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Alternative Energy

Wallstreetatheist
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8/22/2013 10:58:15 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Do you think alternative energy will ever be extremely cost efficient?
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slo1
Posts: 4,353
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8/23/2013 7:55:10 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/22/2013 10:58:15 PM, Wallstreetatheist wrote:
Do you think alternative energy will ever be extremely cost efficient?

Why would one not expect it? Use of sun energy is the primary candidate and the technology advance in solar cells has been tremendous.

This article sites the cost per mega watt hour as:
http://theweek.com...

Solar: $157
Coal: $100
Natural Gas: $65-$132

That probably does not take into account other operational needs for solar such as the energy storage to provide current to the grid at night as it mentions.

Regardless, all those are technological challenges have many people and companies working on them because, "dar is gold in dar hills".

At some point because this is soley a technological challenge the cost structure of solar is declining while the cost structure of fossil fuels while somewhat steady for long times has to go up due to declining supply.

There is no other choice in the long term. Alternative energy will at one point be more cost effective than fossil fuels.

Lastly, I would say anything below the current cost of energy is extremely cost effective. At current prices it surely is not an overwhelming hindrance to progress.
v3nesl
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8/23/2013 8:22:55 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/22/2013 10:58:15 PM, Wallstreetatheist wrote:
Do you think alternative energy will ever be extremely cost efficient?

If it's ever cost effective it won't be 'alternative' any more.
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Ore_Ele
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8/23/2013 8:26:13 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
I've addressed the falling cost of solar which suggests that it will be more cost efficient than coal shortly and than NG not too long after that. Heck, there have been noticeable changes in costs since I did my first debate on it a few years ago.
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v3nesl
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8/23/2013 11:20:25 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/23/2013 8:26:13 AM, Ore_Ele wrote:
I've addressed the falling cost of solar which suggests that it will be more cost efficient than coal shortly and than NG not too long after that. Heck, there have been noticeable changes in costs since I did my first debate on it a few years ago.

The problem is, you only have solar when the sun is out. So 'solar' is not an energy source in and of itself, it has to be a combination with batteries or something.

The other thing to note is how many forms of indirect solar energy there are - wind, hydro, wood. If oil, coal, and NG are indeed plant based, then they are really a form of solar energy as well.
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Graincruncher
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8/23/2013 1:26:59 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/23/2013 11:20:25 AM, v3nesl wrote:
The problem is, you only have solar when the sun is out. So 'solar' is not an energy source in and of itself, it has to be a combination with batteries or something.

Entirely true, unfortunately. Whilst we could draw absolutely huge amounts of power from solar, if done properly and on a large enough scale, it is not simply a question of having enough power. One of the main reasons that the coal/oil/gas supply is still so integral is because they are much more easily controllable; when you need more power, you burn more fuel. When you need less, you burn less. You can't do this as easily with nuclear (although this should be the backbone of our supply for the short-mid term) and you can't do it at all with tidal, wind or solar unless you invest heavily in storage. When I say 'invest heavily', I mean 'spend many times more than the cost the power generation infrastructure itself'.

There's a huge future in renewables, one that could sustain us completely. We are unable to implement it yet because of these infrastructure & fluctuating supply problems.

The other thing to note is how many forms of indirect solar energy there are - wind, hydro, wood. If oil, coal, and NG are indeed plant based, then they are really a form of solar energy as well.

Well yes, but very pollutive forms. You could say the same of nuclear or anything else I can currently think of.
RoyLatham
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8/23/2013 2:26:25 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
The costs of solar do not take into account the cost of having an alternative source for use at night and the cost of switching the energy into the power grid. The most efficient was to provide electricity at night is with a gas turbine, so you get to pay all the capital costs of the turbine while only using it for part of the day. The result is that about 2/3 of the conventional cost must be added to whatever the solar cost is.

The cost of switching is high. Solar facilities must be connected to the grid with new transmission lines. Those lines are only used part of the day. Other lines going to convention power sources are then also only partly used. The equipment to control and switch the power is expensive. The added transmission and switching costs alone are about 2/3 of the cost of conventional power generation.

Solar will be efficient when someone invents a cheap reliable battery that allows operation independent of the power grid. Then the grid costs disappear along with the switching costs. I think that will happen eventually, but I don't have a guess as to when.

