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kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 08:11 PM
Original message
Nuclear Power's Competitive Landscape
http://www.rmi.org/rmi/Library/2009-15_NuclearPowersCom...

Nuclear Power's Competitive Landscape
AUTHOR: Lovins, Amory
DOCUMENT ID: 2009-15
YEAR: 2009
DOCUMENT TYPE: Presentation
PUBLISHER: RMI


A hotly debated topic, the present and future state of nuclear power and its competitors are the subject of this presentation by Amory Lovins at RMI2009. Lovins argues that nuclear power is losing to micropower and renewable energy choices because they are cheaper, even with carbon pricing. Likewise, energy end-use efficiency is cheaper than nuclear power and using integrative design, radical energy and financial savings are possible. Lovins also discusses the reliability of nuclear power compared to that of renewable and efficient sources. This presentation was part of a plenary debate with Robert Rosner entitled, "Nuclear: Fix or Folly?" The accompanying video of the entire debate is available at http://www.rmi.org/rmi/Videos .
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SchoolBoy Donating Member (12 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 08:31 PM
Response to Original message
1. False dichotomies
The optimal energy policy isn't 'either/or'. Nuclear has a place in energy policy. Nuclear power is optimal for the base demand, the part that is always present. And with distributed storage for peak usage offloading, nuclear can cover an even larger portion of primary production.

The cost and lead time issues of nuclear can be addressed by creating modular nuclear designs that are industry standards. Then a new plant is simply a question of how many modules to use and where to site them. Don't confuse custom power unit design with the inherent characteristic of nuclear.

In short, a plan for a smart grid (local off-peak energy storage), linked to commodity nuclear modules, can for the basis for a near optimal energy system.

I'd also include regional land use planning to reduce population and industrial dispersion as part of an energy policy.

It will take ~50 years to reach such a goal. But we can't walk away from what we have in place in anything less than decades.
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kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 08:58 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. It depends on the goal you are prescribing for nuclear power...
Since the money to build them has already been spent, maintaining the present capacity until the end of a transition to renewable energy is a wise move in light of the urgency of the climate threat. However building new capacity diverts funds from far more effective solutions that provide greater benefits for lower costs.

Public discussions of nuclear power, and a surprising number of articles in peer-reviewed
journals, are increasingly based on four notions unfounded in fact or logic: that

1. variable renewable sources of electricity (windpower and photovoltaics) can provide little
or no reliable electricity because they are not baseloadable to run all the time;
2. those renewable sources require such enormous amounts of land, hundreds of times more
than nuclear power does, that theyre environmentally unacceptable;
3. all options, including nuclear power, are needed to combat climate change; and
4. nuclear powers economics matter little because governments must use it anyway to
protect the climate.

For specificity, this review of these four notions focuses on the nuclear chapter of Stewart
Brands 2009 book Whole Earth Discipline, which encapsulates similar views widely expressed
and cross-cited by organizations and individuals advocating expansion of nuclear power. Its
therefore timely to subject them to closer scrutiny than they have received in most public media.

This review relies chiefly on five papers15, which I gave Brand over the past few years but on
which he has been unwilling to engage in substantive discussion. They document6 why
expanding nuclear power is uneconomic, is unnecessary, is not undergoing the claimed
renaissance in the global marketplace (because it fails the basic test of cost-effectiveness ever
more robustly), and, most importantly, will reduce and retard climate protection....

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

http://www.rsc.org/publishing/journals/EE/article.asp?d...

Energy Environ. Sci., 2009, 2, 148 - 173, DOI: 10.1039/b809990c
Review of solutions to global warming, air pollution, and energy security

Mark Z. Jacobson

This paper reviews and ranks major proposed energy-related solutions to global warming, air pollution mortality, and energy security while considering other impacts of the proposed solutions, such as on
water supply,
land use,
wildlife,
resource availability,
thermal pollution,
water chemical pollution,
nuclear proliferation, and
undernutrition.

Nine electric power sources and two liquid fuel options are considered. The electricity sources include solar-photovoltaics (PV), concentrated solar power (CSP), wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, wave, tidal, nuclear, and coal with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. The liquid fuel options include corn-ethanol (E85) and cellulosic-E85. To place the electric and liquid fuel sources on an equal footing, we examine their comparative abilities to address the problems mentioned by powering new-technology vehicles, including battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (HFCVs), and flex-fuel vehicles run on E85.

Twelve combinations of energy source-vehicle type are considered. Upon ranking and weighting each combination with respect to each of 11 impact categories, four clear divisions of ranking, or tiers, emerge.

