Pathway 2045 (2)

Guest post by Rud Istvan

Part One provided a high level overview of SoCalEd’s silly version of the Green New Deal. This second guest post flies strafing low and slow over point one of five of SoCalEd’s net neutral carbon 2045 plan—decarbonized grid electricity.

There are two pathways to decarbonized grid electricity: nuclear, or renewables. SoCalEd did not advocate nuclear. In a sense, that is good, because building out Gen 3 nuclear (like the now grossly over budget Voglte 3 and 4 units in Georgia) is an exercise in futility. The rational answer is to use the time that fracked natural gas and CCGT gives to experiment with the several Gen 4 nuclear concepts at proof of concept/experimental scale, pick one (or more) winners, and roll out 4G nuclear engineering winner(s) in future decades. Several realistic 4G options are discussed (with footnotes) in my ‘Going Nuclear’ essay in ebook Blowing Smoke.

Nope. SoCalEd chose renewables, as imaged from Summary (1) Pathway 2045.


All retail electricity sales will be grid wind and solar by 2045! That is a VERY tall order, because there are just a few MAJOR technical engineering problems in addition to the economics, which SoCalEd MUST know about.

Economically, it is well established both in the US and in Europe that wind and solar do NOT thrive absent significant subsidies. A now dated figure from my CE guest post on ‘True Cost of Wind’ suffices:


The explanation for this figure is simple. As explained in the referenced CE guest post, the true cost of CCGT on the Texas ERCOT grid is about $57/MWh; the true cost of wind on that same (windy)Texas grid at ~10% penetration is about $146/MWh. No one in their economic right mind would opt for wind without massive subsidies. But SoCalEd has!

Solar is worse than wind. See CE post Grid Solar Parity for explanations.

The fact that renewables are more expensive is the least part of the awful grid story that SoCalEd does NOT tell their customers. The bigger problems are that renewables are also intermittent, and provide no grid inertia. These are distinctly different problems, both fatal. The first economically, the second technically.

Intermittency requires some form of grid backup power. The issue is that this is a cost the grid operator, not the subsidized renewable provider, bears. The details are complicated, because they depend on renewable penetration versus inherent grid backup generation, typicaly between 10 and 15%. But for sure (as the above references explain), as renewable penetration approaches 10%, additional grid backup capacity MUST be added for reliability. That could be Norse interconnect hydro for Germany, Quebec hydro for Ontario, or out of state generation for California. BUT California is already outstripping its ability to parasite backup electricitiy from other states. Especially after the old Four Corners (coal) is shut because now obsolescent.

Grid interia is an AC frequency stability problem. Instability means blackouts even if the grid is on average adequatelly supplied with backup generation. Enormously heavy rotating generator masses ( each hundreds of tons) in a conventional fossil fuel supplied grid provide (per Newton’s First and Second Laws) grid inertia. Neither wind nor solar supply any grid inertia, by definition. Grid inertia is essential to stabilize grid frequency.

Grid inertia is an old and well known EE problem in conventional grids where demand is remote from supply. It is solved by putting in local costly ‘synchronous condensers’, essentially large undriven generators which just supply/absorb rotating kinetic AC energy when needed. Below (per CtM request) is one of 6 that supply reactive current/frequency control to metropolitan Tokyo, since all its generationg stations are remote. Tokyo has NO renewable electricity supply as SoCalEd envisions in its point 1. And Tokyo is a LOT smaller than SoCal.


SoCalEd would have to install hundreds of these Toshiba 200MVAR (multi hundred million dollar each) synchronous condensers to meet some minimum grid reliability spec given its 2045 goals. Their paper did not explain the known AC grid inertia engineering problem (complex mathematics where i [square root of minus one] computes frequency in the AC complex math plane of a+bi* c+di).

This part two of six illustrates how SoCalEd deceived Californians with Pathway 2045 part 1, and explains why and how with references. Stay tuned for post 3.

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Linda Goodman
November 9, 2019 2:32 pm

blah blah blah More mental masturbation. ‘Decarbonization is BULLS*IT to advance an eco-totalitarian technocratic wet dream. Zero Carbon = DEATH. In other words, IT’S A COOKBOOK!