Another approach is solar power satellites. Putting solar power in space means it can operate 24/7 and be used without a backup or special switching system. the power is beamed down on microwaves, with about a 2km square receiving antenna. The Japanese are set to launch a prototype in about a year, and to have a full 1 GW system in about ten years. Currently, the cost per kw is put at about twice that of fossil fuels. Japan, India, and China have the most interest in solar power satellites because they expect to be paying the most for fossil fuels in the future.

California is the current leader in alternative energy. Currently about 20% comes from renewable source, with most of that from hydroelectric. The State is going to 30% renewable, by law. Venture capitalists backing wind and solar put a lot of money into getting the "clean energy" mandate. California keeps a low 14 cent "base rate" for show, but the real electric rate is currently about 45 cents per kwh. If you have an electric car, there is a special 7 cent rate for that in California. Neighboring Arizona is 11 cents. I don't know how high rates will go, but I wouldn't be surprises to see another doubling, getting to about eight or ten times conventional rates.
R0b1Billion
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8/25/2013 12:10:00 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Here are some deep thoughts from R0b1Billion.

- The term "alternative energy" should be disbanded for the term "renewable energy." Fossil fuels aren't "mainstream," they are simply non-renewable. They are the ultimate "battery." For hundreds of millions of years, solar energy was collected by plants and turned into oil and coal underground. In the blink of an eye, we tapped into this non-renewable battery and are nearly done depleting it. Whether we get a few more decades or a few more centuries out of it is mostly inconsequential to the big picture.

- Renewable energy is not necessarily any less troublesome than non-renewable. Solar energy collectors in space will disrupt our environment just as much as burning coal. Wind turbines are absolutely hated in the communities they are put in (there is much political struggle with them in Wisconsin) for several reasons. Solar power is not simple, reliable, cheap, nor does it provide baseload power.

- THERE IS NO SILVER BULLET AND THERE WILL NEVER BE ONE. In ten million years of technological development, we aren't going to find a power source that is cheap, non-polluting, and baseload-worthy. There is absolutely no basis to make any claim that there will ever be any type of energy source (or even a battery worth saving if we did have it) that will support a first-world lifestyle for more than a fraction of the current population.

I've got everything short of my thesis done for my Master's Degree in Environmental Science and Policy. By no means does anybody agree with me in my field that anything I've just said is true and I won't pretend that they do. My fellow students and professors are ambitious; they don't get where they are intending on going by saying what I just said. They must provide their economic rhetoric and optimistic ideals to make a living whether it makes sense or not. My alternative energies professor, for example, heavily supports nuclear energy. He "loves" it. I asked him what he thought about the fact that nuclear energy would last about 20 years before all known nuclear supply was exhausted if the entire world switched to it today, and he just gave me a stupid look. He doesn't care about the planet's survival, he cares about making a local economic decision to make his mark. If you all are interested in success, then drink the kool-aid, make your economic prowess known, and make somebody rich. But if you want to combine ambition with some global ethical ideal, realize that the two are mutually exclusive. The only path towards sustainability is reduction of consumption. End of story. You can keep waiting for the magical mystery technology to be invented that never-ever will while you use that as justification to continue consuming first-world style, or you can come to terms with the fact that you don't want to accept the truth about the human race consuming itself to death just like any other species that's population grows out of control. A single bacterium can, with enough hypothetical food, divide and grow to cover the entire face of the planet in several feet of bacterial ooze. The human population, by 2600, will be standing shoulder to shoulder with not a single square foot of land that isn't under somebody's foot. At some point, nature steps in and puts a stop to this sort of thing no matter what. There is no technology that will outsmart nature, and if we did invent an artificial intelligence superior to us, the first thing it would do is eliminate us like roaches in a nice house.
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AlbinoBunny
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8/25/2013 5:49:54 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/22/2013 10:58:15 PM, Wallstreetatheist wrote:
Do you think alternative energy will ever be extremely cost efficient?

How extremely?
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drhead
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8/25/2013 10:50:35 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Assuming we can get fusion to work, deuterium-deuterium fusion is the absolute best option - at current rates of consumption, the deuterium in our oceans should last us as long as it takes for Earth to crash into the Sun.
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R0b1Billion
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8/25/2013 1:20:08 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/25/2013 10:50:35 AM, drhead wrote:
Assuming we can get fusion to work, deuterium-deuterium fusion is the absolute best option - at current rates of consumption, the deuterium in our oceans should last us as long as it takes for Earth to crash into the Sun.

