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Google's Wind, Solar Power Investments Top $1B

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the blowin'-in-the-wind dept.

Google 74

Lucas123 writes "Google just announced it is investing another $80 million in six new solar power plants in California and Arizona, bringing its total investment in renewable energy to more than $1 billion. The new plants are expected to generate 160MW of electricity, enough to power 17,000 typical U.S. homes. They are expected to be operational by early 2014. With the new plants, Google's renewable power facilities will be able to generate a total of 2 billion watts (gigawatts) of energy, enough to power 500,000 homes or all of the public elementary schools in New York, Oregon, and Wyoming for one year, it said. Currently, Google gets about 20% of its power from renewable energy, but it has set a goal of achieving 100% renewable energy."

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74 comments

Nope. (-1, Troll)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about 5 months ago | (#45443483)

Every time I fill in one of their captchas or provide them with data to sell to their advertisers, thereby doing work for them, I'm fairly sure it's with a computer powered by 100% coal.

And I am a product, being manufactured, yes?

Re:Nope. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45444409)

Powered by 100% coal and evil

Re:Nope. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45445809)

Even the solar array is really powered by coal. It takes a lot of energy to fab the silicon, build the panel, add the wires, ship said panel to the site where it is being deployed, and set it up.

Far, far more energy than that panel will ever get back in its usable lifetime before the panel has to be replaced.

So, in reality, it still is a computer powered by coal and oil, but just being used through a solar panel.

Solar panels are like ethanol. Great for patting one on the back, but as for energy, it still uses the coal and oil, just in a different way.

Re:Nope. (1)

Lennie (16154) | about 5 months ago | (#45447503)

That was years ago, not anymore.

The energy to produce a solar panel went way down. It now takes 1 or 2 years before that energy has been recouped, instead of 10 years or more.

The MARK OF THE BEAST CHIP is coming! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45443533)

President Camacho: Shit. I know shit's bad right now, with all that starving bullshit, and the dust storms, and we are running out of french fries and burrito coverings. But I got a solution.

South Carolina Representative # 1: That's what you said last time, dipshit!

South Carolina Representative # 2: Yeah, I got a solution, you're a dick! South Carolina, what's up!

Watt not unit of energy (1, Insightful)

HuguesT (84078) | about 5 months ago | (#45443563)

Watt is a unit of power, not energy. So the content is completely impossible to assess. Are we to assume Wh (Watt-hours) instead? 2GWh would be a significant power plant output, the equivalent of a full nuclear power plant, however is this peak capacity? This would be far less impressive as average capacity would be significantly less.

Re:Watt not unit of energy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45443627)

Sounds like their number are off. 2 billion watts or 2000 MW for $1 billion? Don't think so. At $500/kW, that is about what you might pay for a natural gas combined cycle plant. But no solar or renewable installation is that cheap. They must mean kilowatt-hours.

Re:Watt not unit of energy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45443783)

They mean 2000 MW.
A somewhat more direct source.
http://www.google.com/green/bigpicture/references.html

No, that seems about right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45445047)

Wind is cheaper than solar and solar goes for $1/W.

So $0.50/W seems about the right ball park.

Your problem may be that you're not bothering to rethink your position on how expensive renewables are.

Re:Watt not unit of energy (1)

khallow (566160) | about 5 months ago | (#45443737)

What's with the drama? Electricity generating facilities of all kinds are routinely described in terms of peak capacity.

Re:Watt not unit of energy (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 5 months ago | (#45443799)

What's with the drama? Electricity generating facilities of all kinds are routinely described in terms of peak capacity.

But a coal or gas plant can maintain that peak almost 24/7. Solar is at peak production for only a few hours per day. So a 1GW solar plant will produce about a quarter of the energy of a 1GW coal plant. Measuring by peak power is silly if you want to be able to do an apples-to-apples comparison.

Re: Peak Capacity (4, Informative)

DanielRavenNest (107550) | about 5 months ago | (#45443941)

Peak capacity is used throughout the electrical industry, from the generators to the nameplates of the devices in your house. The reason is the peak determines the size of the wires - in your walls or for transmission lines - to carry the load safely. For power sources, the other number you care about is "capacity factor", the percentage of peak capacity you can supply on average. It may be 90+% for nuclear (they still shut down for refueling, and sometimes for unplanned maintenance), and lower for other sources. Even hydroelectric has a limit if the water supply is less than peak turbine capacity. Photovoltaic can be as low as 15% in poor locations, while solar-thermal with storage can be much higher.

