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Old 25th July 2022, 07:44 PM   #1
acbytesla
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New energy development and production is more important than anything else.

The biggest key to reducing poverty in the world is the production of cheaper energy. It is the foundation for a better tomorrow. But how do we accomplish this?

Drilling and burning of more fossil fuels
Solar
Wind
Tidal or wave energy
Geothermal
Nuclear Fusion
Nuclear Fission
Something else?


What do you think the solution is and why?
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Old 25th July 2022, 08:34 PM   #2
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Literally all of the above.

We are not going to be able to transition completely to renewable energy without continuing to use fossil fuels.

Solar and wind are incredibly important components to a renewable economy, mostly because we have the technology now - all that's needed is to deploy it. As these are intermittent sources, however - the sun doesn't always shine and the wind doesn't always blow - they need to be supplemented by either a large amount of grid storage, or something else that can provide continuous baseline power.

Tidal and wave energy is also important, but its use is necessarily limited by the requirement to be near the coast. Geothermal too is limited in its application due to geology and geography. As is something you didn't mention - hydroelectric. Not all locations are amenable to this kind of energy generation.

Nuclear fusion doesn't exist yet. While steady progress is constantly being made, it is not a technology that is available to us at this time. Nuclear fission is, but public sentiment is against it. Modern 5th generation fast breeder reactors not only use less fuel, they can also use the waste from older, less efficient reactors as fuel, and could provide the baseline power to support renewables. But try convincing people that nuclear fission is a good idea. Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima are all anyone can think of.

So all this considered, I think the solution is this:

Continue to use fossil fuels during the process of converting the energy grid to a non-carbon basis, with a goal of phasing them out completely over time. Invest heavily in solar, wind, and grid storage, and tidal/geo/hydro where those options are available, while addressing the PR problem that nuclear fission has and building new safe reactors when that becomes politically feasible. Meanwhile, continue research into nuclear fusion.
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Old 25th July 2022, 09:59 PM   #3
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I'm a strong believer in advanced fission reactors. Small module reactors built in a factory instead of on site. Streamline government licensing. Need more power? Add more reactors.

I would like to see reactors that are cooled with helium, molten, lead almost anything other than pressurized water. Walk away safe.

Fusion IMV is a joke. Always 30 years away and not even that close.

Grid storage is essential for wind and solar but unfortunately grid storage is as expensive as the production of the energy itself. Yes fossil fuels will have to be part of the mix, but it seems to me the government must invest in energy production and not leave it up to the market.

As for Hydroelectric. Outside of tidal is there a possibility of building more dams in North America without damaging the environment? Can they make a significant contribution?
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Old 25th July 2022, 10:48 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
Fusion IMV is a joke. Always 30 years away and not even that close.
There have been recent breakthroughs in fusion research that make it considerably closer than it has ever been before. Still nowhere near ready, but it's moved out of the "forty years away and always will be" category.

Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
As for Hydroelectric. Outside of tidal is there a possibility of building more dams in North America without damaging the environment? Can they make a significant contribution?
I don't know enough about the geology of North America to definitively say. Hydro will always involve an environmental impact. There are places where this impact can be minimised, but like I said, not all regions are amenable to it.

Here in Australia, the Snowy Mountains Scheme has been generating electricity for a large part of southeast Australia for 50 years. Several towns were inundated as the dams filled, but Old Jindabyne still remains a popular spot for scuba diving.

Solar and wind will always form a larger component of the renewable energy mix than hydro, geo or tidal.
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Old 25th July 2022, 10:59 PM   #5
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The most effective way to have more energy available is to become more energy efficient, and ban wasteful use.
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Old 25th July 2022, 11:11 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
The most effective way to have more energy available is to become more energy efficient, and ban wasteful use.
That's certainly a part of the equation, but it's not enough, and it relies on people disadvantaging themselves for no reward.
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Old 26th July 2022, 12:02 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Literally all of the above.

We are not going to be able to transition completely to renewable energy without continuing to use fossil fuels.

Solar and wind are incredibly important components to a renewable economy, mostly because we have the technology now - all that's needed is to deploy it. As these are intermittent sources, however - the sun doesn't always shine and the wind doesn't always blow - they need to be supplemented by either a large amount of grid storage, or something else that can provide continuous baseline power.

Tidal and wave energy is also important, but its use is necessarily limited by the requirement to be near the coast. Geothermal too is limited in its application due to geology and geography. As is something you didn't mention - hydroelectric. Not all locations are amenable to this kind of energy generation.

