Climate change: The Critical Decade

Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by James R, May 23, 2011.

  1. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    Totally bogus analysis.

    Today's alternate energy systems are incredible feats of engineering.

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  3. Spud Emperor solanaceous common tater Registered Senior Member

    Nice images Arthur.

    What's the bottom one?
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  5. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    It's a 1.5MW Tidal Station (marine current turbine) in the Bay of Fundy.
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  7. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    This article from (what I believe is) an environmental blog, seems to support at least some of Arthurs contentions:

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    And, Ironically, some of Iceauras.
    Nuclear power generation is in decline.
    Nuclear power can't keep up with renewables.
    Talk of a nuclear rennaisance is hype.
    However, even though the first 15 years of Nuclear power produced the same amount as the first 15 years of wind, Nuclear power recived 40 times the subsidies that wind did (all from the site that Arthur in essence provided us)
  8. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    Well what you find out when you read enough of the pro renewable material is they always want to talk installed CAPACITY, not actual generation.

    Because Wind and Solar have such low generation percents compared to capacity, while Nuclear runs around 80%. Secondly, the sites rarely take into account the "uprating" that has been done in the nuclear plants, with most of them now rated for far more than their original installed capacity.

    Which is why you really need to look at how much electricity is actually being produced.

    So when you look at the recent figures you will see that Nuclear is producing about 9 times as much electricity as Wind, Solar, Geo and Tidal combined.

    And the contention that the Nuclear is in decline or that Nuclear Renaissance is Hype, both are also false, as when you look at the chart you posted, out of the 15 years, two had tiny declines and the other 13 years had increases in net new capacity (in fact the increase in 2010 was greater than the sum of the tiny declines in 98 and 09), secondly, this is a chart of NEW capacity and fails to account for the increase in capacity of existing plants (uprating) and finally, there are 65 new nuclear plants under construction (~50% more power production than existing Wind, Solar, Geo and Tidal) and almost half of them are in China so you know they will get completed. Nuclear is sure to play a bigger role in the next 20 years than it has in the last 20, as pressure is put on coal as a base load supply (carbon taxes, air quality) the demand for nuclear can only grow.

    As to subsidies, Wind and Solar have by far the best current subsidies (in the US and globally).
    In the US they are subsidized by a 2.2c per kWh production tax credit, which is HUGE, and it's good for 10 years from initial power production and there is NO CAP.
    (There are also substantial Investment Tax Credits and depending on the State, additional Property tax subsidies)

    We have NEVER offered any similar PRODUCTION based subsidy to any other energy source besides Wind and Solar.

    To put that in perspective, if we provided the SAME PTC subsidy for Nuclear in the US as we do for wind, it would cost us ~$18 Billion dollars per year.

    Last edited: Jun 4, 2011
  9. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

  10. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    If we are going to count "tax credits" as subsidies, the ones given to oil drilling alone swamp the "renewables" total. Never mind the property tax breaks for coal railroads, etc - many billions. And no cheapskate ten year limits, either. Meanwhile, what's with the weaseling qualifiers? "Production based"?

    When the US has some day provided as much taxpayer-supported storage and handling for thermal solar juice as it has for nuke waste (research, as well as actual infrastructure and legal support), we can begin - just begin - to talk about comparing investment yield.
    Be interesting to get a solid number on what the nuke subsidy is - we're counting property tax breaks, right? The link I posted above puts it in the billions, at least.

    Not according to your postings.
    No, it isn't always. Not if you are borrowing money now, anticipating technological and other improvements to come, and foreseeing various cost/rate changes in the future.
    After hundreds of times the investment - maybe thousands. Clearly a mistaken path - but maybe the choosers were dazzled by its promise, at first. Or corrupted by the powerful interests at work.
    Do you read what you write?
    So the comparison with the very cheapest coal power is what - not allowed? It was looking kind of uncomfortable for the nuke advocates, I thought - even this very expensive custom installed satellite technology stuff was almost breaking even with coal. Not quite, maybe.

    At least until the Stirling concentrators catch a wave. Suggestion: Let's try putting the same government subsidy for the same number of decades and the same quality or privilege of researcher into them we put into nuclear military ship engine tech, and see what we come up with.
  11. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    Unadulterated BS. Either FIND THE LINE ITEMS in the US budget for these supposed subsidies or STFU.
    Large budget line items that you claim are there shoul be easy to find.
    Also, when you do find a subsidy, divide by kWhrs produced (or barrels of oil pumped) to find the actual rate of the subsidy. Gross amounts mean nothing, it's Gross amounts / amount of energy produced.