Charles Higley
Reply to  Linda Goodman
November 9, 2019 6:24 pm

Renewables are by definition not affordable, as the cost of harnessing the energy is ridiculously expensive and thus not renewable.

The cynicism regarding our current nuclear abilities is palpable. The author needs to get current with the advances that are existent at this time. We have pebble bed technology and liquid fluoride thorium reactors (LFTR) that can revolutionize the world. The latter being scalable to needs, we could get rid of the grid, recycling incredible amounts of iron and copper, and have every company or plant be independent. This obviates central control, which the power mongers would hate, but the government should be forced to comply, as control of our energy supply is NOT part of the government’s powers.

A C Osborn
Reply to  Charles Higley
November 10, 2019 2:09 am

“Get rid of the Grid”
Why would you want to?
At what expense?
Who is going to provide the money to build Thousands of your new reactors?
How are they going to build them quickly enough?
Most people would love to see the new designs of nuclear come to fruition but it will take decades, so let’s just keep the grid for now.

Reply to  A C Osborn
November 10, 2019 6:07 am

Check out 20′ shipping container with 250 MWs thermal, 30-tons, four container ships would ad the needed 3 cubic miles of oil energy equivalent to add to the world’s consumption of 5 CMOs yearly.

Reply to  A C Osborn
November 10, 2019 6:10 am

FYI, pressurized water reactors that need 150 atmosphere plumbing, 2000 atmosphere steam bomb containment domes are not going to be built much longer. Low pressure Molten Salt Reactors MSRs are the way forward to save nature from RE.

The Case for the Good Reactor

Nuclear vs RE

Rex Tasha
Reply to  Linda Goodman
November 9, 2019 7:27 pm

“You’ve got quite a mouth on you, young lady.” from Paul Newman in Absence of Malice.

Reply to  Linda Goodman
November 11, 2019 11:48 am

Linda Goodman
November 9, 2019 at 2:32 pm


I liked your probable (and somewhat backdoor) reference to the Twilight Zone episode: “To Serve Man.” I don’t relish being fed to socialism and economic collapse, just to please our hungry, alien masters.


Rex Tasha
November 9, 2019 2:47 pm

The engineers and management at SoutherCal Edison are not stupid. This plan is not intended to work. Its only purpose is to pacify the California government so that profits may continue. It reminds me of the construction spending on high-speed rail, many contractors know the rail will never be finished but work continues. Private companies are not required to “believe in the job” but only to do the work.

Jon Jewett
Reply to  Rex Tasha
November 9, 2019 3:28 pm

Smart….. like the management of PG&E?

Rex Tasha
Reply to  Jon Jewett
November 9, 2019 4:31 pm

They are both not stupid, try running an electric utility in California.

J Mac
Reply to  Rex Tasha
November 9, 2019 6:13 pm

Re: “…Try running an electric utility in California.”
An exercise in (f)utility.
Ayn Rand’s Altas Shrugged approaches true prescience.

Curious George
Reply to  Rex Tasha
November 9, 2019 6:35 pm

“This plan is not intended to work.” That’s what Germans thought of Mein Kampf.

November 9, 2019 2:49 pm

Mods, when the last of Rud Istvan’s take down of SoCalEdison’s Green New Con Job would you republish it as one paper similar to what Judith Curry did with her 7 part assessment of the state of sea level rise research and publication?

Thank you!

Reply to  RayG
November 9, 2019 5:49 pm

I second that suggestion!

November 9, 2019 2:59 pm

Forth Gen nuclear sure looks intriguing and it should definitely be researched, but the various concepts are still not proven, at least as far as practicality is concerned. I ran across this Scott Adams (the Dilbert cartoonist) interview with Michael Shellenberger (most likely, the world’s leading nuclear advocate). Shellenberger has spent a lot of time talking with engineers who work on the various types of reactors. In this interview, he explains that most of the new concepts have already been tried and have proven to be more complicated, more expensive and less durable than current light water designs.

Reply to  Canman (aka Mike Dombroski)
November 9, 2019 5:18 pm

Shellenberger is a nuclear lobbyist; a shill for the nuclear status quo, IMO. The status quo makes money from making and selling fuel rods, which are not needed in gen 4 reactors, as I understand it. So that might explain his bias. Dunno. He strikes me as not being completely upfront about his mission; I’ve seen him hide and misrepresent things about nuclear. There are nuclear advocates far more compelling than he is.

