Here's the chapter about solar energy:
Here's a 100 word synopsis he wrote for his talk to the House of Lords:
David MacKay also invented the Dasher text input system:
This page tried to keep it updated:
And this is not some cherry picking. 2-3c/kwh in the US, India, Chile, Middle East, etc..
People can consider these articles for themselves:
"Professor David MacKay: Britain ‘must go nuclear’ to control climate"
"Idea of renewables powering UK is an 'appalling delusion' – David MacKay"
The latter, from 2016, includes the line:
"There is this appalling delusion that people have that we can take this thing that is currently producing 1% of our electricity and we can just scale it up..."
For reference, according to:
"Renewables’ share of electricity generation shot up to 29 per cent, while nuclear sources accounted for around 21 per cent."
He isn't around anymore to update his book, but I'm not sure it matters. For me anyway, it was the approach not the specifics that mattered.
Id rather be reading MacKay's 10 year old book for advice rather than those people who think banning straws is going to save the world.
Today, it is completely out of date on PV, wind. Fingers crossed for same progress on storage & EVs.
Throw in bio-fuels for aviation, and maybe hydrogen for marine and heavy transport, and civilization may yet survive /s
Because if not, then they're a net waste.
I'd like to see a similar analysis on emissions instead of raw energy too.
It's not that I think solar is bad; it's just I don't understand why discussions about energy and emissions never include end-to-end accounting of energy costs & emissions.
EDIT: Yes, I am lazy; in the Christmas fever I forgot about the term "EROI", though I still see it discussed too rarely. But yay, thanks people for jumping to conclusions and accusing me of motivated reasoning and/or sowing disinformation. -.-
A few years ago I worked for a wind turbine company (Admittingly a crappy one) and I was one of two software engineers,
My first job was to analyse all of the data about 300 turbines were sending back home, and build a dashboard.
Well a few weeks later after checking all of the data, it turns out that the entire fleet of turbines actually consumed slightly more energy than they produced.
This was because of many manufacturing problems meant there were several frequencies that the turbine couldn’t spin at because it would generate a resonance and shatter or break something. So the system was frequently applying the break to stop the turbine destroying itself.
After several days of head scratching and double-checking and triple-checking the data, I went to the mechanical engineers and they finally sheepishly admitted they knew these things were net energy consumers rather than producers.
This doesn’t even take into account the energy budget of cost of production and distribution.
This isn’t the case for the big turbines you see out in the field, I’m really just reenforcing the parent comments point that total energy needs to be considered.
Also, you still need energy to run the computer that monitors everything.
But yeah, that sounds so bizarre. The Emperor's New clothes territory.
~90,000 terawatts = sunlight hitting surface of earth
Average insolation gives us ~6kWh over a square meter over a day, 27% of that gets us to 1.62kWh, divide by 24 to get the wattage, that's a 67.5 watts per square meter average before we get to storage or transmission.
HVDC has losses of ~3% per 1000km. Now lets look at round trip efficiency for storage. Typically you see a quoted figure of around 70% depending on technology type. So lets say a 65% loss (edit - this should read 65% efficiency, or alternatively a 35% loss) from storage and transmission.
We are now at ~44 watts per square meter, which gives us 456,000 square km from the 20 terawatt rating of humans. So ~5 Portugals, which is admittedly higher than my original figure of 2 Portugals, though you would presumably site your panels somewhere that gets better than average insolation, places like the Sahara, for example.
Also, for comparison, the Sahara desert is ~100 Portugals and the area currently used by humans for agriculture is ~550 Portugals.
Now add to the problem of solar that it's unreliable, we haven't actually solved creating proper fuel cells and have no proper grid to distribute it through which is why ex. Denmark had to get their energy from the Germans this summer because Denmark who is based most on wind didn't get any wind and had to get from Germany who didn't actually use solar but instead coal. So you would need to actually solve that kind of problems too which we aren't even close to.
In other words. Whatever reality you or others imagine with solar or renewables you are far away from showing anything close to it being a realistic solution.
I am all for renewables but let's make it support a more fundamental and solid energy base like nuclear and then add solar on top instead proposing an inferior energy form when betters are out there.
You have stated elsewhere that you think wind and solar are to do with communism. I am not sure exactly where you were going with that as an argument, but I really don't believe that you meant it in a 'yayy, communism' kind of a way.
I have said that the claim that wind and solar is the way forward is to do with the "communism has never been tried" argument.
Why do you need to lie about what I actually said.
pjc50 said: This is very much the "true communism has never been tried" argument, isn't it? Unless you know a way of building it without people?
Then you said: "No its not at all the same cause thats not what i mean. I mean that people are ignorant to the dangers not that its dangerous. Has nothing to do with communism, wind and solar on the other hand do."
The way this reads it is as though you have skipped the reference and have started talking about communism itself as opposed to the "true communism has never been tried" argument. Now this may have been unintentional on your part due to poor English, but if I have misunderstood it was not due to me trying to conflate your words in any way. You did the conflation for me.
With that all said however, the interpretation you are putting forward (which it would only be reasonable to take as the correct interpretation of your words, as it is you describing what you meant to say), still doesn't support the notion that you are "all for renewables", now does it?
