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Forced responses: Feb 2020

Filed under: — group @ 8 February 2020

This month’s open thread on climate solutions.

527 Responses to “Forced responses: Feb 2020”

  1. 301
    David B. Benson says:

    One can follow developments in nuclear power plant technology via
    https://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/thread/405/smr-small-modular-reactors?page=5

    Many knowledgeable opine that nuclear power will continue to provide 10–25% of total generation, irrespective of advances in storage
    https://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/thread/386/utility-scale-batteries?page=5

    And so-called green hydrogen
    https://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/thread/718/hydrogen-fuel

  2. 302
    zebra says:

    #297 Kevin McKinney,

    So if we build the community I have suggested in the past…say, 500 nice suburban homes, properly oriented, with 10KW installations on each roof… what is that? Not “utility scale”?

    It is obviously “cheaper” to put down a bunch of solar panels on a closed landfill that has easy interconnection to the existing grid than to go around retrofitting individual houses at random.

    That doesn’t mean that there aren’t situations in appropriate geographical areas where an integrated smart DC micro-grid wouldn’t make the most economic and functional sense.

  3. 303
    nigelj says:

    AB @293 “Heck, when demand increases, prices should drop because the cost of supplying the commodity drops per unit”.

    Prices will go up with higher demand in the short term, but eventually drop in some cases as the demand signal pushes higher levels of mass production, but this takes time and assumes good competition and absence of monopolies, and electricity systems are often monopolies or near enough to monopolies. So it depends on the circumstances.

    Agree about the rest but production taxes are counter intuitive so it would be hard convincing the average person (voter).

  4. 304

    #302, zebra–

    Interesting concept, and presumably there would be some savings over a more typical residential situation. But no, it wouldn’t be quite “utility.” The panels would require roof-mounts instead of dedicated mountings (which could also potentially be trackers in 1- or 2- dimensions, increasing efficiency and output.) The wiring would connect to house wiring. And of course panel density would be considerably less. So a different beast.

    That doesn’t mean that there aren’t situations in appropriate geographical areas where an integrated smart DC micro-grid wouldn’t make the most economic and functional sense.

    I don’t recall saying anything that suggests I thought otherwise.

  5. 305

    DBB, #301–

    Many knowledgeable opine that nuclear power will continue to provide 10–25% of total generation, irrespective of advances in storage…

    Yes. That’s why I think that all the angst over 100% renewable energy is a bit misplaced.

  6. 306
    Killian says:

    Re #302 zebra said#297 Kevin McKinney,

    So if we build the community I have suggested in the past…say, 500 nice suburban homes, properly oriented, with 10KW installations on each roof… what is that? Not “utility scale”?

    More recent definitions are of a much more modest size. The Solar Energy Industries Association, the leading trade group for solar developers, defines utility-scale solar [PDF] as greater than 1 megawatt. Project developer Borrego Solar agrees, while developer SunPower sells solar modules at a minimum size of 1.5 megawatts.

    Not everyone goes so low: in a recent report [PDF], the National Renewable Energy Laboratory rather arbitrarily chose a 5-megawatt threshold; while the booster-ish website Wiki-Solar chose a 10-megawatt threshold.

    So we’ve determined that different entities claim different minimum size thresholds for utility-scale solar projects. But perhaps it’s equally instructive to attempt to define what a utility-scale project is not.

    Any solar project needs to sell its power to remain afloat. And, as noted, a utility-scale project, by definition, has a PPA. The only other way to sell solar power to a utility is through net metering, where generated power is used on-site (typically from the rooftop of a house or business), and excess power is fed into the grid, purchased by the utility from the producer on a per-kilowatt-hour basis. Net metering is enacted by state legislation, and each state has its own regulations as to the maximum size of a solar facility that is eligible for net metering. This may be our most promising avenue of inquiry yet, because any facility that is over the maximum size for net metering must have a PPA.

    https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/what-does-utility-scale-solar-really-mean

    Simple sometimes illustrates:

    A single-family home w/ off-grid (no grid tie, no net metering) solar is microsolar.

    A neighborhood grid w/o net metering is microsolar.

    A single-family home grid tie/net metering is utility-scale.

    A neighborhood grid w/ net metering is utlity-scale.

    The form and structure are more germane than size, imo. I would also suggest who funds/builds it matters. If I build my own solar array, or a neighborhood does or a small town does, no net metering, I would not call that utility-scale because there is no utility entity. If a small city does, perhaps it is utility-scale, but it’s not a “utility” in the sense of a PG&E if a self-contained grid. Or it’s a utility co-op.

    Etc. This is less opinion than what seems logical, i.e. don’t really care much about the language specifics, but thought this might help your discussion.

  7. 307
    nigelj says:

    zebra @302 says “So if we build the community I have suggested in the past…say, 500 nice suburban homes, properly oriented, with 10KW installations on each roof… what is that? Not “utility scale”?”

    Whatever you want to call it, storage could possibly be provided by the Sodium–nickel chloride (Zebra) battery. “A lower-temperature[11] variant of NaS batteries was the development of the ZEBRA (originally, “Zeolite Battery Research Africa”; later, the “Zero Emissions Batteries Research Activity”) battery in 1985, originally developed for electric vehicle applications.[12][13] The battery uses NaAlCl4 with Na+-beta-alumina ceramic electrolyte.[14]Sodium–nickel chloride (Zebra) battery.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molten-salt_battery

    This sort of techology has the potential to be much lower cost than lithium although battery life is currently only about 6 years.

  8. 308
    Al Bundy says:

    278 Kevin McKinney,

    “utility-scale PV is a lot cheaper than residential”

    Zebra: Nonsensical statement. How do you distinguish between the two?

    AB: utilities build in bulk. There is one permitting process instead of thousands
    One set of installers who only have one job site to learn and no gap between one kilowatt’s installation and the next. One bulk buy of a factory’s (entire?) output, all delivered in bulk and without salespeople and advertising. Residential is hard to optimize for orientation and solar exposure: the site is what and where it is, so residentially-installed panels average less output than utility-scale. Maintenance and cleaning.