Nuclear fusion doesn't exist yet. While steady progress is constantly being made, it is not a technology that is available to us at this time. Nuclear fission is, but public sentiment is against it. Modern 5th generation fast breeder reactors not only use less fuel, they can also use the waste from older, less efficient reactors as fuel, and could provide the baseline power to support renewables. But try convincing people that nuclear fission is a good idea. Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima are all anyone can think of.

So all this considered, I think the solution is this:

Continue to use fossil fuels during the process of converting the energy grid to a non-carbon basis, with a goal of phasing them out completely over time. Invest heavily in solar, wind, and grid storage, and tidal/geo/hydro where those options are available, while addressing the PR problem that nuclear fission has and building new safe reactors when that becomes politically feasible. Meanwhile, continue research into nuclear fusion.
This.

I'd also like to see development of synthetic liquid fuels, both for grid power storage and for use in ICE engines where power transmission is difficult or impossible.
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Old 26th July 2022, 12:46 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
That's certainly a part of the equation, but it's not enough, and it relies on people disadvantaging themselves for no reward.

Cheaper energy bills are a reward.

The problem of providing more energy is that it will be used inefficient unless it is also kept expensive.
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Old 26th July 2022, 12:57 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
Cheaper energy bills are a reward.

The problem of providing more energy is that it will be used inefficient unless it is also kept expensive.
Right. What we're talking about is replacing existing energy sources with more renewable sources over time. No more or less energy is required, but that energy shouldn't suffocate the planet as quickly.
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Old 26th July 2022, 01:14 AM   #10
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Sure.

I think the most crucial guideline for energy transition to green should be: do nothing very long-term or irreversible.
It is extremely likely that we don't even have the right technology yet that would provide energy in the form we need. With projects like the three gorges dam or big new nuclear power plants we commit ourselves to half a century and more to a single type of energy.
Pipelines for natural gas or hydrogen, too, are projects for the ages and require more infrastructure investment than they are worth, if we honestly account for upkeep and environmental costs, compared to (seemingly more expensive) local energy generation, via geothermal, for example.
Similar the electricity grid: before we decide to upgrade it for trillions, we should try our best to do away with as much as possible and have local generation and distribution.

The main reason why we don't is regulatory capture and Nimbyism, not efficiency.
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Old 26th July 2022, 01:25 AM   #11
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That makes sense to me. And it is totally compatible with the shift to solar and wind power, both of which can be installed on rooftops, giving a local source of energy. But you still need grid storage, which means big banks of batteries or equivalent.
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Old 26th July 2022, 03:25 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
Sure.

I think the most crucial guideline for energy transition to green should be: do nothing very long-term or irreversible.
It is extremely likely that we don't even have the right technology yet that would provide energy in the form we need. With projects like the three gorges dam or big new nuclear power plants we commit ourselves to half a century and more to a single type of energy.
Pipelines for natural gas or hydrogen, too, are projects for the ages and require more infrastructure investment than they are worth, if we honestly account for upkeep and environmental costs, compared to (seemingly more expensive) local energy generation, via geothermal, for example.
Similar the electricity grid: before we decide to upgrade it for trillions, we should try our best to do away with as much as possible and have local generation and distribution.

The main reason why we don't is regulatory capture and Nimbyism, not efficiency.
Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
That makes sense to me. And it is totally compatible with the shift to solar and wind power, both of which can be installed on rooftops, giving a local source of energy. But you still need grid storage, which means big banks of batteries or equivalent.
Texas had local generation and distribution and look what happened to them.

I'm suspicious of really local generation/storage, it has a sort of "off grid libertarian" feel to it, though it may be you mean local generated grid linked wind/solar. I'm also not sure if house level generation is particularly efficient compared to the larger wind farms/solar arrays.

In the end it rather depends if the lack of supply would lead to a danger to life. the greater the danger the greater the need for a reliable base load generation system.
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Old 26th July 2022, 03:36 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
But you still need grid storage, which means big banks of batteries or equivalent.
One of those equivalents involves storing hydrogen.

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory:
Originally Posted by NREL
Hydrogen has the greatest potential among technologies for seasonal energy storage in the future, according to an analysis conducted by researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Seasonal energy storage can facilitate the deployment of high and ultra-high shares of wind and solar energy sources, according to Omar Guerra, a research engineer at NREL and lead author of a new paper, “The value of seasonal energy storage technologies for the integration of wind and solar power.” The article appears in the journal Energy & Environmental Science.
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Old 26th July 2022, 04:33 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by W.D.Clinger View Post
One of those equivalents involves storing hydrogen.