(See? That's how you give a reference to back up a claim.)
You are using something written in 1983 as your support enough said.
You do know this, right?
The point was that fusion is as far of as 100% solar is. So again unless you show some actual proposals for how to get 100% solar to work realistically you are in no better position than the Fusion crowd is.
It's nothing very notable.
Lidksy's argument is as valid today as it was then.
How far is wind and solar with realistic fuel-cells?
When you write "EWE plans to build the world´s largest battery" you know you are dealing with PR not with reality.
Tesla to build world's biggest battery
Tesla mega-battery in Australia activated
Hyundai Plans World’s Largest Grid Storage Battery In Korea
Hyundai Electric completes world's largest ESS
I don't think Korea Zinc or the people of Adelaide are storing their power using public relations. I think, in reality, they had a battery delivered.
Hang on, so, you want fuel cells but dismiss someone building the world's largest battery using redox flow technology?
I take it that you don't know that redox flow batteries are a type of reversible fuel cell? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_battery#Redox
One thing, I take it you don't see lithium scaling. Why is that? There is enough of it.
Solar and wind is currently delivering around 1% of our energy needs, even with extreme improvements and investments to change that, which would be absurd it will not in any sensible way be able to deliver enough energy for our increasing needs.
So again show an actually proven rational proposal or we are just talking wishes like fusion and then sun def wouldnt be used as a base source.
We currently use 1% despite all the advances in solar. That makes 100% solar is not going to happen pretty settled when you factor in cost, materials, efficiency, reliability etc.
I don't have to prove anything. You are welcome to believe in solar but you won't find any realistic proposals out there. If that existed all you had to do was to show it to me. But you won't because it doesn't exist. In other words, pretty settled.
Your claim is that because solar is only 1%, it can never be 100%?
There was a time nuclear was less than 1% of our generating capacity. Why didn't this logic apply then? Or, for that matter, why doesn't it apply to any other technology that passes through 1% market share on its way up from 0%?
You are simply ridiculous.
You still haven't actually put forward any realistic proposal for how a 100% solar grid system would work realistically providing us with stable and scalable energy and ability to solve the world increasing energy needs.
So you can call me what you want that doesn't change that fact.
This does lead to an interesting observation: in a solar-powered world, heavy industry is going to move away from places with less sunlight. Good for the low latitude countries, not so good for Europe.
In the future - when production is done with green energy - that will get far lower.
And "carbon footprint" is not the only thing that matters either. If your process involves tons of heavy metals, that's a lot more relevant in soil pollution than carbon.
If making them uses more energy than they'll ever produce, you might be better off just using that enery to charge some batteries and then use the batteries in place of the solar cell.
I am sure someone here knows the exact percentage but my personal experience with lead acid and solar panels leads me to the opinion storing then converting solar energy from DC to AC wastes 80% or so of the total produced
My workshop I am building will run on DC 12 volts and have 3k to 4k or so of solar panels and another 2kw of baby wind turbines because of what I learned dabbling with solar power.
Did you DIY all the solar and wind installation? Any pointers to resources about that stuff that I'm not likely to find easily by googling?
Lead Acid batteries are ok
Keep the charge high on the batteries, the higher you keep it the better. Down to 10 volts is hard on them.
Used forklift batteries are a good large battery
for wind which creates a high surge you want a battery regulator setup instead of the standard solar controller
I really think generating hydrogen under pressure with electrolysis would be a viable storage of non used electricity but I have yet to build that system
- You probably meant to say this but, obviously, there has to be a usage time variable in the calculation somewhere. They will presumably have a lifespan where they can be deployed outdoors without replacement/maintenance, and perhaps this lifespan itself but certainly the average hours usage per day will then vary with climate. There might be tradeoffs in the design and materials used which increase durability but lower yield, but then affect energy required to produce, etc, etc. My point is that it's really quite complex and I'm quite sure there is no one answer, especially with the technology changing (improving) all the time.
- You have to walk before you can run. Even supposing there is a deficit today, the only way we get to a future where there is an energy surplus with solar tech is by deploying the not-good-enough-yet tech today and improving it through iteration to the point where it is good enough. Again, then whether it is worth pursuing or not depends a bit also on that (predicted) rate of improvement.
This website debunks some of the stuff that you'll find if you just blindly Google EROI:
However, even the crazy people generally aren't claiming that solar panels are net negative.
Yes (based on data from 2008). See at the bottom, under Mythconceptions: http://www.withouthotair.com/c6/page_41.shtml
Unlikely that this would be the case if solar panels were not net energy producers.
Hence I was asking about EROI calculation.
> That's a very bad assumption.
if you assume efficient and free markets, then this is a good assumption. If it takes more energy to create a panel than it's (average) lifetime energy output, consumers will find that it saves no cost, and thus would not buy them. Producers of panels will either have to work out how to reduce costs (or improve yield) to a rate which will net a return that the consumer considers worth investing in a purchase.
So by the fact that panels exist today, it _must_ necessarily already have passed the threshold.