Tier 1 (highest-ranked) includes wind-BEVs and wind-HFCVs.
Tier 2 includes CSP-BEVs, geothermal-BEVs, PV-BEVs, tidal-BEVs, and wave-BEVs.
Tier 3 includes hydro-BEVs, nuclear-BEVs, and CCS-BEVs.
Tier 4 includes corn- and cellulosic-E85.

Wind-BEVs ranked first in seven out of 11 categories, including the two most important, mortality and climate damage reduction. Although HFCVs are much less efficient than BEVs, wind-HFCVs are still very clean and were ranked second among all combinations.

Tier 2 options provide significant benefits and are recommended.

Tier 3 options are less desirable. However, hydroelectricity, which was ranked ahead of coal-CCS and nuclear with respect to climate and health, is an excellent load balancer, thus recommended.

The Tier 4 combinations (cellulosic- and corn-E85) were ranked lowest overall and with respect to climate, air pollution, land use, wildlife damage, and chemical waste. Cellulosic-E85 ranked lower than corn-E85 overall, primarily due to its potentially larger land footprint based on new data and its higher upstream air pollution emissions than corn-E85.

Whereas cellulosic-E85 may cause the greatest average human mortality, nuclear-BEVs cause the greatest upper-limit mortality risk due to the expansion of plutonium separation and uranium enrichment in nuclear energy facilities worldwide. Wind-BEVs and CSP-BEVs cause the least mortality.

The footprint area of wind-BEVs is 26 orders of magnitude less than that of any other option. Because of their low footprint and pollution, wind-BEVs cause the least wildlife loss.

The largest consumer of water is corn-E85. The smallest are wind-, tidal-, and wave-BEVs.

The US could theoretically replace all 2007 onroad vehicles with BEVs powered by 73000144000 5 MW wind turbines, less than the 300000 airplanes the US produced during World War II, reducing US CO2 by 32.532.7% and nearly eliminating 15000/yr vehicle-related air pollution deaths in 2020.

In sum, use of wind, CSP, geothermal, tidal, PV, wave, and hydro to provide electricity for BEVs and HFCVs and, by extension, electricity for the residential, industrial, and commercial sectors, will result in the most benefit among the options considered.

A combination of these technologies should be advanced as a solution to global warming, air pollution, and energy security.

Coal-CCS and nuclear offer less benefit thus represent an opportunity cost loss, and the biofuel options provide no certain benefit and the greatest negative impacts.

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SchoolBoy Donating Member (12 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-18-10 06:52 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. Optimality vs Constraints
When I spoke about optimality, I was addressing the balancing and trade-offs that need to be made to reach the lowest total cost ($/carbon/etc) practical mix of energy sources. The articles you just posted address just the carbon foot print of an energy source and not any constraints on it's maximum output.

Some technologies don't scale well in some locations. Wind is a poor source of energy in the regions with the most people (and most energy consumption) in the US. There is no geothermal in Florida. Tidal power is useless in Nebraska. You can't address an optimal technology for the US or the world; you need to speak to a mix of sources.

And I haven't heard of any wide spread success with CCS. According to Wikipedia, there are only 4 small demonstration projects running today. And when I search for publications about those projects, there isn't much available. Until CCS is proven, it would be imprudent to design an energy policy around it.
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kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-18-10 02:17 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. You spoke specifically of "baseload"...
Edited on Mon Jan-18-10 02:20 PM by kristopher
And your comments are predicated on a false understanding of the importance and value of "baseload" power.

The information in the articles is fundamental to addressing "the balancing and trade-offs that need to be made to reach the lowest total cost ($/carbon/etc) practical mix of energy sources" and you've made no argument that shows why it isn't. In fact, I'm wondering if you even bothered to read them, since you also wrote that the articles I "just posted address just the carbon foot print of an energy source and not any constraints on it's maximum output."
Since the Lovins articles are predicated on well known work evaluating resource availability and since Jacobson specifically includes resource availability and many other factors, that statement doesn't seem to be consistent with them.

I also don't see how your not very accurate characterization of certain geographic areas has anything to do with your statement regarding nuclear. For example, wind is an excellent, vast resource in close proximity to the highly populated areas of the east coast and it is cost effective to build transmission to tap into the western corridor (Cavallo) to help meet the needs of population centers on that side of the continent; Florida has an outstanding energy resource in the currents of the Gulf Stream.

I agree with the conclusion regarding CCS, but don't see how it is relevant since it isn't a recommended solution.

