Green and nuclear power

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farkas
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Green and nuclear power

Post by farkas »

I'm trying to make this post as non controversial as possible, probably won't succeed.
Came across this article.
https://observer.com/2019/12/elon-musk- ... ed-states/
I'm not a fan or detractor of Elon Musk. I think his ideas deserve merit for discussion both pro and con.
There are thousands of acres of parking lots and roof tops available for solar panels.
Just check Google maps in satellite view around your area.
I think if we covered parking around malls and shopping centers with solar panels wouldn't have to use precious open spaces.
Bonus points for not having to return to an oven hot car in summer, be soaked to the bone during rainy weather or scraping snow of your car in winter.
California passed new home construction requirement.
https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/ar ... 931617.php
Acres of roof tops for solar power.
I don't live in California but I think its a step in the right direction. I don't personally agree with all of the restrictions, there's always room for compromise.
Then there is all the "What about if" or "What happens if" questions.
Many possibilities.
When the sun doesn't shine
Wind power with battery backup.
Keep some of the current generating facilities on line as a reserve.
Convert some generating facilities to a giant battery
Another option
https://www.theverge.com/2017/3/8/14854 ... -generator
Then there is the the most controversial option.
Nuclear Energy.
Most people heard of Three Mile Island , Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters. These are or were very large nuclear plants. There are alternatives to mega nuclear plants.
Small Modular Reactors. SMR. Nuclear powered reactors scaled to local needs.
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/02 ... ing-planet
Small nuclear power plants have been in use since 1955. One example is the USS Nautilus. Predicted by Jules Verne. (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Nautilus_(SSN-571)
Fusion power has been predicted within the next ten years for the last thirty years.
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Re: Green and nuclear power

Post by Pjotr »

Traditional nuclear power is a dead end, in my opinion: the radioactive waste is dangerous for up to a million years, which is uncontrollably and irresponsibly long. It's plain crazy to assume that you can keep it stowed away safely for so long.

Plus you can make nuclear weapons from its radioactive waste, which is also highly undesirable if you want to make it a global energy source for all countries.

Solar energy and wind energy are also dead ends: they're "wobbly" energy suppliers and therefore not reliable enough for mass production. And biomass fuel is simply a destroyer of the environment (it's even more polluting than coal!) and a mass killer of trees.

Now what's far more promising is so-called "green" nuclear energy. The candidate closest to "commercial ripeness" is a Thorium-based nuclear reactor. An interesting article from a leading technical university in The Netherlands:
https://www.delta.tudelft.nl/article/th ... enaissance

And this, more technical article:
https://www.power-eng.com/2019/08/13/is ... e-nuclear/

TL;DNR:
- Thorium-based nuclear energy can be ready for mass production in just a couple of decades;
- its radioactive waste is "only" dangerous for about 300 years;
- you can make no nuclear weapons from its waste;
- Thorium is widely available in the earth's crust all over the planet;
- Thorium reactors are inherently much safer than the traditional nuclear reactors.

This should give humanity the chance to start moving away from fossil fuels in, let's say, some 30 years from now. There's no hurry; there's time enough for an affordable almost painless transition, because there's still plenty of oil and natural gas around.

In time, the transition to "green" nuclear energy will enable us to preserve the remaining fossil fuels for the production of plastics: an important aspect that I've been missing in the often rather hysterical and irrational energy debates.

There's already a small, experimental but operational Thorium test reactor in the Petten nuclear facility in The Netherlands:
http://world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/ ... -at-Petten

China is currently spending billions on Thorium research. The USA had an operational Thorium test reactor in the 1960's, but unfortunately discontinued it (probably because traditional nuclear energy was cheaper at the time):
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molten-Sa ... Experiment
Last edited by Pjotr on Sat Dec 28, 2019 8:20 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Green and nuclear power

Post by lsemmens »

I'd not heard of Thorium reactors before Pjtor, thanks for that bit of education.