(And it's not just the fault of regulatory overreach; if a seller or a buyer are exploiting information asymmetry, the market isn't efficient by definition.)
Supposedly it's to protect the nascent solar industry in the US. In reality they're there to help incumbent oil/gas/utility interests.
And nuclear - much like the registered lobbyist who wrote this article.
I mean, what answer are you willing to accept? Here's one investing as much energy as your question:
Yes, solar power is net positive.
People in general don't know specifics of panels, this discussion has 30 comments right now meaning there is no mass of people who care about topic. And clearly, even those of us who bother to click and read or even comment can't be arsed to Google it.
Everyone should only ever talk about novel ideas or call each other out with a touch of name calling when they don't.
Or are you “just asking”?
- the quality of information available in HN discussions is usually much better than whatever you can find in the first couple of pages of Google search results. It's usually more up to date, and usually presented with less bias.
- setting aside the quality of search results, the time needed for a person without much knowledge about the topic to look through dozens of pages can be actually a full afternoon of work (which would be prohibitive on a day such as today); on the other hand, people who are familiar with the topic can provide an answer in a few minutes.
> Or are you “just asking”?
Please don't do this. I'm not a mod or anything, but I actually quite like the guidelines here - and the relevant point is near the top of guidelines:
> Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith.
Solar energy is great, we need more of it, and I think the long-term future of power includes a microwave transmission solar station at one of the Lagrange points.
However, when you look at the total externalities, nuclear is actually the safest and cleanest form of power that we could use in the medium term.
Except that everyone is afraid of it, and no one wants to spend the money.
The costs for proper decomissioning of a nuclear plant and safe storage of the used materials are excluded in most analysis, as the time and cost horizon is so large.
On Solar Panels: there are some very interesting projects by large environmental service providers underway that use high pressure water or very high temperatures, to separate the glass from metal frame.
I think a similar hurdle are carbon fibres, you can't burn or shred them (carcinogenic micro fibres).
There are some interesting projects that try to clean and reuse the fibres through some kind of chemical baths..but most of the old e.g. wind turbines are just stored at a giant wind turbine graveyard right know.
It's a fascinating field!
From what I’ve seen of modern designs that can’t be used for weapons programs, there’s significantly lower costs associated with disposal and decommissioning plants.
Also, I keep seeing figures for rooftop solar and not solar in general, and the risk for rooftop solar is due to the risk of working on a roof. If solar was mandated in new build and major roof repair, wherever it made sense to install it, this risk can be greatly reduced as the largest risk is during putting the scaffolding up and taking it down again.
Meanwhile, four people died as a result of a nationwide campaign to install roof insulation and that became a massive political controversy.
I don't doubt people die installing solar, but it's interesting that we never seem to hear about it.
The concern that some future civilization will manage to dig so deep, in an area with no natural resources, crack open some of the waste caskets, and then die because they fail to figure out it is poisonous is one of the most ridiculously far fetched concerns. Contrast that extremely remote possibility with the certainty of pumping toxic greenhouse gases directly into our atmosphere. I cannot fathom why one would believe the former is preferable to the latter, but some countries like Germany seem to have made that conclusion.
And this is why nuclear waste disposal is _not_ an overblown challenge. Because even though there are already digs in place, almost all of the waste still sits right by in-use reactors. The US has been trying to fix this since the 80s, and afaik real progress has not been made since the bill to put it in Yucca mountain was killed in 2010. It might be a political challenge rather than a technical challenge, but it is an _extremely_ difficult political challenge that should be deeply considered when supporting nuclear energy. It is not really safe or cheap for it to stay above ground by reactors forever.
We're already fucking over future generations with a massive carbon footprint. Replacing all that with nuclear would be objectively less bad.
It's too bad the article has to lie in order to give that impression.
When you consider the timescale of nuclear power plants and how long nuclear power has existed, safety stats seem to have a pretty low sample size with a lot of uncharted territory.
That fear you mention is a very real and important one, because even if 99% of plants operate under strict safety, it only takes one failure to cause massive damage. Beyond lives and into land and resources, and additional risks of further ecological harm.
For me, when considering if nuclear power is worth it, I think that we have so many alternatives that will work well enough for a long-term horizon (let's say 200 years) that any sort of risks of charting that new territory in nuclear power and having that very large risk is not worth it currently.
That's not to say it won't be worth it in the future perhaps as climate change worsens or in a century with additional safety tools possibly fueled by additional scientific insight, but right now I think you're severely undermining that some (not all) fear of nuclear power comes from a very rational place.
for me it's the ultimate of the bad / destructive ways to create energy and should be avoided (opinion.)
i'd say with those stats in mind hydroelectric and wind power are some of the winners, even though of course the equipment manufacturing and decomissioning of these isn't totally clean, they are a big step in the right direction of non-destructive cleanER energy source.
That's true of literally all of our modern sources of electricity aside from maybe coal and oil.
