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Grid power discussion (solar, wind, nuclear, etc.)

For discussion and debate about anything. (Not a roleplay related forum; out-of-character commentary only.)

Which power generation method do you prefer?

Coal
2
2%
Natural gas
2
2%
Nuclear (uranium fission/thorium fission/fusion)
51
45%
Wind
9
8%
Solar
20
18%
Hydro
10
9%
Geothermal
6
5%
Oil
1
1%
Other
4
4%
David Hasselhoff
8
7%
 
Total votes : 113

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Nocturnes rest
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Grid power discussion (solar, wind, nuclear, etc.)

Postby Nocturnes rest » Fri Jan 24, 2020 8:30 pm

I see people talk about this from time to time on NSG, so I thought it would be a good idea to start a dedicated thread for it (partly because I think people are getting certain things wrong)

Anyway, my highly biased (but sourced where appropriate) OP will start with a quick overview of five power sources: Solar, wind, nuclear, natural gas, and coal, as well as pros, cons, and other relevant info that doesn't fall under those two umbrellas. (All power costs come from this source with a preference for American costs). Others can be discussed of course, as I can't control the thread and I wouldn't want to, plus tings like batteries, fusion, and thorium I just don't have enough data on

Solar: works by collecting energy from the sun and turning it into electricity

Cost (2019): $48.8 per MW/h
Cost Trend: -88% over ten years

Pros:
- Cheap and getting cheaper
- Deployable in areas where others aren't (rooftops, smaller fields of marginal land, over parking lots, etc)
- Low Capex and Opex (covered by cheap)
- Certain crops pair well with solar panels (source)
- Doesn't consume physical fuel, so it'll never run out until the sun turns into a red giant
- Pollution free

Cons:
- Doesn't pair well with every crops
- Low energy density (though only relevant in areas where space is tight)
- Less productive at higher latitudes for obvious reasons
- Only works when the sun is out
- Doesn't work as well when clouds block the sun

Other facts
- The ones used on satellites and the like are designed with efficiency above all else and are thus far to expensive to be economically viable on earth

Wind: produces energy by using wind to turn a large turbine connected to a generator
Cost (2019): $42.8 per MW/h (onshore) $117.9 per MW/h (offshore)
Cost trend: −71% over ten years (onshore) -38% over ten years (offshore)

Pros
- Cheap (Onshore only)
- uses surprisingly little space for the area it covers (in a farmer's field with a wind turbine, for example, they can use 95% of the land around the wind turbine (source)
- Helps rural communities economically (see source for area they use)
- Relies exclusively on current natural processes
- Pollution free

Cons
- The wind must be blowing
- Kills birds (roughly 140k to 328k yearly (source, though this is far below the number for, say, cats, which amount to about 3.7 billion yearly (Source))
- Best suited to wide open spaces

Other info:
- Best built in the Midwest (onshore) where winds are strongest (source)
- Does not cause cancer, whatever Trump may claim

Nuclear: heats water through nuclear reactions and uses the resultant steam to drive generators
Cost (2018): $90.1 per MW/h
Cost trend: -23% over 9 years

Pros
- Extremely low Opex
- Fuel is cheap
- High energy density
- Does not rely on time of day or weather
- Clean

Cons
- Sky high Capex (and regulation isn't the cause according to nuclear plant builders (Source))
- Expensive as a result (power companies are going to want to recoup their investment after all)
- Takes a very long time to build
- Seems unable to be built anywhere near on time or on budget currently (source)

Other info
- Chernobyl, Fukushima, and Three Mile Island are best considered anomalies
- Decommissioning is being ignored here
- Due to the high capex, are generally run at or near 100% at all times to get the most bang for their buck

Natural gas: burns natural gas to boil water and drive turbines
Cost (2019): $40.8 per MW/h (conventional) 40.2 per MW/h (advanced)
Cost trend: -48% (conventional) -49% (advanced)

Pros
- Cheap
- Can ramp up and down easily, making them popular as peaker plants
- Far cleaner than coal
- Reasonable energy density

Cons
- Still pollutes
- Occasionally has massive leaks (Aliso Canyon, for example)
- Takes time to start up, so peakers are kept running as low as they can go until needed, though this can be offset with batteries (source)
- The methods of extraction leave something to be desired (fracking, for example, causing flammable water)

Other info
- Natural gas is increasingly used in place of coking coal in steel making (Source, older source). My understanding is that this is because it's easier to control for impurities.

