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Thread: The Remarkable Progress of Renewable Energy

  1. Top | #1061
    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    The French load-follow with nuclear reactors. It's not particularly fuel efficient, but fuel costs are a minuscule fraction of the cost of generating electricity from nuclear fission, so it doesn't matter.

    Hydrogen has a number of issues, not least of which is that it's the most difficult gas to contain, and is explosive at a very wide range of concentrations in air. This makes widespread use of Hydrogen very hazardous indeed.

    If it wasn't so tragic, the popularity of Hydrogen amongst people who reject nuclear fission as "too dangerous" would be the funniest joke in the history of electricity generation.

  2. Top | #1062
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    A mix of sources.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tennes...Power_stations

    Power stations
    Main article: List of power stations operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority
    With a generating capacity of approximately 35 gigawatts (GW), TVA has the sixth highest generation capacity of any utility company in the United States.[43] TVA's power mix as of 2020 is five coal-fired power plants, 29 hydroelectric dams, three nuclear plants (with seven operating reactors), nine simple-cycle natural gas combustion turbine plants, nine combined cycle gas plants, 1 pumped storage hydroelectric plant, 1 wind energy site, and 15 small solar energy sites.[44] In fiscal year 2018, nuclear generation made up about 40% of TVA's total, coal 26%, natural gas 20%, hydroelectric 10%, and wind and solar 3%.[44] TVA purchases about 15% of the power it sells from other power producers. It purchases power from natural gas combined cycles, coal, and wind, and other renewables.[45] The cost of Purchased Power is part of the "Fuel Cost Adjustment" (FCA) charge that is separate from the TVA Rate. Watts Bar Nuclear Plant produces tritium as a byproduct for the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration, which requires tritium for nuclear weapons (for "boosted" fission primaries and for fusion secondaries).

    Electric transmission
    TVA is one of the largest operators of electric transmission in the U.S. with an approximately 16,000-mile (26,000 km) corridor of transmission (13,000 miles (21,000 km) of which is greater than 161kv).[46]

  3. Top | #1063
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    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    The French load-follow with nuclear reactors. It's not particularly fuel efficient, but fuel costs are a minuscule fraction of the cost of generating electricity from nuclear fission, so it doesn't matter.
    Given the tiny fuel costs it's not worth doing, and there's also the issue that you can't do it quickly.

    Hydrogen has a number of issues, not least of which is that it's the most difficult gas to contain, and is explosive at a very wide range of concentrations in air. This makes widespread use of Hydrogen very hazardous indeed.

    If it wasn't so tragic, the popularity of Hydrogen amongst people who reject nuclear fission as "too dangerous" would be the funniest joke in the history of electricity generation.
    And hydrogen has very little use anyway other than as a storage technique--which has a pretty low efficiency.

  4. Top | #1064
    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Natural Gas, America’s No. 1 Power Source, Already Has a New Challenger: Batteries - WSJ
    A decade after the fracking boom took off, the fuel faces disruption by a new combination on the electric grid: renewable energy and electricity storage

    Vistra Corp. owns 36 natural-gas power plants, one of America’s largest fleets. It doesn’t plan to buy or build any more.

    Instead, Vistra intends to invest more than $1 billion in solar farms and battery storage units in Texas and California as it tries to transform its business to survive in an electricity industry being reshaped by new technology.

    “I’m hellbent on not becoming the next Blockbuster Video , ” said Vistra Chief Executive Curt Morgan. “I’m not going to sit back and watch this legacy business dwindle and not participate.

    A decade ago, natural gas displaced coal as America’s top electric-power source, as fracking unlocked cheap quantities of the fuel. Now, in quick succession, natural gas finds itself threatened with the same kind of disruption, only this time from cost-effective batteries charged with wind and solar energy.
    The rest of that article is paywalled, but it gives a sense of what is currently happening.

    Newsom Eyes Floating Wind Farms Off California Coast
    Environmental groups support the projects, as long as they're done responsibly for biodiversity.

    California Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to expedite the construction of commercial wind energy farms along the Pacific Coast that will rely on cutting-edge floating wind turbines to produce green energy.

    Newsom wants to focus on two areas: Morro Bay, in California’s central coast, which could potentially host 380 floating wind turbines, and the so-called Humboldt Call Area, which is further north. Together, these areas could produce around 4.6 gigawatts, enough clean energy to power 1.6 million homes.