As for using risk as an excuse to avoid it—nuclear power is orders of magnitude safer than air travel, but you don't see anyone deciding that we should continue to travel by boat.
if you look at failure rate, there are only 450 nuclear power plants currently in existence as of 2016. To save time, let's do some napkin math and estimation with charitable rounding. Let's say there are 1000 in existence. So far we have seen at least one critical failure. For the sake of rounding, let's charitably round that to 1 failure. Let's say that of those 1000 power plants, the average time of existence is 40 years. That means that we have about 40000 years of nuclear power plant testing so far. And we've had 1 failure in that, so if we use years, we have 1 in 40000 years.
Even adjusting to days, we get 1 in 14.6 million.
Looking at air travel, the crash rate is about 1 in 4 million.
Now consider the consequences of that one catastrophic failure compared to the cost of a plane crash on average. You can't be serious when you say those are the same.
Even with incredibly charitable looks at nuclear power safety stats it's nowhere near your uncited "orders of magnitude" safer.
I think you really don't get the risk formula here. It's not about failure percentage, it's about the consequences of any failure at all, no matter how rare. An increase in nuclear power only increases the chances of any failure.
One flight serves 100-400 people for a few hours. One nuclear reactor serves N million people for N decades.
Everyone in a plane crash dies. What percentage of electricity users die in a typical nuclear disaster? 0.001%?
Assuming there won't be any disasters worse than what has already occurred.
Presumably any new nuclear capacity would use safer designs, but still, the tail end single event worst case scenario is a lot scarier.
(Before you say Fukushima, remember the carnage and death was caused by an insanely catastrophic tsunami. Despite massive incompetence and disastrous consequences, it has resulted in a grand total of 1 death so far, with perhaps a few dozen over the lifetime of all people in the area. Not nothing, but it shows just how safe this stuff is when you extricate paranoia from the equation.)
"Short answer not much would happen. There just is not enough of them and even in the worst case breakdown they don't release that much radiation."
"Even if every single reactor in the US 'failed' today, I doubt there would be significant radiation leakage ... without a 40 foot tsunami, I think this is more like Three Mile Island."
"The problem is that there is a great deal of exaggeration in the public's idea of radiation - the "Omigawd, it's radioactive! We're all gonna DIE!" effect."
Maybe we could, you know, not store radioactive waste above-ground?
The number is zero.
Any disasters that occur due to that are artificial disasters, not natural ones, even if a natural disaster is also part of the chain of causality.
Yes, I know, engineers are somewhat insulted by the public's refusal to accept their risk modelling. That's why this has become somewhat of a cultural fight. It sometimes feels like there's a segment of armchair scientists, forever stuck in the science-fiction of the 50s, and not noticing that the real world has long since moved on, to something far better than their vision of a nuclear-powered vacuum cleaner for every happy wife.
Even if you somehow manage to change the perception (which is unlikely, considering you probably wouldn't even accept "perception" as anything real worthy of consideration), it doesn't matter: Actual scientists have long moved on and, with a lot of help of forward-thinking politicians, invested into wind, battery, and solar technology, making it cost-competitive with even coal today.
I'd say that BNFL killed itself through dishonesty. They may have had a viable business otherwise.
Looking about the place, this seems unlikely.
>"The domestication of cats took a different trajectory. Wildcats are improbable candidates for domestication (see Table 3). Like all felids, wildcats are obligate carnivores, meaning they have a limited metabolic ability to digest anything except proteins (33). Cats live a solitary existence and defend exclusive territories (making them more attached to places than to people). Furthermore, cats do not perform directed tasks and their actual utility is debatable, even as mousers (34). [In this latter role, terrier dogs and the ferret (a domesticated polecat) are more suitable.] Accordingly, there is little reason to believe an early agricultural community would have actively sought out and selected the wildcat as a house pet. Rather, the best inference is that wildcats exploiting human environments were simply tolerated by people and, over time and space, they gradually diverged from their “wild” relatives (35, 36). Thus, whereas adaptation in barnyard animals and dogs to human dominion was largely driven by artificial selection, the original domestic cat was a product of natural selection."
- From wild animals to domestic pets, an evolutionary view of domestication
Hopefully more countries start reprocessing spent nuclear fuel the way the French do, though this does raise proliferation concerns.
Look, if you want nuclear power, then the government will need to finance it. Some of these other sources are at 1-2 cents a kWh, how is a private investor supposed to finance a nuclear power plant that competes with those rates? Even if there were no safety or environmental regulations at all, you still couldn't get there. I'm sorry, but there exists no private investor dumb enough to finance a power generation facility that expensive, that would reside that far down the dispatch stack. It just won't happen.
I am not so sure. I mean, if you really do not have to care about safety and waste, how expensive it can be to dig up uranium, centrifuge it for enrichment and mold it to a shape that heats stuff around it?
There already are companies working on it, since solar cell recycling will be a huge market. It likely won’t be possible to fully recycle solar cells, but what _can_ we recycle fully? At least, it will decrease the amount of left over stuff significantly (https://www.greenmatch.co.uk/blog/2017/10/the-opportunities-...)
One would hope most countries would introduce legislation requiring solar panel recycling. The EU already has that, because solar panels fall under theme waste directive (http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/weee/legis_en.htm)
Some cells contain cadmium: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadmium_telluride_photovoltaic... - but this is not the dominant technology.
