The Weekend Wonk: Has Long Term Storage Been Solved?

September 4, 2021

21 Responses to “The Weekend Wonk: Has Long Term Storage Been Solved?”

  1. Storage is a joke when you dig into the physics and scale of energy use. It mainly works in small towns or individual households. The same problem happened with biofuels like ethanol. You reach a point where making something exceeds the ERoI benefits. You can wish it away as solvable, but it’s still about scaling.

    “Renewables” junkies refuse to understand scaling math, and if you corner them on it, they make insane plans for covering the world with machines, while telling you how green they are. They also file lawsuits in the domain of honest debate, because part of them knows they’re dreaming.

    Battery storage just encourages more energy sprawl and the dream of endless substitutions. Study “cubic mile of oil” if you haven’t bothered to yet. Nuclear is the only thing that may help significantly, but it’s a rocky road.

    • Mark Mev Says:

      Too bad multiple companies and countries didn’t talk to you first before they built and are continuing to build utility scale battery projects. I think they would have canceled all those projects if they just knew that it mainly works for small towns and individual households.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      nuclear has barriers that most enthusiasts do not appreciate. video coming.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      [Splitting response to avoid moderation penalty box.]

      Storage is a joke when you dig into the physics and scale of energy use.

      Scale? Somthing like this (which can be stacked and/or buried):

      …compared to this:

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      [Response 2/2]
      On top of that, there are vast improvements in increased efficiency using modern tech (LED lightbulbs, dense computing), modern more lightweight* materials and designs (reducing transport costs), smart power usage built into devices (sleeping and dozing modes), savings on transport** and waste heat from combustion-based energy, and standardization (e.g., rails, shipping containers, energy converters).

      As for your “cubic mile of oil”, how much of that gets spilled in the Gulf of Mexico or Persian Gulf or the Niger delta or remote areas of Russia, Brazil or Mexico? How much of it is floating on the water in lakes, ditches and streams? How much of it got turned into combustion products that poison our air? How much associated gases were flared? How much associated CH4 was released directly into the atmosphere?

      *Appliance delivery people kept remarking on how much heavier my old refrigerator was when they took it away.
      **There’s a lot of energy used pumping and shipping hydrocarbons around.

    • EROI – a meaningless measure which applies to businesses making a profit, not to Government expenditures. It seems you cannot be bothered to inform yourself about the scale and variety of energy storage systems.

      Li-ion storage is not the only solution, there are multiple storage solutions and multiple battery technologies. Other solutions include liquified air and kinetic/gravity storage. Electro-Chemical batteries come in many forms flow batteries, iron/air batteries and liquid metal batteries offer energy dense solutions.

      “Renewables Junkies” – nice ad hominem there, sunshine. You seem to lack the ability to read for comprehension: the lawsuit you cite was not “thrown out” it was abandoned because of the problems in proving defamation, as Prof Jacobsen stated.

  2. sailrick Says:

    Nuclear? scaling up?

    Let’s assume for argument’s sake, that we wanted 100% nuclear energy.

    We now have 95 nuclear reactors in the U.S., which average about 1 GW generating capacity. They produce about 20% of the total electricity.

    So to get to 100%, we would need roughly 400 more reactors, or an average of 8 per state.
    But most of the existing nuke plants will need to be retired in the coming decades, because of age.
    So now we need 500 more reactors, or an average of 10 per state.

    Anyone who thinks that anything remotely like that will happen is dreaming.

    My hypothetical case is sort of based on how nuclear advocates are always claiming it’s the only solution.

    • Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

      Well damn! We could get rid of a gazillion polluting fossil fuel plants, provide all the required energy to save the world. It would work and can be done. Think any solution will be easy?
      Concentrate on what will work, not what is ideologically acceptable. A matter of personal, not scientific, opinion by the way. Regardless, we do not need 100% nukes, just sufficient to fill the gaps in renewables.

      • sailrick Says:

        I didn’t say we needed 100% renewables, it was a hypothetical comment to make a point. And I didn’t say nuclear couldn’t fill in some of the gaps.

        A Decade Of Wind, Solar, & Nuclear In China Shows Clear Scalability Winners

        “China’s natural experiment in deploying low-carbon energy generation shows that wind and solar are the clear winners.

