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Solar cheaper than nuclear? « Utilities « Industry Applications
 
Fri, 13 Aug 2010, 12:28am #61
nekote
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wcushman wrote:

... Edward Murphy created the law that says, "If you give a person any opportunity to do something the wrong way, eventually someone will do it that way". ...
Generally, the major portion of the problem.
Can become so expensive and cumbersome for extra, extra, extra safety.
Sometimes self defeating.

But, sadly, the worst case is intentional calamity.
Disgruntled employees, criminals, terrorists, what have you.


Go DW Go - *economical* mass production

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Fri, 13 Aug 2010, 12:46am #62
eeinterested
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Here is a Stanford project that hopes to double the efficiency of solar. Some of the techniques could be used on existing systems.

I guess if this works Heeman will be congratulating all those enviros for pushing solar, because at that point it won't be even with nuclear, it will be a downright smackdown.

Doubling solar efficiency

New solar energy conversion process discovered by Stanford engineers could revamp solar power production

Stanford engineers have figured out how to simultaneously use the light and heat of the sun to generate electricity in a way that could make solar power production more than twice as efficient as existing methods and potentially cheap enough to compete with oil. Unlike photovoltaic technology currently used in solar panels – which becomes less efficient as the temperature rises – the new process excels at higher temperatures. Called "photon enhanced thermionic emission," or PETE, the process promises to surpass the efficiency of existing photovoltaic and thermal conversion technologies.

"This is really a conceptual breakthrough, a new energy conversion process, not just a new material or a slightly different tweak," said Nick Melosh, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering, who led the research group. "It is actually something fundamentally different about how you can harvest energy."

And the materials needed to build a device to make the process work are cheap and easily available, meaning the power that comes from it will be affordable. Melosh is senior author of a paper describing the tests the researchers conducted. It was published online Aug. 1 in Nature Materials.

"Just demonstrating that the process worked was a big deal," Melosh said. "And we showed this physical mechanism does exist; it works as advertised."

Most photovoltaic cells, such as those used in rooftop solar panels, use the semiconducting material silicon to convert the energy from photons of light to electricity. But the cells can only use a portion of the light spectrum, with the rest just generating heat. This heat from unused sunlight and inefficiencies in the cells themselves account for a loss of more than 50 percent of the initial solar energy reaching the cell.

If this wasted heat energy could somehow be harvested, solar cells could be much more efficient. The problem has been that high temperatures are necessary to power heat-based conversion systems, yet solar cell efficiency rapidly decreases at higher temperatures. Until now, no one had come up with a way to wed thermal and solar cell conversion technologies. Melosh's group figured out that by coating a piece of semiconducting material with a thin layer of the metal cesium, it made the material able to use both light and heat to generate electricity.

"What we've demonstrated is a new physical process that is not based on standard photovoltaic mechanisms, but can give you a photovoltaic-like response at very high temperatures," Melosh said. "In fact, it works better at higher temperatures. The higher the better."

While most silicon solar cells have been rendered inert by the time the temperature reaches 100 degrees Celsius, the PETE device doesn't hit peak efficiency until it is well over 200 C. Because PETE performs best at temperatures well in excess of what a rooftop solar panel would reach, the devices will work best in solar concentrators such as parabolic dishes, which can get as hot as 800 C. Dishes are used in large solar farms similar to those proposed for the Mojave Desert in Southern California and usually include a thermal conversion mechanism as part of their design, which offers another opportunity for PETE to help generate electricity as well as minimize costs by meshing with existing technology.

"The light would come in and hit our PETE device first, where we would take advantage of both the incident light and the heat that it produces, and then we would dump the waste heat to their existing thermal conversion systems," Melosh said. "So the PETE process has two really big benefits in energy production over normal technology."

Photovoltaic systems never get hot enough for their waste heat to be useful in thermal energy conversion, but the high temperatures at which PETE performs are perfect for generating usable high-temperature waste heat. Melosh calculates the PETE process can get to 50 percent efficiency or more under solar concentration, but if combined with a thermal conversion cycle, could reach 55 or even 60 percent – almost triple the efficiency of existing systems. The team would like to design the devices so they could be easily bolted on to existing systems, thereby making conversion relatively inexpensive.