    Utility-scale is perhaps half the cost of residential per kwh. OTOH residential reduces transmission and provides power when the grid fails.
    ___________

    EP: Had the predecessors of the “Greens” not shut down the expansion of nuclear energy in the USA from 1968-1980’s, the USA’s per-capita contributions to net atmospheric CO2 would be vastly smaller. The political left in the USA is guilty of massive crimes against humanity and the planet as a whole. They must be held responsible and punished. That includes you.

    AB: Don’t be silly. I’ve never held nuclear in contempt. In college I lived with a nuclear engineer. He maintained that a properly designed nuke should be walkaway safe and that even current (1980ish) designs are best operated by having everyone leave the site immediately when an issue arises, so nobody is tempted to touch something before the designing engineers get involved. A bit hyperbolic, but in general serious nuclear incidents are caused by humans making snap decisions in response to minor issues.

    There’s lots of reasons to denigrate me, but painting the guy who came up with the joke of prefixing “Hell no, we won’t glow!” with “Is nuclear power dangerous?” as a radiophobe ain’t one of them.

    ______

    So, EP, is it better to isolate the “turd worlders”, as you call them, to sterilize them, or to exterminate them? I don’t see how option 1 could fit into your vision unless there was enforcement of de-industrialization. A “Bomb them into the Stone Age” sort of thing.

    Tell us the path you’d take if you were King of the World.

  9. 309

    Al Bundy out-of-contexts @265-271:

    [we have] incredibly cheap ways to block incoming sunlight.

    Not on the scale required to counter the firing of the clathrate gun… which is likely going off as we dither today.  Do please try to follow along.

    [It is highly doubtful that] anybody but a moron would claim that north/south transmission of energy is impossible.

    If you claim to be so smart, do the math.  PV in e.g. Arizona has a capacity factor OTOO 22%.  In winter that is probably more like 15%.  The distance from Phoenix to Spokane is 1381 miles by road (Google Maps will not give me the great-circle distance and that is likely close to what a power line would require).  The cost of a power line was $1-3 million/mile in 2012, so let’s guess $2 million/mile for HVDC today.  (India built a 1830 km HVDC link carrying 6000 MW so let’s use that.)  The Federal generators in the BPA service area have a rated output of 17462 MW, of which probably 16000 MW are used during demand peaks such as winter cold snaps.  But supplying this energy from a system with a capacity factor of 15% requires handling about 107000 MW peak, or 18 such lines.  18 lines times 1381 miles times $2 million/mile is $50 billion, more or less.  That’s a cost of about $3.12 per average watt, without accounting for losses.  The source will cost you about $3.33 per average watt at $0.50/W(rated) and 15% CF.  Then you have the cost of storage somewhere (most desirable at the destination end)….

    So no, it doesn’t look even remotely impossible, just ridiculously expensive.  You’d have to be crazy to want to do it.

    Given that solar panels last far longer in cool and cloudy Conditions and financing is at close to 0% interest, why would one not gush at the opportunity to build solar in cool and shady places?

    Because this extends your energy payback time, and the embodied energy (and construction emissions) of PV per average watt are already several times as much as the best-available generation technology even before adding storage.

    You really ought to think things through holistically instead of pre-determining answers.

    You really ought to take your own advice.

    Renewables are based on the premise of diversity.

    Meanwhile, all the major build-outs use exactly two energy sources:  wind and solar (mainly PV).  Some “diversity”.  All this talk about geothermal and tidal and small hydro is a lot of hot air.

    So you’re saying that said facilities can’t burn non-fossil methane?

    Show where you can get it in the required quantities.

    I’ve identified a source good for roughly 0.16 quads/yr of non-fossil methane in Michigan.  Per the EIA, Michigan consumed 965,419 million ft³ of NG in 2018.  I make that out to be just about 1 quad exactly.  So I’ve got maybe 16% covered; whatcha gonna do for the other 84%?

    I will grant that methane has some really attractive properties.  You can stuff it down any old gas well and be certain of retrieving it in usable condition months or even years later.  But where can you get enough?  Going that way means converting the majority of all NG-using devices to something else.  The EIA breakdown by fuel probably hints at how, but I haven’t had time to review it.

  10. 310

    Kevin McKinney repeats a Green shibboleth @280:

    Could you power everything with nukes, which are not variable? Well, of course you could. But it would be insanely expensive, slow, and politically and socially contentious.

    Wrong on at least 2 out of 3 counts.

    1.  Nuclear is only expensive when built as one or a handful of a kind.  France and S. Korea have proven that if you build many of the same design with the same crews and inspectors, they are quite reasonable.  The 4 units at Barakah are coming in on budget at $24.4 billion total, which comes to $4360/kW.  This is highly competitive with “cheap” PV at $1/W(peak) and 22% CF.  GE-Hitachi has a target of $2000/kW for the Nth-of-a-kind BWRX 300.

    2.  NuScale is aiming at 54 months from mobilization to mechanical completion.  Sheffield Forgemasters is aiming to reduce the construction time for a NuScale reactor unit from 150 days to 10 days using electron-beam welding.

    3.  We’ve already seen vast changes in the regulatory regime in the USA, mostly behind the scenes.  We’re seeing changes in public opinion due to factors like the fires in Australia, California and Alaska and the slow realization that if there was just ONE alleged fatality from the Fukushima meltdowns the things are almost totally safe even in the worst possible disaster.  The Energiewende is widely seen as a disaster and pols in radiophobic places like Australia are now pushing to rescind nuclear bans.  By 2025, the anti-nuclear position will be the one that’s socially and politically contentious.

  11. 311

    Kevin McKinney shows why he should get out of the way @298:

    CI don’t see any possibility whatever that nuclear power can scale anything like fast enough to address the crisis we are in now.

    You know it can, you just don’t want it to.

    We have nuclear technologies which can double our inventory of certain fissiles in roughly 10.5 months.  Figure 1 year to account for handling delays.  Figuring 54 tons of surplus weapons plutonium as the starting supply (what the USA has in decommissioned weapons “pits”), fissile inventory of 100 kg per GW(e), consumption of 1 ton per year per GW(e) and breeding ratio of 1.08, we could start 540 GW(e) of reactors with what we have on hand and double this every year.  This effort would be kick-started by plutonium but very quickly run on the Th-U-233 fuel cycle.  World electric consumption in 2013 was 19,504 TWh or about 2.2 TW average; two doublings would get us to world 2013 levels of electric generation, and another two doublings would encompass all world energy consumption and then some.  That’s 4 years.

