LENR vs Solar/Wind, and emerging Green Technologies.

  • Quote

    But so-called renewables are too little too late

    Renewable business is already massive in terms of subsidizes - it just increases fossil fuel consumption on background. After all, in similar way like research of vaccines promotes demands for them. Isn't it the Holy Grail of Late Stage Capitalism?

  • This doesn't contradict my article, according to which federal subsidies that support non-fossil fuels were $7.047 billion in fiscal year 2016, and more than 14 times higher that the subsides for fossil fuels, which were $489 million.

    You still don't understand. We pay the carbon industry at least 20 billions/year (for Germany) of unaccounted cost for health and environmental damage. Others say these costs are at least 4x or 80 billions if you count in the 20'000 lost lives due to pollution. But fine dust (famous Diesel) damage is even worse as it virtually can cause a broad range of illness starting with brain stroke, nerves damage autoimmune reactions, ADHS, autism, Kavaski syndrome etc..

  • Ruby,

    We should be careful when comparing primary energy with sources that only feed the electricity grid.

    Primary energy includes everything, like all the liquid that fuels air planes, ships, cars, trucks, busses.

    And these consumers will take some time to replace with electric drive, so we will still consume liquid fuels for some time yet.

    Sources like Nuclear energy and renwables feeds only the electricity grid.

    The growth of renewables have been dramatic only the last couple of years, and this year solar and wind alone will feed 8 to 10 % of global electricity.

    It gross exeponentially, which means by the end of this decade we may remove coal completely If we let renewables grow at the same exponential rate as now.

  • Offelia: you cannot argue with graphs ending in 2009. The renewables flourished during Al Gore + Obama:
    Energy subsidies from the federal government (in billions of 2018 U.S. dollars).


    Here is some more facts from EIA. In 2016, 54% of subsidies went to non-renewables.

    Renewable subsidies are on decline as technology has matured and cost has declined.

    There is nothing wrong with subsidise renewables as long as technology development brings the cost down to profitability without subsidies like we see now.

    But why fossil fuels would still need ANY subsidies after 100 years in operation beats me.


  • To convert our human systems to solar and wind, the grid is the infrastructure that must be re-tooled, along with lots of other devices on the load. That is a huge investment that so far no one is willing to make. It will only cost more as time goes by. Until that time, there is a patchwork grid, failing in places, getting shored up in places.

    Britains need heat, not so much air conditioning. How does solar and wind supply all the power needed for air conditioning in the equatorial regions? I don't know the answer to that either.

    U.K. Grid Struggles as Renewables Overtake Fossil Fuels


    (Bloomberg) -- Renewables supplied more than 40% of electricity during first quarter of 2020, overtaking fossil fuels as storms battered the U.K.

    Output from wind farms was up by 40% compared with the first three months of 2019 as severe storms meant Britain experienced the wettest and windiest February on record, according to the Electric Insights report, commissioned by Drax Group Plc and researched by a team of independent academics from Imperial College in London.

    Making sure the grid isn’t overloaded by wind and solar is a challenge for National Grid Plc but a drop in demand caused by lockdown measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 has made it more difficult. The grid operator asked for emergency powers to switch off renewable generators if needed to limit supply.

    “Having flexibility within the power system at these critical moments is crucial to keeping Britain’s lights on,” said Iain Staffell, author of the report published Thursday.

    Britain’s wind farms ran at record-high capacity factors in February, averaging 50% for onshore and 60% for offshore wind farms. This is significantly higher than fossil-fueled power stations, with gas running 34% of the time and 17% for coal, according to the report.

    Drax owns and operates a portfolio of flexible, low carbon and renewable electricity generation assets across Britain. These include the U.K.’s largest power station, based in Selby, North Yorkshire, which supplies 5% of the country’s electricity needs. Having converted two thirds of its power stations to use sustainable biomass instead of coal, Drax has become the nation’s biggest renewable power generator.

