Jump to content

Solar Power Satellites (split from SpaceX)


Recommended Posts

On 6/4/2021 at 2:00 AM, Selective Genius said:

I don't think science, facts and logic can ever stop the anti-nuke cult..

Possibly not, but economics is certain to.  Nuclear power stations are horrendously expensive to build, take many years to build and are horrendously expensive to decommission at the end of their life. Not to mention the problem of safely disposing of a waste  the remains highly dangerous for literally millennia. Solar farms, wind farms, wave power, geothermal and batteries are all vastly cheaper. As a point of interest, Scotland in 2020 produced 97.4 % of its energy from renewables.  They would have probably reached 100% had they not exported some to England.

  Nuclear power may have sounded like a good idea back in the nineteen-fifties but history has shown otherwise.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 minutes ago, benzman said:

Solar farms, wind farms, wave power, geothermal and batteries are all vastly cheaper. As a point of interest, Scotland in 2020 produced 97.4 % of its energy from renewables.

That's extremely impressive, although I'd expect that there's a lot of fortunate geography that allows it to happen.

I'd definitely like to see a lot more deep-well geothermal put into play. It's a perfect fit to transition the oil-drilling industry to. I'm fortunate to get all my electricity from the largest geothermal field in the world.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Split atoms, not wood.

Now that PVs are cost effective, people buy them because it makes sense to buy them. It's fine for distributed power production, but generation 4 (even late 3) fission is incredibly safe, and anyone serious should be for them.

19 hours ago, benzman said:

  Nuclear power may have sounded like a good idea back in the nineteen-fifties but history has shown otherwise.

Not really. Poorly designed, cheap reactors are lousy—the only reactor on earth that was a large scale problem fits that description. No other power reactors have harmed anyone at all due to failure.

Mortality and morbidity per kWh (TWh for powerplants) is all that matters, and even if you multiplied deaths from nuclear power by 1000 to 10000 it's still safer than coal—or the most dangerous power type on Earth, hydro (because of that Chinese dam failure that killed Boxing Day Tsunami numbers of people).

Deaths for any large, industrial business occur, so the mortality/TWh figures for nuclear reflect that reality. Base rates of workplace deaths happen as a result of total people employed, and that;s where the deaths come from in that calculation, since no one dies from them otherwise. For nuclear that includes the mining deaths to get fuel, transportation deaths, etc. Solar kills workers the same way, driving accidents while on the job, or slipping when putting PVs on someone's roof. Ditto wind (the worst possible renewable power, yuck).

 

Edited by tater
Link to comment
Share on other sites

14 hours ago, NFUN said:

little known fact: nuclear power technology has advanced since in the 1970's

I'd like to think so.  But I doubt any reached the US (I remember hearing that Finland "cheated" the Oslo accords by replacing coal use with nuclear and was the only nation to meet the stated goals, presumably these are fairly modern).  The most recent nuclear power construction start in the US was 1976.  Granted, one was completed in 2016 and four became operational in the 1990s, but a lot of that design had to have been set in stone (or reinforced concrete) in the 1970s.

I'd like to see a real push for fission in China and/or India, but I'm not holding my breath.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

17 minutes ago, wumpus said:

I'd like to think so.  But I doubt any reached the US (I remember hearing that Finland "cheated" the Oslo accords by replacing coal use with nuclear and was the only nation to meet the stated goals, presumably these are fairly modern).  The most recent nuclear power construction start in the US was 1976.  Granted, one was completed in 2016 and four became operational in the 1990s, but a lot of that design had to have been set in stone (or reinforced concrete) in the 1970s.

I'd like to see a real push for fission in China and/or India, but I'm not holding my breath.

Irrational, innumerate people caused that decline in powerplant production. We'd be far better off with our nuclear power output more closely matching the % in France (~70%). The US still has the most nuclear plants on Earth, however, and aside from workplace deaths that could happen at any industrial site at all, they have killed exactly 0 people. I'd wager that by far the most deaths associated with nuclear power are mining and mining-related deaths.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My understanding is that the main issue with nuclear fission is the immense up front cost and time it takes to build plants. In the U.S. at least, there is even a negative learning curve for the cost of building a given design (later plants constructed with a given design will cost more than earlier plants—in direct contradiction to the idea of economies of scale helping to push costs down).

https://energy.mit.edu/news/building-nuclear-power-plants/

Quote

The researchers examined the cost trajectories of four standard plant designs installed in the United States that reached a cumulative built capacity of 8 gigawatts-electric. Their results appear below. They found that construction costs for each of the four designs rose as more plants were built. In fact, the first one built was the least expensive in three of the four cases and was among the least expensive plants in the fourth.