    Nothing at all weasly about it. Production based subsidies are by far the fairest method of subsidy.
    We pay out subsidies not on installed capacity which may, because of shoddy workmanship, poor siting etc, produce little power.
    Paying on actual kWhrs produced insures that we get something for what we pay for.

    By the way, a lot of DOE and NASA based research has helped in all forms of alternate energy, but counting that research spending, such as was done in low speed air foils, materials science leading to high strength composites etc as a subsidy for Wind or Wave is silly.

    Again, divide by nuclear electrical PRODUCTION over the last 4 decades and it's not a big subsidy.
    Which is why they never even suggested a PTC for nukes. It would have cost a fortune and it simply wasn't needed.
    The research was spread over 100 nukes we installed and hundreds more our companies installed in the rest of the world.
    We got our money back.

    Besides, it's a pointless argument.
    No one cares about how much was spent in the 50s, 60s and 70s on nuclear engineering. Just a red herring and more sour grapes.

    Again, we give huge ITCs including property taxes for Wind and Wind for the same production takes FAR more land than a nuke does. So comparing property tax based on output is a no brainer, Nukes win hands down.

    A PTC subsidy for Nukes equal to the one given new Wind would be $18 billion each year (and about $150 Billion over the last decade). Nowhere will you find that size of an annual subsidy for Nukes or ANY other power source.

    Again, show the line items in the current Budget for these mythical subsidies or you are just blowing smoke.

    I linked to the model I built. Tell me where it differs from what I posted.

    If you can't run the model, I'll be glad to run it for you and provide the key outputs.
    Simply provide the key input variables:
    Average kWhrs per month you want to generate
    Location (just general, like Southern California, Northern Minnesota etc)
    Panels you want to use (If you don't know then I'll find the current best deals off the web for quality PV panels with at least a 25 year 80% power warranty)
    Installation location with 100% sun (yard mount or on roof (if roof, then pitch angle of roof and direction facing) make sure you have sufficient roof space)
    Average price you pay per kWh for electricity. Note, don't include fixed costs in your bill like connection fees, meter leases etc, you only avoid those if you go off grid and install a battery backup system but doing so will only hurt as they cost a LOT more than grid power if you are currently connected to the grid.
    Financing rate/duration/amount down (like 20% down, 5% for 10 years (note, for an apples to apples comparison it's best to put nothing down, in actual practice you might decide to do so but then you really should add in the NPV for those funds (which my model doesn't do today)).

    Well we are talking about comparing the economics of a solar system installed TODAY to the price of grid power TODAY, so to do so you have to buy them TODAY to do the comparison.

    Its very simple. You can of course buy fewer panels, but buy a large inverter then you need for later expansion and your costs will be higher and so your savings will be even less to start with, and no one knows what will happen in the future. We DO know that the ITC for solar is set to expire in a few years though, so putting it off too long is pretty risky. If you lose the current 30% ITC provided by the FEDs you will never break even.

    Indeed, the dropping costs of panels has shortened the payback time. It wasn't too long ago that you never broke even with PV. At least now, based on a reasonable set of assumptions, you may eventually do so. Still Panels seem to be reaching a slowdown on this price drop and it may not continue much longer (the primary cost that has been dropping are the silicon wafers, but they are now assembled in a very automated fashion and there are a lot of panel costs that are somewhat fixed, like the tempered glass, aluminum frame, blocking diodes, electrical connections, mounting rails etc). Still there are possibility of efficiency improvements that would get more power from the same s

    BS, the nukes have been producing prodigious amounts of energy for decades with little to no subsidies. A portion of every kWh sold is set aside for nuclear fuel storage costs and decomissioning.

    And I understand it too. Like your suggestion of using your panels to charge your batteries, but commercial Panels for a grid mounted system are far too high voltage to do that with, without adding an expensive DC to DC converter and then a Charge Controller (or you will boil your batteries). Indeed, buying a small 12V DC charger designed for the task would cost less and make far more sense.
    So apparently you don't understand the basics of PV solar, but clearly OTHERS understand the basic economics of the situation which is why only with huge ITC and PTC subsidies are PV systems even a consideration, and then only to people willing to wait a LONG time to recoup their investment.

