The Green Mirage

Review of Forbes On-line Magazine Article “Solar Energy Revolution: A Massive Opportunity”

By: Tom Tamarkin Founder FuelRFuture & President USCL Corp

Abstract:

This paper discusses a recently published business magazine article projecting massive growth in the solar industry over the next 20 years. We have analyzed the business, scientific, and engineering backgrounds of two well-known gentlemen quoted in the article and searched for business interests that would benefit from such growth either by way of early investment and subsidy capital or long term net revenue. We have analyzed the utility industry’s need to replace an existing 440 GW of fully operational and cost effective generating capacity in light of its projected retirement of plants due to age coupled with the potential increase in demand based on partial electrification of the transportation system. We conclude with the analysis of the feasibility of powering the U.S. electricity needs by a solar-only generation infrastructure based on system components and the feasibility of extremely large volume manufacturing, capital costs and the huge land areas required.

Key Concepts:

· 29.3 billion 1 square meter solar panels are required for 100% solar power in the U.S. based on current demand 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.

· 29.3 billion 1square meter panels would cover 29,333 km2 which equals 7.2 million acres, or almost all of Maryland and Delaware.

· If 1 square meter PV panels were manufactured at the rate of 1 per second, it would take 929 years to manufacture 29.3 billion panels

· The cost of a solar only approach exceeds $15.27 trillion

· To meet all energy demands for transportation, industrial, and commercial-agriculture would require 176 billion solar panels and 5,574 years to produce

· Moore’s Law is not applicable to the production or deployment of solar panels

· Increases in “solar cell efficiency” have little impact on land area to produce utility scale power

· Unsubsidized Solar has applicability in rural areas and developing countries with low population density

· Google’s Green Energy Project RE<C was canceled; “Renewable energy technologies simply won’t work; we need a fundamentally different approach; Suggest “A disruptive fusion technology…”

Important Additional Supportive Papers

Going Solar

Solar Power Technology & Economics

Background:

Peter Diamandis, Co-Founder & Executive Director of Singularity University, in Moffett Field, California recently wrote an article published in Forbes on-line magazine titled “Solar Energy Revolution: A Massive Opportunity” The article starts off by stating Singularity Co-Founder and Google Director, Ray Kurzweil, “projects that the U. S. will meet 100% of its electrical energy needs from solar in 20 years.” Mr. Diamandis also states that Elon Musk, Chairman of the electric vehicle company, Tesla Motors, SolarCity and SpaceX “expects solar power to provide 50% of America’s electricity in 20 years.

Peter Diamandis is probably best known as founder of the X Prize Foundation. In 1980 he enrolled at MIT to study biology and physics where he graduated with a degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering. In 1989 he graduated from Harvard Medical School.

Ray Kurzweil graduated from MIT in 1970 and worked closely with the famed Marvin Minsky in the field of artificial intelligence. He is the recipient of the MIT-Lemelison award in innovation, and has received the National Medal of Technology from the White House as well as the National Inventors Hall of Fame under the U.S. Patent Office. He has received 20 honorary doctorates, and honors from three presidents and is the author of 7 books. His acknowledged area of expertise is in artificial intelligence and machine learning. In 2012 he was appointed a Director of Engineering at Google, heading up a team developing machine intelligence and natural language understanding. Google has since acquired Nest Labs which developed and sells the Nest self-learning thermostat for home use.

Elon Musk received a BS in physics from the University of Pennsylvania and a BS in economics from the Wharton School. Mr. Musk is the respected founder or catalyst of Zip2, X.com-PayPay, SpaceX, Tesla Motors, and SolarCity.

Discussion & Analysis:

All three gentlemen are well educated and extremely accomplished in their fields. Mssrs Musk and Diamandis in physics & engineering; and Mr. Kurzweil in the field of artificial intelligence, computer sciences, and IT. Mr. Kurzweil is well known as a “futurist” and has an excellent record of predicting technology development paths. All three are rock solid American citizens who have spent a life time building a better future for all of us.

These track records make people assume these predictions must be true. But are they? Should large institutional investors risk substantial capital based on these predictions? Should individual and family investors bet their retirement savings on these predictions? And perhaps most importantly, should public policy and national security be based on these predictions or is further due-diligence in order? The numbers are deceptively enticing to any business person.

Since Mr. Diamandis did not reference specific statements with relevant context, an internet search was conducted to review these “quotes” and their contexts.

We start with Ray Kurzweil and a review of business and consumer publications. Many were found quoting Mr. Kurzweil to say “in 20 Years virtually all power in America will come from Solar.” The 9billion.com news publication published an article so quoting him. The article indicates Mr. Kurzweil’s predictions are based on his “law of accelerating returns” which he derives from Moore’s Law in the semiconductor industry. Moore’s law is often used to define technology development cycles and follows:

Moore’s Law:

As has been observed, over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years.

The law is named after Gordon Moore, co-founder of the Intel Corporation, who described the trend in his 1965 paper. Sometimes the time frame is shortened to 18 months based on Intel’s experience in increasing chip performance and speed primarily through the release of the next generation microcomputer chip.

Another article also published in the 9billion,com says:

such progress has led futurist Ray Kurzweil to project that solar technology will compete with fossil fuels, and will be able to provide 100% of the world’s solar energy by 2030. The basis of his projection is the continual doubling of solar power every two years for the past 20 years. IT professionals might recall the concept of “Moore’s Law” in reference to computer chips.

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Mr. Kurzweil is a consummate IT professional. However he does not have a solid state physics background and has not concerned himself with the fundamental parameters surrounding Moore’s law. One is chip die size. More transistor junctions cannot be put on a chip unless the silicon die is increased within certain practicalities. This issue is limited by a fundamental matter of physics based on atomic issues having to do with molecular cross sectional diameters of atoms and the interaction with free electrons traveling across a gap, as well as interconnection issues.

In April 2005, Gordon Moore stated in an interview that the law cannot be sustained indefinitely: “It can’t continue forever. The nature of exponentials is that you push them out and eventually disaster happens”. He also noted that transistors would eventually reach the limits of miniaturization at atomic levels:

It is projected that the end of Moore’s law in terms of junction density will be reached no later than 2016. That is an altogether different issue than the ability to increase performance and speed of microcomputer chips based on design optimization and investment in process capability.

A recent article suggests that IBM and others are looking forward to the “post silicon” era and making significant investments based on the future needs.

The use of Moore’s Law to describe the photovoltaic solar business in terms of market penetration, fabrication and marketing and the appropriateness of solar to replace grid level baseload power generation does not apply; in fact, it confuses and misleads people who are not skilled or studied in the fundamental science. There three principal reasons:

1. The appropriateness of solar to replace grid level baseload power generation. Solar in general, regardless of the collection system: – photovoltaics or PV, concentrated PV, concentrated solar driving conventional steam turbine generators and thermal — are extremely inefficient in comparison to their enormous size and cost. It has been noted that the earth receives more energy from the Sun in just one hour than the world’s population uses in a whole year. The total solar energy flux intercepted by the earth on any particular day is 4.2 X 1018 Watt-hours or 1.5 X 1022 Joules (or 6.26 X 1020 Joules per hour). This is equivalent to burning 360 billion tons of oil per day or 15 Billion tons per hour. However the earth is spinning sphere close to 7,925 miles in diameter at the equator. Thus a fairly small amount of energy falls on a specific surface and for only a few hours at a time. Details are provided in Solar Power Technology & Economics.

People often hear that up to 1,000 Watts of energy are available per square meter of surface area and that all of it can be converted from infrared and visible electromagnetic radiation produced by the sun into electricity. That is a serious misunderstanding. Even Robert Muller, Ph.D. author of “

>Physics For Future Presidents” accidentally made this mistake in his book. David MacKay uses 5-20 watts of electricity per square meter of collection surface in his landmark book “Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air,”.

We put an expert to the task of defining just how much electricity on average can be generated per square meter (1 meter = 39.34 inches.) The number is 37.5 watts, averaged over 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, factoring in historical weather factors such as cloud cover, fog, etc., and in extremely well suited areas in the Southwest United States. A detailed report has been provided based on converting the current 440 GW generation capacity plus required margins with battery storage. The required amount of square land area to collect the required power is 29,333 km2 (7,248,342 acres); that is larger than the entire country of Israel and 50% larger than the state of New Jersey in the USA – or nearly equal to all of Maryland and Delaware. It also equates to a square having sides 171.3 km in length. In practicality the required area would be much larger for allowance between panels to allow construction crews access and to periodically clean the panels as dust and dirt significantly affect conversion efficiency. This requires 29,333,333,333 (29.33 billion) solar panels and 4.4 million battery modules contained in a number 40 shipping container (40 feet X 6 feet 8 feet,) covering a surface area of 130.8 km2 or a square with sides of 11.4 km with zero space between modules. This data is presented in a straightforward fashion for nonscientists in the publication “Going Solar.”

2. Manufacturing considerations. Twenty nine and 1/3 billion is a very large number of panels to manufacture. As pointed out in “Going Solar” it would take 929 years to produce this number of panels if they could be built at the rate of 1 per second. For comprehension, today’s commercially available PV panels are standardized at 1.46 square meters and weigh about 40 pounds. Fabrication is a multistep process involving silicon crystal fabrication, cell construction, interconnection, back plane and frame. Each panel needs to be inspected, tested, and certified to meet specification.

If a manufacturing rate of 1 panel per second could be achieved, it would take 929 years to produce 29.3 billion panels one square meter in dimension. Today’s current production panels weigh approximately 40 pounds and are complicated multi-component assemblies. To be clear this analysis is based on a panel 1 square meter in size. In reality panels differ in size according to the manufacturer and customer specifications. What does not change is 29,333 billon square meters of active semiconductor solar cell collection surface area must cover a similar amount of land area exposed to the Sun.

3. Misapplication of Moore’s Law to solar cell efficiency Improvements.

The issue of solar efficiency is incomprehensible to the average person to say the least. First, available energy from the Sun’s electromagnetic radiation per a given amount of surface area is a function of many factors. This is explained in “Solar Power Technology & Economics”. Because the amount of “harvestable energy” varies drastically based on longitude, latitude, prevailing weather conditions, and day of the year a series of charts has been prepared by NREL (and others) providing a simple bottom line Watt per square meter as averaged from all these factors. This is commonly referred to as insolation.

Thus, the simple increase of solar cell efficiency does not have a proportional increase in electricity produced per square meter. In “Going Solar” the insolation number used in the analysis of a 100% solar replacement of the current U.S. generation capacity is 37.5 Watts per square meter. No amount of wishful thinking can alter this fact. Thus marginal increases in cell efficiencies have a negligible effect on the tremendous land size and number of solar panels to be manufactured. The following data sets illustrate this point.

15% “panel efficiency” This is the current state of the art for most production panels

29,333,333,333 (29.33 billion) 1 sq m panels:

29,333 km2 1 @ second = 930 Years

1,100,000,000,000 ÷ 37.5 = 29,333,333,333 sq m ÷ 1,000,000 = 29,333 km2 v29,333 = 171.3 km X 171.3 km square

22% “panel efficiency” This is the midpoint in published numbers for Silevo/SolarCity

20,000,000,000 (20 billion) 1 sq m panels:

20,000 km2 1 @ second = 634.2 Years

1,100,000,000,000 ÷ 55 = 20,000,000,000 sq m ÷ 1,000,000 = 20,000 km2 v20,000 =141.42 km X 141.42 km square

40% “panel efficiency” This is only achievable in complex 2 gap cells with special optics

11,000,000,000 (11 billion) 1 sq m panels:

11,000 km2 1 @ second = 348.8 Years

1,100,000,000,000 ÷ 100 = 11,000,000,000 sq m ÷ 1,000,000 = 11,000 km2 v 11,000 = 104.88 km X 104.88 km square

55% “panel efficiency” This is the maximum theoretical efficiency based on physics.

8,000,000,000 (8 billion) 1 sq m panels:

8,000 km2 1 @ second = 253 Years

1,100,000,000,000 ÷ 137.5 = 8,000,000,000 sq m ÷ 1,000,000 = 8,000 km2 v11,000 = 89.55 km X 89.55 km square

The Shockley-Queisser limit states that the maximum solar conversion efficiency of an ideal solar cell is around 33.7% assuming a single p-n junction with a band gap of 1.34 eV.

The maximum practical limit for a tandem or dual cell is 47%.

The Physics of Solar Cells,” Nelson, Imperial College Press, London, 2002, page 300, figure 10.9, states that the maximum theoretical efficiency of a tandem four terminal solar cell is 56%

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Solar cells work by converting sun light and infrared radiation into electricity. This involves a high energy photon striking the semiconductor portion of the solar cell and transporting electrons across a band gap boundary. For a comprehensive understanding of the physics involved see “The Physics of Solar Cells”, as posted as a screen readable downloadable PDF.

For simplicity the following explanation is offered. Visible Sunlight is composed of a broad spectrum of colors which correspond to increasing photon energy levels. The lowest energy photons come from infrared merging to visible red. The highest energy electrons come from violet and ultra-violet. The following is a graph of the visible electromagnetic radiation from the Sun.

northsky

The chart below provides a specific photon energy value across the electromagnetic radiation spectrum starting with low frequency radio waves and ending with Gamma rays. The area of interest for solar cells is in the wavelength area of 800 nm to 350 nm. This represents an energy level of 1 to 1.6 electron volts. An electron volt is a very small amount of energy at 1.60 X 10-19 Joules. One Joule is a Watt second. As can be seen it takes a strong energy flux density to make the solar cell produce useful amounts of electricity!

clip_image009The amount of work done per captured photon energy flux can be increased if photons of different energies could be absorbed preferentially in cells of different wavelength band gap. If the solar spectrum could be split up and channeled into photon-converters of different band gaps, then more of the solar spectrum could be harnessed. Nelson describes this in pages 298-300 in “The Physics of Solar Cells,” Impearl College, UK, World Scientific Publishing Co. Ltd., 2003-2008. Nelson’s Figure 10.6 below shows a power available from optimized one, two, and three band gap systems.

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Nelson’s Figure 1.07 below illustrates one possible scheme for exploring multiple band gaps, where sunlight is split up by means of dichoric mirrors and directed on to cells of different band gap.

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Nelson’s Figure 1.08 below illustrates two and four terminal configurations for tandem cells. In either case, short wavelength light is preferentially absorbed in the top cell, and longer wavelength light in the bottom cell.

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A complete copy of “The Physics of Solar Cells” may be downloaded here as a PDF.

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The most efficient solar cell yet produced in the laboratory is 44.7% as shown in the above graph.

Clearly Moore’s Law has no application to the use of solar cells or the production of them. The fundamental limitation is the surface area of the cell or external lenses in the case of “concentrated PV” required to intercept a specific flux density of sunlight. As shown above increases of efficiency can be made with dual cells and even three cells which have a theoretical maximum efficiency of 55%. However this requires breaking down the spectrum into discreet energy bands which are then focused on semiconductors that are spectrally “tuned” to generate maximum voltage. This requires specialized dichroic prisms or filters and lenses. It also requires exotic semiconductor materials in terms of elemental components. This technique is sometimes referred to as “concentrated PV solar.”

A more common use of the term “Concentrated PV” applies to the use of individual lenses which are used to focus or concentrate great energy flux density onto a smaller surface area of solar cell silicon semiconductor. The purported advantage of this approach is a reduction of the cost of silicon and other fundamental elements used in the semiconductor portion of the cell. This can be accomplished with lenses or parabolic reflectors. This results in a considerable price disadvantage when the cost of power per square meter is considered and the assemblies are complex and do not lend themselves to mass production; certainly not at one per second. Additional cost disadvantages of this approach are the extremely high temperature the solar cell is subjected too which must be dissipated by water cooled metal heat sinks. Whereas some advocates of this approach suggest the hot water traveling through the heat sinks has value, the fact of the matter is it does not. The water will never be hot enough to drive steam turbines for power generation and the solar sites are too far away for use in building heating systems.

clip_image019Examples of a lens and a mirror concentrated PV system are shown below.

In the case of lens based Concentrated PV Panels, the use of lenses requires a separation between the lenses and the solar cells based on the focal length of the lenses. This contributes to the complexity of the structure as well as to overall weight and cost. And the fundamental bottom line is that the mirrors or lenses DO NOT increase the amount of collected sun radiation per square meter of land. If anything they significantly increase the amount of land required because of the exotic construction. As can be seen Concentrated PV is not an appropriate solution for grid level power generation.

clip_image021Follow this link for an example of a government subsidized study to determine the feasibility of a concentrated Photo Voltaic solar configuration.

Concentrated Solar should not be confused with PV Concentrated Solar as it was in one popular article in the9billion site where in the last paragraph they made reference to the Gemasolar plant in Spain.

clip_image023Concentrated Solar works by creating water steam pressure, or in some case vaporized salts pressure, by focusing sun rays captured by tens of thousands (or in the case of the Ivanpah project in California, 170,000+) of mirrors and focusing those beams of collected sunlight on a coil located in a tower several hundred feet high. As the liquid or salts vaporize the high pressure turns a steam generator just as in a coal or natural gas fired plant. The initial benefits were thought to be the liquid or molten salts would stay warm for some time thus “building in” natural storage capability and reducing the need for battery storage. However, experience with Ivanpah has shown this does not work and its owners recently petitioned the State of California Public Utilities Commission to allow it to produce up to 30% of its electrical energy output from natural gas. Google is a principal investor in Ivanpah as well as in a molten salts Concentrated Solar project called Crescent Dunes in Nevada. Operating experience is not yet available from Crescent Dunes.

 

 

clip_image025Moore’s second law.

In the case of solar panel manufacturing Moore’s second law is of far greater significance given the huge amount of manufacturing capability needed to produce solar panels in the required multibillion quantities. In the semiconductor business which is the core of the individual solar cells on each panel, as the cost of computer power to the consumer falls, the cost for producers to fulfill Moore’s law follows an opposite trend: R&D, manufacturing, and test costs have increased steadily with each new generation of chips. Rising manufacturing costs are an important consideration for sustaining Moore’s law. This has led to the formulation of Moore’s second law, which is: “The capital cost of a semiconductor fabrication facility also increases exponentially over time.”

We have not found statements by Elon Musk providing percentage of electric power market share predictions. We have found numerous references to his vision and plans: notably, this short article of June 2014 stating that he wants to deliver 10 gigawatts watts of solar panels per year. But what does this mean? Does it mean panels will deliver 10 gigawatts of power 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to electricity users – or does it mean he wants to install 10 gigawatts of panels which are specified to deliver that amount of power under controlled STC (standard test conditions?) There is a big difference.

