The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Discussions about serious topics, for serious people
Post Reply
User avatar
bjn
Catbabel
Posts: 789
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:58 pm

Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by bjn » Mon Nov 02, 2020 7:36 am

bjn wrote:
Sun Nov 01, 2020 9:41 pm
Apologies, I misread the system cost break down for storage, and the capital cost for that CASIO system was $60 per MWh, not 60%. So the savings for cheaper batteries in a similar system won’t be as big. Note that the IRR for that system is 23%, they are coining it.

They have a range of other example systems, some being crazy high LCOSs (>$2000 in Nantucket), with residential storage microsystem costing about $400 in Hawaii.

Then there is the smaller Texas system that is paired to a solar farm has an LCOS of $81, IRR of 22%. That also had a capital cost of $60 per MWh. Drop the capital cost by up to 75% for a new system and it would be costing you $36 per MWh. Nuts.

There is a reason that Texas had multi multi GW of storage in the pipeline, with an estimate 1GW going in this year.
A bit further reading, the Nantucket system is being used only a few times a year, so it’s capital cost has to be spread over fewer kWhs. It’s purpose is to cover a few days per year of peak demand, they did this to avoid putting in an even more expensive upgrade of the power lines going into the island. The california and texas systems are being uses for grid stability and power arbitrage, so are being cycled frequently. So for simple time shifting of power, we now have cost effective solutions. For more more intermittent cases, not yet.

User avatar
bjn
Catbabel
Posts: 789
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:58 pm

Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by bjn » Tue Nov 03, 2020 8:32 pm

Ars has a review of a Nature article* that analyses the current costs of and impacts of integrating renewables into a grid. It’s not straight forward, and costs vary depending on a lot of factors, but in general, you can now get quite high penetrations which are cost competitive with fossil fuels.
But it is possible to make some generalizations. The first is that the variability of wind and solar power do make them more expensive to add to the grid, although the expense is pretty minimal if they're not already generating more than 10 percent of the power on the local grid. Above that, and they're only just becoming competitive with the price we pay for fossil fuel-generated power. But the price we pay for fossil fuels doesn't include the emissions they generate; accounting for that would probably bring wind and solar back in front. And anything's cheaper than nuclear right now.
One of the nice things is that demand for cooling correlates with insolation (funny that), so that adding solar generation in warmer climates actually drives down the price of electricity in those areas. Demand for heating, not so much.


*paywalled, hint, hint.

User avatar
bjn
Catbabel
Posts: 789
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:58 pm

Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by bjn » Sat Nov 21, 2020 4:32 pm

Ars has a review of paper going into the costs of making nuclear reactor and why costs have spiralled over time. It’s an analysis of the construction records of US nuclear plants over several decades, with most of the authors from the Department of Nuclear Engineering at MIT. The bulk of the cost inflation, 70% was just down to profound inefficiencies during construction. They examined 60 different aspects of construction and they nearly all went up over time.

R&D accounted for around 30% of the increase in costs, including adjusting to regulatory changes. That regulation was often in response to things like 3 Mile Island, so can't be dismissed as pointless over regulation.

The shocking thing was that there was no learning. Most time you make a first one, the second is a bit cheaper, the third a bit cheaper still and so on. Nukes didn’t do that, the learning rate was -115%, more than doubling with each subsequent reactor built in a series. Average cost overruns were 240%, which doesn’t include added financing costs due to delays during construction.

Seems to be a structural problem with the nuclear industry in the USA. While the report is US specific and one can’t generalise to the rest of the world, all other countries do see cost overruns and delays to their nuclear construction projects. (eg. the EPRs in China were 3 years late, Hinckley C is more than £2Bn over budget and delayed by at least 18 months, Flammanville 18 years in the making and counting).

User avatar
Grumble
Dorkwood
Posts: 1301
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:03 pm

Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Grumble » Sat Nov 21, 2020 8:19 pm

bjn wrote:
Sat Nov 21, 2020 4:32 pm
The shocking thing was that there was no learning. Most time you make a first one, the second is a bit cheaper, the third a bit cheaper still and so on. Nukes didn’t do that, the learning rate was -115%, more than doubling with each subsequent reactor built in a series. Average cost overruns were 240%, which doesn’t include added financing costs due to delays during construction.
The lack of standardisation is fundamental and incomprehensible to me. I worked somewhere once where I saw valves from power stations on a regular basis - heat treating them - and I never saw the same valve design twice.
This is part of the argument for SMRs from Rolls-Royce. They’ve been building reactors to a standard design for submarines for many years. Each generation of submarines has a new design of reactor but it’s iterative. SMRs will have a new design again, but again an iteration of what they know how to do.
I know this is vitriol, no solution, spleen venting, but I feel better having screamed, don’t you?