William Astley
Reply to  Canman (aka Mike Dombroski)
November 9, 2019 5:28 pm

Adam Scott is talking to someone who is pushing water cooled reactors. Scott does not understand the nuclear industry scam which needs a name.

Reality is reality.

Nuclear energy (fission) was been held back by stupid commercial interests to keep the US fuel rod industry alive. There is no water cooled reactor industry in the US, the companies have all gone bankrupt.

No one, except China, is constructing new water cooled reactors.

Water cooled reactors are too expensive to build because a water cooled design is naturally dangerous.

The fuel rod core of a water cooled reactor, melts down and blows up the reactor, if the flow rate of it water coolant is too low, if there is loss of pressure (operates at 150 atmosphere) with water at 315C), if there is an earthquake causing piping, valves, reactor vessel , and so no cracks,

The Three Mile Island Boiling Water reactor was 18 months old when due to operator error, the flow in the reactor was too low and half the core of the reactor melted down.

There are 50,000 fuel rods in a typical water cooled reactor, a third of which need to be removed every 2 two years.

It is a fact that there is one optimum fission reactor design which operates at atmospheric pressure has no catastrophic failure modes, produces heat at 600C, and that is six times more fuel efficient that a fuel rod reactor.

The optimum fission reactor design is mass produceable and is sealed so it is possible to have close to zero radioactive leaks from the reactor over its life.

The optimum fission reactor was built and tested 50 years ago. The test has a complete success.

A Canadian company Terrestrial Energy has copied the optimum no water reactor design that was tested in the US 50 years ago. Terrestrial Energy has reached stage 2 approval for their design in the Canadian regulatory system and has reached US DOT funding for a US test.

Their reactor design is walk away safe (their reactor is safe even with a complete loss of primary and backup coolant and all electrical power) and can be mass produced and trucked to site.

The optimum fission reactor design is as cheap as coal or natural gas to construct and is cheaper than coal or natural gas to operate.

Reply to  Canman (aka Mike Dombroski)
November 9, 2019 5:57 pm

Really good interview by Scott Adams. Schellenberger completely avoids talking about MSR technology. Makes me realize how much he’s against gen 4 and pro LWR status quo. His arguments aren’t convincing at all.

William Astley
Reply to  icisil
November 10, 2019 8:06 am

I do not understand why Schellenberger supports water cooled, fuel rod reactors. It does not make sense. That design is obsolete.

This is Kafka problem.
We have the solution to this stupid CAGW fake problem.

There is a revolutionarily safe, mass produceable, fission reactor, that is six times more fuel efficient, that we built and tested 50 years ago.W

Chris Morris
November 9, 2019 3:00 pm

The Tokyo synchronous condensers are for voltage control (the problem with remote generation and varying load on transmission lines), not to provide inertia. An all AC system with synchronous generators driven by thermal units invariably does not need any inertia. They don’t install them for frequency control, except in a secondary sort of way to reduce the risk of pole slip in remote generators. The ones being built for inertia in Denmark and Germany are often driving a flywheel because the inertia of a generator isn’t anywhere near that of a turbine generator

Joel O'Bryan
November 9, 2019 3:17 pm

Brought to you by the same folks who thought an electric powered, high speed rail line between Fresno and Bakersfield was a good idea.

So the electricity for that train line is supposed to come from wind and solar. It’s mostly in PG&E territory. Ha!

November 9, 2019 3:22 pm

I guess these stories “wind and solar more scarily expensive” will continue, here. Great you use outdated figures. Why let facts get in the way of some outrage?. The reality is that unsubsidised contracts for delivery of wind and solar power are being signed for around 2-7 per kwh (e.g. India. Australia) worldwide. Much cheaper than any new build of gas/coal or, the laughably expensive nuclear

As for the Non existent 4th gen nuclear, that promises to be even more expensive than present nuclear- Clearly WUWT readers do like subsidies, as nuke has received more than any other form of energy, except maybe oil. (many countries subsidize heating, petrol, fossil fuel generated electricity, it costs many billions a year)

John Mason
Reply to  Tony
November 9, 2019 4:07 pm

Yes Tony

Your comment explains perfectly the correlation graph of the amount of renewables to the consumer cost of electricity

