Wind, solar and nuclear

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Lance Kennedy
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Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by Lance Kennedy » Fri Oct 05, 2018 8:53 pm

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2 ... 112553.htm?

Wind power is not, after all, that climate friendly. If the USA did wind power very large scale, it would redistribute heat in such a way as to raise temperatures by 0.24 Celsius.

Back to my support for nuclear. Something else I discovered recently. Perhaps the biggest drawback of nuclear power in practical terms (as opposed to the bull-shite so widely promulgated) is the high capital cost of a nuclear power plant.

What I double checked was solar cell capital costs. They come to just over $US 3,000 per kilowatt hour. Since nuclear power is more like $US 4,000 per kilowatt hour, this makes nuclear look bad. But the thing I found out recently is that solar cells have to be replaced every 25 years, while a modern nuclear power station is good for 60 years. Do the (very simple) math.

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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by Ken Fabos » Sun Nov 11, 2018 1:43 am

Climate science denial killed nuclear dead in it's tracks, right at the moment when it's golden window of opportunity opened. Denial walled off a large bloc of mainstream support for nuclear (probably the largest bloc) and prevented it being mobilised in any useful way even before renewables became intermittently low cost (and reached the current circumstance where long running (coal dependent) power companies think it is the cheapest new kind of electricity). No climate problem, no need to displace and replace fossil fuels.

Nuclear's main use since denial fired up the imaginations of people who don't want climate responsibility to ever be a legally recognised thing hasn't been as an effective alternative low emissions technology, it is as a rhetorical blunt instrument for whacking at Environmentalists - something that can be done without any commitment to addressing climate change or even any commitment to nuclear; it's broad anti-environmentalist theme appeals to both kinds of conservatives - the pro-fossil fuels ones who don't know any better, and the pro-fossil fuels conservatives who do. That is who nuclear depends on - so it should be no surprise it's in a deep hole.

Climate science denial, alarmist economic fear of ditching fossil fuels and greenie blaming - the main themes of climate obstructionists; what's not for a pro-fossil fuels conservative to like?

As long as that kind of obstructionist politicking is mainstream, nuclear-for-climate will continue to be a lame duck.

Expecting Environmentalists and pro-renewables people who are informed about climate change and are concerned, alarmed and active to save it seems like a misplaced hope. The pro-renewables folk got there due to the efforts of serious engineers, entrepreneurs and industrialists who mostly wear suits. Most would not be caught dead with dreadlocks or wearing white overalls and gas masks.

I don't ask anyone to take the word of Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace on climate. I do expect people in positions of trust and responsibility to take what orgs like the US National Academy of Sciences or UK's Royal Society seriously.

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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Sun Nov 11, 2018 10:31 am

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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by landrew » Sun Nov 11, 2018 8:10 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:
Fri Oct 05, 2018 8:53 pm
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2 ... 112553.htm?

Wind power is not, after all, that climate friendly. If the USA did wind power very large scale, it would redistribute heat in such a way as to raise temperatures by 0.24 Celsius.

Back to my support for nuclear. Something else I discovered recently. Perhaps the biggest drawback of nuclear power in practical terms (as opposed to the bull-shite so widely promulgated) is the high capital cost of a nuclear power plant.

What I double checked was solar cell capital costs. They come to just over $US 3,000 per kilowatt hour. Since nuclear power is more like $US 4,000 per kilowatt hour, this makes nuclear look bad. But the thing I found out recently is that solar cells have to be replaced every 25 years, while a modern nuclear power station is good for 60 years. Do the (very simple) math.
I don't agree with you about wind power raising temperatures. Wind is normally dissipated by friction with the surface of the earth. In the windy areas where wind farms are situated, a large number of turbines would actually reduce this friction, and consequently the amount of atmospheric heat generated.
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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by Ken Fabos » Sun Nov 11, 2018 11:24 pm

The maths for nuclear isn't simple or clear cut either - even the most optimistic of realistic scenarios for nuclear (WNA) don't expect nuclear to achieve more than about 25% of global electricity (not total energy) by 2050. Ie about double what we have now. The idea that we "just build lots of nuclear, problem solved" is as simplistically wrong as "just build lots of RE, problem solved".

