Archives for posts with tag: power generation

I assert we will burn everything that will burn until we have a better source of energy. Hydro is good but past maximized, and environmentalists want to tear down the dams we have. Solar is a wimp. It has its place, but not on the grid, and anyone telling you otherwise doesn’t understand the engineering and physics of it. Wind is simply a scam, snake oil. Wind-based power generation drives up costs in the grid and in transmission and in maintenance. It cannot be made better. It is disruptive to our power usage and needs. Turbines kill insects by the millions, bats by the thousands (maybe by the millions), and rare and endangered birds by the hundreds. Wind has no net benefits, only pain. Wind turbines do violence against our neighbors with flashing lights, flashing shadows, vertigo-inducing rotation, incessant noise, fire and throw hazard, and property devaluation.

Thus, we burn.

It is immoral to burn edible food while people starve. Biofuels do more harm than good.

There is no alternative to petroleum for a few applications, but we can convert most of our power needs to electricity, which we can renewably generate with nuclear fission for millennia.

We will convert to nuclear electricity generation. It is our only possibility. If we allow fear to continue to drive us, we will increase suffering caused by other power generation methods until we wise up. It will be painful. The longer we wait to convert to essentially 100% nuclear, the greater the pain and suffering we impose on ourselves and our posterity.

As an aside, persuasion is an illusion. Manipulation is a thing, but not persuasion. Compulsion is real enough (and evil), but it is not persuasion. The only true persuader is pain. The fellow who is convinced he can walk through walls may never admit he is delusional, but after a broken nose or two, when he claims he can walk through walls, he will take the doorway, explain that it is much easier. When our pain from wind power generation is too high, we will quit. (Who will clean up the mess?) Likewise, the large solar installations. Inevitably, we will power our lives with nuclear generated electricity.

Coal is a finite resource, and it is environmentally burdensome, even with modern technology. We will wean ourselves off it, even China and India, long before we run out of it. though. The net benefits from coal are too low to justify using it when we have better alternatives like natural gas and nuclear fission.

Natural gas may be finite. (Well, it is eventually, but odds are we will be extracting it from the earth even a few centuries from now.) Natural gas has substantive net benefit, but it is still somewhat burdensome on the environment, and nuclear fission is far better. We will be using natural gas for many generations to come, but we will see it specialized into small niches. It will become inconsequential to our earthly environment.

Petroleum, well, we are probably going to use it for as long as we have machines. We are probably going to have machines for hundreds, maybe thousands, of generations. Of course, we could have paradigm-shifting technological advances that make it easier to make what hydrocarbons we use more inexpensively with nuclear-generated electricity than by continued mining (drilling, fracking, and other modern extraction techniques, which I think of as mining). {“If it can’t be grown, it must be mined,” is a truth-statement today.} Also, it doesn’t actually seem likely petroleum is a finite resource. That is, for practical purposes, it may be as plentiful as rock. It is reasonable to suppose we will never run out of oil in the earth’s crust. We are not sure, but there are theories that we can’t test significantly yet. Regardless, the extractable oil is more than enough to remain useful for generations to come. We are just as far from peak-oil as we’ve ever been, and every time prognosticators start doomcasting we blow right past their deadlines.

For generating large amounts of stable electrical energy, coal is the most sensible from the engineering standpoint, but the other burdens of its extraction, use, and disposal are too significant. Natural gas is only sensible because we can get so much of it so inexpensively. That situation will not hold indefinitely, but I suspect it will hold for the rest of my generation (let’s assume 40 years). Natural gas is relatively clean, and direct use of it is exceptionally beneficial in terms of benefits to our lives versus the burdens of extraction and use. It takes three times more natural gas to boil your tea kettle with an electric stove top (assuming natural-gas turbine generated electricity) than it does with a direct natural gas stove top. It is quite counterproductive from any standpoint to restrict or ban the use of natural gas in residential or commercial or even industrial use. Natural gas is first choice for direct fuel applications. One could argue for liquid fuels, but it is much harder to deal with liquid fuels in open-flame applications.

Petroleum is not a good fuel for large electrical power generation, which is why we use it for only a small fraction of a percent of our total electrical generation. It is good for small applications, and quick-start applications, but not much otherwise.

We need petroleum for mobile fuel. Liquids are easily stored in tanks for direct transportation usage. It is probably indispensable for aircraft, at least medium- and long-distance flights. It is good with ground transport, but there are several advantages to electrically powered transportation, but the limits of batteries are prohibitive, and will be for the near future. Edison advanced battery technology more than anyone before him, and advancements since have been at a snail’s pace with the significant, but small, advancement of lithium batteries. It looks like 15 to 25 years will bet us that much ahead again. That will give us batteries about twice as good as Edison could make. We need batteries that are 50 times better.

