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« Ausra Building First U.S. Production Facility for Thermal Solar | Main | 1052 Daimler Orion VII Hybrid Buses Ordered »

December 15, 2007

Comments

Nucbuddy

Ender wrote: how do the other 100 odd cool themselves?

Some cool themselves like this.
google.com/search?q=nuclear+reservoir+cooling+water

They could all potentially cool themselves like this...
google.com/search?q=car+radiator

... (as has been pointed-out to you previously on several occasions) except that a high price tag has not been placed upon cooling water. If there presently is no such high price tag, it is illogical to complain that market-participants presently ignore such high price tags.

You are complaining about ignorance of presently little-relevant market forces. If you want market-participants to pay attention to market forces, you are going to have to make those market-forces more relevant. Until then, we can notice that the American nuclear fleet merely achieves a fleetwide capacity-factor of better than 98%, every single July and August of every single year.
associatedcontent.com/article/360531/nuclear_power_rises_to_the_occasion.html
nei.org/newsandevents/newsreleases/operatingat/

For Release:August 27, 2007

Operating at 98% Efficiency, U.S. Nuclear Plants Play Vital Role in Beating Sweltering Heat Wave

WASHINGTON—Helping Americans to cope during the summer’s most sweltering heat, the nation’s nuclear power plants posted an average daily capacity factor of more than 98 percent during the first two weeks of August.
[...]
Over the first 14 days of the month, the nuclear energy industry’s average daily capacity factor was 98.3 percent, with the one-day average high of 99.6 percent capacity on Aug. 1, according to electricity production data reported by energy companies to the Nuclear Energy Institute and drawn from reactor operations status reports compiled by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The 104 nuclear power plants operating in 31 states have a combined generating capacity of 100,125 megawatts of electricity, enough to meet the yearly electricity needs of approximately 62 million Americans. Nuclear power plants account for about 11 percent of America’s total electricity generation capacity, but because they operate at high levels of efficiency and reliability, they produce nearly 20 percent of the country’s annual electricity supply.

When the dog days of August barked, U.S. nuclear power plants were the most efficient producers of electricity on the nationwide grid, churning out massive emission-free supplies of electricity to meet demand,” said Marvin Fertel, NEI’s chief nuclear officer and senior vice president. “As accustomed as we are to the excellent operations that make nuclear power plants part of the backbone of the nation’s electricity grid, the performance of our plants and of the dedicated men and women who operate them has been truly outstanding in recent weeks.

The country’s 104 reactors are powering our economy as well as air conditioners that are so vital to help Americans withstand withering temperatures and humidity,” Fertel said.

Nucbuddy

SPAMFILTERSNIPPED,COMMENT CONTINUED


Here is a PDF with a graphic chart showing the excellent summer performance of America's nuclear reactor fleet:
nei.org/resourcesandstats/publicationsandmedia/newslettersandreports/nuclearperformancemonthly
nei.org/resourcesandstats/documentlibrary/publications/nuclearperformancemonthly/nuclearperformancemonthly

Again, if you want to see from market-participants what you personally choose to label improved performance, you are going to have to charge more for what you personally choose to label poor performance.

DaveMart

I personally don't need convincing of the merits of nuclear based energy production.
I do need more information on how quickly it could be ramped up in any case.
I am somewhat familiar with the situation in the UK, where the Government is pretending to consult (they have already made their minds up that they will need nuclear, they are having to go through the motions, interspersed with public relations ploys like their wholly absurd press release saying that they will build 33GW nameplate in off-shore wind power, and in between building more coal plants and hoping the whole thing will go away).
They are having to start from scratch, and train hundreds of new people just for the inspectorate.
I would guess that the earliest any new plant could be producing electricity would be 2015, according, I believe, to Areva, and the build up to even replacing the present nuclear fleet must be doubtful, so we may end up with coal by default.
In China, they have real hassles especially in obtaining pressure vessels, and delays of years have occurred.
They are going into the production of the vessels, but their plans for increasing nuclear are already at the limits of feasibility and are a tiny fraction of projected coal-fired augmentations to the grid.
Most of the difficulties in India are due to their wish to be self-sufficient, although to an extent this is forced on them, as they have very limited supplies of uranium and wish to make use of their extensive Thorium reserves, which is an underdeveloped technology in the West.
I am however wholly ignorant of the position in the States.
How quickly could the nuclear build be increased in the States, and would it be fast enough to avoid having to build coal-plants, which we would then be stuck with?
I assume no dramatic breakthroughs in renewables, large enough to make the issue moot, but steady increase in wind-powered production and large increased in PV, but from a low base, and low take-up of solar thermal.

