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Comment Re:Storage? (Score 1) 341

Advanced forms of compressed-air storage with thermal recouperation are the next-generation technology. There's a lot of talk about batteries from battery suppliers and uneducated pundits who don't know shit about city-scale power storage and can only conclude that large storage facilities are made of big, expensive parts while battery banks are made of small, cheap parts.

Think about it this way: A battery is cheap. We can just slap a battery onto a power pylon. We can space them around the city, close to point of use, so there's less loss from battery to house consuming the power. We can expand this with the grid, laying batteries out everywhere. That's obviously a cheap, cost-effective solution with many benefits.

Snipe the obvious technical problem first: Power generation has to flow from the source to the point of use, with a battery in the middle for intermediate storage. Having it close to the source means more loss to the destination; having it close to the destination means more loss from the source. Location of the generator matters; location of the storage facility doesn't, so long as it's "in between". Either way, it matters much less with high-voltage DC transmission, so "in between but a little of to the side by 20 miles" is functionally-equivalent to "right on the pole connected to my house".

A battery is cheap, blahblahblah, okay. What costs more to build, maintain, and operate: a 1,000MWh storage facility built out of $178-per-cell lithium batteries, or a 1,000MWh storage facility built out of giant tanks and piping for a recouperating compressed-air storage system that cost millions of dollars for the tanks, the pipes, pumps, turbines, and so forth?

That's the thing: batteries are cheap. They're versitile. You can throw one up on a pole--and you can drive all over the god damn place for hours to get to the widely-spread batteries, climb the pole, bring the battery down, repair it (replace bad cells), and so forth. You can put the batteries all in one place to avoid that.

Problem is a facility to store a ton of power generation for one hour of run time. I've seen $145-per-kWh cells, and a city of 80,000 homes requires 45MW. That's 45MWh to run for one hour. For each hour of stored energy, that's $6.525 million. If you built a regional storage facility for 1 million homes for 1 hour (562.5MWh), the battery cells alone (never mind any BMS circuitry, housings, or the facilities around them) would cost $81.5 million.

Texas built a 300MW-output, 30,000MWh (yes, 30GWh) CAES plant for $200 million. Not the equipment. The entire, operational facility. Again: just the lithium battery cells for a battery plant storing 45MWh cost $81.5 million. The fractional cost of that capacity in the Apex CAES is $0.3 million.

It's funny because people keep talking about batteries, largely because Tesla is talking about making a lot of money selling batteries. Lithium battery grid storage is a giant scam. Tesla makes excellent cars, end of story; grid-scale storage is not a Tesla battery problem.

Comment Re:If coal is dead, killing its bueaucracy won't h (Score 1) 341

Nobody migrates from job X to job Y, in a positional sense. Those jobs will continue to exist as long as required. Causing 10,000,000 people to go unemployed over 5 years instead of 5 weeks prevents an economic recession by unemployment spike, but those people--whoever is sitting in that seat when it comes time to downsize--will be lain off.

They'll then go into the churn with people who already don't have jobs, and compete. Either they get the next job, or some other guy gets the next job; somebody in this pool stays unemployed.

There are no people. The romantic ideal of migrating a worker from an excessed job to another one by some economic oversight is complete and utter bullshit, and outright evil. It means taking people who are already transitional--in and out of jobs, currently out of a job--and condemning them to forever-unemployment.

Comment Re:This is retarded conservatism to help 'coal' (Score 1) 341

The problem is the people of that region got poorer; literally every other American got richer.

That means the middle- and lower-class money purchasing coal power moved to purchasing oil and natural gas power (this is why the oil companies are so damned rich; everything goes back to energy, and their huge profits are actually... pretty small, really, just that being a pretty small portion of fucking everything).

That means a bunch of other jobs are supported by the money that used to support the coal miners.

So who is entitled to their livelihood? The people on the wrong side of progress (because they were in the right place at the right time), or literally every other person, with special emphasis on people whose current employment is based in being further along in the path of progress?

Remember when people died of low-grade diseases, running water was too expensive to implement, and an iron railroad cost more than a decade of the entire world's GDP? Remember when everyone had one set of clothing because a shirt required 479 labor-hours (thus priced at 479 hours of wage) in total to make rather than 1.91? (1.91 hours at $3.20/hr Chinese labor, including wage and social insurance taxes, all the way up to coming out of the factory--excluding the 6 cents of shipping to the US, the several dollars of shipping domestically through distribution centers to the retail center, and the 0.83 cents per item for a cashier at 980 item scans per hour.)

