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India's richest man pouring $80B into green energy, including new ventures (cnn.com)
273 points by alok-g 11 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 230 comments

Rich men throwing their weight behind renewable power to make money. Good.

Public infra wise, it would be great if the government spends money in several directions

1. Setting up solar farms in the deserts of North west - Gujurat, Rajasthan where the land is obviously not being used for agriculture or industrial buildings. The industrial footprint of Gujurat will no doubt be thankful for the renewable power during the operational hours of the day coinciding with solar power generation.

2. Set up solar panels atop irrigation canals which not only generate power for agriculture, but also reduce fresh water evaporation.

3. Strengthen the power grid in populated areas to handle power generation from roof tops and let people make money by sending solar power into their grid. The Indian entrepreneurial public will find creative ways to generate power and make some money for themselves.

4. Add buffers that can absorb bursts in power production that can be used for later(or would have used peak power unnecessarily). Example - run drinking water pumping and filtration systems, sewage treatment systems, seawater desalination plants etc during peak solar production times of the day.

Easier said than done I know. But that’s what leadership should look like. Not triggering political divisions and trying to exploit emotions to stay in power.

Just outlining few of the developments from the various (state /central) governments.

1. Solar plant planned in Desert, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhadla_Solar_Park

Mostly organised by https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_Energy_Corporation_of_... and installed by private players.

2. Floating solar power on top of dams. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/300416/...

3. This is also for state of Kerala. grid connected systems are available.

"Consumers have the option of choosing from two models of power generation. In the first model, the energy generated is fed into the grid for 25 years and 10 per cent of the energy is given to the premises owner. In the second model, the energy generated is sold to the consumer at a fixed tariff for 25 years. In both models, the total cost of the installation is borne by KSEB, while the premise owner gives the rooftop for installation. "


Interestingly, current PM said in one of his election speeches in 2014 (when he was the CM of Gujarat) what you mentioned in point 1 (not exactly the same). I don't think there has been any progress there.

Otherwise, a lot of focus has been put by the current government towards renewal energy.

there's an important element of this that rarely gets mentioned - demand growth in India. At the moment, the per capita electrical energy consumption of India is between 20% - 25% that of China. What this means is that if India is to continue to grow, this energy must come from somewhere. Bear in mind, this is 4x - 5x as much energy as is delivered today to get to where China is today. While more renewable energy is a good thing, the fact is that no gigawatt scale power grid anywhere has managed to do this i.e. meet demand growth solely through renewable energy.

You mention strengthening the power grid - this is one of India's biggest choke points to domestic energy generation. their transmission grid is truly world-class but their distribution grid is regularly on the verge of collapse and power cuts are frequent. Before someone chimes in with "batteries" those are expensive and the Indian government already subsidises fuel - something that already works well. Batteries are not a solution to rickety distribution infrastructure in the developing world.

Long term we need a lot more energy globally than we have today. Think like 2x USA per capita total energy consumption, but all as electricity. Take that model global, and we need a lot more electricity.

Why? My 7nm CPU consumes heaps less power than my old 28nm CPU. What we need is a shift to fully renewable that dosen't eat the planet on the way.

Why? Cars? Think about how much less traffic a city like Mumbai would have if it was all electric bikes instead of electric cars.

> Rich men throwing their weight behind renewable power to make money. Good.

I mean, it's good that he's doing this. Whether one person should have the financial resources to make that decision by himself is a different question.

> Whether one person should have the financial resources to make that decision by himself is a different question

This implies 1) a belief that wealth accumulation is zero sum, which is false, and 2) a scary conception of how property rights should work.

Scary for property owners, for sure. ;) And there's an important difference between wealth generation like organizing some group of people to produce value, and wealth accumulation at three-comma scales, which usually involves screwing over aforesaid people.

Huh? So if a person generates the wealth in someone else’s name then the organized people are not screwed? How does that make sense?

Generating wealth is separate from how you divvy up the proceeds after. On that second step is where many people have an issue with how it's done today.

And, not to put too fine a point on it, intentionally confusing one with the other is a basic tactic to defend unfair divvying. "Well, you must hate business, then!"

What would be a different way of divvying?

Whatever the parties (owners, managers, workers) involved collectively agree is fair. Instead of the boss earning five orders of magnitude more than the average employee, why not four? But as it stands today, workers don't even get the chance to ask that question. Any hint of organizing is crushed ruthlessly. And if you argue that Musk/Bezos/etc is essential and the company wouldn't exist without him, well, the same applies to the workers in aggregate. That's why owners are paranoid about collective action.

> usually involves screwing over aforesaid people.

So take a high profile example, say, Elon Musk: explain to me how he is "screwing over" the "aforesaid people".

Because, from my perspective, he has produced massive wealth for many, many people: retail investors, anyone with a 401k, employees, etc. etc. Not to mention, Tesla is almost single handedly responsible for the widespread adoption of electric vehicles.

A bonanza, to be sure. But does that justify one guy taking 5 or 6 orders of magnitude more from that bonanza than the average employee? Where you land on that question doesn't matter.

The real problem is that if the employees themselves try to organize and ask that question for reals, they get stomped on hard. That is basically the definition of "screwed over". You are allowed to take what is given, but any questioning of the fairness is met with resistance, up to and including state force.

The actions that result in the harshest punishments are the ones the state/baron/company/etc fear most. Empirically, the thing they fear most is workers organizing to negotiate a better deal. Not to get a better deal, simply to ask whether it's possible. As some people say, hey, they are just asking questions.

The workers could happily found a coop that does exactly that. They didn't, he did.

That coops haven't been doing very much makes me inclined to believe that there's something fundamentally wrong with them, either in incentives or organizational cruft.

Should be 100x if not 1000x. That is why individual matters. Some are better than the others. As long as he does not use power to get to that. Not be a communist party member. Or Labour Party,say, to get $ from communist spy etc. just fight the idea.

It is not communism.

He should distribute and be taxed no doubt. But I do not want a world of equals. Sone basic income for all yes. But all equal. No. Not even if forced 5-6 times unequal.

One Steve …

One E…

Ok, so your limit is 1,000X. Fine, whatever. Let's take it as read that that is fair. But he is getting 100,000X or more. And worse, any hint of worker organization to maybe kinda sort of ask whether that's fair gets crushed.

> a scary conception of how property rights should work

I didn't interpret it to have anything to do with changing property rights. We just shouldn't have a single, unelected person who has the power to make decisions at the level of a major nation-state.

Regardless of the reasons it happens, no individual should accumulate that much power. If that means we need to reduce the amount of power someone has based on the amount of property they have, fine. There are many solutions to it. It's still a problem though.

The implication is that your property (aka your wealth, in whatever asset form it lives) is not yours to dispose of as you choose. Rather, the GP thinks it should either be seized or managed someone else (which is really just seizure under a nicer name).

You can’t become a billionaire living on a desert island by yourself. You need a high-functioning civilization for innovation and wealth creation. Those who contribute to wealth creation owe something to the civilization that enabled them to do so. We can debate exactly what they owe, but it is clear they owe something.

> The implication is that your property (aka your wealth, in whatever asset form it lives) is not yours to dispose of as you choose.

That's a bad interpretation. I said is no one should be allowed to accumulate that much wealth.

Why does “elected” make it better? If you had a problem you needed solving would you rather have Elon Musk on the case, or any of the last 4 American presidents?

I would vastly prefer one of the last four people who received a majority vote (Biden, Clinton, Obama, Bush) over Elon Musk.

Elon Musk is a childish narcissist whose chief skills are being rich, ignoring laws, and promoting himself. I would leave the US permanently if he ran it.

> If you had a problem you needed solving would you rather have Elon Musk on the case, or any of the last 4 American presidents

I mean, it depends on the problem and alignment of interests, but if I had to make a blind choice knowing only that it was a public policy problem then any of the last 4 American Presidents (though Trump is a close call), any of their major party opponents, any of the top 3 primary opponents to any of them in the season in which they were nominated. Also, any of the members of the US Senate, and any but about dozen members of the US House of Representatives, and any of the 50 US Governors, any of the chief executives of US Territories, and most mayors of major American cities.

Wait, is this a real question? With one exception, I would prefer to have any of the last four US presidents or their major party opponents solve problems instead of Elon Musk.

All I can say is I’m thankful for Elon Musk. The electric car revolution would not have happened without him.