  • There are several ways to Solve issue with renewable variations. One is pumped Hydro storage. Another is expanding the grid to send power from areas with oversupply to areas in need.

    Norway has several cables to Europe. Additional GW sized cables are being built now to Germany and UK.


    Norway will buy cheap electricity from UK and Germany when they have oversupply. During import they will turn down Hydro power and let the dams fill naturally.

    When market price in UK and Germany rise, Norway will start the Hydro genetators again and sell power to Europe at a higher. So the difference makes the cable projects profitable investments and solves a problem for Europe.

    In a way Norway becomes Europes battery.

    I am sure this idea can be transferred to US and other places.

  • I do not make the distinction between electricity and other forms such as heat when we are talking about what is the energy needs of the planet. If you claim renewables can power our world, then show how it powers the world. Right now, renewables are not providing for that energy we need now, and this is clearly true for either electricity going into the grid, or any of the other forms of energy needed for transport, heating, cooling.

    The question is, will renewables provide for our energy needs in the future? You want to separate electricity and heat. I do not.

    You say we MAY remove coal completely. There's a nice chunk of 40000 TWh or so. How about transportation? CO2 still rises just with that alone. People are still driving cars from the 80s or earlier because no one can't afford to buy new efficient vehicles.

    What about air conditioning, refridgeration? Washers, dryers? We all need super-efficient machines. How will people afford to buy them? With the gobs of money made from solar power? Is renewable going to power the manufacturing of those large appliances? It's a rabbit hole to me, and I just don't see it happening because there is no large-scale effort to make it happen.

    Looking at the graphs so far, it is doubtful to me that solar and wind will provide the power civilization needs, whether electricity or other. Let's replace coal with solar power and wind. If renewable only provide part of our solution, but not a critical amount, then that is no good. We still slide into dead world.

    Look at the energy use graph. That is what the world needs. It is mostly fossil fuels. Renewable is a tiny fraction. To manufacture solar, wind and hydro units, we need fossil fuels. To make renewable work, we need a new grid. To make renewable accessible as a primary power source, we need to re-design refrigeration, transport devices, everything.

    What is wrong with this logic?


    I am open to any solution to save species from extinction. We are on the brink of ocean die-off, mass extinction, huge losses of human water supply due to climate change, we have ten years before the ocean turns to bubbly water. Let's skip the short term stop gaps and get to the real solution - nuclear power. That has the density to provide all that we need, and to power the re-tooling of devices for people to use.

    We are all here on this board because we know what the real solution is - cold fusion LENR (until zero point comes along, that is). This debate on renewables is an exercise in hypotheticals. If I could get a solar system for my home, I would because our grid is shot in the US. No one is coming to fix it either. I'd like to be able to make my own electricity, and I can burn wood in my fireplace for heat.

    But powering civilization and our complex digital lives? You must tell me how the consumption of 150,000 TWh is satisfied by renewables. That is the energy being used. That is the energy we need, regardless of the type.

    And we can't do it by condemning more wildlife to extinction. People are working to REMOVE dams https://calmatters.org/comment…-and-restore-salmon-runs/ and I don't want to see anymore.

    Old infrastructure like the grid in the US is on-tap to fail from neglect and lack of maintenence just like the infrastructure of dams in the US:


  • Ruby, I fully agree that LENR would be a perfect Solution.

    If the breakthrough came today, It could even probably be built and expanded fast enough to save the world.

    Traditional nuclear plants have way too long construction times to have an impact.

    While we wait, I still think renewables are workable.

    But that means whole of world needs to turn electric. It will take time for planes, cars, trucks, ships to go electric.

    So we may end up with a need also to do Carbon Capture and Storage undeground while we turn the globe electric.

    Please also note that since electric drive is more efficient than liquid fuels, we would not need 150 000 TWh in electricity If oil where replaced with electricity for propulsion.

    It is almost one to one when used for heat, but for propulsion electricity is way more efficient than fossil fuels.

