The Rush for Better Batteries

September 20, 2018

Above, gravity storage concept is a physically simple idea, one of dozens currently in development to tackle the variable energy of renewables.

Wired:

But this exhilarating progress in “decarbonizing the energy sector” (in the jargon of energy economists) misleads. Today, utilities manage the intermittency and seasonality of renewable energy by firing up small “peaker” power plants, typically fueled by natural gas, when prices and demand are high. But generating more of California’s energy from solar and wind would require utilities to produce huge surpluses of energy during summer months and store that energy for use throughout the year. According to a much-publicized analysis by an energy policy think tank, the Clean Air Task Force, generating 80 percent of California’s energy from advanced renewables will require 9.6 million megawatt-hours of energy storage. 100 percent would require 36.3 million. For context, the state now maintains just 150,000 megawatt-hours of energy storage, mostly hydroelectric. Lithium batteries provide a small portion, too.

The lithium-ion batteries in our phones or electric vehicles won’t scale to that challenge. Despite steeply falling costs, they’re still far too expensive, and they don’t store energy long enough. A clarifying study by researchers at MIT and Argonne National Lab published in 2016 demonstrated that “substantial cost reductions are likely needed to economically justify large-scale deployment of [existing] storage technologies.” Translated by the Clean Air Task Force: Even if lithium-ion batteries were as cheap as possible, California would have to spend $360 billion on storage to satisfy Brown’s imperative. Nationally, storing 12 hours of energy would cost $2.5 trillion, according to another study in Energy and Environmental Science. Overall, energy costs would increase from $49 per megawatt-hour at 50 percent to $1,612 at 100 percent. The economics are implausible; selling the economics to consumers, impossible.

If batteries are to play their part, they must cost less than one-fifth the likely minimum cost of lithium-ion batteries (around $100 a kilowatt hour). To solve that problem, material scientists have turned to alternatives to lithium-ion, creating heavily capitalized companies like Aquion, which manufactured salt-water batteries, or LightSail, which wanted to store energy as compressed air. Ambri, a startup in Boston founded by MIT’s Don Sadoway and funded by Bill Gates, pursued an especially radical idea: The company used earth-abundant materials to make liquid-metal batteries, where the negative and positive electrodes are liquids and the electrolyte a molten salt. But Aquion and LightSail failed to create storage that was cheaper than lithium-ion batteries. Ambri has struggled to translate its research into a commercial product that utilities would buy. (The company couldn’t make seals on its batteries work, but claims to have solved the problem by abandoning magnesium and antimony for new, as yet undisclosed materials.)

When I spoke to Gates a couple of years ago, he told me, “I’m in five battery companies, and five out of five are having a tough time. When people think about energy solutions, you can’t assume there will be a storage miracle.” Gates didn’t give up on the miraculous; he continues to invest in batteries through Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a coalition of billionaires, including Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma, and Richard Branson, who have committed to invest at least $1 billion to reduce the amount of carbon emitted per unit of energy to zero. Among BEV’s first investments is an MIT spin-out named Form Energy, founded by some of the most famous names in energy storage, including another MIT professor, Yet-Ming Chiang, who has started five battery companies (including A123 Systems, which a decade ago raised half a billion dollars as well as a $249 million grant from the US Department of Energy before filing for bankruptcy and being acquired by a Chinese company). Form Energy is developing aqueous sulfur-flow batteries, which inhale and exhale oxygen in a weird chemistry: They combine a sulfur anode dissolved in water with an aerated liquid-salt-solution cathode, where oxygen flows in and out of the cathode, causing the battery to discharge. Various reports claim the new batteries will cost somewhere between $1 to $10 per kilowatt-hour, compared with lithium’s current cost of $200 per kilowatt-hour, and store energy for weeks or even months rather than hours or days.

Form Energy’s approach is promising, but so were the technologies of A123 Systems and a graveyard of earlier battery startups. If there will be no storage miracle, how would we save the world? Three more or less plausible alternatives to batteries could finesse the intermittency and seasonality of solar and wind and help generate carbon-neutral energy. (That is, beyond the eternal hope of fusion. Physicists joke, “Fusion is the energy source of the future, and always will be.”)

First, we could store renewable energy at scale without employing electrochemical batteries at all. For instance, proponents of solar chemical, or artificial photosynthesis, have suggested using solar power to split water into oxygen and hydrogen, a fuel which can be used in fuel cells or burned in combustion engines. We could even combine the hydrogen with carbon dioxide, captured from natural gas peakers, to create methane, a fuel with a global infrastructure. Second, we could generate base-load electricity with nuclear fission, the carbon-free energy technology we already possess, producing enough energy to ignore the intermittency and seasonality of solar and wind. Lastly, and most destructively, we could tear down our existing patchwork of alternating-current grids and construct a new, high-transmission, direct-current supergrid, shuttling electricity across the continent and matching supply to demand with predictive software. All of these options have daunting technical, economic, and political problems, but if I were to bet, I’d guess (like the authors of the 2016 MIT and Argonne Lab study) that we will need some combination of these technologies and new batteries.