    They need to "catch a wave"? WTF are you talking about?

    Here's a suggestion.
    Let's not confuse military spending with subsidies for nuclear power.

    On the other hand according to the IEA:

    Last edited: Jun 7, 2011
  12. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Not going to bother. There aren't many people who can't recognize things like accelerated oil depreciation allowances and other taxpaid support unless the federal government labels it a "subsidy" for them line by line in an official budget.

    I linked to the best estimates of the Union of Concerned Scientists, you responded with government propaganda commissioned by the likes of Lamar Alexander. Hello?
    But not the largest or most common, in the case of nukes and coal and the like.
    And 80s, 90s, 00s, etc. - and we're still paying finance charges, even on the sunk money. And the ongoing various subsidies are of course huge, on top of that.

    The only people who would care would be those interested in comparing the cost of the various forms of power generation. Nukes have never been cheap, and they aren't cheap now, and they won't be cheap in the future. Coal is not nearly as cheap as advertised. These little details are important, when we comtemplate future investments.
    How would you know? The only subsidies for nukes you know about are line items labeled "subsidy" in the federal budget. In any case, dividing by the production of a scaled up and maximally efficient production system produces a number of little use in comparison with early stage renewables, especially things like solar thermal.
    So lower cost and more reliable, likely, clean operations would be no-brainers, as investments.
    And learning something quite interesting - even in the most heavily biased comparison imaginable, single shot home retail market installation of new satellite generating technology compared with prorated city scale utility power from stable technology, solar almost makes straight economic sense.
    Wind power in western MN puts out about 500 MW per square mile. That's comparable with the plants at Three Mile Island before the disaster - and the windmills are not on prime big city waterfront and scenic island real estate.
    Why not? A good share of the impetus for the first power nukes was to justify the furtherance and spread of what everyone could see was a very dangerous technology - the government continues to this day to bury nuclear power costs inside "defense" expenditures and vice versa, depending. Meanwhile, the military employment and threat from the spread of nuclear power technology is a very large and ongoing cost, and will get much larger as nuclear power is spread even more and guarded even less rigorously.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2011
  13. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    I can.
    If you can show them in the budget then do so.
    You can't because they don't exist.

    And an acceleraterd depreciation tax deduction for the purchase of new equipment is hardly a big subsidy to the oil companies, it's a government policy to encourage exploration since the up-front costs of new drilling rigs is so high and since almost all the equipment is purchased from US companies it is also an economic stimulus, but the NET depreciation is the same, the NPV is just slightly better, and on a per barrel basis of oil, it's a pittance.

    UCS is totally against nuclear and has been for ages and their document is nothing but propaganda, focusing as you do as including all nuclear research as if it's a subsidy. Instead I produced a report by the independent DOE and it covers actual Budget expenses. You know, something that matters to us since money spent long ago means nothing today.

    It's been studied to death.
    You are wrong.
    As usual

    See Figure 1 (I chose a UK study for neutrality)

    No, No, No.

    It only makes sense when there is a conventional grid backing you up, providing you peak load capacity and power when the sun don't shine.

    So currently it is a highly subsidized field where the consumer gets a huge break by being able to use or sell any power they do generate, at full retail prices, and and yet count on the power company to provide the high cost infrastructure to make that use feasible.

    If you want to compare Solar PV to the Grid, then you have to take the Grid away and spec out a system that will provide your own peak demand and storage for nights and three cloudy days and then you will find it is VASTLY more expensive per kWh to produce your own power by PV.

    NO WAY.

    Fenton Wind Farm

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    Site is 38,400 acres or 60 sq miles.

    Spacing of the GE 1.5 MW Turbines (270' blades, diameter = 540'), = 5 X Rotor Diameter side to side and 7 X RD downwind. or ~234 Acres per turbine.

    Thus the capacity is 205 MW, but the output at typical <30% of capacity is ~61 MW per 60 square miles, giving an estimated output of ~513 GWhrs per year.

    In contrast TMI is on a site of only 382 Acres (not enough for two 1.5 MW turbines) and puts out 6,645 GWhrs per year, or 13 times as much power on a TINY fraction of the space (1/26,000th).