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory:
I guess one could call that a synthetic liquid fuel - at least if it's cold enough.
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Old 26th July 2022, 04:52 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by W.D.Clinger View Post
One of those equivalents involves storing hydrogen.

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory:
And it works on free energy - well in a way. If you have excess energy in your grid that is not required by your customers, then using that surplus to create a store of power i.e. hydrogen production is free, otherwise the energy would simply be thrown away. (Yes there is a of course the infrastructure of creating your store but once that's spent it is a matter of topping it up with the free energy).
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Old 26th July 2022, 10:32 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Lplus View Post
This.

I'd also like to see development of synthetic liquid fuels, both for grid power storage and for use in ICE engines where power transmission is difficult or impossible.
I see them also as a form of energy storage.
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Old 26th July 2022, 11:08 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
Cheaper energy bills are a reward.

The problem of providing more energy is that it will be used inefficient unless it is also kept expensive.
If energy is cheap, that isn't a problem, it's just a reality. Absolutely nothing helps alleviate poverty more than lower energy bills.
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Old 26th July 2022, 08:09 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Lplus View Post
Texas had local generation and distribution and look what happened to them.
Texas was also disconnected from the other North American grids, so they were entirely dependent on their own network. The future I'm envisaging would be a lot of smaller local generation centres all connected to the same grid.

Originally Posted by Lplus View Post
I'm suspicious of really local generation/storage, it has a sort of "off grid libertarian" feel to it, though it may be you mean local generated grid linked wind/solar. I'm also not sure if house level generation is particularly efficient compared to the larger wind farms/solar arrays.
If all the houses in a square kilometre have solar panels, it's about as much as a dedicated half-square kilometre array, depending on the size of roads and green spaces. Say a third of a square kilometre to be sure. The advantage is that the land used is also being used for something else at the same time.

Originally Posted by Lplus View Post
In the end it rather depends if the lack of supply would lead to a danger to life. the greater the danger the greater the need for a reliable base load generation system.
Lack of electricity supply will always lead to a danger to life.
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Old 26th July 2022, 10:14 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
If energy is cheap, that isn't a problem, it's just a reality. Absolutely nothing helps alleviate poverty more than lower energy bills.
Direct money transfer does.
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Old 28th July 2022, 03:37 AM   #20
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Technically the sun does always shine, solar panels in orbit could produce energy 24/7.
The trick is then getting the power down to earth.

I suppose you could convert the energy to a focused microwave beam to boil water and create a steam turbine that way, but I'm not sure if such a beam could keep coherence. And it creates a bit of a military problem as aiming that at a city would be something no one trusts any nation with.
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Old 28th July 2022, 02:17 PM   #21
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Tidal/wave energy sucks.

It is diffuse, in that there isn't a whole lot of energy available in a given area. There's a lot of energy available, but you need enormous structures to harvest it. Large arrays need to be linear rather than areal. And about those structures -

It is expensive. The engineering/materials/maintenance issues involved in large moving mechanisms/structures submerged in seawater are horrendous. Growth of sea life (fouling) on any structure is a constant headache, as is corrosion.

It is inconsistent. Wave height varies wildly over time.
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Old 28th July 2022, 02:27 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
The most effective way to have more energy available is to become more energy efficient, and ban wasteful use.
Energy efficiency tends to result in more energy being used owing to Jevons Paradox. Without some kind of control (eg. carbon taxes), they are counter-productive.
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Old 28th July 2022, 02:34 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by wobs View Post
Energy efficiency tends to result in more energy being used owing to Jevons Paradox. Without some kind of control (eg. carbon taxes), they are counter-productive.
Energy efficiency is literally pro-productive.
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Old 28th July 2022, 07:37 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Lukraak_Sisser View Post
Technically the sun does always shine, solar panels in orbit could produce energy 24/7.
The trick is then getting the power down to earth.
Just a minor problem



Originally Posted by Lukraak_Sisser View Post
I suppose you could convert the energy to a focused microwave beam to boil water and create a steam turbine that way, but I'm not sure if such a beam could keep coherence. And it creates a bit of a military problem as aiming that at a city would be something no one trusts any nation with.
Solar energy in space is much more efficient than here on earth. Not only can they operate more hours in the day, they don't need to deal with the earth's atmosphere blocking sunlight. That said, a major breakthrough would be required to effectively beam that much electricity to earth. I'm highly skeptical of this idea.
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Old 28th July 2022, 08:42 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by WhatRoughBeast View Post
Tidal/wave energy sucks.

