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Thread: The Remarkable Progress of Renewable Energy

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    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    The Remarkable Progress of Renewable Energy

    Over the last decade, renewable-energy sources have been emerging as good alternatives to fossil fuels for powering industrial economies. Preindustrial technology was all powered in renewable fashion, except for coal burning here and there. But that proved inadequate for powering industrial technologies, and for a long time, the main renewable source has been hydroelectric generation.

    Fossil fuels have three problems: (1) they won't last for more than about a century at current consumption, (2) much of the more easily-exploited resources have already been used up, and (3) using them puts a lot of carbon dioxide into our planet's atmosphere, and that has already been causing global warming. For these reasons, development of additional renewable energy sources has been actively pursued over the last few decades, and that effort is now bearing fruit.

    Wind power -- present-day wind turbines are not your ancestors' windmills. They look much like 3-blade airplane propellers on tall posts -- and recently very tall ones, over 100 m (300 ft) high. The installed capacity has been growing by a factor of around 10 every 10 years since the 1990's, and the worldwide value is now around 500 gigawatts.

    Growth of photovoltaics -- a big surprise for me, for these reasons: (1) photovoltaic cells are made much like computer chips, and I expected that to keep them relatively expensive, and (2) I expected concentrated solar power with thermal generation to be the solar winner, but it has not been.

    But photovoltaic cells' installed capacity has also been growing by a factor of around 10 every 10 years since the 1990's, and is now around 400 gigawatts worldwide.

    A big problem with wind and solar generation is that they are intermittent, and that has provoked a lot of work in electricity-storage technologies like improved batteries.

    Another problem is the inadequacy of synthetic-fuel technology. This is for transport, where battery storage is often inadequate, and where liquid fuels are a great convenience. One makes synfuels with electricity by electrolyzing water and then combing the resulting hydrogen with carbon dioxide from the air -- the Fischer-Tropsch reaction. It has been used to make synfuels by nations with relatively little oil, like Germany and South Africa, and it is nowadays used to make synthetic motor oil. But in most places, synfuels are still more expensive than their petroleum-derived counterparts.

    Cleantech News — Solar, Wind, EV News (#1 Source) | CleanTechnica is a renewable-energy enthusiast site (EV = electric vehicles, mainly electric cars). But it is revealing that that site seldom discusses synfuels.

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    Intergalactic Villainess Angry Floof's Avatar
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    What about nuclear energy?
    The Authoritarians

    GOP and Trump supporters will not be able to say they didn't know. Vote in numbers too big to manipulate.

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    Contributor barbos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angry Floof View Post
    What about nuclear energy?
    It's not renewable

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    Intergalactic Villainess Angry Floof's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by barbos View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Angry Floof View Post
    What about nuclear energy?
    It's not renewable
    Oh gotcha. Thanks.
    The Authoritarians

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    Veteran Member Cheerful Charlie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angry Floof View Post
    What about nuclear energy?
    Often it has proven not economically viable. There are problems with end of life of the plants, expensive decommissioning costs. And dealing with dangerous nuclear waste. They are a big head ache all around.

    https://uspirg.org/reports/usp/high-cost-nuclear-power

    Nuclear power is among the most costly approaches to solving America’s energy problems.
    Per dollar of investment, clean energy solutions – such as energy efficiency and renewable resources – deliver far more energy than nuclear power.
    Cheerful Charlie

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    Contributor Speakpigeon's Avatar
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    What about nuclear fusion, like ITER, projected to produce energy by 2025?

    https://www.theguardian.com/environm...fway-milestone

    EB

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    Veteran Member Cheerful Charlie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    What about nuclear fusion, like ITER, projected to produce energy by 2025?

    https://www.theguardian.com/environm...fway-milestone

    EB
    I will believe it when I see it. The big promises here have been made for fusion energy as long as I can remember. Don't hold your breathe. And of course there is the related kook stuff. Zero Point Energy for example. And cold fusion.
    Cheerful Charlie

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    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheerful Charlie View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Angry Floof View Post
    What about nuclear energy?
    Often it has proven not economically viable. There are problems with end of life of the plants, expensive decommissioning costs. And dealing with dangerous nuclear waste. They are a big head ache all around.

    https://uspirg.org/reports/usp/high-cost-nuclear-power

    Nuclear power is among the most costly approaches to solving America’s energy problems.
    Per dollar of investment, clean energy solutions – such as energy efficiency and renewable resources – deliver far more energy than nuclear power.
    Nuclear power is economically nonviable, because unlike all other power generation technologies, it has a regulatory regime that refuses to countenance the slightest risk to human health, and under which no level of additional regulatory burden is considered unreasonable.

    Were other technologies held to the same standard (as they probably should be), then they would be even more expensive than nuclear power.

    This despite the fact that nuclear power is demonstrably the safest method of generating electricity on a commercial scale so far discovered.