    But Anyhow: If we where to just do a calculation for the fun of it, and calculate how large ara we would need to cover with solar panels to produce 150 000 TWh pr. Year:

    Using part of The dessert of Algeria we would only need an area of 240 km times 240 km with solar panels. So , a very small part of Algeria could power the whole of the globe with all energy needs.

    In real life, I would say we could build a number of large scale solar plants around the world,. Make Hydrogen as fuel for ships and trucks. This could also be liquid fuel, where hydrogen is Converted to ammonia. Use batteries and Pumped Hydro to store energy.

    Expand the electrical grid to interconnect the whole globe, making everything one grid. The sun always shines somewhere and the wind always blows somewhere. Distributed solar and wind must be part of the Solution.

  • Wind turbines not recycled like some think.

    The photo in this article shows the blades not being recycled. The blades are made of fiberglass, which is cheap and abundant. If enough of it piles up I expect they will find a use for it. That is to say, a way to recycle it. The generator portion is made of the same expensive materials as any other generator, and it is recycled.

  • But so-called renewables are too little too late.

    If they are too late, it is because we refuse to act. We could have replaced most of our energy with them by now if we had acted promptly decades age. Some people did. In California, all coal fired plants were closed years ago. In England, only a few are left.

    It is not "too little" in any sense. The U.S. alone could supply the whole world with synthetic liquid fuel to replace gasoline made with wind turbines in North Dakota, or solar cells in Nevada. We could produce more fuel than OPEC does. We could generate many times more electricity than we now use. Alternative energy is far more abundant than conventional fossil fuel. It is a lot easier to tap, nowadays. To get a sense of that, see the movie "Deepwater Horizon." You will be amazed that oil can is so cheap.

  • To convert our human systems to solar and wind, the grid is the infrastructure that must be re-tooled, along with lots of other devices on the load. That is a huge investment that so far no one is willing to make.

    No, it isn't. In Iowa, 60% of electricity comes from wind. They have not had to make a massive investment. Electricity in Iowa is 12 cents per KWh, which is smack the middle of U.S. rates; it is rank #25:


    Texas has the most wind energy. In some parts of the state, at night, they make electricity free, because they have so much wind power. They want to encourage people to use it at night. Texas power utilities are not losing money. They are not going out of business. They also charge 12 cents, rank #26.

    Years ago, some experts thought that massive investments and change would be needed to use wind or solar at more than 20% of total capacity. That turned out to be wrong. It turns out, the investments are modest, and that wind and solar can actually complement conventional generators. They work better with natural gas than coal, because gas can be turned on, turned off, or modulated more easily. As it happens, gas is now cheaper than coal, so it is rapidly replacing it.

  • Ruby, regardless of what the prospects for LENR may be, the notion that it is the only solution for the world’s energy problems Is just silly and nearsighted. If LENR somehow manages to become reliable, repeatable, and scaleable anytime soon, then sure, it would no doubt have enormous advantages. But meanwhile, renewables absolutely can do the job and will, provided politicians, entrenched fossil fuel interests, and just plain stupid people get out of the way. Or do you think we should just give up unless LENR rides in on a white horse?

  • Norway has several cables to Europe. Additional GW sized cables are being built now to Germany and UK.

    The most powerful Hydro storages are in Switzerland. They are use to stabilize the European grid. They can backup within less than a minute (full ramp up) at least 3 full nuclear power plants load.

    Germany has almost no large storage capacity due to the flat valley's. France and Italy have also high Alpine valley's, but you need enough water to pump!

    But the margins are low.

    Japan has put about 100'000 fuel cells into operation to balance the grid. This is far more than a nuclear power plant on demand. Reaction time 2-3 seconds. At least the excess wind current should be converted into Hydrogen to be used in fuel cells (cars!).

  • Or do you think we should just give up unless LENR rides in on a white horse?