Nissan was outselling Tesla in the electric car market until pretty recently. It was already happening. Tesla actually released an affordable electric car quite a while after other companies like Nissan, GM, and Chevy. I would credit the "revolution" to tax credits and affordable cars, not to Tesla.

That's patently false. Musk can have credit for accelerating the transition.

Every car manufacturer was fighting it for decades. They did things like lobbying against electric cars, and pushing vaporware to stop change every time. When they gave-up to demand and created some electric car, they would always make it flawed in every possible way so it doesn't compete with the money-makers of the day.

Car manufacturing is a highly oligopolistic market, with almost impossible barriers to entry. If somebody irrational enough to push it didn't appear, those manufacturers would have their way for as long as they wanted.

Sometimes revolution == acceleration

For example if French just guillitoned one bad guy per year, it probably would not be called French Revolution

Didn't he buy Tesla?


Not to praise him too much but the Tesla he bought and the Tesla that exists today are 99.9% different. You have to have some major chops to take a small start up poking around with the Tesla Roadster concept and make it to factories on three continents producing 1,000,000 cars a year.

I think Musk is a huge ass but also that Tesla really proved that EVs work and mainstream* people want them.


He was Tesla's primary funder at founding and then stepped into the CEO role when he determined the founder wasn't getting it done. 99% of the amazing engineering, design, and, most importantly, sales, occurred after Elon took over as CEO.

green != renewable

While on the topic of green energy, I recently started reading Electrify by Saul Griffith [0] which outlines a pretty comprehensive plan for addressing climate change with a broad shift to "electric everything". The summary is that by investing massively in renewables and electrification NOW, it we can solve climate change and also reduce the cost of living for everyone everywhere (not to mention the bonus of not irreversibly altering the climate).

If you are at all concerned about the future of our planet, IMO this is required reading!

[0] https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/electrify

I would dearly love to electrify everything, but electricity around here (California) has price growth strongly exceeding inflation while simultaneously getting less reliable. You're economically better off converting electric loads to gas, even if that means using gas to generate electricity.

How much of that is because the approach to power generation has been to try and squeeze more out of the existing infrastructure (gas, nuclear, and hydro) instead of transformation to green alternatives (solar and wind)?

Just as an example, it seems that the Pacific DC and AC Intertie's go through some pretty remote places that could be prime candidates for solar installations.

I will continue to vote against any politician who proclaims wind/solar as the only option a I don't feel they have done any research since they are excluding geo/nuclear sources as well. I refuse to live in a world of constant brown/blackouts and 10X energy costs than we have now.

If energy costs are constantly 10x than now, then it'd be a no brainer to build a lot of new power plants. The problem is that the prices are "artificially" lowered, which of course results in the bad quality of service (bad capacity targets, which directly result in brownouts, but also not enough maintenance on the aging distribution network).

If energy prices were 10x, it'd make sense to invest in energy generating capacity (and lobbying for allowing to build it).

Presumably the solution is to scale up the supply of renewable energy. Another solution is to start making things more energy efficient. There's a lot of untapped efficiency out there.

> There's a lot of untapped efficiency out there.

That's especially true with houses. However, speaking as someone who has renovated their home for extreme efficiency (and now uses 75% less energy than their neighbors) the problem is that the upfront cost of efficiency - both economic and in learning curve - is still very high, at least in the US.

Unless one is willing/able to take on a big and expensive project in home building or renovation, it's hard to make big leaps in efficiency. This is compounded by the reality that the construction industry is very conservative and doesn't like doing things in new ways.

AFAICT, the only "easy" efficiency change that is close to a "no-brainer" is replacing your existing gas or electric water heater with a heat pump water heater, because it generally doesn't require replacement of an entire system, just one appliance.

The other things that make a big difference to efficiency: sealing/insulating building envelopes, installing heat pump HVAC, are much more invasive procedures.

There is a small industry of tools and contractors who specialize in those, but there's not a lot of standards or cost-efficient ways to achieve high efficiency yet. And at least in the US, high home efficiency and comfort are targeted primarily at wealthier people, and the goods/services are priced with that demographic's means in mind. Unfortunately, a few thousand wealthier people with efficient and comfortable homes does nothing for the grid or the climate.

Europe seems much further along in this area, with efficient technology and design being better captured in building codes and off the shelf technologies, and with a focus on energy efficient multi-family buildings.

My baseline electricity rate is $0.29/kWh and my baseline gas rate converts to about $0.06/kWh. Weighted for best-case efficiency that makes the the heat pump water heater 18% more expensive to run than the gas heater. Adding cognitive burden to carefully engineer the water heater's behavior and training my family to change their showering habits to leverage TOU just to maybe-break-even is a bad proposition. Plus, extrapolating the last ten years of rates, I expect electric rates will rise faster than gas rates and make the value proposition worse over time.

Edit: And of course that ignores that I have the condensing gas heater and I don't have the heat pump, so there's capex to cover as well.

It all depends on the efficiency of your existing water heater, and your local electric rates.

I pay the same electric rates as you - $.29/kWh (PG&E). For my family of 4 using 1.024MBTU/month of heat for water, the amount of electricity consumed by the heat pump hot water heater is about 100kWh/month, which works out to or $348/year.

Furthermore, in my area, I have access to a municipal utility program that will pay me $60/year to automatically run my heat pump water heater when renewables are in over-supply, thereby functioning as a kind of capacitor for intermittent renewable supply on the grid, and lowering my water heating electricity cost to around $.25/kWh.

With my previous standard gas water heater (efficiency 65%), I was using 20 therms per month for water heating. At my current local natural gas prices of $2/therm, that would have been $480/year for hot water heating if I kept that equipment. With a condensing natural gas unit at 96% efficiency it would cost $250/year, $90/year less than the heat pump - not a huge difference.

Remember that there are a lot of old standard gas water heaters out there that are only 50-65% efficient. A heat pump water heater is very competitive to replace those.

Natural gas prices also aren't going down, and are far more subject to geo-political supply shocks, as we've seen recently, resulting in winter natural gas rates recently going as high as $2.25/therm. That's a far greater jump than electricity rates vs last year. In places like the Pacific Northwest, or Sacramento CA with clean hydro power, electricity rates are $.09 to $.18/kWh haven't budged much at all. Heat pump water heaters are even better in places like that.

Heat pump water heaters also have the ancillary benefit over natural gas of removing a major source of combustion from within your home/garage, which is better for air quality, and also removes a source of depressurization of your house's air if the water heater is contained within conditioned space.

Oh for sure there's tons of benefits if it can be made to make sense. I'm going to get one as my solar and battery capacity grow. But right now it's unimaginable to do so in PG&E territory where electricity prices rise 4-5x faster than inflation. I'd rather roll the dice on geopolitics for gas pricing.

See slide 16, which already looks quaint just a year or two later. https://autl.assembly.ca.gov/sites/autl.assembly.ca.gov/file...

> See slide 16, which already looks quaint just a year or two later.

That's nothing.

PG&E's natural gas rates have gone up 400% since 2008 (inflation since that time has been about 30%): https://www.pge.com/tariffs/Residential.pdf

The huge jump happened in 2016, and it's stayed high since. The jump reflected increase in natural gas prices and also costs for PG&Es San Bruno pipeline explosion and the resulting higher cost of maintenance of natural gas infrastructure. It was a clear demonstration of the hidden liabilities in old natural gas distribution infrastructure.

It's interesting to note how PG&E's stock price also fared from 2016: https://www.google.com/search?q=pge+stock+price&oq=pge+stock...

which also is when they stopped paying a dividend: https://www.streetinsider.com/dividend_history.php?q=pcg

So we've paid the cost of the gas line upgrade but the cost of the electric upgrade to mitigate the fire risk is still incoming. Therefore we should expect a price shock on electricity in PG&E territory above-and-beyond the large-but-steady increases over the last eight years. And so the yawning gap will get even larger. :(

This is a shame because I strongly prefer electric everything, but not enough to make uneconomic decisions.

> So we've paid the cost of the gas line upgrade but the cost of the electric upgrade to mitigate the fire risk is still incoming.

I don't believe we've paid anywhere near the full cost of upgrading/maintaining the gas infrastructure yet. It continues to age and will require ongoing and increasing maintenance - and expensive maintenance since lines are buried.