    If this is truly the crisis you claim it is, stop standing in the way of the solution.

  12. 312

    Al Bundy gets semi-serious @308:

    So, EP, is it better to isolate the “turd worlders”, as you call them, to sterilize them, or to exterminate them?

    Make them stay home.  Don’t sell them anything to produce or consume fossil fuels.  Zimbabwe shows what will happen:  their capabilities will collapse and their emissions along with.

    If they demand food aid, couple it with Depo-Provera or the like.  Continue until they can feed themselves.  If they are getting food, make them work to mine and crush dunite or other ultramafic rocks for atmospheric remediation in return for it.

    I don’t see how option 1 could fit into your vision unless there was enforcement of de-industrialization.

    The collapse of farming in Zimbabwe and now S. Africa proves that de-industrialization only requires giving them ownership and control of the assets; they’ll be looted for scrap value in short order.  The West can decarbonize our industry, and if that’s the only industry, the emissions problem is solved.  We’d still have the over-greenhoused atmosphere problem to solve, but that’s a lot easier to solve once nobody is making it worse.

  13. 313

    I went back to the state level data and found that the industrial gas consumption for Michigan was 176,262 million cubic feet for 2018.  This is about 0.18 quads.  Given that residential, commercial and electric power consumption of NG all have substitutes (nuclear for electricity and electricity for everything else), it looks like 0.16 quads of methane from renewable sources would just about do the trick.  Since I was not counting all possible feedstocks (actually ignoring some major ones) it should be quite feasible to replace all industrial NG use and then some.  Having some stashed away in old gas wells as a reserve would stabilize the system.

  14. 314
    Al Bundy says:

    Nigelj: Prices will go up with higher demand in the short term

    AB: depends on the market setup. If contracts to supply are priced a year in advance with declining price as purchases increase (from supplier to non-profit intermediary) then prices (from supplier’s view) go down as production increases. So that peaker plant might get nearly as much for providing next to nothing as if it were called into action frequently. After all, its purpose is to provide stability, not power per se.

    On the other side if prices increase (from consumers’ view) as consumption increases then an advanced economic system can be built. The key is separating the supply and demand curves via an intermediary non-profit.

    And yes, DBB, one would have to go beyond elementary macroeconomics to fathom a better system that actually functions smoothly. Perhaps 1800s economics is a poor choice for 21st century electrical pricing, eh?
    ________

    EP,
    It is insanity to try to generate CH4 in current quantities regardless of source, be it fossil, syn, or bio. As you noted, the leakage is enough to sink us. So your hypothetical 16% is plenty. The other 84% is erased through intelligent design of buildings and whatnot.

  15. 315
    Killian says:

    Re #304 Kevin Donald McKinney said #302, zebra–

    Interesting concept, and presumably there would be some savings over a more typical residential situation.

    Thanks! So glad I wrote about, and so much more than just that, 12 years ago.

    aperfectstormcometh buildout

    I would argue, in fact, that meeting the localization goal is more important because it deals with the real issue: consumption. A massive localization drive could achieve partial energy autonomy for every household in the US within a period of a few years, not decades. It would have the added benefit of *requiring* lifestyle changes with concomitant savings of energy by reducing use via the renewables and behavior changes. However, if we assume we have a 5 – 10 year period before the shit really hits the fan, then the current grid supplies the backbone as the new backbone is built out. Under this scenario, deprivation may be eliminated for some or all over that initial time span.

    Additional benefits occur from the localization of the household-based energy build out. In order to achieve this, there will be flexibility needed. Economies of scale interfere if we just assign a few companies to build all the windmills, heat pumps, solar panels, retrofitting materials for homes/apartments/businesses, etc, needed. No, the key to the plan is that it be localized solutions built out by local people wherever possible. This means, for example, the scavenging of materials needed everywhere and anywhere possible, rather than the manufacture of new materials. In the cities, we would likely need to commercialize the process a bit, but hopefully only to the level of resources. I imagine a return to the days of barn raising, but with windmills, etc.

    By making this a community-based process where community solutions are customized by the community with assistance from knowledgeable locals or other reference persons/professionals, we instantly integrate the whole system into a localized whole. This might have the added benefit or reducing the need for relocation. A localized solution of this magnitude would save incredible amounts of financial resources. Those resources might be applied to some of the macro level solutions (things other than backbone) that certain communities, such as cities in the southwest dealing with water shortages, might need.

  16. 316

    Al Bundy suddenly goes sane @314 (how did THAT happen?!):

    It is insanity to try to generate CH4 in current quantities regardless of source

    True, but there’s a flip side to this.  A European court has held that the Netherlands must be held to its GHG reduction targets regardless of the impact… and one likely outcome is a radical reduction in livestock numbers to cut associated methane emissions.  This will not go over well.  I foresee tractors blocking city thoroughfares.

    As you noted, the leakage is enough to sink us. So your hypothetical 16% is plenty.

    It really depends what it is used for.  If it’s a chemical feedstock, substitutions are difficult.  If it’s e.g. reducing iron oxide, methane can be plasma-cracked to hydrogen and carbon black and the carbon used alone.  Mere energy can generally be replaced with electricity.

    The other 84% is erased through intelligent design of buildings and whatnot.

    You don’t even need that.  Heat pumps work fine for space heating and DHW.  Inductive cooktops are better than gas in some ways.  These are all drop-in replacements.

    We can’t afford to re-design everything to fix the carbon problem; it costs too much (both in money and in intangible value) and takes too long.  But we can generate enough carbon-free energy to replace fossil fuels.  That’s all we need to do right now; we can handle anything else we need to do over how much time it takes to do it.

  17. 317

    In case you don’t believe me about conditions in the turd world, Xinua will tell you without regard for PC conventions:

    Staggering under poor management and alleged corruption, state-run Eskom began to implement a new round of load shedding on Monday after several of its units broke down.

    “As the ageing fleet is currently constrained, unpredictable and vulnerable, we advise South Africans that the stage of load shedding may change at short notice should there be any unexpected change in the generation system performance,” Eskom said in a statement.
    ….
    South Africa has suffered from electricity insufficiency for more than a decade, with power blackouts having become increasingly frequent in recent months.