Cyril R.

There is no reason to store the thermal energy of a nuclear reactor because the energy cab produced on demand.

Hey Kit, that's exactly the problem - average annual demand is lower than current nuclear powerplants capacity factor. You're probably looking at 90+% for current generation nukes (that's more economical so it makes sense of course) while annual average demand is probably closer to 60%. If solar thermal can deal with peaking or even some load following cheaper than nuclear peakers/or true load followers (which cannot logically have a high capacity factor) then what's wrong with solar thermal and nuclear?

Besides, we'll need all the help we can get to try to reduce global warming in the short term, even though you don't buy it.

DaveMart

I can't really follow you here, Cyril - what has the capacity factor got to do with peaking and so on?
The US currently generates around 100GW of energy from it's nukes, out of a total installed capacity of around 500GW, so IOW since they cost a lot to build it is fine to run them flat out all the time since it is always lower than the minimal demand - you don't save much be throttling back a nuke, although you can do it if you want to - the fuel cost is low, capital cost is high.
You could integrate a far higher proportion of nukes into the energy system before you ran into worries about peak capacity and so on.
Your basic argument is correct though, at least for sunny areas in the South-West of the US - peak demand correlates well to the hours when it is sunny, so you could use solar thermal of PV for peak load instead of gas or coal as at present.
The problem of using nukes as peaking capacity is not technical, just that they cost way more to build than gas or coal, and if you are running the plant only part of the time the higher fuel costs of these won't matter too much.

Cyril R.

Nucbuddy: thanks for those links. I never doubted the reliability of nuclear performance in summer. My concern was, that nuclear peakers aren't being built yet, and I fear it's because, as you mentioned, they are uneconomical compared to alternatives. If they prove to be more expensive than, say, Ausra's technology (plausible) and under the condition that Ausra can demonstrate that things will go more or less as they have claimed (we'll find out soon enough), then why would solar thermal such a poor alternative? The other alternatives were named - gas and diesel which emit CO2 and don't help much for energy independence or even sometimes send large amounts of money to... less friendly countries and individuals. Hydro cannot expand much, right? Probably the same for pumped hydro resevoirs. So those alternatives don't really seem like alternatives at all to me.

It's also pretty clear to me that solar thermal output can be very reliable:

* Solar thermal plants in the Mojave have historically displayed technical availability of 99% or greater.

* Long periods of extreme clouds are very rare in many desert locations.

* Occasional clouds passing over do occur quite often in these desert locations but can be dealt with using thermal storage (only a small amount needed for this, it's already being done often in the form of oil or steam storage and proved succesful).

* Geographically distributing the solar thermal plants over several locations in the SW will further mitigate local climatic irregularities.

* Improvements in the grid can do wonders I think. Making it nationwide but also a smart grid that deals with the demand side on a large scale.

*Such a large grid can facilitate other forms of power such as hydro and wind (tend to be greater during winter), wave/tidal, PV, CPV (distributed or utility), etc.

* Vehicle-to-grid technology may very well contribute too in the future, as more solar thermal plants will be built.

* Biogas backup in the unprobable even that all of the above fail? If SOFC's become cheap enough, they could be built next to the solar thermal plant. Large installations are already over 50% efficiency plus the waste heat can be used to run the solar thermal turbine. Efficiencies over 80% may be possible in the future using such a configuration. An enticing detail is that we've already got a large NG infrastructure which could utilize biogas just as well as NG.

Cyril R.

DaveMart, I really agree with everything you say here exept that what you may be missing is that if more baseload nukes are built, more NG would have to be built as well to deal with the difference in demand (demand isn't baseload!). That's not something I like for reasons already mentioned. We'll have to find a solution for this. To what extent could bio-energy be used for peaking purposes? Most of it, I hope. And solar thermal seems very well fitted to deal with this as well. Considering how unlikely it is that nuclear peakers will be built soon, these seem promising options.