Coal: Burning coal to boil water to push through a steam turbine
Cost (2015): $95.1 per MW/h
Cost trend: -5% over 5 years

Pros
-Any? Anyone? I can't think of any

Cons
- Highly polluting
- No longer really economically viable, mainly kept afloat for political reasons
- Does not ramp up or down at all well
- Mining is extremely environmentally destructive
- More expensive than Nuclear

Other info
- Coking coal will likely never completely go away, but its need will probably be severely reduced as time goes on
- [John Oliver voice]Eat Shit, Bob[/John Oliver voice]

As to my own opinion, I really believe that, as batteries continue to develop (for electric cars, phones, power backups (a la tesla's powerwall), etc.) Solar and wind will become the main power sources with things like natural gas becoming backups when things go sour, though even that could be phased out given enough time and batteries (and improvements in efficiency). Coal is dying a very deserved death, and while I don't see any need to build more nuclear, we may as well run what we have as long as is economically feasible. (side note: due to the length of this post, and the sourcing needed, I had to do it on desktop)

So NSG, what is your opinion as to the best power sources now and in the future?
Last edited by Nocturnes rest on Fri Jan 24, 2020 10:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Neutraligon
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Postby Neutraligon » Fri Jan 24, 2020 8:34 pm

Just a quick thing for solar panels, I have heard of people grazing animals in the fields where solar panels are, rather then raising crops.
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Cetacea
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Postby Cetacea » Fri Jan 24, 2020 8:47 pm

You left out Hydro power which using modern verticle shaft turbines are less damaging to the environment and one of my favourite options.

I'm persoally a fan of Small scale Solar + Battery systems

- Chernobyl, Fukushima, and Three Mile Island are best considered anomalies
- Decommissioning is being ignored here


I know Nuclear has a lot of things in its favour however the two things you list here are the very reasons why I dont like it. Three melt down incidents in less than 50 years isn't an anomaly its a pattern and decommissioning is a issues right up there with micro-plastic :)

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Heloin
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Postby Heloin » Fri Jan 24, 2020 9:31 pm

Cetacea wrote:You left out Hydro power which using modern verticle shaft turbines are less damaging to the environment and one of my favourite options.

I'm persoally a fan of Small scale Solar + Battery systems

- Chernobyl, Fukushima, and Three Mile Island are best considered anomalies
- Decommissioning is being ignored here


I know Nuclear has a lot of things in its favour however the two things you list here are the very reasons why I dont like it. Three melt down incidents in less than 50 years isn't an anomaly its a pattern and decommissioning is a issues right up there with micro-plastic :)

Three major incidents in 50 years is a miracle for any other form of power aside from Solar. Really Nuclear power should work alongside wind and solar in the idea of a clean energy grid.
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The Zravvisk
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Postby The Zravvisk » Fri Jan 24, 2020 9:36 pm

Isn't one more con of coal power plants that they release more radiation to the surrounding area and cause more cancer than nuclear power plants? I seem to remember hearing about that.
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UniversalCommons
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Postby UniversalCommons » Fri Jan 24, 2020 9:39 pm

Biogas is another option. It is cheap and easy to produce.

For hydroelectric, there is distributed hydroelectric and run of the river hydroelectric.

There is also wave power which is in the early stages.

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Satuga
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Postby Satuga » Fri Jan 24, 2020 9:41 pm

Thorium power plants are probably the best for safety vs. cost vs. effectiveness. It's both safe, and produces a shit ton more power than uranium power plants we had way before. I'm not too sure about the cost, but I do know that the power generation is well worth the cost of one of these. Not to mention it's incredibly environment friendly.
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Pangurstan
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Postby Pangurstan » Fri Jan 24, 2020 9:42 pm

What about zombie energy?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8x0uL9ufxnQ
EDIT: better link
https://verminsupreme2020.com/zombie-power/

PS: thorium nuclear power plants are best
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Postby Rojava Free State » Fri Jan 24, 2020 10:04 pm

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Come through my drive through and try me. I guarantee America will be able to quit it's addiction to coal and oil that very day
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Postby Seangoli » Fri Jan 24, 2020 10:14 pm

Cetacea wrote:You left out Hydro power which using modern verticle shaft turbines are less damaging to the environment and one of my favourite options.

