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Comment: Re:Please, not another Clinton (Score 1) 676

by blindseer (#49460833) Attached to: Hillary Clinton Declares 2016 Democratic Presidential Bid

I saw video of Jeb Bush speaking at the NRA annual meeting this weekend. His speech was the most uninspiring I've heard in a long time. On the other hand nearly every other potential Republican candidate that spoke was inspiring, animated, and just wowed the audience. Any one of them would be better than another Clinton or Bush.

Everyone, Republican or Democrat, is going to do what they can to see that she does not get into the White House. Problem is that she's given these people plenty of dirt to dig up on her. She's a nut case. The only reason I believe she's running is that she's got nothing to lose. She won't be spending her own money on this campaign, it will be from donors. If she wins then she gets a few years to blame a Bush for the nation's problems, or Obama, whichever is convenient. At the same time she can use the force of her office to pave a way for her daughter to get elected.

Comment: Perfect application for LFTR (Score 2) 332

by blindseer (#49459699) Attached to: California Looks To the Sea For a Drink of Water

Flibe Energy likes to talk about how their liquid fluoride thorium reactors can provide electricity and process heat for desalination. California is short on electricity and water, a perfect place for LFTR. The earthquake problem might be an issue but LFTR doesn't work like the first and second generation reactors in Fukushima and Chernobyl. This is a fourth generation design that cannot explode. A meltdown is possible but unlikely, and if it occurs a China Syndrome situation is impossible as once containment is lost so is criticality.

Since LFTR involves continuous processing of fission products it would nearly eliminate the risks of iodine and strontium radioisotopes being released into the environment. Any loss of containment would be small as the continuous processing allows for harvesting these elements for use in medical and industrial applications. Solid fuels prevent this because all those radioactive fission products in a solid fuel rod at once makes the spent fuel uneconomical to process as it is much too radioactive, and allowing the radiation to decay means the valuable isotopes have decayed away as well.

California using LFTR to make energy and drinking water cheaply for its population won't happen any time soon of course. They'd rather drive profitable industry out of the state. It has been said that people get the government they deserve. California has voted themselves water shortages and high electricity prices.

Comment: Re:Carbon emissions? (Score 1) 332

by blindseer (#49459633) Attached to: California Looks To the Sea For a Drink of Water

Methane from biological sources is not natural gas, even if it shares chemical composition. Natural gas is what we call the methane we drill out of the ground, bio-methane is what I believe biological sourced methane is called. If the energy came from biological processes then I would expect anyone that ran those systems would consider it insulting for it to be called natural gas.

Comment: Re:But not to Nestle. (Score 1) 332

by blindseer (#49458705) Attached to: California Looks To the Sea For a Drink of Water

Agriculture is the big culprit, taking 80% of the state's water (and in return ag and mining together only make up 2% of the economy). Its a totally unsustainable situation that has to be remedied sooner or later.

That's only relevant if the people of California do not eat or buy products made of metals, like automobiles, washing machines, computers, pots & pans, or canned foods & beverages.

Would you prefer that California's economy relied 80% on farming and mining? It could mean that California reverts to an economy of the gold rush days where most everyone was a miner or rancher. California could make agriculture and mining use only 2% of the water. It could mean driving mining and agriculture out of the state, driving up prices for nearly everything we buy.

Be careful what you wish for.

Comment: EV and being "green" (Score 1) 229

I assume GM has done studies on how much electric vehicles save on carbon emissions. How does GM defend itself against claims that electric vehicles are no better, or worse, for the environment than diesel or gasoline engined vehicles? In the USA a large portion of utility electricity comes from coal and natural gas. In some places electricity comes from burning fuel oil, a very dirty source of electricity.

Can GM defend an electric vehicle as being "green" when the potential buyer lives in a place where the electricity comes from coal or fuel oil?

Comment: Re:Battery tech on 2500 and 3500 pickups? (Score 1) 229

My uncle worked at a Buick/GMC dealership when those were offered. I asked him how many he sold, told me zero were sold. This dealership had a customer base that was largely farmers and factory workers looking for a middle of the line reliable ride. These people aren't the kind to buy the new shiny tech so perhaps a poor example.

Also, being a largely rural community the customers tended to need to drive considerable distances regularly. Battery electric does not do well with that.

From what I've seen those that would use a welder away from utility power would tend to buy an ICE powered welder, basically the generator is built in with the welder. I don't see much of a market for such a large inverter on a commodity vehicle.