Cyril R.

Now, I'll concede that replacing coal with nukes is more important than replacing natural gas with nuclear/solar thermal/bio-energy or whatever, but still, I like a more complete solution.

DaveMart

Cyril, as Kit said, nuclear plants already are peakers, if by that you mean you can throttle the demand.
They are not used for peak demand purely because all the cost is up-front.
In the South West of the US, you could indeed use solar thermal for peak demand, as it tracks well with air-conditioning demand and so on, although the costs of solar are also upfront just like nuclear.
Dunno if it's worth-while worrying too much about peak demand at the moment though - by definition the base load is the most important, and until you have reduced carbon use on that it is less important to worry about the releases from the nth percentile of peak demand.
There are a lot of really easy and cheap options which are available and are simply not being used in the US and Britain, for instance better insulation standards and residential solar thermal in new builds - we could get 50% of hot water very economically and save loads of energy input.
By the time it is worthwhile to worry about off-peak, we may be able to use nuclear to generate fuel during off peak, or use fuel cells at a lot less cost in carbon release into the atmosphere, maybe with a cell in the house so that you have efficiencies of around 90% with all the heat used, instead of all the inefficiencies of generating electricity centrally and power line losses and so on.
Massive reductions in greenhouse gasses are certainly possible, and peak demand issues do not substantially impact that.

amazingdrx

Nuclear power cooling problems from water shortage caused the infamous heat related deaths in France.

Wind and solar are immune to water shortage. Biogas from waste actually reclaims water that would be contaminated. Once again another handicap of a nuclear powered grid, water dependency.

DaveMart

Sorry, Cyril, posted before I saw your last ;-)
I'd still note that by the time we have to deal with it, the options open for it's solution will differ from those available today though.

DaveMart

amazingdrx, do you actually read any of the responses to your assertations?
The issue of nuclear's use of water cooling has already been extensively dealt with in this thread, or the one above, and arises to the minor extent it does arise solely because of design choices made in the reactors - if you have lots of cheap water usually available, it makes sense to use that.
That does not mean you can't design around water shortage where it is not available.
You also entirely ignore the points already raised that solar needs to have the mirrors washed, and unlike nuclear you need to use areas such as desert where water is in short supply.
You also need water for cooling in solar thermal.
Since you don't engage in any constructive manner with the debate, what is the point of airing your prejudices, which is obviously what they are since they do not vary in the light of new information.
I am wrong a lot, but if I find a mistake or lack of information I correct the mistake.
Your opinions are more in the way of religious absolutism than any rational critique.

Charles Barton

A rational approach to peak energy would allow for day time solar thermal in the southwest, but the fact that most of the country has cloudy days, makes solar power unreliable for even daytime peak use elsewhere. Some reactor designs are consistent with peak power uses. Pebble Bed Reactors would have the ability to quickly power up or down. At present, Pebble Bed Reactors are under development in South Africa and China. Pebble Bed Reactors don't requite pressure vessels. They are gas cooled, and their waste heat can be used for co-generation. They can be run at very high temperatures, and thus they have greater thermal efficiency than light water reactors. They require less steel and concrete to build.

DaveMart

Charles, not sure about your statement that cloud cover would make solar unsuitable for peak load outside of the South-West - the key questions then become how variable and how often, and over what area compared to the coverage of the grid.
Although it dealt with wind power the post on the grid on this forum is likely to contain good methodologies for evaluating this, and if used in a system with multiple ways of generating electricity might be surprisingly high.
I understand that some designs of solar cells also are fairly robust in gathering light even under cloudy conditions.
The situation for using pebble bed reactors for off-peak has an additional favourable factor to the ones you rightly mention.
It is a modular design, which both restricts the need to commit and pay interest on huge sums of capital in the initial build and gives greater opportunities to learn and reduce costs as you go along.
You would also have all the power lines and so on laid on, so you could switch off one or more of the reactors on site to follow demand.

Charles Barton

Charles, not sure about your statement that cloud cover would make solar unsuitable for peak load outside of the South-West - the key questions then become how variable and how often, and over what area compared to the coverage of the grid. - DaveMart,

The problem of SV intermittency is discussed in "The Character of Power Output from Utility-Scale Photovoltaic Systems," by Aimee E. Curtright and Jay Apt, (Carnegie Mellon Electricity Industry Center Working Paper CEIC-07-05: http://wpweb2.tepper.cmu.edu/ceic/papers/ceic-07-05.asp). The paper is unfortunately password protected.