An examination of a Solar World Sunmodule SW 250 panel shows it to consist of 60 cells 156 mm X 156 mm producing a solar panel approximately 1.46 m2. The panel is advertised to deliver 250 Watts of electricity under laboratory STC conditions. The specification provides an IV curve– where I is current in amperes and V is voltage. Current (amps) X voltage = Watts. Their curve shows that at STC laboratory conditions when the panel is illuminated at 1,000 W/m2 it produces slightly over 250 Watts. The curve also shows that at the assumed insolation defined in Going Solar the amount of electricity is 50 Watts as defined in the insolation averages. Our precise calculation puts the true value at 54.75 Watts.

Thus the actual power generated from one panel averaged over 24 hours, 365 days, is only 21.9% of the output advertised.

Production of 10 gigawatts of power based on the STC maximum 250 Watt capability of the panels would require 40,000,000 panels to be manufactured and delivered each year for Solar City to meet its goals. At a production rate of 1 panel per second they would require 1.27 years to produce.

Production of 10 gigawatts of power based on the insolation factor of 37.5% Watts/m2 with operating panels in the real world would require 250,102,040 panels to be manufactured and delivered each year for Solar City to meet its goals. At a production rate of 1 panel per second it would require 7.93 years to produce.

This is another example of Moore’s second law at work:

SolarCity states they want to deliver 10 gigawatts of solar panels yearly. The capital required to build the process capability to manufacture at the run rate of 40,000,000 panels per year is enormous. Note this is for the solar panels only. Additional requirements apply to the electrical inverters required to convert the low voltage DC to 240-120 volts AC required by electricity users.

In actuality the number of panels required to provide 10 gigawatts of power 24 hours a day 7 days a week is much larger. The capital required to build the process capability to manufacture at the run rate of 250,102.040 panels per year is astronomical. And no consideration has been publicly stated about the DC to AC inverters and batteries required to support 24 hour, 365 day electricity generation.

Mr. Musk originally conceived the idea of solar power to market his Tesla Motors products based on “green” PR. This white paper from the Tesla Motors web site shares that vision. The business plan was developed in 2005 on a trip to “Burning Man” in Nevada with his cousins and Mr. Musk agreed to fund what became SolarCity and remains Chairman and major stockholder.

Tesla Motor’s website indicates that its Model S has a minimum range of 302 miles based on a fully charged 85kWh battery. Representative curves of range and electricity consumption in kWh are provided on their website although there are no specific curves relating to acceleration and the slope of the road meaning grade or going uphill.

Driving up hill requires considerably more energy than static elevation driving. And it relates to the velocity or speed and the slope of the hill in combination with the amount of weight in the car. The greater the load, the higher the velocity and the greater the slope, the faster the batteries drain. Add acceleration while going uphill and the batteries are drained even faster. The relationship between mass, time, slope and velocity is a complex one requiring calculus to solve and plot.

Tesla Motors website claims that a small carport sized solar panel configuration can provide enough electricity for a typical days’ worth of driving and still contribute power to the grid. Based on Tesla’s stated range of 302 miles per charge of 85 kWh, the car would obtain a range of 36 miles assuming a home solar panel system of 11.1 square meters (119.5 square feet) of panels based on the 37.5 Watt insolation factor providing 10kWh per twenty-four hours. As can be seen it would take over 8 days to fully charge the car’s batteries assuming zero use. This is opposite Tesla’s inference that the small carport solar system can support all the car’s electricity needs apart from the power grid. The cost of a 11.1 m2 solar system with batteries rated at 10 kWh (in the event a home owner wants to be independent from the grid) would cost over $10,000.

Google has been shown to have a direct and significant business interest in “green energy” and specifically solar. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested and government subsidies obtained.

Google’s Chairman, Eric Schmidt, was a campaign advisor and major donor to Barack Obama and served on Google’s government relations team. President Obama considered him for Commerce Secretary. Schmidt was an informal advisor to the Obama presidential campaign and began campaigning the week of October 19, 2008, on behalf of the candidate. He was mentioned as a possible candidate for the Chief Technology Officer position, which President Obama created in his administration. After President Obama won in 2008, Schmidt became a member of President Obama’s transition advisory board. He proposed that the easiest way to solve all of the problems of the United States at once, at least in domestic policies, is by a stimulus program that rewards renewable energy and, over time, attempts to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy. He has since become a new member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology

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Tesla has likewise been shown to have a direct and significant business interest in “green energy” and specifically solar. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested and government subsidies obtained.

SolarCity also has a direct and significant business interest is “green energy” and specifically solar. It too has invested hundreds of millions of dollars and obtained major government subsidies.

It is to be expected that key personnel such as Mr. Kurzweil and Mr. Musk would be passionate in their position adopted by each company.

Cost of 100% solar PV Generation

A simple worksheet showing the system component costs for the 1100 GW solar-only generation system involves over 20 years, assuming the system has a 25-year life cycle due to solar panel degradation, and requires two battery replacement cycles, based on the life expectancy of Lithium ion batteries in ruggedized application. Labor has not been calculated due to the uncertainties of installing a system in which over 900 years are required to manufacture core components. It is obvious however, that a large work force will be required to install the yearly run rate of 31.5 million panels based on a turnout of 1 panel per second.

29.3 billion 1 m2 equivalent PV panels at $125.00 each = $3.67T

4.4 million battery modules as defined in “Going Solar” at $750,000 each = $3.3T

Steel, mounting material, and assorted electronics controls, transformers = $1.5T

Copper and Aluminum for wiring and interconnection = $50B

Land acquisition of 58,666 km2 or 14,496,368 acres at an average price of $5,000 per acre = $72,481,840,000

Steel and related construction material = $750 B

First battery change out $3.3 T = $16.59T

Second battery change out $3.3T = $20.55T (3,260 batteries per year) for 20 years

The total 20 year “overnight cost” of the system is $15.93 trillion dollars

The Utility Industry:

The United States has a current generating capacity of approximately 440 GW meaning at any point in time 440 GW of electricity are available plus a plant margin of 20% to cover maintenance, breakdowns, unplanned peak demands and other emergencies. The following chart shows estimated plant retirement based on age. The utility plant life cycle for a large 500-MW-and-up plant is 60 years meaning the plant must be designed and built to last 60 years with continuous around the clock operation and minimal downtown for maintenance.

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As can be seen above the utility generation capacity is relatively stable for the next eight years. Given the regulated nature of utilities and wholesale power providers there is little incentive to invest in more plant capacity other than that required to maintain parity at 2014 levels. By 2025 a significant percentage of the nuclear generation capacity will be off-line as will much of the natural gas (and coal) generation capacity. By 2035 an additional 50 GW of plan capacity must be on-line. The utility plant licensing application to operations cycle is about 10 years. Utilities’ first choice is to have additional coal plants built to carry us through 2050 at present capacity, with a 50% increase to cover demands from the partial electrification of the transportation system. However the EPA’s opposition to coal power under the current administration creates too much risk for investors. Thus natural gas plants will be the preferred choice. The technology exists today and the cost of construction and operations fits the needed profile.

Utilities at the CEO level are not swayed by the social movement and Silicon Valley trends of “going green.” The industry is part of an annual energy industry with annual revenues in excess of three trillion dollars and is well run based on 100 years of business experience and attention to the demands of both regulators and shareholders.

In 2005, the Department of Energy in partnership with green industry firms and environmental groups issued a report partially set forth in the form of an 18 FAQ report. Roughly one half of the Q&As relate to perceived global warming based on CO2 emissions from the utility company. The chart below, produced in October 2014 indicates there has been no appreciable “global warming” over the last 18 years. It should be noted that there are serious errors in physics and the presentation of data in this Q&A. The most obvious is their statement that it will require 185,000 square kilometers to produce all electricity in the U.S. from solar and they compare that to the size of the state on South Dakota. The true number is 1/6th of that, as demonstrated in “Going Solar”.

Yet many solar companies link directly to this extremely rosy and optimistic FAQ, in so far as solar energy goes. Oftentimes, as is the case of SolarCity, this is done on an investor’s section of the web site and is meant to influence the investment community.

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This detailed tutorial shows the thermodynamics of Earth’s atmosphere to have great tolerance for carbon dioxide with no increase in atmospheric, land or ocean temperatures.

The principal drivers of the “green energy” movement today are the public and political leadership’s perception of climate change. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested by industry, environmental groups and foundations to mold the need for green energy in the public’s mind and hence its leadership. However over the next few years this “green fad” will likely have dissipated.

As a matter of economics, solar is immediately disqualified as a suitable material energy source based on its extremely low energy flux density, as shown in this comparison of conventional fuel energy sources. (Scroll up for future fusion energy comparisons and scroll down for current green energy comparisons.) Today a 2.5 GW nuclear (fission) power plant can be built for 2.5 billion dollars. The entire US 440 GW generation capacity with 20% margin could be met with 212 nuclear plants sited on existing coal and natural gas plants without major land acquisition costs and for an overnight cost of $528 billion. The “giga solar plant” defined in “going Solar” would have an aggregate cost of over $8 trillion dollars, excluding the cost of construction, and the acquisition of roughly 59,000 square kilometers or 22,780 square miles needed to site 29.333 billion 1 m2 solar collection devices.

Replacing battery modules will cost $3.3 trillion dollars every 10 years — and operating costs as well as panel life cycle and MTBF are incalculable today. In a most likely scenario, the solar panels would all have to be replaced every 25 years due to the effects of solar radiation and weather.

The utility industry is “risk averse” in every sense of the phrase. No utility CEO in the country would support solar on such a grand scale. Today utilities embrace solar only because of regulatory demands and the positive PR value — and then, only for very small amounts of power, such as that supplied by First Solar and its Topaz project in CA, the Aqua Caliente project in AZ, and the Silver State North project in NV. These supply what the industry refers to as “peaking” levels of power and oftentimes a symbolic statement encouraged by the local politicians.

First Solar was the leader in installing large projects for grid level use. In a December 2012 RenewEconomy interview with First Solar CEO James Hughes, he made the following comments regarding utility grid level parity:

“Everyone wants to talk about “grid parity” – I’ve banned that phrase from the lexicon of First Solar. Electricity has value only at a point in time and a geographic place. There is no magic number that describes the true economic cost of electricity. You may have a tariff structure that describes it that way, but that is not the reality, and frankly, sophisticated power markets don’t operate like that. So you have to look at time of day, season and location to determine the true cost of power, and there are lots of times of day, seasons and locations where solar is economic today without subsidy. So our focus is to find those places, find those times of day, and find those market structures where we can apply ourselves.”

The government’s role, past, present, and future.

Over the last decade, the government has principally focused on the possibility of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (AGW) or climate change caused by man’s use of fossil fuels. This focus, in conjunction with the asserted need to stimulate the economy with “green jobs,” has led to tens of billions of dollars being invested in solar research, tax credits and subsidies. Furthermore, it has shaped government policy with regard to energy policy and the EPA’s effective cap on the construction of new fossil fuel plants and a push to limit per capita energy availability of energy as expressed in the MOU signed by the EPA and the United Nations Environment Programme.

More recently, the government has taken note of other viewpoints and the connection between green energy and financial abuse as exhibited in a recent United States Senate staff report.

clip_image031The EPA must be made aware of the fact that energy demand will increase significantly as companies like Tesla Motors and Nisan Leaf begin selling statistically meaningful numbers of electric vehicles. The only current solutions to meet this demand is through fossil fuel utility-scale generation plants and the installed base of operating nuclear plants. The government should be discouraging “fossil fuel disinvestment,” as it is counterproductive to the nation’s national security, industry needs, and and economic health and growth.

clip_image033In “Physics for future Presidents”, Dr. Robert Muller made note of Tesla Motors and the emerging electric car. Tesla has made great strides in its battery module since that book was first released. The fact that Tesla has achieved the range it has is of merit. One gallon of gasoline is equivalent to 36 kWh of electricity. A typical 18 gallon automobile fuel tank is equal to 648 kWh of electricity; the Tesla Model S has an 85 kWh battery module. However, all those batteries must be charged from clean, abundant, affordable, and reliable electricity.

Similarly the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has issued a report calling for Critical Thinking on Climate Change in light of new scientific findings and inaccuracies of the IPPC predictions.

Focus should now turn to the viable replacement of fossil fuels this century simply because they are finite and the national security, and financial wellbeing of the country…indeed the entire world…depends on it. This is an issue of enormous importance, yet few policy makers are aware of it and little effort is being placed on potential (non-solar) solutions.

 

Public perception.

The perception of the public has been heavily influenced by the media and by the large number of “solar companies” selling home solar systems to augment grid level power: largely subsidized by government subsidies to both the solar companies and end users through tax credits and high “feed in tariffs”.

The public is largely disinterested in science and hence lacks the knowledge to properly evaluate solar’s place, but has nonetheless embraced a false solution that has a negative cash flow solution funded by their tax dollars. That level of enthusiasm poured over when a “Solar Road” project was launched on one of the “crowd source funding sites which raised over $2 million dollars for the project’s sponsors.

The solar deception (for grid level base load electricity generation)

In Mr. Diamandis’ article he set forth his concept of the 6Ds as Digitized, Deceptive, Disruptive, Dematerialized, Demonetized, and Democratized.

Solar is indeed in a deceptive phase. Much misinformation abounds:

· In Dr. Robert Muller’s “Physics for future Presidents” well publicized book he states both directly and through a contrived “ideal student named Liz” that “there is a gigawatt of power in a square kilometer of sunlight and that’s about the same as a (small) nuclear power plant.” Non-scientists would take that statement at face value. 1 km X 1 km = 1 million square meters X 1,000 Watts = 1 billion Watts or a gigawatt. A civil engineer would say “we can build that…in time.” However, in reality you must take into consideration the fact that the Sun is only shinning 12 hours per day, plus regional insolation factors, and then add in margin for maintenance, emergencies and losses in battery charge discharge cycles. Thus all of a sudden, our 1 million square meters only provides an equivalent of grid base load power of 37.5 megawatts which is 8.5% of U.S. current on-line generation capacity. For the record, “Liz” is Dr. Muller’s daughter.

· Dr. Lewis, Dr. Tsao, and Dr. Crabtree prepared a report stating “To supply the power that the U.S. consumed in 2001 (3.24 TW) with similarly efficient solar conversion systems would require a correspondingly smaller surface area, (6) A3.24TW = A15TW · (3.24/15), = 858,792 km2 · (3.24/15) = 185,500 km2. This is roughly 1.9% of the surface area (9,631,418 km2), and 2.0% of the land area (9,161,923 km2), of the U.S. (CIA 2005).”

· Neither is correct. If Lewis, Tsao, et al, were correct it would require 185 billion 1 square meter solar panels to produce our current 440GW generation capacity 24 hours a day 7 days a week. If these panels could be produced and installed at the rate of 1 per second it would take 5,886 years to complete the fabrication and installation.

· The correct required solar collection surface area is 1,100,000,000,000 ÷ 37 sq meters, made up from 29.333 billion, 1-meter-square panels, covering an area of 29,333 km2 (7,248,000 acres, or nearly the area of Maryland and Delaware combined) or a square with sides of 171.3 km long. If these panels could be produced and installed at the rate of 1 per second, it would take 929 years to manufacture 29.3 billion panels.

It is easy to see how people can become blinded and deceived, given the media exposure of the “go solar” campaign, coupled with difficulty in obtaining scientifically correct information and then analyzing it.

It is also easy to see how corporate interests and subsidy seeking are best served by letting the ambiguities remain unsettled.

And we can forgive Mr. Musk, Mr. Kurzweil and his boss Mr. Schmidt (who took this vision all the way to the President of the United States), who in turn made available huge sums of money to fund the vision. In all likelihood they simply did not calculate the numbers associated with the manufacturing run rate, necessary land acquisition, and installation issues. It is easy to be deceived when so many zeros are involved in the mathematical calculations, and that is coupled with wishful thinking.

Both Google and Tesla are making enormous contributions to our society and economy, which will require enormous amounts of clean, abundant, practical energy. Google is perfecting its “machine driven” car, using the research and expertise of Dr. Kurzweil in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Undoubtedly these cars will be electric to a large extent. And Tesla Motors is increasing sales of its electric cars and its battery production.

All those cars and batteries will place an enormous strain on our electrical generation capacity.

Google is in the business of connecting people and making information broadly available to everyone. It would be prudent for both companies to look beyond solar, wind, and the other available green energy sources — and help educate the public and political establishment, promote an informed collaborative effort to define and develop the next generation of green energy, as well as exploit those currently discussed.

To Google’s enormous credit, two of its “green energy project” scientists, Dr. Ross Koninstein & Dr. David Fork authored an article titled “What It Would Really Take to Reverse Climate Change; Today’s renewable energy technologies won’t save us. So what will?” published by the IEEE Spectrum on November 18, 2014. The article concludes with a section stating:

“A disruptive fusion technology, for example, might skip the steam and produce high-energy charged particles that can be converted directly into electricity. For industrial facilities, maybe a cheaply synthesized form of methane could replace conventional natural gas. Or perhaps a technology would change the economic rules of the game by producing not just electricity but also fertilizer, fuel, or desalinated water….”

Investor’s Business daily published an on-line article titled “Google Scientists Admit Renewable Energy Can’t Work” on November 11, 2014. The article noted “…the most remarkable admission from Google is that the technology just doesn’t work — at least not now. Two of the lead scientists on the RE<C project, Ross Koningstein and David Fork, both with Stanford, wrote the following devastating critique of the future of green energy in an article posted at IEEE Spectrum: “At the start of RE<C, we had shared the attitude of many stalwart environmentalists: We felt that with steady improvements to today’s renewable energy technologies, our society could stave off catastrophic climate change. We now know that to be a false hope….”

“Google’s setbacks in green energy were even more embarrassing when the company also had to admit it couldn’t even power its own data centers with the solar paneling it had installed. According to the company statement:

“The plain truth is that the electric grid, with its mix of renewable and fossil generation, is an extremely useful and important tool for a data center operator, and with current technologies, renewable energy alone is not sufficiently reliable to power a data center.”

Try lighting up a whole city.

Not to be out done, Tesla recently announced its Powerwall product which is available in 7 kWh or 10 kWh configurations.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration states that the average annual 2013 electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,908 kilowatt-hours (kWh), an average of 909 kWh per month. Louisiana had the highest annual consumption at 15,270 kWh, and Hawaii had the lowest at 6,176 kWh. However that average figure is annualized and does not allow for peak power used on days when the clothes are dried or the air conditioner is running. Furthermore a residential electricity user who averages 909 kWh per month uses 30 kWh per day which is three times the Tesla 10kWh Powerwall. And this places even more demands on sizing the solar panel array as it must generate an equivalent amount of power (30kWh) over say five to seven hours to be available to the customer over a 24 hour period.

However it gets even more complicated and expensive, depending on one’s geographic location. Why? Because many people do not live in the sunny southwest but rather live in areas of the country which may have several cloudy days in a row. On cloudy days the solar system produces a very small fraction of its normal power. Thus, one would have to have enough Powerwall batteries to provide household power for multiple days when it is cloudy and the Photovoltaic panel array would have to be sized sufficiently large to fully charge all the Powerwall batteries. Thus a $20,000 system rapidly becomes a $200,000 system. This is a very important point because no one wants to wake up with food in the freezer thawing and being unable to cook it in their microwave oven.

