This gets to another point that bugs me in these discussions... the pushback against wind/solar dominance by the pro-nuclear crowd. Insisting that nuclear power is the right way to go is western-centric. It's fine for the US, Europe, Japan, and other advanced nations that have the infrastructure to support it. But is it a solution for Peru? For Somalia? Of course not. Wind/solar/storage, on the other hand, is totally viable as a solution for even the poorest nations. This alone is an argument for solar over nuclear.
Many of the wind/solar advocates, on the other hand, are strongly anti-nuclear. Given the state of the climate that just doesn't make sense to me. All these technologies have their own advantages, and we should use each where it's most effective.
Firstly, there is the traditional concern of the green movement with nuclear waste and nuclear weapons proliferation. Nuclear advocates say these concerns are misplaced because of nuclear technology innovations (although its not clear how close the new technology is to wide deployment).
Secondly, there is an economic and free-market concern. Nuclear power plants generally only get built in highly regulated, centrally planned electricity markets with a great deal of Government financial support.
The projects to build them, at least in modern Western states, tend to be complex, expensive and prone to overruns. These projects generally need the plants to run all the time with guaranteed rates for the business case to stack up.
This is entirely at odds with solar and wind, which are highly democratised -- your Aunty can put solar on her roof -- and even when deployed at 'grid scale' tend to suck the profits out of wholesale electricity markets, because they have the lowest short-run costs and always out bid other energy sources.
In deregulated electricity markets renewables plus gas beat nuclear on price. We need storage to push gas out of the market.
That's how we ended up with centralized generation and a grid in the first place--the initial roll out of electricity was highly localized, with factories, buildings, and blocks each having their own generators. Centralized + grid beat that architecture on reliability and cost.
So, the grid needs to be available with or without solar. Thus the "free market" concern is less of a differentiator than it seems on the surface.
This is a question about how distributed energy generation with battery storage shifts more and more loads to the edges of the grid, and onto private networks.
And then, relating to back to the question of whether nuclear is compatible with renewable energy, the question becomes how does this trend affect what technologies make the most sense?
Big expensive nuclear makes a lot of sense in an environment where all the loads are on are centrally managed and planned grid with either guaranteed rates of return, or steady wholesale electricity prices, but this is not what the future looks like.
More generation might move to the edges, but that is simply a factor that will be taken into account by the regulation and central planning.
There has to be central generating to meet demand that local generating fails to meet; but the choice of fuel source doesn't have any implications for "free market" concerns. Electricity is not a free market. For example, net metering is only an option for home solar because a federal law says it must be. In a free market, the central electricity utility could simply decline to purchase from edge generators. Or decline to connect home solar people to the grid at all.
Look at the situation with Iran for instance. Any development of nuclear there is viewed with extreme suspicion, even while we are trying to reduce global oil dependence.
If Iran was rolling out solar and building silicon foundries, we might get into trade disputes over it, but we are not going to be that paranoid about them purifying silicon as it generally does not go boom.
edit - anyone pro-nuclear power who is not pro-nuclear power for Iran should really think on this one. A solution for electricity generation that you are scared of people having is not a good general solution.
edit 2 - I am not meaning to dump on Iran here, is just that the Iranian situation with this has been making the most news recently.
And again, take a remote village. Give them electricity and decent internet. What happens? Their lives get a lot better, their opportunities grow. But focusing on government-centralized systems will continue to exclude them.
The framework that the U.S. is negotiating with Iran right now will allow them to continue nuclear activities that legitimately lead toward peaceful nuclear power.
In particular, check out Nate Lewis's Solar Energy 101 (https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodca...) - In the Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP) where he makes a strong case that the only choice is Solar - not because it's a good one, but because there is nothing else out there that can meet our needs (And he spends a bit of time talking about Nuclear Energy, and why it comes up short).
Incoming solar hitting the ground is ~ 89,000 terawatts
At current conversion efficiencies and accounting for transmission losses, this translates to an area of about twice the size of Portugal spread out globally.
Or are you arguing that Westerns should adopt solar so that African villagers get slightly cheaper solar? That seems like an inefficient form of aid.
On a side note: solar is not cheap on a small scale, it might be convenient, green, safe, etc. but not cheap (cheap infers low cost versus conventional power generation)
And narrowly measuring "cheap" in cost per kwh does not address my point - that the up-front cost to get power at all is far cheaper for solar/wind + storage. A village is not a city. It doesn't need a gigantic power plant, and can't afford one. Look at it this way - I could buy myself a can of soda for a buck, or I could buy a bottling plant for a million bucks. In terms of cost-per-liter, the bottling plant is a huge bargain. But I don't need a bottling plant! It's actually useless to me. A can of soda? That's useful, and scaled correctly for my budget and needs.
I don't think this is hard to understand.