    The decommissioning costs would be negligible, if the maximum allowed radiation exposure levels were calculated based on actual effects on health; Instead, the principle of 'As Low As Reasonably Achievable' (ALARA) is applied, and operators are required to go to insane lengths to protect people against increased levels of ionizing radiation, even where those levels are demonstrably harmless. Meanwhile, contaminated fossil power plant sites get a cursory cleanup at best, and then get abandoned, with only the local parents showing the slightest concern about the very real risks they pose.

    'Dangerous nuclear waste' from power plants is so dangerous that in sixty plus years, not one person has ever been injured or killed by it. It is mostly perfectly good fuel, which could be recycled, if the anti-nuclear lobby were not so adamant that (in this one case) recycling is bad, and should not be permitted. meanwhile, waste from fossil fuel plants has no such impeccable safety record; But nobody seems to mind. When was the last time somebody mentioned 'Dangerous coal waste'? why do people think that they need to prefix 'nuclear waste' with 'dangerous', when it has caused no harm whatsoever to anybody in the entire history of commercial nuclear power generation? Are we really so uncaring about fact, and so easily swayed by propaganda*?

    All of the problems trotted out by the anti-nuclear lobby in opposition to nuclear power are self-fulfilling prophecies - the cause of the 'problems' is their refusal to even consider any reasonable solutions.

    Meanwhile, the propaganda for renewables and against nuclear power can't hide the fact that countries like France and Sweden, and states like Ontario, where nuclear and hydro are the main power sources, have GHG emissions form electricity generation well below 100gCO2eq/kWh, while countries like Denmark and Germany, who have piled VAST sums into renewables still average GHG emissions form electricity generation in the order of 500gCO2eq/kWh.

    Lots of really excellent things have been claimed for wind and solar power; But a look at the actual generation profiles of countries that have embraced these technologies shows that the real effect has been to move from coal to gas for most of their power, with the renewables filling in patchy bits of supply (but on the rare occasions when they fill 100% of supply for a whole day, it makes headlines as though they had achieved some fabulous goal. Nobody posts the '0% of power in Germany was produced by wind power for 48 hours due to calm weather' headlines to offset these apparent victories).

    Reality is real. The proof of the pudding is in the GHG emissions. I will be an avid supporter of Energiewende if, as and when the Germans routinely match the French on that CO2eq/kWh number over a full year. I am NOT holding my breath.

    The question of whether the best approach to GHG reductions is nuclear or renewables has been tested in the real world, over the long term, at the scale of entire large developed nations. The answer is that nuclear power, as adopted by France, consistently and easily beats the pants off renewable energy, as adopted by Germany, by every single important measure (unless popularity is included as 'important').


    (View video on YouTube)

    Nuclear power isn't renewable; But it could power the world for an indefinite time - the total Uranium resource is enough for thousands of years, and the Thorium resource is even larger - particularly if we use breeders and reprocessing to recycle the otherwise unusable and/or unused fraction of the fuel, rather than declaring it to be 'waste' and burying it at pointless expense.





    *Apparently, yes.

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    Parties in my family weren't wild but there were in a different era. In the years of Grandpa, neighbors used to knock the door, I was told to open, the neighbor ignored me but saying hi to grandma who was behind me, showed her fresh chicken hanging up side down from a string, saying, "hi neighbor, we hear the music and we should like to joint you", grandma hit my head so I pick up the chicken and taken them to the back patio where they will be killed and have more food for the party.

    Other neighbors showed up with beer, wine, etc.

    The house was full, and many leaved the house late and taking food as leftover grandma always insisted to give away.

    However, many people were drunk and some of them sleeping everywhere. About 2:00 am, my grandpa woke me up to go and buy more chicken for next morning. Breakfast wasn't omelets and sh*t like that, breakfast after parties were chicken soup, beans and rice, beer -no liquor... too early for that...- and etc.

    So, 2:00am going to the "Chinese chicken place".

    The Chinese chicken place was a chicken farm owned by a Chinese dude. Clever, eh?

    It happens that this Chinese chicken place was located in a route without street lights, it was a road without pavement. The property was surrounded by a Trump's style wall the whole perimeter. Grandpa knocked the door and asked for two fat chicken and two dozen of eggs. We came inside and waited over there.

    The old Chinese man called his grandson, who was about 10 years old. He told him to "turn the lights On".

    Here is the best renewable energy of the world:

    The Chinese boy jumped to a stationary bike, connected was a huge dynamo to the wheel which was also huge. And there he went. After the boy started his biking, lights made from flashlights started to illuminate the whole area from the house of the Chinese family to the henhouse, plus the entrance where we were waiting for the chicken., and the corners of the property.

    The old man came with everything my grandpa asked for and after payment we went back home in grandpa's car.

    Today renewable energy is in us, but we are lazy, this is the sad truth, and this is why tomorrow morning I will order lots of dynamos to be installed in different stationary bicycles at home, so if people at home want to watch TV, they must do some exercise to turn it On...

    But, as usual, to us, the ones with real solutions, the rest never listen to us....

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    Couldn't we go back to steam for a lot of stuff?

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