Less than 100% capacity factor is OK, because no power plant routinely operates at 100% capacity. For one thing, customer demand has daily and seasonal variations. For another, every plant stops for maintenance sometimes. Lastly, each power source has a different marginal operating cost. Hydroelectric, wind, and solar don't burn a fuel, so are relatively cheap per kWh when they run. Coal and natural gas consume fuel, thus have higher marginal cost when they run. A utility operator wants the cheapest mix to satisfy demand at any given time. Since natural gas prices can fluctuate dramatically over the life of a plant, one thing solar does is stabilize their costs. You know for sure that a solar plant will still not be burning fuel at the end of it's life. You have no idea what natural gas will cost in 40 years.

As far as photovoltaic peak production only being part of the day, that is well matched to the US southwest, where the peak air-conditioning demand happens exactly when solar has maximum power. Something like nuclear is better suited to baseload power, the part of demand that is always there. A nuclear reactor is a bitch to turn on and off, so they would rather keep it running all the time between refuelings.

If you are going to discuss power grids, you need to stop using just one performance parameter. That's not how real grids operate.

Nuclear get about 60% capacity. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45445191)

Only half of that is planned maintenance, the other half of that is unplanned outages and failures.

Yes, nuclear doesn't manage anywhere near 90%.

Meanwhile, wind gets about 40% capacity now.

Re:Nuclear get about 60% capacity. (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | about 5 months ago | (#45447483)

Nuclear does indeed manage near 90% on average. Sources: http://www.nei.org/Knowledge-Center/Nuclear-Statistics/US-Nuclear-Power-Plants/US-Nuclear-Capacity-Factor [nei.org] , http://en.openei.org/apps/TCDB/ [openei.org] (click on capacity factor, which also confirms your wind capacity number by giving it a median of 38%).

He also specifically said unplanned maintenance, not planning maintenance.

Re:Watt not unit of energy (1)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | about 5 months ago | (#45446735)

Electricity generating facilities of all kinds are routinely described in terms of peak capacity.

True enough, but this sentence pretty clearly shows that this is a case of an article written by somebody who has no idea what watts are -- since the "peak capacity" explanation doesn't make any sense in context.

Google's renewable power facilities will be able to generate a total of 2 billion watts (gigawatts) of energy, enough to power 500,000 homes or all of the public elementary schools in New York, Oregon, and Wyoming for one year...

Re:Watt not unit of energy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45444199)

2GWh would be a significant power plant output, the equivalent of a full nuclear power plant

You're not helping.
Hint: 2GWh/h is ... 2GW.

Re:Watt not unit of energy (1)

elashish14 (1302231) | about 5 months ago | (#45445659)

The answer to your question would be: 6.31 zettawatt hours [google.com] . Over the lifespan of our solar system.[1]

[1] Post assumes reader is a member of Earth's solar system. Apologies to any alien forms or supernatural deities.

Too much to ask? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45443585)

News for nerds and you still fuck up the Watt thing? 2GW is enough to power 500000 homes for a year? This isn't Fox News. At least get the units right.

Re:Too much to ask? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45447609)

Also this:

The new plants are expected to generate 160MW of electricity, enough to power 17,000 typical U.S. homes.

Actually it's enough to power 0 typical homes, because it will be used to power Google's servers.

Energy is power (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45443601)

With the new plants, Google's renewable power facilities will be able to generate a total of 2 billion watts (gigawatts) of energy, enough to power 500,000 homes or all of the public elementary schools in New York, Oregon, and Wyoming for one year, it said.

Energy is power. Power is energy. Time is an illusion (lunchtime doubly so).

Apply this to houses ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45443659)

It would be good to install them on this location :
Houses complex [youtube.com]

$80M/17,000 (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45443679)

$4,700 per house.