I argue against wind and wind alone, it is a very unreliable source of energy, I think it is crazy to rely on gusts of wind to power a population. Nuclear is the only technology which offers a base load without burning fossils.
Solar I am happy with, it could be better than nuclear but the storage problem needs solving before it gets onto everyone's roof.
That's another problem with solar, people are putting up fields of the stuff when there is already enough roof space. In my mind large retail shops should be mandated to fill their roofs with solar.
First, nuclear can be extremely inefficient since it's heavily centralized : I have friends working for energy distributors telling me they can lose more than half the energy between the power plant and the client's house.
More importantly, nuclear waste disposal and power plant cleaning costs are heavily underestimated. I've worked for the CEA, the French nuclear agency where they invented the first French atomic bomb and reactor in the sixties, and some experiments aren't still cleaned up yet in 2010's (the current objective is to fully clean up the laboratory in 2025-2040). That is a massive cost which is not factored into the kW price.
I think decentralized technologies are the way to go regarding energy (using local loops and "smart grids") even if they aren't viable now (solar panels cost more in energy to produce than they give back during exploitation for example).
is not correct (maybe your information is from e.g. 20+ years ago). There are many sources, here is one of them:
About: ".. they can lose more than half the energy between the power plant and the client's house." - this seems extremely unlikely to be a representative case. Maybe your friends were telling you about some extreme case (they are always the best stories :)
The EROEI for solar is around twice that of wind and oil, but it is definitely not negative.
You don't need baseload. It's a concept that makes sense when you have power plants with flat output profiles.
What you actually need is to always match the demand. Nuclear isn't some magical silver bullet here. As it turns out, it's simply far too expensive to use for fulfilling the daily peak demands.
We're turning a bandwidth problem into a caching problem. That's the game-changer.
Nuclear fission may still have on-paper advantages in some markets/climates, but the high PITA (pain in the aXX) factor would probably mean we wouldn't bother going there. We'd just build transmission lines, more solar/wind, and more storage even if it were marginally more expensive just to avoid the headaches of nuclear energy.
Wind and solar, like nuclear, have costs dominated by capital cost, but with less predictable output. To run civilization on those alone, we'd need quite a bit more storage, to cover times when it's cloudy and still for a couple weeks. Long-distance transmission helps but that's not free either.
Particularly now that Gen III+ plants are on the market, fast reactors are maturing (in Russia at least), and half a dozen startups are working on molten salt reactors, I wouldn't take nuclear off the table. We need every non-carbon energy source we can get.
PV Solar is also vary steady in the areas you would put it. (AKA not the South Pole.) Storage is useful, but transporting power over distance is much more useful than you might think.
Finally, Hydro has a lot of built in storage allowing you to double output for weeks at a time.
To average wind over the entire US, a big network of ultra-high-voltage transmission lines would be needed. This is quite possible; China is building one, with transmission distances up to about 1200 miles. Acquiring the right of way for a UHV line, which has roughly the space requirements of an interstate highway, is the main problem in the US. Long-distance UHV lines are usually DC; the conversion equipment is cheaper than running 3 wires instead of 2. There was talk a few years ago of an "energy corridor" going up through the Texas panhandle and northward, to the good locations for wind and natural gas. The corridor would carry both power lines and pipelines.
Dumb idea, or dumbest idea ever?
Now, new small fission reactor R&D may work out differently, but we have yet to see any of those efforts come out of the gate in terms of being even close to ready-to-install states.
You'll never be able to compete with that, fission, fusion, whatever. We still don't know where to put the waste, we still refuse to acknowledge the ability to reprocess said waste, and so forth. You don't even need more storage to run wind and solar as base load; you simply need to overbuild capacity and maintain a sufficiently intelligent transmission network. The sun is always shining and the wind is always blowing somewhere.
Solar and wind will win the day.
I did see a paper a couple years ago on running a section of the U.S. electric grid on wind/solar alone. They had a computer try about ten thousand scenarios, and found that the cheapest was to overproduce energy by a factor of three, and add a bit of storage. So at least for that region, wind/solar would have to be less than a third the cost of fossil per kWh to be competitive. I certainly hope it gets there.
In the meantime, we can't really afford to be picky about our non-carbon energy sources. Modern nuclear plants have excellent safety records, and more advanced reactors look even better. Let's just not build any more of the 1970's-era plants that have run into trouble. We've learned a lot since then.
Grounding on hard rock is tough. There are methods for measuring ground conductivity, and in a situation like that, you'll need them.
Airplanes though, are supposedly struck by lightning, and continue to work. I'm guessing that this has something do do with them being suspended in air, and not having a connection to ground.
The inductance blocks a fast risetime lightning bolt, forcing the energy to the spark gap. A few hundred volts will still get through that. So following that there's a gas tube protector, which is essentially a neon tube which will ionize and short to ground. (Phone lines also have those at the central office end.) Following that is a MOV, as in a surge suppressor, to dump the remaining surge into ground. What's left after than can be tolerated by most RF electronics intended for such applications.