If California met its goal, it would be a model for other states and nations. Power plants are responsible for just 16 percent of the state’s greenhouse gases but are more polluting in other places. Transportation produces 41 percent of California’s emissions, and clean electricity would show the world that cars, trucks, and trains can be electrified cleanly. But the problem of how to produce 100 percent of California’s energy needs from renewable sources can’t be solved by the state alone. Our climate and energy systems are shared, and solutions will probably require a global increase in fundamental energy research, plus smart regulation like dynamic taxes on carbon.

Vox:

We have the storage technology to smooth out hourly swings, but we still don’t have anything that could cover a fallow period of wind and sun that lasted days, months, or even years. If we want to get variable renewable energy up to 60 percent, 80 percent, or even more of our electricity, we need long-term energy storage. It is the missing puzzle piece, the holy grail.

Nonetheless, long-duration storage companies have had trouble surviving in a market dominated by cheap lithium-ion batteries. Thus the need for some technology long shots.

There’s lots of interest in storing electricity as heat

So what’s cooking in advanced long-duration energy-storage research? Looking through the 10 recipients of ARPA-E’s grants offers an intriguing glimpse. Some of these technologies are meant to cycle energy both daily and in longer durations, and some are meant primarily as long-term storage, to be drawn upon when daily storage is exhausted.

The projects are varied, but a few categories stand out. (Interestingly, despite the considerable hype around electrolyzed hydrogen as a storage mechanism, there’s only one electrolysis project in the group.)

The first and biggest category, with five out of 10 of the projects, is thermal storage, i.e., storing electricity as heat. There are all kinds of variants on this, but the basic idea is: Use surplus electricity to heat something up; when you need electricity, use that heat to run a turbine. It turns out to be much easier to store heat than to store electricity.

It’s all in what you heat and how much of the energy you get back out. At Michigan State University, they will heat “a bed of magnesium manganese oxide (Mg-Mn-O) particles.” Brayton Energy, in Hampton, New Hampshire, will heat molten salt. Echogen Power Systems, in Akron, Ohio, will heat “a ‘reservoir’ of low cost materials such as sand or concrete.” The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in Golden, Colorado, will heat “inexpensive solid particles to temperatures greater than 1100°C” and then get the energy out using “a high performance heat exchanger and closed loop Brayton cycle turbine,” which certainly sounds cool.

Antora Energy, in Fremont, California, will heat “inexpensive carbon blocks” (to 2000° C!). Antora is somewhat unique in that it will get the energy back out not through a turbine, but with “thermophotovoltaic” solar panels “specifically designed to efficiently use the heat radiated by the blocks.”

Thermal storage doesn’t get a lot of press in the energy world — heat is somehow less sexy than electricity — but it has enormous potential to speed decarbonization. It would be awesome to see one of these techs catch on.

Another interesting category is flow batteries. Unlike the lithium-ion batteries most consumers are familiar with from their cellphones and electric cars, flow batteries store energy in liquid form. Specifically, they involve two separate tanks of fluids containing chemical components, which are circulated past a membrane, where ions and electric current are exchanged.

Flow batteries are heavy and not useful for vehicles, but as stationary storage, they have great advantages: They can scale to basically any size, charge and discharge tens of thousands of times without loss, and last well over 20 years. It’s just two tanks of stable fluids at room temperature. You can store those fluids as long as you like, or recharge them as often as you like, and make the tanks as big as you like.

flow battery
The basics of a flow battery.
Wikimedia

Actually, Primus Power in Hayward, California, is developing a zinc-bromine flow battery that doesn’t require the two reactants to be separated at all, so they can be stored in a single tank together, saving hardware costs. The United Technologies Research Center, in East Hartford, Connecticut, is working on a flow battery using “inexpensive and readily available sulfur-manganese based active materials,” which, I mean, duh.

The one electrolysis project is out of the University of Tennessee, in Knoxville, which is combining an electrolyzer (which separates hydrogen from water) with a fuel cell that produces hydrogen peroxide. I’m not even going to pretend to understand this one.

And the last one worth mentioning, just because it seems peculiar, is Quidnet Energy, in San Francisco, California. It’s developing a kind of inverse version of “pumped hydro.” In the normal version, water is pumped uphill to store energy and then run downhill through a turbine to release energy. Instead, to store energy, Quidnet will pump pressurized water underground; to release energy, it will stop pumping and “the induced strain in the surrounding rock will force water back through a generator to produce electricity.” Wacky!