115M homes in USA - 115Mx4.7K

$0.54 Trillion dollars to have solar to every US household. We need baseline power, and some areas of the USA would be less effective for solar, but that $0.54T investment ought to cover around 50% of electricity needs in the US. It would also help to usher in the era of electric cars.

Dammit, the cost of Iraq/Afghanistan has been projected at ten times that amount ($6 Trillion). So much for "securing energy supplies".

Re:$80M/17,000 (2)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about 5 months ago | (#45443699)

That's not how capitalism works at all.

If they have to use 10 times the amount to get just a little bit richer and more powerful - especially if it's your money - you can be damn sure they'll do it.

Re:$80M/17,000 (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 5 months ago | (#45443841)

Dammit, the cost of Iraq/Afghanistan has been projected at ten times that amount ($6 Trillion). So much for "securing energy supplies".

It is a fallacy that you can justify doing something just by pointing out that we already did something even dumber. Any proposal should be considered on its own merits.

Re:$80M/17,000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45443895)

Very well, what would your objections be to printing another $0.5T and spending it on solar farms that could provide roughly 50% of the electricity needs of the USA?

Re:$80M/17,000 (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 5 months ago | (#45444081)

Very well, what would your objections be to printing another $0.5T and spending it on solar farms that could provide roughly 50% of the electricity needs of the USA?

If what you said was possible with today's technology (it isn't), then there would be no need to object, because profit seeking capitalists would already be doing it with their own money.

Re:$80M/17,000 (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 5 months ago | (#45444541)

It's trivial with today's tech. Buy the "dumped" chinese panels, and put them on every residential roof in the country. When the sun is shining everywhere, we'll have to send power into the ground because there's too much to use, all "free". But unless we can spend the 1/2 trillion as $7 trillion on US businesses, we'll never do anything that helps the people or the nation. The few running nuke plants now would be sufficient for baseline, and some hydro batteries for some peak load, and the rest roof-mounted PV would solve the nation's energy needs. We'd probably also spend a few billion of the 1/10th of a war on some concentrated solar plants in the southwest for projected increase in demand.

Re:$80M/17,000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45443937)

If you supply your own domestic power, you don't need to get involved in power struggles in the Middle East any more.

The $6 Trillion may already be spent, but such costs could be avoided in the future.

Re:$80M/17,000 (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 5 months ago | (#45444035)

If you supply your own domestic power, you don't need to get involved in power struggles in the Middle East any more.

How much of our electricity supply is generated from imported oil? Hint: It is really close to this number: 0%.

Re:$80M/17,000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45444101)

That's rather disingenuous.

If domestic electricity costs dropped dramatically, it would be a huge boost to electric cars and trucks in the US. How much of your imported oil is used to power cars and trucks? Hint: A lot.

Re:$80M/17,000 (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 5 months ago | (#45444215)

If domestic electricity costs dropped dramatically, it would be a huge boost to electric cars and trucks in the US.

1. Feed in tariffs for solar power don't reduce the cost of electricity. They increase it.
2. The cost of power for an electric car is already far smaller than the cost of gasoline. Even if it was reduced to zero, it would not change the economics much. It would still not make sense for most people because of the higher initial cost. If low cost of inputs was the only consideration, everyone would use solar powered cars, since sunshine is free.

Re:$80M/17,000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45444341)

1) Why do you want to use feed in tariffs? Get the government to pay for everything, and give the proceeds direct to their voters in the form of a heavily reduced power bill.

2) Economies of scale. The more cars are sold, the cheaper they get.

Re:$80M/17,000 (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 5 months ago | (#45444559)

Depends on where, for one, heating oil is still common in older parts of the nation, and Alaska. And another, most areas of Alaska are powered by diesel., so a sizable area, even if not a very populous one. And "imported" oil is a strawman. As oil is fungible, $1 spent on Texas oil is no different in the global market than that $1 going straight to the Sheiks in the middle east.

That, and if power dropped in cost, and oil went up, more would consider the move to electric cars. So yes, shifting power generation onto solar would lower demand for oil. We don't want "oil", we want power. And if more comes from solar, we'd figure out how to use that to buy less oil.

Re:$80M/17,000 (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | about 5 months ago | (#45445367)

How much would such an expenditure increase demand? You wouldn't be able to even order that many solar cells to be delivered in any kind of reasonable time frame...

