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  •  Bob there is an issue with solar thermal (0+ / 0-)

    storage. The current projects use very dangerous sodium to store the heat. There has already been one fire from this stuff since it tends to catch fire when exposed to air. It's not a reason NOT to build them, but something to point out.

    Secondly, there are not full scale 24/7 ST plants. The latest, greatest one, makes solar energy available for 17 hours, the one they are now building in Spain. It's very very expensive. There are two reasons they don't make the plant 24/7:

    1. The sheer costs of doing this put the plant over budget.
    1. If you spread out your peak solar for thermal storage (to 'boil water' remember) from the 5 hours peak for the following 19 hours, your actual name plate capacity drops by a factor of 4. So a "200MW" solar plant drops down to about 40MW. You can imagine what the costs are per KWhr.

    Gas turbines use gas. If you want to get away from fossil, you have to want to phase out NG. There is now a HUGE open synergy between the fossil fuel industry and "renewables" because it means the fossil gets to expand, especially NG. This is the biggest current political "hypocrisy" of the ant-nuclear pro-'renewable movement. It is a MAJOR issue and is exposing the renewable movements inability to seriously come up with true alternatives to fossil fuel.

    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 Sat Aug 15, 2009 at 07:44:27 AM PDT

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    •  David - you are a dishonest participant... (0+ / 0-)

      I've learned to highly question anything you post.  So I got busy and here's what I've found....

      MONJU, Japan 1995
      – Instrument port failure
      – Sodium leak and fire – ~0.05 kg/s (640 kg total)
      – Facility shut down for 12 years and counting

      Monju? One of your so beloved nuclear reactors.

      On Dec. 8, 1995, the reactor suffered a serious accident. Intense vibration caused a thermocouple pocket inside a pipe carrying sodium coolant to break, possibly at a defective weld point, allowing several hundred kg of sodium to leak out onto the floor below the pipe. Upon coming into contact with the air, the liquid sodium reacted with oxygen and moisture in the air, filling the room with caustic fumes and producing temperatures of several hundred degrees Celsius. The heat was so intense that it melted several steel structures in the room.

      Melting steel structures in a nuclear reactor.  Now there's a great idea!!!

      • Alermia Solar Power Plant, Spain 1986
      – Valve maintenance failure – 14 kg/s leak (14 tons total)
      – Spray and pool fire (12 m2 hole burned in roof)

      So, what do we see?  Sodium as a heat transfer/storage medium presents some combustion problems and it might be a good idea to look for alternatives.

      What are the solar thermal storage alternatives?  Steam.  (Don't scald your fingers.)

      What if molten salts are the best way to store energy with solar thermal?  Don't use sodium as the transfer medium.  Keep the sodium away from everything else in underground storage.

      If the molten salt (likely saltpeter) is going to be stored underground where there will be very limited access to oxygen.  And if there somehow was a major fire there's just not a lot of 'glow in the dark' stuff to spew around the area.

      ---

      No 24/7 solar thermal plants.  Correct.

      At this point in time it does not make sense to build any.  It's not that it can't be done.  But current grid prices don't justify making the storage larger than what is needed to store power for peak hours.

      Underground heat storage is very efficient.  You want to store heat for a few days?  Just make your containers larger. (The larger they get, the more efficient they become.)

      --

      Natural gas.  It's a fossil fuel. Burning it releases sequestered carbon into the atmosphere and that's not a good thing.

      But.

      Right now in the US we get almost 50% of our electricity from burning coal.  And burning coal releases about twice as much carbon per kWh of electricity as does natural gas.  

      Every kWh of electricity that we shift from coal to NG is a 50% reduction in CO2.

      Natural gas turbines are relatively inexpensive to build.  And they can be spun from stopped to full speed in less than 15 minutes.  

      And they are

      quick

      to build.  We can get a brand new site built and on line in a couple of years.

      So, what role for NG turbines?  

      First, they can be used to get coal out of our grid mix quickly and bring an approximate 25% reduction in CO2.  (50% electricity from coal/2.)  Nothing else except conservation cuts our CO2 as quickly and as cheaply.

      Second, once built they can be sidelined by installation of solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, biomass, storage, and all the other methods we design.  Then they serve as our deep backup if we need "some more".

      Your beloved nuclear

      1. is very expensive (just had a couple of 'in progress' nuclear projects dropped due to cost).  The power coming from it would be quite expensive.
      1. very slow to implement.  No way can a significant amount of new nuclear be brought on line quickly enough to cut our carbon emissions.
      1. worthless as backup.  It can't be started quickly and due to its cost it would likely not be used 24/7.  Wind, solar, and other production methods will eat nuclear's lunch (if the competitive market is allowed to operate).

      --

      Now, I'm sure you know all this.  But you keep shilling for the most expensive, most dangerous method of producing electricity that man has ever invented.