A quote from Curtright and APT,
"The intermittency of large-scale PV power for four sites in the American southwest desert is significant, even during daylight hours. These data also imply that site diversity over a ~280 km range does not dampen PV intermittency sufficiently to eliminate the need for substantial firm power or dispatchable demand response. The high correlation between geographically dispersed arrays may indicate that high, widespread clouds are responsible for a portion of the intermittency. Observed rapid and deep fluctuations at time scales of 10 seconds to several minutes may indicate that a component of the intermittency is due to low, scattered clouds with significant opacity. We observe a number of examples of output power rising above nameplate capacity before and after deep drops in power. This may be due to focusing of sunlight around the edges of low clouds."

If the problem exists in the relatively cloudless southwest, how much worse is it going to be in the South East, when there can be a lot of clouds in the sky on "sunny" summer days?

You also have to factor in the demand for peak electricity on cold, snowy winter days, and after dark in much of the country. Solar cells don't generate electricity when covered with snow. On hot summer days in Texas, AC demand continues all night. It is often in the upper 90's at midnight after hot Texas Summer days. We need peak power at night.

DaveMart

Thanks for the link and comments, Charles.
I wonder if you can give any insight into the question I raised a couple of posts back on how quickly it would actually be possible to ramp nuclear production in the Sates given the large gap since anything has been built?

Charles Barton

I wonder if you can give any insight into the question I raised a couple of posts back on how quickly it would actually be possible to ramp nuclear production in the S(t)ates given the large gap since anything has been built? - DaveMart

Dave, I have no idea how to answer that question. Right now it takes 42 months for the NRC to approve an application. One reactor is under construction, and the NRC has received 5 applications for a total of 8 reactors. It will be 2011 before those applications are approved, and at best 2015 before the reactors can be completed. Once they come on line the process will begin to pick up. The NRC expects something like 20 reactor applications in 2008. The line is starting to form for 2009, and it may be long.

Many of the reactor will be Westinghouse AP-1000's. 4 AP-1000 are in the 2007 licensing line, at least 8 in the 2008 line, and several more are lined up for 2009. Clearly then Westinghouse is going to be scrambling to line up suppliers during the next three years. Westinghouse talks of mass producing AP-1000's. The French were able to churn out a lot of reactors fairly quickly during the 1970;s and 80's. http://www.icjt.org/npp/lokacija.php?drzava=8
So The United States and China should be able produce several hundred reactors between now and 2027, if the will is is there to do it.

The Chinese have already ordered 4 AP-1000's and more Chinese orders are in the works. The Chinese at the moment are committed to AP-1000 technology, and they seem to have an arrangement with Westinghouse to build them locally in China.

The first Chinese batch of AP-1000s are started to begin production in 2009 and start coming on line in 2013.

The Chinese will probably devote considerable capital to reactor production facilities during the next few years. The will is clearly there in China.

DaveMart

For someone who hadn't a clue how to answer the question you haven't had a bad pop at it! :-)
To comment a little it seems that China is also pretty keen on their pebble bed design, and Areva, the French concern are also involved with some reactors in China.
I wonder if anyone has any insight into what bottlenecks may exist within the US to a rapid ramping up of production, either in materials or personnel?
As I said, I am aware of a lot of training which needs doing within the UK for personnel, which might limit the build even if the will was there.

Cyril R.

The problem of SV intermittency is discussed in "The Character of Power Output from Utility-Scale Photovoltaic Systems

Charles, not to be pedantic, but the subject of debate was solar thermal, not solar PV. All of the issues solar PV has can be solved, in principle, with solar thermal with sufficient storage and perhaps bio-energy as backup. Haven't you read all of the posts above?

Charles Barton

Cyril R. I was responding to an issue DaveMart raised. In case you notice blog discussions often tangentially leave the original topic, but I see that you have been commissioned by the topic police to keep us on track. It is news to me that all of the issues of SV have been solved, as I have pointed out in my comment. As for night back up, it is either going to make emit CO2, or if you duplicate a daytime solar thermal system to store heat for night time generation, the system will cost far more than nuclear power will.