Translated conclusion from the linked article in German: ""The easiest way to avoid environmental hazards caused by pollutants, at least in Europe, would be to include photovoltaic modules like other electrical and electronic products in the EU RoHS directive," the Stuttgart researchers suggest. "With the sole prohibition of lead soldering in the modules, 97 percent of the photovoltaic modules (with the exception of CdTe modules) would immediately be free from pollutants and environmental hazards would be avoided.""
.. which makes a certain amount of sense, but also illustrates a key nonsense of ROHS. Certain products are inherently made out of hazardous substances - in this case, CdTe solar cells. So they get exempt. Just as you can't use lead in solder, but you can take your lead-free PCB and attach it to a comparatively huge lump of lead in the form of a lead-acid battery.
Edit: I see other people disagree with the author of the article that Cadmium use is widespread.
They don't need to be recycled per se, but those do need to be extracted. Heavy metals are notorious for contaminating ground and groundwater if left on landfills.
Surely your coal powerplant doesn't produce any toxic waste.
Also, the author's background and bias is for nuclear, not goal. Guy hates coal, he's not a climate change denier. He just doesn't think that wind and solar are an acceptable base for powering modern societies and systems.
The spent fuel of a nuclear power plant is a mix of various isotopes, which will decay at different rates. Nuclear decay occurs when radiation is emitted from a nucleus. Thus the more dangerously radioactive stuff decays a lot quicker.
Idea is that something which is actively pumping out heat and deadly levels of radiation might become safe(-er) within a few months to years. Getting to the point of "you won't die if you spend an hour in the room with it" is still decades of waiting away, though. And the entire spent fuel mix would take thousands of years to get back to the radiation levels of the original ore we fed into the plant.
All that said, a fun-ish comparison I've seen is that coal ash contains fairly high levels of heavy metals like lead and cadmium, which genuinely never become "safe". We have something like 1,500 ash disposal sites in the US which are toxic hellscapes at risk of leaking into the surrounding areas.
If it decays very quickly, yes, it's less of a threat (except in case of a spill from the reactor, where people would get exposed to fresh material.) If it decays very slowly... well, the damage just might be spread out over time. I think a case could be made for that, at least...
But it's more complicated than that, anyway. Strontium, for instance, is a particular problem because it is similar to calcium, so people's bodies incorporate it into bones. Having it stick around in the body rather than flushing out makes it more dangerous than it would otherwise be. Similar for iodine, which is why nuclear meltdown preparedness programs involve having potassium iodide pills on hand—to try to saturate the body with non-radioactive iodine.
So the bioaccumulation potential must be considered as well, because what matters is how long people are in contact with radioisotopes.
There are two things that can be done with the waste.
First, not all of the nuclear fuel is consumed. The fuel is spent when enough waste has built up to slow fission, which isn’t the same as the fuel being gone. You can re-refine spent rods to reclaim usable fuel and put it back into the reactor.
Second, the real dangerous waste isotopes are the cold ones which produce a little radiation but will do so for millennia. So you can shovel those into a subcritical reactor and hurry the stuff along to non-radioactive metals like lead, all while making some electricity to boot.
It sounds like management of toxic solar waste is merely labor-intensive.
Also, a sense of perspective; lots of roofs have either lead flashing (toxic heavy metal) or bitumen (carcinogen) on them already.
Arsenic is not used in production of PV cells today for exactly that reason, and also because it is much slower diffusing bulk dopant in comparison to Phosphorus.
The only reason Arenic was used in first generation of solar cells (eighties) is because of technology commonality with the microelectronics industry. Bulk manufactured cells never used Arsenic dopants.
”According to NREL, modules can fail because of unavoidable elements like thermal cycling, damp heat, humidity freeze and UV exposure. Thermal cycling can cause solder bond failures and cracks in solar cells. Damp heat has been associated with delamination of encapsulants and corrosion of cells. Humidity freezing can cause junction box adhesion to fail. UV exposure contributes to discoloration and backsheet degradation.”
Photons and other energetic particles knock Silicon atoms out of lattice, and tear the junction layer.
There is no 100% efficient trick against that so far in any common semiconductor. Lithium dopant was once used in space PV cells. It almost halves the decay rate, but even that was not considered enough to warrant using it over simply having bigger area of less durable, but more efficient cells.
That is already telling. A registered lobbyist...
The two claims he makes:
1. PV modules are made of Cadmium
Cadmium cells make less than 1% of the market, and they are a failed, dying technology. CdTe cells were made in hopes of making cells cheaper by not using a "microchip grade" silicon, but the people behind the startup making them were completely wrong about economics of the process — the truth is completely the opposite. It is silicon cells' process commonality with the rest of semiconductor industry that makes them so cheap.
Hey, but thanks to those joke dudes called "venture capitalists" for spinning them up.
2. PV modules are made of Arsenic
No, only first generation of cells made in electronic fabs were made with Arsenic as N dopant.
No commercial process ever used it. PV cells are N doped with Phosphorus exactly for the reason that it is non-toxic, and because Phosphorus is simply better as a bulk dopant. It is much faster diffusing, and requires lower temperatures for dopant activation.