Furthermore as more customers switch away from natural gas, the remaining customers rates will rise to pay for the infrastructure maintenance as this paper from the Haas School of Business describes [1]:

"As Figure 4 shows, this percentage rise in bills is small when only a few customers exit the natural gas sector, but bills rise substantially if many customers exit. To understand why this relationship is non-linear, imagine that all customers but one exit, and that remaining customer must cover all of the utility’s legacy costs."

You're right that we will likely pay higher costs for electric infrastructure upgrades also - or alternatively experience more fire-avoidance PSPS events, or a bit of both.

But electricity as a medium for delivering energy offers more technological opportunities for addressing these issues and the very pressing issue of decarbonization than natural gas does going forward. Batteries and municipal microgrids are some of technologies that can help with this going forward.

1. https://haas.berkeley.edu/wp-content/uploads/WP317.pdf

My own plan is to keep growing my solar and battery array until I'm self sufficient. I'll be electrifying as the additional load doesn't generate revenue for PG&E. I expect the last-customer-standing problem you bring up for gas is (to a lesser extent) going to happen for electricity as well.

Honestly my rule of thumb with respect to climate is that private individuals’ pollution pales in comparison to upstream industry. I expect the same is true here as well-residential efficiency is probably small potatoes compared to the efficiency opportunities in industry.

Residential is the single largest sector of electricity consumption in the United States:


Electricity production represents 25% of GHG emissions in the US:


Direct residential GHG emissions (i.e. from burning natural gas) are also significant.

In total, residential energy use of all kinds accounts for 20% of US GHG emissions:


I'm not sure what if anything you're refuting here, because this all seems to support my claim that the biggest opportunities likely lie in industry.

Specifically, your bottom line ("In total, residential energy use of all kinds accounts for 20% of US GHG emissions:") is still considerably less than upstream industry, logistics, etc and especially considering the misleading framing of "US GHG emissions" which don't capture the much larger share of emissions that are outsourced via trade (i.e., America buys a lot of shit from China, India, etc and those countries' industry is even less GHG-efficient than US industry). Note that I don't mean to imply that you intended to mislead.

Maybe we're just agreeing here, and you're throwing out extra context?

> Maybe we're just agreeing here, and you're throwing out extra context?

We can walk and chew gum at the same time. Beyond residential, private consumer choices in general - and importantly the incentives that drive them - have massive effect on upstream industrial and commercial energy uses, far greater than the 20% "residential" piece of the pie.

60% of the "transportation" sector comes from light-duty vehicles [1], which is why electrification of passenger cars is so critical.

And by the same token, we absolutely should look into the GHG footprint of imported goods from overseas or domestically produced. Carbon taxes - phased in, and with rebates to lower income quantiles - are a simple way to handle that.

1. https://www.c2es.org/content/regulating-transportation-secto...

California's "never build anything anywhere" policy makes many things difficult.

That seems like just a different way of saying to stop using fossil fuels, which is true but hard to achieve when the vast majority of our transport is done using them. Electrified public transport taking precedence over cars would accelerate the process but so many people are opposed to public transit.

which is true but hard to achieve when the vast majority of our transport is done using them

Many countries have passed laws to make selling new fossil fuel powered cars illegal within the next couple of decades. You might argue that's too slow, or even not possible, but the intent to reduce reliance on ICE transport and move to electric vehicles is definitely there.

We'll have to see how that pans out - I don't weigh intent very strongly when it comes to averting climate disaster.

Most fossil fuel use is outside of transportation, and within transportation cars and trains are a fairly easy transition. Electrified highways solve the issue for Trucks.

Boats and aircraft are more difficult, but there are a range of viable options for each. For example the US uses a little over 18 billion gallons of aviation fuel a year and produces 17 billion gallons of ethanol per year. It’s not a drop in replacement, but it is much easier than hydrogen or batteries.

Electrifying boats should be easier than cars. It's probably just not that much of a priority because fuel costs are much less relevant.

On a second though, transportation modes tend to fall on a curve where the more relevant are the fuel costs, the harder they are to electrify. Cars and buses are just on a sweet spot of the curve.

You can buy solar powered electrified boats, even with solar they have short ranges and low speeds. Fine for a pleasure trip but not even close to enough for say a tugboat.

The extreme end is icebreakers which actually sometimes use nuclear power because even fossil fuels have energy density issues. Not that we need to replace nuclear icebreakers, but many countries use the non nuclear version, and when you start talking ~100MW * weeks the batteries needed get crazy.

> Electrified highways solve the issue for Trucks.

In principle sure[0], but the devil is in the details with anything like this. You could also solve the intermittency of PV with a planet scale HVDC grid, much cheaper than batteries, but doing so would need a long time just to mine the metal ores out of the ground (someone asked me to do the math, and I did, it’s hiding somewhere in my comment history).

[0] of course Tom Scott did a video about this, in some ways he is the vlogger equivalent of xkcd: https://youtu.be/_3P_S7pL7Yg

The general solution to intermediacy is excess production. If you assume EV’s win, the batteries needed for that dwarf what you need for a Wind/PV/hydro grid.

Sure, albeit with the exception of a few polar settlements. (IIRC, small thought those are, the required reduction in emissions is such that we do still need to care about them in aggregate).

Indeed, I expect the battery market to grow as fast as the factories can keep up, and for some fossil mining workers to switch to other minerals important for renewable power (not all of them, because we don’t burn the stuff when we’re done so demand ought to be lower when the energy transition is complete).

But the point remains that the details do matter. This stuff may, like code, even remain experimental until it’s obsolete.

It'll play out in the opposite manner. The shift to EVs is going to happen first, followed by public transit. This is because EVs don't have a consensus / coordination problem. Electrifying a line or building a new line takes a minimum of a decade of planning, consultation, design and study, construction. But cars need replacement all the time and you can just go to a website and get an EV. Prices for batteries fall about 30% for every doubling of production. The spread of EVs is exponential, not linear. Sales roughly double every three years and many OEMs have stopped ICE development altogether. Once new car sales are close to 100% EV, existing stock will naturally die off.

Cars will electrify far faster than busses and trains in North America.

All 2300 or so busses in the LA metro fleet will be electrified by 2030 fwiw

Yeah, that's basically the point of the book. Acknowledging that our dependence on fossil fuels is hard to break, but outlining an actually realistic plan for doing so.

I haven't read it and I'm curios what is the gist of the electrification approach. Is it that it's more efficient?

Wouldn't heating and cooling be more efficient if done through architectural approaches?

For example, for cooling Persians use "cooling towers" called Windcatcher[0]. I know that there's a lot that can be done through design both for cooling and heating.

Also, organising the public spaces and infrastructure must be much more productive than aiming for changing the energy conversion systems(i.e. switching away from combustion propellers to electric ones). I' m very sceptical of the idea that electric cars will solve our problems. Just recently Elon Musk demonstrated that electrification of cars and taking the traffic underground simply creates underground traffic congestion[1].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windcatcher [1] https://twitter.com/parismarx/status/1479153917749600257

Obviously passive is better, but the point is that you need active heating or cooling or cooking or moving, electric is better. For example, a heat pump space heater or hot water heater is 3 - 5 times more efficient than gas heating.

Electric cars, of course, do share the same issues cars have (extremely space inefficient meaning the throughput of people through over a distance is lower than most other transit options). But the roundtrip efficiency is about three to four times better than a regular ICE (most of the energy goes into producing heat, not locomotion). So they're generally better than ICE cars. You are right that the Boring company seems to have basically solved no problems, and the Vegas system could have hundreds of times more throughput just using light rail (either underground or overground). But the rolling stock of the light rail would be electric - so that better solution would be electrification too!

What about the energy already spent producing and getting your current car to you, the energy spent doing away with said car, the energy spent to produce said eletric car and get it to you? A car represents a lot of potential energy at rest. A lot of power was used to take those atoms of metal or carbon from all over the living earth and reconfigure them into the shape of a car at your present location.

I haven’t seen very many analyses pencil all this out. I’d assume the greenest thing would be to drive your current car for the rest of your life.

Plenty of this research is being done. I know of one a Dutch academic Auke Hoekstra who does a lot of this kind of thing as his main area research.

The average age of vehicles around where I am is 10.6 years, so it is unfair to pretend as if people don’t scrap most vehicles already after 15 or so years. I think a lot of the transition will not be forcing people to replace their cars but just phasing out new ICEs from being sold. The ones that were being driven by those who buy electrics will get sold into the used market and replace older, even less fuel efficient cars that are naturally scrapped.