Trancik_Figure_1.png

[...]

The analysis showed that R&D-related activities contributed roughly 30% to cost increases, and on-site procedural changes contributed roughly 70%. Safety-related mechanisms caused about half of the direct cost increase over the 1976 to 2017 period. If all the productivity decline were attributed to safety, then 90% of the overall cost increase could be linked to safety. But historical evidence points to the existence of construction management and worker morale issues that cannot be clearly linked to safety requirements.

The issue is partially regulatory, but it seems like there are other factors at play at well (more detail is in the article/paper).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
On 6/6/2021 at 12:11 AM, Silavite said:

My understanding is that the main issue with nuclear fission is the immense up front cost and time it takes to build plants. In the U.S. at least, there is even a negative learning curve for the cost of building a given design (later plants constructed with a given design will cost more than earlier plants—in direct contradiction to the idea of economies of scale helping to push costs down).

Honestly it's the same with a lot of stuff really. Just look at the really simple things like road sign gantries or electric railway catenaries. These days we're willing to spend more cost up front if it means potentially (potentially !) there's less cost down the road. In many cases they turn true but we'll never know what else we could've put in.

Spoiler
Spoiler

 

 

The problem with nuclear power is that you're guaranteed for more costs down the road. Normal structures can be disposed off willy-nilly, but nuclear, as well as some factories and mining, are certain to create burden in the future after they're "done away" with.

EDIT : On the topic itself however, I've half-joked about it in a different thread.

Edited by YNM
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
On 6/5/2021 at 8:03 PM, tater said:

Irrational, innumerate people caused that decline in powerplant production. We'd be far better off with our nuclear power output more closely matching the % in France (~70%). The US still has the most nuclear plants on Earth, however, and aside from workplace deaths that could happen at any industrial site at all, they have killed exactly 0 people. I'd wager that by far the most deaths associated with nuclear power are mining and mining-related deaths.

While for reasons I'm a natural proponent of nuka-powah, I now find their postponing more wise than vice versa.

The coming technologies like electric cars  instead of the prohibited combustion ones, hydrogen energetics, full recycling of wastes, and many others, will require a lot of energy, so neither nuclear, nor combustion powerplants look enough good compared to that.

This makes the fusion energetics inevitable, and probably before the century ends, it will be a really existing thing.

And as the most common type of the fusion fuel is deuterium, which generates a lot of neutrons when works, so it looks obvious to use fission tiers together with fusion cores.

So, the fusion energetics will be swallowing the fission materials without chewing, and it looks wise to not spend them before they will be really needed.

Another nuance is that the neutron flow of the fusion reactors will be able to burn the spent fission fuel into light and safe elements, and solve the problem of radioactive wastes radically.
There will be no radioactive wastes. All of them will be disintegrated. Unlike the modern fission reactors do.

Edited by kerbiloid
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
28 minutes ago, kerbiloid said:

While for reasons I'm a natural proponent of nuka-powah, I now find their postponing more wise than vice versa.

The coming technologies like electric cars  instead of the prohibited combustion ones, hydrogen energetics, full recycling of wastes, and many others, will require a lot of energy, so neither nuclear, nor combustion powerplants look enough good compared to that.

This makes the fusion energetics inevitable, and probably before the century ends, it will be a really existing thing.

It's always difficult to try to actually put an actionable plan based on research however. As much as research is important, when it comes to planning (and design) you want to know as much as possible the constraints you have to work with, and knowing that what you've set aside today could actually be useful for the planned thing.

Edited by YNM
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, kerbiloid said:

Another nuance is that the neutron flow of the fusion reactors will be able to burn the spent fission fuel into light and safe elements, and solve the problem of radioactive wastes radically.
There will be no radioactive wastes. All of them will be disintegrated. Unlike the modern fission reactors do.

Is this another of your joke posts?  All fusion can do with the heavy stuff is bombard them with neutrons, with semi-predictable  results.  Exactly like fission.