If this didn't work, radio wouldn't work in Florida. It's not that this stuff is expensive compared to the equipment it protects. It's that the front end stuff is big; #4 copper cables, big spark gap units, heavy ground rods, and solid metal equipment enclosures with welded seams.
Somewhere right now, a cellular tower is taking a lightning hit and restarting itself without damage.
There are other considerations as well for personnel safety, like ensuring that the ensuing ground potential rise doesn't expose someone standing near the earthing point to a shock hazard.
Going back to the original comment, lightning protection in wind turbines is more or less a solved problem. Direct hits on blades are routine and any utility-class wind turbine will be designed with an appropriate system for the area in which it is located. Now, when your turbine is on a big rock, that's a problem and you may have to blast and backfill to achieve a sufficiently low earth resistance.
Why can't the ocean be used as ground?
You do realize their are passively cooled nuclear reactors being designed?
Artificial fusion actually requires higher temperatures than fusion in the core of the sun because other parameters are less beneficial than at the center of the sun.
Under any scenario, you're going to need some kind of power grid. That grid is going to have a non-zero "base" load as batteries charge, etc. Nuclear is perfect for generating this base load - it's reliable, clean and not subject to the variability that solar and wind are. Don't get me wrong, solar and wind are going to be a big part of the grid, but you want diversification of technology so that if you have a cloudy, but not very windy day, the grid can still keep up.
Also, fission reactors are being miniaturized, and at the timescale we're talking about, fusion may be an option as well. I don't think nuclear will be 50% of energy generation or anything, but it's a good, reliable technology that can supply a consistent amount of energy in any weather conditions.
My model is that cheap batteries would drive on-demand power stations out, in favor of batteries + base load.
It's true that there is great variation in electricity pricing, with peak shaving and other so-called "ancillary services" bringing as much as 100X as high a price as base rate (for a short period of time). Nuke generators aren't capable of rapid load following, reactive power correction, voltage support, or other fast-response services that bring premium power prices.
Generally speaking most jurisdictions would have to be stupid to sign up to new long term (20 year+) base power contracts, but that's what nuclear power needs to pat for the high upfront costs.
As this article shows, new storage tech and load management tech makes it likely that base load will be less and less important over time.
There's also the carbon footprint aspect to consider. If the "carbon tax" is successful, nuclear could be a more cost-effective option than hydrocarbon-fired plants in areas without a more stable "natural" power source like hydroelectric or geothermal. The petrochemical industry likely has enough political pull to neuter any carbon tax law, but in theory that's how it should work.
(On the flip side, we're in one of the world's best areas for wind and tidal power.)
The point is, the far north (think Scandinavia, Russia, the UK) really needs non-solar. And the far-far north is a lousy environment to go out and fix a broken wind turbine. So there's probably a role for nuclear there.
There may also be a role for nuclear in shipping, although civil nuclear shipping peaked early (in the 1950s/60s) and the only folks currently doing much of it are the military and the Russian arctic icebreaker fleet. If oil becomes too expensive for propulsion, nuclear may be necessary as backup for wind power (sails and weather satellites work great together -- until you're becalmed).
The interesting thing here is probably the change over time. In 2005 the distribution was 72 TWh (hydro), 70 TWh (nuclear), 0.9 TWh (wind), 12 TWh (other). With wind growing by 13x and the others staying relatively static, and energy use going down slightly.  There is quite a lot of variance per year, as the winter weather changes energy consumption quite significantly.
Electricity export has gone from about zero (2005-2007) to 15 TWh (2012-2014).
"Solar + a small battery may get someone in Germany to 70%, and someone in Southern California to 85%, but the amount of storage you need to deploy to increase that reliability goes up steeply as you approach 99.99%."
I believe the same logic applies to grid-scale storage. Getting rid of those reliable, dispatchable base-load nuclear and fossil-fuel power plants is going to be very expensive.
But, my understanding is that dispatchable is the opposite of intermittent generation (solar, wind), because you can choose when it's running or not. Also, baseload is the opposite of peaking, because baseload generators take a relatively long time to turn on/off.
Thus nuclear would be dispatchable, baseload power since you can decide when it runs, but it takes a long time to get there.
Or am I totally off base here?
But if you think of it from a power system planning perspective of economic dispatch (not just, can I dispatch - but can I afford it), nuclear isn't really there. Yes, you can E-stop a nuclear plant in seconds, but the cost is astronomical. Some nuclear plants like Bruce NGS in Ontario have thermal bypass - this increases their dispatchability by allowing them to dump steam and reduce electrical output quickly without touching the thermal output.