Re:$80M/17,000 (1)

BullInChina (3376331) | about 5 months ago | (#45455903)

You missed the part where that 80M brought their total investment up to 1B to cover those 17,000 homes. That makes the cost per home 59K. Which is more that an order of magnitude more than you .54 T number.

Other news of Solar in Arizona: Taxes (3, Informative)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 5 months ago | (#45443707)

Data anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45443743)

"enough to power 17,000 typical U.S. homes."
Or one google data centre.

Good for them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45443749)

Except it's oriented towards their bottom-line and not R&D. We can only hope that the solar companies they contracted for this stuff pool their money to fund more solar R&D.

God I love weasel wording. (1)

Chas (5144) | about 5 months ago | (#45443757)

"100% of its power from renewable energy"

NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.

What they'll be doing is using traditional brown power and offsetting that with renewable energy "credits".

This is so blatantly NOT 100% renewable that it isn't even funny.

Re:God I love weasel wording. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45443801)

Google 100% renewable vs You making any kind of worthwhile contribution to the issue

False dichotomy? Perhaps, but my money would be on Google here.

Re:God I love weasel wording. (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 5 months ago | (#45444477)

If they've hit 20% I don't see why 100% isn't possible. Now, they'll still probably need to offset with grid power, but I bet they've calculated that they'll be able to achieve a net independence (giving back more power than they take).

Re:God I love weasel wording. (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 5 months ago | (#45444583)

He's saying that if they produce 1,000,000 MW in a year, and dump that into the grid, and use 1 MW in a year, pulled from the grid, you'll never be able to prove that every electron they used came from solar. Thus it's as bad as everything else.

It's a stupid argument, but it's a common anti-solar argument. "if the sun isn't shining, you use grid like everyone else, so you don't use solar." But if you consider the grid a battery, you put in more than you take out, so you do use only solar.

Yes, demand the impossible. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45445109)

So why is it that the only method of 100% renewable that you'll accept as true is if NO ELECTRON ANYWHERE is made free in the conductor by a fossil fuel?

I know.

So that you can pretend that renewables can't do it and therefore "all that hippy shit" is worthless and should be abandoned (lest the hippies be proven right: a catastrophe!).

If Google make 1GWh in a day and use 1GWh in a day, they are neutral.

The operator may decide that rather than ramp up the storage they will run a gas power station, but this is not Google's fault: the power company is making a decision.

Re:Yes, demand the impossible. (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 5 months ago | (#45446705)

And the moment you talk about "neutral" then you are getting into carbon swaps and other things where you burn less coal then you did last year, and it counts better than starting a new electric plant this year. The insane love the swaps because they need a boogieman.

Re:Yes, demand the impossible. (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 5 months ago | (#45446723)

And don't forget, even if they were 100% renewable, off grid, then they'd still be dirty because something somewhere used a "rare earth", and every rare earth element used kills a domokun.

Re: God I love weasel wording. (1)

xelah (176252) | about 5 months ago | (#45447527)

There's something else Google could do, too, if there were ever so much wind and solar that electricity became sufficiently extremely expensive when it's dark and calm compared to when it isn't: power off servers there and route more traffic somewhere light or windy. Or, say, leave the spidering for later. Given the the cost of servers and bandwidth it might have to be seriously extreme, mind.

Re: God I love weasel wording. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45449155)

And by running that way, they triple their capital costs, because now they need a separate data center in a different location for each 8 hour solar shift. Not a good solution. Although in practice they may already use somewhat local datacenters due to network latency, so they may already have a load peak in the daytime for most of their machines.

Re:God I love weasel wording. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45444863)

Google just needs to shrink 80%.

GORILLA sized FLESHLIGHT !!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45443767)

with REAL gorilla SOUNDS!

"for one year" ? (1)

Kevoco (64263) | about 5 months ago | (#45443771)

What will they do the following year?

Re:"for one year" ? (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 5 months ago | (#45444043)

What will they do the following year?

I personally don't care as long as they don't use our tax dollars subsidize 30% of it. If solar and wind meet their needs, "more power to them". There is value in carrying the green label, as well as having some independence.

Re:"for one year" ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45444489)

Don't worry!