Comment: Re:Night (Score 1) 437

To all of those that posted doubting my math that we don't have enough material in the world to make a nation sized storage battery:

To all those hating on my "rare earth" comments, my fingers jumped ahead on my thoughts about the battery when I meant the comment on rare earths only for the magnets in the flywheel motors. No rare earths metals in the batteries. Will need gobs of rare earth metals for efficient flywheel storage.

If you dispute the need for rare earth metals in the flywheels then so be it. With the earth's core made of nickel and iron it's quite likely we won't run out of those elements to make flywheel storage work. Problem still lies in the cost of producing the flywheels. Efficiency gains can be made in using the densest materials we can find in creating these flywheels. What elements in the earth's crust is abundant and dense? The top two on my list would be tungsten and... uranium. If we are going to mine uranium then why waste it in making an energy storage flywheel if we can use it as an energy source?

I thought you people cared about preserving the environment. You'd rather be digging up all kinds of lead for huge batteries, or steel for flywheels, than just get a little bit of thorium and uranium for a nuclear reactor. Shame on those of you suggesting pumped hydro, do you not feel for the delta smelt?

The way I see it solar and wind are environmental disasters just waiting to happen. They will kill birds in flight, disturb the landscape, poison the water, and I haven't even got to all the mining needed for the materials required yet. Solar and wind don't sound so "green" any more, do they?

Comment: Re:Building nuclear illegal in CA (Score 1) 437

Notice that when the sun shine, there is no need to use natural gas, so gas use is reduced. Your argument is mistaken.

You seem to have missed a very important data point I have already given. Combined cycle power is twice as efficient as gas turbines.

I'll give a simple example. Assume that whenever the sun shines the solar panel produces maximum power. Assume that when the sun does not shine that all power comes from gas turbines. Peak power usage is not at noon, but at about 6:00PM, when the sun sets. So about half of the energy used is produced by solar, half by natural gas. Now assume that there were no solar panels, or natural gas turbines, but instead only combined cycle natural gas. Combined cycle is twice as efficient as the gas turbines so for the same fuel we get twice the electrical energy. In both situations we burn the same amount of fuel and get the same amount of electricity. Because it takes a lot of material and labor to make a solar panel the energy it produces costs twice what that same energy would be from combined cycle. Because gas turbines burn twice as much fuel as combined cycle that energy costs twice as much. So, we get the same energy, burning the same amount of fuel, and pay twice as much for it. A total loser.

My very simple example ignores a lot of what happens in the real world, most notably that solar power produces the same output at noon as it does at twilight. Real world means that relying on solar mean increased carbon output or only very slight reductions. Either way it means a near double increase of cost in electricity.

I'll go one step further, just to twist the knife. Solar power is right now about 20% efficient for common utility grade panels. Theoretical efficiency for photovoltaic panels is near 60%. Theoretical efficiency for a solar power heat engine is 95%, current efficiency is about 30% with future expected efficiency near 75%. To be kind I'll give solar power a 3x gain on efficiency, and say that makes solar power cost 1/3 what it does now. Solar power now is estimated to cost between double and triple what coal, natural gas combined cycle, nuclear, and hydro, cost. Those four power sources are near equal in price. Being kind again I'll say the price is only double, and we will assume future manufacture costs remain the same so future solar would cost only 2/3rds what electricity costs now. A win then, right?

Not so much. Solar power only works during the day. We'd need something to not only store that solar power but produce enough excess to store for the night. Now we have to first double the solar power produced, which turns 2/3rds the cost to 4/3rds the cost. Then we need to pay for the storage mechanisms, since we are already at a loss I don't see a point to speculate that cost.

What if we don't store the energy? Use something else to make up for the night time? Like natural gas turbines? That gets back to what I laid out before, but instead of a double in cost we get something like 1.5x the cost. What if we use wind? Wind doesn't always blow and costs the same or more than the natural gas turbines. Going any further and we have a grid much like we have now except with perhaps solar contributing perhaps 15% to 20% rather than what we have now where it's less than 1%. Going any higher than that 15% and there is a risk of destabilizing the grid from severe weather and the odd solar eclipse.

Comment: Re:solar and wind are just proxies for natural gas (Score 1) 437

You are talking about what solar might be able to do in ten years. That's nice, but I suggest we talk about now. Right now we have second and third generation nuclear reactors which can burn uranium at an efficiency of 0.5%. With that terrible performance nuclear already has, compared to solar power, lower carbon output, longer operation lifespans, shorter energy payback, and lower costs at the meter.

