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View Diary: The roads to our alternative energy future (58 comments)

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  •  Barath, obviously there are two questions here: (3+ / 0-)

    1. Probability of building massive never-before-achived rates of NPP construction and:

    2. ability of solar/wind to provide that which nuclear and other on demand power is doing now.

    you would agree that this is how you poised the questions, I assume?

    Let's contextualize this further. We are talking most about power generation, not transportation.  I argue this because, well, it obvious that developing alternatives to coal and natural gas plant is easier due to the technology than it is for changing out a completely alternative liquid fuel regimen. We probably agree here: we attack carbon generation first. (just wanted to get this out of the way).

    Nuclear:

    #The "30 per year" is fairly accurate. But a few things to keep in mind. France, in fact, did replace everyone of it's oil burning power plants in 20 years with nuclear. To scale that's a lot more than the US was doing (also to replace mostly oil burning plants, I might add).

    #The 30 per year was 30 per year for two reasons: 1: that was the goal, basically, in terms of what they planned (US, UK, France, Germany, Russia , etc). The goal was actually higher but they had problems in meeting the schedule (outside of France) due to non-standarization. 2) huge interest rates and component manufacturing probems; opposition by anti-nuclear movement; detrimental (as opposed to safety) regulations.

    So how do we address these? Like the Chinese in some ways at least in terms of "mission". If we plan (a term anathema to the a-historical small-gov't advocates) to replace, say, all coal plants by 2030, then we can do so by allocating resources from component manufacturing; educational and training; using our standardized (and progressive) approved designs; R&D for deploying Gen IV reactors; and so on.

    The Chinese going to have 200 nukes by 2030. We can't? We don't think in terms of national mission oriented goals anymore, not since the Space Program in the 1960s. It doesn't exist, at all and no one is proposing anything differently, unfortunately.

    Solar/Wind

    You will always need a grid. Grids work fine and it's what is needed to run a highly centralized high tech industrialized society. CSP is only, and will remain only, a small part of the non-carbon experiment. Wind will be a much bigger player if only because it's much, much cheaper albeit a lot less useful. Wind, currently, and everywhere in the world is, unfortunately, married, to quote Joseph Kennedy, Jr, to gas. This is bad. More wind, more GTs. Not good.

    Back CSP. CSP at best can only get 1/6th of its rated power to go for another 16 hours. Real hydro-based storage, if designed right, can go for weeks. CSP based on unit of energy carried out beyond high solation is ridiculously expensive. Personally, I don't believe it will play much of a role and the money will continue to really go to wind as it is Europe (actually, more money in Spain goes to solar of both types yet produces like 1/12 the actual energy of wind...so this simply isn't going to last long and why the bankruptcies and abandonment of CSP is contnuing apace there).

    But you should answer what I noted: I think there is actually enough money to do 300 nukes in the US and the equivalent nameplate capacity in wind and solar. If we have as serious national goal, there is simply nothing we can't do in terms of developing massive non-carbon baseload energy.

    Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

    by davidwalters on Wed Aug 24, 2011 at 09:34:39 AM PDT

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