  18. 318

    E-P 312: The collapse of farming in Zimbabwe

    BPL: He just keeps repeating this lie. Agriculture in Zimbabwe has recovered. E-P wants us to think negroes can’t do advanced agriculture unless they’re supervised by white overseers.

    https://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/economies/Africa/Zimbabwe-AGRICULTURE.html

  19. 319
    zebra says:

    #304 Kevin McKinney,

    You missed the point. Properly designed, the project would produce lots of electricity to sell.

    So, are we building a housing development, or is it a PV installation?

    I’m sure people can think of the various economic factors…like land costs… involved in that question. If you have a market system, as in improved-ERCOT, it might turn out to be a good investment.

    And maybe a little forward-thinking on the technology would be appropriate. Solar shingles are coming, for example. Is it a roof, or a PV installation?

  20. 320
    Al Bundu says:

    EP: if you claim to be so smart,

    AB: I don’t. Instead, I claim to have skills and deficiencies that are seriously different, which makes me rare.

    Your point about how poorly the USA did nuclear-wise compared to France is spot on. Redesigning multiple times per unit is just crazy. That’s prototyping, not production.
    ________

    Ray, EP spoke of stopping the sale of fossil fuel equipment to non-first-worlders. How would they react? Could they keep the lights on by themselves? Would they switch suppliers to, say, Russia and/or China’s Belt and road? How would they react to “Here’s food laced with baby-preventing chemicals in exchange for pickaxing rocks.”?

    Remember how folks were attacking medical workers during the Ebola crisis because of a similar rumor?
    ________

    Zebra,

    Yes, it is silly to convert old housing while still building stuff that will absolutely need conversion. Conversions are best done after the vast majority of new units are sanely constructed, such as the subdivision you described.

    I did a sane single-family with an inlaw suite that had its own private fenced yard on a side street. Now I’m more into pondering vast mixed-use buildings with footprints measured in blocks. A subway station, businesses, and housing for thousands under one roof, perhaps with the structure’s exterior shaped to hold back a cliff or funnel wind to a turbine.

  21. 321
    Al Bundy says:

    EP: Because this extends your energy payback time

    AB: Not important, especially when financing is below 1%. Lifetime production is what matters. That’s why folks are told to keep their batteries between 20% and 80%. Crappy “payback time” but longer life.

    EP: Meanwhile, all the major build-outs use exactly two energy sources: wind and solar (mainly PV). Some “diversity”

    AB: Yep. Much better is wind, PV, solar thermal, nuclear, hydro, synfuel, biofuel, transmission, etc.

    You won’t find many “only two” folks here. And most of the more vocal players include nuclear in the mix in the near term, with future decisions made in the future. So it seems that you’re the one against diversity.

    My nuclear vision would get DARPA et al to quit designing useless, nay, counterproductive toys and instead design a taxpayer-owned inherently safe modular reactor. Then churn them out with taxpayer/ratepayer/philanthropic/royalty funds.

  22. 322

    #310, E-P–

    Very interesting; E-P cites the UAE 4-reactor complex as an example of cost-efficient nuclear power. And it’s true that the project apparently is going to succeed; the first operating license was issued last month, and Unit 1 should come online relatively soon. Most of the contract is fixed price, although (per E-P’s source) “They also include allowances for potential inflationary commodity price increases, such as construction materials, during the construction period.” It’s not clear to me from the source whether the delays that have occurred are factored into the $24.4 billion price tag or note. (And I note in passing that two-thirds of the loan amount came right out of UAE government coffers; once again, financing of nuclear projects seems to work better in situations where government fiat is involved.)

    So, one more example of a financially well-managed project by the South Koreans (the builder is a consortium led by KEPCO and primarily comprised of South Korean firms, though Westinghouse also has some participation). No-one does nuclear power better than the South Koreans. As a side-note, Forbes has some interesting observations on that:

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2018/10/01/3-reasons-nuclear-reactors-are-more-expensive-in-the-west-hint-its-not-regulation/#7fe529c45d1a

    Still, with reference to my original statement that nuclear power tends to be “expensive, slow, and politically and socially contentious”, the Barakh project hasn’t been all that fast. The project was proposed in 2008, with bidding during 2009, and the first construction activities taking place in 2010. The plan called for:

    Unit 1 was scheduled for fuel loading in August 2017, but in early 2017 its start-up was delayed to 2018.

    But it was not to be.

    Construction of unit 1 was completed in March 2018, at which point fuel loading was expected in May 2018.

    Home free!

    Not so fast:

    Following an earlier safety evaluation report, Nawah completed a comprehensive operational readiness review (ORR) early in 2018, but FANR made over 400 adverse findings on this which postponed start-up by at least 18 months, to allow Nawah to take corrective actions on a wide range of technical, organisational and management issues. Nawah said in May 2018 that the delay to the start-up of unit 1 “reflects the time required for the plant’s nuclear operators to complete the operational readiness activities and to obtain necessary regulatory approvals, all of which are all designed to ensure safe, sustainable nuclear operations.” An underlying problem contributing to some of the ORR findings on safety was the need to develop competence in English as a bridging language between Arabic and Korean.

    Even the South Koreans run into problems sometimes. So, even a well-managed reactor project can take 10 years to get up and running. My take-away is that current commercially-available reactor designs are not going to mitigate any emissions at all, if planning begins today, until at least 2026, more likely 2030, and in worst cases, never.

    E-P cites the NuScale SMR’s aim of “54 months from mobilization to mechanical completion.” (I must admit I’m not clear just what “mobilization” means in this context, though they try to clarify with the addition (anticipated) spec of “32 months critical path – first safety concrete to mechanical completion.”) Well, we’ll see. Maybe that will pan out, maybe it won’t. But it’s worth noting that the first SMR, intended for Idaho, has been planned for some time, and is currently anticipated for operation in 2024. Or maybe it’s 2026? The NRC hasn’t approved anything yet. And there are criticisms of the whole SMR concept, of which there have been many exemplars (on drawing boards, at least.)

