The Energy Thread

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Definitely look at that ST Global conference it is aimed at grad students and postdocs and the standard was good in general and it was pretty relaxed. I will be targeting something for next year. Its in DC as well so nothing to loose really.

Prince of Persia (Ed), Thursday, 4 June 2009 19:58 (5 years ago) Permalink

I guess I'm the lone private sector energy guy here then... Ed you were doing superfund cleanups or something before, right (or am I thinking of someone else?)

Kool G Lapp (Shakey Mo Collier), Thursday, 4 June 2009 19:59 (5 years ago) Permalink

That isn't me. Technically I am private sector right now as I am interning in a start-up.

Prince of Persia (Ed), Thursday, 4 June 2009 20:01 (5 years ago) Permalink

xpost

I will, I have the page bookmarked now actually.

ya'll are the ones who don't know things (Z S), Thursday, 4 June 2009 20:01 (5 years ago) Permalink

Interesting short article on the availability of rare earth materials:

Renewing Our Dependence

ya'll are the ones who don't know things (Z S), Saturday, 6 June 2009 16:35 (5 years ago) Permalink

Shakey, I wonder if it's me you were thinking of - I was working on the Hanford cleanup for 3 years, then did 1+ year converting landfill gas to LNG to run the OCTA buses, and am now working for giant global company doing all sorts of smartgrid transmission and distribution R&D stuff. So yeah, private sector energy is my current venue. Also still supporting the LNG plant folks, and they are working on an interesting idea for a lower-energy compressor that uses flux fields from permanent magnets for parts of the compression stages.

Jaq, Saturday, 6 June 2009 16:59 (5 years ago) Permalink

Ah! An energy thread! (rubs hands gleefully... poises hands over keyboard... brow contracts) Uh, what was the question?

Aimless, Saturday, 6 June 2009 17:57 (5 years ago) Permalink

No question, really. Just rollin'.

ya'll are the ones who don't know things (Z S), Saturday, 6 June 2009 18:03 (5 years ago) Permalink

I am thinking about starting a thread exclusively dedicated to so-depressing-it's-almost-funny statements found in comment sections on climate change and energy blogs and articles.

e.g.

John Says:
June 5th, 2009 at 1:14 pm

It seems the so called deniers and so called warmist don’t know what they are talking about.

It is obvious that the earth cools and warms…..it has been HOT in the past and COLD in the past……thus will happen in the future….COLD and HOT!

or HOT then COLD! IT IS THAT DAM EASY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Someday I could compile 300-500 of these comments in a row into a cheap self-published zine and sell it on the street packaged with a cheap can of beer for $2.99.

ya'll are the ones who don't know things (Z S), Sunday, 7 June 2009 15:57 (5 years ago) Permalink

I get depressed by not just the lack of understanding but the total lack of curiosity about some of the most basic (and accessible) things. And non-existent critical thinking skills. I'd buy that zine (well, depending on what brand of beer maybe).

Jaq, Sunday, 7 June 2009 17:18 (5 years ago) Permalink

I'm actually working on this zine now. I have a crazy excel spreadsheet with dozens of comments, divided up by date, website, topic (Conspiracy, Predictions, Greenies, Treason, LOL, Need More Warming, Socialism, etc) and username, and so on.

ya'll are the ones who don't know things (Z S), Sunday, 7 June 2009 22:01 (5 years ago) Permalink

I generally get most irritated by the eating lentils in the dark brigade. Although wilful stupidity on both sides is not helpful.

Prince of Persia (Ed), Sunday, 7 June 2009 22:04 (5 years ago) Permalink

Linda B.:

"The people in charge in DC don't care about actual scientific facts. They just want to control us and raise taxes for their pet projects. GE wants to sell us windmills and Algore wants to profit from selling tracking software. He even lied to Congress under oath about that. No one is told that greenhouse gas is an unproven theory, and some think that cars spew co2. What are they teaching in schools these days."

ya'll are the ones who don't know things (Z S), Sunday, 7 June 2009 22:05 (5 years ago) Permalink

That is some next level idiocy right there.