        China was the perfect natural experiment for this assessment, as it was treating both deployments as national strategies (an absolute condition of success for nuclear) and had the ability and will to override local regulations and any NIMBYism. No other country could be used to easily assess which technologies could be deployed more quickly

        But China surprised the world in 2020, deploying not only 72 GW of wind energy, vastly more than expected, but also 48 GW of solar capacity. The wind deployment was a Chinese and global record for a single country, and the solar deployment was over 50% more than the previous year. Meanwhile, exactly zero nuclear reactors were commissioned in 2020.”

        • Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

          That,s a non hypothetical dump on your hypothetical. Zero nukes in China 2020. Seriously unimpressive as they have commissioned a bunch (numbers vary with source) and have ‘around’ 18 under construction. Yes their are difficulties getting nukes. That is the point. A world destroyed because of an unscientific ideology! BTW, we are on the same side. I rant at anti wind, solar and hydro FW also.

    • how many solar panels and wind turbines are you going to need for each one of those 400 nuclear plants you don’t build? How much extra land? How much storage and transmission? How much extra mining? Wind and solar use more materials than nuclear:

  3. neilrieck Says:

    Ontario buys a lot of pumped storage from Quebec. (it is preferable to natural-gas peaker plants)

  4. redskylite Says:

    Here’s a way of relatively long term storage that may be the answer for Denmark’s grid and Danish Island’s.

    “Hot Rock Energy Storage Will Soon Be A Reality In Denmark’s Electricity Grid

    The facility will be able to store electricity from renewables at times when the wind blows and the sun shines, for later use. The new storage system, called GridScale, stores energy in large tanks filled with crushed stone.”

  5. J4Zonian Says:

    The exclusion zones (XZ) made necessary by nuclear “accidents” [1] at Chernobyl and Fukushima, and one-that-should-be at Kyshtym (XZTSB) equal 3100 square miles.

    Just a tiny sample of land wrecked or taken up by nukes: (& dates of accidents)
    Fuku (2011)…1000 sq. mi.,10 years ago…Construction started 1967
    Chern (1986)…1600 sq. mi., 35 years ago…Construction started 1972
    Kysh (1957)…(500) sq. mi., 64 years ago…“Founded” [?] 1948
    Total……………3100 sq. mi. 

    “In the years following World War II, the United States was the foremost nuclear power in the world. In an effort to catch up, the Soviet Union quickly built nuclear power plants and cut corners in order to keep pace. 
The Mayak plant near the city of Kyshtym had a tank with a substandard cooling system as a result, and when it failed [in 1957], the increasing temperature caused an explosion that contaminated almost 500 miles of the surrounding area.”

    Kept secret by the Soviet government until 10,000 people had to be evacuated. 200 died, and an exclusion zone should have been created and should still exist. Wasn’t. Doesn’t.

    So to the following figures, I’m adding a 500 sq. mi. exclusion-zone-that-isn’t as a tiny stand-in for all the other land taken up and contaminated by nuclear facilities.

    That includes still-standing hemi-demi-semi-decommissioned reactors, parts, and the enormous amounts of land dedicated to mining, processing, storing and using radioactive material for the inextricably interwoven nuclear reactor and weapons programs, the land they’ve leaked on and the land killed by industrial agriculture because fisheries have been degraded by radioactivity. The land area figures here are really an infinitesimal fraction of the land that’s been wrecked to supply less than 5% of the world’s energy; 75 years of hopes and money and effort by scientists and engineers could have been spent on efficiency, wiser lives, and clean safe renewable energy (RE) and paid off bigger. RE supplies more than that on the books, and even more through clothesline paradox energy.

    Stay tuned for further research. 

    A square mile of solar panels produces 425 TWh/yr. on average. [2] 

    There weren’t effective solar panels when the 3 facilities were built so I’m counting them as solar farms only since 1985, when solar cells reached 20% efficiency. Using only that technology, just these 3 exclusion zones would have produced 2,520,076,000 TWh per year, or 2.5 Zettawatt hours. That’s 2 named units higher than I’ve ever had occasion to use, even when dealing with the energy production of all of humanity.