It is diffuse, in that there isn't a whole lot of energy available in a given area. There's a lot of energy available, but you need enormous structures to harvest it. Large arrays need to be linear rather than areal. And about those structures -

It is expensive. The engineering/materials/maintenance issues involved in large moving mechanisms/structures submerged in seawater are horrendous. Growth of sea life (fouling) on any structure is a constant headache, as is corrosion.

It is inconsistent. Wave height varies wildly over time.
There are ways to mitigate these issues, but they're expensive. Tidal and wave energy will likely never form any more than a small part of any country's energy infrastructure.
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Old 28th July 2022, 11:08 PM   #26
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Alternative fuels that would be local to each area as cheap and maybe waste products of local industry.
Even methane gas from landfill areas.

Wood, agricultural wastes and even household waste. Literally anything combustible. Here waste fibres from sugar production literally fuel the entire plant.

Not a lot of new infrastructure to move fuel, exaust can be filtered to very low contamination.

Add supplemental solar and wind, whatever applies in the region.

In my area we get geothermal, natural gas, solar and landfill methane all producing power. The sugar plant does it's own waste and stays off grid for the most part.

Other areas of Mexico get better use of wind or solar arrays than my area, a few run on refinery wastes in the areas with refineries.

It's all about being opportunists where fuel is cheap and local.
Solar water heaters are common but prices on solar cells are still keeping them rare.
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Old 29th July 2022, 09:16 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Lukraak_Sisser View Post
Technically the sun does always shine, solar panels in orbit could produce energy 24/7.
The trick is then getting the power down to earth.

I suppose you could convert the energy to a focused microwave beam to boil water and create a steam turbine that way, but I'm not sure if such a beam could keep coherence. And it creates a bit of a military problem as aiming that at a city would be something no one trusts any nation with.

Most proposals I’ve seen are…less dramatic . Usually, it’s proposed as a microwave beam to a receiver, much as we do with long range communication links already.

Some also propose a diffuse beam, rather than focused, across a field of receptors. Diffuse to the point that one could raise cattle in the beam without danger.

Been a while, though, so I no longer have the details on hand.


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Old 29th July 2022, 08:33 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
There are ways to mitigate these issues, but they're expensive. Tidal and wave energy will likely never form any more than a small part of any country's energy infrastructure.
I'm not that pessimistic.

Wave power is an enormous energy source. I get that the engineering has been unable to overcome the challenges so far. But I'm far more optimistic of wave/tidal power making a contribution than I am of fusion energy.
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Old 5th August 2022, 03:43 PM   #29
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Why do some of you guys think renewable energy will be cheaper?

Here in Cali we have hydro power generation, nuclear and solar. Where's my discount? Prices just keep rising!

Link
Quote:
New Data Indicates California Remains Ahead of Clean Electricity Goals. SACRAMENTO -- Data from the California Energy Commission (CEC) shows that 59 percent of the state's electricity came from renewable and zero-carbon sources in 2020.

Capitalism, at least in my country, will ensure that energy will never be "cheap" for the masses, only more profitable for the big guys.

You may save money now with your solar panels and electric car, but that will even out as it becomes more widely used, taxed and regulated. You think these huge companies are going to lower your costs significantly, ever? You think you're going to avoid taxes because you don't buy gas for your car? Keep dreaming.

When a company finds cheaper ways to deliver a product they make greater profits. You save nothing and often you are left with an inferior product as well.

By the way, oil companies had their biggest profits ever last quarter, again, due to a worldwide oil crisis (as always). They don't give a **** about you.

Clean energy is good but don't expect it to help you financially, at least not in the United Capitalist States of Americrap.
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Old 5th August 2022, 04:29 PM   #30
theprestige
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I think part of the problem there is that California is oversaturated with consumer demand, and has been too slow to scale up its power infrastructure for decades now. So it's not necessarily that renewables aren't cheaper, it could well be a case of "too little, too late, and prices are just gonna keep going up lol".

Billing externalities like wildfires back to the power companies doesn't help, either. Everybody in Southern California wants cheap electricity, but goes all Shocked Pikachu Face when it turns out the power company is skimping on line maintenance along all those hundreds of miles of powerline strung through the chaparral to get that cheap power to them. Turns out the power isn't so cheap when it includes a real risk of burning your house down, or when you insist that more be done to mitigate that risk.
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Last edited by theprestige; 5th August 2022 at 04:32 PM.
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Old 5th August 2022, 06:30 PM   #31
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Repurposing abandoned coal mines and quarries on already permitted land for pumped storage hydropower.

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