# Energy independence for the US (or any other country)

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Argentum Vulpes
The current spot price for U_3O_8 is $98 per kilo in New York. How do you get your cost of$120 per kilo? Is it from a reference? Did you do the calculation your self? If so, can you please share the details. 3ppb is a lot of water and salt to sift through.

It was from research put out by The President's Committee Of Advisors On Science And Technology in 1999. The report was wanting the USA to get into the international effort to get uranium out of sea water. Also it should of been 120 US dollars per lb not tonn. I just pulled up my research and saw I made a mistake

I was going off two year old research I did for an op-ed piece. Looking back into it Japanese researchers have developed a new system that is basically a large braid of specially treated fabric that is anchored to the sea bed like sea weed. Or it is placed in floating cages. It absorbs not only uranium but other useful heavy metals. Cost according to the paper is 96 US dollars per lb.

I couldn't find the paper I got my 120 dollar lb number, the URL is no longer valid, most likely archived in the White houses archive. However I do have the report from the Japanese researchers. http://physics.harvard.edu/~wilson/energypmp/2009_Tamada.pdf" [Broken]

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Skyhunter
It will be interesting to see who invest in solar (who buys).

The future belongs to those who invest in it.

Some very big energy players are invested in Nanosolar.

AES and EDF are some of the biggest in the world.

A 2MW plant requires ~10 acres, and with the high voltage panels they could plug right into the municipal grid. The installation can be designed so as to allow for multiple uses of the ground below. crops that require partial shade could be grown in sunny dry areas efficiently, since the shade will help the soil retain it's moisture.

About 120 US dollars per lb. Working out the numbers that is equivalent to burning oil at 3 US dollars per barrel.

With oil at 70 $/barrel what is stopping these folks from becoming rich? Or better yet you and I from becoming rich? Argentum Vulpes Some very big energy players are invested in Nanosolar. AES and EDF are some of the biggest in the world. A 2MW plant requires ~10 acres, and with the high voltage panels they could plug right into the municipal grid. The installation can be designed so as to allow for multiple uses of the ground below. crops that require partial shade could be grown in sunny dry areas efficiently, since the shade will help the soil retain it's moisture. I'm confused, has this company found a way to produce an AC solar panel? My understanding was all solar panels produce DC, so you still need some very beefy inverters on site. Also what is the CF of one of these new panels? what does CF stand for? To answer the question no. These are D.C. Yes, to drive an A.C. grid will require inverters. Argentum Vulpes With oil at 70$/barrel what is stopping these folks from becoming rich? Or better yet you and I from becoming rich?

Simple economics of supply and demand. There are 453 reactors world wide needing 65.5 kilotons of raw uranium to refuel. Current mine output is 51.6 kilotons of raw uranium. However not all plants need to be refueled each year and average time that one rod spends in a reactor is six years.

Large supply + microscopic demand = not a lot of money

Start flooding the market with new sources of uranium and the market will crash. Just like it did in the 1950.

Argentum Vulpes
what does CF stand for?

To answer the question no. These are D.C. Yes, to drive an A.C. grid will require inverters.

CF stands for Capacity Factor. It is a measure of how efficient something is at generating power. It is determined by dividing actual output with maximum output.

So it looks like any industrial process that consumer large amounts of energy should be powered by nuclear to save cost. Since it does not matter where in the world the manufacture is done how about we move all energy intensive production to say Chad and use nuclear?

Skyhunter
I'm confused, has this company found a way to produce an AC solar panel? My understanding was all solar panels produce DC, so you still need some very beefy inverters on site.

Also what is the CF of one of these new panels?

No. The higher current and voltage eliminates the need for the extra cabling to the inverter. Since the panels themselves can carry the current, to the inverter. I didn't mean to imply that you could just plug it into a wall socket.

16.4% active area, 15.3 total area. That somehow (not sure how it is calculated) equals panel efficiency of ~11%. That is according to the NREL tests.

Argentum Vulpes
No. The higher current and voltage eliminates the need for the extra cabling to the inverter. Since the panels themselves can carry the current, to the inverter. I didn't mean to imply that you could just plug it into a wall socket.

16.4% active area, 15.3 total area. That somehow (not sure how it is calculated) equals panel efficiency of ~11%. That is according to the NREL tests.

So these panels will be useless 89% of the time that they are out in operation. That looks like a colossal waste of resources, considering US nuclear power plants have a CF of 0.92.

Argentum Vulpes
So it looks like any industrial process that consumer large amounts of energy should be powered by nuclear to save cost. Since it does not matter where in the world the manufacture is done how about we move all energy intensive production to say Chad and use nuclear?