The Romulans use artificial black holes to power their Warbirds, why not just use one of those?
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
cybertron1998
Posts: 5,818
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8/31/2013 5:55:37 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/23/2013 7:55:10 AM, slo1 wrote:
At 8/22/2013 10:58:15 PM, Wallstreetatheist wrote:
Do you think alternative energy will ever be extremely cost efficient?

Why would one not expect it? Use of sun energy is the primary candidate and the technology advance in solar cells has been tremendous.

This article sites the cost per mega watt hour as:
http://theweek.com...

Solar: $157
Coal: $100
Natural Gas: $65-$132

That probably does not take into account other operational needs for solar such as the energy storage to provide current to the grid at night as it mentions.

Regardless, all those are technological challenges have many people and companies working on them because, "dar is gold in dar hills".

At some point because this is soley a technological challenge the cost structure of solar is declining while the cost structure of fossil fuels while somewhat steady for long times has to go up due to declining supply.

There is no other choice in the long term. Alternative energy will at one point be more cost effective than fossil fuels.

Lastly, I would say anything below the current cost of energy is extremely cost effective. At current prices it surely is not an overwhelming hindrance to progress.

dude solar is a really really sucky power source. you would need a farm about the size of texas to really produce a good amount of electricity through solar panels
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slo1
Posts: 4,353
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9/1/2013 12:19:49 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/31/2013 5:55:37 PM, cybertron1998 wrote:
At 8/23/2013 7:55:10 AM, slo1 wrote:
At 8/22/2013 10:58:15 PM, Wallstreetatheist wrote:
Do you think alternative energy will ever be extremely cost efficient?

Why would one not expect it? Use of sun energy is the primary candidate and the technology advance in solar cells has been tremendous.

This article sites the cost per mega watt hour as:
http://theweek.com...

Solar: $157
Coal: $100
Natural Gas: $65-$132

That probably does not take into account other operational needs for solar such as the energy storage to provide current to the grid at night as it mentions.

Regardless, all those are technological challenges have many people and companies working on them because, "dar is gold in dar hills".

At some point because this is soley a technological challenge the cost structure of solar is declining while the cost structure of fossil fuels while somewhat steady for long times has to go up due to declining supply.

There is no other choice in the long term. Alternative energy will at one point be more cost effective than fossil fuels.

Lastly, I would say anything below the current cost of energy is extremely cost effective. At current prices it surely is not an overwhelming hindrance to progress.

dude solar is a really really sucky power source. you would need a farm about the size of texas to really produce a good amount of electricity through solar panels

That is such 2010's thinking. Get with the 2020's.
slo1
Posts: 4,353
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9/1/2013 12:28:06 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 9/1/2013 12:19:49 PM, slo1 wrote:
At 8/31/2013 5:55:37 PM, cybertron1998 wrote:
At 8/23/2013 7:55:10 AM, slo1 wrote:
At 8/22/2013 10:58:15 PM, Wallstreetatheist wrote:
Do you think alternative energy will ever be extremely cost efficient?

Why would one not expect it? Use of sun energy is the primary candidate and the technology advance in solar cells has been tremendous.

This article sites the cost per mega watt hour as:
http://theweek.com...

Solar: $157
Coal: $100
Natural Gas: $65-$132

That probably does not take into account other operational needs for solar such as the energy storage to provide current to the grid at night as it mentions.

Regardless, all those are technological challenges have many people and companies working on them because, "dar is gold in dar hills".

At some point because this is soley a technological challenge the cost structure of solar is declining while the cost structure of fossil fuels while somewhat steady for long times has to go up due to declining supply.

There is no other choice in the long term. Alternative energy will at one point be more cost effective than fossil fuels.

Lastly, I would say anything below the current cost of energy is extremely cost effective. At current prices it surely is not an overwhelming hindrance to progress.

dude solar is a really really sucky power source. you would need a farm about the size of texas to really produce a good amount of electricity through solar panels

That is such 2010's thinking. Get with the 2020's.