I'm persoally a fan of Small scale Solar + Battery systems

- Chernobyl, Fukushima, and Three Mile Island are best considered anomalies
- Decommissioning is being ignored here


I know Nuclear has a lot of things in its favour however the two things you list here are the very reasons why I dont like it. Three melt down incidents in less than 50 years isn't an anomaly its a pattern and decommissioning is a issues right up there with micro-plastic :)


1. Chernobyl is a anonymous simply because it shouldn't have happened. The operators took measured, direct decisions that were contrary to practically every safety protocol put in place for the specific reactor type. This isn't a case of them screwing up a few things. It was them doing the opposite of what they should have been doing at many points in the process.

2. Three mile was a coolant leak, and ultimately a non-issue in scale.

3. Fukushima was caused by a near apocalyptic earthquake and tsunami. That said, the impact of the contamination is limited. The contamination in the immediate vicinity is negligible, and testing on fish populations in the area has shown that radiation is well below the limits for consumption, and trivial for actual hazards to people.

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Postby Thermodolia » Fri Jan 24, 2020 10:25 pm

The Zravvisk wrote:Isn't one more con of coal power plants that they release more radiation to the surrounding area and cause more cancer than nuclear power plants? I seem to remember hearing about that.

Yes they do. Oddly enough a coal power plant puts out nearly three times the amount of radiation that nuclear power plants do.
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Postby Thermodolia » Fri Jan 24, 2020 10:27 pm

Seangoli wrote:
Cetacea wrote:You left out Hydro power which using modern verticle shaft turbines are less damaging to the environment and one of my favourite options.

I'm persoally a fan of Small scale Solar + Battery systems



I know Nuclear has a lot of things in its favour however the two things you list here are the very reasons why I dont like it. Three melt down incidents in less than 50 years isn't an anomaly its a pattern and decommissioning is a issues right up there with micro-plastic :)


1. Chernobyl is a anonymous simply because it shouldn't have happened. The operators took measured, direct decisions that were contrary to practically every safety protocol put in place for the specific reactor type. This isn't a case of them screwing up a few things. It was them doing the opposite of what they should have been doing at many points in the process.

2. Three mile was a coolant leak, and ultimately a non-issue in scale.

3. Fukushima was caused by a near apocalyptic earthquake and tsunami. That said, the impact of the contamination is limited. The contamination in the immediate vicinity is negligible, and testing on fish populations in the area has shown that radiation is well below the limits for consumption, and trivial for actual hazards to people.

Also three Mile was completely contained within the reactor containment unit while Chernobyl had no containment vessel
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Postby Nakena » Fri Jan 24, 2020 10:43 pm

We, the denizens of NSG, do demand an poll.

Also I always started out with a Coal Power Plant in Sim City but later switched over to Solar.
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Postby Thermodolia » Fri Jan 24, 2020 10:50 pm

Nakena wrote:We, the denizens of NSG, do demand an poll.

Also I always started out with a Coal Power Plant in Sim City but later switched over to Solar.

Bah sim city is lame. My CPU Melting Cities Skylines is where it’s at
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Postby Neu California » Fri Jan 24, 2020 10:50 pm

Nakena wrote:We, the denizens of NSG, do demand an poll.

Also I always started out with a Coal Power Plant in Sim City but later switched over to Solar.

Pool added, with obligatory Hasselhoff option
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Postby The Sladerstan » Fri Jan 24, 2020 10:59 pm

I'm more into Solar Power and Hydropower, but there is another more effective option:

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Come through my drive through and try me. I guarantee America will be able to quit it's addiction to coal and oil that very day

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Postby Heloin » Fri Jan 24, 2020 11:08 pm

Thermodolia wrote:
Nakena wrote:We, the denizens of NSG, do demand an poll.

Also I always started out with a Coal Power Plant in Sim City but later switched over to Solar.

Bah sim city is lame. My CPU Melting Cities Skylines is where it’s at

Fourteen hydroelectric dams that barely provide any power but looked really cool.
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Nakena
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Postby Nakena » Fri Jan 24, 2020 11:39 pm

Thermodolia wrote:
Nakena wrote:We, the denizens of NSG, do demand an poll.

Also I always started out with a Coal Power Plant in Sim City but later switched over to Solar.

Bah sim city is lame. My CPU Melting Cities Skylines is where it’s at


I havent yet played it. I've played Sim City last time for sure about ten years ago. So...