I'd have thought that global warming would at least get people to think that "the answer to pollution is dilution" isn't the one and only answer.  And that nuclear [fission] power's ability to concentrate its waste into a small footprint is an advantage.  Also, sometime in the 1990s, "glassification" became the ideal end product of nuclear wastes (after being left in a pool long enough to decay a few steps) as you wind up with metamorphic rock diluted to whatever radiation level you wanted (concrete would do the same, but erosion would work faster on it).  Personally, I'd recommend keeping the rods fairly deep underground, but where they could be pulled out in a shortage.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 6/3/2021 at 11:36 AM, tater said:

A Bishop's Ring is not around the Earth (which is not possible, anyway, we have no materials that can do that circumference without breaking). It's a free-floater with the rotational axis tilted so that half is illuminated.

Remember, every post this guy makes is intentionally silly

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, wumpus said:

Is this another of your joke posts?  All fusion can do with the heavy stuff is bombard them with neutrons, with semi-predictable  results.  Exactly like fission.

What's funny in the radioactive isotopes induced decay, I can't get?
The fission produces much less neutrons per mass, and produces more wastes than can split.
The fusion reactor is a powerful neutron source that doesn't produce its own wastes, and produces much greater neutron flow per mass.

7 hours ago, wumpus said:

I'd have thought that global warming would at least get people to think that "the answer to pollution is dilution" isn't the one and only answer. 

And that's exactly why instead of spending limited uranium deposits on less effective powerplants than fusion ones, the people should first solve another important problem, which they anyway must solve in several decades, the problem of the carbon catching and binding it into non-volatile compounds.

It's exactly what should be done in the epoch of the combustion powerplants (happily, we still have enough coal, gas, and oil for this).

7 hours ago, wumpus said:

And that nuclear [fission] power's ability to concentrate its waste into a small footprint is an advantage.  Also, sometime in the 1990s, "glassification" became the ideal end product of nuclear wastes

That's not a reason to spend the limited uranium deposits on much less efficient type of powerplants than fusion.
And the glassification is not an end product, it's just a throwing of a trouble ball into the future.
Especially since we need much moar power in coming decades, for example to charge the electric cars.

***

There are 1.4 bln cars in the world. Say, it's 50 kW * 1.4*109 = 70 TW = 70 bln kW.
Say, a car works 0.5 hour per day. It's 70*0.5*365 ~= 13 bln kWh / yr.

Total yearly consumption of energy in USA is ~4 bln kWh / yr.

So, to replace all combustion engines with electric cars (and in the developed countries they tend to stop manufacturing the former by ~2030, and forbid them by ~2040), you should replace the distributed power generation with powerplants producing it locally, in amounts equal or greater than the existing power industry produces.

Obviously, the water, the wind, and the sun is not an option for that, so it will be either the combustion plants or the nukes.
Not less obviously is that building such amount of nuclear plants in decade: 1) doesn't look very doable; 2) will be burning the uranium deposits in not the most effective way.

***

You eat food. The food grows in ground. And needs enormous amounts of nitric fertilizers, which are almost totally produced from air, water, and natural gas.
In the early XX they were gathering ~10..15  centners per ha, now ~20..40. So, the food that you eat is grown mostly on synthetic fertilizers, produced from natural gas.
Actually, you eat gas and grow the food industrially, not agriculturally. The agriculture part is just the last phase of its chemical synthesis.

Almost all hydrogen produced on the Earth is made of the natural gas. In amounts of global metallurgical and chemical industries.

And this produces enormous amounts of carbon dioxide, which is mostly happily separated in the deoxidization facilities of corresponding plants.
(The CO2-bearing gas is solved in a diethanolamine solution, the carbon dioxide gets bound, the other gas flows away.
Then the solution gets into the regeneration column, where it turns into the original solution and separated CO2, collected and used for further needs).

So, it's possible to bind the produced CO2 in, say, methanol, and use it in chemical production. To bind it into solid organic compounds.
And obviously, it's much easier to do this in powerplants than in cars. So, the electric cars are inevitable.

***

A city produces a lot of organic wastes, and will produce even more because it's much easier to reshape the plastic than metals.
Obviously, the modern idea of citizens, separating the wastes in kitchens, is idiotic, and everything passed from them, should be just considered contaminated and be burnt into CO2 and water.
(Thanks to the covid hystery, it will probably do this obvious.)
This in turn needs a city recycling plant producing and binding a lot of carbon dioxide, so much greater CO2 catchers.

***

All carbon combustion should be obviously localized in special combustion facilities with high-effective CO2 separation (like in the metallurgy and the chemistry).
Outside of them only solid materials, electric power, and hydrogen should pass.