Now I'll talk about what can happen in ten years. Solar panels might be able to go from the 10 to 20% efficiency to perhaps 40%. Theoretical limits place photovoltaic panels at 60% or so. A heat engine that runs from solar power has a theoretical efficiency of 95% but real world efficiency would be more like somewhere between 20% and 60%, not far from where they are now. So, we can expect a gain of efficiency that is double to triple of what we have now, given more time we might get a quadruple gain.

Nuclear power now takes 0.5% of the fuel, boils water, and runs a heat engine with an efficiency of about 20% to 30%, more advanced reactors that are currently operating may get as high as 40%. Fourth generation nuclear reactors like WAMSR (waste annihilating molten salt reactors) and LFTR (liquid fluoride thorium reactors) burn 99% of the fuel. They do not boil water but instead use carrier salt and gas turbines, allowing the use of temperatures and technologies capable of 60% efficiency. This translates to an efficiency that is merely double to an efficiency that is 1000x what we have now, depending on how one defines efficiency.

Then there is the matter that nuclear power works in all weather, at all altitudes and latitudes, day or night, with an operational up time of about 85%. For solar to compete with that on cost requires material technology developments, and energy storage developments, far beyond what we have now. These same technologies would also benefit nuclear power.

You can place your bet on solar power but I won't.

Comment: Oil price has hit a six year low! YAY! (Score 1) 437

The solar power people should be celebrating right now. Oil is now the cheapest it has been in six years. Why should they be celebrating? Because oil price is a proxy for energy prices. If oil is cheap then all energy is cheap.

If oil is cheap then energy sources like oil shale and tar sands look like a bad idea. If oil is expensive then that makes oil shale and tar sands look profitable.

I hear so many times how we need to make oil expensive to save the whales, or whatever needs saving this week, and that just sounds counter to the basics of economics to me. We need to make oil cheap. Make it so cheap that no one wants it.

I can buy one ton of dirt for $5, I've done it. Why can I buy dirt that cheap? Because no one wants it. If people wanted it then it would not be that cheap. It costs more in the fuel to get it than the dirt itself costs. Make oil the same and no one will go get it. Make energy so cheap that no one will bother to expend the energy to get the oil.

How do we make energy so cheap that no one bothers to drill for oil? Well, I have an idea. My idea does not involve carbon credits, energy taxes, or any of that because all of those raise the price of energy. Raise the price of energy and things like coal and oil shale is profitable. DO NOT TAX CARBON!

Another thing, who makes the most profit from oil? It's not the oil companies. It's not the refineries. It certainly is not the local filling station. It's the government. Taxes on fossil fuels makes the government piles of money. They aren't going to kill their golden goose. Demanding a raise in carbon taxes only makes the government more dependent on fossil fuels.

Solar panels cost the government money, they subsidize their production. Where does this money come from? Oil taxes. What happens if solar power replaces oil and the tax structure stays in place? The government runs out of money. When the government gets serious about solar power then we will see it taxed. Not only do solar power subsidies take money from the poor and give it to the rich people that can afford solar power it is holding solar power back.

Solar power subsidies is holding it back. The solar power industry exists to maximize government subsidy, not energy output. Remove the subsidy and the industry must either make something that can compete with oil or fade out of existence. Our economy cannot support losers forever.

Comment: Re:solar and wind are just proxies for natural gas (Score 1) 437

Let's do this math here. Nuclear power is the most hated power source in existence. Nuclear power requires massive government subsidies to survive. After all of that it is still the most expensive energy source we have. So, explain to me why we have not shut them all down already?

Money wins every time.

That's right, money wins every time. The only way a nuclear power plant can survive the onslaught of demands to be shut down is because they make gobs of money. Nuclear power provides something like 20% of the electricity consumed in the USA. If we shut them all down we simply could not produce enough windmills and solar panels to make up for that.

Why haven't solar and wind power replaced nuclear power already? Because money wins every time. Solar is, at best, three times the cost of nuclear. Wind costs about double.

If you want to talk about government funds in nuclear power then we'd have to talk about all the money the government has put into solar. That money has been piled on and it still cannot compete with nuclear.

Comment: Re:Building nuclear illegal in CA (Score 1) 437

NASA studied space based solar extensively for years and it will never happen. The energy required to get the material into orbit to create the solar station cannot be returned in the lifetime of that station. Barring some great leap in solar power technology it simply cannot be feasible.

Just stop with the space based solar.

In Nature there are neither rewards nor punishments, there are consequences. -- R.G. Ingersoll