Nuclear's dispatchability doesn't really counter-act wind or solar's lack thereof since the time scale you're looking at is much different. Being able to start and stop my nuclear plant in 72 hours doesn't really help me if the wind stops blowing for a couple of hours. So in practice, you'd build other, more easily and economically dispatchable assets to meet your needs.
I'm wondering if you have any insight into what happens when our comms system sends a signal to those wind turbines and tells them to "Stop" - it has to happen fairly quickly, we have working factors of 15, 30, and 60 seconds, at which point we start escalating and instructing groups of wind turbines, and then eventually the whole farm to cease production. The wind turbines also have a keep-alive that has them auto-shutdown if they lose comms, as obviously it's far more important that the transmission line isn't damaged, than it is to stop producing energy for awhile. (From the perspective of the Distribution Utility, obviously the private turbine owners take slightly different perspective).
I see you have familiarity with wind farms, and I'm wondering if you know what the turbines do - do they free spin? Send load to ground? Come to a halt?
However, going to the maximum ramp-down rate (which for a large wind park can approach hundreds of MW/s) is usually not desirable because it will impact grid voltage. At most wind parks voltage control is accomplished using on-load tap changes of the main transformers as well as switched capacitors. Both of these need a time delay of at least 10 seconds to avoid wearing out quickly so if you ramp your whole wind farm from max output to zero in 1 or 2 seconds, you will see a big impact on grid voltage. So if we need to ramp down for a transmission system thermal constraint, we will do it at the slowest possible rate that still meets the transmission utility's needs.
So we could see peak load plants powered by gas sourced from filthy coal. More likely than a clean biomass solution, sadly.
I think that's a simplistic view. Yes there is tremendous energy in the movements of air in the atmosphere, and water in the seas, even more in the daily exposure to sunlight, and quite a bit in the geologic forces operating in the earth's interior. That's all well and good, but what matters in terms of powering a modern civilization is energy density, portability, and durability. Electric power isn't going to get a lot more portable than it is now. Storage improvements will make it more durable. But in terms of density the only sources we have are heat cycle sources dependent on fossil and nuclear fuels. Storage advances don't magically make renewable sources dense enough to replace the power we now get from non-renewable sources.
Edit: I should also have mentioned the obvious non-heat cycle source, hydro, which is dense enough in some places to be a very significant contributor.
The point is that wind energy is too diffuse and the capital costs of tying up that much land in wind generators is astronomical - and there is a very real degradation in site quality as you use up all the good sites first. It's pointless to say it's always windy somewhere, because transmission losses and costs make that unfeasible.
Solar is even worse because at even the best site on the best day you only get 50% of energy generation time, so event with perfect storage you have to have 2x the generation capability.
All this is the reason why - even right now with massive subsidies and compensation and special protection from environmental standards other developments have to adhere to - wind and solar account for about 1% of worldwide energy generation.
There is a limited role of grid top-up for solar and wind, but the future of energy generation is not either of them. The near term is in more efficient and less polluting modern gas and coal plants, with conventional nuclear filling increasing in use to provide clean energy without airborne pollution.
If the public can ever get over three decades of nuclear hysteria, that is.
Just cutting electricity usage to zero emission would mitigate the worst of global warming.
Also it doesn't solve anything for space travel which I don't believe are going to be put on hold.
But it will definitely be great.
You still need to get better return on capital before wind and solar are competitive on cost alone. Wind turbines don't last forever (and are hard to recycle well, since they need to be made of tough materials, which leads to some interesting but probably scalability-limited schemes to reuse old blades for things like bus shelters and playground equipment -- look up Wikado Playground in Copenhagen, for instance) and neither do solar panels.
Maybe that's also something they'll fix "in the long run" but it's really not a fundamentally different class of future-problem than improved storage.
Energy is big business, revenue will be there for servicing once market share is there.
Apparently, according the wiki, in 2012 we were at type rating 0.724, presumably a large portion of that is non-renewable sources like coal/petroleum/natural gas.
Interesting that TypeII is almost a quantum leap over the TypeI - construction of a dyson sphere sounds like an almost unimaginably massive undertaking compared to blanketing the globe with solar cells.
The cost should be lower for a utility to do this than for individual homeowners to do so for equal capacities.
So I ask are we seeing this behavior?
On a slightly different note, it doesn't seem that the article is addressing vehicles. Battery powered cars are not yet practical enough for the mainstream, and aircraft are still entirely dependent on the energy density of hydrocarbon fuels.
I could see batteries becoming feasible for cars "soon" with the current rate of advance, but charging stations don't make sense to me. You want easily accessed battery packs in cars and battery-swap stations. This is a huge infrastructure change, but for out-of-city travel (i.e. a trip where you would need to charge before you get to your destination), you want the equivalent of a gas station, which is 1-10 minutes for a stop, not 45+.
As for aircraft, I don't see them using batteries soon.