Doesn’t mean he is a sellout, but certainly not neutral.
Solar is good for small scale and it is highly variable. Nuclear works better on a large scale and is very stable. Is there a way to make them coexist in a way that doesn't need fossil fuel and where both technology are used to their advantage?
Nuclear depends on being able to sell power most of the time in order to make enough money to amortize its large capital and fixed operating costs. But solar chews this up, destroying the market a good chunk of the time (longer if some short term storage is added). Even if solar (or solar+wind) are not covering demand all the time, they will be able to crash the price often enough to destroy nuclear's business case.
That's German policy. Lots of renewables backed by coal. No more investment into nuclear.
I know there are some countries that burn trash and plants quite successfully but I'm not sure it can be done world scale. There are some outliers like geothermal, tidal forces, battery storage but these are even smaller scale examples.
You are being disingenuous now. You can simply google Michael shellenberger and you won't get lobbyist as the first thing.
If you are actually interested which I am sure you aren't actually.
So this piece is a hit piece filled with blatant misinformation, on an investment news website.
So if you want to talk about lobbyism...
But thanks for proving the point. Claiming he is a lobbyist anymore than you are is exactly the kind of shaming tactics that are being used instead of arguments to silence people the majority don't wan't to hear..
I like how Americans put politicians in one of two camps and make it an us vs. them thing instead of having coalitions of parties to come to a good conclusion for everyone.
Using it as an argument against him is absurd.
The way to avoid this is disclosure: say “I make money from a competitor” prominently so people can read the article with that bias in mind. This guy doesn’t acknowledge it at all in the article or his bio, which is not what you do if your goal is to have an honest discussion.
And if you want to claim that you also have to claim that on the other side, i.e. the environmentalists.
But with Shellenberger it's an especially absurd argument which you would know if you actually knew who he is and what he is fighting for and how.
He isn't working on the behalf of some industry he is working for a case.
He cowrote a paper with Brand from the long now foundation about nuclear.
Being a lobbyist isn't just one thing even though it always get's used like that and it doesn't mean you are working for some industry.
You don't have to register as a registered lobbyist in USA to present your own opinion. You have to register as a registered lobbyist to represent somebody's else opinion.
Now Michael Shellenberger may be one of the pro-bono lobbyists (admittedly I haven't yet found out either way), but this would put him in the minority of registered lobbyists in the USA.
I will note that he was at one point a paid lobbyist for Hugo Chavez. Was he presenting his own opinion then?
You try to use lobbyist to mean that he can't be trusted. That's absurd if you know who he is and how he works and what he works for.
He isn't a lobbyist in any meaningful way any more than you are in this thread or the environmental organizations or the IPCC or the oil companies etc.
If you think your argument can stand on its own you wouldn't need to put that in yet you did and that's absurd and provides no further context and doesn't add to the discussion.
What so absurd in this point???
Again he is no more lobbyist than you or the environmental organisations that's why it's absurd to use it as part of an argument.
You can start here:
It's pretty obvious that him being a registered lobbyist means absolutely nothing in this context. But again that's how this whole thing work. Shaming and fingers in ear.
So again. Show a concrete problem with him being a registered lobbyist otherwise it's just a cheap shot which is why you would have to go back to 2004 when he was against nuclear to find anything related.
You can simply google Michael Shellenberger and you will learn who he is today. You can check out this interview https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-7DIv3AU1o as that gives you a pretty good idea of his stance.
> None of the above. Rather, the quotes come from a senior Chinese solar official, a 40-year veteran of the U.S. solar industry, and research scientists with the German Stuttgart Institute for Photovoltaics.
- photovoltaic cell degradation (which, beside external breakage, is the cause of recycling): so far it seems that cells degrade very slowly, 30 years and still 80% original power
- manufacturing: if everything is melted/glue/fused .. it's hard to recycle. Maybe that's not a physical necessity but just old practice
- silicon purification is said to be a energy hog, and uses lots of various Cl based acids. Some say these acids are handled properly nowadays (quite plausible). The energy side .. I wonder when we'll see a solar farm powering a PV cell plant. e^e
What about other PV substrate? are perovskite toxic ?
IMVHO solar panel are interested in modern houses (well insulated) as thermal source to heat both sanitary water to head the house itself with a good ventilation system. Photovoltaic may be interested a small scale local backup for low power devices like emergency illumination, communications and perhaps as a companion to thermo-solar for small pumps to make water circulation and perhaps home ventilation. Nothing more.
Also, storage solutions for electricity exist, and these are not fringe/academic technology. For example, electrical vehicles exist today. Once everyone has an EV, that'll add ~50 kWh of storage capacity per EV to the grid.
The storage capacity is needed at very specific times and is not generally available. I imagine most people will try to charge their cars at night.
You are right saying that we need and we will need more electricity, not because of EV BTW, but PV is NOT an answers being an inconstant and low efficiency power source.