So ship all of the worlds raw resources to Chad to be turned into products and then ship them back across the world? Need a skyscraper barge it back, need a bridge barge it back? If civilian nuclear power were used in the container ships then at least the current environmental impacts of current commercial shipping would be gone. But just think of the national security implications. Unless you are suggesting a one world government.

This is even more insane then using solar power centralized in the American south west as the power source for the USA.

Skyhunter
So these panels will be useless 89% of the time that they are out in operation. That looks like a colossal waste of resources, considering US nuclear power plants have a CF of 0.92.

I think we are talking about two different things.

And I am really not interested in derailing the thread with a debate about nuclear power.

russ_watters
Mentor
That is your opinion and you are entitled to it.

I personally think it is a bit absolutist, but then that is just my opinion. Let's not derail the thread.
Well you are entitled to your opinion too, but the fact of the matter is that you didn't actually provide any proven solutions. You are hoping that the things you suggested could be viable, when we already know nuclear power is viable. Further, your ideas, at the very least, require time and money for research, mine does not and can be implimented now just by making the decision to do it. The French made that decision decades ago. The question that the OP asked is what can be done in the next 20 years and your idea simply could not be done in 20 years. Nuclear can.
Uranium is a limited resource. The nuclear plants of the future should be designed to burn the accumulated waste from older plants.
Certainly, it is limited, but it isn't as limited as most people think, partly due to the fraud that has been perpetrated on the American people when it comes to nuclear waste. For all intents and purposes, nuclear waste does not exist: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123690627522614525.html
The Nanosolar started serial production of high efficiency, low cost thin film panels last year. They have two factories, one in San Jose and one in Germany. The one in Germany has a 640MW per year capacity.

Here is the http://www.nanosolar.com/sites/default/files/NanosolarCellWhitePaper.pdf" [Broken]
That's nice but until it actually happens - until someone builds a commercial scale plant using their technology - it is still hypothetical.
A multi-faceted approach is IMO a better strategy.
Well I'm not saying we should get rid of hydro or stop building wind or even eliminate our natural gas. But I am of the opinion that a solution should be based on solutions. Since its inception, the environmentalist movement has always been based on hope and not reality. So for some four decades, while environmentalists have been wasting time hoping that this next big/new technology will have the ability to replace coal power, another country has already done it!

And now we have a President who'se primary campaign platform was "hope". So we've basically just formalized the policy of wasting time.

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Argentum Vulpes
I think we are talking about two different things.

And I am really not interested in derailing the thread with a debate about nuclear power.

I do not see this as a derailing of the thread. The OP wanted to know what the best way to generate 50% of the USA or any other countries power from renewable sources. Even though it might be stretching the definition and conventional wisdom a bit about what classifies a renewable power source, nuclear power is a renewable power source. Or it is so darn close to one it might as well be one.

russ_watters
Mentor
CF stands for Capacity Factor. It is a measure of how efficient something is at generating power. It is determined by dividing actual output with maximum output.
Efficiency isn't really the right word. It is more a measure of the fraction of time a plant is producing power at its nameplate capacity.

In other words (and I know you already know this part), a 1 MW nuclear plant with a 90% capacity factor produces 1*24*365*.9= 7884 MWh of energy per year while a 1 MW solar plant with an 11% capacity factor produces 1*24*365*.11= 964 MWh of energy a year.

In other words, assuming you can use the energy or store it, replacing 1 MW of capaicty from a high CF source like nuclear would require 8 MW of solar capacity.

russ_watters
Mentor
No. The higher current and voltage eliminates the need for the extra cabling to the inverter. Since the panels themselves can carry the current, to the inverter. I didn't mean to imply that you could just plug it into a wall socket.
And this is something that really irritates me about a good fraction of the people in the "alternate energy" crowd. Ignorance of the technology helps drive the fantasy. Skyhunter, high voltage or not, a solar panel makes DC power, period. It requires an inverter to integrate it with the grid.

In addition, being "high voltage" is an irrelevancy because you can always just wire solar panels in series instead of parallel to get high voltage (or even do a combination of series and parallel to get whatever voltage you want).

russ_watters
Mentor
I think we are talking about two different things.

And I am really not interested in derailing the thread with a debate about nuclear power.
Coal plants also operate on capacity factors of about 90%, so whether we talk about nuclear or not, you need to deal with the fact that replacing 1 MW of coal power capacity requires on the order of 8 MW of solar power. It's not a nuclear issue, it is a solar vs everything else (except wind...) issue.