My understanding around EV production is that it currently takes something like 3 years to cross the total lifecycle energy curve of a conventional car, and then every subsequent year is better for the electric car. Things are improving too as energy grids get greener and battery production gets more efficient.

As I said, cars still have many problems and are a quite large amount of embedded energy and anything we can do to reduce the number of cars around and shift journeys to other modes (walking, cycling, busses, trams, trains) is better again.

It's not really that electricity is more efficient (is IS more efficient in most cases, but a key point of the book is that we can't "efficiency" our way out of the climate crisis). It's that as long as the generation of electricity is clean, the use of it is also clean. We already have clean ways of generating electricity that are cost-competitive with fossil fuels, and by scaling up production it will actually end up massively cheaper than fossil fuels. But there is a high upfront cost to switching, so financing the switch is one of the biggest challenges.

The book is quite thorough in laying out all the challenges (eg, handling variable production from renewables, how to get buy-in from existing fossil fuel stakeholders, etc) and presents realistic solutions for each. I recommend you pick up a copy and read it!

I don't understand why so many make a big deal of the Las Vegas loop congestion. I don't have the impression that it's supposed to demonstrate anything other than that Boring Co could actually dig a tunnel. Presumably they could fix the problem by building a vehicle actually designed for the purpose of a "loop" transportation system, but that's obviously still some ways out. So it's basically a demo, a playground and a marketing gimmick for Boring Co/Tesla.

But surely you would agree that for a company claiming to be revolutionising transport, building a demonstration system that is much worse in most ways than conventional systems is not a very good marketing strategy...?

> I don't understand why so many make a big deal of the Las Vegas loop congestion

Because it demonstrates the exact thing that sceptics said it would happen?

Think a perpetuum mobile company having a demonstration of their machine and it stops. Would you be able to use the excuse that the demo was about showing that they can build machines and not the machine that they promised?

Demonstration that they can dig tunnels? Why would that need a demonstration and even if they wanted to demonstrate it why would they demonstrate it with cars inside and then say that the cars part doesn't count.

Digging tunnels is a very old thing. We know it can be done and we know it works well when you run electric vehicles inside it(All underground systems already run on electric cars), it's just that it doesn't solve congest any differently than the one on the ground. Two cars can't occupy the same volume and it holds both over ground and underground.

Sometimes the difference between Elizabeth Holmes and Mus*k are negligible. She should just failed to kick can down the road for long enough I guess. She should have imitated Mus*k instead of Jobs, then people would have been saying thing like "The tests not producing correct results doesn't mean anything, it's just a demonstration that they can build machines".

Why are you putting an asterisk in Musk?

To prevent fanboys finding it on search flocking. You can't criticise Mus*k on the internet, people will find you abd be very aggressive and annoying.

lol ok

Sure there are many ways to design housing to be more energy efficient, but what about all of the existing housing?

I mean that doesn't sound like a revolutionary hot take to me, I guess I'm glad you're inspired?

The problem we on this side of the pond are facing now is that the electrification is going too fast; people installing solar panels on their roofs, getting an electric car, companies putting solar panels on every building and unused patch of land, people electrifying their house by replacing their gas boilers and stoves with pure electric alternatives is all well and good, but the infrastructure can't handle it, and they need YEARS to upgrade said infrastructure, to the point where they are forced to refuse to connect new businesses (that produce or consume a lot of electricity).

It's great, but it needs big investment in the electricity infrastructure.

And of course, better guarantees for energy production. We're facing an energy crisis over here, due to fuckery with Russia, the gas supplies are running out and prices of gas have gone way up, which is causing electricity prices to go up as well. As a country, you need to be able to give guarantees about the stability, availability and cost of electricity. It's not something fixed overnight.

On the face of it, no, it doesn't sound revolutionary. "Just switch to renewables" is something I've been hearing for 20 years and I never believed it could work until I read this book.

The book is quite thorough in laying out all the challenges (eg, handling variable production from renewables, how to get buy-in from existing fossil fuel stakeholders, how to rearchitect the grid from hub-and-spoke to something more like the internet, how to finance the massive upfront cost in a way that will actually save money, etc) and presents realistic solutions for each.

Please don't take my word for it, just pick up a copy and read it.

Which side of the pound is that?

Because I haven't heard of too many solar panels or electric cars causing any issue anywhere in europe just yet.

Why is wind not getting the same love as solar? Wind has a more proven track record than solar. Entire modern industrialized European countries have run on pure wind energy for several days at a time. If we could store and share that energy across borders we probably have the answer to most of our energy problems.

In the 2010s the efficiency of solar cells have been so exaggerated that some scientific journals felt it was necessary to enforce rigorous checklists and guidelines on that topic:


Wind produces noise, has moving parts that require quite a bit of maintenance, too much wind and the breaks are applied, too little they don't turn, they require a very large foundation made of an enormous amount of concrete and may cause issues with birds depending on location.

Additionally small wind mills don't make economic sense and that is why they are getting bigger and bigger. This limits where you can install them and make the approval process a huge burden. Compare this to solar which can be installed on almost any size house.

We can easily store this energy with hydro storage and hydro damns. Hydro storage is an amazing thing as it requires very little maintenance and can go from 0 to 100% in seconds which is great for areas that require a lot of power in a short amount of time. Even nuclear power doesn't have such a quick ramp up/down.

> Wind produces noise

Don't live in the middle of a grain field surrounding a wind turbine then. Seriously, I live around tons of these and you can't hear it until you get near and they're almost always in the middle a field or between several fields, so you can't really get near. Are there louder ones in different countries that can be heard further away or something?

No. I live near a large onshore wind farm with 2.5MW wind turbines and go walking near them regularly. They are inaudible from more than 200m away.

Could that be related to other maritime noises, like waves or seagulls?

I walk through one of these eyesore fields regularly, and I can hear them easily from 200m away.

I like the wind farm views. It's very subjective of course. Though most people don't like change, and since old power generating stations were high density (eg. a coal plant, just a big building and a smokestack) the new low-density things are naturally running into this change resistance.

India’s demographic distribution is very different from America’s.

May as well tell them to avoid tundras.

Also the land distribution is vastly different. 60% is agriculture, 24% is forest cover. Compare that to US where most of the land is cow pastures.

You people talk about changing where you live as if replacing your house was cheap and easy.

I don't know who "you people" are but I wasn't talking about anyone moving. People don't live in the middle of grain fields, so nobody needs to move.

The average size of an agricultural holding was 1.08 hectares (2.67 acres) in 2015-16 and declining over time [1]. A lot of Indian land is small farms with houses clustered among them.

That’s not to say that India doesn’t produce a lot of wind energy, though - it’s the second largest source of renewable energy after solar according to the most recent source I could get (Feb 2020) [2].

[1] https://pib.gov.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=199780

[2] https://cea.nic.in/dashboard/?lang=en check “Renewable Energy” under “Generation”

Is 1.08 hectares enough for a sustainable grain farm? I would imagine those smaller ones are for vegetables but I could be wrong...

Noise doesn't only affect humans.

Funny how people are suddenly concerned with other species when a wind turbine is placed near their home. But when an out-of-sight coal plant belches out tons of pollutants which affect thousands of species, that concern seems to vanish. Quaint.

The discussion is comparing solar to wind, nobody is suggesting coal as an alternative, so this complaint seems out of place.

Not really. It's an observation on human nature. It's about how certain problems are only problems when they fit a narrative, and can be conveniently ignored otherwise. It seems like the toxicity of solar panel production is also conveniently being ignored, or how much water it requires. Certainly less than coal, but more than wind turbines.

It’s less water over the life of the product though.

Well, let me know when you have a study showing how the mice and vipers in those fields are affected.

This is anecdata, but I was hiking through an eolic field and saw a group of semi-wild horses directly below a turbine. Some of them were grazing, others were resting/sleeping. None of them could care less about the noise.

Well, there is a DLR (essentially Germany's NASA) study about the effect of wind turbines on insects [1]. It's not pretty. Neither is the study on the effect on birds [2] by NABU, one of our "Sierra Club"-style organisations.

[1] https://www.dlr.de/content/en/articles/news/2019/01/20190326... links to an English-language interview.

[2] https://bergenhusen.nabu.de/imperia/md/nabu/images/nabu/einr...

It's not pretty is not what the research concluded.