As anyway this requires a lot of efforts to build highly-effective CO2 separation plants (see above), there is no reasons to stop using the organic fuel and start inefficiently depleting the nuclear one immediately.

The amount of coal deposits is enough great to keepusing them for centuries (that's just not wise).

The amount of gas and oil is as blurry as their origin.
The amounts are kept in secret because the oil price is highly volatile, and any rumor makes it jump or fall. It's almost fifty years of "the oil will be depleted in twenty years"/
While the coal is definitely rotten plants, there are two main hypotheses of the hydrocarbon origin, and the biogenic one is just one of them.
So, the actual amount of hydrocarbons is unknown and probably much greater than seems from the press. Anyway, for several  decades and who knows how much else.
(If the abiotic hypothesis of the oil origin is right, there is much more hydrocarbons at several kilometer depth than coal on top. And btw on other planets.).

So, in any case the combustion energetics looks absolutely viable for a couple of centuries more, if equip it with better "filters" deoxidization plants (do not let fool you with the idiotic word "filter", it's not a filter on a smoke pipe, it's a mini-chemical plant, already used everywhere in industry).

This lets to calmly develop the fusion reactor even for a century more, when it will get ideally tested.

Then the saved uranium deposits will get very useful and will be used in the most efficient manner, and without glassification and so on.

So, the coal and the hydrocarbons burning in high-efficient powerplants are the proper near-future of the humanity.

Later the electric infrastructure will be powered from fusion-fission reactors.

Edited by kerbiloid
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, kerbiloid said:

There are 1.4 bln cars in the world. Say, it's 50 kW * 1.4*109 = 70 TW = 70 bln kW.
Say, a car works 0.5 hour per day. It's 70*0.5*365 ~= 13 bln kWh / yr.

Total yearly consumption of energy in USA is ~4 bln kWh / yr.

So, to replace all combustion engines with electric cars (and in the developed countries they tend to stop manufacturing the former by ~2030, and forbid them by ~2040), you should replace the distributed power generation with powerplants producing it locally, in amounts equal or greater than the existing power industry produces.

Obviously, the water, the wind, and the sun is not an option for that, so it will be either the combustion plants or the nukes.
Not less obviously is that building such amount of nuclear plants in decade: 1) doesn't look very doable; 2) will be burning the uranium deposits in not the most effective way.

Your numbers really don't make any sense here. You don't calculate consumption based on the number of hours per day or the size of the battery pack, you calculate it based on distance travelled. 

There are ~225 million drivers in the US. They travel on average ~21 500 km per year. A nice even estimate (although a bit conservative) of consumption for an efficient EV is 200 Wh/km combined. 

 Multiply the three numbers together and you get roughly 967 TWh of electricity need if every single driver only drove electric vehicles.

That is a lot of electricity certainly. But the US already produces and consumes ~4000 TWh of electricity and the change to all EV transportation is not happening overnight. Over the next decade or two a roughly 25% increase in electricity generation is completely achievable solely through scaling out solar/wind/batteries. This is also probably the worst case scenario for EV adoption, as US drivers travel further on average than drivers from other countries.

I find your dismissal of solar/wind very amusing especially since we are already living in the takeoff phase of widespread affordable solar/wind power generation. New generating starts in the last decade in the US for solar/wind are already on the order of ~400 TWh while costs for solar/wind have fallen by ~80% and ~40% respectively over the same time period. This trend will intensify, not recede.

Edited by southernplain
Missed a number or two
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 6/3/2021 at 4:11 PM, SpaceFace545 said:

And not everyone would be thrilled about potential microwave death beams floating above their heads.

Yes, the same breed that are afraid of 5G cell towers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

16 minutes ago, southernplain said:

Multiply the three numbers together and you get roughly 967 TWh of electricity need if every single driver only drove electric vehicles.

And reread my post, I was talking about all drivers in the world, and made a rough estimation, just to illustrate that the replacemenet of the combustion cars with the electric cars will require additional powerplants comparable to the existing one.

So, you just have illustrated my thesis.

18 minutes ago, southernplain said:

I find your dismissal of solar/wind very amusing especially since we are already living in the takeoff phase of widespread affordable solar/wind power generation. New generating starts in the last decade in the US for solar/wind are already on the order of ~400 TWh while costs for solar/wind have fallen by ~80% and ~40% respectively over the same time period. This trend will intensify, not recede.

Just 400 ?  Of 4 ? And the cars even didn't get electric?
Looks like it's still a long way to Tipperary.