      15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

      by BobTrips on Sat Aug 15, 2009 at 08:36:23 AM PDT

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      •  Oh, yeah. Forgot some storage solutions... (0+ / 0-)

        Mineral oil.  It will burn but you would have to combine leak + introduced flame.

        Sand.  Hard to burn that stuff.

        Phase change materials.  These are under development.  I'm sure safety will be a considered factor.

        And you could always use the heat to make electricity as you receive it and then store the electricity using pump-up hydro or other storage systems that are being developed.

        15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

        by BobTrips on Sat Aug 15, 2009 at 08:57:44 AM PDT

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        •  But, but, but Monju was a fluke... (0+ / 0-)

          Beloved nuclear shouldn't be judged by one single sodium fire that killed no one...

          Russian study – categorizes 46 sodium leaks at two reactor
          facilities (1980’s and 1990’s)
          – Dominated by equipment problems/failures
          – Procedural errors also significant cause

          ---

          But, hey, no one died.

          And we know that equipment never fails nor does anyone ever screw up in US nuclear plants.

          /stupidity

          15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

          by BobTrips on Sat Aug 15, 2009 at 09:07:20 AM PDT

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          •  The lastest on Monju (0+ / 0-)

            is that yesterday Japan announced it was going to restart. Secondly, I dont' think they should. I'm not a big fan of sodium anything, thus MY point about raising it. Oh...the start date for this Fast Reactor start up is February of next year.

            Secondly, sodium and other salts are the best heat storage system. At any rate, "we don't need" it means that CSP will simply not be ready, ever, for prime time base load power. Almost everything you mention is more expensive for base load than nuclear. It is the main issue for nuclear vs renewables or even nuclear WITH renewables and will never, ever, be settled (well not ever, but a decade or two out).

            Thirdly, the hard reality, for both of us, is that all these forms of generation, be it LFTR or LWR nuclear, solar, wind, tidal (see the latest interesting CETO developments on this that are noted in the discussion of bravenewclimate.com), hydro where possible, etc etc are all going to be "in the mix" as they like to say. Not because that is best technologically, Bob, but because of the politics.

            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 Sat Aug 15, 2009 at 09:23:11 AM PDT

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            •  Bullshit David. (0+ / 0-)

              You ignore the cost of nuclear and live in some dreamworld where nuclear is going to be priced as it is from plants that were built decades ago when it was a different world.

              If nuclear produced electricity could be produced at anything like a "grid parity" level then we would see bunches of new plants under construction.

              15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

              by BobTrips on Sat Aug 15, 2009 at 09:49:31 AM PDT

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              •  Bob, the present cost of nuclear in the U.S. is (0+ / 0-)

                well established. That is the 20% of our power that comes from nuclear. That's cheap but that's because operating a nuclear power plant is almost as cheap as operating a coal plant and a LOT cheaper than NG. And that is with ZERO subsidies.

                The issue...and it's simply not resolved yet...is what new nuclear will cost and wide disparity depending on what country they are built at, regulatory reform, and above all, financing charges. Both MIT and Chicago have done good jobs on determining total costs. But even they lack all the data. We will know, fortunately as China is building 14 of 'em as we write and Russia 8 of 'em and other countries are building them as well. The number will come in and we'll know. I would really recommend you not use ideologically motivated, bullshit from stakeholder groups like Greenpeace, NIE or Romm/RMI.

                So you if you think YOU know what the costs are going to be per KWhr at the meter, you are full of it.

                Secondly, and very importantly, there is not a solar or wind site that would remain operating without it's 2 cents KWhr subsidy. Talk about "grid parity"! Please.

                But I'm not against subsidies if society thinks the stakes are that high (and clearly they are).

                On natural gas from your post above, I suppose using the term "bullshit!" helps you make you case. Probably very unconvincing to those who are betwix and between on the issue.

                You SAY you want to see natural gas function as a 'temporary' measure. I believe you do. But I believe there is no such thing as 'temporary' because you will ALWAYS need to use it short of a truly NATIONAL grid (and even current HVDC and SQ applications are not true national grid plans: they don't exist to be implemented, only talked about). Until that exists, the full range of 24/7 wind/csp at whatever cost, along with "efficiency" and "conservation", you will ALWAYS be building more gas plants.

                Every country that has heavy penetration of wind has increased it's generation emissions...because of wind. Solar is statistically irrelevant right now we'll have to wait a few years.

                David

                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 Sat Aug 15, 2009 at 12:05:40 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  See David, here's why I consider you a liar... (0+ / 0-)

                  the present cost of nuclear in the U.S. is
                  well established. That is the 20% of our power that comes from nuclear. That's cheap but that's because operating a nuclear power plant is almost as cheap as operating a coal plant and a LOT cheaper than NG. And that is with ZERO subsidies.