Not quite "energy arbitrage", but ~hour long "frequency regulation" that was apparently once the domain of natural gas peaker plants are now being handled by a few flywheel energy storage designs.
"Energy Arbitrage" over a 24-hour period could be next.
I appreciate that 'time is money' and people want to get where they are going sooner rather than later... but I wonder if there are social benefits from a transport infrastructure that requires us to stop for 45 minutes to recharge, not just the car but the body? Could potentially result in fewer road fatalities from fatigue if technology enforces a break on drivers? And potential economic benefits for small towns to offer charging stations right by a place to buy a meal...
Would they be able to outweigh the social benefits (and reduced energy use) of traveling 45 minutes slower?
Hence my question. Do we actually see any utilities making steps in this direction?
Its not as sexy as new battery tech, but it works really well and is a very attractive option in some locations.
Outside pump solar, California is planning 1.3 GW storage by 2020. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Department_of_E... will show you the status of projects.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_energy_storage_projec... is an interesting list of projects, including battery based, but also things like flywheels.
What utilities/where are talking about this right now? What level of talk are we talking about? Public statements? Designs? Construction permits in the works?
If it really were possible, you'd see companies like Exelon attaching battery storage to their nuke and coal plants to feed it back at a profit during peak rate periods.
My guess is that isn't cheaper than using peaker plants yet.
The other issue is that our current infrastructure isn't designed for peer-to-peer transmission, with neighborhoods pumping large amounts of power into the transmission lines during peak solar hours. Some areas of Hawaii have had to put a moratorium on installing rooftop solar to prevent potential damage to the branch circuits.
Long story short, it's not simply a matter of storage costs undercutting retail power costs, there are also maintenance costs for the grid that are invariant on demand, which will have to get paid one way or the other.
Existing net metering pays a fixed rate for power supplied to the grid by, say, a solar-equipped residential grid customer.
But in fact, fast response power delivered to the grid when the grid managers call for it commands much higher prices in the dynamic electric power market. So does the ability to store power on demand (absorb power from the grid), when generation briefly exceeds supply.
So imagine a residential grid customer with local solar + storage that's controllable by the ISO (grid managers). Rather than net metering (a fixed feed-in tariff), the ISO should pay instantaneous market rate for power delivered, or absorbed by, the residential grid customer.
I think we'll soon converge on bidirectional power delivery/sink services that are controlled by either the ISO or perhaps by local smarts on the resident's grid-tie interface. That would engage the resident's system as a grid stability enhancement tool, and would bring more revenue to the resident than simple feed-in tariff schedules. One assumes the resident would participate by an opt-in choice in exchange for enhanced revenue.
It'll be interesting to see if if PSH ever really takes off, or if it really does get left in the dust by batteries and other things.
It's cheap, effective, scalable, and highly efficient.
It's also got limited sites and localized environmental impacts.
Where you been hiding?
Battery - 0.7%
Compressed Air - 0.5%
Concentrated Solar Power Storage - 1.3% (which doesn't always exactly count)
Flywheels - 0.2%
Pumped Storage - 97.4%
You can also see that the average operational year for pumped storage is 1974, not anytime recent. You could weight the years by capacity, but most plants are pretty big, and it shouldn't change it too much. Also, pumped storage capacity only totals 21.6GW.
As for where I've been, I've just been stupidly busy. I keep meaning to jump back in, but I never seem to have the time.
Missing in the math is logic. If enough people do this, the price will even out and the arbitrage opportunity will vanish.
It's like an arbitrage trading a model that makes money when paper trading but loses money when live because the effects of live trades on the market wasn't considered.
Also electricity companies would be very slow to adjust to reduced demand by lowering prices, making this work for longer than a naive analysis would predict.
Spotting a leftover cookie on the table means you will probably be able to get a free cookie. It doesn't mean that you have found a way to solve world hunger.
If you want to say something about his idea that is specific you could add value.
For instance attempting this arbitrage is a risk transference since you are betting that the technology of batteries won't catch up before you have made back your capital investment.
It's not perfect, but those natural gas plants will still be kept around as peaking plants and they're an order of magnitude cleaner than coal plants (as well as producing much less CO2 per unit of power generated).
That's only because we won't build any newer designs that don't have shitty failure modes and insist that we keep old reactors with very shitty failure modes online, though.
According to the OECD:
"As nuclear power plants are complex construction projects, their construction periods are longer than other large power plants. It is typically expected to take 5 to 7 years to build a large nuclear unit (not including the time required for planning and licensing)."
"Between 2002 and 2008, for example, cost estimates for new nuclear plant construction rose from between $2 billion and $4 billion per unit to $9 billion per unit, according to a 2009 UCS report, while experience with new construction in Europe has seen costs continue to soar."
(Whether we have the regulatory wherewithal to go with that plan is another matter, but the very idea of reusing the same design over and over does help keep compliance costs down, and you can focus on site-selection costs.)