Reply to  Tony
November 9, 2019 4:57 pm

That 2-7 cents/kWh is base price and doesn’t include all of the other costs incurred with renewables. The TVA recently turned down a 2 cents/kWh offer from the Clean Line project because they already have all of the capacity they need, and would have to add spinning reserve to take on the extra energy. Most of the energy from Texas and Oklahoma wind turbines is generated at night when TVA doesn’t need it. And they’d have to install and operate a DC-to-AC conversion facility in Memphis. So even though the initial price is cheap, added costs make it more expensive in the end. That’s why electric rates skyrocket everywhere renewables achieve large penetration.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Tony
November 9, 2019 6:11 pm

I can tell you I am not paying 2-7 (Cents?) p/kWh, I am paying nearly AU$0.32c p/kWh plus a daily connection charge of AU$0.91c (All resolved to 1000th of 1 cent). That was consumption from 16th July to 16th October. I don’t know where you get your figures from but they are wrong at this paying customers end.

Reply to  Patrick MJD
November 9, 2019 7:18 pm

He’s an AWEA shill.

Reply to  Tony
November 9, 2019 10:24 pm

If you look at solar and wind in isolation they are cheaper than natural gas. However you also need to add the costs of 100% backup using natural gas. Your paying for a duplicate power generation system. Two power systems mean twice the cost.

Now if your going to 100% carbon free power, the additional batteries will cost more than twice as much as Natural Gas alone, plus there will be periods of time when the batteries will run out and power will have to be rationed.

In the Real World
Reply to  Tony
November 10, 2019 4:45 am

In the UK there is no subsidy on fossil fuels , although the green loonies still tell lies & claim there is .
But the subsidy on wind & solar energy costs the average consumer over £400 per year extra on their energy bills .
The cost of renewable energy is very high , with the newest wind farm , [ supposed to be the biggest in the world when it came on line this year ] ,
now at £158.75 per MWh , which is nearly 4 times the wholesale unit cost for grid power .
And the lowest unit cost for offshore energy is well over 3 times the grid cost .
That is also well above the unit cost for Nuclear energy .

So the idea that wind or solar is cheap is just more lies from from the greens .

November 9, 2019 3:37 pm

So far, after reading this, I think this is the best I’ve ever understood the concept of grid inertia. This looks like a problem that a completely DC system wouldn’t have. I suppose this would mean DC appliances or lots of those things that you plug into your car’s cigarette lighter. Could Edison ultimately win out over Tesla?

Chris Morris
Reply to  Canman (aka Mike Dombroski)
November 9, 2019 4:21 pm

The big problem with DC is you need a lot heavier cross-section lines to carry the same amount of energy as DC. OK for short distances but no good for distribution networks. DC does have the lack of inertia problem analogy if you suddenly get a heavy load switched on – massive voltage drop. You can change voltages on AC easily and efficiently. Not so for DC. There is also the big advantage 3 phase AC power gives in providing very cheap reliable induction motors.
The Edison / Westinghouse-Tesla battle was won by the right side long ago.

Reply to  Chris Morris
November 9, 2019 5:05 pm

Chis Morris: And what about converting DC high voltage grid reticulation to DC low voltage street connections? Edison could only do that with large, expensive rotary converters, whereas AC only needs pole mounted transformers.
And another thing – it is my understanding that recovery from a grid failure in a network with renewables needs around double the amount of synchronous (i.e. traditional rotating generator) power to be up and running, otherwise the renewables cannot connect. If large scale traditional generation is essential for grid recovery, how are we ever going to design and build a 100% renewable grid? But if California wants to try, let them go ahead while the rest of the world watches and learns…

Chris Morris
Reply to  BoyfromTottenham
November 9, 2019 6:22 pm

Your first paragraph I agree with – it is in the sentences “You can change voltages on AC easily and efficiently. Not so for DC. ” To explain it more takes a lot more words and accusations of mansplaining.
For most renewables, they are not synchronous – solar is DC, wind is AC. They need a stable input signal on the grid side to give the voltage and frequency (though the two are related) They then use electronics to manufacture a synthetic AC wave form matching the input which still needs a lot of smoothing and filtering (additional costs they don’t pay for).
Recovery from a grid failure is a black start. That is a different matter again. Most thermal and hydro plant can’t black start. Competent grid operators have a few units at strategic sites that can black start and you build up from there, trying to keep load and generation in balance. That is what takes the time.
And yes if California goes down, it will be an unholy mess for which the recriminations will go on about for decades

