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On Fossil Fuels are for Making Stuff

Allwood and Cullen convincingly argued in their book that you really need to deliver the same materials services, but with less material if you want to reduce emissions in steel making (and aluminium). Energy efficiency options are somewhat limited because materials manufacturing is now ultra-efficient.

On CCS I am skeptical. Most of the emissions from materials manufacturing are in China, and the percentage that is in the developed world goes down year by year. The chances of China, India or any other modernising economy sticking carbon capture devices on blast furnaces is incredibly low. And we aren't even doing this in western countries now, so I cannot see China doing it tomorrow.

 

April 16, 2014    View Comment    

On Can Nuclear Power and Renewable Energy Learn to Get Along?

Alan

The underlying assumption of what you are arguing is that natural gas is preferable to nuclear. And that burning more natural gas is preferable if we can loosen up the system to make way for more renewables. Is this not the case?


The economic arguments of course always feel more than a little half-baked. Imagine if I dangled a renewable power plant in front of you, one that could deliver an identical service as a nuclear power plant, but with the same economics. You can't honestly tell me that you would be complaining about it being uneconomic.

April 15, 2014    View Comment    

On Can Nuclear Power and Renewable Energy Learn to Get Along?

A secondary issue, which would be interesting to explore at some point, is whether, say, 40% nuclear and 40% renewables works better than 80% renewables, if you get storage figured out. My suspicion is that the technical challenges around a mix are possibly lower than they are for 80% renewables. Curtailment of renewables is a major challenge. And the biggest problem of course is the long stretches where there is no wind.

I have never looked to see if there is tecnical literature addressing the point though.

April 15, 2014    View Comment    

On Can Nuclear Power and Renewable Energy Learn to Get Along?

A common myth is that nuclear power plants have two positions: on or off.This myth is one of the reasons many think renewables and nuclear are incompatible.

However France produces easily available output data for all of its nuclear power plants. Available at the link below.

http://clients.rte-france.com/lang/an/visiteurs/vie/prod/production_groupe.jsp


For example Cattentom 1 ran at around 300 MW throughout most of last Sunday and then in the space of a couple of hours ramped up to 1200 MW. If you believe what many people say then this is technically impossible, but the French do it.

Strangely the same myth is believed by many regarding coal plants. Odd given how some countries run their entire grid on coal.

April 15, 2014    View Comment    

On Can Nuclear Power and Renewable Energy Learn to Get Along?

N Nadir


Jesse has posed an interesting question that is worthy of serious discussion.

Is it possible that we could discuss it in a grown up manner, that does not rapidly descend into a generic renewables versus nuclear debate? Otherwise what is the point in having the comments section.

April 15, 2014    View Comment    

On Can Nuclear Power and Renewable Energy Learn to Get Along?

Thanks Jesse

This is the view I have held for a long time. As I explained in the post below curtailment of renewables can become a very serious problem at high penetrations. Obviously it varies a lot on location and renewables. Curtailment is a far bigger problem for solar in Germany than for offshore wind.

http://theenergycollective.com/robertwilson190/288846/low-capacity-factors-challenge-low-carbon-energy-transition

So getting to a majority share of renewables will almost certainly require lots of storage. Otherwise you have to curtail a vast amount of electricity which will just make higher penetrations incredibly expensive.

Of course some people will point to Denmark and say that they are showing you how it can be done without storage, but Denmark is a unique case. If it is really windy then they can export the electricity due to them having an incredible number of interconnectors.


You raise a good question about what penetration levels renewables can reach. Capacity factor is probably a good rough ball park at the minute, until storage comes along.

For example The National Grid has advised the UK government that there should not be any more than 60% wind/solar on the grid at any time. If this is not relaxed then obviously it places a significant limit on RE in the UK.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/solar-pv-electricity-systems-and-the-national-grid-a-briefing-note-for-decc


However an issue perhaps worth exploring, if you are going to, is looking into how different electricity mixes work with storage.

There is some interesting work out of Stanford that suggested that non-geological storage does not really work for wind, but does for solar.

http://news.stanford.edu/news/2013/september/curtail-energy-storage-090913.html

It might then be interesting to see how well storage works with different nuclear/RE mixes. And it is possible that generalisations such as "nuclear works well with renewables so long as there is storage" are a bit too simplistic.

 

April 15, 2014    View Comment    

On How Big Is The World's Biggest Solar Farm?

Bas


The piece was about the size of solar farms. I did not mention nuclear energy at any point. So why are you de-railing this with discussion about your fringe belief that nuclear power plants have altered the sex ratio in Europe? Clearly you are very anti-nuclear, and have little interest in doing anything other than attack nuclear energy. If the subject under discussion was nuclear energy this would be fine. But it is not.

April 14, 2014    View Comment    

On What is the Greenest Source of Electricity?

Lindsay

There is of course a caveat with the solar CO2 figures. They vary a lot depending on where the solar panel was made and where it is located. Solar can actually vary by a factor of around 4, i.e. the carbon intensity of electricity from a Chinese made solar panel located in the UK will be about four times higher than that from electricity from a US made solar panel in Arizona.


Recent DECC figures estimate that it is around 90 g CO2/kWh for Chinese solar panels in the UK.
Whether that is too high is a matter of debate, however the fact that most of those emissions are in China means that the point is not likely to be debated much.

April 14, 2014    View Comment    

On How Big Is The World's Biggest Solar Farm?

Do I really need to explain that a discussion about whether EBR II style reactors can meltdown is off topic?

April 12, 2014    View Comment    

On How Big Is The World's Biggest Solar Farm?

There are two Roberts in the forum. Please make it clear who you are directing your comments at. And do we really need to start talking about the details of the testing of the EBR II reactor? If people want to talk about nuclear energy instead of the footprint of solar then it's probably easy to find somewhere appropriate.

April 12, 2014    View Comment    

On How Big Is The World's Biggest Solar Farm?

What are we doing here? Grading the behaviour of various religions or something?

April 12, 2014    View Comment    

On How Big Is The World's Biggest Solar Farm?

Bas


So, a German state is going to become a wind farm and cover every available piece of land in 7.5 MW wind turbines. 200 metre tall wind turbines as far as the eye can see. Is this a serious proposal?

April 12, 2014    View Comment