Question 1: Energy
|Author||Topic: Question 1: Energy|
Off With Their Heads
Member # 4045
written Tuesday, May 2 2006 18:17
Stareye, would you mind putting in a word or two about the cost-effectiveness of building nuclear plants? I read an article in the SF Chronicle once that claimed that, at present, it would be cheaper just to increase the efficiency of our car engines and light bulbs and all other energy-consuming devices (and thereby reduce consumption) than to go nuclear, but it provided no references or statistics to back this up. Do you know to what extent this is true?
[ Tuesday, May 02, 2006 18:17: Message edited by: Kelandon ]
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Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
Member # 6
written Tuesday, May 2 2006 18:52
It is probably right in the ideal world. If we could immediately make all of our engines more efficient, automatically replace outdated appliances, and make every light-bulb a compact flourescent, there would be a huge and relatively major reduction in energy use.
Reality being it takes a long time for these sorts of things to really enter the marketplace. People still drive 10-20 year old cars and have appliances in their home just as old. So to answer your question, we will likely need to do both.
Building new nuclear plants is a difficult question to answer. Most of the costs come from investment uncertainty these days. Because of the history of poor regulatory framework resulting in frequent delays, loans on a nuclear plant would be very high indeed. This is a function of the attitude of the investment community and not the technology itself.
Because of this uncertainty, the exact costs are unknown. New designs are modular meaning that construction should be faster. The first of a kind costs are probably going to be ~$500 million with a large uncertainty band because one has not been built in the US in 30 years and some delays are inevitable. Once this hurdle is cleared costs would decrease from experience.
Once the plant comes online and the operations have been streamlined, nuclear plants tend to be huge profit centers especially if you have a lot of them (no need to duplicate resources for dealing with the regulators).
That being said, we are going to need more baseload soon -- sooner, in fact, than nuclear plants could provide. Efficiency standards aren't going to penetrate the markets fast enough. My feeling is we're going to need to do both and more just to keep up with demand.
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Posts: 3726 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
written Tuesday, May 2 2006 20:53
Here's some information whose source I can cite precisely: this guy I met at a party once, who sounded as though he knew what he was talking about, but who knows?
What he said was that banks of enormous diesel engines are used to generate a lot of electricity in the US, because a big diesel can be turned on and off much more quickly than any other source, and can therefore cope with the sudden demand surges that come when everyone in the time zone takes a shower in the morning. If you Google the concept you do find companies wanting to sell you 2MW diesel generators, so maybe this isn't crazy.
Response time wasn't something I had ever considered a factor in the energy problem, but in reality I guess it may well be.
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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Member # 5410
written Wednesday, May 3 2006 10:07
quote:I do not have an original source for this material but here is a post-crisis analysis of California in the 1990's that illustrates the above point:
quote:This is also an argument against electric cars. The cost (in terms of resources, esp. fossil fuels) to replace all fossil fuel cars with electric cars will actually consume more fossil fuel then continuing to use the same vehicles until they reach the end of their usable life. Of course, that doesn't mean NEW vehicles wouldn't be more efficient if they were electric and bought as the fossil fuel vehicles are retired naturally. If you look at the article posted above, it also states that if California had gone nuclear over renewable they would have saved 3 billion dollars.
quote:I believe I read recently that Europe would require 69,000 MW of new power in the next 10? years.
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Posts: 687 | Registered: Wednesday, January 19 2005 08:00