As explained in our “Going Solar” analysis, the solar energy industry has detailed regional information it refers to as “insolation” which correlates the actual number of radiant watts per meter squared on a yearly averaged basis. This takes into account latitude, longitude, climatic conditions and length of sunshine per day. Generally speaking the further north one goes the less radiant energy there is, due to atmospheric absorption. Likewise, areas of fog and high relative humidity preform less well.

clip_image035

So in reality a considerably larger battery Powerwall is required if residential electricity users are to maintain their current standard of living and “go off grid.” A publically available report on the Powerwall explains details and a review published by the AP.

And it should be stressed that the above analysis is for home power only. It does not consider charging the batteries of a Tesla or other electric car which is described in an earlier section of this article.

On May 1, 2015, a video was published by Tesla Motors titled: “Elon Musk Debuts the Tesla Powerwall.” In the video Mr. Musk explains that Tesla company is “basically Tesla Energy” and that their mission is to replace all fossil fuels with power obtained from “the handy fusion reactor in the sky” using solar photovoltaic panels and batteries to store the power when the sun does not shine.

A Complete written transcript of Mr. Musk’s presentation is available as a PDF download

The point is made that this requires only a small land area he refers to as the “blue square.” The blue square is shown superimposed on a map and located in the Northwest portion of the Texas Panhandle. The image cannot be reconciled to the numbers we have calculated based on our analysis of the required land area.

Professor Andrew Smith of the University College London Energy Institute posted that the “Blue Square” appears to be reconciled at 10,000 km2.

clip_image037Our analysis shows something very different. The fact of the matter is that 29,333 km2 of active surface area solar cells (the solid state electronic component which converts photons from sun energy into electricity) are required to provide U.S. baseload power based on 2013 generation capacity 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This does not include the inert solar panel area nor the spacing between rows of panels to allow installation and maintenance of panels and site location for battery modules with low voltage DC to high voltage AC converters. In reality considerably more land surface area than the 29,333 km2 is required.

Near the end of the video, it is inferred that the solar panels and batteries would be installed on a distributed basis meaning on residential homes and businesses and that no large land area is needed. The article referenced and linked above points out this is cost prohibitive many times over based on today’s current electricity prices. Moreover the PV panels have a life expectancy of less than 25 years and the battery life is less than 10 years at best.

From an engineering standpoint Tesla will in all likelihood state that the best configuration is a hybrid based on the disintegration of the strong, resilient, robust, power grid regulated by public policy for the public good. Their solution would be to replace the current power grid with “micro grids” of interconnected homes using solar panels and battery packs which would average out local supply and demand. However, the power distribution system is complicated and the solar generated power must be converted from low voltage DC to much higher voltage AC power using the Tesla power pack. Such a proposal would demonstrate a lack of understanding of AC power theory and the difficulty of AC parallel circuits where power is injected at multiple points in a network. In such a configuration a tremendous amount of the home generated power injected on the “micro grid” would be lost in heat due to dynamic real time changes in power factor or reactive power considerations, and the inability to precisely match frequency and phase angles as we explain in this technical article’s “engineering challenges” associated with storage and distributed generation.

Perhaps a better use of Tesla’s “giga factory” and their management capability would be to manufacture very large battery modules needed for power grid use as discussed in the storage technologies article. That could justify investment by the utility industry and supported by the rate base under full disclosure with transparent bidding and sales contracts.

 

Conclusions:

 

· Mssrs Diamandis, Kurzweil, and Musk are all patriotic high achieving citizens.

· All three have business reasons to promote green energy based on the perceived belief that utility CO2 power plant emissions affect the climate and that in today’s world of scientific state-of-the-art solar is the best solution.

· Tesla Motors is a great company and the electric car is a great idea. However as more and more are built, we must generate much more electricity to charge their batteries. Today, setting nuclear aside due to public perception, fossil fuel electricity is the lowest cost, and most reliable.

· Solar in fact is not an appropriate utility baseload grid level solution based on cost, required land area, operational expenses, and short life cycle.

· Solar can be effective for individual corporate and a small percentage of residential customers willing to pay the high up-front costs and long payback periods.

· Unsubsidized Solar has applicability in rural areas and developing countries with low population density and extended time before they will be connected to a power grid.

· Allowing the public to develop a false sense of security, believing solar is going to meet the country’s energy demands, is neither prudent nor responsible.

· The financial well-being of the country in two to three decades depends on energy decisions that must be made over the next 2 to 5 years.

· The National Security interests of the country are not best served by solar or even the suggestion that it may be a viable solution.

· A definite need exists for a scientific breakthrough in a very high energy flux density energy source.

· A corresponding business opportunity presents itself to an entity(ies) that are willing to take the risk and fund the science, engineering, and R&D leading to such a breakthrough and subsequent commercialization. Atomic fusion is the only realistic solution to the extent we discount nuclear fission.

· On November 9, 2006 Google recorded a presentation made by Dr. Robert Busard at their facility. Dr. Busard explained the need to solve fusion before fossil fuels run out. At 2 minutes 45 seconds, Dr. Busard makes the point that most of the very bright and talented engineers at Google do not have the physics and math background to understand fusion because Google is an IT company, and hence most of its technical staff has a computer science and IT background. The Google Talks presentation is on-line.

· Google is in the business of bringing information to people throughout the world. Google should augment its investments in solar and other current green power by bringing people, knowledge, and a crowd source like a project to “solve energy” for the world as Dr. Busard mentioned.

· Google must provide honest, accurate, non-utopian, apolitical information to the public and political establishment, so that we can make informed decisions that will best serve the vital and complex needs of our entire nation – and not merely the selfish or ill-informed interests of certain industrial, political, financial or environmentalist factions.

clip_image039

[This essay has been updated to correct some punctuation and formatting errors  along with a new more accurate spectral chart on 7/31/15]

 

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July 29, 2015 3:41 am

What a great post. Thank you so very much.
I would add that if the government would get out of the way and let a free market decide, then there would be plenty of inexpensive electrical power. I would guess that coal, gas, and thorium would dominate the market with thorium mostly winning in the long run. (sorry, I don’t know what I mean exactly by “the long run”)
I do know one thing for sure and that is that we were told here in Florida way before the current CO2 hysteria that solar was the cheapest way to heat our pools and homes. That proved to be untrue in the real world.

Reply to  markstoval
July 29, 2015 4:58 am

“…we were told here in Florida…”
We are STILL being told in Florida…
Fixed it for ya.

rd50
Reply to  markstoval
July 29, 2015 5:29 am

I agree this is a great post. Will take me some time to digest the different aspects but at least it is a great starting point.

NC skeptic
Reply to  markstoval
July 29, 2015 8:30 am

I do not understand the fixation on thorium. Thorium is just a nuclear fuel as is uranium. We have plenty of both. The real discussion should be on nuclear technology. There is the current water cooled reactors, different types of breeder reactors, pebble bed reactors, high temperature liquid cooled reactors, and my favorite, liquid fuel reactors.
China is working on all of the above. They seem to be the only ones who are willing to make the investments necessary to make it happen. It will be interesting to see what rolls out of China in the next 10 years.

Silver ralph
Reply to  NC skeptic
July 29, 2015 10:34 am

There is much more Thorium available, than Uranium.

Reply to  Silver ralph
July 29, 2015 11:19 am

“Silver ralph” The Thorium community is fond of saying that Thorium has a less aggressive radioactive waste series. However, the actinide decay chain is similar to uranium & plutonium and is, in fact, complicated by heavy gamma ray radiation. This is very problematic in reactor design and instrumentation as well as in the disposal of the radioactive waste. Furthermore, Thorium is a fertile material not a fissile material which means it must operate in conjunction with uranium in a thorium/uranium fuel cycle. The thorium community will also say that thorium cannot be used in weapons programs. However uranium 233 can be breed from thorium which in turn can be weaponized. Thorium is no fission utopia. Fission is fission. It is a bridge now to the future but it must be replaced by fusion sooner than later. Edward Teller and Ralph Moir wrote a definitive paper on the potential use of Thorium in Molten Salts Reactors in 2004. A PDF is available at: http://fusion4freedom.us/science/moir_teller-thorium.pdf To learn more about the facts regarding Thorium see: http://www.whatisnuclear.com/articles/thorium.html#downsides See also this Scientific fact based report on Thorium from the World Nuclear Association: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Current-and-Future-Generation/Thorium/

Gamecock
Reply to  NC skeptic
July 29, 2015 2:45 pm

You are correct, Tomer. Thorium breeding may have a role to play hundreds of years from now. Now, it is just a very expensive way to produce uranium.
I must point out that the gamma problem is undefined. U.S. experiments with thorium in neutron flux did produce small quantities of the ultra-nasty, gamma-emitting U-232. These experiments used thorium targets in conventional fission reactors. What will happen in other types of reactor configurations is unknown. It may be no problem. We won’t know til it’s tried. It is possible that U-232 may kill a $10,000,000,000 project. It’s good that the Chinese are going to try it out for us. Meanwhile, we have conventional sources of uranium for centuries.

Reply to  markstoval
July 29, 2015 9:05 am

Thorium is a fertile element not a fissile element. It can only be used in fission reactions in a thorium/uranium fuel cycle. The actinide decay product chain (radioactive waste composition of radioactive elements) is very similar to that of U233 and U235 however thorium has a very heavy gamma radiation component that is problematic in reactors and very dangerous in the waste products. The “thorium community” says thorium can not be weaponized, however uranium 233 can be breed from thorium in reactors which can be weaponized. Fission is fission. It is a good bridge to fusion over the next couple of decades. In the future fusion can be used to transmutate a hundred years of accumulated radioactive waste from 400+ reactors around the world to non radioactive waste as well which is in it self a huge business revenue producing opportunity. For the REAL FACTS on thorium please follow this link to: http://www.whatisnuclear.com/articles/thorium.html

Matt Bergin
Reply to  Tomer D. Tamarkin
July 29, 2015 11:38 am

Fusion power is “pie in the sky”. I have been waiting for more than fifty years for fusion. At this point what is the longest fusion reaction? Is it still measured in microseconds or have we made it to milliseconds yet? Let’s face it we won’t be able to control a fusion reaction until we are able to control gravity. It is the only possible way to contain the plasma. Since we have no idea how to control gravity this won’t happen soon. Thorium reactors have been made and they work.

Reply to  Matt Bergin
July 29, 2015 12:12 pm

“Matt Bergin” To learn the current status of fusion power go to my http://www.fuelrfuture.com website. It is an extensive site taking many years of work to produce. Note my article “Who Killed Fusion” and its derivative 8 part series I wrote with pat Boone in Hollywood for non-scientists. Find the Science section and Fusion science section. Drop down to Innovative Confinement and the PJMIF (Plasma Jet Magneto Inertial Fusion) section and my white paper (I am co-author along with about 7 others…) See also the fusion news section and the fusion video section.
Regarding your comments about thorium please note that the Thorium community is fond of saying that Thorium has a less aggressive radioactive waste series. However, the actinide decay chain is similar to uranium & plutonium and is, in fact, complicated by heavy gamma ray radiation. This is very problematic in reactor design and instrumentation as well as in the disposal of the radioactive waste. Furthermore, Thorium is a fertile material not a fissile material which means it must operate in conjunction with uranium in a thorium/uranium fuel cycle. The thorium community will also say that thorium cannot be used in weapons programs. However uranium 233 can be breed from thorium which in turn can be weaponized. Thorium is no fission utopia. Fission is fission. It is a bridge now to the future but it must be replaced by fusion sooner than later. Edward Teller and Ralph Moir wrote a definitive paper on the potential use of Thorium in Molten Salts Reactors in 2004. A PDF is available at: http://fusion4freedom.us/science/moir_teller-thorium.pdf To learn more about the facts regarding Thorium see: http://www.whatisnuclear.com/articles/thorium.html#downsides See also this Scientific fact based report on Thorium from the World Nuclear Association: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Current-and-Future-Generation/Thorium/
If you have any specific questions on fusion please feel free to direct them to me at tt@usclcorp.com or call me at +1-916-482-2020. Thank you for your comment. Regards, T. D. Tamarkin

richard verney
Reply to  Tomer D. Tamarkin
July 29, 2015 1:49 pm

But if the amount of money that has been wasted on Climate Science/CAGW had instead been invested in nuclear, who knows whether fusion would now be a reality.
We have wasted vast sums of money on what was obviously a non issue, or an issue where adaption would be the best response, to the detriment of future generations.

Reply to  Tomer D. Tamarkin
July 29, 2015 1:56 pm

” I have been waiting for more than fifty years for fusion. At this point what is the longest fusion reaction? Is it still measured in microseconds or have we made it to milliseconds yet? ”

http://www.adelphitech.com/products/dt110.html

Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 2:02 pm

“Joel D. Jackson” To answer your question please see our website at http://www.fuelrfuture.com. Find the science section and review it as well as the fusion news section and the fusion videos. Also see my white paper (I am a co-author along with about 7 others) at: http://fuelrfuture.com/development-of-practical-fusion-power-plasma-jet-driven-magneto-inertial-fusion/

Reply to  Tomer D. Tamarkin
July 29, 2015 2:11 pm

Tomer D. Tamarkin I didn’t ask a question.

I just pointed out to Matt Bergin that “fusion” has been available for decades.

It is not a net energy producer, but can occur in devices called “neutron sources” for laboratories and other applications.
..
Breakeven in a confined reaction hasn’t happened yet….there are a few competing ideas being tried, but the only net release of significant amounts of energy here on earth from fusion has been uncontrolled detonation.

Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 2:23 pm

Sounds like you did not review my website at http://www.fuelrfuture.com and its science section, fusion science, videos and my co-authored white paper on Plasma Jet Magneto Inertial Fusion. You should.

Ian H
Reply to  Tomer D. Tamarkin
July 29, 2015 2:25 pm

But if the amount of money that has been wasted on Climate Science/CAGW had instead been invested in nuclear, who knows whether fusion would now be a reality.

The accountants and politicians who run our society like to think that technological advance is purely a function of money – that you shop for new technology like buying things at the supermarket; as if all we need to do is decide to put solar power or fusion or whatever in our shopping cart to make it happen. The reality is that money is not usually the main constraint blocking technological advance, and throwing money around often doesn’t help. It just confuses matters by inflating the number of people running fruitlessly around in circles pretending to look for a solution for a problem they don’t know how to solve. Technological advance is constrained mostly by the limits of what is possible. In many cases breakthroughs are required to enable new technology. Those can’t be purchased on some kind of schedule.
Still waiting for my flying car.

Reply to  Tomer D. Tamarkin
July 29, 2015 2:26 pm

Tomer D. Tamarkin I’ll visit your website when/if you and your group of researches hit breakeven.

Reply to  Tomer D. Tamarkin
July 29, 2015 2:29 pm

Ian H: “Still waiting for my flying car.”
..
http://www.terrafugia.com/

Gamecock
Reply to  Tomer D. Tamarkin
July 29, 2015 2:47 pm

Matt Bergin
July 29, 2015 at 11:38 am
Thorium reactors have been made and they work.
==========================
Can I get some of what you are smoking?

george e. smith
Reply to  Tomer D. Tamarkin
July 29, 2015 3:16 pm

I have never seen it claimed that the fusion energy extracted from the LL Nova “whack-a-mole” machine has yet exceeded the energy required to build the fuel packet that they scrunched.
I would consider break even to mean that they extract more (usable) energy from the fusion reaction, than it took to fire the laser beam.
I’m a little puzzled by the paper that said the D-T fusion reaction yields 14.1 MeV neutrons, but the D-D fusion only gives about 2 1/2 MeV.
55 years ago I built a neutron detector (scintillation) and also a “Tissue Equivalent” neutron monitor, to use in a lab that fired Deuterons, at a heavy ice target, deposited on a copper heat sink, with a 600 kV Cockroft Walton accelerator.
I’m pretty darn sure that the fast neutrons that were produced were 14 MeV, and not 2 1/2.
I think you also got reactions that produced protons. Maybe they were the 14 MeV product.
The monitor used a proportional gas counter, that responded to neutrons equivalent to the tissue damage in human tissue, and covered all the way from thermal neutrons to the 14 MeV range.
The Physicists were studying the polarization of the proton and neutron beams; while the theorists, were trying to calculate all of that from models, or QM.
Detection of the neutron by scintillation operated by generating a “knock on” proton in the scintillator crystal (Stilbene or Anthracene). Gammas are also detected from electrons emitted from the material. My detector, could discriminate between alpha, beta, and gamma or neutron radiation, and count each one independently of the others.
Well I didn’t get too far into the actual D-D collision reactions, so I don’t recall exactly what the reactions were. But I don’t recall us having any T around anywhere.

Menicholas
Reply to  Tomer D. Tamarkin
July 29, 2015 3:57 pm

Well, the heavens may split open and take me, but I am lining up with Joel Jackson on this one.
Never thought I would see the day.
I just cannot get behind the pessimism of this article. Sorry.

beng135
July 29, 2015 3:44 am

Being smart/educated doesn’t guarantee good decisions. Look at (the otherwise genius) Edison backing DC for electric utilities despite all the evidence that AC was the only reasonable option.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  beng135
July 29, 2015 4:57 am

Or IBM deciding not to go into the personal computer market because they didn’t foresee anyone needing or wanting a personal computer.

JCToronto
Reply to  Tom in Florida
July 29, 2015 7:32 am

Wrote a printer driver for Kodak in c.1997. Smartest customers ever, by a long shot. Predicting the future is difficult.

Editor
Reply to  Tom in Florida
July 29, 2015 11:11 am

You’re thinking of DEC, not IBM. IBM “legitimized” the personal computer, especially in commercial markets.
They are now out of that business, because the profit margins are too low. Lenovo (in China) bought it out and is doing okay. My primary computer at work is a Lenovo Thinkpad.
I really wish DEC had put forward an LSI PDP-11 running RT11 in the late 1970s, but they wouldn’t consider that because it would impact sales of larger systems. I was at DEC then, in the PDP-10 group, and left around then to join a startup. It occurred to me that while DEC didn’t want to compete against itself, other companies would certainly do so. Some 20 years later, Compaq bought DEC.

MarkW
Reply to  Tom in Florida
July 29, 2015 5:44 pm

IBM still underestimated the popularity of the desk top and the willingness of people to buy them from companies not named IBM. The drop in sales of mainframes came close to putting the company out of business in the late 80’s.

Mike Sullivan
Reply to  Tom in Florida
July 30, 2015 8:25 am

Or radio shack not recognizing that it could have been the best buys of the 80’s for all computers.

ivor Ward
July 29, 2015 3:53 am

Well that’s that then. Back to the drawing board.

July 29, 2015 4:07 am

If wind doesn’t bankrupt us
Then solar surely will,
Their renewable lunacy
How many poor will it kill?