As long as Doubt, Deny, Delay politicking continues it can't even get the support of that part of mainstream politics that likes nuclear - and nuclear needs more State planning and State regulation and State intervention in energy policy than any other choice; it can't afford potential supporters to be unconcerned about emissions. Carbon pricing would help, a lot, and is one of the things the WNA scenario requires - but one guess which part of mainstream politics most adamantly opposes it.

Without the conservative right committing to strong climate action nuclear will continue to struggle. With it, it will probably still struggle, because relying on renewables to spectacularly fail and all the support for climate action to shift to nuclear just doesn't seem realistic; if it didn't happen back when solar and wind really were the high cost options, it's even less likely now.

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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by ElectricMonk » Mon Nov 12, 2018 5:34 am

I find it disingenuous to claim that nuclear power costs $US 4,000 per kilowatt hour: we have no current data for a Western Country for that - in fact we have the massively delayed, costly overruns in the US which make it clear that at the current moment, the US, for example, isn't capable to economically build a Nuclear reactor, due to a lack of expertise and lack of clear guidelines and regulations (and the absence of a working permanent storage) .

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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by Lance Kennedy » Mon Nov 12, 2018 6:14 am

To EM

Not disingenuous. Not certain either. Since none of us are experts with Ph.D.s on the subject, we have to quote such sources as we can find. My source said $US 4,000 per kilowatt hour for the capital cost of setting up a nuclear power station. Sure, it is possible that someone may find another source with a different number. But we have to work with what we can find on hopefully reputable sites.

My own view of electricity generation is that we need to look at all methods. Nuclear will never be 100%. Nor will solar, or wind, or any other system. It is a case of using what is best in any particular situation.

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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by ElectricMonk » Mon Nov 12, 2018 7:12 am

no Lance - if there is no data, it doesn't matter who many degrees on the subject you have: you just don't know.

French, Chinese, Saudi, Turkish and US reactor projects all suffer delays because despite the best expert opinions, things didn't turn out the way they were supposed to.

Until we have something like 10 to 20 new reactors (globally) up and running, any guestimates about the actual costs are just that: guesses.

On the other hand, we have very solid data on the actual costs of Solar and Wind.

This doesn't mean that we should stop building reactors - but the only sensible goal here is for Nuclear to replace Coal, not renewables, because the competitions is fought on Carbon Emissions, not price.

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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by landrew » Mon Nov 12, 2018 2:39 pm

I agree. Data varies from wishful thinking, to guesses, to good estimates, but it takes a lot of study to sort it all out.
The costs of nuclear power have escalated rapidly along with public fears for safety.
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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by Lance Kennedy » Mon Nov 12, 2018 7:00 pm

EM
Not correct.

It does not matter what you do. Data is NEVER good enough. If you read the conclusion of any scientific paper in a peer reviewed and reputable journal, there will nearly always be a statement to the effect that more research is needed. This is a reflection of the fact that data is NEVER completely certain to be correct.

That is not an excuse to indulge in total inertia. Even though data is NEVER 100% certain, we have to go with the best data we have. I find the best data on line and quote it. If you find an alternative source and it does not agree, you are entitled to quote it also. Uncertainty is a reality. But you are not entitled to operate as if data does not exist. Use the best data. Change if newer and better data becomes available, but do not indulge in stuck in the mud inertia.

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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by ElectricMonk » Mon Nov 12, 2018 7:12 pm

Strawman,
not 1% and not 100% is not a minor difference.

Currently, building a reactor is guesswork, which is why there aren't any investors lining up to finance new ones.
If there was any certainty, even higher costs wouldn't be much of an issue.

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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by landrew » Mon Nov 12, 2018 11:00 pm

ElectricMonk wrote:
Mon Nov 12, 2018 7:12 pm
Strawman,
not 1% and not 100% is not a minor difference.

Currently, building a reactor is guesswork, which is why there aren't any investors lining up to finance new ones.
If there was any certainty, even higher costs wouldn't be much of an issue.
Fukushima did more to rocket up the price of a new reactor than anything else.
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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by Lance Kennedy » Mon Nov 12, 2018 11:35 pm

EM

You exaggerate the uncertainty.
And in China and India there are, indeed, investors lining up. Just not in the West where irrational groups of assorted idiots rail against how unsafe nuclear is, despite the data showing it is the safest of all generation methods.