    Of course this analysis does not include all the land area needed for the Long Distance HV transmission lines to get the power from the remote SW wind farm locations to the Twin Cities where it is needed. Permit.pdf

    Because it's stupid to do so.
    The US could not ignore nuclear techology, particularly the development of nuclear power plants for its ships, due to the cold war and eventually it was our spending on this nuclear power technology that helped bring the cold war to a close as there was little to no defense against our fleet of boomers, so it was worth every penny.

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    But to count that spending on nuclear technology as part of an energy subsidy today makes no sense.

    Last edited: Jun 7, 2011
  14. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    You are counting all the land in between the turbine footprints.

    Since wind turbines are not hazardous, like nukes, or dirty and in need of operation room all around, like coal boilers, the land not actually employed by the towers themselves is open for other uses - such as farming. In MN, corn fields run right up to the tower bases.

    On the contrary - you could probably space four or five turbines just in the reactor footprint itself - possibly without even demolishing any current structures - they use about a quarter acre apiece for the base structures, have plenty of ground clearance for traffic and stuff, and need only to be not shadowing each other in the prevailing winds. Their grid spacing in big windfarm fields is not necessary in locations like TMI.

    Using the whole island, as TMI actually does and more, would provide even more turbines. Of course it's not an ideal location, but lack of room is not the problem.

    for the nukes, yes - and very expensive land it is, too, on an island in the riverfront district of a major city. But nukes need lots and lots of water, and high stable land with good large building sites (not floodplain) for safety, and so the very best and most desireable kind of land is required. The property tax breaks are correspondingly large.

    Then of course there are the overland HV transmission lines necessary to run between nukes and the major cities for many miles around - but all except home generation has that expense.

    Most reasonable and informed people outside the industry itself (the military counts as part of the industry) are against the widespread deployment of nuclear fission reactors for any purpose. As Amory Lovins put it, the fundamental nuke setup for generating household electricity is bad - it's "like using a chainsaw to cut butter" - and the subsidiary problems are horrendous, beyond even the threat of plant accident itself: Look at Iran and Iraq, India and Pakistan, North Korea and China, Russia and everybody else.
    Or some other storage or "flywheel" setup.

    But there is.

    So it almost makes straight retail economic sense, right now, to put all our new investment in generating power into even the most expensive, boutique, inefficient, retail setups for solar power generation, compared with the cheapest of the current utility forms. That's telling.
    I don't. I've been complaining about that bogus comparison from day one here. I'm meeting your on your chosen playground.
  15. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    Of course I'm counting all the land in the Wind Farm. I didn't say it couldn't be used for some LIMITED uses, but the point is, Wind Farms are huge and take up a lot more area than just the tower bases, which is why they have large property tax incentives.

    Clearly most informed people are not against nuclear, since 65 plants are under construction in the world.

    Well show me where I can buy this "flywheel storage" system and I'll rework the numbers.

    But you won't will you?

    Because there is NO viable home storage system available for electricity TODAY except for batteries and they are very expensive. So no, PV is far more expensive than a grid based system and you have yet to show where my model is bogus.

  16. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    As you pointed out, we have a grid - we don't need home storage

    Besides, lots of people seem willing to buy the batteries anyway - for their electric cars.
    Outside the military/industrial complex, I said.

    No one is underestimating the influence of the nuclear-favoring industrial corporations.
    And your point is mistaken. The farmer is paying the property tax on all that cornfield in between the windmills. The property tax exemptions and breaks for nukes are larger, and ongoing.
  17. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    No, I'm not mistaken, not all projects are like Fenton.


    All wind energy systems are exempt from the stateā€™s property tax.

    Wind-energy conversion systems used as electric-power sources are exempt from Minnesota's sales tax. Materials used to manufacture, install, construct, repair or replace wind-energy systems also are exempt from the state sales tax.

    Wind energy projects installed by December 31, 2007 will receive a business tax credit of 1.9 cents/kWh for 10 years. (note, with Fed 2.2 cents/kWh, the PTC is 4.1 cent/kWh, which is HUGE)

    Accelerated Depreciation: There is a five-year depreciation tax benefit for businesses.

    That's why I chose a UK report and China isn't building 22 of them because of military reasons.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2011
  18. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    You can't save/make money using any form of battery storage for PV generated power as the Grid is just so much less expensive.

    The ONLY people who install battery systems are those who live in remote locations where the cost to get on the grid is prohibitive.

  19. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    I note you had a duplicate post that you had tagged as such, I took the liberty of deleting it for you.
    I don't know if you've noticed or not, but you can actually delete your posts for the same amount of time that you can edit them (it's part of the edit process).
    Edit the post:

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  20. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    No, I didn't know I could do that in this forum.