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34 Responses to “The Rush for Better Batteries”

  1. sailrick Says:

    How about solar thermal with heat storage?
    California and other Southwest states have big potential for baseload solar thermal with molten salt or some other heat storage medium. Somewhat seasonal, but not really intermittent. And there are ways to minimize their water usage, like Heller closed loop cooling. With HVDC long distance transmission lines, as you suggest, there is enough potential power there to serve a quite large area of the U.S.

  2. Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

    Hell of a lot of interesting info here, or a crapee lodee in metric. Will just highlight the figures ‘ 9.6 MWH storage for 80% all power from renewable’s, up to 36.3 MWH for 100% renewable’s’. Fiddling with figures all day will not remove the diminishing returns whilst a turn key power source will. Please consider.

    • Marko Germani Says:

      9.6 TWh, or million MWh. For comparison, the yearly output of a gigafactory is estimated in 50 GWh, 0.05 TWh. However I am a bit vary of these estimates, I’d like to see how do they take in account smart demand management and energy efficiency. For example, if you insulate homes, then winter energy needs can be strongly reduced, it’s a much lower hanging fruit than building batteries for three months of heat pumping.

  3. dumboldguy Says:

    A lot of expensive, inefficient, and unproven whiz-bang technology here. My favorite is the flywheel.

    Did anyone notice this statement?—–“we could generate base-load electricity with nuclear fission, the carbon-free energy technology we already possess, producing enough energy to ignore the intermittency and seasonality of solar and wind”

    On, but nuclear is SO expensive! And it takes SO long to build a nuke! And, and and….. Has anyone here figured out how big (and expensive) the “physically simple” gravity storage system will be?

    Keep screwing around with wishful thinking, people—-the short-term answer is right in front of our faces

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      What are you smoking, DOG? – I want some. Gimme some of that weed!

      New nuclear IS expensive. Nuclear is SO expensive, nobody is in the nuclear construction business in the US anymore. And nobody is suggesting we do not keep running already-running nuclear.

      And yes, nuclear DOES take SO long to build. I could give you ten examples of huge delays and enormous cost-overruns with 5 seconds of Google-fu. Even China, who talks the best game for nuclear and does not operate under Western constraints of cost-effectiveness is not just behind schedule with their nuclear aspirations, they are – once again – taking a breather and re-evaluating their program. Why? Because of huge cost overruns and construction delays.

      What’s amazing to me is the paucity of argument from nuclear proponents, and your post is a perfect example. You could make an argument that cost doesn’t matter. Instead, you, like most nuclear proponents I see on blogs, simply keep repeating statements that simply do not bear scrutiny.

      Dave Roberts at Vox is a nuclear proponent and covered this recently. The outlook for new nuclear of any stripe is “grim”:

      https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/7/11/17555644/nuclear-power-energy-climate-decarbonization-renewables

      • leslie graham Says:

        Not to mention that the world would need 14,000 new plants within ten years.
        The only people who still think that this failed 20th century dinosaur technology is a good idea are the handful of men who make billions from them an the last remaining gullible twats who believe their addled BS.

        • Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

          Feel free to nominate which of the airy fairy failures above will replace the 14,000 new plants needed in the next ten tears!

          • dumboldguy Says:

            As I said, the flywheels are my nominee, but the “physically simple” gravity storage idea is the replacement for Solar Roadways. Has anyone given any though to how UNsimple this particular airy fairy idea is? Gravity storage makes sense when you’re talking about reservoirs on top of a mountain and at its base, but the huge hole and large lake that this graphic depicts are anything but simple to construct and operate, never mind NOT cheap.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Speaking of twats, gullible or otherwise, heeeeeeere’s Leslie to prove that such critters DO exist. Perhaps Leslie has forgotten that some of the heroes of climate change science, men like James Hansen, Ken Caldera, and Kerry Emanuel, have said that we ignore nuclear power at our peril, and have posted letters-to-power attesting to that belief.

          “Environmentalists agree that global warming is a threat to ecosystems and humans, but many oppose nuclear power and believe that new forms of renewable energy will be able to power the world within the next few decades”. That isn’t realistic, the letter said.

          “Those energy sources cannot scale up fast enough” to deliver the amount of cheap and reliable power the world needs, and “with the planet warming and carbon dioxide emissions rising faster than ever, we cannot afford to turn away from any technology” that has the potential to reduce greenhouse gases”. Hansen said it’s not enough for environmentalists to simply oppose fossil fuels and promote renewable energy.

          “They’re cheating themselves if they keep believing this fiction that all we need” is renewable energy such as wind and solar”, Hansen told the AP. The joint letter says, “the time has come for those who take the threat of global warming seriously to embrace the development and deployment of safer nuclear power systems” as part of efforts to build a new global energy supply”.