"From the currently available figures and the DLR model calculation, we cannot conclude either that wind energy plays a significant role in the reduction of insect numbers, or that it has no impact. "

Needs more research.

There's no mention of sound or noise in either one of those.

The insect study focusses on getting hit by the turbine wing, that's right. The bird study only talks about effects, without specifying effects, and takes note about bird-specific things like "avoidance distance", which is linked to - among other factors - noise.

Tbh: it does feel like you are moving goalposts because the studies do not show what you'd like them to show, that wind energy is green and ecologically friendly. We see that a lot.

>>> Wind produces noise

>> Noise doesn't only affect humans.

> Well, let me know when you have a study showing how the mice and vipers in those fields are affected.

This part of the thread is about noise. I'm not moving the goalpost, you're just off topic.

Some people seem to develop an allergy to the frequency, the way some people are sensitive to MSG or Gluten while others are unharmed. There haven't been many studies that I'm aware of but I've met enough people who reported these symptoms that I don't think they're making things up.

Is there evidence that that is a real thing opposed to completely made up nonsense like many other "sensitivities" [1] that are popular right now? Real question; I'm not qualified to know the difference.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_hypersensitivi...

It's a bit of a hot take, but I think there's insufficient understanding of just how much of our everyday health complaints are psychosomatic, and just how much of our mental activity doesn't take place in the brain. An allergy to subsonics is certainly a made-up complaint, the only question being whether it's made up by the brain or the immune system. And the only practical difference between those two is that the brain is more plastic.

If the subject doesn't practise deliberate reprogramming of their mental architecture, it doesn't matter much whether the illness is in the more or less pliable medium, because they don't have the tools to reshape it either way. I guess one could run an experiment by seeing whether it's amenable to talk therapy and categorise the issue that way, but it would still depend a lot on the therapist in question and the subject's willingness to participate.

No, it's a classic nocebo.

There recently was a bit of a scandal in Germany because for years a major government authority has reported levels of "infrasound" from wind turbines far above what was physically plausible. A lot of the fearmongering relied on those numbers - yet it turned out they were due to a calculation error.

I think you are forgetting about the environmental impact of hydro damns. It floods entire valleys, displaces lots of flora and fauna and it uses much more concrete than wind farms.

The advantage of hydro is that you can turn it on whenever you want. Environmental impacts aside, wind will never have that.

Energy is a grid. As long as you have wind and FV, hydro is accumulating water for less windy/sunny moments. We tend to look at batteries as something that has to be physically linked (the wind mill must reverse a hydro or must store in a lithium battery), but it can be though as avoiding to release the water in the first place.

Viewing the different technologies on the grid as isolated competitors in which one must "win" over the others as if they were Walmart vs Costco is a mistake. E.g. nuclear providing 20-30% of the load is a must, but providing more than 60% is a drag. The trick is to get, slowly evolving, a good mix in the grid that is reasonably cheap and green (wind and solar) and reasonably stable (nuclear, hydro and gas). Too cheap and you get blackouts. Too stable and you get high prices and CO2.

Except when the reservoirs run dry, which many will do at times unless you spend only a rather small proportion of the available capacity.

Norway is a huge energy exporter, but regularly imports because of reduced hydro generating capacity.

Expanding storage capacity is generally a problem because of the massive environmental impact.

Norway is a huge energy exporter, but regularly imports because of reduced hydro generating capacity.

I have recently come to the conclusion that hydro is a very good complement to wind because the hydro is dispatchable when the wind doesn't blow. As long as the average wind and hydro together exceed needed capacity, things should be good.

As I understand it, this is what Norway is doing. Importing wind from Germany when there is excess and exporting hydro when there is a shortage.

Yes, and when you have already paid the environmental cost of hydro, it's a good tradeoff. If you need to destroy new large parts of your ecology and display people, it's a much trickier decision. I'm not fundamentally opposed to hydro including building new dams, but it's important people are aware that they have both massive ecological and humanitarian challenges, and create a long term maintenance commitment (or they become potentially disastrous) that means they're not no brainers. When they're still a decent fit, they're then absolutely a good complement to other renewable resources.

A similar dynamic between Spain and France: Spain sells wind to France, France sells nuclear to Spain.

> Expanding storage capacity is generally a problem because of the massive environmental impact

Meh. It could be put completely underground. (We could put nuclear power plants hundreds of meters deep underground too.) People don't want to spend on it is the real problem.

That’s not really a counterpoint. That hydro isn’t an infinite source of energy isn’t remarkable.

The point is not that it isn't infinite, but that you can't rely on it always being available, just as with wind or solar. You still need fallbacks unless you over dimension massively, and over dimensioning hydro storage comes with massive ecological impact.

I am aware but as a total I find that impact to be minor especially if great care it taken to determine where such a damn is built.

There aren't many places to build hydro left where the impact would be low. The typical environmental impact tends to be huge and the number of people displaced tends to be huge, because the type of places most suitable to build up also tends to be the types of places that have historically attracted human settlements.

On top of that, the ongoing release of e.g. methane for years after construction coupled with the environmental cost of the construction materials means it takes a long time for dams to even pay off the environmental debt they create.

The death toll from hydro is also not all that reassuring. Even if you subtract the Ban Qiao dam failure, the single most destructive power plant failure in history[1], beating e.g. Chernobyl several times over, construction accidents and the like adds up, and contributes to a lasting maintenance burden where guaranteeing sufficient maintenance becomes a growing risk to downstream downstream populations for as long as the dams exist.

I'm sure there are places where dams are still reasonable choices, but they're no unambiguously good choices.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1975_Banqiao_Dam_failure

> Wind produces noise

Wind will always produce noise. The rustling of trees, the whispering of grass, or he howling though narrow streets. Might as well capture the energy from the wind.

If the wind "turbine" produces noise, this should be solveable by noise insulation. (which likely isn't done because it's not a large enough issue.)

Plus wind energy kills birds. Engineers try to minimize this risk, but greedy entrepreneurs with connections to lobyists and the government tend to "flex" restrictions.

Hydroelectricity also kills the nature, I heard that some argue that hydroelectricity shouldn't be classified as environmentally friendly.

Studies show that a windturbine kills approximately as many birds as a domestic cat does.

According to a French study ( https://www.lpo.fr/la-lpo-en-actions/developpement-durable/e... ): 0.3 to 18.3 birds/windturbine/year 5.2 according to Loss et al, 2013 and 8.2 according to Zimmerling et al. 2013.

I can't read the study as it is in French. I am living under a highly corrupt government. You can build wind turbines / airports directly on bird migration paths here, no one says anything if you got an OK from the government. That's why I said engineers figure out ways to minimize bird deaths, however they are not always enforced. France may apply these principles, but my country doesn't.

A news article (in Turkish) substantiating what I'm talking about: https://www.sozcu.com.tr/2021/gundem/kuzey-ormanlari-simdi-d...

I understand. Any corrupted government seems a dangerous proposition to me. As for gridpower it means that nuclear is out of the equation (because corruption distorts expertise) in a gov-corrupted nation. Sadly most active nuclear projects run in such nations.

> Plus wind energy kills birds. Engineers try to minimize this risk, but greedy entrepreneurs with connections to lobyists and the government tend to "flex" restrictions.

That is a long-since debunked myth. In the US [1], 2.4 billion birds are killed each year by cats, 600 million die in collisions with glass buildings, 214 million in collisions with cars... and not even 250.000 due to wind turbines.

If you really care about birds, go and argue for cat TNR programs and for restrictions on glass usage on buildings. Otherwise, you're just using a strawman argument.

[1] https://www.statista.com/chart/15195/wind-turbines-are-not-k...

US doesn't have a corrupt government like mine :). Under ideal circumstances this might be the case. But here you can build wind farms directly on bird migration paths without any counter measures. It would only become a problem if there are mass bird deaths you can't cover up. Environmental impact studies in my country are a joke.

An article (in Turkish) substantiating what I'm talking about: https://www.sozcu.com.tr/2021/gundem/kuzey-ormanlari-simdi-d...

It's odd to think no one has come up with a way to repel birds. It would be interesting to see all the things they've tried.

Some work has been done. I seem to recall that painting the turbine blades to create a visible flicker helped keep birds away. I am sure some studies are ongoing. The number of birds killed by windfarms is miniscule compared to the number that die simply from flying into windows on skyscrapers, however.

Yeah, that's one approach. Far more often, airports just shoot them.