    Thanks for the tip.

  21. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    You were taking the entire landscape the windmills of a given sind farm were scattered across, and comparing a property tax break on that expanse with the mere footprint of the actual reactor complex at TMI. That was a mistake.

    You were also ignoring the quality difference in the land involved. Another mistake.

    And you were claiming that my more realistic observation was in error somehow, based on those two mistakes of yours.
    Where the (subsidized) grid exists, sure. So? As I pointed out, the grid exists. The situation in which this seemingly, by all standards, ridiculous comparison turns out to be almost reasonable even now,

    so that this boutique power source is actually within striking distance of matching the cheap mass market utility power,

    is the situation we have.

    And those who want more reliability than their grid provides, or other advantages - and of course everyone who buys an electric car. There's your battery - no inverter required.
    China has a military/industrial complex, including a nuclear weapons industry.
  22. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    Nope, most Nukes are not situated on quality land like TMI, nor is such land required.
    Most reactors are a reasonable distance from their metro areas on low value land, and the amount of land they require, compared to the amount of power they put out, is very small.
    In contrast, most Wind farms are FAR from the end users and not only is a lot of land needed for the pylons, but then many MILES AND MILES of right of way are dedicated to the High Voltage lines have to be strung to get the power to the population centers.

    And your observartion is pointless. If the Utility power source only had to provide average power for 8 hours a day it would also be far cheaper. You are comparing a 24/7 energy source that always meets every users peak needs to an intermitant source which never meets your peak needs and saying it's near parity. Ludicrous.

    Anyone who wants more reliability than the grid, PV user or otherwise, has to provide either expensive battery or standby generator back up. Doesn't matter the original source of energy, as the high cost is in the backup.

    The whole point of having a battery in the car is to use it to drive. But charging takes a long time and so if instead of charging your battery at night you use it to run your home at night then you won't make it to work in the morning.

    The car charger input is 120 or 240 V power so yes you would need an DC to AC inverter between the panels and the car battery to charge the car.

    But what you don't have is the reverse, an inverter that runs off the car battery, because invariably the input voltages will be different from the Car Battery vs the Panels (inverters are voltage specific) and since the car is not designed to output power to something other than the car motors I'm pretty sure altering the wiring to allow it would void your warranty.

    So, you haven't shown that these number of reactors have anything to do with the military. Nor the 65 in the world that are being built.

    Last edited: Jun 9, 2011
  23. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    We were comparing property tax breaks, if you recall. You were including them as subsidies.

    According to your link, most reactors are located on exactly the land I described - reasonably elevated but level, open terrain with good road and rail access, overlooking a large body of surface water; and as you agree, near a metro area.

    That's the most valuable open land on the planet, on average - outside of downtown city blocks with skyscrapers on them, nothing is in greater demand.

    And of course the nuke, with its various subsidiary needs and so forth, destroys almost all other usage potential of all the land involved - it's footprint is much larger than the mere building and auxiliary structure size.
    About a quarter of an acre each, for the tower bases. The transmission pylon easements and so forth are not much different from the long distance connections every very large centralized power source requires (the ones from the wind farms in MN are much cheaper, from a property tax break pov, than even the single rail line expansion and development for the power plant coal trains through Rochester, MN.)
    The issue was your assertion that nuclear power had been found harmless by lots and lots ("most") of reasonable and well informed people outside the collectively involved industry, typified by Eisenhower's "military/industrial complex" - most reasonable and well informed people not involved in working in or promoting the industry, not part of the military/industrial complex directly benefiting from the expansion of nuclear power.

    You asserted that the expansion of nukes in China showed that.

    It doesn't. China has a military/industrial complex that benefits, in many ways including money and power and centralized control, from the expansion of nuclear power. On the other hand, China has no independent and objective body of well-informed people able to speak their minds about nuclear power and publicly pressure governmental policy. It also (from its legacy of authoritarian and industrial oppression) has very high current costs associated with its outdated and miserably developed coal power industry, and no cultural tradition of protecting its landscape and peasantry from things like nuclear waste or mishap - it has possibly the most favorable cost/benefit situation on the planet, for nukes.

    So China's enthusiasm for nukes is easily explained by the same central authoritarian and industrial factors we see pushing them in the US and everywhere else.

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