A C Osborn
July 29, 2015 4:19 am

This is the reality with all the B*ll Sh*t removed, it just goes to show that these people right up to the President have absolutely no idea what they are advocating.
Or do they?
Is it all about the Money and nothing to do with “Saving the Planet”, you bet it is.
Talk of withdrawal of the Green Subsidies has the UK “Green Investors” fleeing like rats from a sinking ship.
As will happen everywhere once the massive subsidies and Loans stop coming.

usurbrain
Reply to  A C Osborn
July 29, 2015 6:17 am

The money is in the scam, even Warren Buffett knows that – worse yet he is gong to invest $100 Billion into the Green Scam. I would sell my BH stock unless you know of some government program to help insure his profit.

pat
July 29, 2015 4:20 am

what was originally:
Clean Power Investment Slumps 28% in Quarter Amid Market Turmoil
Highly Cited-Bloomberg-10 Jul 2015
somehow became this in updated Bloomberg piece:
10 July Updated 14 July: Bloomberg: Clean Power Investment Declines ***0.2% to $73.5 Billion
Global investment in clean energy slipped slightly in the second quarter to $73.5 billion…
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-07-10/clean-power-investment-slumps-28-in-quarter-amid-market-turmoil
***the figures were pretty well detailed in the original, it would seem! on Energy Live News on 10 July, u had the 28% drop to $53 billion:
10 July: Clean energy investment down 28% on 2014
Global clean energy investment fell to $53 billion (£33.3bn) in the second quarter of this year.
That’s 28% less than the same period last year, according to a new report…
Michael Liebreich, Chairman of the advisory board at Bloomberg New Energy Finance said:
how did Bloomberg overlook a full $20 billion of “clean energy” spending in a single quarter when they first wrote the piece?
more detail below, incl especially ***”Most dramatically, venture capital and private equity investment in specialized clean energy companies which totaled a measly $564 million, which was down 31% on Q1 and down 60% on the second quarter of 2014″. obviously the Green Mirage is looking for more public money or for the institutional investors in control of pensions, etc., to get on board. desperation:
11 July: CleanTechnica: Joshua S. Hill: Q2 Clean Energy Investments Continue To Lag Behind 2014
Bloomberg New Energy Finance has released figures showing that clean energy investment sat at $53 billion in the second quarter of 2015, continuing to lag behind 2014 figures.
Investment numbers for Q1 were revised to stand at $54.4 billion, dropping a little bit further to Q2’s $53 billion mark, which itself was a catastrophic 28% down compared to the $73.6 billion recorded in Q2’2014…
There continue to be bright spots in the overall darkness, but these are difficult to focus on considering the seeming negative shift in investment figures…
***Most dramatically, venture capital and private equity investment in specialized clean energy companies which totaled a measly $564 million, which was down 31% on Q1 and down 60% on the second quarter of 2014. These figures are in fact the weakest in any quarter since the third quarter in 2005 for the VC and PE segment, and distressingly far below the peak of $4.2 billion in the third quarter of 2008…
“The low VC/PE total reflects the fact that technologies such as wind and PV are now far more mature, and less open to challenge from young companies,” said Luke Mills, clean energy economics analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance…
http://cleantechnica.com/2015/07/11/q2-clean-energy-investments-continue-lag-behind-2014/

Robin Hewitt
July 29, 2015 4:24 am

I can barely believe it but there a plans for a solar farm here. It just seems so unlikely.
http://www.sussexexpress.co.uk/news/county-news/chailey-parish-council-oppose-plans-for-solar-farm-1-6782238

Stephen Richards
Reply to  Robin Hewitt
July 29, 2015 4:41 am

Robin they are trying to get it in before the subsides stop

Harry Passfield
Reply to  Robin Hewitt
July 29, 2015 4:46 am

Well, Robin, the local village idiot left a comment on that report in full support of the solar farm. He reckons it will make the village virtually carbon-free. As if. I just wish people like that were made to live with the consequences of their beliefs.

Robin Hewitt
Reply to  Harry Passfield
July 29, 2015 6:22 am

I didn’t think Chailey was big enough to warrant an idiot, but it is flat and everything drains through one narrow channel at Lewes, have they thought this through. It doesn’t bother me what they do at Chailey, the cows would probably enjoy it, nosey things cows. If it wasn’t on a flood plain you might think they wanted to convert green field to brown field so they could build on it.

Reply to  Robin Hewitt
July 29, 2015 7:43 pm

Ric Werme.
DEC had some really nice hardware and a lot of it is still running 40 yeRs on with third party support.
Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s a bunch of back room boys where I worked got tired of the high “cycle” costs of using the company PDP’s and VAX machines and figured out they could run the same or similar engineering programs on Trash 80’s and Victor 9000’s though it took much longer. It didn’t take long for us to figure out using the big hardware for intensive work and using the desktops for terminals and lower level computing. The Victor 9000 (pre IBM PC) could do pretty much everything the big iron could do with not too large a penalty. For more intensive computing, we would set the desktops up to run over night. Paid the cost of using the desktops in a couple of months. When the IT guys noticed their cycle time was down and figured out why, they had a bird and tried to stop it with a corporate driven mandate that “banned” such “unauthorized” computer use.
That worked for about as long as it took to write the memo.
Fun times.
I started my career with a slipstick and ended it with about as much computing power in a hand held as that old big iron.
Thanks for the memories

Reply to  Robin Hewitt
July 31, 2015 12:36 pm

David Cosserat says: ” There is no viable technology capable of storing the energy generated by solar farms on sunny summer days when people are out and about and not using much electricity”
..
http://phys.org/news/2011-07-gemasolar-solar-thermal-power-hours.html

Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 31, 2015 2:05 pm

Batteries already can do it for individual homes. It’s simply a matter of cost. Why would you want to pay monthly fees to a central solar installation when buying your own for no more than the cost of new fridge you would then have zero energy costs?
And just as for solar power, the costs for batteries are also dropping exponentially.
Bob Clark

LincolnSmythe
July 29, 2015 4:26 am

This is an excellent post – many thanks.
It supports the UK Government’s move to stop subsidies for solar installations. Hopefully the money saved will now be directed towards research into energies that have the potential to replace fossil fuels in the future — fusion, thorium, and newer forms of nuclear fusion.
I wish more in the Green movement would understand what is possible and what is not!!

July 29, 2015 4:29 am

Wow, a lot of data there. Well, if we start building these billions of solar panels please, someone, please, make sure we in America do the work.

Reply to  Steve Calvert
July 29, 2015 4:46 am

and manufacture the panels.

Editor
July 29, 2015 4:37 am

A couple of years ago, someone posted (not on this site), that covering a desert the size of Morocco with solar panels would provide enough electricity to power the entire globe. I pointed out to them maybe it would, but a facility the same size would be needed in the Southern Hemisphere to produce electricity when the Sun had set at the NH site. It would not bear thinking about if it was cloudy at one or both sites or if a volcanic eruption reduced sunlight or a sandstorm covered the solar panels I also pointed out that is there enough rare earth materials on the planet to manufacture this number of panels?
The whole suggestion is ludicrous and based on the erroneous AGW scare. As Mark Stoval has said Thorium reactors are the way foward.

John Law
Reply to  andrewmharding
July 29, 2015 4:56 am

What would be the environmental impact of mining all those rare earths?

Eustace Cranch
Reply to  John Law
July 29, 2015 6:04 am

Exactly. And how much (diesel-powered) energy would it require?

fredb
Reply to  andrewmharding
July 29, 2015 6:27 am

Um: not sure if you’re aware that when the sun shines in the NH it is also shining in the SH. I presume you are referring to the day-night at opposing longitudes, not latitudes.

Reply to  fredb
July 30, 2015 3:58 am

Opposing longitudes and similar latitudes!

notfubar
Reply to  andrewmharding
July 29, 2015 12:06 pm

Paving Morroco over with solar cells might work, but there are bigger troublemakers on that side of the world that deserve that treatment more. Having visited Maryland and Delaware, I’d be happy to pave both of them over with solar cells – good riddance (except for the western end of Maryland, where some sensible people still struggle to live under the tax burden imposed by the east end). The real problem would be how to move them to a sunnier spot after we’ve paved them?

Menicholas
Reply to  notfubar
July 29, 2015 4:51 pm

Maryland and Delaware are small and heavily populated…and not very sunny a lot of the time.
But there are places in the US where this same amount of land would be one mostly barren county, and with a lot more sun to boot.
I hate it when anyone uses phony argument techniques to make a point, no matter what side of a fence they are on.

george e. smith
Reply to  andrewmharding
July 29, 2015 3:22 pm

So just what rare earth materials do you know of that go into solar panels ?
Silicon is NOT a rare earth.

MarkW
Reply to  george e. smith
July 29, 2015 5:48 pm

Arsenic, galenium, etc. Read up on the various materials used to dope that silicon. Or did you think they were made of pure silicon?

Billy Liar
Reply to  george e. smith
July 29, 2015 5:57 pm

Silicon is the earth – or most of it!

Billy Liar
Reply to  george e. smith
July 30, 2015 7:50 am

MarkW,
‘Galenium’ – is that a new element or an alloy of gallium and selenium?

John W. Garrett
July 29, 2015 4:42 am

Fantastic piece.
Is it possible to enlarge some of the images so that they become readable?
Several images are not readable, including:
“Estimate U.S. Energy Use In 2013: ~97.4 Quads
http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/clip_image039_thumb.jpg?w=624&h=416
“Moore’s Law”
http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/clip_image003_thumb1.png?w=525&h=472

arthur4563
July 29, 2015 4:52 am

With the advent of molten salt nuclear reactors, it is quite impossible to make the case for any other type of power generating technoiology. Molten salt reactors dispel even the most absurd safety concerns about nuclear power and their low build costs and virtually insignificant fuel costs provides economic power production cheaper than any other technology. The fact that these generators donot need to shut down for refuleing and can load-folow, means they can provide power for almost the entire range of demand situations.

Reply to  arthur4563
July 29, 2015 6:26 am

Amen brother, amen.
I would like to see someone do a post for this site on that very issue.

notfubar
Reply to  arthur4563
July 29, 2015 1:16 pm

OK, now I’ll be serious. Molten salt reactors are definitely appealing – the design looks very safe, and you can use Th, U, Pu, or all three (Thorium’s only real advantage over Uranium is that it is more plentiful). Even spent fuel from the Light Water Reactors and various High Level Waste materials can go in there. The liquid fuel allows continual clean up and reprocessing – that allows the source term to be managed to a very low amount for the life of the plant. Reprocessing the fuel to capture fertile & fissile material for reuse means we can really extend the amount of nuclear fuel available on this planet (from less than 100 years to thousands of years worth – maybe we can figure out fusion by then, but what would be the rush?). I really like the atmospheric pressure on the reactor side of the plant – no big driving force behind leaks or fission product releases, and it makes for much lower reactor side structural material costs (reactor vessel, containment, etc.). Emergency Planning would be very simple. The operating temperatures proposed can support thermal to electrical conversion efficiencies in the 40-45% range, and the secondary side (steam plant) would be no more expensive than for a supercritical fossil plant. – Just think, small footprint (no need to pave entire states with more expensive solar cells), low power cost, no nasty smokestack emissions, and a lot less radioactive waste than we produce now for the same amount of power. The real hassle will be to get through the NRC licensing process – the entire bureaucracy there was based on Light Water Reactors (PWRs and BWRs) – there were few exceptions, like the Ft St. Vrain High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor – a very safe square peg jammed into a round hole (too bad we didn’t follow thru with improved versions of that – General Atomics had some sweet ideas left on the drawing board).

Reply to  notfubar
July 29, 2015 1:46 pm

The Thorium community is fond of saying that Thorium has a less aggressive radioactive waste series. However, the actinide decay chain is similar to uranium & plutonium and is, in fact, complicated by heavy gamma ray radiation. This is very problematic in reactor design and instrumentation as well as in the disposal of the radioactive waste. Furthermore, Thorium is a fertile material not a fissile material which means it must operate in conjunction with uranium in a thorium/uranium fuel cycle. The thorium community will also say that thorium cannot be used in weapons programs. However uranium 233 can be breed from thorium which in turn can be weaponized. Thorium is no fission utopia. Fission is fission. It is a bridge now to the future but it must be replaced by fusion sooner than later. Edward Teller and Ralph Moir wrote a definitive paper on the potential use of Thorium in Molten Salts Reactors in 2004. A PDF is available at: http://fusion4freedom.us/science/moir_teller-thorium.pdf To learn more about the facts regarding Thorium see: http://www.whatisnuclear.com/articles/thorium.html#downsides See also this Scientific fact based report on Thorium from the World Nuclear Association: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Current-and-Future-Generation/Thorium/

notfubar
Reply to  notfubar
July 30, 2015 7:00 am

Tomer – I used to make my living operating LWRs and solving their problems. I see no reason to avoid adding Thorium to the mix. Its more abundant than Uranium, which is why it will have to be included if we are to have a long term nuclear power future (Thorium is used to make U233, which having a smaller ‘beta fraction’ – delayed neutrons vs prompt – is a wee bit touchier than U235 in a thermal reactor). The molten salt reactors with continuous cleanup & recycling will greatly reduce the waste produced by fission, and result in shorter-lived actual high level waste (300 year isolation needed instead of 100,000 years to drop to background rates). Fusion does not get away from dealing with high energy gammas or radwaste. The isotopes produced with fusion ( for fusion) will be different, and may require different handling – hopefully less difficult than for fission (expect mostly tritium and various neutron activation products – depends on what the eventual confinement devices / energy capture materials are, and tritium is not always trivial).
Fusion has always been promised as the future, but practical implementation in power plants was 40 years away in 1960, 40 years away in 1980, 40 years away in 2000… Fusion physics is well understood – in the 1950s we proved we can make fusion happen in ridiculous quantities as long as we don’t care about confining it or capturing the energy for practical use or operating a self-supporting sustainable process. We have plenty of examples of self-supporting sustainable process devices, but the closest one is 93 million miles away, has a huge footprint, and we can’t make small ones to carry around yet. Confinement needs a breakthrough – either we have to get very good at controlling high energy plasma at high densities, or some amazing material science breakthrough has to occur – that’s why its always 40 years away – until the breakthrough happens – then its suddenly 10 years, or however long plant permitting and construction takes.
The molten salt reactor processes have all been demonstrated. We don’t need new knowledge or materials. All we lack is the political environment and the will to build them commercially. Using U/Pu/Th in molten salt reactors could provide clean power for the entire world for a thousand years – which should be plenty of time for your fusion breakthrough or something better to come along.

Reply to  notfubar
July 30, 2015 7:23 am

“notfubar” Thank you for your comment. You are preaching to the choir on the use of fission now. And unlike many, you present a reasoned and knowledgeable view on the thorium/uranium fuel cycle. Dr. Edward Teller and Ralph Moir wrote an excellent article on the use of MSR with Thorium (or uranium) in 2004. We have it available at: http://fuelrfuture.com/science/moir_teller-thorium.pdf
Fusion has suffered from a lack of responsible and cohesive management in the U.S. since 1985 when our fusion program was allowed to be diverted by the Russians and the notion of ITER was first proposed.
See: http://www.fuelrfuture.com for an extensive fusion related resource of science, history, and politics. No hype, just lots of solid facts, videos, and scientific papers.

Mark from the Midwest
July 29, 2015 4:59 am

“Mr. Kurzweil is a consummate IT professional”
Please, most of Ray’s work is limited to telling clever stories, and most of the uses of what’s been framed as AI are limited to simple feedbacks, like production line speed, regulation of flow rates, and the now famous home thermostat. The use of AI in complex systems that require contingency management is a pipe dream. I’ve seen the same thing in the so called “intelligent data mining” algorithms of the past 20 years. All we do as we research these approaches are find out how little they can do and how easily they fail.

Menicholas
Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
July 29, 2015 4:59 pm

Do not forget Ray’s “singularity”…the moment in time that he has calculated it will be possible to download a person’s consciousness into a computer, and hence become immortal.
It is astounding how much traction this idea has gotten…considering that no one has the slightest idea of how it is that we have a consciousness, where it resides, or any clue as to how to “pour” it into a machine…which seems quite impossible to me, ever.
Maybe copying it would be a better description of the process they seem t have in mind.
Think about this: If someone made a perfect copy of your mind, would it be you? I say no. Not even slightly. I would no awareness of this mind. Although it may know everything about me up to the point it was created, I would have no awareness of it, before or after.
Kurtzweil is sophist and a dreamer. Very smart I am sure,
So are a lot of people.
We already know that being smart does not give a person bulletproof ideas.
The opposite seems to often be the case.

July 29, 2015 5:11 am

Lovely “numbers” article. Now, would anyone care to do the “weather” article?
Last 2 years America has had huge snow/temperature problems. What provisions need to be made to clear the panels (even just washing off the dirt/bird crap every now and then). What is the average cloud cover, how well do PV panels work in Northern States at temps of 0 Degrees C and below. What happens during a thunderstorm when all has gone dark in the daytime.
It really amazes me that clever people think such silly thoughts.

Reply to  rockyspears
July 29, 2015 6:14 am

Silicon PV panels love the cold. They are more efficient when it’s cold than when they are hot.

Eustace Cranch
Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 6:27 am

True. But I doubt if they’re more efficient when covered with snow.

Stewart Pid
Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 9:35 am

And solar panels really suck at night … just when you want to switch on some lights and watch TV 😉

Menicholas
Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 5:02 pm

I suppose that the “covered in snow” argument may have convinced a lot of people that cars and trucks were a silly idea.
And windows can break, so why put them on the walls of houses?

MarkW
Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 5:50 pm

Cars and windows have a useful purpose that they perform very well. Which entices people to put up with their shortcomings.
The same can’t be said of solar panels.

Menicholas
Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 8:53 pm

Yes, it can.
All the arguments come down to cost.

Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 9:00 pm

For Joel from 54 N: I have to clean my solar panels almost every day in the winter to keep them operating effectively. In one case, I tripled the area of the panels so I didn’t have to clean the frost and light dusting so off of them as often. But that still doesn’t help a lot if it is snowing and/or blowing. Plus at 30 below it doesn’t matter if the panels are more efficient if your batteries are frozen. And let’s not talk about using battery powered heating to keep the batteries warm. Cascade effect. Endless do loop. SPV works, but it requires maintenance.
But in Utah, Nevada, etc, they work well – most of the time. Still need cleaning.

Reply to  rockyspears
July 29, 2015 7:57 am

+1

Reply to  rockyspears
July 29, 2015 9:57 am

I suspect hail storms would require panel replacement on a regular basis (every 2nd or 3rd year) in our part of the country. ‘Course you could always keep them covered with some soft absorbent blanket…that would do the trick!

