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Okay, so this is both interesting and disturbing:

Germany, which has come to rely heavily on wind and solar power in recent years, is launching more than 20 demonstration projects that involve storing energy by splitting water into hydrogen gas and oxygen. The projects could help establish whether electrolysis, as the technology is known, could address one of the biggest looming challenges for renewable energy—its intermittency.
Interesting because of the obvious technological innovation, but depressing because of the implications for energy storage and dealing with global climate change.

Building and operating these kinds of facilities are, obviously, much more complicated than hooking these systems up to batteries and using batteries to store the energy.  Obviously, though, battery technology is not at a place where we can use it for mass energy storage. Lead batteries lose energy too rapidly and lithium-ion batteries are expensive and don't have the energy density we would want.  There has been some progress, obviously, but nowhere near as much as need.  This article claims that cheap car batteries are right around the corner, but it relies almost entirely on comments made by the companies whose continued funding depends upon the existence of said inexpensive car batteries.  The veracity of those statements, of course, are subject to debate.

In practice, however, progress on batteries has been agonizingly slow:

Lithium ion batteries, which store more energy at a higher voltage and a lighter weight than earlier types, represent the most recent big jump in battery technology. And that took place nearly a quarter of a century ago.
“We need to leapfrog the engineering of making of batteries,” said Lawrence Berkeley National Lab battery scientist Vince Battaglia. “We've got to find the next big thing.”
But none of the 10 experts who talked to The Associated Press said they know what that big thing will be yet, or when it will come.
There have been new approaches, such as flow batteries, that offer hope, but nothing so far has been proven out in a commercial environment.  Instead, we are left with overpriced Teslas, under-ranged Leafs, and complicated storage systems meant to overcome the limitations of current batteries.

Global climate change is close to an existential threat to life on Earth.  The Pentagon, for example, considers it to be one of the most important drivers of national security planning for the coming century.  Removing carbon from our economy is the simplest way to fight climate change, and using renewable energy is the simplest way to remove carbon form our economy. Intermittency and storage are the main barriers to increased use of renewals. And yet we do hardly anything about it.

Between 2009 and 2012, for example, the government committed to about 1.3 billion dollars in research assistance.  The US spends about 530 billion per year on the military.  It spends about 6 billion a year on Congressional pay and benefits.  It spend approximately 4.8 billion a year on oil company subsidies.  Instead of treating this issue as the key to national security and economic survival, we treat as rounding error in the military budget and one about 20% as important as contributing to global climate change.

There was a time when when we collectively, through our government, we split the atom and put people on the moon.  We used to be a nation capable of great things.  Now, we are apparently a nation capable only of the status quo as defined by the loudest lobbyist.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for the reminder (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog

    I need to go charge my smartphone...did 5 minutes of googling last night, it's probably dead now.

  •  Intermittency can be overcome by... (4+ / 0-)

    ...overbuilding and HVDC trunks. It's always windy somewhere in the United States, and daylight is a trackable asset. That said, yes, we could use some storage, but not until the share of the power mix for renewables reaches 40-50%.

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 09:49:30 AM PDT

    •  Yes, but (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jessical, PeterHug

      Massive overbuilding (combined with equally massive curtailment) can work, but it would triple the cost of electricity. See Budischak et. al. 2013 "Cost-minimized combinations of wind power, solar power and electrochemical
      storage, powering the grid up to 99.9% of the time" Journal of Power Sources 225, 60-74.

      And it's entirely unnecessary, when nuclear power can do the same without overbuilding and without increasing the cost of electricity at all.

      We are all in the same boat on a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty. -- G.K. Chesterton

      by Keith Pickering on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 10:01:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  In the time it takes to build one... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pollwatcher, jessical, PeterHug

        ...nuclear power plant, you can have three wind farms up and running, and the first parts of those farms can be producing power while the foundations are just being poured for that nuclear reactor. For most of our electric power needs, nuclear just doesn't cut it.

        I live in Illinois, which gets at leasts 40% of it's power from fission, and that number is slowly retreating. Nobody here can justify the expense of a nuclear plant, but they are building gas-fired ones more than wind farms, unfortunately. Meanwhile, dry casks full of spent fuel dot the landscape.