We have a variety of reasonable engineering solutions, but none that will be easy or inexpensive, and some would require significant changes in our societies. We shall see.

Another aside: If we can prove out fully automated transportation, we may switch to all electric vehicles, including short-flight aircraft, by switching to an entirely automated transportation system that would incorporate plains, trains, automobiles, and trucks scheduled to maximize battery life and transportation efficiencies. If so, personal ownership of vehicles would probably be relegated to hobbyists, and we’d generally just tap our phone app to have our ride pull up for us in a matter seconds, zipping us without traffic snarls to our destinations (with, perhaps, stops to transfer to a second transport with fresh batteries if our distance requires).

As an engineer with expertise in physics, I have no reservations asserting we will burn all we need to until we have excess electricity generated from nuclear power sources. Windmills will run their course, and our descendants will curse us for the hardships caused by them. Large-scale solar will be the same, but some solar applications may prove out, but solar power generation will never supply a significant fraction of our overall energy usage.

We will switch to nuclear. It is the only reasonable possibility. There may be some genius-level technological breakthrough, but there is no evidence to support such speculation, and it may be centuries from now even if it is possible.

We will use nuclear fission with uranium and thorium for generations, and we will eventually solve the engineering challenges of nuclear fusion and the materials required to build power production facilities. That might be a century or two (or a couple decades, but my money is on 100 years).

There is no existential threat other than the unknown. There is a plant-killing rock out there, but it may not approach for several centuries. (Of course, if we spot it tomorrow and realize it will hit us in 15 years, we’re probably going to join the dinosaurs and the other 99.9% of species how’ve run their course on our planet. I bet a few survive, or some new species will eventually attain what we call sentience, and life will continue to find a way, at least until the next unknown catastrophic event overtakes them.)

We will burn fossil fuels until nuclear power generation makes it impractical. We will not tip earth’s climate into anything catastrophic for humans or the rest of life on this planet.

Do keep in mind that there are three essential ingredients to life on our planet, water, oxygen, and carbon dioxide. The first two are demonstrably the most destructive aspects of our environment. As long as oceans remain, water and oxygen will remain the most significant drivers of maintenance and repair and rebuilding. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It is an essential ingredient to life. It cannot exist in nature in quantities that are dangerous to us or other life. Even corals have experienced carbon dioxide levels multiples higher than our current levels. CO2 is only dangerous on our planet in its absence. We must have it, or photosynthesis is impossible. If carbon dioxide gets too low, all plants will die and all remaining life will starve, all of it (well, fungus might manage).

So, are you willing to acknowledge that nuclear is best? If not, you will relegate the next generation to undue suffering, and they will.

We will switch to entirely nuclear-power generated electricity. It is only a matter of time and how much suffering it takes to overcome our irrational fears of it.

https://kfor.com/2018/07/03/oklahoma-landowners-speaking-out-about-proposed-wind-farm-construction-project/

Wind Catcher is almost certainly going to be built; so we will see. The video in the above-linked report contains a lot of untruth in the last half-minute. Scott Norwood outright lies. He stumbles through his statements.

The rated capacity of 800 towers with 2.5-megawatt turbines is easy to calculate. The power production project is not like current, standard power plants. It will be limited to wind availability and to other inefficiencies. It will be irregular and uncontrollable regarding power production. The tell is the disputed power line, which will obviously steal value from all landowners near it; it is only being rated for 600 megawatts, a third of the pretentious rated capacity. They were calling this a $4B project. That number went to $4.5B soon after. The latest total cost estimate I’ve seen is now $5.4B. Also, keep in mind that the majority of the power from these bird choppers will be delivered to neighboring states, not the poor folks having to live in the midst of an industrial power generation facility.

What a mess!

Over and over for over 3,000 years we have abandoned windmills. We will this time, too, and someone will have to clean up the mess.

I applaud our State Attorney General for opposing the current request to start charging Oklahomans for the construction costs long before any power production.

Some years back, State Treasurer, Scott Meacham, similarly opposed a proposal to start charging for a conventional power generation facility. It was killed. That power plant will never be built. It was being built, in accord with agreements and published plans, next to an existing power plant. It already had millions of costs. Construction was far enough that OG&E asserted the project could not continue without cost recovery. Thus, when the State Treasurer started grandstanding (Who? Why?), the project was killed. It cost us Oklahomans millions and subjected us all to the suffering imposed by industrial fans. Scott Meacham owes us!