Diablo Canyon Power Plant was partially built backwards, by mistake. It's absurd.
The company updated its plans and added structural supports designed to reinforce stability in case of earthquake. In September 1981, PG&E discovered that a single set of blueprints was used for these structural supports; workers were supposed to have reversed the plans when switching to the second reactor, but did not. According to Charles Perrow, the result of the error was that "many parts were needlessly reinforced, while others, which should have been strengthened, were left untouched." Nonetheless, on March 19, 1982 the Nuclear Regulatory Commission decided not to review its 1978 decision approving the plant's safety, despite these and other design errors.
For the sake of the environment we need to get over our irrational fear of nuclear power.
Find a way to put people in charge who aren't irresponsibly incompetent then. Until then, nuclear isn't a feasible option.
Electricity in our homes is so widespread and popular because it just works. We don't need to think short-term about how or when we use it (although we should and can if you want to). You flip a switch, the light comes on, and you flip the switch again when you're done.
In my mind, there are only two factors that need to be there for widespread adoption: the price needs to come down, and the battery or other storage medium needs to just disappear into the background of in-home electricity usage. Most people will just want to see a lower bill without any costs to their ease of use regarding electricity.
Every time I hear about advances in renewable energy I get a little sad. I've rented for the last decade plus, and unless I get married and decide to settle down, will probably continue to rent for the next decade plus.
Homeownership would allow me to take advantage of these sorts of advances, but so would the ability to take advantage of this as a renter.
Looks like only ~35% of US households rent, according to http://www.nmhc.org/Content.aspx?id=4708%20 , so perhaps that's why.
Over the last seven years (I haven't had my shares that long), the saving on cost of electricity, which is tax free, would have been about €960/year. Which is about 5.7% ROI /year. Better than bank rates but worse than index linked stock market investments (I think).
I don't think OX2 offer electricity in Germany, but maybe in Finland and Poland. Even if they did, it would also depend on how the German regulator has structured how this can work, as well as how taxation on this is structured.
Pumped hydro is unbelievable. Tour a pumped hydro facility if you ever get the chance, and ask about the economics. They're buying a dollar of energy at night in Spring and selling it on hot summer days for something like five hundred. (Probably not quite that much, but it was a crazy ratio, to the point where efficiency barely matters - also, free energy from rain!)
From site: "3GW Regional Energy Storage Hubs. Energy capacity may range from 4 to 16 hours duration at full power output."
The 3GW is big but the duration is small, so I'd guess they're doing short term grid stabilization, competing more with flywheels than hydro. That's just a hunch, but if that were true, it'd explain how you could get something really effective without a lake-sized train. (Some videos online suggest they move a bunch of heavy cars on the same track independently, so they probably also get much more weight than a normal train.)
My limited understanding of pumped hydro specifically was that it really was basically just a turbine operating in two directions, crazy as that sounds. Even so though, I can easily imagine big cost savings just from not having to engineer around water. That stuff doesn't compress, you design or run these wrong and they'll just mercilessly explode:
Being able to build anywhere is really neat too.
So, grid storage tends to fracture into a half dozen specific types of storage, all based on duration, spin up time, geography, fuel, etc. There are like 18 different tradeoffs, and you can specialize in any one of them. Pretty much any new grid storage technology is going to add to the field rather than displacing anything, because the grid needs arbitrage in basically all 18 different dimensions.
Thanks for the link. There are some cool ARES videos on youtube too.
> Most flow battery companies have $100 / kwh capital cost as a target
With typical power plants generating e.g. 500 MW 24 hours long, the storage is going to be 100000 $/MWh * 500 MW = 50M/hour. If we assume that a solar plant generates power for 12 hours, and the batteries feed the consumers for 12 more hours, it's going to be 600M for storage alone. The solar power plant with a peak power well above 500MW (to feed the day load + charge the batteries for the night) will cost you extra.
I still think that a Thorium molten salt reactor is a strong contender in a price landscape like this. (It also has a nice ability to burn our current stockpiles of radioactive waste from Uranium reactors.)
By rough calculation, if 10% of cars in my city (Perth, Australia) were electric, their batteries could supply the entire city's demand for duration of about 2 hours (or 10% of demand for 20 hours etc). This could work really well for demand balancing and peak shaving - overcapacity (which in Perth is massive, since the policy is to maintain supply even on extremely hot days, when demand shoots up and generation capacity goes down) and spinning reserve could be tremendously reduced.
I suspect some good software and a little hardware will be needed to account for the owners' needs optimally.
Grid transmission can be as low as 0.5% per 100 miles already. Batteries lose about 10% of the energy by storing it, that leaves you with needing to go at least 2000 miles in order to make up the battery loss difference, plus needing the energy to move the batteries physically.