        Nuclear plants would be great if we were building maglev launch tracks for space vehicles, providing power to the grid between launches. But we aren't.

        Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

        by JeffW on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 10:14:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Taking them one at a time (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          PeterHug

          1. "Nobody here can justify the expense of a nuclear plant"

          I certainly can. There are currently four new nuclear reactors under construction in the US, all AP-1000 units. Two are at Vogtle in Georgia, coming in at about $15 billion for the pair, and two at V.C. Summer in SC, coming in at about $10 billion for the pair. So that's $25 billion total for four reactors, each of which has a nameplate capacity of 1117 MW.

          Those reactors are designed and engineered for a 60 year lifetime, and in the US nuclear plants average a capacity factor of 90%. Therefore the amount of energy generated by those reactors in their lifetime will be about 60*8766*.90*1117*4 = 2.11 billion MWh of electricity. Capital cost is therefore 25/2.11 = $11.79 per MWh. That's capital cost only, but capital cost is (by far) the largest part of the cost of electricity generation, for any technology.

          Now compare that to the capital cost of wind. Recently Warren Buffett invested a billion dollars into five Iowa wind farms. The total cost of those projects is $1.9 billion, and the total nameplate capacity is 1050 MW. Wind turbines are generally designed for a 20 year life, but the average lifetime of a wind turbine in Denmark is 22 years, so let's go with that. Capacity factors for wind vary greatly, but Iowa wind is pretty good so let's assume 35%, which is optimistic. The total amount of lifetime energy generated will therefore be 22*8766*.35*1050 = 70.9 million MWh. Capital cost is therefore 1900/70.9 = $26.81 per MWh, more than twice the capital cost of nuclear.

          If we assume your preferred option of massive overbuilding of wind and the massive curtailment that must accompany it, capacity factors for wind would drop very low, and the cost would increase by similar ratios.

          Oddly enough, I have never heard anyone (but me) complain that wind is too expensive. And solar is way more expensive than wind.

          2. "they are building gas-fired [generators] more than wind farms, unfortunately."

          Yes they are, and wind is part of the reason for that. Because wind is intermittent, it requires greater amounts of backup for when the wind dies. And the cheapest way to do that is gas. With wind, you can either have gas backup, which is cheap and fossil, or you can back it up (theoretically) with distant transcontinental wind, which is very expensive. Wind can be EITHER fossil-free, OR cheap, but it can't be both at the same time. Wind-plus-gas-backup is better than gas alone, but it's not the endpoint of a fossil free grid, and it never will be.

          Of course, you could also back up wind with fossil-free nuclear. But then if you have the nuclear plant, why do you need the wind turbine?

          3. "dry casks full of spent fuel dot the landscape." They do? Because NRC regulations require dry cask storage to be confined only to plant grounds. If that's not the case in Illinois, you should report it.

          We are all in the same boat on a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty. -- G.K. Chesterton

          by Keith Pickering on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 10:56:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  nukes are a dying breed. (0+ / 0-)

            way too capital intensive.

            And the operating margins are too thin.

            wind is running up the capacity factors,  50% is starting to happen, and you can get to 80% with a little bit of Electromagnetic glue down on the basepad.

            I'd suggest you review what the industry is doing
            not your strawmen.

        •  3? Try 10. (0+ / 0-)

          A nuke is a minimum of 12 years to get online from
          ATP to First power.

          Coal plants are 3-5 years.

          Wind is 18 months.

      •  Yes (0+ / 0-)

        since this is an issue with peak, not base, loads, I agree entirely.

        Nuclear power plants, of course serve primarily as peaking plants, rather than servicing  base loads.

        And, of course,  it's not like there's a limited amount of fissile material.

        http://www.economicpopulist.org

        by ManfromMiddletown on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 11:31:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not so fast (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Odysseus

          Nuclear plants actually serve as baseload plants, because their incremental cost of operation is so low. But that's an economic choice, not a technological requirement. In mostly-nuclear France, they do use nuclear for peaking.

          Regarding the Guardian article from last year, it has already been superseded. Global production of uranium was above 58000 tons for both 2012 and 2013, and in fact during the last year a number of uranium mines have shut down because overproduction has driven the price down to about $30/lb.