The researchers used a gallium nitride semiconductor in the "proof of concept" tests. The efficiency they achieved in their testing was well below what they have calculated PETE's potential efficiency to be – which they had anticipated. But they used gallium nitride because it was the only material that had shown indications of being able to withstand the high temperature range they were interested in and still have the PETE process occur.

With the right material – most likely a semiconductor such as gallium arsenide, which is used in a host of common household electronics – the actual efficiency of the process could reach up to the 50 or 60 percent the researchers have calculated. They are already exploring other materials that might work. Another advantage of the PETE system is that by using it in solar concentrators, the amount of semiconductor material needed for a device is quite small.

"For each device, we are figuring something like a 6-inch wafer of actual material is all that is needed," Melosh said. "So the material cost in this is not really an issue for us, unlike the way it is for large solar panels of silicon."

The cost of materials has been one of the limiting factors in the development of the solar power industry, so reducing the amount of investment capital needed to build a solar farm is a big advance.

"The PETE process could really give the feasibility of solar power a big boost," Melosh said. "Even if we don't achieve perfect efficiency, let's say we give a 10 percent boost to the efficiency of solar conversion, going from 20 percent efficiency to 30 percent, that is still a 50 percent increase overall."

And that is still a big enough increase that it could make solar energy competitive with oil. The research was largely funded by the Global Climate and Energy Project at Stanford and the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Science, which is a joint venture of Stanford and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, with additional support from the Department of Energy and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Source Stanford University

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Sat, 05 Feb 2011, 10:17pm #63
Fibb
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Why the U.S. nuclear industry’s ambitions are at risk of going up in smoke

North America’s much-touted nuclear revival is in jeopardy, but it is not environmental and safety concerns that are undermining it. The industry is finding it increasingly difficult to make the economic case in both Canada and the United States.

Supports Amory Lovin's point that nuclear energy is lacking economic viability.


The time has come to demonstrate that ZENN is on the right path Romney/Ryan 2012

Dick Weir will not go quietly in the night.... - FMA

My grandkids won't know what it means to put gas or diesel in a car.

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Sun, 06 Feb 2011, 2:13am #64
student
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The economics support ditching nuclear fission when considering new capacity options.


Bill Nye says limits for a dielectric are simply what have been demonstrated to date.


Jack LaLanne

student scale: 1.5%

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Sun, 06 Feb 2011, 7:17am #65
bEElzebub
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wcushman wrote:

Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the UAE are all planning to go nuclear. They mostly use oil now to generate electricity, but claim they want to reduce CO2 and have no natural gas (better, but not CO2 free). If solar would be cheaper, they should use it. Oh, that's right, they need electricity at night, too. It's also possible they see Iran developing nuclear capabilities and feel they need to counter Iran.

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10...

They are all trying to make an excuse for their uranium enrichment plant which is what they really want to build. If it was a serious CO2 plan they would all go solar. All those countries are giant deserts with a bunch load of sun every day. They could just burn oil nighttimes until there are suitable storage units available. They could of course also make a solar salt heat plant which is capable of producing electricity 24/7.


Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. —Albert Einstein
(Go DW&CN)

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Sun, 06 Feb 2011, 10:07am #66
Robw
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student wrote:

The economics support ditching nuclear fission when considering new capacity options.

I guess you should explain that to your adopted homeland then. They don't seem to agree with you.


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Sun, 06 Feb 2011, 11:44am #67
student
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Robw wrote:

student wrote:

The economics support ditching nuclear fission when considering new capacity options.

I guess you should explain that to your adopted homeland then. They don't seem to agree with you.

How so? Small scale research in no way conflicts with the economy. Deployment is a separate issue.


Bill Nye says limits for a dielectric are simply what have been demonstrated to date.


Jack LaLanne

student scale: 1.5%

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Sun, 06 Feb 2011, 12:45pm #68
Robw
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student wrote:

Robw wrote:

student wrote:

The economics support ditching nuclear fission when considering new capacity options.

I guess you should explain that to your adopted homeland then. They don't seem to agree with you.

How so? Small scale research in no way conflicts with the economy. Deployment is a separate issue.

If it's totally uneconomical, as you are convinced it is, why bother? Why bother building any nuclear, current gen (which China is doing in a big way) or researching into next gen at all?

Apparently you know something that the Chinese government doesn't. Obviously they disagree with you by their actions.

