Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Display:
Honestly, you are all much too focused on energy efficiency. There is nothing inherently enviormentally damaging about the use of energy. The damage comes from, and is dependant on the fossile basis of our current transport. If the future features flagrantly energy prolifigrate transport systems such, oh, supersonic vaccum maglev, that is not a problem as long as the electricity driving everything is clean. Energy does not equate to carbon or enviormental damage.
Carbon equates to Carbon.

A plan of action that focuses on cleaning up electricity production and substituting forms of goods and services that are electricity dependant for goods and services that are oil dependant is approximately infinitely more likely to actually get carried out than one that relies on getting people to do without energy intensive goods and services. Hairshits do not win elections.

by Thomas on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 09:24:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hairshits do not win elections.

Except in the context of the Euro crisis.

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 09:50:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Environmental damage is not the only variable used to evaluate decisions. Nor is production of power the only cost that this profligate society might incur moving forward. Thus efficiency is and should remain a key parameter when evaluating energy scenarios.

Hairshirt? Lächerlich.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 09:52:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because clearly energy will be too cheap to meter.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 12:07:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, but there is very, very little reason to belive that a properly designed post carbon grid will cost us any more per-kwh than coal does, and very good reasons to belive that it will deliver equivalent-or-lower costs than coal with the additional bonus of lower externalities.

Pathway "Absolutely zero technilogical advances happen, but we go low carbon anyway": This means instituting copies of the French, Swiss and Swedish grids everywhere, because those are the already extant low emission grids. Yes, this means mean, vicious, ugly nuclear power. Boo-hoo. You know what else those grids have in common? They produce electricity cheaply. About half the cost of german electricity, with a tenth or less the emissions per kwh.

Pathway: "Very conservative estimates of the technological progress of renewables hold true, and real money is spent on them for the purposes of actually producing power, rather than greenwashing coal/gas" This means no solar whatsoever (in europe), wast windfarms, robotically controlled kites harvesting energy from the jetsteam above our cities and chunks of granite the size of small mountains being raised and lowered hundreds of meters to store power enough to power the entirety of the union for weeks on end. All of which will cost us less per kwh than most of europe presently pays.

Pathway: "Technological surprise": Someone perfects something clever. - There are half a dozen technologies under development that hold out the promise of stupidly cheap electrical power. Not free electrical power, because most of them will still need at least to pay for grid maintainance, but significantly cheaper than either of the first two senarios. In order of probability:

  1. Cheaper, safter, and just generally superior  fission reactors via ground up redesign - Molten salt, fission fragment, gas phase. Most likely out of India.
  2. Small scale fusion : One of the dozens of teams working on achiving fusion via any of a half dozen of esoteric ways to confine, heat and compress very small amounts of plasma succeed in producing a design that is a viable power source. Possibly even the coverted aneutronic boron fusor.
  3. LERN.
  4. WTF? Did not see that coming.

To sum up: the future will be short on oil. Gas will be expensive. Coal will, if there is any justice, be outright illegal. Electricity? There will be lots of electricity. All the electricity you care to pay for.
by Thomas on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 02:20:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pathway "Absolutely zero technilogical advances happen, but we go low carbon anyway": This means instituting copies of the French, Swiss and Swedish grids everywhere,

That is not possible. Those grids rely on imported load balancing capacity. Please see the diurnal variation figures here.

Pathway: "Very conservative estimates of the technological progress of renewables hold true, and real money is spent on them for the purposes of actually producing power, rather than greenwashing coal/gas" This means no solar whatsoever (in europe),

Uh, no, not unless you assume that doing nothing what so ever for ten years while we build the infrastructure to transport electricity from the Sahara to Germany is preferable to building solar power in Germany during this period.

Ramp-up times are not your friend if you are in the business of selling magic bullet solutions, a point that I have tried and apparently failed to get through to you before.

and chunks of granite the size of small mountains being raised and lowered hundreds of meters to store power enough to power the entirety of the union for weeks on end.

Uh, no. That is not required to load balance a sustainable grid.

All of which will cost us less per kwh than most of europe presently pays.

That does not strike me as a very good reason to ignore even cheaper energy savings. If I can save ten MWh per year for 10 €/MWh, why would I buy ten MWh per year for 12 €/MWh?