I don't think you have a real grasp of the total picture and some of the components like baseload power. I'd suggest you read this for a start:
http://www.rmi.org/rmi/Library/2009-09_FourNuclearMyths
Four Nuclear Myths
A commentary on Stewart Brands Whole Earth Discipline and on similar writings
AMORY B. LOVINS, CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF SCIENTIST, ROCKY MOUNTAIN INSTITUTE
13 October 2009

Public discussions of nuclear power, and a surprising number of articles in peer-reviewed
journals, are increasingly based on four notions unfounded in fact or logic: that

1. variable renewable sources of electricity (windpower and photovoltaics) can provide little
or no reliable electricity because they are not baseloadable to run all the time;
2. those renewable sources require such enormous amounts of land, hundreds of times more
than nuclear power does, that theyre environmentally unacceptable;
3. all options, including nuclear power, are needed to combat climate change; and
4. nuclear powers econoprotect the climate.

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SchoolBoy Donating Member (12 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-18-10 05:38 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. Needs vs capacity
The base load of the electric grid isn't static. Redesign the grid, time of day pricing, and regulation of consumption can all raise/lower the base load and decrease/increase the peaks. With a higher base load and less volatility in demand, nuclear has a decided production advantage over other sources. Nuclear is the only practical foundation for a reduced CO2 energy policy.

Wind, tidal, geothermal, etc are great energy sources with few recorded downsides. (Hydro has numerous environmental issues; but since the locations with the greatest hydro potential have already been developed, it can't add significantly to future energy output.) But they don't have the potential to replace most of the current output from (fossil fuel + nuclear). At least all of the reports I've read indicate that they don't have the potential.

DOE has numbers through 2007:

http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epa/epat1p1.ht...

(Units are 1000 megawatthours.)

coal + oil + natural gas = 2,016,456 + 65,739 + 896,590 = 2,978,785

That's 2,978,785/4,156,745 or 71.7% of energy generation.

nuclear = 806,425

That's 806,425/4,156,745 or 19.4%.

(fossil fuel + nuclear) = 91.1% of current electricity sources.

None of the studies I've read see any practical energy policy that doesn't use nuclear. We need to do nuclear right or coal will kill us and many of Earth's species.

As for long distance transmission of electricity, we have:

http://www.puc.nh.gov/Transmission%20Commission/Transmi...

<b>Power can flow over long distances, but with two significant limitations.</b>

<i>Line losses and voltage drop. Power lines carry electricity over long distances, but the electrical energy gradually dissipates into the air in the form of heat. In addition, much as water flowing through a pipe gradually loses pressure, electricity gradually drops in voltage when it is transmitted over long distances. Voltage drops can be cured by devices called capacitors, but at a cost of more energy lost. The United States as a whole loses nearly 10 percent of all the power it generates to these technical limitations. So, although it is technically possible to generate power in the Dakotas with wind turbines to supply the large parts of the nations electrical needs, it is not practicable to deliver that power over such a long distance using the existing AC transmission system.

Constraints on the transmission system. ...</i>
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kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-18-10 10:13 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. You are kidding right?
Edited on Mon Jan-18-10 10:15 PM by kristopher
Please tell me you are not using past performance for renewables to predict the *capability* of renewable energy in the future. That is the favorite false argument used by 'nnads; and it is just as false when you use it.

To demonstrate the point, if I were to point to the statistics for nuclear power from 1945-1960, would that prove that the current amount generated by nuclear is impossible?

Or how about the number of miles of paved road and average speed on the road from 1940-1955? Would that prove that the current 6.2 million miles of paved road or the average speed of around 50 mph are figments of our imagination?

You've obviously chosen to abandon your rational strategy you began with and just throw a bunch of propaganda out instead of admitting that you hold an affinity for nuclear that is unrelated to the goal energy security or carbon management. Those are apparently just excuses to you as I've provided you with detailed information that DIRECTLY CONTRADICTS assertions you make, such as "Nuclear is the only practical foundation for a reduced CO2 energy policy".

You also write, "None of the studies I've read see any practical energy policy that doesn't use nuclear. We need to do nuclear right or coal will kill us and many of Earth's species."

Please share those studies with us.