    A key driver of SMRs are the alleged improved economies of scale, compared to larger reactors, that stem from the ability to prefabricate them in a manufacturing plant/factory. Yet, according to some studies, the capital cost of SMRs and larger reactors are practically equivalent. A key disadvantage is that the improved affordability can only be realised if the factory is built in the first place, and this is likely to require initial orders for 40–70 units, which some experts think unlikely.

    Another economic advantage of SMR is that the initial cost of building a power plant using SMR is much less than that of constructing a much more complex, non-modular, large nuclear plant. This makes SMR a smaller-risk venture for power companies than other nuclear power plants. However, modularisation and modularity influence the economic competitiveness of SMRs.

    [Additionally,] operational staffing costs per unit output increase as reactor size decreases, due to some staffing costs being fixed and lesser economies of scale. For example a similar number of technical and security staff to a large reactor may be required. For small SMRs staff costs per unit output can be as much as 190% higher than the fixed operating cost of large reactors.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_modular_reactor

    If you ask me, the SMR is promising, but we definitely shouldn’t be counting our chickens on it just yet. We certainly shouldn’t be planning on it to accomplish any mitigation before 2026, and probably not by 2030.

    In #311, E-P adjures “If this is truly the crisis you claim it is, stop standing in the way of the solution.”

    But it is not me who stands in the way of nuclear power; it is economic and political realities, including market forces. I’m not even advocating against nuclear power, except to point out that it is utterly unrealistic to expect it to become a silver bullet to slay the dragon of carbon pollution in anything resembling a timely fashion. If anyone is “standing in the way”, it is E-P, with his anti-renewable obsession.

    The UAE is certainly very happy to pursue both renewable energy along with its nuclear program:

    https://www.dewa.gov.ae/en/about-us/media-publications/latest-news/2019/05/dewa-will-add-600mw-of-clean-energy-to-its-network-from-july-2019-to-january-2020

    And note the project timelines:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammed_bin_Rashid_Al_Maktoum_Solar_Park

    Such solar projects routinely start producing emissions-free power in a couple of years, or less. What kind of sense does it make for anyone who gives a damn about mitigation to advocate that postpone all mitigation for five to ten years, and pay as much as*, or probably more**, for the privilege?

    *If we take E-P’s best-case calculations completely at face value.

    **If we are a little more realistic about matters such as the value of the LCOE (levelized cost of energy) metric, which contra most analysts, E-P dismisses as meaningless, and the likelihood of continued cost declines in both wind and solar energy.

  23. 323

    E-P, #312–

    Drastically O/T.

    But more importantly, intellectual bankruptcy of these proposals in both the moral and practical terms pretty much speaks for itself. It’s just racist sociopathy writ very, very large.

  24. 324

    BPL lives in a fantasy world:

    Agriculture in Zimbabwe has recovered.

    Here’s reality from a mere 3 months ago:

    GENEVA (Reuters) – The United Nations said on Tuesday it was procuring food assistance for 4.1 million Zimbabweans, a quarter of the population in a country where shortages are being exacerbated by runaway inflation and climate-induced drought.

    The population of Zimbabwe is under 15 million, so that’s more than 25% of the country only eating because of food aid.

    FWIW, “the Great Zimbabwe” for which the country is named was constructed by a people who are officially unknown (there have to be burials associated with any effort so large but whatever they indicate about the ethnicity of the builders is not disclosed).  It’s a certainty that those who call themselves Zimbabweans today never built such works.

  25. 325
    jgnfld says:

    “In case you don’t believe me about conditions in the turd world”

    Ahhh…I see EP is just another trumpster looking out at shithole countries from the veranda of the luck of his birthplace!

  26. 326
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Al Bundy, If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have any idea of the idiocy EP spews. I quit reading anything he posts when he ripped off the mask revealing the KKK robes.

    Zimbabwe is a basket case, but it is a basket case because it was run as a kleptocracy since the late ’90s. EP wants to pretend this is the entire African story. It isn’t Ghana and Ethiopia and several other African countries are doing quite well.

    His rant @312 is particularly distrubing–not just racist, but genocidally racist. It betrays a deep ignorance of what conditions are like in the developing world and in Africa particularly.

    What is more, this particular rant betrays EP’s immaturity and naivite–as if such policies were even possible. If a particularly bigoted country tried to implement such policies, others would step in to provide the goods required. It’s not just offensive, its stupid. His bigotry is just as naive as his energy policy.

    Drop EP anywhere in the developing world without access to his bank accounts, and he wouldn’t survive 24 hours. All he brings to the table is malice and ignorance.

  27. 327

    You missed the point. Properly designed, the project would produce lots of electricity to sell.

    So, are we building a housing development, or is it a PV installation?

    Possibly I missed the point–and I’ll gladly stipulate that I have no idea what your point actually is–because you introduced your point very, very poorly? You led by criticizing me for the use of a common analytical distinction, which apparently you were oblivious to. Only then did you introduce your housing project notion, and then in general terms, and without clarifying why this had something to do with what I had written in a completely different context.

    Maybe you should start by making a clear exposition of just what you want to talk about? Because it sure doesn’t seem to have much to do with what I was saying.

  28. 328
    nigelj says:

    Ray Ladbury @326, you have to try to not let EP’s annoying race based rants and prejudices and his tendency to defame sources of information make you disregard his comments on energy some of which look pretty useful to me. I agree with you about Africa etc, indeed some countries are growing quite strongly.

  29. 329
    David B. Benson says:

    One of the brightest young men I have ever met is a Maasai from Kisumu, Kenya.

    Disclosure: Kip Thorne and I were friends as undergraduates @ CalTech.

  30. 330

    jgnfld misses cause and effect @325:

    I see EP is just another trumpster looking out at shithole countries from the veranda of the luck of his birthplace!

    My birthplace isn’t “luck”.  It’s the country built by the skills and wisdom of my ancestors.  This country is MY BIRTHRIGHT… and belongs to exactly no one who is NOT descended from MY PEOPLE.  Those who have to be EDUCATED to “take the poo to the loo” are a century-plus behind mine.  They’ve got my example to follow; if they won’t, I owe them NOTHING.

