The pitfalls of renewable energy

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by Gary7, Mar 18, 2019.

  1. Gary7

    Gary7 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Very interesting TEDx Talk about the seldom addressed issues of renewable energy. And yes, nuclear power is still the safest and most efficient form of widespread energy distribution.
     
  2. publiusr

    publiusr Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Can't beat it for energy density. You will still need hydrocarbons at some level. Artificial photosynthesis would be nice.
     
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  3. Cutie McWhiskers

    Cutie McWhiskers Commodore Commodore

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    Transporting water uphill then let it go down when needed for hydro is brill...

    But a properly built nuclear plant with failsafes and staff to shut it down before boom boom happens is still more viable for net gain and longevity.

    And it's eye-opening, the number of birds cats kill compared to turbine blades. Well, not all types of birds - I suspect a hawk, owl or eagle might win in a catfight but can't handle the turbine, but is that level of nuance that significant? (I just clicked play again -- He does address the nuance and it is arguably significant. I didn't watch the entire video at the time of this post, but he made decent points about sun shining and wind being irregular variables, or "dilute" sources as he said.)

    Still, the manufacturing of these panels and net lifespan - assuming no variables leading top individual unit premature failure... will supercapacitors replace lithium batteries? Lithium cannot be enriched, unlike uranium, making the latter more recyclable...

    Solar output - even in the best of times - in a desert, won't the radiant heat cause issues to the local ecosystem? That plan to spew fluff into the atmosphere to "dim the sun" as it's lackadaisically called will only pollute the atmosphere with what amounts to a ginormous bag of chewable anti-gas tablet ingredients -- and smaller oxygen-breathing critters might not like that. Even a cactus might complain if it's coated with enough gunk if it lands...

    or even better, the panels might warp if it gets hot enough (it's plastic and even in a glass shell, if it gets warm enough, the pressure might cause problems or if it's that hot at relative level then the glass might warp, too and a flat surface refracts the least amount of light (and thus least waste of sunlight coming in)... oh, who's going to clean the panels without wasting loads of water on them every time a bird takes a dump?

    And he mentioned the lack of disposal/recycling of solar panels, which was already a given. Solar is illogical as a wide-scale solution (even as a backup, the cells slowly degrade from day one and their half-life is, what was it, 10 years?), and he's right on the points he stated.

    And is it just climate change or pollution as the root cause? Why does this guy not mention the world instead of just the USA more often (I did skip a bit at both ends and watched mostly the middle, apologizes if he had mentioned others)? Some of the worst polluters aren't in the USA (sources CNBC, CBSNews, others), each area has different sources of pollution, and laws for the US aren't going to be made globally by default, and even with the Kyoto and other accords, China was also building more coal plants during the Paris accord talks (sources; NY Times, LA Times, others). And had been for rather a long time when they were in a better position to build cleaner from the ground up, though China was supporting clean coal in 2016 (sources ChinaDaily, Slate, others) and clean coal was in existence before that, but technology has matured - inevitable. Not to go after solely them, and clean coal trounces regular coal every time and coal is even used to power plants that make solar because, let's face it, so much space and sun are required for solar that it may never be a fully viable solution - certainly not on its own but as a supplemental one... Still, nuclear is better unless it's so poorly built (e.g. Fukushima, don't build them on a fault line?!)

    Publiusr is correct about the need of hydrocarbons, some of which can be synthetically produced. Artificial photosynthesis will be on its way up, as planting trillions of trees with efficacy might be hard to achieve - multiple forms to reduce CO2 levels are needed.
     
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  4. Gary7

    Gary7 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yes, there are MUCH safer reactor designs being developed. There was a "molten salt" design developed in the 1960's that was sidelined in favor of fission reactors. They weren't quite as efficient as fission, but were much safer. Today, there is the tech to make the molten salt reactor design more efficient. There's also the matter of form factor--shrinking the size of reactors.

    The French have done a tremendous amount of research on this and nearly all of their energy is from nuclear reactors.

    Solar cells are great for small scale energy. But they're not efficient enough for large scale. Just not feasible.
     
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  5. XCV330

    XCV330 A Being of Pure Caffeine Premium Member

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    We're REALLY close to fusion breakeven. Commercialization is around the corner after that. As much as I like the idea of renewables, once fusion becomes practiacable, solar and wind are going to just seem as quaint an idea as Victorian pennyfarthings, or old faming hit-and-miss engines. Great ideas that worked for awhile but were completely superceeded by technology.

    It's hard to explain just how big a change fusion will make to Earth and our species. We will, before the end of the century, if we can survive this decade, have at least one critical issue (one of many) tackled and that leads to solutions for others. It also opens up the solar system and to some degree the nearby stars.