          So, Hansen is a hero in 1988 and a fool in 2018? Nothing but addled BS from a gullible twat—-maunder on, Leslie, but try to find some REAL facts to support your babbling.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Sorry, but the “weed” supply has dried up since GB’s hero Musk has decided it’s good for business to smoke it on TV. Every Fortune 500 CEO in the country has been buying it by the ton—-it’s SO good for business to do so (as is getting sued by a real hero because he was annoyed that his grandiose minisub got stuck up his butt and aggravated his hemorrhoids). But I digress.

        In addition to being a charter member of the Cult of Musk, GB is one of the anti-nuke lemmings that are nearing the cliff’s edge. See my other reply to Leslie The Twat.

        GB complains that my comment is invalid—-“What’s amazing to me is the paucity of argument from nuclear proponents, and your post is a perfect example. You could make an argument that cost doesn’t matter. Instead, you, like most nuclear proponents I see on blogs, simply keep repeating statements that simply do not bear scrutiny”.

        GB’s problem is that he is so wrapped up in denial (and adulation of Musk and renewables) that he fails to see that so-called “argument” I didn’t make is FREAKING SELF EVIDENT. His simple-minded dismissiveness of nuclear power is what doesn’t bear scrutiny. What price do we put on survival for billions of people and much of the biosphere? I hope I live long enough to see the cost-be-damned Manhattan Project or Apollo level spending and scurrying that we will resort to when the SHTF, and building nukes is likely to be a big part of that.

        Looking at how much coal, natural gas, and petroleum we burn to meet our energy needs, renewables are not going to cut it (as Hansen et al recognize). Fossil fuels account for 80% of all our energy needs and 64% of electricity generation (with “old dinosaur” nuclear making up a large part of the rest).

        Stay away from the weed, GB, and for sure don’t be begging for more—-it doesn’t do anything for your reasoning ability.

        • Gingerbaker Says:

          I am glad to see you explicitly making the argument that the cost of nuclear is irrelevant compared to the cost of not getting rid of FF’s. That is a valid position, imo, as opposed to implying nuclear is cheap and fast to construct.

          The problem is that wind and solar are way way cheaper and way way faster to construct and deploy. And their longevity is as good or better than nuclear. And their price is continuing to drop, as opposed to nuclear which continues to get ever more luridly expensive.

          So, why obsess about nuclear, when wind, solar, geothermal, hydro (and someday tidal and wave) will get the job done just as well while being less expensive, more scalably, and faster

          Why exactly MUST we have nuclear??

          • dumboldguy Says:

            The only thing we MUST do is die. I don’t know why you are so obsessive in your opposition to nuclear when it DOES offer huge amounts of reliable carbon-free base-line energy (IF we ignore the expense).

            And will you PLEASE stop touting wind and solar as “faster”? I will yet again remind you that “…fossil fuels account for 80% of all our energy needs and 64% of electricity generation (with “old dinosaur” nuclear making up a large part of the rest)”.

            Those numbers are changing only slowly—that’s why we should not throw nuclear out. Here’s a look at the data from 1950 to 2015—some excellent graphs here.

            https://alternativeenergy.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=004341

          • Sir Charles Says:

            We only have to store highly toxic waste safely for hundreds of thousands of years. Easy as that. BTW, the carbon footprint of nuclear is about ten times that of wind energy. U235 and Pu239 isn’t growing on trees.

  4. J4Zonian Says:

    One of the nuke-boosters’ arguments that doesn’t hold up is denial of the ability of renewables to scale up, supposedly because they provide so little energy. But renewables provide more electricity and more energy than nukes do, both in the US and the world. They’re faster to build, faster to pay off the carbon costs of their construction (partly because parts of most renewable facilities can begin operation while the rest is built.) They’re dropping in price and increasing in the amount of power gotten out of a given amount of land over time, unlike fossil and fissile fuels.

    https://insideclimatenews.org/news/27032018/wind-power-blades-capacity-clean-energy-technology-jobs-ge-siemens-leeward-midamerican-repowering

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Here’s Jeffy4Z again, so eager to again say little or nothing that he is now pulling “alternate facts” out of his anal orifice.

      “But renewables provide more electricity and more energy than nukes do, both in the US and the world”, he says.

      Really? In what alternate universe is that, Jeffy? In fact, that is so far off the mark that it has to come under the heading of DELIBERATE misinformation, maybe even outright—–for shame.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        “outright LYING”

        • Gingerbaker Says:

          Easy, there, Nipper, easy.

          It is a common mistake – misreading “renewables” to mean wind and solar.

