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Comment: Re:The problem with beaurocrats. (Score 1) 212

by gfxguy (#47781693) Attached to: Canada Tops List of Most Science-Literate Countries

The US health care system may be really good for the wealthy, but it really is not so good for the non wealthy people who can't afford it. We socialist Canadians think everyone should have health care.

And yet it still has nothing to do with scientific literacy.

The anonymous coward author is pulling @#%$ out of his ass to bring it up.

Comment: Re:Some can be done - and is. Most is bull. (Score 1) 442

by Smidge204 (#47728623) Attached to: Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy?

Sounds like you've got a much higher essential demand than what I figured on - desalinization?

Sorry for the delayed reply but I was re-running the numbers :)

When I was doing the calcs originally, I was really only interested in staving off power outages like we had with Sandy, which was about two weeks worth... not being completely off-grid. So focusing on hurricane season as a baseline, a 7kW system with 6kWh of storage would provide essentially unlimited off-grid capability from April through December *if* I managed my power consumption to essentials with just a little bit of creature comfort.

The winter months, however, result in a deep, DEEP deficit. I'd need 10kW of PV with 80 kWh of storage to be completely off-grid based on PVWatts data (with no power management). Of course, that's still relying only on Solar, and being completely off-grid was never the intention.

I don't pertain my own home is a good proxy for a regional or national grid, though ;)

Comment: Re:Drop solar heat for direct conversion (Score 1) 521

by Smidge204 (#47711961) Attached to: Solar Plant Sets Birds On Fire As They Fly Overhead

Except you can not exceed the solar power that hits the surface of the planet from the sun.

...which is a hell of a lot of energy. Collectively it's several orders of magnitude more than we as a species could ever reasonably harness, let alone use.

You could, for example, generate more kWh of electricity by putting 15% nominal efficiency PV systems on the roofs of ONLY single-family homes in the US, based on 2010 census data (67% of 130 million residences being single-family homes, with an average size of 2,400 sq.ft.).

In other words, we could hypothetically generate more than 100% of the electricity we need in 7800 square miles - about 5 Rhode Islands. That's at 15% nominal efficiency, assuming only 4 hours per day of operation. In other words, an extremely conservative value.

Just putting things into perspective.

Comment: Re:Some can be done - and is. Most is bull. (Score 1) 442

by Smidge204 (#47711197) Attached to: Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy?

What resources did you use to model these inputs? PVWatts I can understand for solar, but I'm not aware of any similar tools for wind and micro-hydro. Genuinely interested in what your data sources were.

Not that I'm yet convinced your model is applicable to a regional or national scale grid. Did you account for geographical diversity? Availability of these resources spread out over maybe 200-300 mile radius?

Also, peak demand of 5kW for 3 hours? My home has all electric appliances and I rarely, if ever, hit that... including the 3kW clothes dryer. This observation is neither here nor there, but that just strikes me as a high value.

To put things into perspective, I've been collecting minute-by-minute data for my own home's electrical usage (Got one of these things) and based on incomplete-at-the-time data it was looking like I could get away completely off-grid with a 6-7kW PV system and about 6kWH of storage. Less if I was smarter about how and when I used that power. Maybe your data doesn't have good enough resolution to really optimize the system.

Comment: Re:Estimates (Score 2) 521

by Smidge204 (#47711105) Attached to: Solar Plant Sets Birds On Fire As They Fly Overhead

1. Solar Thermal plants are built in the desert because that's where they have the most ideal operating conditions. The fact that there are more birds in forests than deserts is completely irrelevant because they don't build concentrating solar plants in forests.

2. We would expect the casualties to scale roughly with the number of plants, so is you had 1,000 such plants, that would be 1,000x the casualties. Still a drop in the bucket compared to the billions of birds killed by feral cats every year in North America.

3. You are right, of course, however you have to consider a cost-benefit as well. The cost of preventing bird deaths from not building concentrating solar plants (both monetarily and environmentally) versus, say, the cost of preventing bird deaths by doing something about the cat population. If saving the birds is the priority, then perhaps your dollar would be better spent on programs to reduce feral cat populations than preventing solar thermal plants from being built.