Prince of Persia (Ed), Sunday, 7 June 2009 22:06 (5 years ago) Permalink

OK so apparently I should have been in Long Beach today. I have finally discovered why I can't speak with any of the equipment manufacturers aI want as they are all at some car battery/supercap/large LiIon conference out there. We'd dismissed it as not worth going based on the presentations and never look at the exhibitors. (Damn your country for being so big and pittsburgh only having 1 direct a day to LA)

Prince of Persia (Ed), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 14:33 (5 years ago) Permalink

man what ARE they teaching in schools these days

Kitchen Paper Towel (Shakey Mo Collier), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 15:18 (5 years ago) Permalink

I'm still moving forward with that zine idea: I have an Excel spreadsheet with 45 (and counting) hilarious, sad, stupefying, ridiculous comments on climate change that I could find, along with the poster, the date of the comment, the website, and the general topic (including conspiracy, global warming will be good for the world, left vs. right, it's snowing somewhere, ???, and LOL).

ya'll are the ones who don't know things (Z S), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 15:20 (5 years ago) Permalink

Someday I could compile 300-500 of these comments in a row into a cheap self-published zine and sell it on the street packaged with a cheap can of beer for $2.99.

― ya'll are the ones who don't know things (Z S), Sunday, June 7, 2009 10:57 AM (3 days ago) Bookmark

send me one, plz

i like to fart and i am crazy (gbx), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 15:21 (5 years ago) Permalink

like for real i would happily distribute these all over the place

i like to fart and i am crazy (gbx), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 15:22 (5 years ago) Permalink

I'm thinking of cramming a bunch of pseudonyms for enviros and climate change on the cover, too: Green Weenies, Global Warmingism, Gang Green Agenda, Warmists, Al Bore, Owlgore, Algore, Envirofascists, etc

ya'll are the ones who don't know things (Z S), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 15:22 (5 years ago) Permalink

Owlgore

wait isn't this a noise band

Kitchen Paper Towel (Shakey Mo Collier), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 15:24 (5 years ago) Permalink

ha, thanks for the early support! I've never distributed a zine before, although I have made one just for me and my friends (the "1610 Anthony Beat", which provided the daily news for where I was living, complete with exhaustive coverage of what I thought the cats were thinking about). I'm going to try to make this one decent, lightly footnote the comments so that I can provide some actual information on the last page, and throw in some appropriate artwork.

ya'll are the ones who don't know things (Z S), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 15:25 (5 years ago) Permalink

I like this pair:

I think that this type of indoctrination is pathetic. I have given my kids the information they need to shoot down most of the drivel that they are exposed to. One good letter to the teacher a couple of years ago and Bill Nye (Global Warming Moron Guy) was banished from the school. The kids have current events homework once a week and they always take debunking material in for that. We figure that way we are counter-acting the programing for the other kids as well. The down side is that some of the kids (including mine) have started to poke fun at teachers who insist on spouting the "end of the world" stuff. They get in trouble at school for it, but I buy em an ice cream on the way home from school.

and

"Growing up, my parents did a great job of letting me be a kid. I didn't know what was happening in Vietnam, the recession in the 70s, Watergate or the gas rationing. We were kids and our biggest decision was where to play today.

Today, adults think children need to know this crap. They change the school curriculum to address social problems in America, instead of teaching math, English, reading, history, etc. I would imagine these areas had to be cut, in terms of time spent on learning this, to include such wasteful topics as global warming, sex education, etc.

ya'll are the ones who don't know things (Z S), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 15:31 (5 years ago) Permalink

"warmist"?

cant go with u too many alfbrees (Abbott), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 15:37 (5 years ago) Permalink

I'm thinking of cramming a bunch of pseudonyms for enviros and climate change on the cover, too: Green Weenies, Global Warmingism, Gang Green Agenda, Warmists, Al Bore, Owlgore, Algore, Envirofascists, etc

― ya'll are the ones who don't know things (Z S), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 10:22 (11 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

I spend a lot of time calling some very good friends who don't believe in technological solutions to climate change or that an attempt to maintain living standards in the west whilst mitigating climate change 'lentil eaters' after an outburst accusing them of wanting us all to eat lentils in the dark, but this is friendly jibe. (If i am feeling uncharitable I will tell my activist friends to go back to school and get an engineering degree if they want to change the world, I imagine wanting to change the world with an English Literature BA must be pretty frustrating, sometimes I a nasty cynical person.).