By the way, they will have this up and running in much less then 20 years...no technological hurdles remain.

Last edited Sun, 06 Feb 2011, 12:52pm by Robw


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Sun, 06 Feb 2011, 3:58pm #69
wcushman
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One example of solar failing in the US and succeeding in China. From http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/11...
________________________________________________________________________

"Hard Choices: Evergreen Solar's China Move
CEO Michael El-Hillow on why he closed his U.S. plant, fired 800 workers, and is moving his company to China

As told to Diane Brady
BW Magazine

Mike McGregor for Bloomberg Businessweek

We make silicon wafers that go into solar panels. In 2008 we decided to build a plant in Massachusetts to be near our research and development facility. There was a groundswell of optimism that the U.S. was going to take the lead in the drive for alternative energy.

There were challenges from the start. Lehman Brothers was our banker and had almost a third of our outstanding shares as part of a financing transaction. That disappeared in Lehman's bankruptcy and cost us about $300 million. Then we went to the federal government to get help from the TARP funds, but they said no because we weren't a financial institution.

In December 2008 we were approached by a Chinese company, Jiawei, which was impressed with our wafer technology. The Chinese government agreed to support a loan that would cover two-thirds of our expansion in China. The subsidies we received from the government here covered less than 5 percent of the cost of our U.S. plant. We received $20 million and some future tax credits, but you can't pay taxes if you don't make money.

One mistake was making the U.S. facility too large. We should have made it a quarter the size. I wrote to the governor of Massachusetts, and we went to everyone we could think of—Congress, our banks. Nobody could help us. Then, late last year, prices went down 10 percent in one month for the modules we sell—on top of steadily falling prices for the last three years. That left us no choice but to stop making panels in the U.S. and shift our focus to making wafers in China. The access to capital for startups there is staggering.

About 800 people in our U.S. factory will lose their jobs, but the company wouldn't have survived if we didn't make this choice. Now we'll focus on what we do best. If we had stayed here, we would have been insolvent by September. We needed to do this to survive, although my hope is that some day more jobs will come back here."
_____________________________________________________________________

BTW: here are the banks and other businesses saved by TARP: http://bailout.propublica.org/list/index

They had the misfortune to be with the only giant bank not saved by TARP.

Last edited Sun, 06 Feb 2011, 4:09pm by wcushman


"All I want to know is where I will die so that I will never go there." Unknown wise man

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Sun, 06 Feb 2011, 10:43pm #70
student
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Nice article, wcushman. The PRC has a keen interest in encouraging innovation in the PRC.

Robw wrote:

student wrote:

Robw wrote:

student wrote:

The economics support ditching nuclear fission when considering new capacity options.

I guess you should explain that to your adopted homeland then. They don't seem to agree with you.

How so? Small scale research in no way conflicts with the economy. Deployment is a separate issue.

If it's totally uneconomical, as you are convinced it is, why bother? Why bother building any nuclear, current gen (which China is doing in a big way) or researching into next gen at all?

Apparently you know something that the Chinese government doesn't. Obviously they disagree with you by their actions.

By the way, they will have this up and running in much less then 20 years...no technological hurdles remain.

The State Research Council Office agrees with me Robw, recommending the central government "prevent local governments and enterprises from building too many nuclear projects too quickly in disregard of macro conditions."

I don't have much of a problem with the capacity planned for this decade as a temporary solution. Starting in 2020 or so, solar power should be cheap enough to be a dominant new capacity option. We'll have to wait and see. Simply committing future capacity expansion to expensive nuclear now is likely shortsighted. I find it likely pragmatism will eventually outweigh the allure of expanded nuclear eye-candy.


Bill Nye says limits for a dielectric are simply what have been demonstrated to date.


Jack LaLanne

student scale: 1.5%

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Mon, 07 Feb 2011, 12:38am #71
student
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There are a few factors at play in the PRC.

Coal:

Exploration for coal hasn't extensively taken place in the PRC. There are what I hear to be vast deposits not in the official inventory. What is accessible in what time frame needs to be more accurately established.

Efficiency of coal plants is set to increase, the older plants are being phased out. However, there remains room for improvement on the current generation of 46% efficient coal plants. The US Department of Energy is of the opinion 50% HHV is attainable. Applying similar techniques to NG plants and those efficiencies can be raised from around 52% to around 59% HHV.

