Why isn't electricity cheaper?


#1085

Renewable to me means that the material is regenerated as in bio-fuel which grows to replace the material consumed, in the case of the uranium, it’s harvested from the sea after it leeches out of the ground, the material is not regenerated.


#1086

The seawater content of uranium is regenerated to replace the material consumed. The fact that it comes from a finite reservoir is no different from the energy of solar photons for biofuel, which are similarly finite. Usable energy in the entire universe is finite in the long run. The concept of “renewability” contains an implicit timescale. Seawater uranium and solar photons are renewable over similar timescales so it is arbitrary to consider one renewable and not the other.


#1087

Biofuel? All good in theory but mostly a big scam. Cutting down mature forests to grow crap like palm oil and sugar cane.


#1088

Agreed, but it is a good way to restore land that has already been stripped of its natural vegetation, for example much of the bogland in Ireland would have originally been forest.


#1089

There Is Very Little Potential for biofuels on irelands peatland. There is some potential for AD and recovery from wastes. Afforestation of certain peatlands would make sense, depending on location.


#1090

Possibly a big deal

Some interest in Hydrogen at present


#1091

Ireland has essentially unlimited power from atlantic wind and current.

Its not harvested for whatever reason, but someone choosing to use the excess that the atlantic could produce would to well to get on it.

All this ‘what do we do when the wind blows at night and no one needs energy’ is a red herring.
The energy is essentially free and limitless so it should be put to use in some energy intensive form.

Setting up an array of liquid Hydrogen producing plants on the west coast would be the ideal answer.
This is a very energy intensive process but produces a liquid form of energy that can be transported and sold.

Critics will tell you its inefficient and wasteful - and they’d be correct; it is.
But its free; so who cares how inefficient it is?

Harness a MW of wind to produce a KW of hydrogen? Sacrilege!
But why?
If the source is free and limitless, why postpone its collection because of low conversion rates?
It makes no sense.

Energy is free and limitless - wind or solar.

This is the next revolution.


#1092

It’s more to do with the EROI economic return on investment, the costs of setting up such systems are too high for the returns. It is better to look more into battery(wide interpretation) storage systems that can release the stored energy back to electricity. Hydrogen also fits that bill along with many other static battery solutions.

Unfortunately none are cheap(er) than fossil fuels, it really needs a commitment to invest for the long term energy security for these systems to really come into their own, Ireland is one of the few countries in Europe that can easily become energy independent, and a net exporter of electricity.


#1093

Because the capital invested in the west coast offshore windfarm has to be recouped somehow. If the surplus power produced by such a windfarm garners such a low revenue, then it doesn’t pay to invest offshore. If we still want it and the market doesn’t pay back for that power, then the customers will have to pay regardless through the PSO…and that’s why isn’t electricity cheaper.

This is not a comment on what’s right or wrong…just a comment on economics.


#1094

Can I have one of your free windmills please? And a few free solar panels?

Also I’d like a free warranty and maintenance contract…


#1095

I don’t think he said the harvesters were free, just the resource (in reality, all natural resources are free), it’s the cost of converting them into useful energy that costs.

Which begs the question, could they be considered strategic, in the same way as defence is a strategic service that is a financial sinkhole that gets no return in a business sense, except for some job creation for the service sector. Most of the time it produces no economic benefit, but can save the country from invasion.


#1096

That must be worth billions. It’s quite amazing nobody ever thought of it, for whatever reason.


#1097

That’s a puff piece, I’m afraid – which merely parrots another puff piece. Eric Lerner of LPPFusion is an interesting guy but he’s as eccentric as they come. Here’s his own assessment of his dense plasma focus approach from four years ago – he’s the green “Focus Fusion” dot in the middle:

Lerner’s chart was only for non-tokamak approaches which he dealt with separately in another slide in the same presentation. Here’s a different assessment of tokamak appoaches from another article, with Z-pinch (an approach related to Focus Fusion) included at bottom:

The vertical scales need a bit of explaining. They represent the fusion triple product, the product of energy, confinement time, and density. The so-called Lawson Criterion sets the lower bound for this product to achieve net energy from fusion, which is handy because it is relevant across all the different approaches, allowing them to be compared.

Lerner’s scale only differs in that it has the ion energy in TeV instead of keV, and the ion number density in inverse cubic centimetres instead of metres. So multiply by 10e15 and you get 10e24 at the top of Lerner’s scale. That’s still higher than the tokamak scale. The difference is explained by Lerner using the Lawson criterion for D-D (deuterium) fusion instead of D-T (deuterium-tritium). The former needs ten times the temperature – 100 million degrees for D-D versus 10 million for D-T.

But Lerner is proposing aneutronic p-B11 fusion, which needs a temperature of a billion degrees, ten times higher again. If I understand it right, the triple product would be around 10e11 TeV sec / cc. That would put Focus Fusion five to six magnitudes away from net energy. Lerner has a shoestring budget and I don’t believe he’s achieved anything like that improvement in the past four years.

Aneutronic fusion is the holy grail, producing energy with no radioactivity and no need for a steam generation cycle. But I think it’s a very remote outside chance for the medium term. ITER and its successors will get there eventually with D-T fusion, but whether such giant and complicated machinery will ever be cost effective is another question. My hopes are pinned on compact tokamaks with HTS magnets being done by Tokamak Energy and MIT Sparc, or one of the inertial confinement concepts like EMC2 or Lockheed-Martin skunkworks.


#1098

I’m impressed with the amount of information that Tokamak Energy is sharing about its ongoing development.

For comparison, here is ITER’s recent update on their diverter – it looks damn complicated! So it ITER too complicated or is Tokamak Energy’s ST-40 too simple? Or is the compact spherical tokamak just inherently simpler? Answers on a postcard – I’ve no idea.


#1099

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41560-020-0661-2

Subsidy free windfafrm starting in 2021 in holland, 11MW turbines compares to 2-3 MW onshore turbines


#1100

That’s impressive. It’s also sobering. 200 metre rotor diameters. A square kilometre of space needed per turbine. The energy density is so tiny compared to fossil fuels and nuclear. At full nameplate capacity it could supply 4% of Netherlands instantaneous power requirements. Or about a third of a per cent of Germany’s. There are single gas turbines that can produce almost as much power as this entire field, much more reliably. I think if wind power can pay for itself, as this project seems to, by all means do it. I just can’t see it taking over the world, ever. Global installed wind capacity could exceed a terawatt this decade. At 30% capacity factor that’s around 2,000 TWh annually. Global electricity demand will be 35,000 TWh by the end of the decade. So wind won’t be much above its current 5% share of generation.