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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by landrew » Tue Nov 13, 2018 4:04 am

Lance Kennedy wrote:
Mon Nov 12, 2018 11:35 pm
EM

You exaggerate the uncertainty.
And in China and India there are, indeed, investors lining up. Just not in the West where irrational groups of assorted idiots rail against how unsafe nuclear is, despite the data showing it is the safest of all generation methods.
It's hard to rationalize public fears.
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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by ElectricMonk » Tue Nov 13, 2018 5:49 am

landrew wrote:
Mon Nov 12, 2018 11:00 pm
ElectricMonk wrote:
Mon Nov 12, 2018 7:12 pm
Strawman,
not 1% and not 100% is not a minor difference.

Currently, building a reactor is guesswork, which is why there aren't any investors lining up to finance new ones.
If there was any certainty, even higher costs wouldn't be much of an issue.
Fukushima did more to rocket up the price of a new reactor than anything else.
I doubt you can produce any evidence for that.

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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by Ken Fabos » Tue Nov 13, 2018 6:51 am

My own view of electricity generation is that we need to look at all methods. Nuclear will never be 100%. Nor will solar, or wind, or any other system. It is a case of using what is best in any particular situation.
The RE experiment is unstoppable - getting pro-renewables climate alarmed folk to turn aside and embrace nuclear now seems especially optimistic. RE is shaking up the way we make and use electricity and nothing is ever going to be the same again. When the solar and wind turbines being built now are being (I hope) responsibly recycled nuclear will be pitching to a market changed beyond recognition; whatever else solar and wind do, they will have so disrupted the electricity market that the fossil fueled status quo is broken. Whether that disruption becomes an opportunity for nuclear or not depends now on how those other things - storage, demand management, efficiency and more storage - pan out at increasing scales, but it is solar and wind breaking the grip of alarmist economic fear of having to go without fossil fuels.

It is the disruption we need to have to send coal power to (I hope) responsible recycling - and gas to only when we really have to status, yet RE's incremental nature means we aren't really locked into anything; the sky won't fall in if we find storage costs aren't keeping pace. I would really hope that by the time the solar panels of today need replacing that climate science denial will not still have a death grip on large parts of mainstream politics - something that I think will invigorate nuclear advocacy more profoundly than any shift from the Progressive/Left.

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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by landrew » Tue Nov 13, 2018 2:41 pm

ElectricMonk wrote:
Tue Nov 13, 2018 5:49 am
landrew wrote:
Mon Nov 12, 2018 11:00 pm
ElectricMonk wrote:
Mon Nov 12, 2018 7:12 pm
Strawman,
not 1% and not 100% is not a minor difference.

Currently, building a reactor is guesswork, which is why there aren't any investors lining up to finance new ones.
If there was any certainty, even higher costs wouldn't be much of an issue.
Fukushima did more to rocket up the price of a new reactor than anything else.
I doubt you can produce any evidence for that.
Nope. Just my opinion, which I hope are still allowed here.
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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by ElectricMonk » Tue Nov 13, 2018 3:18 pm

of course.

Nuclear Power is like Flight: after every accidents, everyone has to update their security measures to prevent a similar accident. So with every incident, traditional nuclear power becomes more expensive.
But I guess the biggie was Chernobyl.

The new reactor types will go through the same process, which is why it might be beneficial to wait until China and others have had time to experience and fix problems, so that later generation reactors don't have to be retrofitted.

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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by landrew » Tue Nov 13, 2018 3:34 pm

ElectricMonk wrote:
Tue Nov 13, 2018 3:18 pm
of course.

Nuclear Power is like Flight: after every accidents, everyone has to update their security measures to prevent a similar accident. So with every incident, traditional nuclear power becomes more expensive.
But I guess the biggie was Chernobyl.

The new reactor types will go through the same process, which is why it might be beneficial to wait until China and others have had time to experience and fix problems, so that later generation reactors don't have to be retrofitted.
IIRC, Cessna stopped producing airplanes after a wave of public hysteria over aviation history, and a wave of lawsuits.
Ralph Nader may be a hero of automobile safety, but the price of a car is certainly much higher as a result of his efforts.
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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by Lance Kennedy » Tue Nov 13, 2018 6:10 pm

On the price of cars.