Coal's role is not played out just yet. How these developments progress and affect coal's ability to support capacity expansion sufficient to meet demand determine the urgency with which alternatives must be implemented in new capacity. The question, how much alternatives are optional in what timeframe is what coal exploration and efficiency quests must determine.

GHG emissions:

A hot-button issue considering the potential implications combined with the lack of certainty. The Western populace seems to be widely ignorant of the idea of per capita emissions. The PRC is also keen on being seen as world-leading.

I suggest the PRC views GHG emissions per kW output as an area it has a unique opportunity to lead the world. I would not be surprised to see the PRC acting on that even if coal supplies prove to be sufficient for many decades to come. Especially if the US starts acting on Obama's 80% non-fossil fuel goal for 2035 (Is that likely?).

Non-nuclear fission alternatives:

Solar power is already cost-competitive with fossil fuel and cheaper than nuclear power in some markets. As this decade progresses, I expect it will continue to gain a cost advantage over fossil fuels and widen the gap with nuclear power.

It is entirely possible wind power will also continue to be an increasingly affordable alternative. Or perhaps some other alternative like fusion will unexpectedly pop up as a viable option.

The big question with solar and wind power in particular - and most feasible non-fossil fuel power in general (including nuclear fission) - is the extent to which the cost of energy storage is reduced.

Nuclear fission:

There is an odd chance researchers discover solutions to the issues with nuclear fission: waste disposal, bombing of facilities, mining of fuel without severely damaging the local environment and inordinately increasing cancer risks of local populations.

I do not find it likely such a solution will be found cost effective. This is definitely not the present case and definitely not what is likely for the future.

Energy storage:

There are several interesting utility scale options being worked on. I would not be surprised to find Isentropic's gravel batteries in the PRC in another ten to fifteen years.

Putting it all together:

The interplay of these factors in the capacity selection process as the PRC continues a vast expansion of capacity is yet to be determined. It is clear capacity must be added. It is fairly certain the PRC enjoys world-leading initiatives. The extent of the role domestic coal will be able to play is not yet clear. Future costs of the relevant alternative technologies are still being fleshed out.

Taking all the factors into account makes my position clear.

The State Research Council Office agrees with me Robw, recommending the central government "prevent local governments and enterprises from building too many nuclear projects too quickly in disregard of macro conditions."

I don't have much of a problem with the capacity planned for this decade as a temporary solution. Starting in 2020 or so, solar power should be cheap enough to be a dominant new capacity option. We'll have to wait and see. Simply committing future capacity expansion to expensive nuclear now is likely shortsighted. I find it likely pragmatism will eventually outweigh the allure of expanded nuclear eye-candy.

Last edited Mon, 07 Feb 2011, 11:06am by student


Bill Nye says limits for a dielectric are simply what have been demonstrated to date.


Jack LaLanne

student scale: 1.5%

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Mon, 07 Feb 2011, 10:55am #72
Innishfad
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Zawy--I do not want to rain on your parade, but the solar collector you described sounds like a nearly ideal environment for the development of Legionnaires disease organisms. Please be careful.

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Tue, 27 Sep 2011, 11:56pm #73
Fibb
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Another nail in the nuclear coffin.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news...


The time has come to demonstrate that ZENN is on the right path Romney/Ryan 2012

Dick Weir will not go quietly in the night.... - FMA

My grandkids won't know what it means to put gas or diesel in a car.

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Wed, 28 Sep 2011, 12:17am #74
WalksOnDirt
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Fibb wrote:

Another nail in the nuclear coffin.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news...

The title of the article is "SSE ditches nuclear power for gas, wind and biomass". Funny how gas isn't mentioned in the body, but because of leaks gas has almost the same global warming potential as coal. I wonder how much gas they are planning to use? Too much, I'll warrant.


Deasil is the right way to go.

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Wed, 28 Sep 2011, 12:55am #75
wasmaba
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Solar, Nuclear, Solar, Nuclear, Wave!


EEStor’s legitimacy is a job for Carl Sagan and Sherlock Holmes. Times are a changing.
http://theeestory.com/posts/47263 TY B,TV,Nekote. http://theeestory.com/topics/1949

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