Energy
Volume 32, Issue 2, February 2007, Pages 120-127
Controllable and affordable utility-scale electricity from intermittent wind resources and compressed air energy storage (CAES)

Alfred Cavallo

World wind energy resources are substantial, and in many areas, such as the US and northern Europe, could in theory supply all of the electricity demand. However, the remote or challenging location (i.e. offshore) and especially the intermittent character of the wind resources present formidable barriers to utilization on the scale required by a modern industrial economy. All of these technical challenges can be overcome. Long distance transmission is well understood, while offshore wind technology is being developed rapidly. Intermittent wind power can be transformed to a controllable power source with hybrid wind/compressed air energy storage (CAES) systems. The cost of electricity from such hybrid systems (including transmission) is affordable, and comparable to what users in some modern industrial economies already pay for electricity. This approach to intermittent energy integration has many advantages compared to the current strategy of forcing utilities to cope with supply uncertainty and transmission costs. Above all, it places intermittent wind on an equal technical footing with every other generation technology, including nuclear power, its most important long-term competitor.


The baseload myth

Brand rejects the most important and successful renewable sources of electricity for one key
reason stated on p. 80 and p. 101. On p. 80, he quotes novelist and author Gwyneth Cravenss
definition of baseload power as the minimum amount of proven, consistent, around-the-clock,
rain-or-shine power that utilities must supply to meet the demands of their millions of
customers.21 (Thus it describes a pattern of aggregated22 customer demand.) Two sentences
later, he asserts: So far comes from only three sources: fossil fuels, hydro, and
nuclear. Two paragraphs later, he explains this dramatic leap from a description of demand to a
restriction of supply: Wind and solar, desirable as they are, arent part of baseload because they
are intermittentproductive only when the wind blows or the sun shines. If some sort of massive
energy storage is devised, then they can participate in baseload; without it, they remain
supplemental, usually to gas-fired plants.

That widely heard claim is fallacious. The manifest need for some amount of steady, reliable
power23 is met by generating plants collectively, not individually. That is, reliability is a statistic-
al attribute of all the plants on the grid combined.24 If steady 24/7 operation or operation at any
desired moment were instead a required capability of each individual power plant, then the grid
couldnt meet modern needs, because no kind of power plant is perfectly reliable. For example,
in the U.S. during 200307, coal capacity was shut down an average of 12.3% of the time (4.2%
without warning); nuclear, 10.6% (2.5%); gas-fired, 11.8% (2.8%).25 Worldwide through 2008,
nuclear units were unexpectedly unable to produce 6.4% of their energy output.26 This inherent
intermittency of nuclear and fossil-fueled power plants requires many different plants to back
each other up through the grid. This has been utility operators strategy for reliable supply
throughout the industrys history. Every utility operator knows that power plants provide energy
to the grid, which serves load. The simplistic mental model of one plant serving one load is valid
only on a very small desert island. The standard remedy for failed plants is other interconnected
plants that are workingnot some sort of massive energy storage devised.

Modern solar and wind power are more technically reliable than coal and nuclear plants; their
technical failure rates are typically around 12%. However, they are also variable resources
because their output depends on local weather, forecastable days in advance with fair accuracy
and an hour ahead with impressive precision.27 But their inherent variability can be managed by
proper resource choice, siting, and operation.28 Weather affects different renewable resources
differently; for example, storms are good for small hydro and often for windpower, while flat
calm weather is bad for them but good for solar power. Weather is also different in different
places: across a few hundred miles, windpower is scarcely correlated, so weather risks can be
diversified. A Stanford study found that properly interconnecting at least ten windfarms can
enable an average of one-third of their output to provide firm baseload power.29 Similarly, within
each of the three power pools from Texas to the Canadian border, combining uncorrelated
windfarm sites can reduce required wind capacity by more than half for the same firm output,
thereby yielding fewer needed turbines, far fewer zero-output hours, and easier integration.30

A broader assessment of reliability tends not to favor nuclear power. Of all 132 U.S. nuclear
plants builtjust over half of the 253 originally ordered21% were permanently and
prematurely closed due to reliability or cost problems. Another 27% have completely failed for a
year or more at least once. The surviving U.S. nuclear plants have lately averaged ~90% of their
full-load full-time potentiala major improvement31 for which the industry deserves much
creditbut they are still not fully dependable. Even reliably-running nuclear plants must shut
down, on average, for ~39 days every ~17 months for refueling and maintenance. Unexpected
failures occur too, shutting down upwards of a billion watts in milliseconds, often for weeks to
months. Solar cells and windpower dont fail so ungracefully.

