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  • #31
    Originally posted by Uniform Two Six View Post
    Which, to circle back to the statement I was originally responding to, as Large Hydro and Geothermal are largely tapped out leaves Nuclear as the only of the environmentally clean sources able to meet base-load.

    ​From a practical standpoint, if one is serious about getting off of fossil fuels for commercial electrical power generation, you're going to need a mix which includes Nuclear -- regardless of how much Solar and Wind you can get online.
    well, and to be honest I think people with money are starting to hold off to see how viable the newest fusion techs are.

    When you're sinking hundreds of millions to billions into a project intended to last decades, the last thing you want to discover is that it's outdated and unable to compete on cost in a decade.


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    • #32
      On the base load issue, while the US doesn't have a lot of future in geo or hydro expansion, we also don't use those power sources nearly as efficiently as possible to make solar and wind more viable. How much we need to expand nuclear would depend a lot on investments in things that aren't power generation.

      Though this gets into the fact that the US power infrastructure is sorely out of date and other such issues that would need to be addressed unless fusion actually becomes a reality in the near future.

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      • #33
        Originally posted by Odd_Canuck View Post
        well, and to be honest I think people with money are starting to hold off to see how viable the newest fusion techs are.

        When you're sinking hundreds of millions to billions into a project intended to last decades, the last thing you want to discover is that it's outdated and unable to compete on cost in a decade.
        Don't forget the hype about LENR technology.

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        • #34
          Originally posted by Uniform Two Six View Post

          ​While I'm not an expert, my understanding of Japan is that all of the "potential" geothermal sources remain too technically challenging to capitalize on. I suspect that my understanding is spot-on as Japan is in a dire situation with regard to its power needs. It has effectively no fossil fuel sources of its own (a problem that was the largest single element in the decision to declare war on a nation that had an industrial output eight times its own and an economic output in dollar-value of around 45 times its own -- so I doubt that's improved much in the last 76 years), coupled with a societal suspicion of and hatred for nuclear power -- before the Fukushima-Dai-Ichi disaster. If geothermal was that easily accessible, I rather suspect they would have been exploiting the heck out of it by now. Geothermal accounts for less than 1% of the Japanese grid, while the Philippines gets about a fifth of their mix from it.

          ​Canada, on the other hand doesn't need geothermal. Most of their power needs are met by hydro. Their population is about 10% that of their southern neighbor, despite having a land mass significantly greater (only Russia is larger), and as one person put it; "Canada has a hydroelectric dam installed just about everywhere one could be installed".

          ​And as an aside, when I say that geothermal and hydro are tapped out, I mean here in the States. There may very well be other countries (Iceland for instance) where that does not hold true.
          That's an over simplification of the energy situation in Canada.

          Quebec relies heavily on Hydro power generation, but they do have at least one nuclear power plant.

          Ontario does have some hydro power, but it's uses a lot of nuclear power and fossil fuels as well as renewables.

          Alberta relies mostly on fossil fuels, with some investment in renewables, but the NDP government there is phasing out the coal power plants.

          Those are just some examples.

          So yes, Canada does have some extensive Hydro power resources in some regions, but no where near enough to power Canada by itself.

          Nulcear power is still important to Canada's well being.

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          • #35
            Not disagreeing, but the situations that lead Canada to use fossils and nuclear are essentially the same forces that create those scenarios down here in the States. BC has a ton of hydro available, but farther east the potential flattens out (pun intended). As a result, even though there's so much hydro in the west, much of it gets transmitted south to be used in American industrial processes, rather than east to places like Ontario. Theoretically you could do that, but you run into transmission-efficiency issues. Even here in California (which really isn't that big of a place) our transmission loss is about 21% on average. That means that for every five watts of power you produce, only four actually get to the consumer on the other end. Moreover, geothermal isn't really going to help that problem in Canada, since most of the really accessible geothermal sources also (due to geology -- and not coincidentally) are also generally the same regions that have the lion's share of hydro too. Here in California, we're one of the biggest producers of geothermal power in the nation (actually I think we are the biggest, but I don't have the numbers in front of me, so don't quote me on that). This production tends to be from two sources: An area known as "The Geysers" in Northern California (which I don't know all that much about), and the Long Valley Caldera (which I do). In the late 70s, a power company called Southern California Edison sank the first geothermal wells at Diablo Springs in the Caldera and began exporting electricity south. The primary reason that SCE did that had little to do with the accessibility of the geothermal source. Of far greater import was the transmission infrastructure already in the area due to the pre-existing hydro power plants there.