          There is likely an absolute limit to the long-term price of uranium at about $100/lb, at which point extraction from seawater becomes economically justifiable. So no, we're not going to run out any time soon.

          We are all in the same boat on a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty. -- G.K. Chesterton

          by Keith Pickering on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 11:55:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hmm (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Calamity Jean, JeffW
            Nuclear plants actually serve as baseload plants, because their incremental cost of operation is so low.
            Yes, that was my point.  Again, if nuclear is primarily base load (meaning that it is almost always on) how does this help deal with the intermittency that comes from the natural ebb and flow of demand over the course of a day?
            But that's an economic choice, not a technological requirement. In mostly-nuclear France, they do use nuclear for peaking.
            Again, let's be clear.  In general, nuclear power plants are an on-or-off proposition, because it takes them a long time to get started from a cold stop.  So what potential for load following exists is primarily in the ability of an individual reactor to throttle up and down, rather than take whole units on, or off, line. That alone is a huge technical limitation on the ability to load follow, compound this with the reality that reactors have a fairly narrow range around which they are able to vary output.     All this mean that this ability to load follow with nuclear is only going to materialize if nuclear is a very high proportion of the energy mix.

            IEA figures show France generates 78.7% of its electricity from nuclear. A further 13.6% comes from gas and hydro.  All in all, this suggests that even in France a large portion of peak loads are covered by gas and hydro.  Thus, the idea that nuclear is actually able to deal with demand intermittency seems suspect.

            Now, the United States.  Nuclear is 18.8% of total electricity generation. Building enough new nuclear to get to French levels would take decades, and trillions of dollars.  And even then, I suspect that we will find that demand intermittency will still not be covered by these new nuclear plants.  I doubt the technological case here, but more importantly I don't believe that the economics support your argument.  

            There is likely an absolute limit to the long-term price of uranium at about $100/lb, at which point extraction from seawater becomes economically justifiable. So no, we're not going to run out any time soon.
            But, we already have run out of one of our most reliable sources of low cost nuclear fuel.  In the past 20 years, the Megatonnes to Megawatts programs converted some 20,000 former Soviet warheads into nuclear fuel supplying around one half of American needs.  That program ended last year.  Maybe if we ask the Russian very politely, they will let us have more cut rate nuclear fuel.

            Forgive me, but it's starting to look like there are a lot more ducks in need of being put in a row to make nuclear work than investing in the grid upgrades that allow us to level out intermittency from renewables.  

             

            http://www.economicpopulist.org

            by ManfromMiddletown on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 12:43:48 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well, no. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Odysseus

              Nuclear plants are no more an "on-or-off" proposition than combined cycle gas turbines; both have about the same ramping speed of about 5% to 10% per minute. And that is determined by the choice of turbine, not the heat source. Nuclear powered warships, for example, are capable of much, much nimbler performance; they have to be, for mission-critical operations.

              And choice of turbine type is (once again) an economic choice, not a technological requirement.

              It is also untrue that nuclear reactors have a very narrow throttle range. (One has to ask: where are you getting all this misinformation?) Nuclear plants can operate at 30% of output with no problems at all. They don't typically do that, but once again that an economic choice, not a technological constraint.

              "Building enough new nuclear to get to French levels would take decades".

              France went from essentially zero nuclear to 80% in less than fifteen years. Sweden about the same, but they need less nuclear because they have more hydro. A committed national effort on that scale shouldn't take the US, or any other industrialized nation, significantly longer than that.

              "I don't believe that the economics support your argument."

              You can believe whatever you choose to believe, but the evidence indicates that the biggest issues with nuclear are political, not economic. And in fact, you have not yet made an economic argument that is supported by evidence.

              We are all in the same boat on a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty. -- G.K. Chesterton

              by Keith Pickering on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 06:50:45 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Here's the link to Budischak et al: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JeffW

        https://docs.google.com/...

        And their conclusion is, in part:

        At 2030 technology costs and with excess electricity displacing natural gas, we find that the electric system can be powered 90% -- 99.9% of hours entirely on renewable electricity, at costs comparable to today’s -- but only if we optimize the mix of generation and storage technologies.
        (Emphasis mine.)