Power plants can fail for reasons other than mechanical breakdown, and those reasons can affect
many plants at once. As France and Japan have learned to their cost, heavily nuclear-dependent
regions are particularly at risk because drought, earthquake, a serious safety problem, or a
terrorist incident could close many plants simultaneously. And nuclear power plants have a
unique further disadvantage: for neutron-physics reasons, they cant quickly restart after an
emergency shutdown, such as occurs automatically in a grid power failure. During the August
2003 Northeast blackout, nine perfectly operating U.S. nuclear units had to shut down. Twelve
days of painfully slow restart later, their average capacity loss had exceeded 50%. For the first
three days, just when they were most needed, their output was less than 3% of normal.32

To cope with nuclear or fossil-fueled plants large-scale intermittency, utilities must install a
~1520% reserve margin of extra capacity, some of which must be continuously fueled,
spinning ready for instant use. This is as much a cost of firming and integration as is the
corresponding cost for firming and integrating windpower or photovoltaic power so its
dispatchable at any time.33 Such costs should be properly counted and compared for all
generating resources. Such a comparison generally favors a diversified portfolio of many small
units that fail at different times, for different reasons, and probably only a few at a time: diversity
provides reliability even if individual units are not so dependable.

Reliability as experienced by the customer is what really matters, and here the advantage tilts
decisively towards decentralized solutions, because ~9899% of U.S. power failures originate in
the grid. Its therefore more reliable to bypass the grid by shifting to efficiently used, diverse,
dispersed resources sited at or near the customer. This logic favors onsite photovoltaics, onsite
cogeneration, and local renewables over, say, remote windfarms or thermal power plants, if
complemented by efficient use, optional demand response, and an appropriate combination of
local diversification and (if needed) local storage, although naturally the details are site-specific.

The big transmission lines that remote power sources rely upon to deliver their output to
customers are also vulnerable to lightning, ice storms, rifle bullets, cyberattacks, and other
interruptions. These vulnerabilities are so serious that the U.S. Defense Science Board has
recommended that the Pentagon stop relying on grid power altogether.34 The bigger our power
plants and power lines get, the more frequent and widespread regional blackouts will become. In
general, nuclear and fossil-fueled power plants require transmission hauls at least as long as is
typical of new windfarms, while solar potential is rather evenly distributed across the country.

For all these reasons, a diverse portfolio of distributed and especially renewable resources can
make power supplies more reliable and resilient. Of course the weather-caused variability of
windpower and photovoltaics must be managed, but this is done routinely at very modest cost.
Thirteen recent U.S. utility studies show that firming variable renewables, even up to 31% of
total generation, generally raises windpowers costs by less than a half-cent per kWh, or a few
percent.35 Without exception, ~200 international studies have found the same thing.36 Indeed, the
latest analyses are suggesting that a well-diversified and well-forecasted mix of variable
renewables, integrated with dispatchable renewables and with existing supply- and demand-side
grid resources, will probably need less storage or backup than has already been installed to cope
with the intermittence of large thermal power stations. Utilities need only apply the same
techniques they already use to manage plant or powerline outages and variations in demandbut
variations in renewable power output are more predictable than those normal fluctuations, which
often renewables variations dont augment but cancel. Thus, as the U.S. Department Energy
pithily summarizes, When wind is added to a utility system, no new backup is required to
maintain system reliability.37

This is not just a computational finding but a practical reality. In 2008, five German states got
3040% of their annual electricity from windpowerover 100% at windy timesand so do
parts of Spain and Denmark, without reliability problems. Denmark is 20% windpowered today
and aims for ~5060% (the rest to come from low- or no-carbon cogeneration). Ireland, with an
isolated small grid (~6.5 billion watts), plans to get 40% of its electricity from renewables,
chiefly wind, by 2020 and 100% by 2035. Three 2009 studies found 2940% British windpower
practical.38 The Danish utility Dong plans in the next generation to switch from ~15%
renewables (mainly wind) and ~85% fossil fuel (mainly coal) to the reverse. A German/Danish
analysis found that diversifying supplies and linking grids across Europe and North Africa could
yield 100% renewable electricity (70% windpowered) at or below todays costs.39 Similar all-
renewable scenarios are emerging for the United States and the world, even without efficiency.40

Brand nonetheless concludes that wind power remains limited by intermittency to about 20
percent of capacity (so that 94 gigawatts is
four-fifths illusory), while nuclear plants run at over 90 percent capacity these days; and there is
still is no proven storage technology that would make wind a baseload provider. That view has
long been known to be unfounded. There is no 20% limit, in theory or in practice, for technical
or reliability or economic reasons, in any grid yet studied.41 The fourth-fifths illusory remark
also appears to reflect confusing an imaginary 20% limit on windpowers share of electrical
output with windpowers capacity factor (how much of its full-time full-power output it actually
produces). Anyhow, capacity factor averaged 3537% for 200408 U.S. wind projects, is
typically around 3040% in good sites, and exceeds 50% in the best sites.42 Proven and cost-
effective bulk power storage is also available if needed.43

