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Comment Re:Phase out fossil-fueled power plants by midcent (Score 1) 308

Even though a new solar plant would turn a modest profit, utilities have no reason to build them because adding solar to the grid hurts the profits of their existing plants by a disproportionate amount. Unlike fossil power, the sun does not get more expensive during peak times of demand, and this has been shown to drive down spot prices and cut or eliminate the profits of existing peaker plants. This is partly an effect of the fixed-price subsidized power purchase agreements that solar farms are using now, but those agreements are designed to ensure utilities will even buy the solar energy at all, rather than exploit their existing plants.

Clean energy is approaching (and in some places has already reached) grid price parity even *without* rate or tax subsidies. Remember this is competing against the fossil industry, which is subsidized directly and indirectly to the tune of $5.2 trillion per year globally. When we finally put a price on carbon to reflect the harm fossil fuels do to public health and the environment, there will be no contest and only then utilities will voluntarily replace fossil plants en masse.

A rapid transition to clean energy would result in massive stranded assets, but in the end would mean far less of our GDP going to energy, pollution, and health care, and letting us invest in things like food, water, and education. Some utilities are forward-thinking, but most will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the future by regulators--and the regulators can only achieve this if they have the social and political mandate to create a clean energy future. This is why I say that *large scale change* is only possible if significant changes in the social and political landscape occur.

Comment Re:Phase out fossil-fueled power plants by midcent (Score 4, Insightful) 308

I heartily support the construction of all nuclear plants that have an competitive lifecycle cost. I'm sure they will a fill a niche in the market that the currently endless flood of solar, wind, and grid-storage bids at a quarter the cost cannot possibly fill.

Sarcasm aside, take a look at some of the recent studies showing how to decarbonize electricity production in the next 20 to 40 years with no new research, and coincidentally, very little new nuclear capacity. The ONLY barriers are social and political--even now the economics are so compelling that every call for projects solicits more than regulators and utilities want to accept. In another 2-5 years, battery tech will invalidate every last excuse they have been using to discourage wind and solar, and the fuel-free future will finally take off.

Comment That was 3 years ago (Score 4, Insightful) 222

You can't "invent" cheaper tech--it only gets cheaper if you invest in mass-producing it. They gave up 3 years ago, and since then market forces have actually achieved price parity for renewables in a lot of the world. It wasn't any new "magic bullet" research that did it, but incremental improvements driven by economies of scale. Yes, government played a big role, but primarily as a driver of demand and investor in manufacturing.

The climate does not have time to wait for a new technology to be developed and go through the whole sequence of commercialization and commoditization. The solar panels, wind turbines and batteries we already have can do the job--and the more we build, the cheaper they get.. This is one place I wish market purists would get on board--put a price on carbon, and solutions will come out of the woodwork and plummet in price.

Comment Re: This is silly (Score 1) 720

It's a numbers issue. There are more minimum wage jobs in the country than there are teenagers. Under your premise, the only two solutions are to increase the number of teenagers or reduce the number of jobs paying the minimum wage. Which one of those do you suggest we try? Because the only other option is to reject your premise entirely and raise the minimum wage to a living wage.

Comment Re:This is silly (Score 4, Insightful) 720

"[M]aking sure people aren't free loading" is NOT the problem. The problem is making sure that when "automation will have made our productivity and wealth generation sufficient that we can just provide everyone the resources they need" those resources are actually GIVEN to those who need them and not concentrated in the hands of, quite frankly, freeloading billionaires. The idea that any one person can be so productive that they deserve 1000x more reward than anyone else is absurd.

Comment Re:Pay Per View (Score 1) 135

"They also don't think there's any chance the NFL will move its games to pay-per-view."


What are they smoking? The NFL will go PPV, ASAP.

Book it.

And as soon as they do, the rest of America will cancel the cable bundles they only pay out the nose for because of the live sports channels, where PPV fees are the straw that breaks the camel's back. The entire cable industry will collapse overnight, and the vacuum in the ISP market will be filled by startups and municipalities with gigabit fiber and competitive pricing. Then the under-served talent in America will finally be productive and solve global warming, and all the polar bears will have yachts and Whole Foods will solve world hunger by giving everyone veggie burgers.

Yup, sounds like the FCC made a good decision to me.

Comment Re:Interesting problem with water landing -- wind (Score 1) 75

The latest models of the F9R boosters have retractable steering fins in addition to thrusters and engine gimbals for guidance control, and the ability to hover in place and translate to a precise landing spot. I'm sure they will have everything worked out by the time they try to actually land on a sea platform.

Machines have less problems. I'd like to be a machine. -- Andy Warhol