We could repurpose those oil pipelines we no longer need. :-)
We already do that with alkaline batteries, and we pay premium price per BTU because of the convenience of begin able to carry small quantities of electricity around. But if you want to move city-powering amounts of it (think millions of Megawatt-hour), I am guessing a grid is more efficient.
Nuclear is not getting cheaper, not significantly, so what does this imply for the next five years? The answers are obvious, and non nuclear.
New Zealand, where I live, declared itself nuclear free in 1984. We are currently generating 70-80% of our electricity using renewable/low/zero emission methods.
The big advantage of nuclear is it's relatively safe and readily available. How many people have been killed in nuclear related incidents in the past 30 years vs people killed in coal mines, for instance?
Regarding France, that argument works both ways.
And whatever advantages nuclear may or may not have, that doesn't matter if it's too expensive.
Back when I was an Engineering Technician my thermo fluids lecturer commented that if the main reservoir for the labs compressed air system burst it would flatten the entire lab block.
There's resource limitations on lithium ion, lest we run into the same scenario.
All in all, I thought I was quite patient and I explained why I thought we can, and should try, to have more intelligent discussions on HN. I'm afraid that I didn't convince the other guy.
"HN comments sections cannot be more than superficial"
Anyway, I'm sure the moderators will figure it out before we become TIL on Reddit:
I've often wondered why jabs and swipes and sarcasm are so corrosive of quality on HN when anyone who knows about the history of discourse knows what a lively role they have often played. Literary wit, for example, is frequently scathing, and is both an art and a sport. Not having an answer to that is part of why it took me so long to learn not to engage that way on HN.
But I think I know the answer now. It's because this community is many orders of magnitude larger than those were, and so the lowest common denominator is both much closer and immeasurably suckier. Keeping that at bay is HN commenters' number one task. Perhaps it makes the discourse a little more bland, but the alternative is not lively exchanges of high wit, it's YouTube comments.
When you read a comment like the above, your response shouldn't be to demand for sources, your response should be to go research the topic on your own.
This site would be much better if folks understood that HN itself isn't a place for someone to "get wonky".
On my debate team, we had a rule of "no wonking". HN would be a better place if it too had the same rule.
There are definitely a lot of knowledgable people who read this site. Why wouldn't you want them to contribute and take deeper dives? Superficial conversations are essentially noise.
HN comments sections cannot be more than superficial. Anything more than superficial deserves to be put in a more accessible and readable place, as a topic in its own right.
After a good HN discussion, there would be enough information for another blog.
The folks who are qualified to write articles and papers on the topics that might interest you, do exactly that. There is no inherent value in wasting intellectual effort on an HN comment. The people who comment on HN are not the people who are the most qualified to speak on a topic in depth, or if they are, their efforts within HN's comment framework will be very limited, and most certainly hindered by the medium, not to mention the audience.
I am personally aware of a handful of genuine experts on HN who comment on articles in their "wheelhouse", and they've never risen to the level of their capabilities while doing so. I don't begrudge them this, it's unreasonable to think they're going to put in the level of effort in an HN comment they put into their professional work, but to suggest HN comments could ever rise to the level of what experts are capable of producing is not only naive, but also greedy, and perhaps more than a little lazy.
If you want to know more about a topic, that's your responsibility. There are a number of ways around which one could wander to learn more about what's currently known regarding a topic, and the folks who are experts and are commenting in HN don't have the time to go through the proper motions of releasing new information. Even if they had the time/inclination, they wouldn't do it here.
If you take nothing else away from my comment, consider the following: This (HN comments section) is a back channel, if anything. You don't scrutinize a back channel, you verify it independently.
You're putting HN on a pedestal. Don't do that.
> The folks who are qualified to write articles and papers on the topics that might interest you, do exactly that.
How could you possibly know who is qualified and who is not? Given that the authors of submitted articles frequently comment on HN themselves, it must be true that at least some HN comments are made by qualified people. But that assumes that writing an article is the sole requirement for being "qualified". Not all articles are written by qualified people. Additionally, many articles are watered down by journalists, and HN threads can provide broader perspectives.
> There is no inherent value in wasting intellectual effort on an HN comment.
There is as much inherent value as there is in wasting intellectual effort in a conversation at a dinner party. If I am talking to someone whose life experience is completely different from mine, I am learning something even though they are not rising to the level of their capabilities. I am allowed to learn subjects superficially out of curiosity and without the blessing of an authority figure. I have to choose who to listen to and who to ignore just like I do with other sources of information such as HN submissions.
Asking for sources in response to an unfounded claim is common on HN. I've never seen anyone called naive, greedy, and lazy for it, though. At any rate, asking for a source does not preclude one from researching the topic separately.
I agree that HN should not be put on a pedestal. Neither should the submissions.