Cheaper, safter, and just generally superior  fission reactors via ground up redesign

Cute. Build me one and then turn off all active safeties and prove that it will shut down on its passive systems alone without blowing up. Then we're talking. Something that will pollute like a coal-burner if the operators fuck up is not a sustainable power source.

Small scale fusion: One of the dozens of teams working on achiving fusion via any of a half dozen of esoteric ways to confine, heat and compress very small amounts of plasma succeed in producing a design that is a viable power source. Possibly even the coverted aneutronic boron fusor.

Meh. Even if you had a working prototype tomorrow, the ramp-up time would be similar to that of wind, solar and fission power (and wind and solar have twenty, resp. ten years head start and counting).

There will be lots of electricity. All the electricity you care to pay for.

I can find more amusing ways to use steel and cement than building power plants to supply wasteful overuse of electricity. But maybe that's just me.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 02:40:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In rough order: Sweden exports loadbalancing services, it doesnt import it, and adding on load balancing isnt going to move the overall cost much, even with completely proven tech. Heck, worst comes to worst, you can loadbalance with resistor banks.

No solar because it is an overly expensive bondoggle that destroys highvalue land. It might be long term viable in places with deserts, but fuck wasting money on it that could be used building more wind and storage.

It might not be strictly nessesary, but once you start building granite piston storage facilities of the size that are nesessary, making them a lot larger than strictly needed doesnt actually make them a whole lot more expensive. So I figure that utilities will pay that premium to buy peace of mind against that time every five years when all of europe gets sat on by a cold high pressure system.  

Eh: Molten salt reactors continiously outprocess fission products. The fission fragment reactor produces power by ejecting said products from the reacting core at 3-5% of the speed of light and then decellerating them in magnetic coils (This produces power directly. No heat engine needed, so efficiencies of 80-90% are possible. It also means it produces nothing you can really call waste - just streams of presorted isotopes with short halflives. Those have value.) So if correctly designed they go into cold shutdown at the drop of a hat - the lwr really is very far from being an optimal reactor design.

Small scale fusion: .. deployment times? What are those? If one of these succed, they are not going to resemble iter. Or a conventional power plant. Factory mass production, and even the largest can be trivially retrofit onto the floorspaces in powerplants that used to hold furnaces. This is a game breaker - unemployed coalworkers, gas tycoons jumping from windows and windmill engineers reskilling for sailboat designing.

by Thomas on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 04:05:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No solar because it is an overly expensive bondoggle that destroys highvalue land. It might be long term viable in places with deserts, but fuck wasting money on it that could be used building more wind and storage.

These are not mutually exclusive: Wind and solar don't crowd out each other, they crowd out coal.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 04:32:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They crowd out each others financing. Solar in europe currently costs an order of magnitude more than wind. Which means every euro spent on it would have done an order of magnitude more good spent on wind. These things matter if you are not just looking to make a nice pressrelease saying that you spent x billion on renewables last year, but are in fact interested in providing actual electricity.
by Thomas on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 04:50:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nothing wrong with financial constraints that can't be fixed with government spending.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 04:52:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Money is, among other things a measure of human effort expended. Therefore, when striving towards a goal that can be pursued in limitless paralel in the way power production can, directing any of it towards wastly less effective methods slows the process of achiving your goal down. Or put simply. Dont be an idiot. There is no upside to building a terawatt-per-year of solar and a terawatt-per-year of wind at a price of 11 trillion qialongs over just building 2 terawatts-per-year worth of wind for 2 trillion qualongs. Electricity is electricity, and either solution is going to need heavy storage anyway, so.
by Thomas on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 05:47:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
or, even better, in case that was not clear; Building 11 tera-watts-per-year of wind for 11 trillion qualongs
by Thomas on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 05:49:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Aside from the inherent insanity of monocropping your electricity supply, industrial capacity is not entirely fungible. If the state of your industrial plant only permits you to build one TW of wind in 2012, then no amount of throwing money at the problem will make it build more after you max out that TW. If, simultaneously, you are able to deploy a quarter of a TW from solar, then doing both is going to help more than doing only the one that gives you the cheaper kWh.

Ramp-up times on the order of an infrastructure lifetime is a non-trivial transient.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 06:16:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
also, the context was the person upthread suggesting that highspeed trains would slow down for lack of electricity. In no universe does running a train service at its design speed qualift as a wasteful use of electricity.
by Thomas on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 04:13:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Display:

Occasional Series