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Comment: Re:Electrostatic Inertial Confinement Fusion (Score 1) 225

by Maury Markowitz (#47381329) Attached to: Senate Budgetmakers Move To End US Participation In ITER

> Installed panels in utility scale installations are now cheaper than nuclear without subsidy

Good point. Everyone that gets here, you need to go look carefully at page 2 of this report:

As you can see, utility-scale PV systems (solar farms) are significantly less expensive that modern nuclear plants. And yes, those are UNSUBSIDIZED costs.

Comment: Re:Electrostatic Inertial Confinement Fusion (Score 1) 225

by Maury Markowitz (#47381301) Attached to: Senate Budgetmakers Move To End US Participation In ITER

> I think you and I have different definitions of "easily".

In a thread on fusion? Really?

> Even with subsidies and a substantial government policy push the percentage of electricity generation by
> renewables has gone from 9% in 2008 to just under 13% in 2013

I'm curious, can you provide similar numbers for the uptake of coal between 1700 and 1705? Or oil between 1905 and 1910? I suspect their share of the overall energy pie increased much more slowly.

> Doubling or tripling our nuclear power output in the next 30 years would be the only possible way to really limit

Bologna. Wind is going in faster than nuclear did in '69, its best ever year.

It's done, stick a fork in it. (Which we did up here in Canuckia, selling off AECL for much less than the tax write-down).

Comment: Re:Prove that it is a boondoggle (Score 1) 225

by Maury Markowitz (#47381247) Attached to: Senate Budgetmakers Move To End US Participation In ITER

> is unclear if ITER is a money pit but let's assume for the moment that it is not

It is perfectly clear to everyone outside the fusion labs that ITER is a money pit. Here, let me quote them:

"First, we have to recognize that practical fusion power must measure up to or be superior to the competition in the electric power industry. Second, it is virtually certain that tokamak fusion as represented by ITER will not be practical."

That statement was written by Robert Hirsch. He used to run the entire US fusion effort. Or how about this:

"Long touted as an inexhaustible energy source for the next century, fusion as it is now being developed will almost certainly be too expensive and unreliable for commercial use. Scaling of the construction costs from the Bechtel estimates [...] capital charges alone would contribute 36 cents to the cost of generating each kilowatt hour. This is far outside the competitive price range."

That's from Lawrence Lidsky, director of the Plasma Fusion Center at MIT. When he published this he was shunned, and soon quit. To understand the problem, base load power is selling right now (checking...) for 3.21 cents/kWh, an order of magnitude lower than the lowest possible price from a widely optimistic paper design. And then all I have for room here is a snippet of a masterpiece:

"However, among those who are not part of ITER and who do not expect miracles, an ever increasing number of scientists is coming to the conclusion that commercial fusion reactors can never become a reality."

That's Michael Dittmar of the Institute of Particle Physics of ETH Zurich, and also CERN.

"yet another aircraft carrier that we really don't need"

An aircraft carrier might actually be used. Or it might end up being dumped as junk on a distant planet so Kurt Russell can walk past it. In either event, it will *actually work*, which is highly unlikely for any fusion design known to man. Yes, this includes the IEC devices like the polywell and focus fusion, which have been known to not be able to ever work (even in theory) for at least a decade. They're all smoking uncut hopium, and getting the press all excited on their slow news days.

Comment: Re:Sounds about right... (Score 1) 441

> The variable you are neglecting to consider is transmission losses.

Overstated almost always. The total US loss in transmission is 6%.

If you consider only the HDVC lines it's much smaller than that. The Manitoba Bipole 2, a 1000 km, 500 kVDC line, has losses on the order of 3.5%, and more modern designs are less. So crossing the ocean using the latest technology might cause losses on the order of 20%. These sorts of numbers can't be ignored, but they certainly aren't a "big deal". You'll lose 5% of the power from a PV array because of dirt.

Comment: Re:Wind and solar have this in common (Score 1) 441

> Therein, as the "Watts Up With That?" commenters point out, lies the problem

Incorrectly, as the math demonstrates.

> You can *only* achieve that kind of ROI if you're connected to a power grid

*Every* source of power has *some* down time, and relies on other generation assets during those periods. Pretending this is a new or unique problem simply demonstrates the poster's lack of knowledge of the way the grid works, and always has.

For instance, nuclear in Ontario would not be able to provide a stable power source if not for the presence of hydro, gas and coal plants (the later now shut down), which take off the peaks.

However, when discussing wind power in Ontario, inevitably someone brings up the tired old bromide about wind needing backup sources. Yet they never do the same when discussing nuclear in Ontario, which many of the anti-wind campaigners suggest as an alternative (to be more accurate, a subset of the pro-nuclear crowd is anti-wind).