In the year 1960, a Morris 1000 cost exactly the average annual wages of a man (here in NZ). That was a horrible, underpowered, gas guzzling, nasty and unsafe little car. Today, for the equivalent annual wages, two small cars can be bought, which are both massively superior to that old Morris.

There is little sign that the improvements we see in technology raise prices. Not in the long term, anyway.

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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by landrew » Tue Nov 13, 2018 6:22 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:
Tue Nov 13, 2018 6:10 pm
On the price of cars.

In the year 1960, a Morris 1000 cost exactly the average annual wages of a man (here in NZ). That was a horrible, underpowered, gas guzzling, nasty and unsafe little car. Today, for the equivalent annual wages, two small cars can be bought, which are both massively superior to that old Morris.

There is little sign that the improvements we see in technology raise prices. Not in the long term, anyway.
It's a different economy now. There was a time when a radio cost as much as a car. A long distance phone call was unaffordable for most people. our standard of living has increased, but that doesn't change my statement that concerns for safety generally raises costs.
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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by Lance Kennedy » Wed Nov 14, 2018 2:17 am

Landrew

New technology, including safety innovations, may raise costs in the short term. But everything comes down in price in time.

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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by Ken Fabos » Wed Nov 14, 2018 7:12 am

New technology, including safety innovations, may raise costs in the short term. But everything comes down in price in time.
There are exceptions - Supersonic air travel comes to mind. Nuclear power?

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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by ElectricMonk » Wed Nov 14, 2018 8:20 am

Ken Fabos wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 7:12 am
New technology, including safety innovations, may raise costs in the short term. But everything comes down in price in time.
There are exceptions - Supersonic air travel comes to mind. Nuclear power?
I don't think supersonic air travel fits into this: it's not that we can't get better and cheaper technology, it's just that no one wants to buy a plane that can only travel over unpopulated areas.

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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by landrew » Wed Nov 14, 2018 1:50 pm

ElectricMonk wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 8:20 am
Ken Fabos wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 7:12 am
New technology, including safety innovations, may raise costs in the short term. But everything comes down in price in time.
There are exceptions - Supersonic air travel comes to mind. Nuclear power?
I don't think supersonic air travel fits into this: it's not that we can't get better and cheaper technology, it's just that no one wants to buy a plane that can only travel over unpopulated areas.
The Concorde was the closing chapter in that experiment. A great idea on paper, but just too expensive and problematic.
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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by ElectricMonk » Wed Nov 14, 2018 2:09 pm

landrew wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 1:50 pm
The Concorde was the closing chapter in that experiment. A great idea on paper, but just too expensive and problematic.
not necessarily - supersonic flight is making a tremendous comeback-

Boom is a company trying to build small supersonic planes.


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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by Austin Harper » Wed Nov 14, 2018 2:27 pm

landrew wrote:
Tue Nov 13, 2018 3:34 pm
IIRC, Cessna stopped producing airplanes after a wave of public hysteria over aviation history, and a wave of lawsuits.
What? No, Cessna still makes planes.
landrew wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 1:50 pm
ElectricMonk wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 8:20 am
Ken Fabos wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 7:12 am
New technology, including safety innovations, may raise costs in the short term. But everything comes down in price in time.
There are exceptions - Supersonic air travel comes to mind. Nuclear power?
I don't think supersonic air travel fits into this: it's not that we can't get better and cheaper technology, it's just that no one wants to buy a plane that can only travel over unpopulated areas.
The Concorde was the closing chapter in that experiment. A great idea on paper, but just too expensive and problematic.
The Concorde was the closing line of Chapter 1 in the experiment of commercial supersonic flight. Military supersonic flights happen every day, and as has been pointed out commercial supersonic flight isn't dead, it's just not currently available on the market but people are trying to bring it back.
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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by landrew » Wed Nov 14, 2018 2:31 pm

ElectricMonk wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 2:09 pm
landrew wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 1:50 pm
The Concorde was the closing chapter in that experiment. A great idea on paper, but just too expensive and problematic.
not necessarily - supersonic flight is making a tremendous comeback-

Boom is a company trying to build small supersonic planes.

Pardon my skepticism, but there's never a lack of concepts and proposals on the drawing boards. I subscribed to Popular Science for decades, and scores of them came and went. I fall short of calling it anything like a comeback.