Prince of Persia (Ed), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 15:38 (5 years ago) Permalink

You have to admit it IS kind of disconcerting that Bill Nye was apparently lurking around at the school like some creep all the time.

cant go with u too many alfbrees (Abbott), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 15:40 (5 years ago) Permalink

My only worry is with copyright issues. Is there a copyright on comments published on a blog? I mean, I know that skirting around copyright has been central to zine culture from the very beginning, but I'd rather not have to deal with cease and desist letters either.

On the other hand, I do not expect (or even want) to make ANY money with this, only to recoup part of the printing/shipping costs.

ya'll are the ones who don't know things (Z S), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 15:46 (5 years ago) Permalink

OMG you guys we might be running out of wind!

Chubby Checker Psycho (Pancakes Hackman), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 15:48 (5 years ago) Permalink

I am a sort of energy guy as well - I work for a renewable energy company in a trading / marketing capacity, managing scheduling and contracts in the deregulated North-Eastern power markets. I have a business administration background and I'm working on an economics degree so I am extremely unlikely to solve any of the world's problems.

Matt D, Wednesday, 10 June 2009 15:57 (5 years ago) Permalink

Don't knock yourself, you are the guys who are going to make my stuff a success.

Prince of Persia (Ed), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 15:59 (5 years ago) Permalink

yeah I don't have an engineering degree either - I kinda fell into this work after endless temp gigs at the local utility (PG&E)

Kitchen Paper Towel (Shakey Mo Collier), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 16:22 (5 years ago) Permalink

(altho that was a long time ago - I've been working for my current company for almost 10 years now)

Kitchen Paper Towel (Shakey Mo Collier), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 16:22 (5 years ago) Permalink

I imagine wanting to change the world with an English Literature BA must be pretty frustrating

dude for real

i like to fart and i am crazy (gbx), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 16:28 (5 years ago) Permalink

I'm not ragging on those without technical qualifications and realise the importance of advocacy, we wouldn't be this far along the road without it, I just favour a more directly practical approach.

Prince of Persia (Ed), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 16:40 (5 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, good point: literature has never changed people's lives.

Mr. Que, Wednesday, 10 June 2009 16:41 (5 years ago) Permalink

^^^^butthurt

i like to fart and i am crazy (gbx), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 16:42 (5 years ago) Permalink

:D

i like to fart and i am crazy (gbx), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 16:42 (5 years ago) Permalink

;)

Mr. Que, Wednesday, 10 June 2009 16:42 (5 years ago) Permalink

(i totally get yr point, by the way Ed, I just had to stick up for my peoples.)

Mr. Que, Wednesday, 10 June 2009 16:44 (5 years ago) Permalink

Like I say the importance of everything from Thoreau through Rachel Carson right up to the day after tomorrow but I was thinking of a particular unemployed semi-professional activist I know.

Prince of Persia (Ed), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 16:46 (5 years ago) Permalink

Trust me when I say I don't think he is going to bust out the next Silent Spring.

Prince of Persia (Ed), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 16:47 (5 years ago) Permalink

LOL. I know who you are ragging on but until you learn to spell, engineer boy, don't even go there! World will be unsaved due to some typo-related glitch in yr masterplan.

502 Bad Gateway (suzy), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 17:13 (5 years ago) Permalink

discovering that mil was means 1/1000th of an inch in american and not a handy abbreviation for millimetres yesterday was a more likely cause of failure. (I am working with someone who was involved with the "whoops those were metric dimensions mars mission", we are hopefully quite alive to this). ;-P

Prince of Persia (Ed), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 17:18 (5 years ago) Permalink

Besides they are getting me a harvard MBA to take care of things like spelling for me.

Prince of Persia (Ed), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 17:19 (5 years ago) Permalink

Harvard MBA probably cannot spell either, claims to have minion for such things as well. I am beginning to think bad spelling in whatever language will be the downfall of everyone as it highlights lack of observational skills (you're surrounded by correct examples to look at and still FAIL).

Your clue about 'mil' is that it ain't 'mm'. DUHHHHHH.

502 Bad Gateway (suzy), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 17:35 (5 years ago) Permalink

This was a verbal, rather than written things. NB I don't write professionally in ILX style.