        And you're mistaken about this:

        ...nuclear power can do the same without overbuilding ....
        The demand for electricity is much greater during the day than it is at night.  Nuclear power can be ramped up and down by only a small margin, that's why it's called "baseload" power.  The concept of pumped storage hydropower was invented to take power generated by nuke plants at night when it wasn't needed and hold it to be used in the daytime when it was.  IOW, nuclear power was overbuilt for the overnight hours.  To power the nation entirely with "stiff" nuclear power would require a huge expansion of pumped hydropower and other power storage technology.  Why not just use solar, which is "on" during almost all of the hours when it's most needed?  

        Anyone who's the least bit interested in this issue should at least read the summary of the study group's findings: http://www.udel.edu/...

        "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." -- Sen Carl Schurz 1872

        by Calamity Jean on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 02:01:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You need to read deeper (0+ / 0-)

          That conclusion (by Budischak et. al.) is only supported because they included the social cost of carbon, PLUS climate-change cost of carbon, in the total cost of "today's" energy system.

          In terms of actual cost-per-kWh, the 99.9% renewables grid examined by Budischak does indeed nearly triple. Which means that the nuclear option, which Budischak et. al deliberately ignored, is still about a third the cost of the all-renewable grid.

          Regarding overbuilding, yes, every grid today has about 30% overcapacity (that is, total capacity over peak) just to be able to handle any conceivable combination of generator outage plus peak load. That's standard, and that wouldn't change in an all-nuclear grid.

          But an all-wind grid would have to have not 30% overcapacity, but about 300% overcapacity. I hope you appreciate the magnitude of the difference, and what that would mean in terms of cost.

          The reason for that is that if the wind dies in Illinois, that means that Illinois would have to import wind power from, say Iowa. Which means that Iowa would need to build enough wind turbines to supply its own needs PLUS those of Illinois. (And you can pick any two states, same argument applies). Considering that wind generation overall has a capacity factor of about 30% (or less, when counting low-wind states), the amount of overbuilding has to be truly, truly massive.

          You are flat-out wrong about nuclear power being unable to ramp. Nuclear power plants are completely capable of doing that. They DON'T do that now because nuclear's incremental costs of operation are lower than fossil, which means nuclear is the basest of base loads. But that doesn't mean they CAN'T.

          We are all in the same boat on a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty. -- G.K. Chesterton

          by Keith Pickering on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 07:24:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  add droppable demand (0+ / 0-)

          and it's 100%.

  •  Well, we have developed the most advanced (0+ / 0-)

    cyber spying apparatus in the world, so there is that.

  •  Sadly, batteries will never solve the problem. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jessical, PeterHug, nojay

    The issue with batteries (and all other forms of energy storage) has to do with EROI, Energy Return On Investment.

    This can be computed for various energy generating technologies. But the computation is complex, as you have to add up all the energy used to manufacture, for example, a wind turbine, and then compute all the energy generated by that turbine in its lifetime.

    The problem is that energy storage doesn't actually create any energy. Therefore, the EROI of generator-plus-storage will ALWAYS be lower than the EROI of the generator alone. And in the case of renewables, the EROI is already not especially great.

    This is extremely important, because society depends on having a high EROI on every deployed energy source, because you need that excess to run civilization. The EROI of your fire department is zero. Same with lawyers, roads, buildings, national defense, haircuts, health care, dentistry, computers, and most manufacturing. The EROI of modern mechanized agriculture (the stuff you eat) isn't quite zero, but it's about 0.001 which is as close to zero as you can get.

    And the only way ANY of those things can run is by leaching off of the excess EROI of the energy generators. So those generators had darned well better have an EROI that is very high.

    And yeah, theoretically, if we build MASSIVE amounts of low-EROI generation, that could replace much smaller amounts of high-EROI generation. But that costs a lot more. In the pre-industrial era, the only energy source was non-mechanized agriculture, which has an EROI of roughly 5 to 8, depending on the fertility of the land. And 95% of everybody was employed getting that energy, while only 5% were left to do EVERYTHING ELSE society needs. Man, that's poverty.