    The universe is powered on fusion. Solar power is fusion power, but the reactor is 90 million miles away.
     
  6. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    :rolleyes: Congratulations, every sentence is pure hype.
     
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  7. XCV330

    XCV330 A Being of Pure Caffeine Premium Member

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    TAE is reporting they are within two years of breakeven. Commercialization within 10. The rest can be seen as hype from a luddite perspective, but it will be the biggest revolution in society since iron smelting.
     
  8. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    :lol:
     
  9. Dryson

    Dryson Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Not really.

    If a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Engine is built large enough it would create its own source of water that could turn the turbines in a similar process that generates electrical power from a dam. Homes could provide their own electrical power and not have to pay the extra money per month for an electric bill. The Hydrogen Fuel Cell Engine would also generate electrical power by turning a turbine that would help support a local community grid of ten homes with additional electrical power.

     
  10. Gary7

    Gary7 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well, let's see how things turn out in the next few years. I think nuclear power will make sense as a stop gap measure until other forms of green energy can be perfected. It may turn out that small nuclear reactors would be required near large cities, while other more rural areas would benefit more from wind, solar, and hydro-electric.

    Hydrogen cells are just way too expensive to produce. It won't make sense until someone comes up with a significant breakthrough. Not to be confused with "hydro-electric", power generated from dams and waterfalls.
     
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  11. lpetrich

    lpetrich Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Although I think that nuclear reactors have some nice features, I think that they will eventually be upstaged by wind and solar electricity generation. Wind and solar farms take much less time to design and build, and wind turbines and solar panels downscale a heck of a lot better. Is there a nuclear-reactor counterpart to rooftop solar panels?

    As to the problem of degraded solar panels, there is a simple solution: recycling. Old solar panels can supply the material for new ones.

    I will concede that intermittency is a big problem for wind and solar generation. But improved batteries are on the way.
     
  12. Asbo Zaprudder

    Asbo Zaprudder Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I didn't know hydrogen fuel cells magically created the hydrogen and oxygen required. Why not use the electricity generated to electrolyse the water and feed the resulting gases to the cell? Genius, it is not.

    Commercial fusion power in two years, eh?

    Hey, did somebody spill snake oil around here? That stuff ain't cheap.
     
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  13. XCV330

    XCV330 A Being of Pure Caffeine Premium Member

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    breakeven not commercial.
     
  14. Asbo Zaprudder

    Asbo Zaprudder Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You wouldn't even break even because of inefficiencies. Hydrogen fuel cells are usually used as glorified batteries.
     
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  15. XCV330

    XCV330 A Being of Pure Caffeine Premium Member

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    I was speaking of fusion break-even within two years. There are a couple of private firms that have stated that's their time frame now. Not for commercialization. There was talk in the UK a few years ago of using JET for a break-even attempt but it would have been destructive, and I gather it's had some decent funding to continue running since ITER looks like it will be completed the 33rd of Neverember.
     
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  16. Asbo Zaprudder

    Asbo Zaprudder Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well, I'll believe it when I see it.
     
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  17. XCV330

    XCV330 A Being of Pure Caffeine Premium Member

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    One of the most important pieces of renewable energy technology is a cellulosic fusion photonic energy converter. they simultaneously provide cooling, future resources, habitat space while causing a dramatic decrease in co2 emissions. This complicated machine even more startlingly CAN become self sustaining and even self replicating given enough time. They hook up to a fusion generator 93 million miles away and using complicated hydrocarbon processes, convert this visible light energy without oversight or direct control. They can last for decades.

    We call them trees.


    The people of Ethiopia planted 350 MILLION of them in 12 hours on Monday. And they might just do it again.

    https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/29/africa/ethiopia-plants-350-million-trees-intl-hnk/index.html

    Amazing!
     
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  18. Santaman

    Santaman Vice Admiral Admiral

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    There was a news item on the Dutch news that stated that we'd need 2 billion trees to counter about half or even 3/4th of all CO2 emissions, I say we get started with that and solve the rest with solar energy, wind energy and other stuff.
     
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  19. StarCruiser

    StarCruiser Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    So, Arbor Day on steroids anyone?
     
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  20. XCV330

    XCV330 A Being of Pure Caffeine Premium Member

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    I like the idea. I don't live in an area that's deforested. A lot of tt WAS deforested 100 years ago in areas, but local groups worked together return a lot of that to what would appear pristine today. It can be done. Those areas that are severely deforreted, we have the technology with drones and, donations and pure human effort to plant trees and begin a turnaround. We might not enjoy the fruits of it in our lifetimes but it could be part of a long term solution.