          The fact is, tho, that renewables now have slightly surpassed nuclear for electricity generation in the U.S. So, his point seems quite relevant to me – wind and solar CAN scale up, and with the other renewables like hydro and geothermal, the question remains – why would we *need* nuclear anymore?

          • dumboldguy Says:

            The only “mistake” being made is by those who want to consider anything other than wind and solar to be real “renewables”. Hydro sites are nearly all used up, and ask the folks at Hoover Dam how reliable hydro is when drought hits. Geothermal is nasty, wave and tide power have hardly been utilized, biomass is a scam—-harvest trees in the SE U.S. to make wood pellets to ship to the UK for burning? LOL

            I will repeat—– Fossil fuels account for 80% of all our energy needs and 64% of electricity generation—-and those percentages are falling too slowly. And to answer “why would we need nuclear anymore?”, I suggest you try to overcome your cognitive dissonance and go to Hansen’s words for an answer.

            https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2017/08/03/the-real-climate-consensus-nuclear-power/#20be2d1d2ef5

          • J4Zonian Says:

            Indeed, GB, denying delayalists and arfs (anti-renewable fanatics) often switch back and forth, considering hydro and sometimes other renewables, ”renewable” and a second later, limiting the definition of ”renewables” to wind and solar (in fact, often just acting like it’s only onshore wind and rooftop PV). It’s about whatever helps them make the argument at the moment—tying renewables to hydro to peel off some environmentalists, but then seconds later, trying to make all ”renewables” variable ones, and using the most expensive form of PV, so they can push nukes and even coal and gas as the ”only” dispatchable resources, which of course is nonsense. Which is why they have to tell those lies to try to slide past the facts and convince people. They generally also avoid (or don’t know) the word ”dispatchable”, just deny that fossil and fissile fuels are unnecessary.

            Renewable Energy Provides More Electricity Than Nuclear Power In US
            June 27th, 2017
            https://cleantechnica.com/2017/06/27/renewable-energy-provides-electricity-nuclear-power-us/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+IM-cleantechnica+%28CleanTechnica%29

            Renewables provide more electricity and energy than nukes in the world. “IEA – Key world energy statistics, 2016” (PDF).
            https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c8/World_electricity_generation_by_source_pie_chart.svg

            In 2017, RE provided 1 1/2 times what nukes did in the US. And since renewables have been most new energy built in both the US and the world for years and that’s accelerating, the gap is growing.

            In fact, in China, wind alone provides more power than nukes despite lagging transmission construction that’s causing curtailment problems.
            http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/country-profiles/countries-a-f/china-nuclear-power.aspx

            We have efficiency and wiser lives to reduce energy needs;

            We have ever-cheaper variable renewables including utility, rooftop, parking lot, roadway and old coal-field PV; offshore (and even onshore?) wind that’s reaching higher capacity factors than gas peakers or coal. The farther out at sea, and the taller and better they’re built, the more powerful and higher-capacitied they are. They work well in ever-slower winds. Deep offshore wind is at or near the point at which it should be called near-dispatchable, and it can extend the time zones available to flatten ducks in different places. (Distributed generation, which along with demand responses of all kinds can solve the rest of that problem.)

            For dispatchable renewables we have CSP, probably with cheap 10-hour-plus storage very soon; clothesline paradox energies like passive and active solar water and space heating and cooling with storage; hydro; geothermal; small amounts of wave and waste biomass.

            The US has at least 80,000 existing dams over 3’, more than 77,000 of which are not now used for power. Some could be, with little or no ecological harm. Others could instead be taken down for a huge overall net improvement in river health in the US, even while we increase hydropower. http://damnationfilm.com/faq

            Geothermal—enhanced and not—could supply as much as half of current US electricity use. Enhanced can have unacceptable ecological effects; not does not. https://www.npr.org/2018/02/04/582132168/the-forgotten-renewable-geothermal-energy-production-heats-up

            EVs and stationary batteries, very likely about to get much cheaper, can make the whole RE US electrical system near-dispatchable, especially using public trains, high speed trains, light rail, buses, jitneys, etc. Of course deploying all these methods is the fastest way to make them cheaper. Coordinating that with China (who has already done it for solar panels, HSR, and EV buses) and other countries could make it happen fastest where it’s most needed.

            The US wastes 85% of the energy it uses.
            https://cleantechnica.com/2013/08/26/us-wastes-61-86-of-its-energy/ Clothesline paradox energies reduce the electricity needed even further, in a way that makes them near-dispatchable. Getting rid of the need for rich people to get richer makes it even easier. (California, for example, has excess solar it could supply the west and midwest with to help flatten the duck there, but the grids aren’t connected for that. The need for profit makes negotiating that difficult. California Governor Brown just signed a bill to aim for 80% RE, 100% zero carbon energy and wanted to pair it with a bill to connect the grids. The legislature couldn’t/wouldn’t do it; apparently they’re willing to set a difficult goal as long as they can make reaching it impossible. How insane is it that so many people think it’s a problem that California has ”too much” energy when people could reduce GHGs by using it?