What clinched it for me was when I heard about the problems of Inuit hunters in the far north, who were losing cariboo because of incessant sonic booms from the Concorde and other aircraft. Our environmental sensitivities these days, simply won't allow it.
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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by ElectricMonk » Wed Nov 14, 2018 2:37 pm

you are probably right.

But when it comes to very small, potentially private crafts, there are enough insanely rich people to fund a resurgence, even if limited to trans-Pacific and trans-Atlantic flights.

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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by landrew » Wed Nov 14, 2018 3:12 pm

ElectricMonk wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 2:37 pm
you are probably right.

But when it comes to very small, potentially private crafts, there are enough insanely rich people to fund a resurgence, even if limited to trans-Pacific and trans-Atlantic flights.
It could happen, but I'll believe it when I see it. Call me a skeptic.
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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by Lance Kennedy » Wed Nov 14, 2018 6:29 pm

The principle I espoused of better technology falling in price does depend on a couple of things.
There must be competition, and improvements in the technology. If a car maker comes up with a new gizmo, and puts it in one luxury car, the price will not fall until other car makers do the same. This did not happen with supersonic transport. A better example is passenger jet travel in general. The price per air mile of fast jet travel has fallen substantially, especially if inflation is taken into account. The reason for the fall in price was improvements to the technology, making it cheaper, coupled with robust competition.

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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by landrew » Wed Nov 14, 2018 7:23 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 6:29 pm
The principle I espoused of better technology falling in price does depend on a couple of things.
There must be competition, and improvements in the technology. If a car maker comes up with a new gizmo, and puts it in one luxury car, the price will not fall until other car makers do the same. This did not happen with supersonic transport. A better example is passenger jet travel in general. The price per air mile of fast jet travel has fallen substantially, especially if inflation is taken into account. The reason for the fall in price was improvements to the technology, making it cheaper, coupled with robust competition.
All true to some extent, but it doesn't apply to everything. Granted, if there was a pressing demand for inexpensive supersonic travel, it could eventually happen. But I'm saying I don't see it happening. My opinion is tempered by the experience of reading about thousands of failed attempts to launch new technological endeavors, and seeing the overwhelming majority of them either fail or return to the back-burner once again.

Personally, I would like to see inexpensive supersonic air travel. I'm just a bit less optimistic that it will happen soon.
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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by ElectricMonk » Wed Nov 14, 2018 7:53 pm

what we will probably get before supersonic flight is suborbital flight: both Blue Origin and SpaceX are planing on offering passenger transport this way sometime in the future - which would cut flight time to anywhere in the world to 1 to 2 hours.
Price tag will probably too high for most people, and stay that way.

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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by landrew » Wed Nov 14, 2018 9:36 pm

ElectricMonk wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 7:53 pm
what we will probably get before supersonic flight is suborbital flight: both Blue Origin and SpaceX are planing on offering passenger transport this way sometime in the future - which would cut flight time to anywhere in the world to 1 to 2 hours.
Price tag will probably too high for most people, and stay that way.
If there were some way to regenerate the energy of re-entry, it might offset the energy expended to get suborbital.
But why not stay on the ground? Put a maglev train in a vacuum tube, zing it up to a few thousand miles per hour, then get most of the energy back through regenerative braking. What's that you say? Someone already thought of it and they call it Hyperloop?
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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by Austin Harper » Wed Nov 14, 2018 9:47 pm

I don't think Hyperloop is a very good idea. The criticism section on Wikipedia reflects all of my own issues with it.
Wikipedia wrote:Criticism and human factor considerations
Some critics of Hyperloop focus on the experience—possibly unpleasant and frightening—of riding in a narrow, sealed, windowless capsule inside a sealed steel tunnel, that is subjected to significant acceleration forces; high noise levels due to air being compressed and ducted around the capsule at near-sonic speeds; and the vibration and jostling. Even if the tube is initially smooth, ground may shift with seismic activity. At high speeds, even minor deviations from a straight path may add considerable buffeting. This is in addition to practical and logistical questions regarding how to best deal with safety issues such as equipment malfunction, accidents, and emergency evacuations.

Other maglev trains are already in use, which avoid much of the added costs of Hyperloop. The SCMaglev in Japan has demonstrated 603 km/h (375 mph) without a vacuum tube, by using an extremely aerodynamic train design. It also avoids the cost and time required to pressurize and depressurize the exit and entry points of a Hyperloop tube.