All your tax dollars will be put to good use fighting wars in foreign countries, keeping the price of oil low.

We certainly won't be allowing any communist socialist types to distort the market by advocating ridiculous "green" energy.

Re:"for one year" ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45444127)

Your mom?

So, with this type of investment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45443785)

With this type of investment do you really believe the propaganda that Google pumps out to the masses? Can you really believe anything that they and their stooges publish on their websites, including slashdot?

That's Awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45443975)

That's so awesome! Kumbaya...

Does it say anywhere how much they saved off their electric bill? People seem to get wrapped up in the greenwashing, but Google does this for one reason only. That is to reduce their capital outlay for electricity. It's about cost reduction, not carbon reduction.

I don't fault Google for saving a few bucks, especially when we're talking billions. I fault Google and their fanboyz for even implying that this is for planetary greening benefits.

badBIOS: Weapons-grade Malware (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45444055)

badBIOS, Facts, speculations, and misunderstandings

First there was Stuxnet, then there was FLAME, the latest weapons grade malware is badBIOS accidentially discovered by Dragos Ruiu 3 years ago. More on the discovery in section 2

http://learning.criticalwatch.com/badbios/ [criticalwatch.com]

Does this go to those schools? (2)

houghi (78078) | about 5 months ago | (#45444097)

Does the energy actually go to those schools, or is it just a nice way to saying it in a marketing wording?

Because what I read is that Google uses enough to power 2.5 million homes. (20% = 500.000 homes) Making the energy themselves is more cost efficient then buying it and green energy is cheaper and/or easier and/or faster to get into then oil or coal.

Basically cutting out the middle man. Has been done by industry for a long time.

Re:Does this go to those schools? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45444975)

OMG, but I thought only government can manage utilities, provide infrastructure and power our homes. I must be wrong.

Re:Does this go to those schools? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45445119)

Of course you are wrong. Duh

Re:Does this go to those schools? (4, Insightful)

sgt scrub (869860) | about 5 months ago | (#45445143)

I was wondering how far down the page I would have to get before someone pointed out what should be obvious. Google's highest cost is energy. Getting into the energy business does two things. First it gives them what the tards a !Yahoo were too stupid to get into, a "brick and mortar" presence so they have a tangible value. Second, it removes the highest negative from their spreadsheet.

Re:Does this go to those schools? (1)

Kuruk (631552) | about 5 months ago | (#45447397)

If our moronic governments wont build solar / wind and hydro power its good that corporations do.

Seems corporations can look long term while our governments say short sighted. No wonder our moronic governments are schooled by business as well.

It just the poor saps working and paying tax that get the short stick.

Re:Does this go to those schools? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45448273)

As long as we are noticing weasel wording I would like to point out that this is purchasing solar and wind. Investing would mean that Google was providing capital to solar and wind companies for an equity stake.

All your base load are belong to US. Why oh Why?? (1, Interesting)

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) | about 5 months ago | (#45445261)

HOW ARE YOU GENTLEMEN
All your base load are belong to US
You are on the way to destruction.
What you say??
Make your time.

Every time some company like Google announces funding for some Tempest or Solaris farm somewhere I wince. It's not the money, it's the very idea of the thing. The Internet is 24/7, and they're supposed to be the smartest guys & gals in the room. How can they get behind and forge ahead on something that won't even solve their own problems?

How did this decades-long solar slash wind fixation even begin?? Why don't at least half the folks out there pause and say, "wait a minute... what are we trying to accomplish?" I'm developing an honest resentment to those so-called 'green' things, and believe me it's not comfortable or fun. Truth is, wind and solar smell bad.

They smell like grid-down Darwin In Action DEATH. If I can easily imagine some awful Event that would render all solar and wind technology useless overnight, for a week or longer... who else can? Take your pick: Dust from a volcanic event or asteroid impact, or a Winter storm with Arctic air meeting warm moist air from the South that sweeps diagonally across the continent with freezing rain, leaving inches of ice accumulation, road and rail impassible.