Even if Brand were right that variability limits windpowers potential contribution, that would be
irrelevant to windpowers climate-protecting ability. Grid operators normally44 dispatch power
from the cheapest-to-run plants first (merit order or economic dispatch). Windpowers
operating cost is an order of magnitude below coals, because theres no fueljust minor
operating and maintenance costs. Therefore, whenever the wind blows, wind turbines produce
electricity, and coal (or sometimes gas) plants are correspondingly ramped down, saving carbon
emissions. Coal makes 50% of U.S. electricity, so on Brands own assumption of a much smaller
(20%) windpower limit, windpower saves coal and money no matter when the wind blows. To
put it even more simply, physics requires that electricity production and demand exactly balance
at all times, so electricity sent out by a wind turbine must be matched by an equal decrease in
output from another plantnormally the plant with highest operating cost, i.e. fossil-fueled.

Further layers of fallacy underlie Brands amiable dismissal of solar power (pp. 101102):

For photovoltaics (PVs) to become a leading source of electricity does not require
numerous breakthroughs, sustained over decades; it requires only the sort of routine
scaling and cost reduction that the similar semiconductor industry has already done. Just
riding down the historic Moores-Law-like experience curve of higher volume and
lower costa safe bet, since a threefold cost reduction across todays PV value chain is
already in viewmakes PVs beat a new coal or nuclear plant within their respective lead
times. That is, if you start building a coal, gas, or nuclear power plant in, say, New
Jersey, and next door you start at the same time to build a solar power plant of equal
annual output, then by the time the thermal plant is finished, the solar plant will be
producing cheaper electricity, will deliver ~2.5 a coal plants onpeak output, will have
enjoyed more favorable financing because it started producing revenue in year one, and
will have been made by photovoltaic manufacturing capacity that can then reproduce the
solar plant about every 20 months45so youd be sorry if youd built the thermal plant.
Photovoltaics business case, unlike nuclears, neednt depend on government subsidies
or support. Well-designed photovoltaic retrofits are already cost-effective in many parts
of the United States and of the world, especially when integrated with improved end-use
efficiency and demand response (e.g., PowerLights 2002 retrofit of three acres of PVs on
the Santa Rita Jail46) and when financed over the long term like power plants, e.g., under
the Power Purchase Contracts that many vendors now offer. PVs thrive in markets with
little or no central-government subsidy, from Japan (200608) to rural Kenya, where
electrifying households are as likely to buy them as to connect to the grid.
Photovoltaics are highly correlated with peak loads; they often exhibit 60% and
sometimes 90% Effective Load Carrying Capacity (how much of their capacity can be
counted on to help meet peak loads). PV capacity factors can also be considerably higher
than Brands assumed 0.14, especially with mounts that track towards the sun: modern
one-axis trackers get ~0.25 in New Jersey or ~0.330.35 in sunny parts of California.47
Solar power, Brand asserts, does not work well at the infrastructure level (i.e., in
substantial installations feeding power to the grid; the largest installations in spring 2009
produced about 4060 peak megawatts each). This will surprise the California utilities
that recently ordered 850 megawatts of such installations, the firms whose reactor-scale
PV farms are successfully beating California utilities posted utility price in 2009
auctions, the firms that are sustaining ~6070% annual global growth in photovoltaic
manufacturing, and their customers in at least 82 countries. Global installed PV capacity
reached 15.2 GW in 2008, adding 5.95 GW (110% annual growth) of sales and 6.85 GW
of manufacturing (the rest was in the pipeline).48 Thats more added capacity than the
world nuclear industry has added in any year since 1996, and more added annual output
than the world nuclear industry has added in any year since 2004. About 90% of the
worlds PV capacity is grid-tied. Its operators think it works just fine.

The belief that solar and windpower can do little because of their variability is thus exactly
backwards: these resources, properly used, can actually become major or even dominant ways to
displace coal and provide stable, predictable, resilient, constant-price electricity.


http://www.nrel.gov/wind/systemsintegration/capabilitie...
http://www.nrel.gov/applying_technologies/it_wind.html

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SchoolBoy Donating Member (12 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-18-10 11:15 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. Just the facts
Edited on Mon Jan-18-10 11:16 PM by SchoolBoy
"Please tell me you are not using past performance for renewables to predict the *capability* of renewable energy in the future."