Comment: Re:Some can be done - and is. Most is bull. (Score 1) 442

by Smidge204 (#47696889) Attached to: Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy?

A single home isn't a very good proxy for a regional or even national scale grid.

With your house example, the only options are solar and generator. In reality you would have more than these two options. For example, add wind to the mix. You can argue that it's not 100% but it will cover a lot of run time at night, saving you battery capacity and reducing the required over-sizing of your PV system. Perhaps instead of 400% oversizing on PV, you only need 200% PV+Wind oversize.

Now add in something else... biogas perhaps. That covers you a little bit more and you can again reduce your oversizing.

Now add geothermal, hydro, solar-thermal (which works at night), and you start to easily fill in the gaps.

The US had 1,153 billion watts of generating capacity as of 2011 (Nameplate ratings, spreadsheet) and used ~3,797 billion kilowatthours that year. Naively we can say that if all our powerplants ran at 100% nameplate capacity, we could generate an entire year's worth of electrical energy in just about 3300 hours, or about 4 months... giving us a roughly 300% oversize on our electrical generating capacity *now*.

The key, of course, is that none of those plants are operating 24/7/365, and rarely are any of them operating at peak capacity.

Comment: Re:There is a big construction boom in Germany... (Score 1) 442

by Smidge204 (#47696309) Attached to: Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy?

I'd also point out that Germany's accelerated decommissioning of nuclear power plants (all shutdown in 8 years) has a lot more to do with the coal plants than the increase in renewables.

Doesn't make sense: Coal power has actually decreased since 2000 when it was first decided that Germany should ween themselves off of Nuclear power, and the slight increase in coal power in the past two years is only a fraction of retired nuclear capacity, both in total and as a percent of total generation.

Germany's renewable energy push is what's filling that gap. If it wasn't for the nuclear phase-out, they'd probably have lost a third of their coal plants instead.

Comment: Re:For some it was just a plain black screen (Score 1) 304

Yeah... but Woolworth's is still in business? That's what's newsworthy... every Woolworths store I've ever known has been shutdown for ages.

I work for television production, and luckily those creative types keep Macs persistent in our computer inventory, but most desktops are still Windows; we still use Maya on Windows, and even those lucky enough to get MacBooks get Windows installed (one of our VPs called his MacBook the best Windows computer he ever had).

It's not happening enough to matter. I'm glad I can choose what to work on... yes, I dual boot and select Linux most of the time, but I do have to use Windows for some things, still, and yes, even at home we have Windows boxes (and out of four people, I'm the only one who dual boots).

Comment: Re:There is a big construction boom in Germany... (Score 1) 442

by Smidge204 (#47694875) Attached to: Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy?

Germany is actually a net exporter - Their total gross production (Bruttoerzeugung insgesamt) for 2013 was 629.0 TWh, while their total consumption (Brutto-Inlandsstromverbrauch) was 596.0 TWh for that same year... resulting in a net import of -33 TWh, aka an export. Of course, these are year averages and they almost certainly import during some times of the year, and when they do most of it comes from France, Denmark, Sweden and Czech Republic.

I also do think it's somewhat unfair to use numbers all the way back to 1990. If we are interested in the impact of renewables, then it would be more appropriate to go back to 2001 at the earliest, when the Renewables Energy Act went into effect. That's when they started getting serious about it.

We can instead consider 1990-2000 as a baseline decade to compare the 2001-2013 decade to, in terms of growth by fuel type.

In the 1990-2000 decade, coal decreased and was supplanted by nuclear and natural gas. In the 2001-2013 numbers, total coal decreases slightly overall but nuclear drops considerably post-Fukushima. Natural gas ramped up to nearly double mid-decade but dropped back down to about 20% higher than it was in 2001. The resulting gaps between these decreased outputs and increased demand is filled entirely by renewables which nearly quadrupled in capacity to become the second largest energy source in the country, just a hair's width (15 TWh) behind soft coal.

Chemist who falls in acid will be tripping for weeks.