Why do you think it's a takeoff rather than a quick jump?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
54 minutes ago, kerbiloid said:

Just 400 ?  Of 4 ? And the cars even didn't get electric?
Looks like it's still a long way to Tipperary.

Why do you think it's a takeoff rather than a quick jump?

My apologies, I did the number wrong in my head US energy consumption is 4000 TWh, not 4 TWh.

Hopefully my math is correct this time.

Re: takeoff. US solar generating capacity expanded at a rate of 58% increase year over year over the last decade. Even forecasting 19% year over year growth (the average of the last three years) over the next decade puts new solar starts alone at 425 TWh.

Never mind increasing economies of scale and a better incentive mix as local/state/federal governments mandate renewable energy use.

Edited by southernplain
Math wrong again
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I’ve seen articles stating that American utilities are finding it cheaper to build solar and shut down existing coal plants than to just keep the existing coal plants running. A good sign if ever there was one. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

20 minutes ago, StrandedonEarth said:

I’ve seen articles stating that American utilities are finding it cheaper to build solar and shut down existing coal plants than to just keep the existing coal plants running. A good sign if ever there was one. 

Right!

Wind power is much more mature than solar and has grown by 356% over the last decade.

Having solar and wind growing at double digits percentages per year over the next decade radically reshapes the US electricity generation landscape. That extra capacity can be used to reduce the coal/natural gas generating capacity (already happening, coal capacity declined by 1050 TWh 2010-2020) and electrify sectors like transport.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 hours ago, kerbiloid said:

That's not a reason to spend the limited uranium deposits on much less efficient type of powerplants than fusion.
And the glassification is not an end product, it's just a throwing of a trouble ball into the future.
Especially since we need much moar power in coming decades, for example to charge the electric cars.

According to This Article we currently know about roughly 230 years worth of uranium fuel at current usage, and further exploration is likely to double this.(not including things like sea-water extraction)

But Uranium is not the only option for fission, Thorium is more common than Uranium and roughly 100% of Thorium is useable as nuclear fuel(as opposed to 0.7% of uranium).

There was a research thorium reactor that showed Thorium can be a safe and reliable power source, extending the potential life-span of nuclear fission by more than 100 fold(into the tens of thousands of years).

 

Fusion will be great if/when we can get it to produce power in an economic fashion, but we are not there yet, and there are a lot of hurdles yet to pass to get there.  Perhaps fusion will be our power source in 20, 50, or 500 years, but for today, nuclear fission is the safest, most reliable, and least polluting power source currently available.  (most co2 pollution from nuclear plants comes from making the cement used to build them, similar to Hydro, but dams use more cement per kwh)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 6/3/2021 at 4:43 PM, SpaceFace545 said:

We still will need oil, or atleast an oil alternative. Our modern life revolves around it and not just for gas. Plastic, rubber, foam, composites, carbon fiber, tires, medical garb, sanitary equipment, anything disposable, sadly water bottles, vinyl, etc. Modern civilization frankly can't exist without black gold.

I'm kinda late to this conversation, but it's scary how few people realize any of that.

On 6/3/2021 at 6:09 PM, HvP said:

I've been saying for years that one of the most important reasons to transition to renewable resources is so that we can save all that oil we are going to need for other products, instead of just burning it up.

However, it is possible to make bioplastics from plant based polymers (that's where the oil in the ground came from in the first place after all.) It's just more energy intensive than using the oil that was made naturally in the ground. If we do manage to achieve surplus energy from sustainable fusion or renewables then sustainable bioplastics industry might eventually become economical.

The last thing I saw on bioplastics was a random article a few  years ago saying the biggest drawback was everything they'd managed to make so far was dangerously flammable, in addition to being more costly to make.   But that was a few years ago and I haven't heard any info since.  Any idea if that is still (or ever was) true?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

14 minutes ago, Cavscout74 said:

everything they'd managed to make so far was dangerously flammable, in addition to being more costly to make. 

As far as I'm aware, the main component of bioplastic production is extracted cellulose from agricultural products. Cellulose is of course naturally very flammable so flame-retardant additives have to be used. The difficulty is choosing additives that are economical, sustainable, non-toxic, and aren't themselves sourced from petrochemicals. I'm not sure this will ever be achieved in all respects unless energy production itself becomes so cheap as to justify the extra costs. The most recent research I can find dates back to 2016 and didn't seem to advance anything particularly game changing.

Of course, plastic itself is also intrinsically flammable and has flame-retardants added to it so there is precedent.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...