            Interstate, federal, and international cooperation is needed to coordinate action for the fastest, most efficient move to 100% RE and an ecological global society.

          • Sir Charles Says:

            Forget about nuclear as a ‘quick fix’. Finland’s proposed Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant, which is already more than a decade behind schedule, is facing further postponements.

      • J4Zonian Says:

        I’ve been saying that for years, here, on Grist, Common Dreams and other places. But while cities can get it started, especially on the demand side, national government is needed for coordination, and distributed grids are needed to move electricity across wider areas. Cities, even states and provinces, can’t do it alone. We have to take power nationally to have any chance of survival.

        Moderation is slow here; I posted the following almost a week ago and it’s still being held for questioning.

        Here it is without the hot links:

        Indeed, GB, denying delayalists and arfs (anti-renewable fanatics) often switch back and forth, considering hydro and sometimes other renewables, ”renewable” and a second later, limiting the definition of ”renewables” to wind and solar (in fact, often just acting like it’s only onshore wind and rooftop PV). It’s about whatever helps them make the argument at the moment—tying renewables to hydro to peel off some environmentalists, but then seconds later, trying to make all ”renewables” variable ones, and using the most expensive form of PV, so they can push nukes and even coal and gas as the ”only” dispatchable resources, which of course is nonsense. Which is why they have to tell those lies to try to slide past the facts and convince people. They generally also avoid (or don’t know) the word ”dispatchable”, just deny that fossil and fissile fuels are unnecessary.

        
Renewable Energy Provides More Electricity Than Nuclear Power In US
        June 27th, 2017
        cleantechnica[DOT]com/2017/06/27/renewable-energy-provides-electricity-nuclear-power-us/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+IM-cleantechnica+%28CleanTechnica%29
Renewables provide more electricity and energy than nukes in the world. “IEA – Key world energy statistics, 2016” (PDF).

        upload.wikimedia[DOT]org/wikipedia/commons/c/c8/World_electricity_generation_by_source_pie_chart.svg 


        In 2017, RE provided 1 1/2 times what nukes did in the US. And since renewables have been most new energy built in both the US and the world for years and that’s accelerating, the gap is growing.
        
In fact, in China, wind alone provides more power than nukes despite lagging transmission construction that’s causing curtailment problems.

        world-nuclear[DOT]org/information-library/country-profiles/countries-a-f/china-nuclear-power.aspx 


        We have efficiency and wiser lives to reduce energy needs; 
We have ever-cheaper variable renewables including utility, rooftop, parking lot, roadway and old coal-field PV; offshore (and even onshore?) wind that’s reaching higher capacity factors than gas peakers or coal. The farther out at sea, and the taller and better they’re built, the more powerful and higher-capacitied they are. They work well in ever-slower winds. Deep offshore wind is at or near the point at which it should be called near-dispatchable, and it can extend the time zones available to flatten ducks in different places. (Distributed generation, which along with demand responses of all kinds can solve the rest of that problem.) 
For dispatchable renewables we have CSP, probably with cheap 10-hour-plus storage very soon; clothesline paradox energies like passive and active solar water and space heating and cooling with storage; hydro; geothermal; small amounts of wave and waste biomass. 
The US has at least 80,000 existing dams over 3’, more than 77,000 of which are not now used for power. Some could be, with little or no ecological harm. Others could instead be taken down for a huge overall net improvement in river health in the US, even while we increase hydropower. http://damnationfilm.com/faq 
Geothermal—enhanced and not—could supply as much as half of current US electricity use. Enhanced can have unacceptable ecological effects; not does not.

        npr[DOT]org/2018/02/04/582132168/the-forgotten-renewable-geothermal-energy-production-heats-up 


        EVs and stationary batteries, very likely about to get much cheaper, can make the whole RE US electrical system near-dispatchable, especially using public trains, high speed trains, light rail, buses, jitneys, etc. Of course deploying all these methods is the fastest way to make them cheaper. Coordinating that with China (who has already done it for solar panels, HSR, and EV buses) and other countries could make it happen fastest where it’s most needed. 
The US wastes 85% of the energy it uses.

        cleantechnica[DOT]com/2013/08/26/us-wastes-61-86-of-its-energy/

        Clothesline paradox energies reduce the electricity needed even further, in a way that makes them near-dispatchable. Getting rid of the need for rich people to get richer makes it even easier. (California, for example, has excess solar it could supply the west and midwest with to help flatten the duck there, but the grids aren’t connected for that. The need for profit makes negotiating that difficult. California Governor Brown just signed a bill to aim for 80% RE, 100% zero carbon energy and wanted to pair it with a bill to connect the grids. The legislature couldn’t/wouldn’t do it; apparently they’re willing to set a difficult goal as long as they can make reaching it impossible. How insane is it that so many people think it’s a problem that California has ”too much” [renewable] energy when people could reduce GHGs by using it? 
Interstate, federal, and international cooperation is needed to coordinate action for the fastest, most efficient move to 100% RE and an ecological global society.