Or a Little Ice Age. We are more vulnerable to harsh Winter conditions than we were in 1650-1700. Electricity powers everything. Some scientists are baffled [wsj.com] by the sun's behavior lately, but Professor Lockwood and the Washington Post aren't: Sun activity is in free fall, but you shouldn’t expect a new little ice age. [washingtonpost.com] I did a triple-facepalm when atmospheric physicist Joanna Haigh said, "Even under the most optimistic scenario [of minimal global warming and a deep solar minimum] the solar cooling would only just offset greenhouse gas warming. So no ice age.” Just like that. Human carbon emissions will offset a global weather phenomenon that lasted some 70-300 years. What makes her so sure?

Wind and Solar for grid energy are Rube Goldberg engineering disasters. So many precision cast moving parts out there in the elements, blades that rely on brakes and oil-filled transmission boxes. Everything subject to freeze and fail sooner than intended, and it's all in faraway places with branch feeders running to it at great expense, so it can solve your energy problems completely. Or maybe 20%. Some day. Some times. Not as much as expected. After the first calamity strikes, not at all.

Power plants are strong buildings with machinery inside built to withstand the worst of the elements. The best of these are completely self-contained, generate gigawatts of power and can stock months of fuel. Three guesses.

Solar and Wind grid energy farms are spacious gardens of delicate -- and ultimately useless -- garbage that never would have and will not ensure our survival, built at great expense in an atmosphere of dreamlike foolishness that has got to stop this minute.

My children deserve better. This is madness, people! Ape-shit madness! When discussing base load grid power, especially with aging infrastructure and an uncertain economic outlook... these sources should have been laughed out of the room. Google deserves better, as do we. This is an existential threat. Their money at this point would be better spent on T-shirts for natural gas producers and coal miners.

Or just perhaps... a commitment to fast-track thorium, a national effort on the same scale that put men on the moon. So we can crack this energy thing for the next thousand years, and go to the moon again.

And let's send women to the moon. It's their turn.

Some Google Talks. They should listen.
Robert Hargrave: Aim High: Using Thorium Energy to Address Environmental Problems [youtube.com]
Authors@Google: Richard Martin: SUPERFUEL: Thorium, The Green Energy Source for the Future [youtube.com]
Kirk Sorenson: Energy From Thorium: A Nuclear Waste Burning Liquid Salt Thorium Reactor [youtube.com]
Kirk Sorenson: The Thorium Molten-Salt Reactor: Why Didn't This Happen (and why is now the right time?) [youtube.com]
Joe Bonometti: The Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor: What Fusion Wanted To Be [youtube.com]

___
My letters on energy:
To The Honorable James M. Inhofe, United States Senate [scribd.com]
To whom it may concern, Halliburton Corporate [scribd.com]

Re:All your base load are belong to US. Why oh Why (1)

catprog (849688) | about 5 months ago | (#45450697)

Interesting you say volcanic dust could shut down solar. Despite at least two volcanoes shutting down a large part of air travel I have not seen any indication of solar panels being affected

How can they be sure the sun reduction will not lead to an Ice age?

They have looked at how much the reduction is predicted (in the worse case) to be and how much the CO2 increase is predicted to be.

And months of storage does not mean much compared with 70-300 years.

What happens when the remote mines get hit by the elements?

Re:All your base load are belong to US. Why oh Why (1)

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) | about 5 months ago | (#45460275)

Interesting you say volcanic dust could shut down solar. Despite at least two volcanoes shutting down a large part of air travel I have not seen any indication of solar panels being affected

Thanks for listening. We have not yet experienced a Big One in the industrial age.

The most recent global weather phenomenon that has been ascribed to volcanism was "1816, the year without a Summer" [wikipedia.org] , triggered by an eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia. "In the spring and summer of 1816, a persistent "dry fog" was observed in the northeastern US. The fog reddened and dimmed the sunlight, such that sunspots were visible to the naked eye. Neither wind nor rainfall dispersed the "fog". It has been characterized as a stratospheric sulfate aerosol veil."

Another global climate event of even greater magnitude occurred in 535AD which is presumed to have been an eruption of another Indonesian volcano, Krakatoa. David Keys has researched this extensively and has found many historical references [hbci.com] to this event, also see the fascinating PBS documentary Catastrophe! available on-line: Part 1 [youtube.com] , Part 2 [youtube.com] . From Cassiodorus [Italy, 536AD] "The sun ... seems to have lost its wonted light, and appears of a bluish colour. We marvel to see no shadows of our bodies at noon, to feel the mighty vigour of the sun's heat wasted into feebleness, and the phenomena which accompany an eclipse prolonged through almost a whole year.