And I speak not basing my assumption on someone else unverified publication but due a semi-direct experience (few friends of mine in the recent past transform their roofs for PV, myself having recently build my new house I choose solar thermal to heat the house via a MCV and for sanitary water production with a 1000l + 800l cumulus. I have few friends/relatives that bought few EV, including two with a Tesla model S and I see how satisfy they are(n't) and how they'r EV range decrease in a very short time.
Essentially with renewable energy the sole viable option is a mix of solutions varying from place to place, scenario to scenario and while this can cover a lot can't meet our entire energy requirements so it's good to invest but still as a complement of other solutions.
That's why, beside bullshits, we try to suppress fossil energy production but keep nuclear (any country say "we will ditch it, in a far future) and keep researching on nuclear fusion.
In today's world people like to dream at any news but, unfortunately, most of those news are pure marketing and even genuine ideas hardly scale. For instance vast majority of people think that self-driving vehicles are already there and it's only a matter of time to see them at scale; the truth is that we can have autonomous driving only in simple scenarios like properly urbanized towns and highway but we can't self-drive in harsh conditions like when it snow, on unclear roads etc.
We advance a bit regularly, both on EV and self-drive, many country start to install "helpers" on roads like specific reflective rods around road intersections, radar-reflective asphalt (few aluminum debris in the asphalt mix) and side-protections etc, we slowly start to provide few recharging stations around, few country (like France for individual new homes garages) mandate for newer constructions a recharge point for any private parking etc but it's far from "being there" and for now it does not scale at all nor we know how to made it scale.
And the same is for energy, few country strongly push domestic PVs to a point they start ceasing to accept "exchange in place" of electricity because the grind can't receive nor properly use peak production and costs of exchange are higher than classic pyramidal distribution. Essentially we do not know how to actually create a "smart grid", there are many ideas on the table but none that prove to be complete and effective.
At a small, domestic, scale I recently built my new house and carefully evaluate all options I here about and in the end the sole real cost-effective, practical application of PV I found is a limited power production just to backup my home ventilation and pump thermic-solar water but nothing more. I can't use electric inconstant power, using it to heat water (the sole form of usable storage in a modern house) is LESS effective and far expensive than classic solar thermal vacuum panels, I can produce enough in summer to power air-conditioning at peak time but the overall cost of PV panels+inverter/microinverters due to their expected lifetime surpass electricity cost of the net (it's relatively cheap here in France and having a well insulated, and airtight and well oriented/designed house I do not need much power)...
At larger scale I know few "big" PV power plants both classic, (high) concentration photovoltaics etc but none of them are profitable without big incentives simply because classic panel efficiency and lifetime is too low to justify big investments, concentrated solutions are far better but they last very little time, power production degrade really quickly and maintenance costs climb at a very high rate. Other kind of solar power production like high-concentration to produce vapor and power a classic turbine do a better job but still have skyrocketing high maintenance costs and still inconstant power production...
Long-story short: for now we do not have any definitive electric storage viable solution except for very limited application. Researching on that topic is a super-important priority but we have to keep up other options. For one time it's not a political/commercial/reactionary move but a simple engineering reason.
But, ya PV prices have fallen so much they're breaking people's expectations; and they work without direct sunlight.
If people are so inclined, they are free to surrender all modern conveniences.
Not really an acceptable response.
Computers with electricity and access to cheap and plentiful energy are a baseline for everything else in modern society.
Solar has a bunch of advantages but the idea that it together with wind is going to be able to solve our energy needs is simply misguided and thus it has to undergo the same Cost/Benefit analysis as everything else does.
So yes you have to make the cost benefit analysis. I have yet to see someone make a cost benefit analysis that would make solar and wind come out on top.
It seems now that the market is deciding that there is a flurry of media going "now hold on a minute"
We've seen this sort of thing before - being too quick to proclaim X is ready to take over the world, without thinking of the consequences first. See autonomous cars.
If nuclear power was equated to cars then arguing about nuclear safety using our current examples of failure would be like arguing about automobile safety risks using a Model A.
I'm just scared of the big reactors. Nothing on this Earth is going to passively remove 1.5 GW of heat coming from something the volume of a hot water heater.
We also need to be recycling our waste like the other nations which use nuclear power, not just chuck what's still 90% useful material in a holding tank for eternity.
Historically, bigger reactors (and bigger turbines etc.) have been one of the few things that have reduced the $/kWh.
Now, if you have followed developments in the nuclear sector, you are surely aware that SMR's (small modular reactor) are all the rage these days. There are certainly good engineering reasons behind them as well; more series production in factories with less built on-site, easier to provide passive safety due to smaller size, etc., but so far they have not been deployed in reality, so it remains to be seen whether they will be able to provide a lower $/kWh in reality. But certainly they are an interesting development, we'll see if they become a commercial success as well.
As for recycling, with current uranium prices being so low it doesn't make economic sense. But I can certainly see the appeal (breeder reactors are catnip for physicists).
Nature is killing more people every year than have been killed by nuclear in all its time. The sun is killing more people than dies of nuclear (Melanomas and skin cancer) I could go on.
Nuclear isn't as dangerous as it's been claimed and with never reactors the actual security procedure is physical. On top of that investments into thorium and fusion could have gotten us much further.