  5. Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

    Some years ago attended a presentation by James Hansen. Arrived at the last second and the only available seat was a vacated one in the front row which I took. So it was big James’ seat, ah woopsie, he didn’t need it being at the podium. Anyway. When the man stated the need for a nuclear component, the Shock Horror in the audience was quite funny. But, but..what about 3 mile island..’still running’.. Chernobyl..’heap of junk not being built anymore, should not have been built in the first place’. Even the words of one GREAT living person (anybody wanna dispute that) hit a wall of prejudiced dogma. The world can be saved by science and good will, not by prejudice and personal barrows.

  6. Gingerbaker Says:

    DOG said:

    “go to Hansen’s words for an answer.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2017/08/03/the-real-climate-consensus-nuclear-power/#20be2d1d2ef5

    James Taylor, who wrote the article you offer as a proof source is, according to DeSmogBlog:

    “James McBee Taylor is president of the Spark of Freedom foundation, a Senior Fellow with the Heartland Institute and former managing editor (2001-2014) of the Heartland publication Environment & Climate News. Taylor also writes a regular column for Forbes magazine. [1], [2], [3]”

    “He has been a featured speaker at events sponsored by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the State Policy Network (SPN), Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation, European Institute for Climate and Energy, and many others. [1]”

    How about a few quotes from James? Ok… how about these:

    2016

    “Forget what global warming activists would lead you to believe – 2015 was not even close to the hottest year on record.” [6]

    2011

    “The evidence is powerful, straightforward, and damning. NASA satellite instruments precisely measuring global temperatures show absolutely no warming during the past the past 10 years.” [7]

    May 6, 2014

    James Taylor is quoted in a National Geographic article entitled, “Climate Report Provides Opportunity for Bridging Political Divide,” following the release of the US government’s National Climate Assessment:

    “The report falsely asserts that global warming is causing more extreme weather events, more droughts, more record high temperatures, more wildfires, warmer winters, etc., when each and every one of these false assertions is contradicted by objective, verifiable evidence.” [10]

    February 9, 2017

    Writing at Spark Freedom, James Taylor suggests that President Donald Trump “would be wise to remove government impediments to oil and natural gas fracking.” He concludes that “This is the path to national prosperity and political success. ”This is the path to national prosperity and political success.” [54]

    plenty more at:

    https://www.desmogblog.com/james-taylor

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Uh, GB? We’re talking about James HANSEN here, not James TAYLOR. And I AM a bit surprised to see you do such a total “But what about…?” switcheroo to talking about Taylor in an attempt to discount Hansen and the others who advocate nuclear power. It’s a tactic more often employed by deniers and dirtbags like Taylor and rags like Forbes and the WSJ.

      I’m sorry you don’t understand that even dirtbags like Taylor can take positive (from our viewpoint) stances when it suits their purposes. In Taylor’s case, he supports nuclear only because he sees it as a way to disparage and slow down solar and wind while fossil fuels go on their merry way with BAU for the foreseeable future. That doesn’t make what he says about nuclear power suspect, only his motives.

      I apologize for not being clear about “go to Hansen’s words”—-I think I meant to refer back to my other comments and also intended to say something about the link to Taylor—-CRS at my age (but at least I’m not clouding my brain with weed like you and Musk).

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        Dirtbags like Taylor might be right on some issues, and heroes like Hanson can be wrong on some as well. Logic.

        I am *still* waiting for an affirmative argument on why we MUST include nuclear, as every justification you supply is not unique to nuclear but also applies to wind, solar, etc at much lower cost and greater safety and speed of construction.

        Is there not enough sun falling on the USA? Is there not enough wind? Is either going to run out soon? Are they not cool enough? Not enough challenge to implement? Too inexpensive? Too easy to pronounce?

        • Gingerbaker Says:

          You say:

          “I apologize for not being clear about “go to Hansen’s words””

          The problem is that there are no words by Hansen in your reference. Only by Taylor. Or did I miss a link?

          • Sir Charles Says:

            Hansen claims in a video that not even 10,000 people would have died due to nuclear power in the history of the planet.