If you've got the land area and the sunshine, solar PVs are cheaper than wind, it's that simple.

Wind is a better fit for Europe where there are far fewer sunshine hours but fairly constant wind due to macro-scale atmospheric weather patterns.

With that said, the cost of PVs is dropping so fast - faster than wind power - that I expect solar to become more important in Europe as well. Even in northern latitudes, solar farms are popping up on land that was previously used for agriculture, and I expect this trend will accelerate. If you're a landowner, you can potentially make more money using the land to generate electricity with PVs than with agriculture.

>Wind is a better fit for Europe where there are far fewer sunshine hours

You mean Northern Europe.

I think it's genuinely because wind is a pretty mature technology, lighter-than-air turbines notwithstanding. We know what a state-of-the-art turbine costs, what it produces, and we can make a good estimate of its useful life. There's just not much for a capital allocator to do in the wind space. Solar still has startups and experimentation, so there's at least the perception that as a capital allocator it's possible to pick winners.

Do we really need to store wind energy?

Why not just have more capacity than we need, and a grid to redistribute it.

We have that in Sweden. The problem is distributing it. Most energy in Sweden is produced up north, but the infrastructure to transfer it south is lacking which (especially this winter) is resulting in ridiculously uneven kW/h prices in our country.

Just to clarify. This is pretty much all hydro and not wind, big wind parks in northern Sweden will be built though.

But building put transfer capacity is a known quantity.

I would think energy storage is harder to solve than building more transfer capacity?

It's very hard to estimate the realistic minimum wind generation for an entire grid, I believe (same goes for solar). Sure, 0 wind for 1 month across an entire country is unrealistic, but how low could it go, and for how long, and how often would such an event happen?

You can't just leave critical infrastructure like power generation up to chance, even for once-in-a-century events. You must always have some kind of buffer to make sure there is no chance you will have to shut down industry and hospitals for a week (barring maybe war conditions).

What if you need energy when there isn’t much wind?

One of these things is orders of magnitude more complicated than the other.

Wind energy is mechanical,in 2021 it costs around $0,06 per kWh, it will not get cheaper than $0,035 per kWh (quote Saul Griffith of Makani power). Solar photovoltaics cost $0,01 per kilowatt hour in 2021 and will get two orders of a magnitude cheaper in the next decades. This cost projection is based on physics. Why would you be interested in more expensive sources?

Consistency of wind is a huge problem - seasonal, directional, intensity, etc

India gets a lot of sun

> The bulk of that money — about $67.7 billion — will go toward a new power plant and hydrogen system, the company said in a stock exchange filing. Reliance plans to make the massive investment over a 10-to-15-year period, and has already begun scouting for land for the 100-gigawatt capacity site.

If I'm reading this correctly they want to build 100GW worth of solar capacity and a hydrogen plant for $67.7bln.

That's actually pretty cheap.

Renewables are massively cheaper than anything else on the market today, and this is one of the reasons I am definitely in favor of them. One thing to consider though is that the capacity factor (basically how much of GWh you actually produce from your available capacity) of renewables is less than coal/nuclear plants, so in that case 1GW of solar and 1GW of nuclear is not the same. But even with this taken into account, renewables are the cheapest and there is virtually no chance for this to change in the future.

Is this really that simple?

I'd imagine there's a certain size above where nuclear becomes cheaper even with the added costs of mining for fuel, waste management, etc. (Eg. the manufacturing, setup, maintenance, decommissioning of millions of solar panels and wind turbines, distribution network to connect them will be offset by a few very large nuclear plants. Especially if they are fuel efficient [eg. fast reactors].)

A bit of a tangent here, but does anyone have a grasp on whether using electrolysis to store and transport excess solar/wind is a feasible thing? Could hydrogen behave as a on-demand scalable (if inefficient) store of unused power?

One of Australia's richest men, the billionaire Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest, is shifting his focus from Mining to Hydrogen with big projects announced late last year in Australia and Argentina.

[1] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-10-11/qld-hydrogen-capacity...

It's actually this news that made me curious about the potential for hydrogen to act as a battery for solar projects where pumped hydro doesn't make sense. I've read that the water output of hydrogen energy generation is non-recyclable, if that's solvable we could have excess solar in arid places along with a fully-contained hydrogen electrolysis and power generator combination acting as a battery

I think this is called "green hydrogen" [1] which has application as an energy storage medium, but also more. Energy storage also does not imply, that that hydrogen needs to be turned back into grid electricity, but could be used for heating or for hydrogen cars.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_hydrogen

> I think this is called "green hydrogen"

I'm aware of the term, 'green hydrogen', which is in contrast to 'blue hydrogen' (or as I prefer to call it 'dirty hydrogen') which is a product of methane gas extraction and allows some of that methane to escape.

> but could be used for heating or for hydrogen cars.

I'm under the impression that hydrogen ICE vehicles at scale is impractical due to lack of infrastructure, safety issues etc, at least compared to batteries

Methane synthesis is a potential solution. Simpler infrastructure/reuse of existing infrastructure.

Or potentially methanol (and better yet, butanol, which is easier to deal with than methanol, less corrosive, less hydroscopic).

Hydrogen as a replacement fuel for vehicles is a dead duck. Batteries have won there.

Hydrogen, or zero net carbon hydrocarbons synthesized from it, is a good fit where energy density exceeds what current lithium chemistry batteries can provide, like aeroplanes, or rockets.

If we overbuild solar to store energy for winter heating, CNG may be pretty competitive for on road use (especially for larger vehicles).

Yes, this is currently becoming a reality in the UK. [1]

[1]: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/glasgow-to-be-home-to-fir...

Now this is a statement!! At least compared to all the other wealthy philanthropists funds dipping their toes (see Breakthrough Energy Ventures - $1B who include Gates, Bezos, Benioff, Bloomberg, Branson, Ma, Hoffman, Soros, Steyer, Whitman, Zuckerberg, Lutke, Muskovitz). To be fair Mukesh (Chairman of Reliance) is also in on BEV.

I hope this is the beginning of a major transformation for India and continued global progress!

It's a bit much to call them wealthy philanthropists. They're all businessmen.

Fair enough - I believe philanthropists is what they call themselves. I think I used it slightly pejoratively. They are indeed businessmen who made enough money to then donate a portion of it to philanthropy (both good and some bad) after they made their billions and rebranded themselves as philanthropists.

An excerpt from a 2020 Stratechery article (https://stratechery.com/2020/facebook-invests-in-jio-platfor...):

“Over the past two years, more than 200m Indian phone users have flocked to take advantage of arguably the greatest corporate gamble in the country’s history. Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man, has spent $32bn building up his telecoms company Reliance Jio — the biggest private sector investment in India’s history — as he fights for dominance in the world’s second-biggest telecoms market by user numbers. Much of that money has been spent giving away free access to what Jio says is now the world’s largest mobile data network, with its clients consuming about three times the amount of data of an average European customer.

The launch of Jio has helped to engineer a socio-economic revolution in India. For the first time, millions of Indians are able to access the internet to register for benefit payments, download school textbooks or simply watch India beat Pakistan at cricket. The rapid growth in the telecoms network has encouraged some of the world’s biggest retail and technology companies to plough money into the country. Walmart this year announced the world’s largest ecommerce deal by buying 77 per cent of Indian online retailer Flipkart for $16bn. Google is beefing up its India team, while Netflix says it hopes to add 100m customers from the country.”

Hell of a legacy.

For real. Traveling there and having 4 bars of fast 4g almost anywhere you stand in cities and on the road is remarkable for such a large country

If we're going to have billionaires, might as well as incentivize them to invest the money in useful things. Elites during gilded age built many institutions, funded museums. I remember anecdote about gilded rich buying a town to redirect railway too close their manor with caveat that they paid everyone involved over market value for relocation. Is Zuckerburg doing the same in Hawaii? What are tech bros doing with their money apart from building fallout shelters in NZ. Bezos goes to space but can't fund Expanse season 6 with full episodes :-/.

Just hope the weight is not too much and misguided the market. He is not doing it by idea and building then it is bad. Just throwing money or power or … is bad.

That's great initiative in which can definitely help the world in a positive light.

If Mukesh Abmani ties up with Elon Musk for Tesla's India expansion, it will be done faster than it was done in China. But may be wishful thinking.

We don't want Tesla.