Billy Liar
Reply to  MJSnyder
July 29, 2015 6:10 pm

Joel D Jackson, As I am sure you will be aware, that article to which you link was written by an ignoramus who thinks that velocity of a hailstone is the sole determinant of damage to a solar panel. That is what I call ‘climate science’ thinking, where one variable is deemed to be the universal cause.
I have a suspicion that momentum and the structure of the hailstone may have more to do with resulting damage.

climanrecon
July 29, 2015 5:14 am

Solar is great for small, local applications, such as recharging lantern, watch, mobile phone and laptop batteries, lousy for powering factories and cities.
Electric cars could work standalone, with solar recharging of batteries, with a simple bit of engineering: when you need a recharge you swap your flat battery for an already charged one, rather than waiting hours for your flat battery to be recharged.

usurbrain
Reply to  climanrecon
July 29, 2015 6:26 am

Was taking a camping trip in a national forest. Got an EXPENSIVE solar charger for a cell phone. 8′ X16″ that had loops for tying to back pack. It only added about 10 % battery per day while hiking w/ it on. Spent one full day in a camp and even with frequent repositioning it did not full charge the phone w/ a 2400 ma battery. Don’t waste your money, buy a second battery and keep it in your pocket with tape on the terminals for the needed emergency.

Stewart Pid
Reply to  usurbrain
July 29, 2015 9:37 am

Was the solar charger really 8 feet by 16 inches or 8 inches X 16 inches … if 8 feet it could double as a hammock … hook it up to a motor and it could rock itself 😉

usurbrain
Reply to  usurbrain
July 29, 2015 11:35 am

Eight inches by 16 inches. Not an expert typist.

richard verney
Reply to  climanrecon
July 29, 2015 2:01 pm

You cannot swap over just one battery.
My dad had an electric car in the early 1990s and it had about 80 batteries weighing about 750kg. It is impossible to swap a fully charged set to replace a spent set. the batteries have to be charged in situ. A fast charge shortens the life of batteries, so ideally they need to be charged slowly.

MarkW
Reply to  climanrecon
July 29, 2015 5:52 pm

How many sets of batteries do you plan on having at home? It takes at least 3 days to recharge them.
Not to mention the fact that the battery pack weighs some 500 to 600 pounds. How were you planning on swapping them out?

Alan McIntire
July 29, 2015 5:15 am

Aside from the cost, using all green energy would be hellish on our environment.
https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21028063.300-wind-and-wave-farms-could-affect-earths-energy-balance/
“…Using a model of global circulation, Kleidon found that the amount of energy which we can expect to harness from the wind is reduced by a factor of 100 if you take into account the depletion of free energy by wind farms. It remains theoretically possible to extract up to 70 TW globally, but doing so would have serious consequences.
Although the winds will not die, sucking that much energy out of the atmosphere in Kleidon’s model changed precipitation, turbulence and the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth’s surface. The magnitude of the changes was comparable to the changes to the climate caused by doubling atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (Earth System Dynamics, DOI: 10.5194/esd-2-1-2011).”

Reply to  Alan McIntire
July 29, 2015 2:27 pm

Just think of thousands of square miles of sunny land carpeted with devices specifically engineered to absorb as much sunlight as possible. Can you say UHI on steroids?

Reply to  Bart
July 29, 2015 2:36 pm

Bart says: “Just think of thousands of square miles of sunny land carpeted with devices specifically engineered to absorb as much sunlight as possible.”

There’s a word for that

They call it “ASPHALT”

Reply to  Bart
July 29, 2015 3:09 pm

Imagine how hot a completely unshaded, unrelentingly contiguous black asphalt surface 30,000 square km in area would get.

Reply to  Bart
July 29, 2015 3:13 pm

“30,000 square km????????

Try 61,000 square MILES
..
http://www.funtrivia.com/askft/Question123329.htm

Reply to  Bart
July 29, 2015 3:17 pm
Reply to  Bart
July 29, 2015 3:23 pm

I was just quoting the article. But, I defer to your number. Imagine that heat island!

Menicholas
Reply to  Bart
July 29, 2015 4:07 pm

I am guessing that 100 years ago, someone could have written an article similar to this pointing out what a bad idea cars are, compared to a horse and buggy.
Imagine how long it takes to build a car. If we build one car a day, it will take 27 million years to replace all the horses with cars…
What does the math of one solar panel per second have to do with anything, except that it is a nice sounding made up number to argue against?
This article is crammed full of straw man arguments.
But what really is steaming my clams is the amount of effort spent implying that anyone with a financial interest in anything cannot be impartial.
Whether that is true or not, the fact is that all this work and study and effort was done to shoot down solar for the purpose of promoting a crowd source funding campaign for Mr. Tomarkin’s fusion project.
This is a primer for a hand out t help fund the single biggest black hole for money in history.
I am all for fusion, and will be all in on it…the day it is shown to actually work.
Being against something is easy. But being against something that at least works, while only being for something that may, in fact, never return a single watt of power into a grid above what was used to produce it, is the same thing as the warmistas do.

Reply to  Menicholas
July 29, 2015 5:23 pm

“Menicholas” The fundamental issue is how much energy is received in the way of energetic photons from the sun per square unit of surface area per period time with secondary issues relating to system reserves and storage. The figure of merit is not the production run rate of one “panel per second” but rather the total amount of active PV cell surface area required to produce baseload power. My colleague, Barrie Lawson in the UK, and I have defined this in the “Going Solar” section of our work as linked at the top under “Key Concepts.” A direct link is: http://fuelrfuture.com/going-solar/ If you can point to any specific “straw man” arguments please do so. And if you can find any errors in our “Going Solar” system requirements please point those out. In terms of the comments regarding financial interests, that is absurd. My email address is tt@usclcorp.com and my cell number is +1-916-482-2020. Please bring those to my direct attention. In terms of any interest I have in fusion energy development please see our very extensive website at: http://www.fuelrfuture.com Fusion is still in the experimental science stage. In all likelihood we can look forward to a demonstrate a sustained positive net energy gain greater than 10 over the next decade. Commercialization must follow extensive R&D and some non-trivial applied materials science and engineering. Anyone who says they “will do fusion” on a traditional crowdfunding campaign is less than honest to say the least. I certainly would not state that! Feel free to send me any factual errors based on science and mathematics in The Green Mirage article and we will analyze them and revise the article if so required. Thank you for your professional courtesies. Regards, T. D. Tamarkin

Reply to  Bart
July 29, 2015 4:13 pm

Menicholas the “one panel per second” meme is a familiar technique used with a crowd of numerically challenged people. What Tomarkin fails to mention is that in 2014, about 50 GW of panels were produced in existing factories. If you do the math, that equates to about 1 panel every 13 seconds.

That fact will put the “one panel per second” result into perspective.

Reply to  Bart
July 29, 2015 5:02 pm

“If you do the math, that equates to about 1 panel every 13 seconds.

That fact will put the “one panel per second” result into perspective.”

Hmmm, so 13 times slower than one per second, which requires 930 years, so 12,090 years. Of worldwide production at current rates.
“Menicholas the “one panel per second” meme is a familiar technique used with a crowd of numerically challenged people.”
Were you trying to be ironic?

Menicholas
Reply to  Bart
July 29, 2015 5:07 pm

Yes, if we build a second factory, that one per second becomes two, and all the numbers are cut all the way in half, just by a snap of the fingers!
Build ten such plants, and whoa…now we are cooking.
Come up with a way to do it better, cheaper and faster, and from that moment a=on, every panel will be cheaper and faster to build! Forever!
Look how long it used to take to sequence a genome…it was thought impossible to ever be practical.
Things change.
Things that need incremental improvement are likely to improve faster that something which has never been made to work!

MarkW
Reply to  Bart
July 29, 2015 5:54 pm

Roads are useful. Solar panels aren’t.

MarkW
Reply to  Bart
July 29, 2015 5:55 pm

PS, even with the solar panels, you are still going to need every inch of asphalt, since none of those electric cars have learned to fly yet.
So we are talking in addition to, not instead of. Sheesh, try thinking for once.

MarkW
Reply to  Bart
July 29, 2015 5:57 pm

Menicholas, if you are going to come up with an analogy, at least try to get one a little less stupid?
Read up on the many problems with horses and how cars actually solved that problem for most people.
People voluntarily switched to cars because they wanted to. They didn’t need massive govt programs to force them to buy a product they didn’t want.

MarkW
Reply to  Bart
July 29, 2015 5:58 pm

The one panel a second point was in response to the claim that we can be 100% solar in 20 or 30 years.

Reply to  MarkW
July 29, 2015 6:04 pm

“MarkW” The fundamental issue is how much energy is received in the way of energetic photons from the sun per square unit of surface area per period time with secondary issues relating to system reserves and storage. The figure of merit is not the production run rate of one “panel per second” but rather the total amount of surface area required to produce baseload power. My colleague, Barrie Lawson in the UK, and I have defined this in the “Going Solar” section of our work as linked at the top under “Key Concepts.” A direct link is: http://fuelrfuture.com/going-solar/

Reply to  Bart
July 30, 2015 9:33 am

“Yes, if we build a second factory…”
No, if we double worldwide production, then double it again, etc… He wasn’t talking about one factory, he was talking about one world.
Such activity, even were it possible (which it isn’t – we’re talking so much material that the bottlenecks would be insurmountable in any reasonable length of time), would have dire environmental consequences.

Menicholas
Reply to  Bart
July 30, 2015 8:31 pm

Mark, my point had nothing to do with cars, it had to do with production numbers, and extrapolations.
If it makes you feel better about something to call people stupid, by all means knock yourself out.
Back in the early twentieth century, no one had any idea how many cars would be sold, or where all the gas would come from.
Without knowing it, you make my point even stronger…when people decide they want something, when there is demand, supply will follow. An examination of how many cars could be produced, judged by someone in 1910, might have sounded exactly like the point made in the top article.
And I must have missed something…who is forcing you to buy solar panels?
Are you simply referring to your tax dollars subsidizing something you hate?
Relax…it is all borrowed money! Your taxes and mine do not even cover the postage for the checks they mailed out to people scamming the gubnamint, for yesterday alone!

Menicholas
Reply to  Bart
July 30, 2015 8:44 pm

It is just silly to argue that, even if we wanted them, we could not build them in less than hundreds of years. Let alone almost a thousand years.
If there was demand, they would be built…fast!
Has there ever been anything that could not be built fast enough…for more than time it took to build a factory?
Which is the same as the amount of time to build a thousand factories.
The US went from the great depression to the largest manufacturer of military hardware the world had ever seen in about 18 months or less.
Touch screens went from a curiosity to a run rate in the tens of millions per month nearly overnight.
I would venture to say that smartphones are a lot more complicated to build than a solar panel.
Solar panels are different , of course.
Everything is different.
But the motivation to profit is the same…supply will meet demand, and do so quickly.

Alan McIntire
Reply to  Bart
July 31, 2015 5:58 am

Menicholas July 29, 2015 at 4:07 pm
“I am guessing that 100 years ago, someone could have written an article similar to this pointing out what a bad idea cars are, compared to a horse and buggy.
Imagine how long it takes to build a car. If we build one car a day, it will take 27 million years to replace all the horses with cars…”
Horses were DANGEROUS. In 1900 more people were killed in traffic accidents in New York City, by runaway horses or being kicked by hoses, than were killed in traffic accidents in 2000 in New York City.

commieBob
July 29, 2015 5:19 am

Elon Musk’s Powerwall is an attempt to reduce the cost of batteries by increasing the number of batteries built. The trouble is that there is a better technology for stationary batteries.
Aquion is producing non-HAZMAT batteries at around the same cost of as lead-acid technology. The batteries are larger and heavier than the Powerwall batteries but, for stationary applications, that doesn’t matter much. Aquion has their first large scale customer so we should have real data on the economics and reliability in a couple of years. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquion_Energy

Les Francis
Reply to  commieBob
July 29, 2015 5:28 am

Elon Musk’s Powerwall is just another marketing exercise. He has the media and the unknowledgeable on his side

usurbrain
Reply to  commieBob
July 29, 2015 11:59 am

He also wants to take advantage of the CA net zero energy rule. Will out of necessity require Musk’ subsidiaries, SolarCity collectors and the Power Wall. Ads are already on the internet. for systems and instillation. and Leased contracts.

Reply to  usurbrain
July 29, 2015 12:26 pm

Read and come to understand California SB-350 and then you will know what Mr. Musk has really been up to and what he really, really wants. See: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160SB350

Les Francis
July 29, 2015 5:26 am

One almost good news solar story.
I work for a very large shopping mall owner. The owner decided to install a very large solar panel array on top of one of the malls (which is located within the tropics).
The array powers the whole centre during daylight hours. Any excess is fed to the grid – when the authorities allow. Obviously the centre requires grid power after daylight hours but so far the subsidy gained by the excess power flowing into the grid during the daylight hours has amortized the night.
The system will pay for itself within four years.
Now the bad news.
If the grid feed in subsidy disappears then night time grid energy use will need to be paid and the four year cost recovery will go up.
The fire services may not be inclined to put out a fire on the roof with so much voltage up there.
The mall is in a tropical area close to the sea. experience has shown that corrosion is a problem.
The grid may in future refuse to accept any feed in because the amount generated unbalances their system.
One advantage is that the tenants in the mall get almost free power during daylight hours.
This makes the centre very attractive for tenants – i.e. for the owner no vacancy in the mall.

Eustace Cranch
Reply to  Les Francis
July 29, 2015 5:45 am

There’s a lot in your comment that doesn’t rattle right. Particularly this:
The fire services may not be inclined to put out a fire on the roof with so much voltage up there.
Tells me you don’t really understand solar cell technology.

usurbrain
Reply to  Eustace Cranch
July 29, 2015 6:28 am

May want to do some research on the net.

Eustace Cranch
Reply to  Eustace Cranch
July 29, 2015 7:06 am

“So much voltage up there” is an amateurish and meaningless phrase. How much voltage? Numbers please. Between what two physical points is it measured? Where is the DC inverter (or inverters) located in the described installation?
I’m an electrical engineer. I’m somewhat acquainted with “research on the net”.

commieBob
Reply to  Eustace Cranch
July 29, 2015 8:22 am

There’s usually lots of electricity on any commercial roof … airconditioners, air exchange, heaters, transformers. If the electricity comes in via the roof, there are many kV. Neon signs have around 2 – 15 kV. Firefighters should not be deterred by typical photovoltaic voltages, they’re trained to deal with worse.

Editor
Reply to  Eustace Cranch
July 29, 2015 11:21 am

“so much voltage” is sloppy writing, though a bit afield of the main point of the post.
It’s common to shut off power to a building as part of fire fighting – that won’t shut off power from solar panels.
Here’s one decent look at rooftop “challenges” for residential fire fighters.
http://www.firerescue1.com/fire-attack/articles/594656-Solar-Safety-for-Firefighters-The-Myths-and-the-Facts/

usurbrain
Reply to  Eustace Cranch
July 29, 2015 12:21 pm

Some of the high capacity systems wire panels in series to get 300 – 400 volt DC voltage for simpler conversion to AC. Since this is a Mall, they probably want 3 phase etc. Peak-to-peak single phase 120 VAC is 340 volts. .

MarkW
Reply to  Eustace Cranch
July 29, 2015 6:01 pm

Eustace, most solar panels put out about 400VDC. It’s really easy to check.

usurbrain
Reply to  Les Francis
July 29, 2015 12:12 pm

A mall near me could not get a good rate without paying for the ten mile extension of the necessary HV line. So, they installed a NatGas powered diesel generator to make their electricity. The water heated by the diesel was used in a Water-Lithium Bromide Vapor Absorption Refrigeration System. This cooled the building. The cooler could be bypassed and the heat of the diesel heated water used for heating the mall in the winter. Cost of this system was less than the charge for the electric co. extending the required service. Annual cost of NatGas, maintenance/service including a fulltime maintenance engineer averages less than the preferred electric rate. Thus as the maintenance engineer explained to me “They get Free HVAC, jus by making the electricity required for normal operation of the Mall.

DD More
Reply to  usurbrain
July 29, 2015 1:54 pm

Make the mall big enough and you don’t need heating. Case – Mall of America in Twin Cities, Minnesota. No heating system installed. Bodies and lighting supply all that is needed even in Minnesota winters.

George Tetley
July 29, 2015 5:26 am

The heat is beneath your feet, using a venture system (cold water in hot out ) would not require the billions of solar $ to design and operate

Les Francis
Reply to  George Tetley
July 29, 2015 5:30 am

Tried that in Australia. Not economical

George Tetley
Reply to  Les Francis
July 29, 2015 10:23 am

BUT ! when ” logical” minds throw a few billion $ at a problem it is normally resolved!It does not need a trillion more to keep it afloat !

July 29, 2015 5:28 am

Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented:

Here is your engineering homework. Large assignment. Read and understand. The test will involve pain.

Eustace Cranch
July 29, 2015 5:41 am

“in 20 years virtually all power in America will come from Solar.”
We were told by highly-qualified, advanced-degreed “experts” that cancer would be cured within 20 years.
That was 50 years ago.

Dave Ward
Reply to  Eustace Cranch
July 29, 2015 8:02 am

Eustace Cranch
July 29, 2015 at 7:06 am
““So much voltage up there” is an amateurish and meaningless phrase. How much voltage? Numbers please”
In typical installations with separate inverters mounted within the building, it’s not uncommon for the DC input to be as much as 700 volts – and that’s under load. Now imagine what it might be on a sunny day with the isolator switched off. In light of that would be happy aiming a fire hose up at a burning roof? There are already plenty of instances where the fire brigade have taken one look and simply stood back and let the building burn down. Roof mounted panels can also be a problem before the roof itself catches fire – in large warehouses they will often want to cut holes to let the smoke escape, so as to aid their searches inside. With a roof covered in solar panels this becomes difficult if not impossible. A friend has personal experience of this, when an adjoining unit in the building he shares suffered a machinery fire. The unit in question had a 60Kw array up top. Not only did this make the fire more difficult to deal with, the following morning (as the sun rose) wires inside started sparking…

Peta in Cumbria
July 29, 2015 5:42 am

There’s mention of David McKay and his book SEWTHA.
It is a Must Read, especially where he calculates the energy gathering/conversion efficiency of plants, aka biomass – under UK conditions.
It is 2 watts per square metre.
If, all UK farmland was to grow canola (rape-seed) for conversion to biodiesel, it would only make ~350 litres per car in the UK. Good for maybe 4000 miles when the average UK car goes 10,000 miles per year? That is sooo going to work. not.
That does not include trucks, buses, trains, tractors, construction plant etc etc
Again UK conditions, the rule of thumb for solar panels is that they generate, on average over a typical UK year, 10% of rated power. Manufactured panels are usually 150 watts per sqm so solar PV is maybe 7 times more efficient than biomass.
That 37 watt figure is a fairy tale dream come true for this part of the world – even very sunny/dry southern England gets maybe 20 watts per sqm. (I eavesdrop on a renewable energy forum where they compare solar PV results every month, I can back that up if needed)
Its worse than we thought, it really is.

sciguy54
July 29, 2015 6:13 am

A super article which will require some time to digest properly.
Under ideal conditions, almost all PV power is generated during a 5 hour window each day, so about 75% of the power required must be stored or transmitted over great distances from excess capacity in remote regions. Storage is structural problem number 1 which must be resolved before considering PV for 100% grid supply, and storage has a serious recurring cost in the same price range as fuel for coal/gas generation, along with significant environmental impact.

usurbrain
July 29, 2015 6:13 am

An excellent article!
I am a retired nuclear engineer. I have calculated, demonstrated and posted many of the bullets listed in the leading paragraphs on numerous web sites. The vitriol I get in return would heat the average size home for a year. Like the insane idea of CCS – where are their brains? Even a HS kid with HS chemistry can determine that the mass alone will be more than twice the mass of the burned product. The volume of the CO2 will be many orders of magnitude worse. The cost of compression of that volume would be at least 1/2 the profit of the power plant. Then you have to transport it – that means it would cost twice as much to move it away as it did to haul in the coal, oil, etc. Where are their brains?

cheshirered
Reply to  usurbrain
July 29, 2015 7:05 am

They don’t think with their brains so much as their *heart*. It’s an emotional thing for greens. Rational thought doesn’t enter into it, as you’ve already discovered personally.