Prince of Persia (Ed), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 17:37 (5 years ago) Permalink

I am working with someone who was involved with the "whoops those were metric dimensions mars mission"

lolz I remember that - that was some funny (and very expensive) shit

Kitchen Paper Towel (Shakey Mo Collier), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 17:39 (5 years ago) Permalink

OK then you have an out, but whenever I've seen yr pro writing you have to be led gently through 'corrections' before you can get that sucker out there. BTW the best and worst thing that could have ever happened to crown me Spelling Bitch was acing MENSA spelling test given by bored English teacher when I was 15/16ish, which is prob not unique on ILX.

Be sure and drop N a line, letting her know how you're getting on. She'll be tickled about factory news.

502 Bad Gateway (suzy), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 17:48 (5 years ago) Permalink

Anyway, groping back towards topic:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/jun/10/oil-price-increase

Prince of Persia (Ed), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 17:58 (5 years ago) Permalink

"Nobody has solved the issue of the '2012 supply gap' which may emerge later than thought but which will be deeper. It means prices may even jump over the $250 hurdle we have forecast a year ago," said Miller.

Prince of Persia (Ed), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 18:03 (5 years ago) Permalink

wow that is amazingly stupid. i'm wondering if this is a case of hating the band because of its fans. and by "band" i mean the planet we need to exist.

Spectrum, Tuesday, 30 April 2013 19:13 (1 year ago) Permalink

conservative pours cyanide into drinking water. "ha! take that you sissy planet loving liberals." drinks it, dies. ghost of conservative doomed to roam a dead planet for eternity: it was worth it!

Spectrum, Tuesday, 30 April 2013 19:15 (1 year ago) Permalink

or could be that environmentalism has become a partisan political stance that makes some people squeamish. wanting human civilization to continue as radical, controversial politics. still fucking stupid and unfortunate.

Spectrum, Tuesday, 30 April 2013 19:17 (1 year ago) Permalink

well, then there's this, from the last few paragraphs of the article:

That doesn’t necessarily mean green advocates need to somehow cover up the environmental benefits of a policy or product: A study from Stanford psychologists released last December found that re-framing environmental messaging in terms of preserving the "purity" of the natural world resonated morally with conservatives.

so...don't talk about protecting the environment...but do talk about preserving the purity of the natural world?

brb i have to go have outside and try to convince an inanimate object to do something

your holiness, we have an official energy drink (Z S), Tuesday, 30 April 2013 19:18 (1 year ago) Permalink

must increase amount of virginity in the air

four Marxes plus four Obamas plus four Bin Ladens (Shakey Mo Collier), Tuesday, 30 April 2013 19:20 (1 year ago) Permalink

hmmm ... protect the environment could imply people are doing bad things to the environment ("protecting" here meaning from people), whereas preseving the purity of the environment eliminates that baggage and just focuses on the good.

Spectrum, Tuesday, 30 April 2013 19:23 (1 year ago) Permalink

3 months pass...

Surprisingly quiet here about fracking. Been big protests in Balcombe about this (see here, for example), two boys in America are banned for life to even speak about (this), but ths new fracking frenzy seems unstoppable. Injecting chemicals into the earth to get gas, yeah, great idea...

In the airplane over the .CSS (Le Bateau Ivre), Sunday, 11 August 2013 19:44 (1 year ago) Permalink

10 months pass...

Solar’s Insane Cost Drop

DISMISSED AS CHANCE (NotEnough), Wednesday, 11 June 2014 08:26 (4 months ago) Permalink

A lot of the price drop reflects China's intensely competitive solar panel manufacturers pricing below total costs (incl. plant & equipment), and a few have or will go into receivership once their bonds come do. Suntech Power, LDK Solar, Shanghai Chaori were the first to default. With the inevitable consolidation, and as the capital costs of solar manufacturing are incorporated into panel prices (demanded by future investors), I suspect we'll see some rebound.

The price collapse has been terrible for the U.S. solar panel industry.

panic disorder pixie (Sanpaku), Wednesday, 11 June 2014 22:07 (4 months ago) Permalink

but good for the US installer industry, correct? I mean, I see your point and have read a lot about it, but it's not as if US solar mfg was ever going to be competitive on a global scale.