                  1. You use long-ago built plants to infer that not-yet-built plants will produce cheap power.  And you very well know that plans to build new plants are being abandoned because they can't be built cheaply enough.
                  1. You totally ignore all the public money that has gone into building those existing plants.  And you ignore the current schemes of the nuclear industry to get consumers to pre-pay part of the construction costs for new plants as the job can't be done without some sort of subsidy.  You even ignore the cries from the Republicans for the government to build new nuclear plants with tax money as the financial markets walk away from those projects.

                  --

                  Let me ask you - Why do you continue to be so dishonest?

                  Surely the nuclear industry isn't stupid enough to fund you.  They would use their money on someone who wasn't as obviously wrong so often.

                  Surely, by now, you've been made aware of the reasons why nuclear is not being built on any large scale.  There is major money to be made building new nuclear plants, as with any large scale project.  If the numbers worked and the problems of storage and safety were solved then we would see lots of plants under construction in this country right now.

                  Surely, by now, you're aware that nuclear cannot be built fast enough to save our climatically challenged butts.

                  So what's your motivation?

                  --

                  Oh, and that subsidy/grid parity thing.

                  The wind industry has said that it could continue to produce and increase without their subsidy, but leaving the subsidy in place creates "excessive profit" which brings more players in faster and increases the rate of installation.

                  Solar is a few years from reaching that state.

                  Nuclear, its big problem is that new nuclear would require a huge subsidy before it could wholesale its power to a competitive grid.

                  15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                  by BobTrips on Sat Aug 15, 2009 at 01:00:12 PM PDT

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                  •  Bob, you areally are pathedic. You one of those (0+ / 0-)

                    screamers who yell out "shill! shill!" at ever opportunity aren't you?

                    First, you have only said "you lie" without proving it. I've noted that the cost for power by the existing fleet of nuclear plants is well established. Am I lieing? If so, do prove this to be the fact (also prove that I'm lying and not just wrong). Let's examine your statements:

                    You use long-ago built plants to infer that not-yet-built plants will produce cheap power.  And you very well know that plans to build new plants are being abandoned because they can't be built cheaply enough

                    OK, parsing this out, there is absolutely no reason to think that NEW nuclear plants won't operate at either the same or less costs than our fleet of 104 plants. I'm assuming you agree that the less-than-2cents a kWhr is agreed upon. This is operating costs: fuel, licensing, personnel, etc etc.

                    Since the new plants will be more efficient in the use of resources, it is safe to assume that these operating costs are going to be the same. There is no slight of hand here, no 'lying'. Just conjecture based on both past experience and new tech and procedures being added.

                    What does this assume, and exclude? First, this is the 'cost of electricity' based on it's operations as I noted. It assumes that the note, that is the 'overnight costs to build the plant' are paid off, like most of the U.S. fleet is paid off...ergo they are cash cows.

                    The actual costs per KWhr, are drawn generally two ways and have to include finance charge...almost the largest cost of any plant. So depending on the interest rates charged, the costs can be anywhere from 5 cents a KWhr up to 11 cents a KWhr. So this 'cost' is determined not based on the value and direct costs of material and labor and construction, but on interest rates.

                    Clearly we will learn a huge amount of construction technique and expertise, paid for by the Chinese people, as they continue to build the 14 plants now under construction and that include 2 US designed reactors and 2 French ones. We learn as the plants progress and we profit from that experience, lowering costs.

                    We have to also assume we have no idea of the cost of political opposition to nuclear energy in causing delays. The more a plant is delayed, relative to interest rates, then the costs go up. The shorter, the costs go down.

                    Is this an honest way to approach costs? I think it is. There are dozens of other factors. There are dozens of objective studies that do in fact put the prices where I noted them above. So I'm no "lying" I'm garnering this information from published reports, reports I'm sure you've looked at if YOU are honest.

                    Secondly: the second part of your statement is truly astounding Bob and shows you don't know what you are talking about. In fact, it's the first time I ever heard this one. It's not even a 'myth' since you are the only one to raise this: plants being 'abandoned' because they don't produce power cheaply enough!!! OMG. I know you are more intelligent than Harvey Wassermann but this is sort of along his line or argumentation.

                    Dude, there are no plants being 'abandoned'. If there are, due tell. Name one. If they were, they wouldn't be generally the largest money maker in a utilities portfolio. If they were, the wouldn't be producing power at the same price as coal, which is way cheaper than ANY renewable, including wind, but except for hydro. If they were they wouldn't be re-licensing applications for EVERY one them and if they were they everyone of them wouldn't be re-licensed, they'd be shutdown.

                    Bob, you got to get your act together.

                    David

                    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 Sat Aug 15, 2009 at 01:50:31 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Go back and read carefully David, (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Rei

                      I never said that plants were being abandoned.

                      I said that plans to build new plants were abandoned due to construction cost and lack of being able to compete in an open market.