Thus a ST system ends up being expensive, vulnerable to clouds and dust storms, and is going to occupy a lot of territory, and damage a whole lot of vulnerable desert habitat. But hay, damaging the environment is no big deal to greens. Right? The really important thing is that we don't have nuclear power.

Cyril R.

but I see that you have been commissioned by the topic police to keep us on track.

No actually I'm guilty myself. I'm posting about solar thermal in a wind thread and I've posted about wind in a solar thread! Sorry for that.

if you duplicate a daytime solar thermal system to store heat for night time generation, the system will cost far more than nuclear power will.

No actually, you really should read some of the above posts. Storing heat allows for less turbine per kWh and in this way can lower cost/kWh. On the other hand, nuclear peakers do not exist now for reasons also outlined in the above posts. So we really can't compare to nuke peakers yet. Nuclear has proven cheap in baseload but has yet to prove competitiveness in peaking markets. Odds are it won't happen in a long time, and my position is that solar thermal could be an answer to peaking and true load following (not a throttling baseload nuke, but low capacity factor dispatchable powerplants). And there is much room for cost reductions left. True for nuclear too, but it's proven market is baseload.

Cyril R.

Had to break it up, that spam filter is very sensitive.

Thus a ST system ends up being expensive

Cost per kWh is the most relevant parameter. 10 cents now, 8 cents in three years. How much would a peaker nuke cost per kWh?

Vulnerable to clouds and dust storms

Refuted several times already, read above posts.

and is going to occupy a lot of territory

Not very relevant considering the nature of this territory and quantity available. Moreover, the land use for hydro is huge, and more often takes fertile land. Of course, hydro can be used for drinkwater reserves and agricultural irrgation. But it's still a lot of territory occupied.

and damage a whole lot of vulnerable desert habitat.

No. Vegetation can grow beneath the mirrors - in fact plants will appreciate partial shading. Animals etc can just walk and live underneath the mirrors. Careful site preparation and management will be enough.

The really important thing is that we don't have nuclear power.

The really important thing is that we could have nuclear power and solar thermal plants at the same time as at the moment at least they serve different markets. This has, surprise surpise, already been mentioned above.

If the anti-nukes have made some weak arguments against nuclear power, some of the pro-nuclear posters in this thread also employ weak arguments to bring down solar thermal.

Before you reply, please read all the material relevant to the subject in this thread. Or perhaps just read the entire thread?

BILL HANNAHAN

… if I find a mistake or lack of information I correct the mistake.
Your opinions are more in the way of religious absolutism than any rational critique.

Well said Dave.


Nuclear power plants can follow a load very well. If we built enough nuclear plants to cover our peak demand we would have 100% nuclear electricity, as is the case on nuclear powered ships.

Most people think this is impractical due to high capital cost, $3.50 / watt vs. $1.50 / watt of wind, data plate rating. But we are not buying data plates, we are buying kWh’s. these numbers should be normalized to include the effects of capacity factor and lifetime.

Nuclear

$3.50 per watt / 0.9 capacity factor / 60 year lifetime = $0.0648 / watt year = $65 / kW year

Wind

$1.50 per watt / 0.3 cf / 25 y = $0.20 / watt year = $200 / kW year

Wind kWh’s are three times more expensive than nuclear.

BILL HANNAHAN

Continuing with my spam post

Now imagine that you are the grid manager for a large utility. You know that your electricity supports traffic lights, hospitals, oxygen concentrators in the homes of sick people, large industrial processes, air conditioners, furnaces etc.

When the grid fails, people start dying.

Lets say you can get kWh’s from a large array of nuclear plants and windmills. Which kWh’s are most valuable to you, the ones you can count on being there months in advance, or the ones that may or may not be there? Assign a number to your preference for reliable kWh’s, call it the reliability coefficient. Lets say you consider reliable kWh’s to be three times more valuable than unreliable kWh’s. Now include this preference in the relative cost of kW years.

Wind $200 / kW year x 3 = $600 / kW year

Nuclear $65 / kW year x 1 = $65 / kW year

Nuclear kWh’s are nine times more attractive than wind.