On a serious note, I read an article where solar was used to split hydrogen (I forget out of what material) using solar. This was not using solar to create electricity and then using the electricity, it was a direct catalyst type conversion.

It is important to keep in mind that with the advances of nano materials, it may be possible to use the sun for other types of direct interactions other than creating a flow of electrons.
RoyLatham
Posts: 4,488
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9/2/2013 4:57:57 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/25/2013 12:10:00 AM, R0b1Billion wrote:
- THERE IS NO SILVER BULLET AND THERE WILL NEVER BE ONE. In ten million years of technological development, we aren't going to find a power source that is cheap, non-polluting, and baseload-worthy. There is absolutely no basis to make any claim that there will ever be any type of energy source (or even a battery worth saving if we did have it) that will support a first-world lifestyle for more than a fraction of the current population.

"Ten million years of technological advance ..."? Not hardly. Most technological advancement is within the last hundred years, and the pace of advancement is increasing exponentially.

A suppose if a "silver bullet" means having magical properties, then that's probably not going to happen. However, there are many possibilities that are practical even though not magical. the Japanese are launching a prototype solar power satellite this year and plan to have a full scale gigawatt station in less than ten years. The cost is estimated to be 2X current fossil fuels, which is not magical, but practical. Fossil fuel costs will rise as supplies drop, so it's only a question of time when solar power satellites are economically advantageous. Solar power satellites have been studied since the 1960s; at this point it's mainly a cost issue.

My alternative energies professor, for example, heavily supports nuclear energy. He "loves" it. I asked him what he thought about the fact that nuclear energy would last about 20 years before all known nuclear supply was exhausted if the entire world switched to it today, and he just gave me a stupid look.

The 20 year estimate presumes that breeder reactors are not used. Non-breeder technology extracts less than 1% of the energy from nuclear fuel, so breeder technology proves over 100X the fuel supply. Breeder technology has been put aside because new fuel has been so cheap, but that's changing. New projects are being started, particularly in India and China. Breeder technology also helps solve the waste disposal problem, because most of the nuclear energy is consumed. Breeder technology is well-established.

...You can keep waiting for the magical mystery technology to be invented that never-ever will while you use that as justification to continue consuming first-world style, or you can come to terms with the fact that you don't want to accept the truth about the human race consuming itself to death just like any other species that's population grows out of control.

Nah, the current world population is 7 billion and the UN expects the population to stabilize at 9 billion by mid-century. The energy cost of a first-world life style is dropping steadily as technology advances. Breeder technology and solar power satellites are reasonable propositions.

There are many prospects for the future, say 50-75 years out. Most will not work out, but it's likely some will. One is using solar power directly to directly converting carbon dioxide into fuel, with oxygen as a biproduct -- one of those catalyst things. There are direct cellulose to gasoline production using engineered microbes, controlled fusion power, and uranium extraction from sea water.
KIOO
Posts: 6
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9/8/2013 2:14:10 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Do some body help me recognizing the kinds of alternative energy? And, how can it be alternative to those energies that we are consuming in today's situation and lifestyle?
Such
Posts: 1,110
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9/8/2013 11:50:05 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/22/2013 10:58:15 PM, Wallstreetatheist wrote:
Do you think alternative energy will ever be extremely cost efficient?

Yes. If it weren't, then it would be in mainstream use.

See, we need to develop an economy that doesn't rely so much on energy in order to assimilate efficient alternatives.

Like the sun.

Once we do, energy will likely become free.
Polaris
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9/22/2013 5:24:56 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/23/2013 11:20:25 AM, v3nesl wrote:
At 8/23/2013 8:26:13 AM, Ore_Ele wrote:
I've addressed the falling cost of solar which suggests that it will be more cost efficient than coal shortly and than NG not too long after that. Heck, there have been noticeable changes in costs since I did my first debate on it a few years ago.

The problem is, you only have solar when the sun is out. So 'solar' is not an energy source in and of itself, it has to be a combination with batteries or something.

The other thing to note is how many forms of indirect solar energy there are - wind, hydro, wood. If oil, coal, and NG are indeed plant based, then they are really a form of solar energy as well.

The sun is the primary source of energy for life on earth, the only problem is having the technological prowess to harass it, which is constantly improving. I don't think it's an IF but rather a WHEN that we should be asking.