            Alone for the Chernobyl accident, the Union of Concerned Scientists estimates a death toll of approximately 27,000. Greenpeace estimates 93,000—200,000 casualties. And this study, published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, claims a Chernobyl death toll of 985,000, mostly from cancer.

      • sailrick Says:

        I’m curious what you think about LFTR type nuclear. Liquid Floride/Fuel? Thorium Reactors
        Or, have I asked you that before? From what I have read, they could be much safer.

        What bothers me about nuclear power is the possibility of human error of all kinds. I see Fukushima as an example of lack of foresight, overconfidence, and underestimating the power of nature. I would accept some nuclear in the energy mix, but don’t see it being the largest in the mix. Nuclear now produces about 20% of U.S. electricity, with about 100 nuke plants. For it to produce 50% of our power, we would need 150 additional plants, three per state on average. I just don’t see that happening.

        • Sir Charles Says:

          Could be, would be, blah blah blah. We have no time for more experiments. Renewable energy is already the cheapest kind of electricity generation and is working safely.

          • sailrick Says:

            I am not a nuclear power advocate by any means. But I am open minded enough to consider options regarding climate change mitigation. LFTRs are not really experimental. The government built two of them back in the 50s or 60s.

            I think that (CSP) solar thermal power with heat storage should be pursued on a large scale. Day and Night base load power. See my previous comment.
            According to NREL studies, there is potential for 1,000 GW, in the U.S. southwest. Even eastern Oregon has 12 GW potential. California 90 GW, Arizona 285 GW, for example.

            Their estimates include using 1% or less of available and suitable land (very flat) and with buffers zones around parks, lakes, rivers, human habitation, etc.
            I think well meaning environmentalists have shot themselves in the foot, with fears of impacting desert ecosystems. If global warming isn’t reduced, those same areas would probably become too dry anyway. Some projections are that soil moisture could be reduced another 20% or more. Not to mention that the deserts would grow larger.

            CSP is more expensive than PV solar and wind power, but it produces more valuable energy, and costs are coming down. It hasn’t had the large scale ramp up and economies of scale yet. Mass producing the components would make a big difference.
            They are also more flexible in responding to demand in the grid, than nuclear or coal plants. CSP with heat storage can have capacity factors from 45% to 70%, power tower type having the higher capacity factors, while solar trough type are cheaper to build.

            Solar thermal can also be used as a heat source, hot water source, combined heat and power, and can be co-fired with natural gas, sharing the same steam turbine generator. The solar for daytime and the gas for nighttime, when less power is needed. (in this case there is no heat storage)
            And they can be used to desalinate sea water.

            One study showed that an area 42 miles by 42 miles filled with heat storage equipped solar thermal could produce as much electricity as all the coal fired plants in America.

            —-

            from National Renwable Energy Lab (NREL )

            “Concentrating solar has promised big additions to renewable energy production with the additional benefit of energy storage — saving sun power for nighttime”

            Nighttime power generation is hardly the only benefit of heat storage.

            Thermal Energy Storage (TES) and Solar Thermal power plants

            “Adding TES provides several additional sources of value to a CSP plant. First, unlike a plant that must sell electricity when solar energy is available, a CSP plant with TES can shift electricity production to periods of highest prices. Second, TES may provide firm capacity to the power system, replacing conventional power plants as opposed to just supplementing their output. Finally, the dispatchability of a CSP plant with TES can provide high-value ancillary services such as spinning reserves.”

            Solar thermal and heat storage

            “Profit Maximization
            Energy storage allows the plant operator to maximize profits. During periods of low hourly power prices, the operator can forgo generation and dump heat into storage; and at times of high prices, the plant can run at full capacity even without sun.

            Peak Shaving
            Solar generating capacity with heat storage can make other capacity in the market unnecessary. With heat storage the solar plant is able to ‘shave’ the peak load.

            Reducing Intermittence
            The ability of thermal solar plants to use heat energy storage to keep electric output constant: (1) reduces the cost associated with uncertainty surrounding power production; and (2) relieves concerns regarding electrical interconnection fees, regulation service charges, and transmission tariffs.

            Increasing Plant Utilization
            Solar plants equipped with heat storage have the ability to increase overall annual generation levels by ‘spreading out’ solar radiation to better match plant capacity.”

            http://www.nrel.gov/csp/troughnet/pdfs/owens_storage_value.pdf

  7. Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

    Chernobyl. Last United Nations report seen, signed off by 200 researchers, estimated the premature death toll at around 9000. Greenpeace speaks to the faithful, and any number is insignificant compared to 9,000,000 deaths from air pollution every dam year. The flora and fauna around Chernobyl are doing Great, even the odd old couple are still surviving. Last heard, builders are on site 4 days a week building a sarcophagus. Will be a tourist destination!.


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