It's not that bigger is better it's that bigger is safer from a number of perspectives.
Nuclear is by far the safest, greenest, most scalable, reliable energy source we know how to use and it's many times safer than the very mother nature everyone seems to want to save.
Nature doesn't give us a safe, friendly environment we then make unsafe it gives us a hostile and dangerous environment which we then make safe.
Funny how disagreement in this always gets met with downvotes rather than at least argument or reasoned disagreement.
Why is it so hard for people to disagree about this without it turning into a downvote competition?
The problem with nuclear has always been trust, and repeated breaches of trust - often in regards to weapons proliferation, from which fission can never really be separated. See the ongoing efforts to prevent Iran's nuclear programme, for example.
It also has a nasty habit of cost overruns, because projects don't scale down. How overrun is Hinckley Point C now again?
Whereas solar cells scale down to the level of a few square milimeters on a watch or calculator. The great lesson of silicon valley - AWS and everything else - is that "big bang" projects always get beaten by things that can start tiny and scale incrementally.
We need to deploy solar and wind now. Maybe in the 25 year lifetime of a solar panel we can get a nuclear plant finished. Maybe fusion will work. Maybe someone will find a way to stop Thorium reactors dissolving their own plumbing.
There are lots of countries with civilian nuclear power, but no weapons. And also, there are nuclear weapon states with no civilian nuclear power program in sight (e.g. North Korea). And AFAIK, no nuclear weapon state have done it by reprocessing civilian spent nuclear fuel. There are much easier and cheaper ways of doing it.
Now, it's theoretically possible to build a weapon from reactor grade Pu (i.e. by reprocessing spent civilian nuclear waste). And that's why we have international safeguards to prevent nuclear waste falling into the wrong hands. Nothing is foolproof of course, but it's a tradeoff. IMHO it's less bad than continuing to use fossil fuels.
In the end, acquiring nuclear weapons capability is a political decision. An existing civilian nuclear power capability doesn't make it noticeably easier. Heck, even a backwards isolated 3rd world country like NK is able to acquire weapons, suggesting that pretty much any state which really wants one can get it, if they want it bad enough that they are prepared to endure economic sanctions and becoming an international pariah state by doing it.
Cost overruns come from extreme security legislation and the fact that we haven't built enough so those are simply not proper arguments.
Add on top of that that solar will never, as in never ever be able to deliver cheap (at scale), clean, plentiful and consistent energy which is the minimum requirement for any type of energy any sane person would support.
Promoting something that is currently not providing more than 1% of the worlds energy being heavily favored politically and with plenty of subsidies and which will never support maybe more than 10% of the worlds energy needs which is being very generous sounds like something the world will look back at in a hundred years and think "What the hell were they thinking".
It’d be wonderful if it’s true but you didn’t exactly cite sources or otherwise explain how a claim which has been not true to a degree which has factored into national politics is no longer true.
This is very much the "true communism has never been tried" argument, isn't it? Unless you know a way of building it without people?
Showing your hand there.
Having no problem with misrepresenting what other say.
I was replying to this:
"This is very much the "true communism has never been tried" argument, isn't it? "
Which you very well know. So yeah thanks for showing your hand.
besides the waste is not recycable
Anyone who is against nuclear simply hasn't looked at the facts. If you did and still came out against nuclear I would be pretty surprised and love to hear your arguments.
Reprocessing doesn't reduce the cost of nuclear power, it increases it.
Plus you use it for almost zero percent of your transportation.
And our 'support' source is nuclear, curiously.
Nuclear has in all it's time killed less than coal does in a year, cars do in a year, nature does in a year. More people die from setting up solar or wind, the amount of animals that get killed by wind is in the millions I could go on.
The new nuclear power plants uses physics so there will be no meldown. Furhtermore more investing in Thorium and Fusion would be much much more beneficial and clean.
Alternative energies are linear solutions to exponential problems.
And if we ever deploy breeder reactors and reprocessing at scale, we can further extract about two orders of magnitude more energy per kg of uranium ore. Heck, with the amount of depleted uranium lying around as tailings, spent reactor fuel, surplus military nuclear fuel, with breeders and reprocessing we could power the planet for a couple of centuries before needing to start digging up more.
We haven't deployed breeders and reprocessing because uranium is so cheap it doesn't make economic sense.
Oh it uses physics? Not code and algorithms? (For those out of the loop, it refers to this meme: https://old.reddit.com/r/ProgrammerHumor/comments/5ylndv/so_... )
Sorry to nitpick, I totally agree with what you're saying. But I am curious what this "physics" thing is that would magically prevent meltdowns.
E.g. the Fukushima reactors melted down because the tsunami destroyed the emergency generators (as well as blocking the roads so they couldn't get new generators on site in time). A newer design using, say, convection to get rid of the decay heat wouldn't have this problem.
Could it have been worded better? Sure.
The amount of nuclear waste that actually exist is microscopic and I think you would be surprised when you actually see how little exist compared to the claims about it.
According to that page, it is 4x higher than nuclear. But it is also 10x less than natural gas, 100x less than oil, and 200x less than coal.