Both events are accompanied by reports of unusual weather besides the dimming, massive crop failure. They should send a shiver through anyone who envisions that the United States might some day rely on solar or wind for base load energy. It's a slate wiper

And those are just garden-variety volcanic eruptions, though severe. Yellowstone has erupted on average every 600,000 years and the last one was 630,000 years ago. A flock of geologist-birds will descend to peck my eyes out if I should whisper "any day now", but at least, a Yellowstone event of some magnitude should be part of anyone's 100-year plan. BBC did a great two hour docudrama depicting possible effects, Supervolcano [2006] [youtube.com] along with companion program Supervolcano.The Truth About Yellowstone [youtube.com]

And that's not even bringing up the possibility of a significant sized meteor impact, which would be certain to generate a global plume of aerosols. So a bad day for plants is a bad day for solar energy and history has recorded these events as lasting for months and years.

How can they be sure the sun reduction will not lead to an Ice age?
They have looked at how much the reduction is predicted (in the worse case) to be and how much the CO2 increase is predicted to be.

There are so many effectors besides pure chemical CO2 that are emerging as factors. Some of them like Svensmark's theories on cosmic rays effecting cloud formation, after years of deliberate marginalization (see this documentary [youtube.com] ). And some long-suspected avenues which have not been explored enough (my opinion) such as study of aerosol particulates like carbon black and their effect on climate [wattsupwiththat.com] , which suffered a setback with the tragic loss of the Glory satellite [wikipedia.org] . Just two serious, possibly game changing factors. Until I see more of these angles play out to my own satisfaction -- a period in which they are rationally explored and not just 'rebutted', dismissed or ignored by pure-CO2 causation advocates -- I am leery of accepting anyone's climate projection model results.

But I hate to mix CO2 causation and wind/solar discussion in the same thread because I consider our need for reliable base load energy to trump any consideration of 'global warming' or 'climate change' as it is called now. It's a survival thing.

Some people choose to imagine some fine day when as-yet-built solar and wind farms dot the landscape while their as-yet-developed storage technology smooths the output and carries us all over completely until the sun shines and the wind blows again.

I'd rather imagine the day when this base load energy problem is dealt with in such a way that our need for electricity is not just satisfied, we actually have a grand surplus of electricity and industrial process heat to devote to pet projects. Want to reduce CO2? Build sequestration plants, as many as you wish. How about a superhighway for electric cars that pulse-charges their batteries as they roll over induction pads? Let's do it! Want to build a maglev train into space [gizmag.com] up the slope of Mount Kilimanjaro? It's worth a try.

You have to realize that all the Big Fun Projects that have ever been envisioned may take a great deal of planning, fabrication and especially energy --- but don't necessarily think in terms of 'money'. Broaden your idea of money to the more general concept of 'wealth', where the abundance of anything fundamental has ripple effects that serve to make everyone more wealthy.

Solar and wind base load energy would not help to make ANY of these visions that require a grand surplus of clean energy, a reality.

They might power your own house, which is great. But they will not run our industrial society. And as a dust cloud fills the sky and the wind patterns change, they will some day betray us.

___
My letters on energy:
To The Honorable James M. Inhofe, United States Senate [scribd.com]
To whom it may concern, Halliburton Corporate [scribd.com]

Re:All your base load are belong to US. Why oh Why (1)

catprog (849688) | about 5 months ago | (#45460343)

The most noticeable thing I notice about your scenarios is electricity is not the biggest problem. And the most common is 1 in a 1000 years,

Given the wind is now one of the cheapest forms of power, using wind to power CO2 sequesters is probably a good match. Especially because you do not need base load for it. If you can turn the sequesters off quickly it is even better.

Or you use the wind electricity to make hydrocarbons.

they're targetting the wrong resources (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 5 months ago | (#45446269)

What they need to do is capture the energy of all the hate for the Google+ comments on youtube. That's got to be a few megawatts.
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