We already see what car lobbies do to cities like Pune with a terrible public transport infra. We want a more reliable rail network and a useable metro for all important cities.

And no, we can't have both, I don't want the car lobby to get stronger that it is.

Still waiting for Pune metro. I think metros will do wonders for most big cities in India.

How much longer are they expecting it to take? I was there several months ago and it looked like they had a ton of elevated track bridges ready

Hard to tell, they are waiting for supreme leader to inaugurate metro before Pune municipality elections.


You want to address your countries lobbying problem by killing business rather than using legislation or political action to prevent lobbying. That is decidedly unwise.

Not so sure about the "faster" part in that sentence. I think Tesla could possibly have too many parallel projects in the pipe already.

Isn't Tesla mostly bottlenecked by its vendors and regulatory approval? (For example each aluminium die casting machine - called a "Giga Press" and supplied by an Italian company - probably takes some time to get built. Just like with the semiconductor industry where ASML builds a few steppers per year.)

I have no idea. I was thinking about the Tesla Roadster and Tesla Semi, two products delayed with years and counting. I pre-paid the Tesla Roadster in full 2018-06-14 and was expecting it to be delivered in 2020, so every new Tesla project I hear about makes me a little nervous the Roadster will be postponed even further into the future.

one person shouldn't be able to hold this much power

that's enough for 10 or more nuclear plants or at least a lot of research into them. Why solar and hydrogen? Is it the fact that they're already in hydrocarbons?

Nuclear plants take decades to build and require a good power grid to distribute power to remote regions. Even longer if you want one of the safer types like Thorium, since you also need to wait for someone to work out how to build and run them at scale. This is kind of important if you are interested in making money now, rather than that getting money from investors in exchange for the promise of profits in 20 years time. Oh, and a lot of people also think climate change should be tackled now rather than in a decade or two.

Solar and wind you can start building straight away and can build small local plants that don't rely on long distance links of sufficient quality and reliability.

Hydrogen is trickier since you still need solar or wind and a production facility to make it and logistics to distribute it. Hydrogen seems a side show at the moment, since lots of people seem interested in generating Green hydrogen it but I don't see anyone actually wanting to make use of it. Maybe it is a good way of getting governments to kick in money.

Solar is cheaper than nuclear power, faster to build, easier to deploy, easier to scale up and extend. Downside is obviously that one needs storage. But nuclear power is also not really suited for load following.

> But nuclear power is also not really suited for load following.

This is mostly a myth. The actual reason nuclear powerplants run at max power all the time is that nuclear fuel is very cheap compared to operating costs, therefore it is more economical to follow load variations on the other plants.

Here is an example of high-amplitude and relatively high-speed variation (10GW over a few hours) : https://twitter.com/TristanKamin/status/1102625880520699911

What is true is there is little expertise in load following with nuclear powerplants because it is uncommon. Areva has been developing and exporting ALFC (Advanced Load Following Control) technology for automated load-following operations.



All in all, load following with nuclear is a technologically much easier problem to solve than high-scale energy storage.

There are safety-related limits to this flexibility: one cannot at will reduce/augment the "power" (thermal) delivered by a reactor. After each small set of tweaks a somewhat durable stable state (or a complete shutdown) must be respected. In the proposed SFEN document it corresponds to the mentions "palier d’au moins deux heures" (at least 2 hours between tweaks) and "deux fois par jour" (max two tweaking sequences per day).

The real (observed and useful) ability to follow load at a useful extent is offered by the float (tens of reactors simultaneously active => more flexibility towards tweaking limitations).

At this game nothing beats a gas turbine (hydraulic dams are serious contenders).

This is a known trade off between safety and convenience. Arguably we have enough expertise/data to move the set-point toward convenience with better automation.

Satisfying our needs without any major-risk-inducing piece of equipment producing long-lived 'hot' waste seems even better to me.

I am not saying load following isn’t possible, I was trying to say nuclear isn’t ideal for load following. It’s definitely not comparable to a gas turbine.

Then, why aren't you applying the same logic to solar and wind? They are less than ideal for load following. Of course, there are technological solutions (energy storage), but I just pointed out that there are technological solutions for nuclear load following as well, and they are already there, far simpler, cheaper, don't require a huge new supply chain, ...

> But nuclear power is also not really suited for load following.

That's a common assertion on that topic, but it is baseless. In fact, nuclear plants are routinely used for load following when needed [1].

[1]: https://www.oecd-nea.org/nea-news/2011/29-2/nea-news-29-2-lo...

I think the issue with load following is that as most of the costs of nuclear are fixed costs, it increases the cost per unit of energy in proportion to the amount you "turn down" the output. As nuclear is already struggling to be cost competitive with solar+wind + storage, that makes it hard to justify.

Cost per unit of energy is talked about a lot, but it's not that relevant, though. What people buy is usually guarantees to be able to provide. There are different types of contract (peak power vs base load, futures vs. forwards, spot vs. month- or year-ahead contracts), but overall, what people buy is a guarantee that they will get power when they need it. Whether they actually use it or not is not as relevant from the contract's pov.

The ability to load-follow is unrelated to energy price, but to grid stability. Regardless of what contract exists between a provider and a consumer, there is a third party, the grid operator, who can ask the generating parties to adapt their production to actual consumption.

> solar+wind + storage

Simply doesn't exist at scale currently. We don't really have good estimates of what a storage-balanced grid costs at scale, and we don't have the industrial bandwidth to build storage at scale with the current technologies.

To give you a back-of-the-envelope calculation, current estimates are that european countries relying on wind/solar would need 8 days worth of batteries to avoid most of negative-generation events. For a country like Germany which consumes 1.5TWh a day on average, that would be more than many thousand units of the large battery Tesla built in Australia.

The scale of this storage is tied to variability ('intermittency'), and at least a way to reduce it is known: spread out the production units.

Case in point: wind in Europe https://www.imperial.ac.uk/news/180592/european-cooperation-...

This would lead to marginal improvements, but wouldn't change the fundamental scaling issues with renewables and storage.

This is an opinion.

"the planned development around the North Sea means 100 GW (100 large power stations) would need to be turned on or off to balance out changes in wind power production when the weather changes. With a more cooperatively designed system, this could be reduced to just 20 GW across the continent.". Add solar, biomass... and storage, including a smartgrid enabling (for example) V2G: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vehicle-to-grid , then green hydrogen (boosting production units' output and reducing the amount of electric electricity needed).

8 days' worth of green hydrogen to feed gas turbines would fit in a few relatively small gas storage facilities.

We don't have production facilities for that much clean hydrogen either (about 350.000 tons would be needed for 8 days' worth of Germany's needs. World production of green hydrogen was about 1 million tons between 2015 and 2018[1]).

As I said earlier, the theory may exist, but solving scaling problems isn't trivial, and is going to take some time.

[1]: https://www.statista.com/statistics/859104/hydrogen-producti...

And how much ground you need to cover to have equivalent of an average nuclear power plant? And yes, one needs storage, and viable storage technology is not even on the horizon.

It is so sad and so bad for our planet that for instance Germany decided to spend billions of billions on renewable energy plants while spending the same amount on nuclear power plant would made Germany zero emission economy.

That statement definitely needs some numbers to check out, it's a claim that needs backing up. The full nuclear power "pipeline" isn't CO2-neutral either and depends on resources we'll eventually run out of, probably within the next hundred years, maybe sooner [1].

I also don't think that "but what about space requirements" is an argument with enough weight to dismiss the long list of advantages given by the GP. We have so much unused space on roofs. We could get rid of a few parking lots if you're concerned for ground.

[1] https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/pressreleases/worlds-uranium...

We don't even need to get rid of parking lots, we can build roofs with panels over them, which will help shade cars and even minimally lower co2 emissions from running car ac units of people who get back to cars.

Viable storage is already here. It's called green hydrogen or hydrogen-from-seawater, and pilot plants are coming online or being built right now.

The storage is limited only by tank size, and we already know how to store and use large quantities of hydrogen. The hydrogen produced from the process can be pumped elsewhere by pipeline and used as fuel for gas turbines to balance the grid, or combined with carbon dioxide or nitrogen from the atmosphere to produce zero net carbon methane and ammonia for use as denser fuel sources, or feedstock for industrial processes. You can even make zero net carbon synthetic jet fuel this way.