Dave Ward
Reply to  usurbrain
July 29, 2015 8:05 am
Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Dave Ward
July 29, 2015 3:10 pm

Dave, here is the effort being made at present.
http://www.globalwarming.org/2014/10/29/kemper-ccs-project-3-years-behind-3-9-billion-over-budget-hows-that-for-adequately-ademonstrated/
Is ‘Boondoggle’ a Southern word? I think so.

Reply to  usurbrain
July 29, 2015 9:24 pm

Usurbrain. It’s actually around 30% in tested operating environments. See boundary dam CCS and others referenced in articles at WUWT. Not nitpicking, just commenting.

Harry Passfield
July 29, 2015 6:17 am

I think perhaps a key quote is:

To Google’s enormous credit, two of its “green energy project” scientists, Dr. Ross Koninstein & Dr. David Fork authored an article titled “What It Would Really Take to Reverse Climate Change; Today’s renewable energy technologies won’t save us. So what will?” published by the IEEE Spectrum on November 18, 2014. The article concludes with a section stating:
“A disruptive fusion technology, for example, might skip the steam and produce high-energy charged particles that can be converted directly into electricity. For industrial facilities, maybe a cheaply synthesized form of methane could replace conventional natural gas. Or perhaps a technology would change the economic rules of the game by producing not just electricity but also fertilizer, fuel, or desalinated water….”

As this shows there are some people thinking that solutions may not yet have been invented.
Who, in 1960, say, would have a clue about how flat screen TVs would work – and be so ubiquitous – 50 years later? And so it is with electricity generation: it doesn’t have to always involve steam. Not that I can see solar as the answer.

Reply to  Harry Passfield
July 29, 2015 8:07 am

What the heck Harry? Why didn’t they just say let’s get on with conventional nuclear and start deploying thorium reactors and solve the issue of waste disposal!

Reply to  fossilsage
July 29, 2015 9:09 am

The Thorium community is fond of saying that Thorium has a less aggressive radioactive waste series. However, the actinide decay chain is similar to uranium and is, in fact, complicated by heavy gamma ray radiation. Furthermore, Thorium is a fertile material not a fissile material which means it must operate in conjunction with Uranium. The thorium community will also say that Thorium cannot be used in weapons programs. However uranium 233 can be breed from Thorium which in turn can be weaponized. Thorium is no fission utopia. Fission is fission. It is a bridge now to the future but it must be replaced by fusion sooner than later. Edward Teller and Ralph Moir wrote a definitive paper on the potential use of Thorium in Molten Salts Reactors in 2004. A PDF is available at: http://fusion4freedom.us/science/moir_teller-thorium.pdf To learn more about the facts regarding Thorium see: http://www.whatisnuclear.com/articles/thorium.html#downsides

Reply to  Tomer D. Tamarkin
July 29, 2015 9:30 am

Tomer the issue is: nuclear is a major part of the transition away from fossil fuels game, set, match! We should stop pussyfooting around about it! I think that Ed Teller has probably been saying just that for about 70 years

MarkW
Reply to  fossilsage
July 29, 2015 6:04 pm

Tomer, posting the same comment over and over again is akin to trolling.

Menicholas
Reply to  fossilsage
July 29, 2015 9:06 pm

Mark, Tomer’s whole point in writing this article is misdirection. He is not anti-solar, he is profusion, and everything is towards that aim.
Professional courtesy was requested, but I am merely asking for being straight up about one’s purpose.
Fusion will be great…if it ever can be made to work.
A big if, considering the time and money and brainpower that has gone into trying.
Some of the top people in fusion have flat given up and declared it impossible.
And it may be.
I have not seen one thing, or heard on new fact, which makes me think anything has changed regarding fusion research.

Reply to  Menicholas
July 29, 2015 9:43 pm

“Menicholas” your comment is far off the mark. I am absolutely dead set against any national movement to deploy solar for material amounts of baseload power. Solar is NOT appropriate for baseload power. In the Green Mirage article we demonstrate that it takes over 29 billion square meters of PV surface area to provide 440 GWH 24 hours a day 365 days a year. That is not feasible. At the run rate of 1 per second it takes over 900 years to fabricate the panels; at ten a second over 90 years. And the life expectancy is less than 25 years. My point in writing the article is to get the facts out to the public and to the politicians who have been corrupt beyond measure when it comes to the AGW-climate scare driven ‘green energy scheme.” Today solar is extremely heavily subsidized by the government and the ratebase. That is not sustainable. It will bankrupt the country. And there is absolutely no way solar can ever provide more than 10% of baseload power in the U.S. unless, of course, we ration power and dramatically limit its availability to both industry and consumers which is death to America as the last remaining superpower. Simply put the only realistic solutions to energy beyond fossil fuels are nuclear fission which is available today and fusion which can be available by 2050. Solar for baseload power is a waste of time and a waste of tax payer’s money. I have asked you to submit any math or physics errors in our calculations summarized in the “Key Concepts” section of the article and predicated on the “Going Solar” http://fuelrfuture.com/going-solar/ and “Solar Power (Technologies and Economics)” http://fuelrfuture.com/solar-power-technology-and-economics/ Do not mischaracterize my comments and intentions. Following a solar program for baseload power would destroy America as we know it today. And do not continue to mischaracterize plasma physics and fusion science. We have a decade of experimental science ahead of us before we demonstrate a sustained net energy gain in a controlled environment and another 1 to 2 decades before it is deployment ready. And I fail to understand why you continue to deflect the subject matter of the “Green Mirage” and its facts into discussions about your personal view of fusion energy. I am in no way misdirected.

Menicholas
Reply to  fossilsage
July 29, 2015 10:23 pm

Tomer, nipping at the heals of solar advocates is a waste of time, IMO. The real problem is the CAGW movement. Unless and until this lie is exposed for what it is, you might as well be barking at the moon.
If I am wrong then I apologize, but everything I have heard from you is anti this and anti that, except for fusion. And fusion is completely unproven. I hope your project succeeds, but surely you can agree that betting the future of civilization on something which has never been demonstrated to work is not a very good idea.
Solar may be expensive and inefficient, but it makes power. Fusion may never.
Fission works, but people are afraid of it…irrationally in my view. All of your comments are negative on this energy source as well.
And I am saying what I am saying based on the last time we spoke, over several days and at great length…you were trying to talk me and some other people into helping you crowd source funding for your fusion research.
If that is no longer your line of business, then I am mistaken and I am sorry.
2050 is a long way off.
I am sorry, but I am sick of hearing pessimistic moaning about what will not work.
Considering you want to direct research towards the most iffy power source ever to have billions spent on it, I find it grating to hear about how unfeasible everything else is.

Reply to  Menicholas
July 30, 2015 6:07 am

Menicholas” If I understand you correctly we absolutely agree on the AGW-climate scare issue. Fabrication resulting from the UM Rio Accords later transformed into Agenda 21 and the Sustainability Movement. You will never find me using the AGW scare as a reason to move away from fossil fuels or advocate nuclear fission now as a bridge to fusion in the future. My position on AGW-climate change is summed up at: http://fuelrfuture.com/category/news/climate-news/
To quote the opening:
“PowerRfuture and its sponsors are not aligned with the pro-Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) or climate change scientific or political community. Nor are we aligned with the scientific or political communities supporting a lack of AGW or man caused climate change (climate deniers). We have endeavored to present scientific views which are not easy for the average person to see because they are not promulgated by the media. We provide a balance between Proof of AGW and Disproof of AGW through peer reviewed and published scientific papers in our Great Climate Debate section and we demonstrate through an authoritative article by Dr. Roy Spencer that the common phrase “97% of scientists believe in climate change and the IPCC findings” is a false claim. We also provide a “Climate Change Tutorial” entitled “Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) The Science, Climate History, and Politics”, which is meant to teach non-scientists the basic scientific concepts surrounding “climate change” and related political and corporate interests. We have also provided linkage to the possibility that AGW has been manipulated by International intergovernmental organizations for geo political reasons as well as corporate and philanthropic institutions. The unintended consequences of the UN – IPCC and the UN’s Agenda 21 and related Sustainability Movement have, in our judgment, spawned the Green Energy corruption and taxation scheme.
Considerable amounts of money, in excess of 100 billion USD have been spent over the last decade researching and re-researching climate change, cause and effect as well as mitigation steps. Is this the best use of our money? Absolutely not. The strong and robust debate in the scientific community concerning the cause and effect relationship of climate change and man is inconclusive at best, and politically driven by a divergent set of rogue players at worst.
In our view the preferred use of the enormous amounts of money being dissipated in climate change abatement is in the direct and immediate investment in science and technology that will simply replace fossil fuels and ultimately nuclear fission over the next few decades. Fossil fuels are a finite resource. Today they are an absolute requirement given their exceedingly high energy flux density or specific energy. The fact that fossil fuels are finite, and that their cost to extract significantly increases as traditional reserves are depleted, further underscores the need to use the monies now spent on climate study and potential mitigation, on developing fusion instead. Developing fusion is a multi-decade proposition from laboratory demonstration, to grid level prototype generation stations and subsequent commercialization and infrastructure replacement.
Under these conditions, climate change caused by man is a moot point and removed from serious discussion. With fusion energy, mankind will then have the benefit of unlimited, inexpensive energy, potable water, and plentiful food for eternity. The only realistic solution is fusion energy given the negatives associated with nuclear fission; i.e. radioactive waste management, safety concerns, and fissile fuel black market profiteering and arms trading.”
This section is followed by a large number of articles counter to the IPCC and the established climate change position.

Menicholas
Reply to  fossilsage
July 29, 2015 10:45 pm

“Tomer the issue is: nuclear is a major part of the transition away from fossil fuels game, set, match! We should stop pussyfooting around about it! I think that Ed Teller has probably been saying just that for about 70 years”
This I agree with completely.

Menicholas
Reply to  fossilsage
July 30, 2015 9:18 pm

“…The only realistic solution is fusion energy given the negatives associated with nuclear fission; i.e. radioactive waste management, safety concerns, and fissile fuel black market profiteering and arms trading.””
If producing safe, usable and inexpensive power from fusion is possible, then it will be a game changer for the world.
But I do not think that it is a safe assumption to make, that it will be possible anytime soon, and it may not ever be achieved. I am not saying this because I want to…I am saying it because it must be said.
Saying that it is the only realistic solution will not alter the laws of physics. I hope this statement is not true, because the implication is that if fusion is impossible to achieve, civilization will eventually collapse, and never rise again.
I think it is more true to say that a realist must acknowledge all the facts which are relevant, and not decide what is true or false based on feelings or wishful thinking.
To be truly realistic is to see that that which has never been achieved has no guarantee of eventual success.
This is not pessimism.
Saying that nothing else is realistic is pessimistic and not realistic, in my view.
I find it baffling that someone can be 100% optimistic about something so incredibly difficult, but so negative on the possibilities for anything else.
In fact it makes no sense.
It is not based on anything knowable (or is it…please do tell), so it must be based on faith. Or it is merely advocacy based on the hope of fortune or fame.
Nothing wrong with faith, or fortune, or fame, if one is honest about it.
I wonder why it is not seen as a better idea to advocate for the 10% of our needs that can be met by solar, and achieve that as soon as possible, if one views other resources as finite and/or undesirable…in order to stretch out the supply and keep prices low.
Prices for fossil fuels skyrocketed back about ten years ago due to demand exceeding supply by a few percent.
Ten percent here, ten percent there…what is wrong with that?

Reply to  Menicholas
July 30, 2015 9:35 pm

Stop are you just drunk?

Reply to  fossilsage
July 31, 2015 7:09 am

The above comment by “menicholas” is correct. For elaboration please see my on-line treatment of the issues at: http://fuelrfuture.com/category/issues/fusion-solution/ Regards, T. D. Tamarkin

Reply to  Menicholas
July 31, 2015 7:11 am

“menicholas” Please note that “The Green Mirage” addresses the viability of 100% baseload solar power in the U.S. and is based solidly on the detailed analysis linked to “Going Solar” at: http://fuelrfuture.com/going-solar/ Scroll down to system requirements and review the calculations and methodology. The numbers speak for themselves. Once again, if anyone has actual calculations and/or data indicating any section of the “Green Mirage” article is in error please feel free to email me at tt@usclcorp.com and I will review the issues and make changes to the extent the new information is accurate. I have made this clear from the first posting of this article by Watt’s Up With That.
Regards, T. D. Tamarkin
Again see: http://fuelrfuture.com/going-solar/

Paul767
Reply to  fossilsage
July 31, 2015 12:55 am

Tomar: The article you reference specifically states that the nasty stuff has a half-life of 27 DAYS! But thanks for the reference.

Menicholas
Reply to  fossilsage
July 31, 2015 1:51 pm

Fossilsage…I do not drink. I was a little sleepy. Not a very well written comment, I agree.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Harry Passfield
July 29, 2015 3:12 pm

Use nuclear energy to make then ionize steam with heat and blast it through a coil, presto electricity. After it has cooled, burn it, make steam.

ferdberple
July 29, 2015 6:18 am

only 21.9% of the output advertised
============================
we spent 20 years using solar panels as a power source while living in the tropics. over that time the power output of the panels slowly dropped off as the panels become “sunburned”, so that in the end they were producing only a fraction of their rated power.
the actual amount of power you get from solar panels is minuscule as compared to a small 2 HP 1000W generator. The real issue is batteries. The last about 3 years and cost almost as much as the fuel to run the 1000W generator for 3 years.

Barry Sheridan
July 29, 2015 6:38 am

A really first class article with plenty of realistic numbers. I admit what is here astounded me, while I was a non believer in solar solutions but had no numbers to work with, not that I am sure I can get my head around some of it, especially the costs, mind boggling. Thanks a billion for posting.

Tim
July 29, 2015 6:40 am

Here’s Forbes 2013…
http://www.forbes.com/sites/williampentland/2013/08/16/no-end-in-sight-for-spains-escalating-solar-crisis/
Did prospective investors see this? They should.

Walt D.
July 29, 2015 6:47 am

The major problem I see is that this is a subsidized technology, and subsidies stifle innovation.
The government is notoriously poor at picking winners. With unlimited money to flush down the toilet you would think that they would be able to solve the containment problem and come up with viable commercial fusion reactors.

The Original Mike M
July 29, 2015 6:50 am

” the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. The law is named after Gordon Moore”
This is an astoundingly silly thing to apply to efficiency which can never exceed 100%. The Law of Diminishing Returns is the applicable law – not Moore’s.
And speaking of transistors, my 6 transistor Emerson model 842 radio still brings in AM stations and sounds as good as new ones built with ~100 (?) transistors on an AM radio chip. Good enough is the enemy of better.

The Original Mike M
Reply to  The Original Mike M
July 29, 2015 7:05 am

Work 2nd or 3rd shift – OR… put the car port on wheels and tow it to work!

The Original Mike M
Reply to  The Original Mike M
July 29, 2015 7:07 am

please delete

usurbrain
July 29, 2015 6:54 am

“Tesla Motors website claims that a small carport sized solar panel configuration can provide enough electricity for a typical days’ worth of driving and still contribute power to the grid. ”
So, if you buy one and drive it to work how do you charge it? Are you going to have a carport solar panel at work? May work for those that can afford a Tesla as they are probably in upper management, and most likely upper, upper management. More goodies for the 1% more expenses for the 99%.

The Original Mike M
Reply to  usurbrain
July 29, 2015 7:08 am

Work 2nd or 3rd shift – OR… put the car port on wheels and tow it to work!

Reply to  usurbrain
July 31, 2015 3:13 pm

easy peasy everybody works graveyard shift while the Natural Gas is powering the plant.

Leon
July 29, 2015 7:06 am

Your solar spectrum with the ” narrow emission lines ” is actually the spectrum of a mercury vapor fluorescent lamp, the bright lines have nothing to do with hydrogen or helium. Please find a real solar spectrum and Delete the text misexplaining the narrow lines.

Reply to  Leon
July 29, 2015 9:19 am

Leon, the graph you are referring too was to explain the correlation of the increase in energy level of photons as wavelength becomes shorter. Nothing more. Under the graph the following explanation was given: “The chart below (above)provides a specific photon energy value across the electromagnetic radiation spectrum starting with low frequency radio waves and ending with Gamma rays. The area of interest for solar cells is in the wavelength area of 800 nm to 350 nm. This represents an energy level of 1 to 1.6 electron volts. An electron volt is a very small amount of energy at 1.60 X 10-19 Joules. One Joule is a Watt/second. As can be seen it takes a strong energy flux density to make the solar cell produce useful amounts of electricity!” If you have further comments, ideas or suggestions please contact me by email at tt@usclcorp.com or call me at 916-482-2020. Thank you for your comment. Regards, T. D. Tamarkin

lgp
Reply to  Tomer D. Tamarkin
July 29, 2015 9:33 am

Sent you an e-mail discussing further …

Reply to  Tomer D. Tamarkin
July 29, 2015 9:49 am

Received the email, Leon, and thank you. A recap is: Interesting. I pulled my reference out of a text book on plasma physics coming from Princeton Plasma Physics Labs. Someone else made the mistake as well with respect to attributing the peaks to H and He. Your chart as attached is good. I will have to go back to that text and later I will update the online version. Not sure if Anthony will allow a correction to his posted on WUWT but I will ask.

Reply to  Tomer D. Tamarkin
July 29, 2015 12:11 pm

Typo: One Joule is a Watt-second.