User avatar
bjn
Catbabel
Posts: 789
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:58 pm

Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by bjn » Sat Nov 21, 2020 9:26 pm

Grumble wrote:
Sat Nov 21, 2020 8:19 pm
bjn wrote:
Sat Nov 21, 2020 4:32 pm
The shocking thing was that there was no learning. Most time you make a first one, the second is a bit cheaper, the third a bit cheaper still and so on. Nukes didn’t do that, the learning rate was -115%, more than doubling with each subsequent reactor built in a series. Average cost overruns were 240%, which doesn’t include added financing costs due to delays during construction.
The lack of standardisation is fundamental and incomprehensible to me. I worked somewhere once where I saw valves from power stations on a regular basis - heat treating them - and I never saw the same valve design twice.
This is part of the argument for SMRs from Rolls-Royce. They’ve been building reactors to a standard design for submarines for many years. Each generation of submarines has a new design of reactor but it’s iterative. SMRs will have a new design again, but again an iteration of what they know how to do.
Colour me sceptical about SMRs, nukes have always under delivered on the promises (even in France), I'm not expecting much, but may be pleasantly surprised. They are definitely having difficulty finding customers in the US willing to take the risk of investing in them, so that the DoE is now ready to throw $130M/year for a decade at the first 'cheap' SMR generating 60MW.

It will be a many years before they come on line, then require more years to refine the production process, by which time renewables, HVDC interconnects and storage will have improved by leaps and bounds.

User avatar
Grumble
Dorkwood
Posts: 1301
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:03 pm

Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Grumble » Tue Nov 24, 2020 8:49 pm

Just found out that Boris dropped a requirement to stop putting gas boilers in new houses from 2022 from the 10 point plan. FFS.
I know this is vitriol, no solution, spleen venting, but I feel better having screamed, don’t you?

User avatar
bjn
Catbabel
Posts: 789
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:58 pm

Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by bjn » Tue Nov 24, 2020 9:42 pm

Grumble wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 8:49 pm
Just found out that Boris dropped a requirement to stop putting gas boilers in new houses from 2022 from the 10 point plan. FFS.
i’m guessing pressure from home builders.

Craven and lacking ambitious goals beyond self interest.

User avatar
Bird on a Fire
Light of Blast
Posts: 4298
Joined: Fri Oct 11, 2019 5:05 pm
Location: nadir of brie

Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Bird on a Fire » Tue Nov 24, 2020 11:57 pm

After Brexit, loads of my environmental friends were fairly sanguine about policy prospects: "Oh, it won't be that bad," they said, "Even the Conservatives are pushing progress on the environment. UK voters take it seriously. Michael Gove is interested in CAP reform."

I laughed in their naive little faces, and got drunk.

It's such a burden being right about everything all the time.
THINK BIG AND UPEND THE SYSTEM

#ShowYourStripes

User avatar
nekomatic
Fuzzable
Posts: 305
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 3:04 pm

Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by nekomatic » Wed Nov 25, 2020 12:34 am

I’d like to imagine it was because of fresh optimism for the prospects of hydrogen substitution for natural gas, but I’m not going to put money on that.

User avatar
Bird on a Fire
Light of Blast
Posts: 4298
Joined: Fri Oct 11, 2019 5:05 pm
Location: nadir of brie

Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Nov 25, 2020 12:36 am

Probably just selection bias. I'm realising that about a decade is probably the lifespan of a pessimist at giving-a-sh.t-about-the-environment ;)
THINK BIG AND UPEND THE SYSTEM

#ShowYourStripes

User avatar
Grumble
Dorkwood
Posts: 1301
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:03 pm

Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Grumble » Wed Nov 25, 2020 7:12 am

I am happy about the clear signal to the automotive manufacturers but home heating is such a big chunk of our CO2 output. It’s possible that there’s an argument about the capacity to supply enough heat pumps, but we’re only talking about new houses.

I would like to see a “no more gas boilers or stoves” policy, to pull a date out of the air let’s say 2030 as a deadline. But also a much simpler subsidy arrangement for them - currently there is a subsidy paid quarterly over a few years after purchase. This made the initial purchase unaffordable for me earlier this year. If the same subsidy was paid up front it would have made it possible for me to get a heat pump.
I know this is vitriol, no solution, spleen venting, but I feel better having screamed, don’t you?

User avatar
Grumble
Dorkwood
Posts: 1301
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:03 pm

Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Grumble » Wed Nov 25, 2020 12:55 pm

Following a mention on Fully Charged I went to have a read of this think tank report: https://www.rethinkx.com/energy
They claim that we should be aiming to have electricity from 100% solar wind and batteries with excess power available most of the time. The biggest question I have over the economics are in the assumption that cost reductions seen over the last decade will continue over the next. At some point we may well see a slowing down of the price reductions, although I’m cautiously optimistic that they will continue for a while yet.
I know this is vitriol, no solution, spleen venting, but I feel better having screamed, don’t you?

EACLucifer
Catbabel
Posts: 950
Joined: Fri Dec 13, 2019 7:49 am
Location: Behind you

Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by EACLucifer » Wed Nov 25, 2020 2:55 pm

Grumble wrote:
Wed Nov 25, 2020 12:55 pm
They claim that we should be aiming to have electricity from 100% solar wind...
I don't think there's any viable way of generating power from the solar wind at present ;)

User avatar
Grumble
Dorkwood
Posts: 1301
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:03 pm

Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Grumble » Wed Nov 25, 2020 3:15 pm

EACLucifer wrote:
Wed Nov 25, 2020 2:55 pm
Grumble wrote:
Wed Nov 25, 2020 12:55 pm
They claim that we should be aiming to have electricity from 100% solar wind...
I don't think there's any viable way of generating power from the solar wind at present ;)
Punctuation is o’verrated
I know this is vitriol, no solution, spleen venting, but I feel better having screamed, don’t you?

Post Reply