Even so, most people would say that when the wind blows we should throttle back the nuclear plants and use all the wind power available because “the wind is free”.

But the only savings from doing that is the cost of the fuel not consumed, about one half cent / kWh.

http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epa/epat8p2.html

This is the real break even cost for wind and solar kWh’s. This is the maximum price we can pay for wind and solar power without raising somebody’s electric bill.

Charles Barton

Cyril R.
I will respond point by point.
CR Cost per kWh is the most relevant parameter. 10 cents now, 8 cents in three years. How much would a peaker nuke cost per kWh?
Responce: CNet News disagrees with your cost estimate:
http://www.news.com/2100-11392-6182947.html
Solar thermal costs around 15 to 17 cents a kilowatt hour, according to statistics from Schott, a German company that makes solar thermal equipment.
CR: Storing heat allows for less turbine per kWh and in this way can lower cost/kWh.
Response: If the cost of building the turbine was the only cost associated with power production this would cogent. You have to double the mirror field, and you have to build facilities for for the transfer and storage of the heat retaining media. That does cost. The process will not be 100% efficient, so will loose energy.

bigTom

Bill:
$3.50 per watt / 0.9 capacity factor / 60 year lifetime = $0.0648 / watt year = $65 / kW year
Economists and accountants use a thing called discounted rate of return. V=integral over t value(t)*exp(-I*t) where I is a representative interest rate, which discounts the value of future revenues. What this means is that the difference between 25year life and 60year life makes very little difference to the computed present value. Discounted rate of return is almost always left out when contractors try to sell homeowners on home PV systems, as essentially anything with a longish payback time never pays! To be fair in the latter case value(t) should increase with expected grid power cost. In any case Nuclear does have a problem that during construction large costs have been spent years before any revenue can be generated. The interest cost on this capital can be pretty significant.

Charles Barton

CR: Nuclear has proven cheap in baseload but has yet to prove competitiveness in peaking markets.

Responce:even though reactors may more expensive to operate at partial loads, operating a reactor at partial load is still less expensive than than the cost of ST generated electricity. Current reactor power cost 1.7 cents per KWh, compared to the 15 to 17 cents per KWh ST costs. Boiling water reactors are regarded as good load followers,

CR: dust storms. Refuted several times already,

Response: I found references to cleaning mirrors after dust storms. I have not found references to load interruptions during prolonged dust storms.

CR On territory required - the land use for hydro is huge.

Response: One bad practice justifies another?

CR: damage to desert habitat - Vegetation can grow beneath the mirrors - in fact plants will appreciate partial shading. Animals etc can just walk and live underneath the mirrors. Careful site preparation and management will be enough.

Response: Oh really, desert plants are just dying to get in the shade. Obviously you know nothing about ecology.

CR: we could have nuclear power and solar thermal plants at the same time.

Response: Well no because new Nuks are illegal in California, and Californians are just going to have to put up with the best that ST has to offer.



Clee

There's that 1.7 cents/KWH number for nuclear again. That's just the fuel cost plus operation and maintenance cost. It does not include the construction and decommissioning costs. Nuclear power is cheap enough as is, at a life cycle cost of 2 to 5 cents per KWH, (depending on discount rate used) no need to exaggerate.
http://www.nei.org/resourcesandstats/nuclear_statistics/costs/

Charles Barton

Clee, after you pay off the construction costs, that 1.7 cents is the cost of power from reactors. So for most of the 60+ years of a reactors life, it is going to cost 1.7 cents to produce power. Decommissioning costs would come to a small fraction of one cent for every KWh the reactor produces.

Clee

Sure. I just think you should compare apples to apples. EIther compare running costs (fuel and O&M) costs of nuclear to that of wind, or Life Cycle costs of nuclear to that of wind. Comparing only running costs of nuclear to full life cycle costs of wind seems dishonest.

Clee

Er, I mean, LCA of Solar Thermal
(sorry, I got distracted by the thread supposedly being about wind)

Kit P

Thought I would check the weather for a couple of the zip codes where I have lived. Cold, dark, and no wind. Excuse me if I would prefer not to depend on wind and solar. Or pay for it.

EIA just published their latest predictions. Currently non-hydro and non biomass renewable energy (aka, renewable other) rounded off = 1% and in 2030 = 1%.