                      But we certainly have a lot of nuclear plants that have been abandoned, lots of nuclear plants that didn't even operate until the end of their initial license period.  I can almost see one out my window, it's just around the end of that ridge on the right of my view.

                      Interesting how the cost of those abandoned plants are not added into the cost of nuclear produced electricity.  They are one of the hidden costs of nuclear that we don't acknowledge, do we?

                      there is absolutely no reason to think that NEW nuclear plants won't operate at either the same or less costs than our fleet of 104 plants

                       

                      No there isn't.  Unless one takes into account several well considered studies of what new nuclear would cost.

                      Of course, you're too dishonest to report any of them.  

                      Now, I'm all done with you today.  I have no hope of making you an honest person, a person who is willing to present both sides of the issue you promote.  

                      I just want to make sure that a flag is raised for those who might be misled.  I'd caution them to believe neither you nor I, but research the issues for themselves.

                      15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                      by BobTrips on Sat Aug 15, 2009 at 03:47:13 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

          •  You are pushing natural gas as (0+ / 0-)

            all the more well known anti-nuclear spokes persons are. The price of NG, artificially brought down for exactly this purpose, will spike up as 'peak gas' becomes a reality, up over $9/mmbtu and we'll all be screwed...AGAIN...by these fossil pushers...NG has only only half as much CO2 output. It sucks, is dangerous, and needs to be phased out. You get NG in there and it will be there for as long as their any gas flowing from the gas fields.

            As an aside, even though I use the term 'peak gas' I'm convinced, like with peak oil, it is a far too elastic concept new discoveries are always being made (like with uranium ore).

            At any rate, the Lovins and Romms are now opening shilling for natural gas. Dangerous, polluting natural gas. I urge you to rethink this affiliation with NG you have.

            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 Sat Aug 15, 2009 at 09:27:03 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Bullshit David. (0+ / 0-)

              I clearly laid out my reasoning for the TEMPORARY use of natural gas to quickly reduce (not eliminate) our release of sequestered carbon.  And for the RARE grid backup should the sun not come up some day or some other very low probability event occur.

              I'll bet you even know that in the last couple of years we have discovered that we have vastly more NG resources in this country than we realized.

              ---

              BTW, I'm not spending time trying to convince you that there are wiser solutions than nuclear.  I have no hope that you will ever discuss these issues in a truthful manner, but continue to spread your "stuff".

              But I think other readers should have access to information that you are likely to either withhold or distort.

              15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

              by BobTrips on Sat Aug 15, 2009 at 09:56:04 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  That's funny. I don't think you are (0+ / 0-)

                "lying" Bob, I think you are simply mislead and ideologically (a nice term for 'religious fanatic') against nuclear.

                I'm against natural gas and you clearly are not since you see a 'temporary' role for it. Yeah, I've heard that before (some very well know anti-nuke politicians over in Germany going to work for competing gas pipeline operators!).

                Gas companies are working VERY hard against nuclear energy. Rod Adams at Atomic Insight has been documenting this. Gas companies wouldn't be touting solar and wind if it was a 'temporary' measure, would they?

                Both coal and gas understand who THEIR enemy is, and isn't renewables.

                David

                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 Sat Aug 15, 2009 at 12:09:06 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Oops, wrong again... (0+ / 0-)

                  I view nuclear as one of the possible routes for getting us off coal.

                  Then I rank the methods available to use.  

                  I rank them on 1) speed of installation, 2) cost, 3) sustainability, and 4) safety.

                  I support nuclear.  But it's next to last on my list, right above going back to living in caves.

                  15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                  by BobTrips on Sat Aug 15, 2009 at 01:10:04 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  That's funny as I take sort of the opposite or (0+ / 0-)

                    different view. Since true life time costs includes the wars for materials to implement them I think of 'safety' first, as our motto at the plant notes.

                    Secondly, I look to see if it can do the job: provide cheap, abundant on demand power and that is it is reliable.

                    Thirdly I look at costs.

                    Lastly I look at implementation and what it can mitigate in terms of overall usage of energy (transportation, power, process heat, etc).

                    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 Sat Aug 15, 2009 at 01:57:17 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Truthiness... (0+ / 0-)

                  I never lie on line.  (Give me a little wiggle room for when the Jehovah's Witness people knock on the door.)

                  I sometimes am incorrect and when that is pointed out I make a sincere attempt to not make that incorrect statement again.

                  I sometimes don't know everything about about the topic.  When I'm supplied additional information I include it in my decision process and try to adjust my attitudes and answers to include that new information.

                  I never intentionally leave out facts which I know in order to 'win an argument'.

                  It would be nice if you would adopt the same standards.  Putting forth the case for nuclear would be welcome if it were done in an honest, forthright manner.

                  15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                  by BobTrips on Sat Aug 15, 2009 at 01:16:15 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

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