    Let me repeat that.  Everything the founding people of the United States have done in ANY respect (farming, public health, political organization, or anything else) is “open source”.  It’s no secret.  It’s available for ANY COUNTRY TO ADOPT… if they are able.  If they are UNABLE, that is THEIR problem, not my fault.

    Yes, I reject the doctrine of universal equality and that patent inequalities are due to “oppression” of some kind.  I reject blame for things neither I nor any of my ancestors had anything to do with.  Aside from atmospheric remediation efforts, I owe the rest of the world NOTHING save benign neglect.

  31. 331

    Ray Ladbury burnishes his SJW credentials @326:

    Zimbabwe is a basket case, but it is a basket case because it was run as a kleptocracy since the late ’90s.

    Let’s see, can Ladbury assign proper responsibility to those who put said kleptocracy in place?  Robert Mugabe became Prime Minister of Zimbabwe in 1980, and was President from 1987 to 2017.  Exactly WHO made the country a kleptocracy, Ray?  Your own timeline admits that it was not a kleptocracy during its period of Rhodesian independence from 1965-1980.  Only AFTER universal enfranchisement did the kleptocracy take hold.  So who is responsible for this again?

    Consider your answer carefully, there will be a quiz.

  32. 332

    zebra shows total cluelessness (again) @319:

    Properly designed, the project would produce lots of [surplus] electricity to sell.

    And if all the local projects were “properly designed”, they would also be producing lots of surplus electricity at the exact same time.  This surplus has zero or even negative value unless there is some “dump load” which can make productive use of it.  So what’s this dump load, zebra?  Same question goes to you, Kevin McKinney.

    This goes to the heart of the difference between LCOE and LACE (Levelized Avoided Cost of Energy).  The piled-up surpluses of summer PV generation have ZERO avoided cost of winter heating, and that won’t change unless and until that energy can be stored on the scale of months at minimal cost.  That time isn’t now and doesn’t look to be here for many years, if ever.

  33. 333
    Killian says:

    Re #327 Kevin McKinney/zebra said You missed the point. Properly designed, the project would produce lots of electricity to sell.

    So, are we building a housing development, or is it a PV installation?

    Maybe you should start by making a clear exposition of just what you want to talk about? Because it sure doesn’t seem to have much to do with what I was saying.

    Regardless, properly built, a small community would need no or virtually no solar or wind electricity for… anything.

    But, you know, that means you two would have to think beyond the shit you see all around you and just endlessly repeating it with different iterations of unsustainable crapola till we run out of resources.

    I realize after 12 years or so here you’re not inclined to solutions. What, then, would you have to argue about?

  34. 334
    Killian says:

    Re #326 Ray Ladbury says Al Bundy, If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have any idea of the idiocy EP spews. I quit reading anything he posts when he ripped off the mask revealing the KKK robes.

    clap clap clap clap clap clap

    That’s two of us, at least.

  35. 335
    Mr. Know It All says:

    312 – EP
    ” We’d still have the over-greenhoused atmosphere problem to solve, but that’s a lot easier to solve once nobody is making it worse.”

    Any idea of the cost per pound to remove CO2 from the air? I bought some frozen CO2 (dry ice) from the local grocery store for around $1.40 per pound, but I have no idea what it actually cost to produce it.

  36. 336

    E-P 324: “the Great Zimbabwe” for which the country is named was constructed by a people who are officially unknown (there have to be burials associated with any effort so large but whatever they indicate about the ethnicity of the builders is not disclosed).

    BPL: E-P echoes the line of the hate group, National Association for the Advancement of White People, that black Africans have never built a “true civilization.” Since they obviously did in Zimbabwe, the people who did must have had a mysterious ethnicity that was really white. I’m waiting for E-P to revive 19th century German diffusionism. Maybe the pyramid builders of Latin America really came from Egypt!

    BTW, for those interested in great black African civilizations, Google any of the following: Cush, Axum, Songhai, Ghana, Mali, Timbuktu, Busholongo, Zimbabwe.

  37. 337
    zebra says:

    #327 Kevin McKinney,

    “your housing project”

    I don’t see what’s so mysterious. I said originally that your use of the term “residential” was not meaningful, and my example illustrates why.

    It could very well be possible to sell the excess electricity at the same price as a stand-alone PV facility. So if you are calling it “residential”, then your original claim is contradicted.

  38. 338
    jgnfld says:

    Your birthplace is most definitely luck. You had precisely zero control over it and “deserve” precisely nothing for getting a good draw.

    Said not one word about oppression. But if you want we can examine the workings of colonialism:

    Colonialism of the sort practiced by the colonial powers during the past few centuries is at base most definitely founded on notions of Kleptocracy even in the most “enlightened” cases. The only difference is that the money is shipped back to the kleptocrats of the colonial power and not to the local kleptocrats. And when the locals object we get the Belgian Congo, Jallianwaga Bagh, Nanking, etc., etc., etc. ad nearly infinitum.

  39. 339
    Al Bundy says:

    EP: there is some “dump load” which can make productive use of it. So what’s this dump load, zebra?

    AB: Synfuel.

    And it’s interesting that you claim that extracting CO2 from the atmosphere is a critically needed dump load (I agree) but seem to think that only a pure nuclear system could possibly use it.

    There are two ways to converse about others’ ideas. You can contribute by adding your expertise or you can sling mud. Methinks you didn’t even consider contributing. Sad.

  40. 340
    nigelj says:

    The fundamental problem in much Africa is probably the intense tribalism and tribal conflicits (not that the USA is looking too different these days). This in turn leads to strong men being elected or grabbing power, in order to try to unify the tribes. However the strong man leaders end up becoming corrupt, and abusing their power, destroying their economies.

    Yes considering EP’s point the public do elect these leaders, but even if the public then want to get rid of the leader, it becomes difficult, because the leader destroys opposition parties in various ways. So you get these kleptocracies perpetuating. And yes maybe western countries don’t owe Africa anything, but there are obvious self interested economic reasons to help them develop, and humanitarian reasons to help them with food aid.

  41. 341

    Mr. Know It All wrote @335:

    Any idea of the cost per pound to remove CO2 from the air?

    This paper gives a figure of about $15/ton to mine olivine, and 1 ton of olivine weathers to capture about 1.25 tons of CO2.  So, a ceiling of about $12/ton.  We’d get rid of the ocean acidification problem in the bargain, and probably enhance the oceanic food chain quite a bit.