Reply to  Chris Morris
November 10, 2019 6:52 am

On the 2 to 1 requirement from BoyfromTottenham, I’d hazzard this is referring to the short circuit strength required for reliable inverter operation. The issue is non-utility controlled generation is not allowed to control system frequency and voltage (…yet), so the control systems in these inverters is set up to try to push the system around. If the inverter is disconnected from the utility, it will cause the system frequency to either go crazy high or into the dirt; if either condition occurs the inverter shuts down. The equivalent of black start (synchonous) units could be emulated in wind or solar, but I’d be nervous about a blackout at night or when the wind isn’t blowing.

Rex Tasha
Reply to  Canman (aka Mike Dombroski)
November 9, 2019 4:29 pm

DC systems have inertia problems just try to run a circuit breaker on a high power DC line, DC sucks.

Chris Morris
Reply to  Rex Tasha
November 9, 2019 8:21 pm

That isn’t an inertia problem, but yes CBs for DC are a lot more complex.

D. Anderson
November 9, 2019 4:10 pm

My father spent a lot of WWII in radio school. He told me in those days “i” was called “Operator J”

Reply to  D. Anderson
November 9, 2019 4:44 pm

In mathematics we use i (for imaginary) but in electronics they use j (because “i” already means current, and the next letter after i is j). link

I would say that ‘j’ has fallen out of use. I don’t think any recent electronics textbooks use it. On the other hand, students should be warned that it exists because they may stumble across it.

Gary Mount
Reply to  commieBob
November 9, 2019 6:56 pm

I just so happen to have my electrical engineering book I am studying in front of me while I am reading this article at Starbucks. It was published in 1976 and indeed it uses the j operator terminology.

“Phases expressed in rectangular form use complex numbers to identify horizontal and vertical components. Complex quantities are not complicated. They are called “complex” because they have so-called real and imaginary parts”

Chris Morris
Reply to  Gary Mount
November 10, 2019 1:30 pm

To confuse things even more, power station engineers refer to the right angle component as R or r, for Reactance. So generators and transformers are rated in MVA which is the vector sum of MW and MVAr.
Those synchronous condensers shown in the head post’s photo and to bring the MVAR to near zero so the phase angle is near zero. This allows power lines to be more heavily loaded and to keep the voltage close to design.
And for the benefit of jake below, that is why there is no simple explanation

D. Anderson
Reply to  commieBob
November 9, 2019 7:01 pm

Steinmetz realized imaginary numbers could be used to make some AC calculations easier. A genius at least as important as Tesla.

Reply to  commieBob
November 9, 2019 7:17 pm

I learned the j operator system in the 80s and I haven’t cracked a “recent” text book in while. But all the engineers I work with still use j.

Reply to  Rotor
November 12, 2019 5:02 pm

I found that the engineers I work with use j and the physicists use i. I try to use whatever my intended audience is going to expect.

Reply to  commieBob
November 10, 2019 12:45 am

Actually, I’m beginning to doubt myself. My own use of i or j probably has more to do with which courses I taught recently than with the field as a whole.

Certainly, if you’re calculating instantaneous current (i) you have to use j for the imaginary number.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  commieBob
November 10, 2019 9:18 am

After reading your comment I went off and consulted many of my textbooks, recent and aged. It seems i is used by mathematicians and physicists almost exclusively; while j is used by engineers often. My 2016 edition of a system dynamics book I use (mechanical engineering) employs j. I use j in most classes I teach, which run the gamut from physics/math to engineering; but the real issue is simply that we can run out of symbols. You can confuse i, or j with Cartesian unit vectors, confuse i for current, or I for the matrix identity operator or moment of inertia or second moment of area, and so on ad nauseum. This is especially true when two areas of technology with well established symbology interact — mechanical engineering now contains a great deal of electronics and computer science. Make the student aware of all this.