In places of geologic stability, Geo Thermal energy should also be seriously considered.
Last edited by lsemmens on Sat Dec 28, 2019 7:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Green and nuclear power

Post by kc1di »

Hydro Electric is a very clean engery source and in North America was a staple until all the Environmentalist had them taken down. It could still be viable with accommodations for fish and wildlife.
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Re: Green and nuclear power

Post by Portreve »

Vis a vis Pjotr's position on wind and solar, I agree they are not full replacements for 24x7 stable and functioning sources of power, clean or not. That said, I think they have great utility value as complements to a modern power grid. Moreover, there are other circumstances in which solar power would be an excellent primary source; z.B. space-based platforms and/or future lunar bases (assuming some infrastructure is put into place to make this viable).

As we've already had this discussion before here on LMF, I think it was Pjotr who introduced me to the idea of Thorium and Thorium-based reactors, and he'll get no quibbles out of me on its future viability and utility.

Personally, I think if this could be made small enough and safe/stable/inexpensive enough, then these reactors should be built on city or regional government levels (for example, U.S. counties, sections of states, and states) and, having upgrading the physical plant-layer of the grid in terms of transmission lines, we could have an incredibly powerful power grid with plenty of room for future growth as Earth's population continues to expand and increase.

I would add that I think the generator plants need to start looking into, and future ones to be built must be designed to be shielded from EM pulse attacks, along with conventional attacks, because I see the future filled with increasing numbers of highly empowered bad actors.
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Re: Green and nuclear power

Post by kukamuumuka »

It is a common fallacy that the sun must shining when using solar panels.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystalline_silicon
PERC solar cell
Passivated emitter rear contact (PERC) solar cells [18] consist of the addition of an extra layer to the rear-side of a solar cell. This dielectric passive layer acts to reflect unabsorbed light back to the solar cell for a second absorption attempt increasing the solar cell efficiency.[19]
PS. Solar panels are cheap and handy. :wink:

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Re: Green and nuclear power

Post by Pjotr »

kukamuumuka wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 1:26 pm
It is a common fallacy that the sun must be shining when using solar panels.
There still has to be some daylight, though... During the long Scandinavian winter nights like the ones in your Finland, solar panels can't produce anything at all. :wink:

We need controllable, reliable and stable energy production, irrespective of the weather and of the amount of daylight. Like fossil fuels give us now.

If we want to replace fossil fuels, which we should want if only for the continued production of plastics, we need an energy source that meets those very same conditions.
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Re: Green and nuclear power

Post by kukamuumuka »

Pjotr wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 2:58 pm
There still has to be some daylight, though... During the long Scandinavian winter nights like the ones in your Finland, solar panels can't produce anything at all. :wink:
Not true. :wink:
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Re: Green and nuclear power

Post by kukamuumuka »

Actually solar panels are producing about 20% from max in December in Finland.
calculate-solar-power.jpg
calculate-solar-power.jpg (13.2 KiB) Viewed 597 times
http://www.sunlux.fi/text/Paneeliteho.pdf

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Re: Green and nuclear power

Post by Pjotr »

I didn't say that solar panels can't produce any electricity in Finland during winter. I said during winter nights. Which are pretty long in Scandinavia. :mrgreen:
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Re: Green and nuclear power

Post by kukamuumuka »

Pjotr wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 3:48 pm
I didn't say that solar panels can't produce any electricity in Finland during winter. I said during winter nights. Which are pretty long in Scandinavia. :mrgreen:
Accumulators are for night times.