FTC literally just approved much more restrictive tariffs against an expanded definition of the supply chain, here's a good overview:

http://pv.energytrend.com/research/20140607-6854.html

polyamanita (sleeve), Wednesday, 11 June 2014 22:11 (4 months ago) Permalink

How many years do you have to have solar before it pays for itself?

polyphonic, Wednesday, 11 June 2014 22:12 (4 months ago) Permalink

depends on which state you're in and the incentives they have in place, look up your state here to get an idea of payback time on 5 KW:

http://www.solarpowerrocks.com/

polyamanita (sleeve), Wednesday, 11 June 2014 22:16 (4 months ago) Permalink

(lowest payback time in the US right now is around 6 years, I think)

polyamanita (sleeve), Wednesday, 11 June 2014 22:16 (4 months ago) Permalink

The US solar installer industry is coining it right now. It has some of the most expensive costs of install in the world. Australia and Germany, both nominally higher wage countries can install panels a lot cheaper than the US. It's a bit difficult to pin down why this should be but the sales model (a lot done by leasing) doesn't seem to incentivise competition on total system price.

American Fear of Pranksterism (Ed), Wednesday, 11 June 2014 22:24 (4 months ago) Permalink

a lot of it is soft costs, the permitting is s total mess, each city is different. It needs to have standardized national procedures, which will never happen bcuz America.

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/509196/why-solar-installations-cost-more-in-the-us-than-in-germany/

polyamanita (sleeve), Wednesday, 11 June 2014 22:26 (4 months ago) Permalink

the lasing companies don;t seem to care about cost, just how much power they can cram on a roof. I looked at a leasing quote today that had half of the system at a 318 degree azimuth, which would be insanity if you were paying for it yourself.

polyamanita (sleeve), Wednesday, 11 June 2014 22:28 (4 months ago) Permalink

Ed I'm finally starting to see some installers in higher volume areas get down below $1 per watt, FYI

polyamanita (sleeve), Wednesday, 11 June 2014 22:32 (4 months ago) Permalink

CLUI looks at the big solar farms being built in the SW: http://blog.art21.org/2014/06/10/solar-boom-a-possible-energy-future/#.U5h3ZPRdXbA

Elvis Telecom, Wednesday, 11 June 2014 22:32 (4 months ago) Permalink

It's interesting because the Australian market competes based on how cheap it can make a nominal 'system'. Maximum inverter size is capped depending on who your distribution network provider is and that cap can be quite small, as low as 3kW i n some areas. The advertising sticker price is some number below $3000, you might see reference to a number of panels in the advert but rarely will you see any mention of the capacity of the system. I suspect the sales process is very much like buying a car and it's almost impossible to get the sticker price.

American Fear of Pranksterism (Ed), Wednesday, 11 June 2014 22:51 (4 months ago) Permalink

for any policy geeks out there, the Hawaii grid situation is fascinating/horrifying right now:

http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/hawaii-crosses-the-energy-rubicon

polyamanita (sleeve), Wednesday, 11 June 2014 22:56 (4 months ago) Permalink

(speaking of system caps)

polyamanita (sleeve), Wednesday, 11 June 2014 22:56 (4 months ago) Permalink

Hawaii thing is crazy. we've done some work there (and tried to get more) but omg it is such a nightmare dealing with them

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 11 June 2014 23:03 (4 months ago) Permalink

I mean this is just insane:

MECO had been curtailing 28 percent of the output from three wind farms in deference to its own, more expensive, oil-fired generation. This was wasting almost 16 gigawatt-hours of power a year -- a number expected to rise to more than 54 gigawatt-hours.

fucking utilities

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 11 June 2014 23:08 (4 months ago) Permalink

Without knowing more I can't be exact but it is not always possible to curtail the output of a thermal plant below a certain value and stopping and starting a thermal plant can be expensive and time consuming. This is the nature of base load power. Without large scale energy storage we are going to see more and more of these anomalous situations where power at essentially zero marginal cost is being dumped in favour of power with significant marginal costs because of the need to provide a reliable network.

Islanded grids like Hawaii are the canary in the coal mine, the current grid model does not suit renewables and highly distributed generation. Now we have renewables that are at parity, if not cheaper, than traditional fossil options we have to rethink the grid. The grid was designed as a hierarchical centralised system to maximise the efficiency of a few large generators. It needs to transition to a peer-network of smaller distributed generators, storage and loads. Theres obviously the massive issue of incumbent monopolies holding on sunk capital that they expect or have been promised a return on. The model that drove those investments is no longer fit for purpose.

