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View Diary: A Zero Cost Solution to Energy and Climate Change (43 comments)

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  •  efficiency (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gmoke, kurt, JeffW, NRG Guy, BYw

    I've been pulling together info on power source efficiencies, for a some-day diary on heat engines and efficiency.

    Standard Rankine cycle plants, boiler feed steam turbines that coal or oil fired, run 15-20 percent efficient for 1 MW plants on up to 30-35 percent for 100 MW on up plants. That's roughly half the energy production in the US.  Nuclear and natural gas fired turbines are next with each providing about a fifth of the power generation. Older nuclear plants such are common in the US run in the low to mid 30s in efficiency, due to temperature constraints on the core.  Gas turbines run 20-25 percent for microturbines on up to 35-40 percent for the big 100 MW jobs.

    All those numbers are for single cycle plants.  The newer combined cycle plants are better, coal reaching 50% and gas turbines hitting 60%, but they are newer plants and there are a lot of older plants in the US. Many if not most of the newer gas turbine plants are run as topping power providers, meaning they have less impact on the total power generation in the country as they do not operate much of the time.

    Part of the reason district heating went away is the reluctance to having a power plant as a neighbor, more recently because of air quality regulations that lead to distant siting of plant.  The drop in density as a result of the growth of suburbs is another, the heat loses are too high for the small customer base. And the convenience and quickness of central forced air and electric baseboard heat as compared to slow and sometimes noisy and leaky radiators was yet another impetus away from district heating.  The lower power generation efficiencies of smaller and older power plants was another.

    •  District Heating (0+ / 0-)

      My understanding is that many utilities walked away from district heating when they could.  Boston Edison, for instance, seems to have done just that, leaving a bad taste in the commercial market.  District heating projects are coming back in favor as a friend tells me he is consulting on three in NE right now.  Europe is far ahead and most of the equipment will come from them, again according to my friend.

      Casten was clear about the need for decentralization of energy production and Amory Lovins believes that small-scale decentralized energy production is already a winner.

      Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at

      by gmoke on Thu Sep 11, 2008 at 08:20:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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