Also it didn had Geothermal Power which is my absolute favorite anyways.
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Postby Thermodolia » Fri Jan 24, 2020 11:41 pm

Nakena wrote:
Thermodolia wrote:Bah sim city is lame. My CPU Melting Cities Skylines is where it’s at


I havent yet played it. I've played Sim City last time for sure about ten years ago. So...

Also it didn had Geothermal Power which is my absolute favorite anyways.

Cities Skylines has just about every power you could think of. Plus it can be heavily modded, but be warned doing so can melt your CPU
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Postby Nobel Hobos 2 » Sat Jan 25, 2020 12:11 am

I voted Solar because I expect in the future it will be the most economical. However I also like Hydro (for storage mainly) and Nuclear for demand peaks without storage.

Battery storage is emerging as a panacea for the intermittent sources (solar, wind, tide) but to cover against all possible bad weather something else is needed. I actually wouldn't mind keeping gas turbines around, provided they're not used very often. Nuke plants that aren't used often aren't a good idea at all.
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Postby Blargoblarg » Sat Jan 25, 2020 12:38 am

I voted Solar in the poll, but I'd actually prefer a combination of Solar, Wind, and Geothermal.
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Postby Nuroblav » Sat Jan 25, 2020 3:26 am

Solar was what I voted, but I would actually prefer a combination of renewable energy forms depending on what works where.
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Postby The Derpy Democratic Republic Of Herp » Sat Jan 25, 2020 8:41 am

A mix of things. Mainly fusion first and foremost but also combined with solar, wind, hydro and, geothermal.

Use fission as a stop gap while we get fusion.

There, energy crisis solved and climate change gets a big bite taken out of it. Power costs go down over the years as fusion combined all of the above generates ludicrous amounts of power. Electricity becomes cheaper then gas and makes a mass switch to electric cars easier.

Of course if this was civ 4, i'd just use coal plants because need to get them factories up for building spaceship parts. They are the earliest and recycling centers fix the climate problems in that game anyway. Fission takes too long between getting the factory tech and actually using it. Uranium is rng based while coal you will find loads of. Dams also take too long. Plastics take forever to research and you probably won't always have a town near a river. Staking everything on getting the three gorges dam wonder is too risky especially if your playing with a civ ai that gets a wonder construction bonus.
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Postby Novus America » Sat Jan 25, 2020 9:58 am

Cetacea wrote:You left out Hydro power which using modern verticle shaft turbines are less damaging to the environment and one of my favourite options.

I'm persoally a fan of Small scale Solar + Battery systems

- Chernobyl, Fukushima, and Three Mile Island are best considered anomalies
- Decommissioning is being ignored here


I know Nuclear has a lot of things in its favour however the two things you list here are the very reasons why I dont like it. Three melt down incidents in less than 50 years isn't an anomaly its a pattern and decommissioning is a issues right up there with micro-plastic :)


Nuclear is actually the safest main source: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes ... -paid/amp/
Three Mile Island killed and hurt no one.

And why decommission nuclear power plants at all? Keep them running indefinitely.

The main advantage of nuclear is it uses the least amount of land and materials per energy produced. And it is the most reliable and consistent.

Also it can be used most places, even underwater.
Last edited by Novus America on Sat Jan 25, 2020 10:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Page » Sat Jan 25, 2020 11:56 am

Novus America wrote:
Cetacea wrote:You left out Hydro power which using modern verticle shaft turbines are less damaging to the environment and one of my favourite options.

I'm persoally a fan of Small scale Solar + Battery systems



I know Nuclear has a lot of things in its favour however the two things you list here are the very reasons why I dont like it. Three melt down incidents in less than 50 years isn't an anomaly its a pattern and decommissioning is a issues right up there with micro-plastic :)


Nuclear is actually the safest main source: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes ... -paid/amp/
Three Mile Island killed and hurt no one.

And why decommission nuclear power plants at all? Keep them running indefinitely.

The main advantage of nuclear is it uses the least amount of land and materials per energy produced. And it is the most reliable and consistent.

Also it can be used most places, even underwater.


But nuclear is not sustainable.

When well-managed, it can be a clean and effective source of energy, but the world must still transition to solar, wind, geothermal. Nuclear can fill the gap between the end of fossil fuels and a full renewable energy infrastructure but it can't be relied on forever. There is only enough uranium for the next 200 years.
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