For MECO to move beyond the above situation they would have to write off/down significant assets which is finically untenable and make massive new capital investments in storage so they can dispense with the oil plant. In the mean time more and more customers will discover that they can meet their own needs partially or wholly from solar, storage and other technologies, diminishing revenues for the utilities. The utilities are in a bind of their own making but most people will still need a network to provide reliability, I'm not sure the utilities are agile enough to move to the new model, but they currently own the infrastructure needed to support that model

American Fear of Pranksterism (Ed), Thursday, 12 June 2014 00:12 (4 months ago) Permalink

topping and starting a thermal plant can be expensive and time consuming

this is a big part of the problem in Hawaii as I understand it

polyamanita (sleeve), Thursday, 12 June 2014 00:14 (4 months ago) Permalink

"stopping", obv

polyamanita (sleeve), Thursday, 12 June 2014 00:14 (4 months ago) Permalink

I was referring to their building wind farms before dealing with the tie-in issues, if that wasnt clear. My company was doing some pv feasibility studies for some prospectively huge installations and the big issue we came up against was tying them into the grid, regulatory issues, etc. Their regulatory framework is totally fucked up and outdated. HECO is going to have to eat some capital losses, there's no way around it.

Οὖτις, Thursday, 12 June 2014 16:51 (4 months ago) Permalink

3 months pass...

paging Ed...

somewhere on ILX (I don't think it's in this thread), you discussed the process by which you/your employer were "writing down" oil assets? Can you maybe find that for me?

If anybody else can dig it up, thanks in advance

sleeve, Wednesday, 1 October 2014 15:41 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

kind of bump, because actually i'd be quite interested in that as well, but also to record a chance encounter flying back from Glasgow earlier in the year, that had a slightly Ballardian flavour to it.

Had taken my seat by the window, and a well-groomed late thirties early forties man in a relaxed but expensive suit sat down beside me, having had a short discussion in Spanish with the person in front, and then turned to me said hello, and asked me what I'd been up to in Glasgow, in the accents of 'international English', (slightly soft 'classless' tones and deracinated vowels) which, being expressive of a non-English-speaking background is quite exotic and appealing to me. I explained briefly, wary of a bore, but felt it was polite to ask him also what he'd been doing.

Turned out he'd been setting up an offshore windfarm. He was an an engineer who specialised in renewable energy. This was certainly interesting enough to want to continue, and he told me a bit about the engineering challenge about fixing large windmills in often turbulent seas, and the heavy duty sub-marine structures required.

I said I felt that as an industry outsider it was often difficult to get a sense about the effectiveness of renewable energy from the press and media generally.

He gave me a bit of energy 101 (stuff i could have probably worked out, but which it was useful to be told clearly and by an expert) - that the big problem was not generating energy, it was storing it, and that for anything bigger than a mid-sized house, batteries were unfeasible. He also pointed out that the only large-scale battery or way to store energy available on earth had used the same technology for thousands of years, which was that of damming reservoirs.

The well-known consequent problem for energy sources like windfarms and solar power being that their main power sources are variable and intermittent in force.

The UK energy sector is required to use any resources of renewable energy *before* using non-renewable energy power generation. I need to be careful about my terminology here because, as this person pointed out, renewable energy is not the same as 'clean' energy necessarily, and 'clean' or 'green' energy is not the same as renewable energy. Renewable energy sources include wind and solar power, but also chip-wood burning generators (a quickly growing industrial use a friend of mine who started out as a woodcutter and woodland manager is currently making a sizable amount of cash from). 'Clean' energy can, I believe, also include nuclear energy, which is not renewable. Some of this categorisation is ignored or confused in much media coverage I think.

I asked if we'd reach a stage where we could rely totally on renewable energy (let's stick with that phrase for the moment). He said that in fact there have been numerous days in recent years where 100% of the UK's energy requirements had been sourced using renewable energy. However, at times of high levels of usage, the amount generated wasn't sufficient for national requirements.

There is a slogan, he said, being used in the industry and in government, which is 20 by 20 - that is to say, 20% of yearly energy use being provided using renewable energy by the year 2020, and I believe that a 25% level was being set for 2025.

What were the biggest challenges? He asked me how long I expected a power plant to be in use for. I suggested a couple of generations. He said it was about 25 years. He then asked what sort of time frames banks looked at when investing. 7 years? He said it was actually more like 14, but with a 7 year break/assessment point. Then he asked how long governments tended to plan for, and I laughed and said 'an electoral cycle?' and he said 'right.'