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Re: Green and nuclear power

Post by Pjotr »

kukamuumuka wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 4:15 pm
Pjotr wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 3:48 pm
I didn't say that solar panels can't produce any electricity in Finland during winter. I said during winter nights. Which are pretty long in Scandinavia. :mrgreen:
Accumulators are for night times.
There's as yet no good solution for storing electricity on a large scale. Batteries are expensive crutches which require all kinds of rare metals, which makes them in this respect both commercially and environmentally unsound and unfit for providing large-scale electricity to the power grid of a country.
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Re: Green and nuclear power

Post by kukamuumuka »

Pjotr wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 4:18 pm
Batteries are expensive crutches which require all kinds of rare metals, which makes them both commercially and environmentally unsound and unfit for providing electricity to the power grid of a country.
That is true, but it is still cheaper option than join a commercial power grid here.

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Re: Green and nuclear power

Post by Portreve »

Honestly, if I had my way, we would have a planetary power grid. National and local governments which had an issue with that, or chose to fight it or get their citizens riled up about it, would be removed, "with prejudice" to use a legal term, and by any means necessary.

This whole divide-the-human-race-up-into-meaningless-groups thing is thinking out of pre-historic, tribal times and the sooner it's done away with, too, the better.
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Re: Green and nuclear power

Post by DAMIEN1307 »

I think Nicola Tesla had tried that very idea himself...didnt work out to well "with the powers that be"...lol...no money for them to make...lol...DAMIEN
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Re: Green and nuclear power

Post by Pjotr »

Anyway: in my opinion, no power plant of any sort should be connected to the internet by any means. They should be completely and utterly offline. Reason: security.
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Re: Green and nuclear power

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I don't agree with the idea that wind and solar are dead ends. Energy storage is constantly getting better and cheaper. Batteries are improving rapidly, and large scale projects with a lot of space available don't need to use Li-ion batteries that suck up rare metals and present a potential fire hazard. They can use batteries with cheaper materials and lower power to weight ratios. And batteries are not the only form of storage. There is a utility in Austria that uses excess solar produced during the day to pump water from one pond to another that is about 50 meters higher. At night this water is released back to the lower pond and runs a hydro generator. In California, a power plant uses parabolic mirrors to direct the sun's heat to a pool of molten salt which runs a steam generator. At night it remains plenty hot enough to generate lots of steam (of course this setup is in the desert and won't work so well in Scandanavia). Combining wind and solar, not to mention tidal energy, smooths out the peaks and valleys of energy production.

Fossil fuels are too valuable to simply burn. We need them to manufacture plastics, asphalt, pharmaceuticals and many other products.

The reason that nuclear power is dying is not environmentalists or Chernobyl style disasters. Nuclear has simply proven too expensive in practice. I don't see this changing much because maintaining safe operation is labor and resource intensive, and even mega-utilities recognize the potential for financial liability if they destroy all life within 30km of the plant.

What no one has brought up is the power grid (wires and stuff) that distributes all this energy. It is very expensive and is pretty antiquated in many countries (certainly in the USA). One way to take stress off the grid, and remove the need for some expensive upgrades, is to have a lot of small generators that don't need massive infrastructure to distribute their electricity. This is where wind, solar, etc. and battery storage shine. For example, our electric utility has a program that leases Tesla Powerwalls to homeowners at very low rates. The power company draws power from them at peak times such as hot summer days when everyone's AC is cranking and replaces it at night. If my neighbor needs power for his AC, it comes from our batteries rather than a substation 10 miles away. They want to have thousands of tiny generators that distribute power on a hyper-local level so they don't have to do big grid upgrades. It is also handy to have uninterruptible power at our house. If there is an outage our computer screens don't even flicker; the only way to know is if we monitor the batteries - or if a neighbor with no power comes over to watch a hockey game, as happened last year. With our solar panels and storage a weeklong power outage is a non-event most of the year (could still get rough in December or January). And per the terms of our lease we own the batteries outright after 10 years and can do whatever we want. Pretty sweet. I suspect that if this program proves effective the utility will soon be offering free battery installations (people below a certain income cutoff already get them). After the cost of the batteries is absorbed, both the utility and its customers see a financial benefit.