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            • #36
              BC's hydro potential is running into major environmental issues.

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              • #37
                Originally posted by Omegaphallic View Post
                BC's hydro potential is running into major environmental issues.
                And this is really the big key, everything has an environmental cost, and generally they should be considered early in the process of evaluating something. My favourite recent example of this is the desalination plant in southern California. Short version, California, especially the south, gets droughts and is going through a bad one. So someone figured it might be a good idea to invest in a desalination plant, to help make sure people can get water if things get worse and generally in the future. Goes through the standard assessments and everything, gets built and then immediately gets calls (and political pressure) to shut it down. But clean water is a good thing you say, why would anyone demand it get shut down? Because everything has an environmental impact, and one of the things a desalination plant does is dump out a lot of salt, typically back into the ocean... making the water out around the plant more salty. Too salty for some plants/animals to live there.

                Now you can dump it out onto the land, but A: it's a LOT of salt. and B: that's Salting The Earth, ensuring nothing will grow there.


                Odd_Canuck is not a topical medication or food product and is not to be taken internally or seriously.

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                • #38
                  Depends how deep you bury it.

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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by Omegaphallic View Post
                    Depends how deep you bury it.
                    True, and trucking vast amounts of salt and waste up hill until you reach a point where you can bury it is indeed an alternative... and an additional environmental impact to consider as well as additional costs.


                    Odd_Canuck is not a topical medication or food product and is not to be taken internally or seriously.

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                    • #40
                      Actually there's a more basic problem. I did a story a few years back on a new desalination plant that was commissioned here in California, and got to know some of the engineers at the Alameda County Water District. The only really viable desal plants don't actually use conventional saltwater. They use what hydrological engineers term "brackish water" (which is not what most people think it means). Basically they're pumping mostly fresh water out of an aquifer that has some saltwater intrusion. The reverse-osmosis scheme they use is energy-intensive, so the less salt (and other stuff) they have to filter out, the better. The process does create a stream of fresh water and another of so-called "super-salinated" water, but that latter term is actually highly misleading. The water that is pumped out is actually far less saline than the seawater it's being pumped into.

                      ​The desal plant down south that they're putting into service is a true desalination plant using seawater, but the problem is the amount of electricity it takes to remove salt from it in that concentration (a lesser concern -- though still technically challenging and expensive is the wear and tear on the filters themselves, which have a relatively short lifespan in that caustic environment). Basically, it turns out that it is far more economically viable to pump water 500 or so miles from Northern California -- which is exactly what is now underway with an ambitious plan for a third aquaduct through the California Central Valley (including a roughly 70 mile tunnel being planned through the northern Coast Range).

                      ​Also, the drought cycle in the state is often a decade or more, meaning that the desal plant will have to be maintained through years and years and only be actually utilized during the most severe periods of drought.

                      ​I'm frankly astonished that that abortion of a project got funded at all considering how much of a goof-ball idea it was on the conceptual level.


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                      • #41
                        Originally posted by Odd_Canuck View Post
                        stuff.
                        Kinda unrelated, but as a graduate of nuclear technologies (among other things), I want to virtual high-five another sensible and well-explains nuclear person

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                        • #42
                          Originally posted by Odd_Canuck View Post
                          Now you can dump it out onto the land, but A: it's a LOT of salt. and B: that's Salting The Earth, ensuring nothing will grow there.
                          ​In the meantime you have the Northeast states that need salt for the roads during the winter months but keep running low on it. Maybe someone should find a way to get the appropriate officials and businesses in touch with each other and devise a way to turn one state's problem into another's benefit. Seems like a business opportunity for the person who figures out how to solve the logistics and turn a profit.


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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by Darksider View Post
                            ​In the meantime you have the Northeast states that need salt for the roads during the winter months but keep running low on it. Maybe someone should find a way to get the appropriate officials and businesses in touch with each other and devise a way to turn one state's problem into another's benefit. Seems like a business opportunity for the person who figures out how to solve the logistics and turn a profit.
                            I suspect that's more of a demand prediction/planning issue than a cost or supply issue. And generally (at least in Canada) we've been moving away from classic salts to other materials as much as possible due to the environmental impact. But yeah, that's capitalism. Find someone that has a use for your waste products and is willing to buy them. That's how we ended up with fake logs for the fireplace(surplus wood scraps) and SPAM(mixture of meats too lean for bacon and not large enough for ham)... heck, that's how we ended up with modern asprin (a lot of coal tar and people looking for uses for the stuff)


                            Odd_Canuck is not a topical medication or food product and is not to be taken internally or seriously.

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