Reply to  Bart
July 29, 2015 12:51 pm

One Watt second equals one joule. For non-scientists this means in electrical work one volt times one ampere (Watt) for a one second duration. The differentiation of energy and power units needs to be understood as well. In physics refer to this Wikipedia entry for Si units https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SI_derived_unit Several people have pointed out that I had a typo somewhere in the article. Thank you for reporting this. It would be helpful if you would email me with the paragraph number and line number and it will be corrected. Thank you and regards, T. D. Tamarkin tt@usclcorp.com

jipebe29
July 29, 2015 7:13 am

In France, the load factor of solar ferms is only 13% (production in TWh/installed power). Intermittent production is always a problem, and the main unsolved problem is that the production is 0 during nights. The best solution for a long time is surgeneration power plants (238U and 232Th).

Reply to  jipebe29
July 29, 2015 7:49 am

How about that 75% of power provided by nuclear in France! why bother with solar?

Reply to  fossilsage
July 29, 2015 7:55 am

1) French nukes are not capable of delivering “peak” power to satisfy demand.
..
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/14/europe-power-supply-idUSL5E8DD87020120214
..
2) 85% of French nukes are owned by the government. Can you spell “s-o-c-i-a-l-i-s-m? “

Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 8:08 am

so build more!

MarkW
Reply to  fossilsage
July 29, 2015 6:08 pm

Joel, so what if they are owned by the govt. That’s how France swings. Are you saying that only govt can build and own nuclear plants? The rest of the world hasn’t had that problem.

Reply to  jipebe29
July 29, 2015 9:20 am

Thorium is problematic. The Thorium community is fond of saying that Thorium has a less aggressive radioactive waste series. However, the actinide decay chain is similar to uranium and is, in fact, complicated by heavy gamma ray radiation. Furthermore, Thorium is a fertile material not a fissile material which means it must operate in conjunction with Uranium. The thorium community will also say that Thorium cannot be used in weapons programs. However uranium 233 can be breed from Thorium which in turn can be weaponized. Thorium is no fission utopia. Fission is fission. It is a bridge now to the future but it must be replaced by fusion sooner than later. Edward Teller and Ralph Moir wrote a definitive paper on the potential use of Thorium in Molten Salts Reactors in 2004. A PDF is available at: http://fusion4freedom.us/science/moir_teller-thorium.pdf To learn more about the facts regarding Thorium see: http://www.whatisnuclear.com/articles/thorium.html#downsides

Menicholas
Reply to  Tomer D. Tamarkin
July 29, 2015 5:12 pm

Fusion is more problematic…it has to give back more power than was put in, and pay for the cost of the machine, and be able to supply continuous power in a reliable way…none of these things has ever occurred.
You know that, right?
(And I am not talking about measuring liberated energy, but captured and usable power.)

mobihci
July 29, 2015 7:13 am

solar becomes practical when off-setting diesel consumption, but nearly all other applications have cheaper and more reliable alternatives. an eg of how it can work is in Tonga where the grid is/was only diesel generators. where coal is available and coal burning power plants are affordable such as Australia, subsidising solar is just throwing money away.

July 29, 2015 7:20 am

Perhaps I missed it, but I don’t see any analysis of the necessary “backup” generator requirement (or the equivalent energy storage requirements) to go 100% solar. The fact is you’d need backup capability equal to the installed solar generating capacity — and that backup needs to be available ALL of the time.
The only feasible backup for solar is the existing generating installations (fuel based, hydro, and atomic).
So … we’d be idling (not replacing) the extant facilities — and we’d still be burning “coal” at night.
But, assuming we solve the storage problem, we’d still need additional solar capacity to charge the vehicles that will replace our fuelies — so add about 30% more to the requisite capacity.
So, folks — we’re back to atomic energy as our panacea.

Menicholas
Reply to  therealnormanrogers
July 29, 2015 5:14 pm

I do not think anything will be supplying 100% of our power needs. That has never occurred, and is thus a non-argument.
Do not get me wrong, I am not an advocate for solar, but neither do I think that pretending it is a waste of time makes sense.

MarkW
Reply to  Menicholas
July 29, 2015 6:09 pm

That was the argument made by Musk and others, that the author was arguing against.
Regardless of how you feel, solar is a waste of time except in isolated and limited situations.

Menicholas
Reply to  Menicholas
July 29, 2015 9:09 pm

Says you.
It will cease to be when it is no longer more expensive than alternatives.
I am wondering about your extreme position on solar.
You seem to have a need to call anyone who is not 100% pessimistic, an idiot.

Menicholas
Reply to  Menicholas
July 29, 2015 9:11 pm

So wait…we should let the market decide, except with solar?
That you will decide for us, right here and right now?

Vboring
July 29, 2015 7:39 am

Two points:
The high efficiency solar panels may be easier than expected. Recent research publications have highlighted successes in combining low energy photons into high energy ones that can be used by existing solar panels. May be good for a 30% increase in output with minimal cost.
The interplay of solar power and electric cars is a very important one. Solar pushes down the value of energy at mid day. California is considering changing their time of use rate structure to reflect this. Adding a large EV charging load during these hours with even rudimentary controls to respond to grid needs could simultaneously solve the problems of where to get the energy to charge an electric fleet and how to deal with the excess solar energy. Without EVs, solar can probably never account for more than 20% annual energy penetration. With EVs, we can do a good bit more.

george e. smith
Reply to  Vboring
July 29, 2015 3:46 pm

There are PV materials that use two photon absorption to get higher Voltage. (not dual band gaps) But those materials are not silicon. So that idea doesn’t work with existing solar panels, and the materials that do are quite inefficient anyway.
The triple junction triple band gap solar cells that give circa 45% solar spectrum conversion are typically used with efficient 3-D non imaging optics collectors, So the high cost of the cells is not necessarily a problem. And 3D steering is quite easy to do.
Still takes lots of collector area though.

July 29, 2015 7:44 am

At the end of the second paragraph above the RSS graph there is a confusing sentence “!/6th of that…” I seems to me that the whole point of the paragraph is the opposite of that conclusion.

Reply to  fossilsage
July 29, 2015 7:47 am

Otherwise great piece!

John Pickens
July 29, 2015 8:00 am

Good article, but it has one glaring omission. Namely the energy cost of production of the solar electric system including the PV arrays, supports, interconnection lines, inverters, batteries, and maintenance. When this is factored in, I would be surprised if the system had a positive net energy balance. At least with hydrocarbon and nuclear power, the high density fuel source greatly exceeds the energy cost of the rest of the production systems.

george e. smith
Reply to  John Pickens
July 29, 2015 3:51 pm

One thing is for sure; we bootstrapped ourselves from picking figs up in the trees to modern fossil fuels, without any energy subsidies from other non existing energy sources.
But you are correct; going forth to all solar is likely an energy consuming exercise, rather than energy producing. (available energy that is; I know it isn’t created or destroyed; but it does slowly go down hill to end up as heat; the sewage of the energy spectrum.)

Dudley Horscroft
Reply to  John Pickens
July 29, 2015 10:47 pm

The article mentions “inert solar panel area”. This occurs about 5 lines down from the photo of the “Blue Square” array. A few lines above is mentioned “active surface area solar cells”. This latter I take to relates to the surface area of the panels that is ‘active’ ie, comprising active cells, while the former I consider means that the panels are fixed in the field, ie, each facing one direction relative to the earth’s surface. This is plausible in a household array, but it means that the power production is zero at sunrise and climbs in an “S” shaped curve to local noon, then falls likewise to sunset. In an industrial array designed for commercial sale of the power produced this is inefficient; power is low during the morning demand peak, is maximum at noon when demand may well be less, then falls as demand rises for the afternoon and evening peak. Maximum efficiency needs each array to be facing the sun as near as possible from sunrise to sunset, so the panels have to be rotated 180 degrees during daylight hours, and then returned during the night. This necessarily takes energy to drive the motors.
The problem is not as bad as for the solar thermal array which must accurately reflect light to the energy collector, and where a mismatch of half a degree would mean complete loss of power (2.6 metres off target for a mirror 300 metres away from the collector). The solar electric could feasible generate near max power with a mismatch of perhaps 25 degrees, so is barely affected by the change in the sun’s declination from 23 degrees 27 minutes north to the same figure south; the solar thermal array must be moved during the day to accommodate the change in the sun’s declination during the day.
Sir, you say:
“The greater the load, the higher the velocity and the greater the slope, the faster the batteries drain. Add acceleration while going uphill and the batteries are drained even faster. The relationship between mass, time, slope and velocity is a complex one requiring calculus to solve and plot.”
With respect, no. At the base of the hill the car has potential and kinetic energy. At the top it has differing values of potential and kinetic energy. The difference between the sum of these at the base and the sum of these at the top is the energy to climb the hill. This energy must be drawn from the battery in the electric car. To make the calculation more accurate, add in the energy absorbed by the air at the average speed of the car during the ascent (air resistance), plus the energy absorbed by the tyres (rolling resistance) and you have the total energy withdrawn from the battery. These latter two will not normally be separately available, but can be obtained from the change in velocity (change in KE) of that car when rolling without power on an identical horizontal surface (zero change in PE) at the average speed of the car when climbing the hill. Standard fifth form Applied Maths – or Physics is you prefer.
All this goes to show that three scientists, brilliant in their own fields, are no better than the average intelligent layman with a good grasp of physics and maths, when in another field of science. This shows why the “average intelligent layman” can often reach more sensible solutions than any climate scientist, in the climate science field not well understood at all, and very often much more sensible solutions than professors of history, law, psychology or marine science, or PR flacks, or journalists, or churchmen, in the field of climate science. We have nothing to be ashamed of in rejecting silly ideas.

July 29, 2015 8:00 am

Replacing fossil fuels with electricity means replacing internal combustion engines, combustion turbines, space & water heating burners with electric equivalents. How much copper will that take in a world where copper is already becoming a scarce commodity?

Reply to  Nicholas Schroeder
July 29, 2015 8:02 am

You can substitute aluminum for copper in a lot of places. For example, in wire.

john
Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 8:45 am

Just double the size of the aluminum wire.

Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 8:52 am

No problem john

Aluminum at $0.73 per lb, versus copper at $2.38 per lb.
..
http://www.infomine.com/investment/metal-prices/aluminum/

http://www.infomine.com/investment/metal-prices/copper/

Sturgis Hooper
Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 9:50 am

Aluminum refining is a highly energy-intensive operation.

Menicholas
Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 4:10 pm

Almost every transmission line is made of aluminum. Look up at those overhead power lines…all of them are aluminum.

Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 4:17 pm

Aluminum is stronger than copper, and more impervious to corrosion.

Menicholas
Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 5:25 pm

Not true about corrosion Joel.
Aluminum house wiring caused a lot of fires before this was recognized. All terminals must be coated with a antioxidant paste. Aluminum oxide forms a coating which is hard to see, but is not a conductor. This causes extreme heating of the wire and catastrophic failure.
Trust me, I know. I repair high voltage electrical machinery, and train others in electrical safety.
I have a bottle of the paste in my truck for when I run across aluminum wire.
Just sayin’.
Like radial tires, early problems have given it a bad rep which is difficult to overcome.
Ex:
“Problems with aluminum wires[edit]
Aluminum wires have been implicated in house fires.[5][6] There are several possible reasons why these connections failed. The two main reasons were improper installation and the differences in the coefficient of expansion between aluminum wire used in the 1960s and the terminations.
Aluminum oxidation[edit]
Most metals (with a few exceptions, such as gold) oxidize freely when exposed to air. Aluminum oxide is not an electrical conductor, but rather an electrical insulator. Consequently, the flow of electrons through the oxide layer can be greatly impeded. However, since the oxide layer is only a few nanometers thick, the added resistance is not noticeable under most conditions. When aluminum wire is terminated properly, the mechanical connection breaks the thin, brittle layer of oxide to form an excellent electrical connection. Unless this connection is loosened, there is no way for oxygen to penetrate the connection point to form further oxide.
Coefficient of expansion and creep[edit]
Aluminum wire used before the mid-1970s has a coefficient of expansion that varies significantly from the metals common in devices, outlets, switches, and screws. Many terminations of aluminum wire installed in the 1960s and 1970s continue to operate with no problems. However, problems can develop in the future and some connections were not made properly when installed, including not wrapping wires around terminal screws and inadequate torque on the connection screws. There can also be problems with connections made with too much torque as it causes damage to the wire.
Aluminum and steel both expand and contract at different rates under thermal load, so a connection can become loose, and loose connections get progressively worse over time. This cycle results in the connection loosening slightly, overheating, and allowing intermetallic steel/aluminum alloying to occur between the conductor and the screw terminal. This results in a high-resistance junction, leading to additional overheating. Although many believe that oxidation was the issue, studies have shown[citation needed] that oxidation was not significant in these cases. The problems related to aluminum wire are typically associated with older pre-1970s solid wire smaller than No. 8 AWG, as the properties of that wire result in significantly more expansion and contraction than modern day AA-8000 series aluminum wire. Older solid aluminum wire also had problems with a property called creep, which made the wire permanently deform or relax over time under load.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminum_wire

Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 9:46 pm

Yes, but you can also burn a lot of buildings down with aluminum wire.

Menicholas
Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 10:02 pm

One more thing about aluminum…it is the third most abundant element in the crust of the Earth, right after oxygen and silicon, and ahead of even iron. And it is concentrated in soils which are heavily leached, which abound in the tropics. Plenty of Al to go around.

Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 30, 2015 4:54 am

Wrt discussion about aluminium oxide, It is the thin coat of the oxide which prevents further oxidation of the metal, unlike rust (ferrous oxide) it is not porous so there is no further degradation of the metal. As Menicholas has said, the oxide acts as a resistor causing heat, other problems I would imagine are that whenever two dissimilar metals are in contact with moisture present an electric current is generated which speeds up oxidation of both metals. As an aside aluminium is difficult to weld because the oxide forms a;most immediately it is exposed to air.

Menicholas
Reply to  Nicholas Schroeder
July 30, 2015 6:30 pm

Copper is not so scarce as the hype of ten years ago may lead one to believe.
And it is very recyclable.
Look at the bright side…need for metals may spur innovation that leads to other good things…mining asteroids, exploring deep in the Earth, etc.
Hey, we can always use gold…instead of leaving it lie around looking pretty.
Although silver is the best…

William Astley
July 29, 2015 8:11 am

It is ridiculous to push a scam (solar/wind with battery systems) that requires significantly more energy to construct than it puts out. Green scams do not work, if the objective is any reduction in CO2 emissions, even if there was a magic wand that could create surplus money to purchase them for every country in the world.
Note there is insufficient money in the riches developing countries to purchase green scams to meet 40% of the electrical grid requirements, ignoring the fact that there is no CO2 emissions savings if battery systems are used.

“beyond astronomical,”

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-33638495

But that support must help technologies eventually stand on their own two feet, not encourage a permanent reliance on subsidy.
The UK’s policy changes, though, are being noticed internationally.
Previously the UK Climate Change Act has been regarded as a world-leading climate policy but critics say that accolade is now seriously in doubt.
They ask if a country as rich as the UK finds clean energy unaffordable, what hope is there for most of the rest of the world?” (William: Duh?)

http://www.wsj.com/articles/obamas-renewable-energy-fantasy-1436104555

Recently Bill Gates explained in an interview with the Financial Times why current renewables are dead-end technologies. They are unreliable. Battery storage is inadequate. Wind and solar output depends on the weather. The cost of decarbonization using today’s technology (William: Solar and wind power rather than nuclear) is “beyond astronomical,” Mr. Gates concluded.

William: Beyond astronomical costs are costs are orders of magnitude more than a very rich country can afford. Green energy is comically unaffordable, if one attempts to scale it up to say 40% of total country energy usage. (i.e. Energy to run and maintain an entire country and to supply the materials for an entire country not just the electrical grid.)
The big joke is idiot journalists and politicians do not understand the implications of that green energy is comically unaffordable if it is attempted to be scale up to 40% of total country energy requirements and the the fact that battery systems are required for more than 20% of electrical grid needs. It is practically impossible to run a steel plant or a cement plant on green energy.
It is pathetic that the above facts are not discussed in elections campaigns and election commercials. A scam is a scam regardless of which party is pushing the scam.
Excellent summary of some of the major practical engineering and economic reasons why solar will not work.
Items that were missed are:
1) The source of the energy must be near to the primary energy consumption centers the major cities. There are neither vast regions of land near major cities to install solar farms and/or the major city is in a location where there is insufficient sunny days. Same issue for wind. Utility power line loss for some of the ridiculous green scam schemes is 30%. The green scam power output must therefore be reduced by 30% and the cost for new super high voltage DC power lines added.
Comment:
The green scam solution for the above is the so called ‘smart’ gird where power can be moved vast distances ignoring the fact that there is an energy loss per mile which limits the length of power lines and the cost of extraordinary long high voltage DC power lines and conversion station cost and energy loss to convert the DC back to AC. Utility power line loss for some of the ridiculous green scam schemes is 30%.
P.S. Super high voltage DC power lines required a vast strip of land which is practically impossible to attain in many regions of the US.
2) Energy is required to construct the solar panels, battery systems, and new high voltage DC power lines. It is a fact that all of the green scam components particular the battery systems which degrade in the maximum charge per year and hence have a practical life of around 5 to 7 years have a finite life and hence must be replaced. If the battery systems are included the net energy to construct and maintain an off the grid power system significantly exceeds the total energy output. i.e. More and more energy is required for the country as a whole the more solar systems are installed.
P.S. Battery systems continually self discharge, so energy is lost in the battery system, so energy cannot be stored for weeks in a battery. Battery system efficiency (energy in vs energy out) is 50% to 85% for a new battery system.
If battery systems are not included which then requires 100% hydrocarbon power backup for the green scams, the net energy to construct roughly equals net energy out. There is therefore almost no net benefit to install the green scams, ignoring the fact that battery systems are required.
Comment:
The green scam energy calculations ignore the facts the wind and solar system do not produce at that there nameplate output. The German wind and solar system average power is less than 20% of the nameplate rated. The green scam CO2 emission saving do not include the energy input to construct the green scam components.

Leo Smith
Reply to  William Astley
July 29, 2015 9:02 am

“Green scams do not work”
On the contrary, they have worked to the tune of trillions of dollars of taxpayer money poured into the unscrupulous pockets of ‘green’ technologists.
Of course they are no solution to power generation – any engineer with a 50 year old slide rule could tell you that in ten minutes, and many of us have, time and again.
But that wasn’t what renewable energy was designed to do. It was designed to make money, not electricity.
And its been outstandingly successful, at that.

usurbrain
Reply to  William Astley
July 29, 2015 9:08 am

Speaking of batteries. I have had to replace the sealed lead acid batteries in my PC UPS every 3 to 4 years. These are charged by a microprocessor controlled voltage/current regulating system to assure the best charging practices are maintained. YET THEY FAIL. And 99% of their use is on a trickle charge. Talk to any battery supplier that has a contract to replace batteries for the emergency lights in a large public building. They will give you the same story. If you have a PC UPS – un plug it from the wall and see how long it lasts. if more than 4 years old $1 says it will not give you nameplate time/power. It might help shut down your pc but there is a high probability that if it is during an important computing effort – it will fail.
Working in the electric utility industry, I have experience with the large, glass jar (about 18 X 24 x 36 inch) batteries. These last 15 – 20 years but each cell costs as much as a small car. Then they require daily, weekly, monthly, annual, 5 and then 10 year tests, maintenance, special conditiong charges, etc., and periodic replacement of individual cells. Musks “Powerwall” will not allow this, does not have provisions for this and Is a waste of money. I would buy batteries that we had replaced for failure of one of the specification parameters before I bought those. They are nothing more than a sealed bundle of the exact same LiIon cells in the battery pack for that new expensive power tool you see at Home Depot. GOOGLE IT – the specs are the same.