Hydrogen is an extremely inefficient energy storage medium. We don't have massive amounts of energy to just waste away in an inefficient system. If we did, green hydrogen would have been chewing away at current hydrogen production for industrial usage (95% gray hydrogen).

You're of course free to believe that countries will build 3 times the capacity of their energy production to compensate for that inefficiency.

To give an idea of the order of magnitude of inefficiency :

* Currently a grid => hydrogen => grid round trip is 40-45% efficient.

* A grid => battery => grid round trip is 90-95% efficient.

You can recover 2x more energy by NOT using hydrogen. There is no competition. Unless the lost energy from green hydrogen production can be recovered somehow (co-generation)...

Green hydrogen is produced thanks to electricity produced by renewables (wind, solar...) when it is useless (not immediately consumed). It's a "use it or lose it" situation: using it, even at a loss, seems sound.

Many applications (transportation, industry...) can use it as such, without any way from hydrogen to electricity, and more and more probably will.

There are surprising new ways (offering an impressive efficiency), such as: https://www.slb.com/newsroom/press-release/2021/pr-2021-1118...

At a glance: https://www.energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/hydrogen-production-el...

In-depth take: https://assets.siemens-energy.com/siemens/assets/api/uuid:53...

I have no doubt that batteries will also form part of the grid energy storage solution. But they don't scale as well as hydrogen and have higher maintenance costs and replacement rates.

Given how cheap renewables are becoming, yes, countries will absolutely build overcapacity.

But we won't need 3 times the amount - hydrogen will only be used to balance the grid. Most grid energy will come direct from renewables. Most of Europe would only need about 20 days' worth of hydrogen as insurance against a lack of wind or sun.

Green hydrogen has only become viable to replace hydrogen-from-fossils within the last few years as the cost of renewable energy has plummeted. That drop in renewable energy costs is what has changed recently and what has taken so many people by surprise.

If pilot plants are coming online now, it isn’t here.

> spending the same amount on nuclear power plant would made Germany zero emission economy.

Power generation is only a small part of Germany's emissions. Germany would still be a large CO2 source with full nuclear power generation, just like France is because of transportation, food, heating, industry, etc.

Permissions (regulatory) is also easier. Not sure how it is in India but I know that investors here opted for solar/wind/water a few times because it would take too long and is too unsure if it would succeed. Mind you, that was closer to Fukushima and Germany was shouting loud against nuclear.

It's nowhere near enough for 10 nuclear plants. The best comparison is probably Bangladesh, their plant will cost $13B. And it's of course really slow to build them. Renewables are both cheaper and way way faster to build.

Solar is dead easy, dead simple, dead safe, dead everything.

The next decade may see rise of distributed solar based base load plants, where we have 3x capacity panels and 2x storage, delivering constant 1x power, all year round.

We need efficient panels, lower infra costs, etc

Solar is also dead dead for more than half of the day most of the year, and working at much lower capacity during the monsoon season. At the very least, you would need somewhat more than 2x storage.

And, 2x storage is NOT dead easy or dead simple, especially with only 3x capacity, since storing the electricity will not happen with 100% efficiency, or anything close to that.

That's not really the problem with solar. Storing energy in batteries from day to night is a solved problem, it doesn't even double the price of electricity. The round trip efficiency is about 80%. The big problem is storing electricity from summer to winter at higher latitudes; it's difficult because the day is much longer during the summer than the winter, the incidence angle higher, so you may end up producing as much as 10 times less energy in the winter, while the energy demand is actually higher; storage losses over 6 months are very high, but that's not the really big problem. The big problem is that you are not getting the bang for the buck. For batteries used from day to night, you get MWh of energy into and out of them every day, and you can charge for that, so you can get a decent ROI. For batteries used from summer to winter, you'll charge for the energy once a year; you need to charge much, much more, and this becomes uneconomical by a huge distance.

There's an alternative to storing energy from summer to winter: you simply overbuild solar capacity so that even in the winter you can produce enough during the day to last you through the night. At high latitudes, you need to overbuild by a factor of 10, and solar may be cheap, but not 10 times cheaper than other sources of electricity. However, if you find something to do with the excess summer energy, you may end up being profitable.

India, being at a lower latitude, has a much easier problem. First, it's very likely the demand during "winter" months is not much higher than during "summer" months if at all. Then the day length during winter is not that short. So the overcapacity that you need may be only a factor of 3x. This guy wants to manufacture green hydrogen. Even if he sells it at a loss, the overall venture may still be profitable.

> That's not really the problem with solar. Storing energy in batteries from day to night is a solved problem, it doesn't even double the price of electricity.

I very much doubt this is "solved" at the scale of an entire country's energy needs for half a day, never mind the entire world's. Lithium and other materials for batteries are not that abundant, and definitely not that abundantly extracted.

You are moving the goalposts. It's a solved problem at the scales that are relevant for today's needs. As the needs will expand, there's no reason to think the solution will suddenly fail.

Tesla sells Megapacks with a capacity as high as 3 GWh (but I'm sure if you're the richest person in India, they'll be more than happy to customize bigger solutions for you) [1].

You can head to their website and order right now over the internet a 15 MHh pack for $6.4 MM; the annual maintenance is listed as $21k. These things are supposed to last for 10 years, have a 90% round trip efficiency, and have a capacity of 70% left at year 10. So you can charge and then discharge (and sell) about 50 GWh over these 10 years, for a total investment of less than $7 MM. That is $0.14 per kWh. If you buy 1000 such packs, you get a 30% discount [1], so you end up with a breakeven cost of $0.10 per kWh.

As I said, Tesla offers now up to 3 GWh Megapacks. Would they be able to manufacture 100 such Megapacks over a 5y period? It does not sound that crazy.

[1] https://www.thestreet.com/tesla/news/new-tesla-megapack-deta...

[2] https://www.tesla.com/megapack/design

Solar actually makes sense in India, it does not snow there :)

I seen documentary where they covered river with solar panels. It reduced evaporation of water by significant amount. And it did not occupy any arable land.

And big parts of India have underdeveloped electricity grid. Solar is easiest way to bring electric infrastructure there.

> Solar actually makes sense in India

Only in arid regions. Specifically Thar desert of Rajasthan and Gujarat. Doesn't make any sense in other places.

> it does not snow there

Oh it does! Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh come to mind [1]. India has all seasons and all types of weather.

> big parts of India have underdeveloped electricity grid

What do you mean by an "underdeveloped" electricity grid? India recently achieved 99% electrification target. Only 31 million out of 1.3 billion people have no/non-continuous electricity. I wouldn't label it "big parts of India".

[1]: https://www.happyeasygo.com/travel-blog/travel-tips/best-pla...

That will destroy the river ecosystem, while providing little to nothing for power, since rivers are often shaded.

That's a terrible idea, unless I am missing something.

Why not cover the vast amount of uninhabitable land in solar panels, rather then what small amount of precious resource land that exists.

Actually, these panels are placed on irrigation canals, where concrete embankment alreadyy exists.

Rivers are shaded? What kind of rivers are you thinking of? Are you talking about a flowing river, several hundred feet in width having shade in the middle of it?

At that size probably not.

But I still cannot wrap my head around this being a good idea, destroy the ecosystem of rivers, provide next to zero power (compared to resources required to build and maintain), require a HUGE investment as it's fast moving water and everyone knows fast moving water destroys material, have to deal with overflowing from rain, drought, etc.

Way too many factors for this to be a good idea.

It could probably if it was a man made canal or something with a set amount of water, but that still destroys any chance of an ecosystem.

he thinks because America has the tendency to put their city rivers underground its a world wide thing.

I have no idea what you are even talking about? Underground?

Sunswick Creek, Tibbets Brook, Sawmill River, Park River, Bluespring Caverns, Arroyo de las Pasa, Arroyo de la Sacatela...

Irrigation channels ... eco systemic rivers.

these are not rivers, they are canals

I’m fine with canals, but there must be easier places to put them then on moving water.

Yes, canals. Not every country has infinitive supply of land. It is very difficult to find free land in India.

Because its not easy to get fuel for nuclear reactors as there is an ever lasting cloud on India's nuclear status.

Existing reactors also run on partial capacity due to lack of fuel. What little is produced in the country has to be rationed between defence and electricity generation.

India has a lot of thorium my guess is any nuclear power plant will be thorium-based.

While my home is powered by solar, there is not a single commercially run Thorium reactor on the planet. Go figure.

We don’t have this technology to do this reliably and economically.

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