I have also spent considerable time in the Mojave desert. I survived thanks to all the coal, natural gas, and nuke plants providing electricity for AC when it was above 110. Every night the sun set, there was little water or biomass.

I have looked at all the plans to produce energy with wind and solar. The renewable other industry has been responsible for producing a pile of junk and not much electricity. I think they should continue trying. I do not think we should have much hope that 1% is anything other than wildly optimistic.

amazingdrx

Washing mirrors? Solar in the desert? Redesigning nuclear cooling to use less water? How much more will that cost?

Hard to read through all these nonsensicalities dave. Much less respond.

Or respond to the repititiion of the anti-renewable, pro-nuke crowd gathered here. not much point either really.

The extremely dense pro-nuclear propaganda you all produce is nearly unreadable as well, no threat to sway public opinion.

In a thread about wind power, 90% of the posts are on nuclear power. Pretty ridiculous.

Cyril R.

That spam filter is acting up again.

Cyril R.

Solar thermal costs around 15 to 17 cents a kilowatt hour, according to statistics from Schott

I was referring to Ausra. But other companies will be generating for 12 cents a kWh soon. Solar thermal technologies are on a continuous downward cost/kWh trend. Besides, nuclear peakers don't exist yet so there is no alternative to solar thermal that doesn't emit CO2 and/or is too limited in expansion. Except maybe bio-energy, but it may be better to combine this with itermittend sources because of it's dispatchability advantage and current shortage of supply (hopefully that will change soon).

Cyril R.

If the cost of building the turbine was the only cost associated with power production this would cogent. You have to double the mirror field, and you have to build facilities for for the transfer and storage of the heat retaining media. That does cost.

If you double the mirror field, but not the turbine, you end up with lower cost per kWh because the marginal cost of thermal storage (especially Ausra's system if it becomes available) is lower than the marginal cost of additional turbine capacity. Is this really that difficult to understand?

The process will not be 100% efficient, so will loose energy.

No process is 100% energy efficient. However, thermal storage systems can be over 95% efficient (in fact 99 percent efficient is theoretically possible), and all systems being commercialized are more than 80% efficient. But this is not very relevant. What is relevant is what it costs, in particular per kWh. See above argument.

Cyril R.

Current reactor power cost 1.7 cents per KWh, compared to the 15 to 17 cents per KWh ST costs.

The figure is incorrect in two ways: one Clee pointed out, and another is that nuclear peakers do not exist on this planet. If they would, they would suffer from low amortization rates over the relatively high capital due to relatively low kWh production. And that is the reason they don't exist right now.

Boiling water reactors are regarded as good load followers

They might be, but they don't. See above argument.

Cyril R.

I have not found references to load interruptions during prolonged dust storms.

Dust storms are highly local and temporal phenomena. In a geographically distributed (over several good SW locations) solar thermal scheme, local climatic conditions, such as dust storms, will be mitigated.

CR On territory required - the land use for hydro is huge.

Response: One bad practice justifies another?

*sigh* READ the posts. Finish before you reply. The point I made there is that hydro requires a lot of land, but apparently that's not a killer problem. The benefits they provide exceed the fact that there is a huge territory required. Also, it perhaps important to note that solar thermal, including multiple solar field and storage, requires less land per kWh than hydro. That doesn't mean it's a good idea to displace hydro with solar thermal. Replacing coal, gas, and oil should be priorities.

Cyril R.

Oh really, desert plants are just dying to get in the shade. Obviously you know nothing about ecology.

A partially shaded desert environment, such as the solar thermal plants provide, is more friendly to both plants and animals than a desert environment completely devoid of shade. Animals compete for even the smallest amount of shade in the hot desert regions of the world.

There simply is no inherent reason why solar thermal plants would annihilate desert ecosystems.

And, if I'm not mistaken, all other problems with solar thermal mentioned in this thread are either already solved or can in principle be solved relatively easily in the future.

Well no because new Nuks are illegal in California, and Californians are just going to have to put up with the best that ST has to offer.

Legislation changes fast, if you hadn't noticed yet. I hope it will. However, with a large continetal grid, the Californians could receiver fission power from other states. So the rich bastards don't have to look upon the sight (ooh dreaful) of nuclear powerplants :)

We'd better continue the debate on solar and nuclear when a thread about these subjects comes up though.