Reply to  Kevin kilty
November 10, 2019 4:05 pm

You can confuse i, or j with Cartesian unit vectors . . . .

Well, no, there’s really no confusion. The mathematician Hamilton, who developed the vector cross product, used quaternions. A quaternion has one real part and three imaginary parts: w + xi + yj + zk, where w, x, y , and z are real numbers and i, j, and k are imaginary.

Hamilton spent a considerable amount of time trying to make quaternion multiplication obey the commutative property. He finally decided that it doesn’t. (The vector cross product doesn’t obey the commutative property.) Several mathematicians including Heaviside, who gave us Maxwell’s equations in their present form, simplified vector analysis from its quaternion roots. We still use i, j, and k for the unit vectors in the x, y, and z directions. There is no confusion in using j instead of i for the square root of -1. Electrical engineering uses j for the square root of -1. You could also use k as there is a historical precedent–thanks to Hamilton.


Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  D. Anderson
November 10, 2019 2:38 am

Not sure I understand this discussion, my bad.
You have the “real” current i and you have “blind” or “imaginary” current j.
In the case of i, the current is in phase with the voltage (power = 0).
In the case of j, the current is 90° out of phase with the voltage (power = voltage*current).

The induction motor or generator use current close to 90° shifted from the voltage, to magnetize the rotor. This is a theoretical reason why asynchronous windmill generators can only 80% of of the effect, the remaining 20% has to be delivered by synchronous generators, to supply the j current component.

Wind turbines delivering DC is a completely different ballgame and way more complex.

Voltage is, as far as I have learned, regulated on main transformers in small steps up and down. So I assume the author is correct that the flywheel thingy is solely used for frequency stabilization.

Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
November 10, 2019 2:57 am

So sorry I made an inconvenient swap :-(:
In the case of i, the current is in phase with the voltage (power = 0).
In the case of j, the current is 90° out of phase with the voltage (power = voltage*current).
Should have been:
In the case of i, the current is in phase with the voltage (power = voltage*current).
In the case of j, the current is 90° out of phase with the voltage (power = 0).

November 9, 2019 4:34 pm

a+bi* c+di would be better written as (a + bi) * (c + di) or
(a + bi)(c + di)

Reply to  commieBob
November 9, 2019 7:52 pm

Complex numbers are all fun and games until someone loses an i.

Reply to  Stevek
November 9, 2019 11:02 pm

Then they’re a sport …

November 9, 2019 5:32 pm

The blinders about intermittency, lack of grid storage, and base load are telling but the politicians aren’t listening.

Clyde Spencer
November 9, 2019 6:51 pm

“Economically, it is well established both in the US and in Europe that wind and solar do NOT thrive absent significant subsidies.”

If those subsidies were to show up directly on the monthly electric bill as a tax, it would be more obvious to the consumer just what they were paying for electricity. But, that won’t happen because it would be obvious to even the math-challenged envirocrats that the so-called renewables are not economic.

Jake J
November 9, 2019 7:59 pm

That post is full of undefined acronyms and terms, and unexplained jargon. Oh well. I guess you don’t want to talk to anyone who isn’t a pinhead.

Chris Morris
Reply to  Jake J
November 9, 2019 8:26 pm

No – the problem is Jake that the practical side of electrical operation is very complex. An that is even at just a superficial level. If one wanted to write something for the public to read, then either gross simplification or really detailed explanations are necessary. If the former, then the renewable proponents seize upon it as proof it can be done. If the latter, then engineers get called pinheads. No win

Chris Morris
Reply to  Chris Morris
November 11, 2019 10:07 am

As usual, Dilbert (the patron saint of engineers) sums up the dichotomy engineers face succinctly.

Ralph Gardner
November 9, 2019 9:30 pm

Two new discoveries could fairly quickly lead to solar electricity at around 1/3rd the current cost of electricity.

The average efficiency of a commercial solar panel is between 11 and 22 percent. One new device could boost that to 80 percent. That would make solar about one-third the cost of fossil fuels and the markets will switch to solar by themselves.

A new Device That Channels Heat Into Light Could Boost Solar Cell Efficiency to 80%

There is another lead that may produce 95% efficiency from solar.
Secrets of fluorescent microalgae could lead to super-efficient solar cells

Reply to  Ralph Gardner
November 9, 2019 10:06 pm

Unlikely. The Shockley-Queisser limit says that only about 33% of energy efficiency is possible. We are close to that now.