You're just being lazy by demanding someone to do your research or write an article for you. Think of it from their perspective: why would they? Any reason someone might post on HN with a comment containing original or well-thought content can be better accomplished by putting that effort elsewhere, in a blog post or website article, and then posting that article as a submission to HN.
Only a small fraction of HN users even visit the comments page, not to mention the additional exposure one might achieve by getting their message out to folks who don't go to HN.
So yes, there are things to be learned from HN comments. Just not the way you're suggesting.
In other words, stop asking folks for citations on HN (or any other comments section, for that matter). You're wasting everyone's time.
You're positing that people with expert knowledge have an inherent interest in exposing that knowledge to as large an audience as possible, and that this interest is so significant that they would always preferentially invest the extra effort and resources required to write a blog post or website article that properly contextualized and presented the information.
You're positing that the prospect of writing an article or blog post would preclude the possibility of responding to the comment on HN.
You're positing that the nature of this interest implies that these experts would wish to submit their own writings to HN.
To me, it seems that these terms must imply that this interest is not so much in the distribution of information, but in publicity and the tacit validation of expertise brought by the ownership of the information as an original source.
In my experience, this does not reflect the general behaviour of domain experts, who routinely correspond on mailing lists, usenet, and comment forums, including HN. There are in fact extensive comments made by at least one electrical engineer in response to this HN submission.
There is a subset of experts who already blog, for whatever reason, and stand to gain in some way by presenting themselves as an authortative source of knowledge and thought to the HN audience. However, many such persons (patio11 comes to mind) routinely write extensive responses to comments on HN.
Personally, the specific reason I began to routinely read the comments on HN was precisely because I could read fascinating domain-expert knowledge, presented in dense paragraphs, regarding topics that interested me. I usually read the comments about a submission before reading it.
Personally, I do wish to know whether someone's thoughts on a topic reflect domain expertise, or hobby interest; I do wish to know whether an assertion is established fact within a domain, controversial, sourced from an article or a blog post, et cetera, especially if that assertion seems dubious to me; the alternative is to simply continue believing what I believe, and to disregard such statements. In my experience, however, it is sometimes I who is wrong, and the dubious assertion which is correct.
In closing, I'd like to mention that melling, as the new OP of this now detached comment thread, was censured for describing someone's assertions as 'chest beating', which I think was appropriate. However, in the course of your comment here, you have accidentally or deliberately asserted that he was both "lazy" and "wasting everyone's time." I don't think that this sort of argumentation is useful, and I doubt that it is acceptable in your team debates. dang[a moderator]'s comment in reply to melling about "jabs" (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9378899) is relevant, well-written, and interesting, and I think that you could benefit from reading it.
Your argument hinges on me being extreme in my position, when in actuality I am not. I have not said anything nearly as absolute as you've implied. For example, I don't believe me using the words "lazy" or "wasting everyone's time" were an example of what dang refers to as "jabs" -- I was describing an activity. My words were not used as personal insults, but as descriptions of behavior. It is lazy to ask for sources on HN comments, and it is a waste of everyone's time, for the reasons I specified. These aren't insults, because they're specific, and directed at an activity, rather than a person, and I provide reasons for why those activities are as described.
I'm sure some SMEs do make the mistake of posting on HN in an elaborate and detailed fashion, as another example. I've never said it's impossible, that'd be an absurd thing to say. I just said it's not in a) their best interest, and b) many won't for the reasons I outlined.
Coming to HN for the reasons you do is an absolute and unambiguous mistake. What you get here is bad quality, for what you're looking for. You can get much better elsewhere, in the form of blog posts, articles, wiki pages, published papers, etc.
I'll repeat my thesis -- HN holds value as a "back room" where experts can speak without the same rigors with which they usually have to speak. There is value in informal discussion, and that's what happens on HN. Citing sources is a waste of time on HN, because you shouldn't take anything you read here at face value.
Besides, next time you're in a conversation, are you really going to say, "a post I read on HN said..." as a way of citing the source of your knowledge?
To me, your response on this matter indicates that I'm likely to get argumentation in reply to anything I say rather than discussion or honest reflection.
This is fine, if one likes argumentation for its own sake, which it is established that you yourself do; I, however, do not, so I'm going to disengage from this conversation.
Scanning your points briefly, I would in another context be happy to go back and re-examine my representation of your position, but will not do so, as I can't take the assertion at face value, and would anyways be wasting my time as per above. I will remember it as a possibility. I do not exactly remember your thesis in the terms in which you have now restated it, but it seems likely that we are largely talking at cross-purposes with regards to the nature of valuable discussion on HN. Experts seldom fail to speak with sufficient rigor or mind correction when they do so. And 'citing sources' can be a waste of time, or a courtesy to others, depending on the context.
I would not hesitate to link to information on HN if that was the source of my knowledge. It is more important to me that I be (eventually) correct than that I maintain an appearance of correctness.
Yes, i.e. discovery of "unknown unknowns".