    Removing 1 trillion tons of CO2 at $12/ton over 20 years comes to $600 billion/year.  The world can manage this even without the ancillary benefits offsetting the cost.

    I bought some frozen CO2 (dry ice) from the local grocery store for around $1.40 per pound, but I have no idea what it actually cost to produce it.

    It probably came from fermentation off-gas at a brewery, not atmospheric capture.

  42. 342
    nigelj says:

    EP @332 “This goes to the heart of the difference between LCOE and LACE (Levelized Avoided Cost of Energy). The piled-up surpluses of summer PV generation have ZERO avoided cost of winter heating, and that won’t change unless and until that energy can be stored on the scale of months at minimal cost. That time isn’t now and doesn’t look to be here for many years, if ever.”

    Yes it all comes back to the cost of energy storage. Always has. But it also comes down to how much people value energy independence. A fellow I know values independence and is worried about climate change, and has a semi – passive solar home, solar panels and solar water heating and a tesla battery back and he is 95% off grid. He does sell back into the gid but that is not why he got into this thing and ultimately selling into the grid is a dead end. But hes got almost no electricity bills. He did a lot of calculations so he knew what he was getting into.

    He’s had to make some compromises, like the system cost over $50,000 so he bought a smaller home to compensate, and cooking and heating is basic, sometimes showers every second day (from memory might have some of the details wrong). But overall its quite good with not too many lifestyle compromises, and clean energy. I think hes planning on a second tesla battery pack.

    Such single homes could from a micro grid. But right now its all the province of the middle classes. Much too much capital outlay for lower income people. And with reliance purely on solar plus storage its not likely to ever be the most cost effective system. But like I say he hates power companies.

  43. 343

    BPL throws slurs around @336:

    E-P echoes the line of the hate group, National Association for the Advancement of White People, that black Africans have never built a “true civilization.” Since they obviously did in Zimbabwe

    Not even Wikipedia is down with your narrative.  Even it admits that the kingdom which built the “Great Zimbabwe” (which is trivial compared to the works of most other civilizations, both old-world and new) was long gone by the time that the Portuguese made contact with the kingdom of Mutapa:

    The Portuguese finally entered into direct relations with the Mwenemutapa in the 1560s.[4] They recorded a wealth of information about the Mutapa kingdom as well as its predecessor, Great Zimbabwe. According to Swahili traders whose accounts were recorded by the Portuguese historian João de Barros, Great Zimbabwe was an ancient capital city built of stones of marvellous size without the use of mortar. And while the site was not within Mutapa’s borders, the Mwenemutapa kept noblemen and some of his wives there.[5]

    Footnote 5 links to “Oliver, Roland & Anthony Atmore (1975). Medieval Africa 1250–1800. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 738. ISBN 0-521-20413-5.”

    the people who did must have had a mysterious ethnicity that was really white.

    I said the ethnicity was unknown/hidden, and I don’t pretend to know what it was save that it was not Bantu.  The Bantu never built anything like the Great Zimbabwe, and AFAIK it is unique in sub-Saharan Africa; it appears that the Bantu killed off the stone-builders.  They were also-rans in any event.  The Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Indians, Chinese, Minoans, Cretans and Etruscans built far superior structures hundreds and thousands of years earlier, and the Inca did much finer stonework after trekking literally halfway around the world and arriving relatively late.  I’d have to look but the surviving Aztec works also seem to have been built with better technique, and in much greater quantity.  Note that lots of those groups are anything but white.

    I know that the religious cult which goes by “political correctness”, “anti-racism” or just “progressivism” demands that the sub-Saharans be held holy and blameless and given participation trophies just for showing up.  I’m not a member, okay?

  44. 344
    Killian says:

    Dear negligent,

    You made a small effort, yet still failed spectacularly. After how many years now, 3?, you have not learned a blessed thing. Or just a lying Neo-lib hack? They present the same, so hard to know. Accordng to your latest, you:

    * Have read zero literature on collapse theory. Same question as all the other times: Then why are you putting fingers to keyboard?

    * You repeat: Stopping takes a really long time! Much longer than a nearly new system! Prima facie barking words.

    * You repeat: We must kill all the trees to be green! See previous. Apparently you no longer “believe” in the use of recycling, downcycling, reusing, repurposing and repairing, and that if we did cease most production as unnecessary you’d prefer to drop all the stuff we’ve made to the bottom of the sea or ask Superman to toss it into the sun. And this time, you’re flatly lying. We have talked about “appropriate technology” and “bridge technologies” many times.

    Etc.

    You got a zero on this quiz. Not one point is anywhere close to accurate.

    That’s called propaganda. Or extreme ignorance. Or whatever. Who cares?

    Let me help you with collapse: Search for “collapse” and “societal” and/or “civilization.” Try also seneca cliff, rapid, catabolic, etc.

  45. 345
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Nigelj: “you have to try to not let EP’s annoying race based rants and prejudices and his tendency to defame sources of information make you disregard his comments on energy some of which look pretty useful to me.”

    I disagree. Racism is an indication of both a moral and intellectual failing. It indicates a tendency to look for an over simplified solution, failure to seek out facts (I’d bet he’s never even set foot in a developing country) and general intellectual laziness. From what I have seen, this malady also affects his musings on energy.

    He may occasionally produce an interesting fact, but it will never be a complete fact, but rather one molded to his prejudices. I can look for interesting facts from a broad variety of sources, and I don’t have to put up with the yucky racist, candy coating.

    The thing is that I have been to Africa. I’ve seen the Benin bronzes in the museum in Benin city. I’ve been to the palace in Kumasi and seen the market that has been there for hundreds of years. I’ve seen women in traditional markets conducting transactions simultaneously in 4 or even 5 different languages.
    I’ve even heard the talking drums–the first rapid, long-distance information transmission system ever developed by humans, and a wonderful example of African technological genius. These drums could transmit relatively simple, important messages over hundreds of miles–and Europeans dismissed them as a myth, because they couldn’t understand them.

    I also know legacy of 500 years of slavery and colonialism–having studied it and seen it first hand. EP is just a dumbass. I can afford to ignore him. He brings nothing. He has no value.