Technical progress--the reduction of labor-hours invested in producing a thing--means some people get displaced out of their jobs along the way. It also means everyone who has an income can now buy those things with less of their income. That's how we got clean, running water and sewage management instead of cholera and plagues. That increase in wealth is what raises the poor up generation after generation--they're still poor, and yet they're a lot better off than middle-class a hundred years ago.

I keep saying this: this is why we have welfare. It's also how we have welfare. It's too expensive to take care of displaced workers with nice things like unemployment insurance when everyone needs 95% of their income to survive, because you can't take another 6% without a bunch of people starving to death. On the other hand, "an entire industry collapsed" is a nice sob story that manages to ignore "a lot of cities are dirt-poor ghettos where people struggle to get by": you get to claim that, somehow, these poor people were wronged, and are more-important than those poor people. You also get to ignore that other people who were poor are now rich--or at least that some blown-out shithole in Washington became a technical empire with $170k salaries while Detroit became a crippled ghost town with rusted-out factories.

That's the way the world works. It's a constant net-gain, but it has voltage potential. Why do you think I've been after a Universal Social Security since it became technically-possible in 2013?

Comment Re:This is retarded conservatism to help 'coal' (Score 1) 341

Manufacturing is rapidly automating

Fortunately, we import shitloads of things from China. It's cheaper than making it in America, and we have the Americans make other shit that's more-expensive to make elsewhere. That's trade advantage.

Suddenly: mass-automation, cheaper to make in America.

Well. That's a nice economy you've got there, China. Too bad somebody decided to come along and fuck it up by moving all the stuff you've been exporting to local factories staffing like 10 people to your 500, shipping via self-driving electric lorries, and leaving you with a sudden 27% upsurge in unemployment.

Seems we were exporting knowledge. IT services, business logistics. Also a whole hell of a lot of food, because you can automate a farm, but it costs a hell of a lot more to simulate climate than to just live there. That doesn't just magic away overnight. Sucks to be you!

Comment Re:prediction... more good comments... not (Score 3, Insightful) 341

The problem is Slashdot, Reddit, and the rest of the world are all full of assholes; and people like to claim reasoned, weighted analysis of facts are "opinions" rather than something like "conclusions". That lets people claim their so-called opinion is as valid as yours and, specifically, not capable of being wrong.

Take a minimum wage argument. Minimum wage has some complexities if you have a firm enough grasp of economics and money in economics.

Minimum wage increases because the amount of money increases faster than the amount of people, which requires more spending on the same products, which can only happen if prices increase. That means a fixed minimum wage starts to fall as a wage; with a given positive rate of inflation, that means these people's buying power and standard-of-living falls. To avoid minimum-wage workers becoming poorer and poorer, you have to raise the minimum wage along the way.

At the same time, wages are paid from revenue. That means spending. Spending comes out of income, which means it's a periodic cycle. Higher wages for everybody (proportionally) means inflation; higher wages for a subset means fewer things bought, which means fewer jobs. As minimum wage falls in purchasing power with inflation, additional jobs are created in this lowest-class; and when we true it up, those additional jobs are lost.

So a minimum wage increase 1) is necessary to meet the specific goals of minimum wage; and 2) has consequence of reducing the number of jobs, largely due to artificial increase in jobs available by lowering wages and thus allowing price lowering. Those are real, verifiable impacts largely agreed upon by economists across decades of publications, with a few dissenters who published papers with murky conclusions, weak assertions, and flawed methodology. That's a similar pattern to anti-vaxxer and climate-change debates, to which we tend to default toward consensus.

This draws all kinds of asinine responses everywhere. Most of it is people arguing economics from their own ideals instead of reasoned thought or a survey of consensus. To be fair, people argue a lot from often-repeated but factually-inaccurate ideals not supported by science, like that minimum wage increases are paid for almost 100% by the rich, or that a $1 increase in a minimum-wage income becomes $6 of spending and jogs the economy 6 times as hard. Most of the things we talk about are things we haven't personally been able to verify.

One of the enormous red flags, though, is the reasoning of "opinion". Someone, recognizing they've lost the reasoned argument because the facts stacked in front of them are too obviously-correct to attack, will claim that their "opinion" that raising minimum wage increases the number of jobs available (via minimum-wage spenders being able to spend more--never mind that they're only getting money that now isn't spent elsewhere, and will have to spend a larger chunk of that money on things produced by minimum-wage workers) is just as valid as your "opinion" that raising minimum wage decreases the number of jobs available.

You might notice these things can't be opinions. They're causal outcomes. Action X gives result Y.