Editor
Reply to  usurbrain
July 29, 2015 11:37 am

Do you have any experience with nickel/iron batteries in electric utility arena?
http://ironedison.com/nickel-iron-ni-fe-battery

Reply to  Ric Werme
July 29, 2015 12:18 pm

“Ric Werme” My colleague Barrie Lawson in the UK has an excellent Website with an extensive treatment of batteries and battery technology for utility scale applications. This may be the best source of battery information available and Barrie is an acknowledge expert/leader in the field. See: http://www.mpoweruk.com/

usurbrain
Reply to  usurbrain
July 29, 2015 12:36 pm

@Ric Werme July 29, 2015 at 11:37 am
These look exactly like the ones we use but have a different chemistry. I retired 10 years ago and have not kept up to date with the new equipment – the free trade magazines could not be renewed with my home address. With the large Lead-acid cells you could exchange the acid. the dirt, etc., fell to the bottom and could be sucked out with a “turkey baster” and thus prevent shorting and keep them going many times longer than even the best lead acid auto battery. That company has spec sheets (the right column) that you could compare with similar Exide or other Lead acid batteries.

Crispin in Waterloo
July 29, 2015 8:13 am

“…the maximum theoretical efficiency of a tandem four terminal solar cell is 56%”
Is it not interesting that the theoretical efficiency max of a perfect windmill is 57%?
Is 57 the new 42?
Why is Nature filled with so many constants that are so…constant?
One of the constants is that no matter how you slice and dice it, you cannot run a modern industrial society by capturing solar power in real time. The future is nuclear.

Editor
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
July 29, 2015 11:46 am

Just a coincidence. I don’t know about the solar cells, but the rationale behind the wind turbine is the tradeoff between taking kinetic energy from the wind, but leaving enough so the exhaust moves away. The best you can do is 16/27, or 59.3%, known as Betz’s Law.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betz%27s_law

Reply to  Ric Werme
July 29, 2015 11:54 am

For a complete treatment of the science and engineering and an analysis of wind driven electrical turbine generators see our article on-line titled “Wind Power (Technology and Economics) at: http://fuelrfuture.com/wind-power-technology-and-economics/

TRM
July 29, 2015 8:14 am

Great explanation of the issues. Thanks. By the way if anyone wants to see what real people who live off the grid can do with wind, wood, solar etc I’d highly recommend http://www.otherpower.com as a start. They make the generators themselves without subsidies. I’ve always loved their rationale:
“Otherpower headquarters is located in a remote part of the Northern Colorado mountains, 11 miles past the nearest power pole or phone line. All of our houses and shops run on only solar, wind, water and generator power…not because we are trying to make some sort of political or environmental statement, but because these are the only options available. And we refuse to move to town.”

tadchem
July 29, 2015 8:15 am

There’s the Devil again, right there in the details!

Rob
July 29, 2015 8:25 am

After years of solar and wind in Europe it’s a disaster, with electrical costs it’s becoming a luxury for some in Germany to even have electrical power, utility companies in financial straights and most of Europe returning to coal and building new coal fired power plants.

July 29, 2015 8:30 am

“solar technology will compete with fossil fuels, and will be able to provide 100% of the world’s solar energy by 2030”
Uh? Solar technology already provides 100% of the world’s solar energy. It always has done, even when there was only one solar panel.
Nonsense.

docduke
July 29, 2015 8:32 am

Excellent article, Tom! The case against the Ivanpah solar tower electric power plant is even stronger. As Willis Eschenbach pointed out earlier on this blog, http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/06/15/solar-fossil-fueled-fantasies/ that plant is actually a natural-gas-fired power plant: “Instead of ramping up the plant each day before sunrise by burning one hour’s worth of natural gas to generate steam, Ivanpah needs more than four times that much help from fossil fuels to get plant humming every morning.” So half or more of the Ivanpah “solar” power is generated by natural gas!

Reply to  docduke
July 29, 2015 9:26 am

Nest time, hopefully, I will answer you in person at LaPlacita in Old Town (again.) Note that because Ivanpah now requires so much natural gas, it has been decertified as a RES (Renewable Energy Standards) source in California. What are the investors doing? Demanding that the federal government pay off their federal government backed loans…

Djozar
July 29, 2015 8:37 am

Fantastic post – well written without hyperbole. Thank-you very much.

July 29, 2015 8:53 am

Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
The key thing people in the power industry want is reliability. Solar cannot fulfill that requirement. Anybody who believes that is just kidding themselves.

Leo Smith
July 29, 2015 8:57 am

Why did they authors leave out the other aspect of solar: Intermittency?
Any fule can add up solar panel average output and get an ‘equivalent power station’ number: Indeed greens do it all the time.
The problem is that its not equivalent to conventional power station, because it varies not according to the demand placed upon it, but according to the vagaries of the generating source: In this case the sun, which has this awkward habit of hiding behind clouds and under the earth at night.
In order to ameliorate this, one needs storage, or inter connectors to somewhere the sun still is shining. Like the far side of the world.
These inevitably cost at least as much, if not more, than the solar power – which is already absurdly uneconomic.

July 29, 2015 8:59 am

I will slap people’s faces with this article whenever they try and promote solar. Like cartoon Batman in a Facebook meme!

Reply to  wickedwenchfan
July 29, 2015 9:11 am

Good luck using this article against people promoting solar hot water, or solar space heating. Did you know that solar heating has been around since they first started installing glass windows on the south sides of buildings built in cold climates?

Harry Passfield
Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 11:35 am

Pedant

Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 10:16 pm

Joel— Yup. Built my house to take advantage of solar gain. Thirteen foot peaked ceiling, approx 500 sq ft of exposure to spring/fall sun. I see a lot of articles here about how greenhouses may or may not work with single or double glazed windows. All I can say is that when it is 20 below outside and the sun is shining, I don’t light a fire in the fireplace because the sun keeps the house above 20C. Don’t much care what theory people prefer, my house stays warm from the sun.

Joe Born
July 29, 2015 9:07 am

Thanks very much for the article.
If you’re going to recycle it–which I would very much encourage–it wouldn’t hurt to double-check some of the details. Like the 141-km square given for the 40%-panel-efficiency system. (That’s not the square root of 11,000 km^2.) And are you sure you got the comparison with, e.g., Maryland’s land area right?

Reply to  Joe Born
July 29, 2015 9:30 am

Please feel free to write me at tt@usclcorp.com and/or call me at 916-482-2020 with any details, suggestions, etc. You are correct in that my original article did not mention Maryland; that was added by someone editing and I did not check his facts. Thank you for the comments and obviously any math typos will be corrected. Regards, T. D. Tamarkin

Say What?
July 29, 2015 9:09 am

It seems to me that they’ve approached this whole solar engergy thing from the wrong perspective. Remember LCD solar calculators? I still have mine. It works great. Start small with something like a small solar panel for folks that can recharge their cell phones, iPads, etc…, Then move up to solar barbecues and such. As the tech improves, who wouldn’t want a solar powered beer cooler to take on camping trips? Where are the creative geniuses of the past who did so much more beginning with much less?

usurbrain
July 29, 2015 9:37 am

Smart Grid – BANANAS – double bananas! Everyone knows water runs down hill, most people know that electricity flows from positive to negative (actually the electrons flow from negative to positive) But very few know that you can not have the same voltage everywhere on the same grid. The electricity would not flow. With an independent, small, system with one generator and several hundred homes, a factory or so, and a school and some office building all works well. BUT, when you tie two power generators together, the one with the lowest voltage becomes a load. (that is why you can jump start a car). Now if all of your generators are on one side of town and the factory on the opposite side of town the voltage will be much higher for the homes close to the generator than those close to the power plant. Put a solar panel at the factory and when the wispy clouds float by the solar panel could become a load or more likely not even provide the voltage it generated as it is less than the voltage on the network. Throw some solar panels on random selected homes, and a wind turbine at the other axis of the plant generator axis and you have created even more problems and many of the systems will not be providing the full potential of the power they are producing. Now attach this independent network to two or three other outside generators trying to control the voltage on their network, each with all of the problems above. The Grid can not be Smart until every source of power applied to the grid has a means of controlling the output voltage of the power produced. And then you have to take into consideration how do you get all of that power from the massive solar farms in southern CA,NV, AZ to Kansas City, when it has to go past the power from the Wind Turbine farms in Texas and the Nuclear power plant in KS? Anyone with any intelligence sees that the problem becomes like the traveling salesman shortest rout problem.
[And yes I know the flow is actually controlled by VARs but explaining that here is above the head of most reading.]

Reply to  usurbrain
July 29, 2015 9:45 am

“when you tie two power generators together, the one with the lowest voltage becomes a load.”
….
Wow….so when two coal fired power plants are both running full bore, one of them is a load for the other? That’s so impressive!!!!

usurbrain
Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 10:57 am

YES THAT CAN HAPPEN!! And has caused extensive damage when the Reverse voltage protection circuits fail.

Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 11:03 am

“when the wispy clouds float by the solar panel could become a load”

That statement shows how little you know about reality.
..
First the panels are DC, and not connected directly to the grid, so they never will be a “load”

Second, you should investigate the marvelous technology incorporated into grid-tie inverters.

Paul Westhaver
Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 11:56 am

Solar Power Advocate logic:
“my solar power system works all the time because it is attached to the “grid” and the other solar systems serve as a back up to mine”
Note : But the cost of the grid does not enter into the cost of ownership of a solar system.
“It is unicorn f@rt free. and the other solar systems are not subject to the same unreliability as my solar system”
“You see in my solar power world, reality is just noise”

usurbrain
Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 12:54 pm

” First the panels are DC, and not connected directly to the grid, so they never will be a “load”
Have you worked on any industrial size grid-tie inverters?

“Second, you should investigate the marvelous technology incorporated into grid-tie inverters.”
Have you Measured the leakage current of any the larger the grid-tie inverters?
Do you trust them enough to not isolate them from the “grid” when you are working on them or the solar panel leads?

Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 1:14 pm

usurbrain…..I guess you don’t understand the word “directly”
..
“Do you trust them enough to not isolate them from the “grid” when you are working on them or the solar panel leads?” ….. yup. I especially like the circuit breakers they have……very nice feature to use when working on the panels.

PS usurbrain…..ever hear of a safety item called “gloves?” They are recommended for working on any item that may be tied to equipment that has harmful voltages or currents in them.
..
Paul Westhaver…….No reply to your comment is necessary, since you haven’t made a point.

Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 1:39 pm

PS usurbrain

Ever see a bird perched on the high voltage wire on the utility poles around your home?…..They’re sitting on live wires, and the don’t seem to mind……..just saying.

usurbrain
Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 1:39 pm

@Joel D. Jackson July 29, 2015 at 11:03 am
And do these new devices adjust the VARs to compensate for the lower voltage they are generating that is causing the “appearance” of a “load” on the grid” Where is that signal coming from? Does the dispatcher control every one of them or simply shut it off like he can the HW heater in some areas?

Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 1:49 pm

“Does the dispatcher control every one of them ”

Uh…no, but I think it would be best for you to start here. Now I know you might complain about the link being “wikipedia” but this particular item is not political.

Start here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grid-tie_inverter#Technology

usurbrain
Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 2:14 pm

@Joel D. Jackson July 29, 2015 at 1:49 pm
I have designed and built inverters and have tested Industrial size 3 phase solid state inverters with solid state 1/16th cycle bus transfer devices (a different engineer designed the transfer portion) OR in your terms a “Grid-tie inverter” It appears you are thinking micro and I am thing Macro, and in the end all of these small devices are going to bite the manufacturers.

Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 2:20 pm

usurbrain ” in the end all of these small devices are going to bite the manufacturers.”
..
Funny you should say that. Please tell me how that will happen? My GTI has been functioning flawlessly now for over 10 years, and my net metering/utility billing is doing fine.

PS, I”ve averaged about 4 kwh per day production now for 10 years.

V200Ph0t0
Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 29, 2015 8:40 pm

@ Joel D. Jackson July 29, 2015 at 2:20 pm
If you have had your GTI for more than 10 years then you have true galvanic solation of the ac from the dc. This was done with a transformer then. In 2005 they allowed transformerless (or non-galvanically isolated) inverters by removing the requirement that all solar electric systems be negative grounded and specifying new safety requirements. This allows what we in the electrical world call “sneak Circuits.” There “safety Requirements include, among other things, basically the same thing as the GFCI in your bathroom, kitchen and other “wet” areas. You are welcome to test a GFCI by putting your hand in a full sink of water and then a screwdriver in the smaller slot of the outlet nearest your sink. then touch the blade of the screw driver. If your GTI is less than 10 years old it probably has the transformerless design. and the potential for a serious shock exists. Yes, there are other “Safety Precautions,” but I trust them as far as I could throw the bolted down GTI. The majority are all Solid State devices, and these are subject to degradation by voltage surges caused by lightning strikes that could degrade the device enough to make it lose some of its safety factor but appear to continue to operate properly. Keep in mind, most of these that you see advertised at Sams Club, Costco, Home Depot, on the internet etc are made in China.

The Original Mike M
Reply to  usurbrain
July 29, 2015 11:39 am

Umm.. but power plants generate 3 phase AC not DC. They add to the grid by adjusting the phase angle and by varying the AC voltage with transformers.

Reply to  The Original Mike M
July 29, 2015 11:49 am

Regarding the power grid it is indeed AC. Frequency and phase angle must be held precisely. Phase angle changes as a function of reactive power; i.e. capacitive and inductive components on the distribution side of the grid. See our section on Storage and related engineering challenges. This is covered specifically in “Challenge Number 3.” http://fuelrfuture.com/grid-scale-energy-storage-systems/

usurbrain
Reply to  The Original Mike M
July 29, 2015 2:22 pm

@ The Original
Is this for me? Did you see where I stated [And yes I know the flow is actually controlled by VARs but explaining that here is above the head of most reading.
I was trying to keep the post at a level for the basic Solar Panel lover/installer who, in many cases, has no idea what a VAR is or how power is transferred from one area to another. The ones that think like high school physics “it flows like water in a pipe kind.” This blog is not big enough to provide an informative explanation, at least by me, as I was never an instructor of the concept, just used it, and many many years.

Menicholas
Reply to  usurbrain
July 29, 2015 5:33 pm

“But very few know that you can not have the same voltage everywhere on the same grid. The electricity would not flow.”
What?
We use AC power. The current does not flow like water down a hill.
I am not sure if you are light years ahead of my knowledge of AC power transmission, or light years behind. But what you are saying here make no sense to me.
Are you an electrical engineer?
I am not, but several of them call me when they need help with certain problems they are having, so I know that I know a little.

usurbrain
Reply to  Menicholas
July 29, 2015 6:11 pm

For electricity to flow there must be a potential difference. When you hook up a good battery to a low battery that will not start the car electricity will flow from the good battery to the low battery until they have the same (Equal) potential. Most people do not have the foggiest idea of how voltage is moved on an alternating current system. If you do then realize that I added a note at the bottom. If not then —>
However on a grid you use VARS to get power to move. One of the comments just above has a good description of how power is moved with VARS. “Challenge Number 3.” http://fuelrfuture.com/grid-scale-energy-storage-systems/

Reply to  Menicholas
July 29, 2015 10:30 pm

Did I miss the section on high voltage DC transmission lines that are popping up all over? (At least we stopped holding the high voltage DC ground return systems that were eating up our underground utilities and other metallic structures. )

The Original Mike M
Reply to  Menicholas
July 30, 2015 6:42 am

usurbrain – that link you provided http://tinyurl.com/nabhapy makes no sense to me –
“The presence of the magnetic field is an essential requirement for the functioning of an inductive load such as a motor so the generator must supply two components of power, the “reactive power”, often called VArs (Volt Ampere reactive), to set up the magnetic fields and the “real power” to perform the work.
Specifically the reference to “real power”; so the other is imaginary as in i^2=-1 ?

notfubar
Reply to  usurbrain
July 30, 2015 7:11 am

@#$&! over 200 years ago, Franklin had a 50-50 chance, and he got the polarity labeled wrong.

July 29, 2015 9:48 am

AC Power. Don’t forget precise control of frequency and phase angle which changes dynamically as a function of inductive and capacitive loads…reactive power factor.

Paul Westhaver
Reply to  Tomer D. Tamarkin
July 29, 2015 12:07 pm

See… Tomas Edison was correct all along. We should have invested in a DC grid!
🙂

Reply to  Paul Westhaver
July 29, 2015 12:40 pm

“Paul Westhaver” please see our on-line article covering storage technologies and scroll down to Engineering Challenge Number 3 (and others.) http://fuelrfuture.com/grid-scale-energy-storage-systems/ Now you know what Thomas Edison accepted the Noble prize and Tesla refused it when it was offered to both of them as a co-share…just a joke… http://fuelrfuture.com/grid-scale-energy-storage-systems/

Paul Westhaver
Reply to  Paul Westhaver
July 29, 2015 2:59 pm

neh. I am an ex nuclear engineer and an ex battery designer. I have a full grasp on energy storage’s state of the art. imo TREES are the best solar collector, and they absorb CO2. And the energy they store in the form of wood lasts for centuries.
Plant more trees… burn the wood when needed….repeat until infinity.

Reply to  Paul Westhaver
July 29, 2015 3:03 pm

Paul Westhaver +1000 !!!!!

I agree with you 110%

JoeF
July 29, 2015 9:51 am

Thank you!

Resourceguy
July 29, 2015 10:00 am

Regarding the Google section of the post, there is a suggestion of a quid pro quo between Google and Obama’s team in that Google was actively holding down its tax liability of foreign earnings routed back to the U.S. via Ireland and needed a no-interrupt agreement from Washington to save billions in taxes and accomplish a near-zero tax rate. Tax liability on domestic earnings was further reduced by digging holes with taxpayer money at Ivanpah and Crescent Dunes. Due diligence on the part of DoE and Google was relaxed on both projects because what amounts to double losses to taxpayers from the campaign handshake agreement was more valuable than the project viability. Eventual loan default to taxpayers will be someone else’s problem by then. Acknowledgement of the foreign tax dodge by tech firms (aka donors to Obama) has been mentioned by Obama after the fact even to the extent of urging the EU to help close it. This amounts to a statute of limitations on a secret handshake that fleeced taxpayers twice. This is unofficially called win-the- day politics in DC and many courtrooms.