There is also the criticism of design technicalities in the tube system. Prof. John Hansman has stated problems, such as how a slight misalignment in the tube would be compensated for and the potential interplay between the air cushion and the low-pressure air. He has also questioned what would happen if the power were to go out when the pod was miles away from a city. Prof. Richard Muller has also expressed concern regarding "[the Hyperloop's] novelty and the vulnerability of its tubes, [which] would be a tempting target for terrorists", and that the system could be disrupted by everyday dirt and grime.
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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by landrew » Wed Nov 14, 2018 10:15 pm

I'm not convinced that the hyperloop is a future dead technology. I see a bit more potential for the issues to be eventually worked out. The tube could be built underground and protected with a sensor network which could shut down the system when a threat is detected. The speed and efficiency of such a system may eventually win out.
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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by Lance Kennedy » Wed Nov 14, 2018 10:46 pm

The hyperlink will probably not be available any time soon. But I am skeptical that it is supplying a real need anyway. As landrew pointed out, existing Magdrive can achieve massive speed without the hyperlink problems and high cost.

Concorde was the same. It was a nifty idea, but there was no real demand for expensive high speed air travel. The demand was for economy, and the jumbo jet won the contest.

I suspect the same will prove true for suborbital flight. I am more excited about the BFR having great potential for lifting stuff to orbit in bulk. One such thing could be a prefabricated, ion drive, interplanetary craft. It has always seemed silly to me to use the same inefficient rocket that achieves orbit to carry on to Mars or some other destination. What is needed is something like the space station with ion drive propulsion attached. Low acceleration over a long time period to achieve very high velocity and a massive distance range.

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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by Ken Fabos » Thu Nov 15, 2018 12:34 am

The example of supersonic air travel does not mean it can't ever or won't ever happen, but it does serve as an example of physical and economic limitations on technological advancement. I don't see anything inevitable about tech advancement; it isn't a natural law, it is a consequence of investment decisions in R&D and in commercialisation. But I don't subscribe to the notion that it is exponential, rather, that advancement is ultimately going to be an S-curve - which can look very like exponential when you are at the steep stage.

To bring it back to energy technologies, fusion continues to struggle to work at all which makes it becoming low cost and reliable as well a very big leap. Fission, meanwhile, will continue to have a significant place, but economics are currently not favouring it as the preferred energy investment except (mostly) where there is already a big committed investment in it. Climate concerns ought to have been a big boost but politics threw a big shoe in the works - support for nuclear amongst the climate activist movement eclipsed by support for renwables rendering it unusable and support for nuclear amongst the conservatives was eclipsed by opponents of climate responsibility, rendering it unusable. Lose-lose.

Some of this is going to be about how much pre-investment governments (and companies relying on government guarantees) are willing to put into developing and certifying new kinds of (perhaps modular) reactors. I seem to recall a proposal for US$600 billion US program for this? I can't find it, so maybe a misreading. Given the scale of the climate/emissions/energy problem, that level of funding is probably appropriate. But it would also be appropriate for supporting energy storage development (although recognising commercial opportunities is driving a lot of storage R&D now) or any of several other energy solutions. But it does require governments caring about the climate problem in a genuine, committed way; gesture politics isn't good enough and obstructionist politics is worse.

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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by landrew » Thu Nov 15, 2018 2:42 am

We need to live in the real world. Some things are "fool's gold" and haven't become feasible after decades of work. Fusion is an example of this; it's been "almost here" for decades now, but we never seem to see any big breakthroughs.

I'm the first to admit that we "could" be close, but for spending more money, but that's always the case. Even in a gold mine, when you've finally given up, you may have been just inches from the mother lode. But that's not a reason to keep spending more money like there's no tomorrow. At some point you have to cut your losses.

That's why I think we should look into helium-3. It seems a lot more promising than fusion, and safer than nuclear. We've already been to the moon, so mining it from there would give our space exploration a well-needed kick.
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Re: Wind, solar and nuclear

Post by Lance Kennedy » Thu Nov 15, 2018 7:28 pm

Helium 3, landrew, IS for fusion. Just an alternate system which is no closer than any other system.