    Had to look it up.
    (1 Terawatt x 1000 = 1 Petawatt…x 1000 = 1 Exawatt…x 1000 = 1 Zettawatt)

    UK uses 1,700 TWh/yr
    US uses 3,800 TWh, (2020)
    Total world energy use (not just electricity), 2016 = 113,009 TWh 

    That 2.5 Zettawatts per year produced by solar in just the 3 Exclusion Zones is 22,299 times more energy than the world used in 2016.

    Operating as solar farms since 1985, these 3 areas would have produced 900,722,764,800 TWh. of electricity. Rounding off and discarding the .7 Zettawatts (which alone is more than 6000 times the energy the world uses per year) that’s 900 Zettawatts, or almost 1 Yottawatt of electricity. (Yottawatt. Really. Looked it up. A Yottawatt.)

    A Yottawatt is a lotta watts.

    So I shouldn’t even need to mention that “Hinkley Point, on the Somerset coast, is the biggest building site in Europe. Here, on 430 acres of muddy fields…” a giant, pre-obsoleted boondoggle for French, Chinese, and British military investors, set aside with 7 other such areas in 2010, is slowly building toward being shut down before it ever opens. (Unless corruption wins and the unelected rulers do as they have been—continue to ignore the emergency.) 

    430 acres = .67 square miles x 425 TWh/mi2/yr. = 284.75 TWh/yr
    x 8 = 2278 TWh/yr 

    Construction of Hinky started in 2018; no one knows when it will be finished if ever. Hinkley was?is expected to produce 6.8% of the UK’s electricity, or 115.6 TWh/yr, at a contracted price much higher than solar + wind + batteries are already providing, while those prices continue to drop. So the one site would produce 2½ times more electricity covered with solar panels than it would with a reactor and its necessary armed guards on it [3]

    Unless it’s never built, then solar would provide infinitely more electricity. 

    Hinkley Point: the ‘dreadful deal’ behind the world’s most expensive power plant
    Building Britain’s first new nuclear reactor since 1995 will cost twice as much as the 2012 Olympics – and by the time it is finished, nuclear power could be a thing of the past. How could the government strike such a bad deal?

    Let me guess: bribery? corruption? imperialism? Finally, we track the all-of-the-above strategy down to its roots.

    “The authors found that for every doubling in solar capacity installed, energy used to produce solar panels decreased by 12-13 percent, and greenhouse gas emissions dropped by 17-24 percent, depending on the material used.”
    …so the more solar and wind we have the more its advantage is compounded. 

    From 1975, costs decreased by about 20% for every doubling in capacity

    Average lifespan: 30-odd years


    [1] If it’s completely foreseeable, absolutely preventable, and happens anyway, is it really an accident?
    [2] Capacity = mi2 x 1,858,560 modules/mi2 x 250 W/panel = 464.64 MW/mi2
    Output at 20% = ………. 425 TWh/yr.
    [3] and the 8 sites together would produce 19.7 times more than the one reactor.

    • sailrick Says:

      Speaking of Fukushima
      It exemplifies what bothers me about the safety of nuclear. It’s not the technology, it’s the potential for human failure.
      What were they thinking, placing 6 reactors on a shore adjacent to an undersea subduction zone?
      It showed their overconfidence safety measures and underestimation of a force of nature.
      There have been 5 earthquakes of magnitude 9 since 1950. They all happened at undersea subduction zones, and they all created huge tsunamis. Humans can also be insane, terrorists, complacent, etc.
      There is still the problem of nuclear arms proliferation and potential dirty bombs, using nuclear fuel or waste.

      • J4Zonian Says:

        Yes, exactly. Arguments tend to degenerate into nonsensepoint-counterpoint about the alleged safety of some reactor model or other. But you’re right, they’re all designed, sited, approved, built, tested, and operated by people, mostly motivated by money (as Ohio and many other corruption/bribery scandals around the world show). But their real, deeper motivation is the desire to dominate, not just people but nature, even down to the atomic level. That’s what the money’s for.

        As if that’s not terrifying enough, if there’s an attempt to expand these machines, it will be done fast and sloppy by the B team. And the C team and D team and Q & Z teams. It will be done by and according to the dictates of bribed officials, bribing corporate flunkies and uncaring, profit-addicted people and corporations. Given enough reactors operating long enough, accidents thousands or millions of times worse than Fuku and Cherno are inevitable; they’re only made sooner by the dishonesty and incompetence of the ones in charge.

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