Opinions are great. We can discuss opinions all day. Where will technology take us? Is Uber or Lyft better? Is Bullet for my Valentine as good as Iron Maiden? Is Final Fantasy 7 or Ocarina of Time more overhyped? Opinions are not facts, and conjectures occur in the absence of sufficient underlying reasoning and historical trends--and even conjectures have some factual basis, largely suggesting the form of what's missing. At a point, we're discussing what some of us understand better than others--and much of the world is filled with children who have less knowledge than the people who they're arguing with, and insist they must be right even though the other guy once thought the same thing, and was wrong then.

Welcome to a world full of assholes who care less about facts than about furthering their social position by either being right or being allied to a group of peers with the same imaginative fantasy about how the world works.

Comment Re: prediction... more good comments... not (Score 1) 341

Assuming that Keystone-piped oil is at a price point lower than other oil, the Keystone pipeline will reduce the amount of money Americans spend on current products (oil and oil derivaties, like transportation run by diesel trucks) in a number of ways, all of which reduce the labor invested in getting oil and thus the cost of oil (hence the price).

One of those ways is a reduction of environmental spilling (loss of oil for which wages were paid to mine, load, and pipeline) and, correspondingly, a reduction of environmental clean-up (paid for by oil price increases or tax hikes to disconnect the price of spills from the price of oil). Current pipelines run over design pressure and spill a lot; the Keystone XL pipeline runs at a higher design pressure and will spill less.

The other ways are all just "it's cheaper to get oil here, but it's harder to move it where we need it, so we fixed that".

So the question is: will we still use a lot of jet fuel, diesel, non-plant-derived plastic, non-synthetic lubricant, and other crude-derived products for long enough to make ROI on Keystone XL? If so, then the price of products with these things in their supply chain falls in terms of income percentage (i.e. we keep creating more money than people, so prices go up; but by the time incomes double, products cost 1.8x as much, so the products have gotten cheaper). If not, then it's a waste of labor on things we could build otherwise and thus makes us less-rich than comparable alternatives.

Mind you, it's not quite that simple, either. I've frequently taken financial actions on which I'm never hitting ROI simply to increase stability. Sending 70% of your money every month to pay loans and utility bills is a bad position; sending 17% of your money that way after expending $35,000 over 2 years is better, even if you're not going to break even on that unless nothing changes in the next 25 years (meaning probably going to end up tens of thousands behind in the long run), because you're now highly-flexible and can recover huge piles of emergency fund money in little time.

Keystone XL simplifies American oil production and distribution, reduces costs, and decreases the scale of environmental damage caused by continuing operation. Will it give an ultimate ROI? If not, is the intermediate stability provided by these impacts worth the up-front capital expenditure? Complex question.

"Yes" and "No" aren't honest answers to that question in this case. Sometimes it's damned clear. For example: solar installations are cheaper than coal, oil, and natural gas installations now, in many cases; the span of costs has overlapped for a while now, such that some proposed new power installations would be cheaper as solar projects than coal, oil, or gas in near-term total running cost. In such cases, the answer to "is installing solar capacity good for all Americans?" is a solid "YES!" because it lowers costs, reduces environmental impact, and provides capacity which is cheaper in the long run to operate than any fuel-consuming capacity (meaning you can turn down the gas and oil because solar is effectively "free" at max capacity, in that it's not cheaper to generate half as much on purpose whereas you'd use less coal if you turned down the output on a coal plant). This is not so clear-cut in the case of Keystone XL, with numerous concerns about ROI period and the intermediate position it affords otherwise.

Comment It is true (Score 2) 341

However, like everything, if a technology comes along to supplant it, in this case, the cost of greener alternatives is lower than coal, it'll simply dwindle and fade over time, with absolutely no need for liberals trying to regulate the crap out of it.

This flawed argument ignores the incontrovertible fact that allowing coal to continue to provide energy on equal terms with other energy supplies rather than pressuring the market to switch to less environmentally damaging sources of energy would do real and substantial harm to us all. The bottom line is: the less energy produced from burning coal and supplied instead from less polluting resources, the better off the world is.

So in fact, there is a need for it to have the crap regulated out of it in a context where it can be replaced with (considerably) less polluting energy sources, which is exactly where we are today.

Comment Re:Coal is a campaign punchline (Score 2) 341

Only reason why it's an issue at all is because it sounded good on the campaign trail for Trump's supporters.

More specifically, it appealed to people in one of the regional subcultures (Appalachia) who are often a swing vote. They mostly vote Republican these days, but they've never been closely tied to either of the two major parties, and Trump had to lock them down in order to shore up the fact that his support was weak in other traditionally-Republican subcultures (though he was helped by the fact that his opponent's support was weak in important traditionally-Democrat subcultures).

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