    If renewables need storage, their utility to society becomes quite limited.

    We are all in the same boat on a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty. -- G.K. Chesterton

    by Keith Pickering on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 09:53:54 AM PDT

    •  EROI wind is 18, PV's approaching 10 (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jessical, JeffW

      These EROI's are plenty to supply us with the needs of civilization.  They may not be as good as some fossil fuels, but if we continue to use fossil fuels, there won't be a civilization that has needs.

      •  Sounds about right (0+ / 0-)

        Weissbach et. al (2013) put wind's EROI at 16, which is close to your number. But the same source shows that when you include enough storage to make generation dispatchable, wind's EROI drops to about 4, which isn't enough to sustain modern civilization.

        Solar PV can get up to 10-ish, but only in cloud-free desert environments, and most of civilization is a long way from the desert. Adding storage to PV once again drives the EROI below the sustainability point (which Weissbach puts at 7, somewhat optimistically; I think 8 is probably closer to the truth).

        We are all in the same boat on a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty. -- G.K. Chesterton

        by Keith Pickering on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 11:12:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Would your opinion remain the same ... (0+ / 0-)

          if there were a battery capable of 700X greater energy density than currently available, which could be manufactured for half the current cost?  Such a technology has been conceived, but getting funding after so many entities have made false claims about their batteries has proved to be the hurdle that can't be overcome.

          "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

          by Neuroptimalian on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 01:59:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes it would. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Neuroptimalian, nojay

            Batteries will never be free. And batteries will never be a source of energy. The same is true of any energy storage system. Therefore, the EROI of ANY generator-plus-storage will ALWAYS be lower than the EROI of the generator alone.

            Now one might speculate that there might be some future energy storage system that is so incredibly cheap that the EROI of the storage-included option won't be MUCH lower than the generator alone. And if there is an economic case to be made for the time-shifting that storage allows (and there is, certainly), and if the time-shifting allows stored energy to be sold at higher rates than generated energy (as might be the case) ... then certainly such systems will be built.

            But frankly, lead and sulfuric acid are already dirt-cheap, and there is a very good reason utilities don't use that technology for storage. Even dirt-cheap storage is more expensive than generation-on-demand.

            We are all in the same boat on a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty. -- G.K. Chesterton

            by Keith Pickering on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 07:00:38 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  smart demand (0+ / 0-)

          putting in lots of switchable demand lets you smooth it.

  •  Senate bill (0+ / 0-)

    Has a good bill been introduced in the Senate which deals with climate change and which could use some more cosponsors?

    Racing the Night: I'm a realist. See you in 20

    by GideonAB on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 09:57:38 AM PDT

    •  I don't think so. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GideonAB

      Everybody is depending on the new EPA regs, which are a good start. It remains to be seen if they will be too-little, too-late. My guess is was passed that point about five years ago.

      We are all in the same boat on a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty. -- G.K. Chesterton

      by Keith Pickering on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 10:05:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I agree we need more resources focused on (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, HoundDog

    improving battery technology but there are also other similar and complimentary technologies that are being developed like super-capacitors. There have also been significant breakthroughs in fuel cell technology in recent years.  

    Personally, I believe it's even more important to break to stranglehold that the large fossil fuel companies have over our power distribution system. If we collectively controlled our public utilities like we did not that long ago we would suddenly have thousands of energy entrepreneurs working on more efficient energy storage and distribution systems. It's the centralization and corporatization of our power systems that are really stifling innovation.  

    Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

    by RMForbes on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 10:02:39 AM PDT

    •  Nothing is stopping you. (0+ / 0-)
      If we collectively controlled our public utilities like we did not that long ago we would suddenly have thousands of energy entrepreneurs working on more efficient energy storage and distribution systems.
      Every publicly traded company is a takeover target.  So find some people willing to share your vision and take them over.

      Dynegy has a 3.28B market cap.  That's about 3x as much as was spent to put a skinny guy with a funny name in the White House.

      Get started.

      -7.75 -4.67

      "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

      There are no Christians in foxholes.

      by Odysseus on Tue Sep 02, 2014 at 12:59:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Why not just change the State laws and require (0+ / 0-)

        energy companies to buy energy from small producers at the same rate they get it from the large producers? It seems like a far simpler solution to me. Personally, I'm no fan of transnational corporations and I would not be happy being a part of one. I would prefer to be an integral part of my local community instead. I believe people and nature are far more important than corporate profits.