No, I'm using the current share of fossil fuel + nuclear to demonstrate the challenge to replace them with renewables. You cut and pasted a lot, but you didn't say what the practical capacity of renewables is.

I only found a DOE report (not technical) that stated a goal for 20% for wind. The basis for that goal was that GW Bush said it in a speech when President. Now they are trying to figure out how to do it.

http://www.nrel.gov/wind/pdfs/41579.pdf

Solar doesn't work at night, and solar doesn't work well when cloudy or dirty. Solar takes up lots of space if you are using it to replace fossil fuel or nuclear. I was just looking and I couldn't find anybody who would do the math. I could do the calculations (30% efficiency, 5 kWh/m2/day, 10% of US energy demand), but I'm not an expert and I can't judge the reasonableness of the result.

But it does seem that nobody out there is doing the math and the natural question is: Why not?
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kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-19-10 12:12 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. The dishonesty is increasing...
Edited on Tue Jan-19-10 12:13 AM by kristopher
You wrote: "At least all of the reports I've read indicate that they don't have the potential."
Then you trotted out 'nnad's statistics on current penetration by renewables. If that isn't using past performance to support a claim of future potential, I don't know what is.

But first, where are the references to all those studies you claim say we can't meet our energy needs with renewable energy?

If you haven't read any papers on renewables ability to do the job, the only possible reason is that you don't WANT to read such papers. All you need to do is google "renewable energy resource assessment" or "renewable energy plan climate change" or any of a dozen other such combinations. The first comprehensive published assessment I'm aware of was compiled for the UN's 1992 Rio Earth Summit and was published in 1993 by Island Press. Renewable Energy: Sources for fuels and electricity (Johansson etal) is 1200 pages and provides fundamental technical data on how to calculate the energy yield and potential of all relevant renewables.

Since then there have been literally hundreds of detailed analysis, and as with most fields, the newer the better. Below is the best of those. I say best because it not only evaluates resource potential, but also a wide range of other relevant characteristics of energy sources.

It is clear that you are out of legitimate points for discussion and have instead resorted to being deliberately obtuse. TTFN.

http://www.rsc.org/publishing/journals/EE/article.asp?d...

Energy Environ. Sci., 2009, 2, 148 - 173, DOI: 10.1039/b809990c
Review of solutions to global warming, air pollution, and energy security

Mark Z. Jacobson

This paper reviews and ranks major proposed energy-related solutions to global warming, air pollution mortality, and energy security while considering other impacts of the proposed solutions, such as on
water supply,
land use,
wildlife,
resource availability,
thermal pollution,
water chemical pollution,
nuclear proliferation, and
undernutrition.

Nine electric power sources and two liquid fuel options are considered. The electricity sources include solar-photovoltaics (PV), concentrated solar power (CSP), wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, wave, tidal, nuclear, and coal with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. The liquid fuel options include corn-ethanol (E85) and cellulosic-E85. To place the electric and liquid fuel sources on an equal footing, we examine their comparative abilities to address the problems mentioned by powering new-technology vehicles, including battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (HFCVs), and flex-fuel vehicles run on E85.

Twelve combinations of energy source-vehicle type are considered. Upon ranking and weighting each combination with respect to each of 11 impact categories, four clear divisions of ranking, or tiers, emerge.

Tier 1 (highest-ranked) includes wind-BEVs and wind-HFCVs.
Tier 2 includes CSP-BEVs, geothermal-BEVs, PV-BEVs, tidal-BEVs, and wave-BEVs.
Tier 3 includes hydro-BEVs, nuclear-BEVs, and CCS-BEVs.
Tier 4 includes corn- and cellulosic-E85.

Wind-BEVs ranked first in seven out of 11 categories, including the two most important, mortality and climate damage reduction. Although HFCVs are much less efficient than BEVs, wind-HFCVs are still very clean and were ranked second among all combinations.

Tier 2 options provide significant benefits and are recommended.

Tier 3 options are less desirable. However, hydroelectricity, which was ranked ahead of coal-CCS and nuclear with respect to climate and health, is an excellent load balancer, thus recommended.

The Tier 4 combinations (cellulosic- and corn-E85) were ranked lowest overall and with respect to climate, air pollution, land use, wildlife damage, and chemical waste. Cellulosic-E85 ranked lower than corn-E85 overall, primarily due to its potentially larger land footprint based on new data and its higher upstream air pollution emissions than corn-E85.