He explained the challenge they had was securing the large amount of funding required to set up a windfarm, and his job, which was in part salesman (unsurprisingly, given his smooth but not unpleasing conversation), was to secure funding from lots of different places.

There are some more details, which were probably interesting, but which I've forgotten, but we moved on to talk a bit about my work and some of the challenges there, and also about his family, and it was here that I felt something almost sinister sitting to one side of him, something in the way he talked about his wife and children. It was very proprietorial, there was a strange sense of anger and need to control that seemed to come from frustrations with his father. They 'won't do' this, of course 'they don't understand the details'.

We disembarked at City airport, but happened to meet again on the tube from City, and he struck up conversation in a more jocular tone, about what men could expect from women - something along the lines of 'you've got to know how to get what you want, right?' followed by a wink. I found all this allied with his general bland approachability and appearance, and clear intelligence, unpleasant and irritating, especially as I've always been terrible at knowing how to get what I want, or even what I want in the first place, and perhaps slightly naively dislike generic assumptions about men and women, or me for that matter. The sinister configurations or disjunctions of his personality, which had been only latent or possibly even projected earlier in the journey, had now become more clearly visible - these configurations being unreformed personal beliefs as hidden components of his futuristic manner and job. It was this that reminded me of Ballard.

He gave me his card and said I should get in touch as it had been pleasant talking to me. I think I may have thrown it away, though it may be buried in with the heap of other business cards lying around in drawers at home. I felt both repulsed and intrigued - I have no desire to see him at all again, and am at the same time curious to know more.

Fizzles, Saturday, 11 October 2014 14:10 (2 weeks ago) Permalink

What in the world is Lockheed Martin smoking

Matt Armstrong, Sunday, 19 October 2014 22:19 (1 week ago) Permalink

The annoucement seems premature, as all Skunk Works® has announced to date is a plasma chamber where the plasma provides most of the magnetic field confinement, structured so the field increases as particles depart the high pressure/fusing zone. LM is speculating the small size and short development cycles of its design will permit ramping up pressures and energy payback in a way that's not possible for massive tokamaks of the traditional magnetic confinement approach.

A talk from Charles Chase on LM's design from last December.
http://www.youtube.com/JAsRFVbcyUY?t=4m37s

TTAGGGTTAGGG (Sanpaku), Monday, 20 October 2014 01:04 (1 week ago) Permalink

TTAGGGTTAGGG (Sanpaku), Monday, 20 October 2014 01:05 (1 week ago) Permalink

There's no discussion from LM on how they'll deal with the 14.1 MeV neutrons flying out at 0.173 c from the deuterium-tritium fusion cycle. These cause all sorts of problems like transmution, embrittlement and cracking in reactor materials. Nor how they'll source their tritium, a rather expensive material. They're probably planning on breeding it by irradiating a lithium blanket within the reactor with all those neutrons, but even ITER isn't sure how that will pan out.

Most of this stuff is well beyond my expertise, but I've been casually following fusion research since I first learned the word "tokamak" in a 1980 Omni magazine article.

TTAGGGTTAGGG (Sanpaku), Monday, 20 October 2014 01:33 (1 week ago) Permalink

Man this sounds promising.

schwantz, Monday, 20 October 2014 01:41 (1 week ago) Permalink

most of the reaction I've seen is people acting like this is totally bunk, but would Lockheed fucking Martin just come out with something silly like that?

I know there's other things in the news but this seems like a big deal.

Matt Armstrong, Monday, 20 October 2014 21:31 (1 week ago) Permalink

I like the part where every revision doesn't require a bunch of different governments to pony up billions of dollars.

schwantz, Monday, 20 October 2014 22:31 (1 week ago) Permalink

The more I look into it, the more I think tritium supplies will be the obstacle to D-T fusion. The ITER project (alone) will use most of the world supply, and I'm not convinced breeding tritium in a lithium blanket (basically, use molten lithium as the plasma chamber coolant, and pull ditritium gas from it) will work. And of course, if it does work, everyone with one of these can turn any fission triggers in their arsenal into much higher yield H-bombs. So much for powering volatile Africa or South Asia.

TTAGGGTTAGGG (Sanpaku), Tuesday, 21 October 2014 00:39 (1 week ago) Permalink


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