I have strayed pretty far from the original topic so I'll shut it down now.
Last edited by old_noob on Sat Dec 28, 2019 7:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Green and nuclear power

Post by lsemmens »

Pjotr wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 4:18 pm
kukamuumuka wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 4:15 pm
Pjotr wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 3:48 pm
I didn't say that solar panels can't produce any electricity in Finland during winter. I said during winter nights. Which are pretty long in Scandinavia. :mrgreen:
Accumulators are for night times.
There's as yet no good solution for storing electricity on a large scale. Batteries are expensive crutches which require all kinds of rare metals, which makes them in this respect both commercially and environmentally unsound and unfit for providing large-scale electricity to the power grid of a country.
I understood exactly what you said, Pjtor. Some people are born thick :roll:
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Re: Green and nuclear power

Post by Portreve »

Pjotr wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 6:20 pm
Anyway: in my opinion, no power plant of any sort should be connected to the internet by any means. They should be completely and utterly offline. Reason: security.
Extremely well said, sir.
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Re: Green and nuclear power

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kc1di wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 9:30 am
Hydro Electric is a very clean engery source and in North America was a staple until all the Environmentalist had them taken down. It could still be viable with accommodations for fish and wildlife.
It's the most effective way to generate power with regard to environmental impact. The fact is the environmentalists were duped by the nuclear industry into believing that dams were dangerous.
Anyone who believes thorium is clean has been duped by that industry as well. I live in an area that has experienced the impact of the mining industry for more than a century. and guess where one of the richest deposits of thorium is? Yep, right in the back yard.
The thorium is a generous .7 to 1% meaning it will require an enormous open pit mine just like all those coal mines the environmentalists cry about. The only way to extract the thorium is to crush the ore and use acid/alkaline leaching, so you're going to get billions of gallons of contaminated water. Since three of the lode bearing veins also contain copper ore they will certainly be exploited first so in addition to the radioactive thorium contamination there will also be the normal arsenic and other heavy metal contamination associated with mining copper. Then there are the radioactive toxins and heavy metals that get released into the atmosphere while smelting the copper.
Sweet, I get more contaminated water so the environmentalist hypocrites can feel better about using power that doesn't place a physical barrier for fish travel. I guess they fee its fine if the fish live in radioactive, arsenic laden water as long as they can swim up and down the river freely.
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old_noob wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 7:16 pm
And batteries are not the only form of storage. There is a utility in Austria that uses excess solar produced during the day to pump water from one pond to another that is about 50 meters higher.
Brilliant, they've reinvented the hydro-electric system to be as useless as all the other 'green' power production.
Why wouldn't you just let the sun evaporate the water from the ocean and deposit it above a pond in the form of precipitation? That's where my power comes from.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungry_Horse_Dam
About a billion kilowatt–hours are generated annually at Hungry Horse Dam, while in an average year the release water will generate about 4.6 billion kilowatt–hours of power as it passes through the series of downstream powerplants.
That doesn't even take into consideration all the power generated on the Columbia river.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_d ... _watershed
How much power did you say that pond generates?
I've actually tried to run home on a solar system so I know first hand what a joke they are. Every off the grid solar system I know of personally, and I know of a few, use a fossil fuel powered generator to supplement the system even though we have a surplus of hydro power in my state.
People love to believe in fairy tales.
Climate control, cooking, refrigeration, and water heating, are the big energy consumers. Depending on where you live climate control alone requires around 10 to 20 watts per square foot of floor space while solar panels are rated at a generous 15 watts per square foot while the sun is at 90 degrees to the panel. You are lucky to get peak operation for more than an hour. Pretty basic math there, how many acres of solar panels you got room for?

No matter how you look at it power generation is going to impact the environment, the thing is balancing impact against the actual amount of production.
Running a swamp cooler in Australia on a solar system might make a lot of sense, but it's silly to think you're going to heat your home in December in Scandinavia with one.

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