    The world is not waiting for a white horse....but the coal wagon is still being hauled by many countries.

    eg China... Pakistan... India... Indonesia. (aided and abetted by Russia,Australia, South Africa


    These countries represent 42% of the population on Earth

    The only reason that LENR will supplement solar, wind is if it can be demonstrated to be economic..

    and for many regions of the less developed world without a grid... solar is a better option .

    If the world population stabilises at around 8 billion.... solar and wind should be sufficient in the long term

    The question is .. how fast can the transition from fossil fuels be?

    how low can the unsubsidied cost of solar, wind power get.... These are unknowns

    LENR even ITER;) are options.. but the window of opportunity for fusion is getting narrower by the decade..

  • RobertBryant: I agree with most of what you said. My annoyance is with people who quote statistics about how little the global share of energy use comes from solar and wind as evidence that they cannot end up with a huge share. They already are a huge share in a growing number of places and the only salient common feature of those places is their willingness to deploy renewables in a big way. If countries refuse to do so and keep burning coal, that is their stupidity, not a fundamental shortcoming of renewables. Now if we want to debate whether stupidity can be mitigated on a global scale, that is a much tougher nut to crack. All things considered, I can’t say I’m optimistic.

  • But meanwhile, renewables absolutely can do the job and will, provided politicians, entrenched fossil fuel interests, and just plain stupid people get out of the way.

    In my opinion, the only legitimate objection to renewables has been that they are too expensive. High energy costs hurt people, especially poor people. But price is never a unvarying parameter in technology. It can never be measured once and for all with assurance, like tensile strength of a metal, or Carnot efficiency. The price of a machine depends on the cost of materials, and the skill, experience and wisdom of the people making it. It depends on whether the machine can be mass produced. Mass production always reduces cost. You can never be sure that a technology will become cheap enough to compete, but with enough R&D it often does. Some things have become incredibly cheaper, by orders of magnitude, especially intangible goods such as illumination, communication, and data storage. See p. 10:


    Twenty years ago it was clear to me that wind could be made much cheaper, mainly with mass production. The path forward to making PV electricity cheaper was not as clear. To me, anyway. Solar thermal plants were making progress. They might have been the best choice, because they have important advantages over PV. The reflective surface is cheap; the expense is in the focus, whereas PV is the same high cost for the whole surface. (There were focussed PV but they did not make much progress.) Solar thermal heat can be stored and used well after sunset. The parabolic dish ones were making progress. They do not focus the energy intensely like the tower ones, so they do not have to be made on such a large scale, and they do not fry birds.


    If there had not been as much progress in wind and PV solar, solar thermal might have continued to attract investment, and it might be a lot cheaper now. The history of technology is full of "might-have-beens."

    Society chooses whether to make a technology cheaper and better, or whether to put it aside in favor of something else. Companies choose, consumers choose, governments choose. Sometimes they change their minds. We abandoned electric cars after Henry Ford began making superb gasoline cars. Then in recent years we started making electric cars again.

    We sometimes forget just how dramatic some improvements have been. Any one of us now owns more hard disk storage than existed in 1961. You have more in your cell phone. Note that circa 1961, world hard disk capacity was ~4 GB. Most -- if not all -- hard disks were IBM 350 RAMAC models, 3.75 MB each. About 1,000 were made before production ended in 1961. Granted, you cannot expect as much dramatic progress in an electric power generator or some other macroscopic machine. It is not semi-intangible, like a single transistor in an integrated circuit. In the 1970s, someone was bragging about price reductions in the computer business. An automobile executive got fed up hearing about this and said, "yeah, and if I could sell thousands of inch-long cars, I could bring down the unit price too." There is no market for tiny little automobiles. On the other hand, there is a market for tiny little power supplies. Measured per watt of capacity, batteries for cell phones, hearing aids, and pacemakers are the most expensive source of energy there is, and probably the most profitable. Pacemaker batteries were made with plutonium in the 1970s. If you could make one with cold fusion you would make a fortune selling a few kilowatts of capacity a year.