And in this house, we obey the laws of physics….

A C Osborn
Reply to  Ralph Gardner
November 10, 2019 2:31 am

“Could” is a wonderful word.
However Solar is still only for half of a day, so what do you use when the sun has gone down at 4pm on a winter day?
If you say backup, then why have the solar, why not just have the backup.
Every layer is extra an cost.

Reply to  A C Osborn
November 10, 2019 4:56 pm

No need for “backup” if you go solar-thermal……it’s real easy to store heat as opposed to using batteries.

Reply to  A C Osborn
November 11, 2019 4:55 am

Its easier yes, but not easy. The only form of heat storage that is actually used on a large scale is hot water for area heating. Molten salt storage is still largely experimental. Other methods are hardly even that.

Reply to  Ralph Gardner
November 10, 2019 5:55 am

Ralph: It is always useful to be looking in the science news for relevant technology , but one has to be careful of what is being promised.
Part of the abstract of the first link (at ACS photonics) says :
-“We demonstrate polarized, spectrally selective, thermal emission from aligned carbon nanotube films and indefinite cavities of volume as small as ∼λ3/700 operating at 700 °C. These experiments suggest that aligned carbon nanotubes enhance PDOS (photonic density of states) and hence also thermal photon density by over 2 orders of magnitude, making them a promising refractory nanophotonics platform. ”
The thermal emission seemed to be in the mid IR, too long a wavelength with semiconductors with bandgap(Eg) of 1ev. (convert to wavelength, lambda, in microns by : lambda = 1.24/Eg) . and the authors quoted by ScienceAlert say :
“The theoretical prediction is that we can get 80 percent efficiency.” Note : they have not demonstrated that bit yet.
Your second link appears to be about using microorganisms as fluoresent collectors . This was a “hot” topic about 40 years ago , using synthetic fluorsecents and i think that there was a conference on the subject in Greece in the late ’70s. Not sure if it is incorporated in any practical solar farms though, well not in England anyway .

November 10, 2019 2:57 am
Beta Blocker
Reply to  meiggs
November 10, 2019 9:58 am

NuScale out of Portland, Oregon is far ahead of the pack in making 4th Generation SMR technology a reality.

Their 60 Mw design uses half height fuel rods and passive water cooling. Doing it this way makes use of the well established nuclear fuel cycle that already exists in the United States, thus reducing the economic and technical risks of the new technology.

NuScale has been working closely with the NRC since 2016 to gain regulatory approval for their design. The NRC licensing process is proceeding on schedule and is expected to be complete in 2020.

The first customer for the NuScale SMR design is expected to be Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS). Energy Northwest will be the plant operator. Fluor will be the EPC project manager.

The first NuScale SMR plant site is expected to be located on the US-DOE INL site in eastern Idaho with the first SMR unit going critical in late 2026 or early 2027. The plant will eventually include twelve SMR units for a total of 720 Mw.

The NuScale SMR’s capital cost is targeted at $4,200 per Kw. This compares with Vogtle 3 & 4’s current estimated capital cost of $14,000 per Kw for two AP1000 size reactors.

It is no exaggeration to say that the future of new build nuclear construction in the United States now depends on NuScale and its project team being successful in bringing in the first SMR facility on time and on cost.

old white guy
November 10, 2019 5:00 am

Decarbonizing electricity, how about the entire earth. My God these people are stupid.

ferd berple
November 10, 2019 6:19 am

A new Device That Channels Heat Into Light
Why bother with the solar panels. Replace them with these nanotubes and beam the IR into space as visible light, thus bypassing pesky co2.

Kevin kilty
November 10, 2019 9:24 am

After reading your comment I went off and consulted many of my textbooks, recent and aged. It seems i is used by mathematicians and physicists almost exclusively; while j is used by engineers often. My 2016 edition of a system dynamics book I use (mechanical engineering) employs j. I use j in most classes I teach, which run the gamut from physics/math to engineering; but the real issue is simply that we can run out of symbols. You can confuse i, or j with Cartesian unit vectors, confuse i for current, or I for the matrix identity operator or moment of inertia or second moment of area, and so on ad nauseum. This is especially true when two areas of technology with well established symbology interact — mechanical engineering now contains a great deal of electronics and computer science. Make the student aware of all this.