> Power plants have a nasty habit of costing money every second while they're being kept in readiness

Without actual numbers, such statements are meaningless sophistry. Here is an article on the actual numbers:

What it says is that by mixing sources, you can lower the overall cost of the system as a whole. So even though a good PV day means the NG guy isn't selling all he wants, *the total profitability of the system as a whole is still greater than either of the sources on their own*. Just as interesting is the conclusion that once you have even a little bit of PV or wind in the system, the cost of adding more keeps going down.

Why anyone would find that surprising is a bit of a mystery to me, but so is a lot of the "line in the sand" sort of argument that always crops up - like this one.

Comment: Why would anyone be pleased? (Score 4, Interesting) 113

by Maury Markowitz (#47340319) Attached to: Is K-12 CS Education the Next Common Core?

"Badasses" probably won't be too pleased to see how the K-12 CS education revolution is shaping up, fueled by a deep-pocketed alliance of Gates, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and others"

So a group of rich nerds who freely admit their companies consist almost solely of overworked white males with no life and have absolutely no background in education are going to pay their way to changing the education system they don't understand?

What could possibly go wrong?

If they did this to congress we'd call it special interest group lobbying, or bribery, and would be printing stories about how money buys everything and how bad that is.

But when it comes to education, we happily accept this bribery because we all have an astonishingly low opinion of the school system, which, it should be obvious, created the country that made these people rich in the first place.

Comment: Re:Higher capacity for smaller roofs (Score 1) 262

> 8 x 250 x 0.80 = $1600
> 27 x 75 x 0.25 = $506.25

You are space limited, it's a roof. If you have room for 27 panels you have room for 27 panels, so you install 27 of the 250's:

27 x 250 x 0.80 = $5400
+ $2200 for inverter
+ 27 x 4 x 3.37 = $363.96 for pressure treated 2x4 racking
+ $15 for permitting
+ $50 + (27 x $10 = $320 for wiring
+ $50 for wiring final inspection
+ $0 for install
= $8078, or 1.19 per Watt.

I win again.

Comment: Re:Good! (Score 5, Insightful) 619

by Maury Markowitz (#47275849) Attached to: 2 US Senators Propose 12-Cent Gas Tax Increase

" Because one only needs to look at Ontario(once the primary GDP producer of Canada) to see what high energy prices, and poor government decision making do."

Indeed, everyone should try that. Some of the best test scores on the planet, one of the highest percentages of post-secondary education, billions and billions in biomed research every year, and a long, healthy life span.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe if you took off the crap coloured glasses you might not thing everything stinks so much.

Well, there is the winter...

Comment: Re:Where's the new ROI calculator? (Score 1) 262

by Maury Markowitz (#47272047) Attached to: Elon Musk's Solar City Is Ramping Up Solar Panel Production

> And the performance degrades over time. These calculators don't seem to take that into account.

Depends on the calculator. But it's a small effect anyway, about 10% over 25 years. BTW, the panels are expected to last 50 years, I don't know where you got 20 from.

Comment: Re:Upstate New York? Really? (Score 1) 262

by Maury Markowitz (#47271789) Attached to: Elon Musk's Solar City Is Ramping Up Solar Panel Production

> Upstate NY has access to power from Hydro Quebec

You know who else does? Quebec. And a idled factory economy that looks much like NYs. And a 10% exchange rate in his favour.

There's a reason phinergy chose Quebec for their battery show-and-tell, and I'm surprised they've been so passive attracting similar endeavours. Simply put, anyone with a product where the energy input cost isn't a rounding error should be there. They generate at 1.1 cents/kWh.

Comment: Re:OMG with orders of magnitude capacity? (Score 1) 262

by Maury Markowitz (#47271689) Attached to: Elon Musk's Solar City Is Ramping Up Solar Panel Production

"At $.25/W, that is a price of $50/m^2.
This is in the range where it's sort-of-comparable with other roof claddings."

A solar panel is essentially a single-pane skylight, or screen door. Wholesale prices should on on par with them, and you shouldn't expect it to depress much below that. Shingles are unlikely to ever be on par.

Comment: Re:Higher capacity for smaller roofs (Score 1) 262

by Maury Markowitz (#47271665) Attached to: Elon Musk's Solar City Is Ramping Up Solar Panel Production

> The cost of construction of PV panels is going up

No it's not. Raw material usage is going down continually. Intermediate steps and input chemicals is likewise decreasing, and being replaced by lower cost substitutes. The total material content and input stream in both materials and energy continues to decrease, and shows no sign of stopping.

> When that levels out, the cost of PVs will continue to increase.

Unless any one of the kerfless systems comes into production, at which point material use on the cell side goes down another 25 to 40%.

And yes, I've actually worked in a solar panel factory. I don't think you have done the same or I don't think you'd be making these statements.

If you fail to plan, plan to fail.