Whereas cellulosic-E85 may cause the greatest average human mortality, nuclear-BEVs cause the greatest upper-limit mortality risk due to the expansion of plutonium separation and uranium enrichment in nuclear energy facilities worldwide. Wind-BEVs and CSP-BEVs cause the least mortality.

The footprint area of wind-BEVs is 26 orders of magnitude less than that of any other option. Because of their low footprint and pollution, wind-BEVs cause the least wildlife loss.

The largest consumer of water is corn-E85. The smallest are wind-, tidal-, and wave-BEVs.

The US could theoretically replace all 2007 onroad vehicles with BEVs powered by 73000144000 5 MW wind turbines, less than the 300000 airplanes the US produced during World War II, reducing US CO2 by 32.532.7% and nearly eliminating 15000/yr vehicle-related air pollution deaths in 2020.

In sum, use of wind, CSP, geothermal, tidal, PV, wave, and hydro to provide electricity for BEVs and HFCVs and, by extension, electricity for the residential, industrial, and commercial sectors, will result in the most benefit among the options considered.

The combination of these technologies should be advanced as a solution to global warming, air pollution, and energy security.

Coal-CCS and nuclear offer less benefit thus represent an opportunity cost loss, and the biofuel options provide no certain benefit and the greatest negative impacts.



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SchoolBoy Donating Member (12 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-19-10 07:25 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. Setting the record straight
"Then you trotted out 'nnad's statistics on current penetration by renewables."

That's not true. I never said what the current contribution of renewables was.

"But first, where are the references to all those studies you claim say we can't meet our energy needs with renewable energy?"

I can remember more articles than I can remember URLs. I'm sorry I can't provide the URLs. I was clear about my references being just from memory. But I have tried a search and I can't find anything about the practicality of a switch to renewables; no articles for or against. I don't see you quoting anybody who has either.

But the bottom line is that even with subsidies, renewables today provide squat. There are reasons for that. We need to examine those reasons and find out how to overcome them if renewables stand a chance.

But nuclear is a major contributor to electric supply today and is a lower cost source than coal. Only a fool would ignore nuclear when seeking to replace fossil fuel as an energy source.

I would love to continue this pleasant chat, but I have to go to work now.
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kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-19-10 08:31 AM
Response to Reply #10
11. You are doing nothing but talking trash.
I didn't ask for Url's I asked for references to studies.
Whether you posted the renewable side of the equation or the fossil fuel nuclear side, it is the same argument - you're usiing past performance as a predictor of future performance - that's refuted in post 7.

Now you change it to "But the bottom line is that even with subsidies, renewables today provide squat. There are reasons for that. We need to examine those reasons and find out how to overcome them if renewables stand a chance."
Now you are making the same argument again and trying to take it down a different path - why renewables haven't been deployed is common knowledge related to politics and Ronnie Raygun's dismantling of all Carter's energy policies except the support for nuclear and fossil fuel exploration. The fact is that your argument is a gross appeal to ignorance.


Everything you've written has been completely answered by the posts in this thread. You can lead an ass to water but you can't make it drink. You can pretend they haven't but pretending is just that - it isn't reality.


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SchoolBoy Donating Member (12 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-19-10 05:42 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. sigh
I'm back from work and the dogs are fed.

"you're usiing past performance as a predictor of future performance"

I am not. I was explicit that 91.1% of today's energy is provided by technologies that you want to eliminate. Yet we have no evidence that renewables can scale up to those levels. That is the issue.

"why renewables haven't been deployed is common knowledge related to politics and Ronnie Raygun's dismantling of all Carter's energy policies except the support for nuclear and fossil fuel exploration."

Renewables have had increasing subsidies starting with the Energy Policy Act of 1992. We have seen the technologies of wind and solar vastly improve in efficiency. The low hanging fruit of performance improvements for renewables is mostly behind us. Both wind and solar can be competitive with fossil/nuclear when the site conditions are optimal.

But America, let alone the world, isn't covered with optimal sites, let alone optimal sites close to population centers.

So, can renewables scale up? Nobody knows.

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kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-19-10 07:34 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. Yes we do know.
Edited on Tue Jan-19-10 07:35 PM by kristopher
If you cared to know, the information is at your fingertips.

You just *prefer* to make false claims to TRY and support the unsupportable - expansion of nuclear power.

Still waiting for references to those studies.
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spanone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-18-10 02:20 PM
Response to Original message
5. the waste is untenable
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madokie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-19-10 08:53 AM
Response to Reply #5
12. When they figure out what to do with the waste I'll listen to arguments
for the use of nuclear energy but not a second before then.
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