Phil Salmon
November 10, 2019 9:32 am

There is no place for nuclear ☢️ of any kind in a progressive society and economy.
Nuclear technology is especially oppressive and discriminatory and emotionally distressing to womyn, LGBTI and people of colour. So all nuclear technology must be scrapped permanently. Three things need to be done:
1. Scrap all nuclear weapons and associated technology and knowledge
2. Permanently decommission all nuclear power plants and shut down the nuclear industry. People with knowledge of nuclear science and technology should have their citizenship revoked and deported from the USA.
3. Learn Russian and/or Chinese.


Phil Salmon
November 10, 2019 10:43 am
Roger Knights
November 10, 2019 3:32 pm

TYPOS in the article: typicaly electricitiy interia adequatelly generationg

(Great otherwise)

November 10, 2019 4:21 pm

‘There are two pathways to decarbonized grid electricity: nuclear, or renewables.’

False dichotomy. Another possibility, for example, is to kill 95% of the customers.

Reply to  Gamecock
November 11, 2019 5:11 am

That depends. If you have hydropower you only have to kill customers in proportion to the non-hydropower part of your supply.

A few cold winters will probably fix this problem one way or another.

November 10, 2019 5:35 pm

It takes more energy to produce and install a solar panel than the energy the panel will create in it’s 20 to 30 years lifetime. It takes more energy to remove and dispose of the solar panels then it takes to create them. (Re-processing- not dumping) A price that is not reflected or planned for in the “renewable energy” budget. The temporary product was never meant to be a cost reasonable long term power delivery system. Perfect only for low power remote locations/applications.

There is a “free energy” solution…
Geothermal is used in Hawaii, Iceland, etc. and near where I live in Utah. A bore hole, with technology similar to what they used to tunnel under the English Channel, could be used to install geothermal generators, similar to a coal fire plant, using the earths heat at the right depth with infrastructure and back up systems that could last thousands of years and be installed nearly anywhere on the planet. Facilities can be expanded endlessly depending on future power demands. Wherever there is continental drift, there is excessive heat. Current technology makes Earth’s unlimited heat accessible for well-planned facilities/communities farming at optimal temperature levels below ground/ocean in a closed system. Power delivery systems to the surface cannot be interrupted by EMP. (“natural” electro magnetic pulse or “artificial”) Or be affected by weather or politics.
Deep mining can create their own power, process the raw materials under ground, leaving the Power infrastructure in caverns for insecticide/pesticide free farming for hundreds of generations. (Reminiscent of the city’s in the book “caves of steel”, by Isaac Asimov)
Self sustainable techniques learned in a closed system can be applied to Lunar, Mercury and perhaps mars colonies.
This is our future and “free energy collectors” can be accomplished now for less than the cost of a nuclear powered facility and will last “toxic free” for thousands of years.

Reply to  Max
November 11, 2019 5:07 am

Geothermal is better than other forms of “decarbonized” power, but quite limited in scope.

In contrast to your claims it is only practical in quite limited areas with a high heat flow. Continental drift on the other hand applies to 100% of the Earth’s surface. And it is far from “sustainable” in the long run – as soon as you take out more heat than the local heat flow you start cooling your source rock. This is very noticeable in e. g. New Zealand where geothermal energy extraction has practically shut down geothermal activity in certain areas.

And of course it is by definition not “a closed system”, and of course it also has nothing whatsoever to do with EMP vulnerability.

November 11, 2019 10:49 am

Toshiba 200MVAR (multi hundred million dollar each) synchronous condensers

I’m wondering if that multi hundred million dollar price might be over-embellished? The market for synchronous condensers is projected to be $572 million:

November 11, 2019 3:03 pm

Promises, promises.
If, either nuclear or solar were capable of cheaply replacing fossil fuels right now or in the past 10 years or the next 2 years, they would already have done so.

The hype from nuclear proponents,
The hype from solar proponents, is staggering.

Thanks Rudd.
It is as if the more you need to believe in fairies and magic, the more they are capable of doing, in your mind.

Johann Wundersamer
November 22, 2019 12:53 am
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