    California aims to produce all of its electricity through renewable energy resources by 2045, which would require the construction of 6 gigawatts of new renewable and storage resources annually—roughly five times more than what the state has been adding annually over the past decade.
    Floating wind turbines have have emerged as an alternative to wind turbines mounted on the ocean floor. They are anchored in place so they don't move around.

    It's nice to see renewable energy featured in the mainstream news media like that.

  5. Top | #1065
    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Renewable Energy: safe, clean, unlimited energy for our future - at Reddit

    I found an article that describes a poll:

    Solar is as popular as apple pie (but some folks still prefer pecan) – pv magazine USA
    Numbers are % oppose / favor
    • Solar panel farms 14 84
    • Wind turbine farms 20 77
    • Nuclear power plants 47 50
    • Offshore oil and gas drilling 55 43
    • Hydraulic fracturing 56 41
    • Coal mining 61 36


    What percent favor: Prioritize developing alternative energy / Completely phase out the use of fossil fuels / Phase out the production of gasoline cars and trucks by 2035
    • U.S. adults 71 33 47
    • Gen Z 76 43 56
    • Millennial 81 42 57
    • Gen X 72 32 45
    • Boomer & older 63 25 38
    • Rep/lean Rep 47 12 22
    • Dem/lean Dem 90 50 58
    • Among Republicans/lean Rep
    • Gen Z 63 20 34
    • Millennial 62 19 31
    • Gen X 50 15 25
    • Boomer & older 33 6 14
    • Among Democrats/lean Dem
    • Gen Z 85 60 73
    • Millennial 92 57 74
    • Gen X 91 48 64
    • Boomer & older 90 44 63


    How much is everybody doing? Too little / About the right amount / Too much
    • Large businesses and corporations 69 21 8
    • Ordinary Americans 66 28 5
    • The energy industry 62 29 7
    • Your state elected officials 60 27 11
    • You, yourself, as an individual 47 48 4
    • Environmental advocacy organizations 29 48 22

    Interesting that some people say that these organizations and individuals are doing too much.

  6. Top | #1066
    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Time to make energy poverty in Africa a thing of the past | Renewable Energy | Al Jazeera - "Cheap renewables offer the key to universal electricity access in Africa."

    The ‘Green Vortex’ Is Saving America’s Climate-Change Future - The Atlantic
    A “green vortex” is saving America’s climate future.

    The article points out that the 2010's seem like a decade of inaction about climate troubles, and that viewpoint does have a lot of support.
    That 2009 climate bill, the one that President Barack Obama couldn’t pass? It required the U.S. to cut greenhouse-gas emissions 17 percent by 2020 as compared with their all-time high. Yet last year, our emissions were down 21 percent. The same bill said that the U.S. had to generate 20 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2020. Last year, we met that target. We will surpass it in 2021.
    Why did this happen?
    A group of scholars, engineers, and economists may have an answer. Over the past few years, this group has puzzled together a powerful thesis that explains why America and the world are decarbonizing—and how they can get better at it. Decarbonization isn’t best accomplished by fiat, they argue, but by feedback loop; it proceeds by a self-accelerating process that I have called “the green vortex.” The green vortex describes how policy, technology, business, and politics can all work together, lowering the cost of zero-carbon energy, building pro-climate coalitions, and speeding up humanity’s ability to decarbonize. It has also already gotten results. The green vortex is what drove down the cost of wind and solar, what overturned Exxon’s board, and what the Biden administration is banking on in its infrastructure plan.

    ...
    The idea that drives the green vortex is: Practice makes improvement. The more that we do something, whether baking a cake or manufacturing electric vehicles, the better we get at it. (Economists call this “learning by doing.”) This idea might seem intuitive, but it is often ignored in policy conversations. Over the past half decade, learning by doing has driven down the cost of semiconductors, solar panels, and electric vehicles.
    In fact, that is very typical of new technologies. As more people adopt some technology, that technology becomes less expensive, from a combination of increased experience and greater market size: economies of scale.

    How might we speed up this adoption?
    The core mechanism here is that subsidies speed up learning by doing. Any industry would, eventually, figure out how to make a product more cheaply; subsidies move that learning forward in time, so that the unsubsidized price starts looking attractive more quickly. “You’re trying to grab the lever that accelerates the pace of cost declines,” Jenkins said. “That’s where the policy has teeth.
    That's good - many new industries have been supported by direct or indirect subsidies.