  46. 346
    Al Bundy says:

    Kevin M: And I note in passing that two-thirds of the loan amount came right out of UAE government coffers; once again, financing of nuclear projects seems to work better in situations where government fiat is involved.

    AB: Yep. Nigel’s link sarys that we can build four(?) times as much renewables capacity for the same cost as nuclear. That provides a heck of a lot of wiggle room and spare electrons to scarf up atmospheric CO2. Whether that’s an absolute Truth or a fear-driven spike in cost for nukes is debatable.

  47. 347
    Al Bundy says:

    Zebra: I don’t see what’s so mysterious. I said originally that your use of the term “residential” was not meaningful, and my example illustrates why.

    AB: His point was that you dig in instead of adapt. Yep, your previous post wasn’t perfect. Who cares? Besides a Trumpist, that is. Perhaps adjusting with humility is a good technique.

  48. 348
    Al Bundy says:

    EP: and 1 ton of olivine weathers to capture about 1.25 tons of CO2. So, a ceiling of about $12/ton. We’d get rid of the ocean acidification problem in the bargain, and probably enhance the oceanic food chain quite a bit.

    AB: yep. My flood control system utilizes those factoids. Why bother doing flood control unless one can do two or three other things at no additional cost?
    ________

    Ray,

    The underlying fact is malaria, dengue, et al. White people couldn’t colonize Africa’s heartlands even though they claimed to be infinitely superior. Commit genocide in Scandinavia and cede the land to Africans. That would be a “reasonable” scientific experiment.

  49. 349

    zebra, #337–

    It could very well be possible to sell the excess electricity at the same price as a stand-alone PV facility. So if you are calling it “residential”, then your original claim is contradicted.

    No, on multiple counts. First, the *cost* per KW of building PV capacity is not necessarily a direct determinant of the sale price of the power produced (since that has also to do with the demand for that power).

    Second, my comment was not referring to your case, which to my knowledge you only proposed later. It was talking about a common analytic difference–documented now by other commenters as well as myself–between utility-scale PV and residential PV. Since you are evidently resistant to what people here have to say on the topic, here are random examples online:

    https://www.acgov.org/cda/planning/landuseprojects/documents/Distributed_vs_Utility_Scale.pdf

    https://www.dnvgl.com/feature/utility-scale-solar.html

    https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/brattle-group-study-residential-pv-will-be-double-the-cost-of-utility-scale

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2015/07/30/which-is-cheaper-rooftop-solar-or-utility-scale-solar/#3236d2961e5d

    https://www.engerati.com/distributed-generation/utility-scale-vs-residential-scale-pv-which-is-most-cost-effective/

    Note that these sources say different things; I’m not endorsing any one point of view as to the value of one versus the other. The points are simply that:

    1) I didn’t make this stuff up, and it is, if not meaningful, then at least commonly regarded as such.

    2) The cost of building capacity at utility scale is much lower than residential scale is, as I said, much lower (ca. 50%, per one study mentioned.) That doesn’t mean that are no reasons to build residential capacity. Hundreds of thousands or millions of homeowners have chosen to do just that, after all. It also doesn’t mean that one can’t construct hybrids of the two models, such as your posited community.

  50. 350

    O/T correction to racist allegations–

    Civilizations native to various parts of Africa:

    Aksum:

    https://www.britannica.com/place/Aksum-ancient-kingdom-Africa

    Benin:

    https://www.britannica.com/place/Benin-historical-kingdom-West-Africa

    Ghana:

    https://www.britannica.com/place/Ghana-historical-West-African-empire

    Mali:

    https://www.britannica.com/place/Mali-historical-empire-Africa

    Nok culture (Iron Age):

    https://www.britannica.com/topic/Nok-culture

    Kush:

    https://www.britannica.com/place/Sudan/The-kingdom-of-Kush

    Sonhai:

    https://www.britannica.com/place/Songhai-empire

    Oh, and by the way, E-P is either misinformed or flat-out lying about Great Zimbabwe:

    The ruins of this complex of massive stone walls undulate across almost 1,800 acres of present-day southeastern Zimbabwe. Begun during the eleventh century A.D. by Bantu-speaking ancestors of the Shona, Great Zimbabwe was constructed and expanded for more than 300 years in a local style that eschewed rectilinearity for flowing curves. Neither the first nor the last of some 300 similar complexes located on the Zimbabwean plateau, Great Zimbabwe is set apart by the terrific scale of its structure. Its most formidable edifice, commonly referred to as the Great Enclosure, has walls as high as 36 feet extending approximately 820 feet, making it the largest ancient structure south of the Sahara Desert. In the 1800s, European travelers and English colonizers, stunned by Great Zimbabwe’s grandeur and its cunning workmanship, attributed the architecture to foreign powers. Such attributions were dismissed when archaeological investigations conducted during the first decades of the twentieth century confirmed both the antiquity of the site and its African origins.

    https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/zimb/hd_zimb.htm

    E-P also opines:

    My birthplace isn’t “luck”. It’s the country built by the skills and wisdom of my ancestors. This country is MY BIRTHRIGHT… and belongs to exactly no one who is NOT descended from MY PEOPLE.

    How about the million-plus Africans trafficked to the US during the transatlantic slave trade, plus their millions of descendants? Speaking, as we were, of “kleptocracies”, that’s a pretty impressive example. So, considering the fact that America was built in considerable part on slave labor, from its inception until Abolition, does America “belong” to them also? They certainly put in a huge amount of literal “sweat equity.” Does E-P claim descent from them, too?

    (OK, you can stop laughing now.)

    And why, while we’re at it, does the argument E-P puts forward–i.e., an absolute and exclusive right of bequeathment WRT “America”–not apply also to First Nations? They were here first, and have living descendants. Why should they not also claim such a right, to the delegitimation of European-descended persons like, presumably, most of us? The logic is the same WRT ancestry.

    Oh, right–they didn’t build “our” civilization. Thus, the circularity of racist ideology stands exposed: “we” deserve what “we” have because “our” ancestors built it and it’s great; and it’s great fundamentally because it’s “ours” and “we” get to define all the terms (including the implicit license to ignore whatever data doesn’t support “our” narrative.)