The State Attorney General is standing on legal grounds. Meacham simply threw a temper tantrum on emotional grounds.

https://newsok.com/article/5600278/oklahoma-corporation-commission-wraps-up-testimony-on-proposed-wind-catcher-settlements-but-no-decision-was-made

Many questions and responses centered on whether the project would benefit the utility’s typical residential customer, especially during the last 15 years of the project’s expected 25 year life.

For what it’s worth:

Commission Chairwoman Dana Murphy again discussed concerns she has about complaints the agency has received from various Oklahoman landowners that could be impacted by a proposed 360-mile line to get power from Wind Catcher into the utility’s Tulsa-area grid. Many have said the utility and the land company it has been using to acquire needed line rights of way have used deceitful and bullying tactics.

Note:

But in Oklahoma, a commission administrative law judge who considered PSO’s proposal recommends the commission deny the utility’s request.

The judge recommends denial because the utility did not seek competitive construction bids for the project and because that work had started before PSO filed its request.

While PSO estimates its 545,000 customers would see a rate increase of about $78 million in 2021 if the cost recovery were granted, it also maintains lower energy costs and connected federal wind production tax credits would offset that increase.

I’ve found no explanation of how Federal dollars (taken from us) will offset rate increases. If rate powers will collectively pay an extra $78M in 2021, how do they get back their money? PSO and the investors get the Federal tax credits. When does the homeowner (electricity user) get the money back?

Over the years, money people, like Warren Buffet, have invested heavily in wind and solar startups. They always pull their money out of the projects soon after starting, soon after they’ve collected all or most of what the Federal Government gives them from taxpayers. It is hypocritical, but it is a good way to fleece America. I really don’t see how taxpayers and ratepayers in Oklahoma are going to benefit from any of this.

Here in Oklahoma, a quarter-century from now, our children will have to figure out how to clean up the mess left by Wind Catcher. The fat cats will be gone, made all the fatter by those too greedy for a little extra revenue into municipal and county coffers. The short-term gain is small. The overall costs are large and enduring.

Production of energy is never free. There are always costs. Industrial fans happen to be the most certain long-term high-cost way to produce electricity. We will live to regret it. Our bird and bat populations already regret it.

Winds blow. Windmills suck!

 

 

 

If you want to save the earth, save the people first. If you want to save the people, get power to them. Affordable fuel and electricity will do more for the environment than anything else anyone can do, and it will save the humans and eliminate needless pain and suffering while doing so.

James Conca, writing for Forbes, http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2015/04/20/the-ten-biggest-power-plants-in-america-not-what-everyone-claims/, points out some interesting facts about electrical power in the USA.

The Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station generates most of the electricity for Phoenix, Arizona, coal makes up the rest. Kinda cool, really.

Mr. Conca provides this table:

Energy Source         average cf         high cf

Coal                              65%                   75%

Natural gas                50%                   85%

Nuclear                       90%                   98%

Wind                           30%                   45%

Solar PV                     20%                   30%

Solar thermal            24%                   40%

Hydro                         40%                    45%

Geothermal               70%                   75%

It should really drive home the pitiful uselessness of all varieties of wind and solar. Read the rest of this entry »

“obtain the holy grail of everlasting green power generation: self-sustaining fusion.”

 makes that whopper quoted above at http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/181298-the-uk-will-be-the-first-to-break-even-with-fusion-power-leading-us-towards-a-future-of-clean-infinite-energy

ExtremeTech doesn’t strike me as a first-rate news source, but I’m sure they try.

Regardless, even in the article, they are talking years away. The article practically admits that fusion is still 20 years away, as it has been for about 70 years now.

Fusion is not a pipe dream. It will power our lives eventually, but it is still likely to not happen within the lives of our children, even grandchildren.

I will have to look into why they’ve installed a beryllium first wall, but everyone realizes beryllium is highly toxic, right? It is extremely expensive too.

We shall see how JET completes its life, but rest assured its death will be an ordeal. The entire facility will be classified as radioactive waste. How’s that for environmentally friendly? Highly radioactive and highly toxic? Again, we shall see.

ITER may prove out, but it too will have a short life and tedious death. Materials advancements are the key, not the physics. That is just an engineering problem now. It is making the things well enough to operate safely for decades that is so impossible right now. Not to mention what do we do with a radioactive building when we are done with it.

So, fusion is inevitable, but never buy the line about “clean and inexhaustible.” Neither is true with the methods and materials we are trying so far.

 

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