Mark

Hey Jim,

Just because hydro power in the US is pretty much fully developed does not mean it is not useful as a storage means for windpower. When the wind blows, throttle back on the dams. In the NW, the Columbia River dam system and the wind through the Columbia Gorge provide excellent synergy. Think of the wind farm as a way to time shift the hydro resource.

DaveMart

Amazingdrx, yes, of course solar mirrors or pv panels need washing - how else do you think they stay able to receive the light?They don't work properly without cleaning anymore than a window.

DaveMart

The hydro system in Norway acts as a backup for a lot of the wind in Europe without any trouble.

Bob Wallace

"Just because hydro power in the US is pretty much fully developed does not mean it is not useful as a storage means for windpower."

Pumped hydro storage is about 75% efficient. Loosing 25% to storage is not a big deal if you can produce power at $1-2 per watt (Nanosolar thin film, installed).

The US has about 20 gigawatts of pumped storage at the moment.

We could create enormous amounts of pumped hydro storage using flooded mines, bluffs above streams/lakes, even pumping into and out of the aquifer.

Then there are ultra capacitors....

Ken Potter

There is one assumption in the comments that is perhaps too pessimistic. Compressed air energy storage is much cheaper than pumped hydro. The plant in Alabama is the first in the country, but a google search shows that others are in works. I belive Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) will experiance a surge in popularity. Wind plus CAES is already showen to be more econmical than coal plus energy credits. This a trend that will happen.

Nucbuddy

Bob Wallace wrote: We could create enormous amounts of pumped hydro storage using flooded mines, bluffs above streams/lakes

Why has this not been done? Meanwhile, pumped storage has been a mature technology, and in demand, for decades. Perhaps this Gristmill post provides a clue:
gristmill.grist.org/story/2007/7/17/94038/1275/#9

We see very few prospects for pumped storage because of permitting issues. There hasn't been a pumped storage facility permitted since the early 1980s. The only other "bulk" storage technology ready for primetime is CAES. In a recent post (http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2007/7/7/152836/1112/#6), we discuss CAES and TCAES further.
BILL HANNAHAN

Besides, nuclear peakers don't exist yet so there is no alternative to solar thermal that doesn't emit CO2 and/or is too limited in expansion.

Wow, you are really hung up on this nuclear peaker argument, which you have made up out of thin air with no references indicating that nuclear power plants cannot follow a load, and ignoring those references showing that they can.

BILL HANNAHAN

I would rather read spam than deal with this spam checker

Here are some excerpts from design documents;

“The TG has base load and load following capability.

10.2.1.3.3 Load Maneuvering Capability
The plant is capable of daily load following with control rod drive operation between 100% and
50% of rated power on a 14-1-8-1 hour cycle and with ramp rates up to ±1%/minute (16 Mw / min).

Power maneuvers within the capabilities above do not require isolation or bypass of
condensate/feedwater equipment such as feedwater heaters.

The TBS, in combination with the reactor systems, provides the capability to shed 100% of the
TG rated load without the operation of SRVs and without reactor trip.”

http://adamswebsearch2.nrc.gov/idmws/ViewDocByAccession.asp?AccessionNumber=ML072900480

BILL HANNAHAN

more spam

Getting back to wind, here is a pro wind report written by one of the largest wind companies in the world. They have a large interconnected grid with over 7,000 Mw of capacity, which academics assure us will smooth out fluctuations in wind power. What makes this report extraordinary is that it includes a frank discussion on the limitations of wind power.

http://www.eon-netz.com/Ressources/downloads/EON_Netz_Windreport2005_eng.pdf

BILL HANNAHAN

Look at the figures on pages 7, 8, and 10. notice the large fluctuations in output, despite the fact that this is a large distributed array of windfarms.

BILL HANNAHAN

In order to provide customers with a stable supply of electric power conventional power plants, including nuclear plants must have control systems fast enough to create a mirror image of these outputs, which is more challenging than following a load on a grid without wind and solar farms.

By providing wind and solar installations with free voltage regulation, free frequency regulation and free backup power, they make intermittent sources appear less expensive and more practical than they really are.

Here are a few quotes from the report;

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