        Besides, anyone who puts their savings in the Wall Street casino is a fool. That game is rigged and you are going to lose. Keep your savings in locally owned and operated bank and/or credit unions. It helps grow your local economy and helps you earn a greater income. The big banksters that control the Wall Street casino are only parasites on the local economy and suck money out of your wallet. A more distributed energy production system is far better for everyone except the very greedy few now in charge.

        Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

        by RMForbes on Tue Sep 02, 2014 at 04:21:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Other uses (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog

    Hydrogen has other uses besides just being re-cycled to provide electricity. It could be used to provide low cost fuel for vehicles. Just such an operation is in place on one of the Scottish islands. On a much larger scale,Hawaii is going that way:

    Undoubtedly the largest island demonstration of hydrogen and fuel cell solutions is Hawaii. With a 90% dependence on imported oil, Hawaii, population c. 1.4 million, is America’s most fossil fuel dependent state resulting in exceptionally high fuel and electricity prices. This has driven both islanders and the US Government to actively pursue sustainable energy solutions for Hawaii and a roadmap aiming to achieve 70% clean energy use by 2030 has been set. After a handful of previous hydrogen projects, a consortium of twelve companies, agencies and universities last year launched the Hawaii Hydrogen Initiative (H2I). H2I aims to make Hawaii the first US ‘hydrogen state’ beginning by installing twenty to twenty-five hydrogen stations at strategic locations across Hawaii’s most populous island, Oahu, by 2015. Oahu is also to see the construction of a 65 kg per day Proton OnSite hydrogen generator for installation at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii to fuel a fleet of GM Equinox FCEV. .
    (Caveat, that was published in 2011. It does however give an idea of the approach.)

    "Come to Sochi, visit the gay clubs and play with the bears" - NOT a Russian advertising slogan.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 10:35:53 AM PDT

  •  A better battery changes the world (5+ / 0-)

    The price of wind and Solar is dropping so fast, existing fossil fuel generating plants are in effect becoming backups for ALT-E.

    Don't be so pessimistic about the slow progress.  I've been watching the technology for decades, and we are making faster progress than ever before.  I'm betting on the flow batteries within the decade, and then everything changes.  There will be no reason for a common commuter to be paying nearly $4.00 for gas to go 35 miles when they can pay $0.50 for electricity to go the same distance.  Or if they have PV's on their roofs, that drive for free.

    Gasoline powered cars are the 8 track tapes of the 70's.

  •  battery storage will be a complement, but (0+ / 0-)

    there are many good market ready products that solve the same problem - the best (most cost effective, and ready for prime time) is to shift the load, so people consume when it's windy or sunny. A lot easier than it sounds when you are balancing the electrons across a whole multistate region.
    batteries on EV cars synced with the grid will be a big source of storage within 5 years, tho.  

    imho the best move would be to get dkos types on public utility commissions.  utilities see the writing on the wall, but they just won't expose their crappy coal generation to the free market.

    what lincoln said http://cleantechnica.com/2012/10/10/abraham-lincoln-was-on-to-wind-power-long-before-the-rest/

    by rasfrome on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 04:51:27 PM PDT

  •  "Complicated" doesn't mean "inefficient". (0+ / 0-)
    Building and operating these kinds of facilities are, obviously, much more complicated than hooking these systems up to batteries and using batteries to store the energy.
    I'm not a professional in the field, so I don't know the real world efficiency of the hydrogen cycle.

    However, it's not hard to imagine that even efficiency which is not particularly close to 100% both ways could be economically viable.

    -7.75 -4.67

    "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

    There are no Christians in foxholes.

    by Odysseus on Tue Sep 02, 2014 at 12:50:08 PM PDT

  •  overbuild and make ammonia (0+ / 0-)

    you can have either energy storage or
    switchable demand.

    Neal Rauhauser (StrandedWind) used to write about this.

    Well, now with cheap wind, make ammonia, when the wind
    falls off, stop making it.

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