before in history. We have no guarantee that it will not happen again, odds are that it will happen again. If you are aware, you can see signs that it is underway now.

Our duty as beings, capable of knowing and learning, must be to develop "down". In other words to strategize and design ways to drastically reduce our energy and resource consumption while making a world worthwhile, and importantly, placing value on our own lives that does not depend on bigger, newer, faster or richer.
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Old 09-05-20, 03:10 AM   #8
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I fully agree with ac hacker on the "modern" approach being usually worse than the "historical" approach. The green new dealers would have us throw out our working system and build a whole new "modernized" one at enormous expense and resources. Don't be fooled. Look at Germany and California and the new power problems they've created following this new plan. A drastic change from centralized, power dense power sources towards low density, distributed generation opens up a big can of worms.

In the end, it's all of us end users that will be paying for the missing parts and reliability shortcomings. Yes, conservative habits and design improvement can shave and save a lot, but we can't just cut gigawatts off and not expect shortfalls to happen. A peak in demand with a short supply cannot be met by small sources; there has to be grid inertia to absorb the load. A massive electric flywheel if you will. No matter how you slice it, this cannot be met by any means by what the greens call renewable energy sources. Unless you fudge the numbers, then it only works on paper.
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Old 09-05-20, 02:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeff5may View Post
Look at Germany and California and the new power problems they've created following this new plan.
California's problems stem from years (decades?) of neglect causing the old infrastructure to become a fire hazard.
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Old 09-05-20, 03:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeff5may View Post
I fully agree with ac hacker on the "modern" approach being usually worse than the "historical" approach. The green new dealers would have us throw out our working system and build a whole new "modernized" one at enormous expense and resources. Don't be fooled. Look at Germany and California and the new power problems they've created following this new plan. A drastic change from centralized, power dense power sources towards low density, distributed generation opens up a big can of worms.

In the end, it's all of us end users that will be paying for the missing parts and reliability shortcomings. Yes, conservative habits and design improvement can shave and save a lot, but we can't just cut gigawatts off and not expect shortfalls to happen. A peak in demand with a short supply cannot be met by small sources; there has to be grid inertia to absorb the load. A massive electric flywheel if you will. No matter how you slice it, this cannot be met by any means by what the greens call renewable energy sources. Unless you fudge the numbers, then it only works on paper.
Jeff,
If I understand what you are saying, all these problems can be boiled down to both poor planning and poor execution. I agree that you can't put the cart before the horse and expect good results. But with proper planning, replacement of the old grid can be done with a minimum of problems. It has taken over a hundred years to build the old grid it and has become weak and overburdened in its old age. The question is how can we build a new, cleaner power grid, maintain enough reserve energy supply for those days when it is needed, and do it so that there is a more or less seamless transition to the new grid in a relatively short period of time?

The two most important items needed are money and resolve. If you look back at the space program you will see that it cost between $300 and $600 billion to land a man on the moon in today's dollars. While we learned a lot about science from the program, at the time it really had no practical use. But we had a lot of resolve to make that project happen. This is the same thing we need to transition our energy sources. Every president in the last 50 years has said we need to get off foreign oil.



I believe Obama was on the right track with all the new energy regulations, pushing solar and electric vehicles by providing providing tax credits for them, and trying to force better fuel economy for the automobile industry. The current administration has undone or is attempting to undo many of those regulations and financial aids. And for those of you that believe there is a free market and there should be no tax credits from the government, remember the oil industry in our country directly receives around 20 billion dollars a year in tax credits and incentives. Don't believe me, look it up.

JJ

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