    As to how different industries will fare, the article divides them into four categories:
    • Winners - solar-panel companies
    • Losers - coal companies
    • Resource managers - those that scrimp on raw-material and energy use
    • Convertible industries - those that revise their operations - electric utilities and carmakers

  7. Top | #1067
    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    More on The Atlantic:
    The green vortex also makes Biden’s climate and infrastructure agenda, the American Jobs Plan, fit into place. Large swaths of Biden’s plan, which has been criticized for a lack of focus and unnecessary constraints, are devoted to beefing up industries. This choice makes more sense in light of the green vortex. It focuses much of its attention on industries that are crucial to decarbonization but that remain in their early stages. So it spends, for instance, $174 billion on “winning” the global EV market, chiefly by building “domestic supply chains” for electric vehicles and helping consumers buy specifically American-made vehicles.

    The Biden plan spends even more time on industries that don’t yet have a plan to go zero-carbon. So it promises to invest in 15 industrial-scale demonstration projects to produce green hydrogen, and to create another 10 factories that will pioneer new ways to make zero-carbon steel, cement, and chemicals. And the plan promises that the federal government will buy such zero-carbon products to help fledgling firms.
    Though that goes against the conventional wisdom of comparative advantage.

    California Legislators Push $300 Million Hydrogen Plan
    noting
    Nearly 20 Legislators Call for More Funding for Hydrogen Infrastructure in California Budget | Business Wire
    noting
    Investments in Zero Emission Vehicle Fueling Infrastructure and Reauthorization of the Clean Transportation Program
    Because of its fast fueling capabilities and vehicles offering longer ranges and larger sizes without a loss in efficiency or capacity, fuel cell electric vehicles offer 1:1 replacement for gasoline and diesel vehicles. This advantage is critical as we consider how to best meet the driving needs of residents living in older buildings and multi-family dwellings, single-vehicle households, super-commuters which includes transportation networking companies and, for example, those working in the agriculture and construction fields.
    Nothing in that letter about how this hydrogen is to be made. If in renewable-energy fashion, it would be made by electrolyzing water.

  8. Top | #1068
    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Bill Gates-backed 'sunlight refinery' lands funds to speed novel technology's roll-out | Recharge
    Heliogen's high-temperature concentrating solar power concept now primed for large-scale deployment as prototype system is tested to decarbonise Rio Tinto mine in US

    Renewable energy outfit Heliogen has reeled in $108m from two funding rounds to push its new-look concentrating solar powered (CSP) ‘sunlight refinery’ concept through to commercialisation.

    ...
    The company says the baseline system evolved since “will provide industrial-grade heat that will be capable of replacing fossil fuels in processes including the production of cement, steel, and petrochemicals”.

    The technology could alternatively be used for power generation by the addition of a supercritical CO2 turbine, and for green hydrogen production if linked to an electrolyser.
    Electricity isn't very good for making high temperature - resistance heating isn't very good, and one needs to make an electric arc.

    Synfuels are a good alternative: make hydrogen, then burn at at high temperatures. The Space Shuttle Main Engine, a hydrogen burner, makes internal temperatures as high as 3,000 K.


    Volvo Cars is first carmaker to explore fossil-free steel with SSAB - SSAB
    The collaboration makes Volvo Cars the first carmaker to work with SSAB and its HYBRIT initiative, the steel industry’s most ambitious and advanced project in fossil-free steel development.

    As part of the collaboration, Volvo Cars will be the first carmaker to secure SSAB steel made from hydrogen-reduced iron from the HYBRIT pilot plant in Luleå, Sweden. This steel will be used for testing purposes and may be used in a concept car.
    That's another use of hydrogen - as an alternative to coal for metal refining.

    "The global steel industry accounts for around 7 % of global direct carbon emissions because it is currently dominated by an iron ore-based steel making technology, using blast furnaces which depend on coking coal."

    Iron refineries will still have to use iron ore, but they would use hydrogen instead of coal to refine it.

  9. Top | #1069
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  10. Top | #1070
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    Quote Originally Posted by lpetrich View Post
    Floating wind turbines have have emerged as an alternative to wind turbines mounted on the ocean floor. They are anchored in place so they don't move around.

    It's nice to see renewable energy featured in the mainstream news media like that.
    That is interesting, though I ponder how much loss to get the energy on shore. Also, that can be a rather rough environment for a structure. Maintenance, upkeep, access, that isn't cheap.

    Being able to anchor instead of paying huge sums for drilled shafts is cheaper. But those savings are being eaten up elsewhere.

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