Skyhunter
Like I said, we are talking about two different things.

I was referring to the panels conversion efficiency. CF would vary with location.

And it is interesting how you keep moving the goal post Russ. You used the same argument, different goal the last time I mentioned Nanosolar you used it to challenge the efficiency claim.

If everyone followed your advice there would be no progress because only the tried and true (according to personal judgement) would be acceptable.

I know this is hyperbolic... but you make such absolute statements I feel it necessary to use a little hyperbole.

I am not against using nuclear, and do not wish to divulge into an argument against it, but let's review a few facts. The capital costs of a nuclear plant are prohibitively expensive, $2.50/W to$5.00/W per so you are not being candid about the affordability. I don't know the exact cost of the utility panels, but the companies stated goal was to deliver a PV power plant for less than $1.00W. I don't know if they met their goal, but the worlds leading producers and suppliers of electricity have bought up all there commercial production for the foreseeable future. Skyhunter And this is something that really irritates me about a good fraction of the people in the "alternate energy" crowd. Ignorance of the technology helps drive the fantasy. Skyhunter, high voltage or not, a solar panel makes DC power, period. It requires an inverter to integrate it with the grid. In addition, being "high voltage" is an irrelevancy because you can always just wire solar panels in series instead of parallel to get high voltage (or even do a combination of series and parallel to get whatever voltage you want). OK, I should have said higher current, not voltage. The higher voltage is however important for the higher current capacity and an overall benefit when designing a system. Since the panels carry the current you don't need to wire the panels together to get the voltage you want. This amounts to a 75% reduction in cabling costs for both material and labor during installation. And I should have said simpler to connect to the grid at municipal voltages. Of course one would need an inverter calibrated to the local grid. I'll try and be more specific in the future to avoid irritating the mentors. mheslep Gold Member Some very big energy players are invested in Nanosolar. AES and EDF are some of the biggest in the world. A 2MW plant requires ~10 acres, In the US southwest for 15% panels it's more like 6MW over 10 acres, but only for ~five hours a day. Recall however that the OP asked about 50% renewables. Where then do we go for baseload power, i.e., something that works when the sun doesn't shine, and still get 50%? Without a storage mechanism that doesn't exist yet, 50% from solar is not possible. mheslep Gold Member Commenting just on the nuclear vs solar cost: ... The capital costs of a nuclear plant are prohibitively expensive,$2.50/W to $5.00/W per so you are not being candid about the affordability. In the US, quotes for pending plants are more like$6/W. Shouldn't be, but apparently is. Even so ...
I don't know the exact cost of the utility panels, but the companies stated goal was to deliver a PV power plant for less than $1.00W.... If that becomes available, it is a cost per peak power figure, unlike the cost of nuclear which puts out rated power >90% of the time, the point of Russ's capacity factor post above. To replace ( or displace) an equivalent nuclear plant with solar PV compare all the costs: 1. To produce the same amount of energy in a day, multiply the PV figure by 6X in the southwest US, 8-10x in cloudier climates. 2. For the lower efficiency PV's like thin film, one needs a lot of land and a lot of installation. Maybe rooftops are free, or at least sunk costs. Certainly installation is not free. That$5/W for nuclear certainly includes 'installation'.
3. If its in the desert/ middle-of-nowhere add transmission costs, over and above nuclear transmission.
4. The overall cost has to include the 'other' energy source for nights/clouds, whatever it is. Maybe gas turbine electric.

Edit: the above reasoning changes if the if power is only needed for peak demand, like middle of the day air conditioning, and nothing more. However the OP wasn't looking for niche power, but 50% of the full time load.

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Skyhunter
However the OP wasn't looking for niche power, but 50% of the full time load.

I think the OP was looking for 50% of energy coming from renewable energy. Since peak demand in during the hours when the Sun shines, solar can help fill that demand. With a smart grid, and using the batteries from electric vehicles, solar can be a significant contributor. Nuclear, especially fourth generation nuclear is a viable option, but not a magic bullet.

Solar at $1.00 a watt is economical enough to return a nice profit without subsidies. It can also be deployed in months instead of years, meaning that return on capital investment is much faster. A nuclear plant can take a decade or more to construct, tying up the investment capital during this period. In the end, economics will determine what the makeup of our energy supply looks like. Solar power is fast becoming competitive with coal. Once these new panels hit the consumer market, look to see them on homes everywhere in the next decade. mheslep Gold Member I think the OP was looking for 50% of energy coming from renewable energy. Yes Since peak demand in during the hours when the Sun shines, solar can help fill that demand. Yes, help. With a smart grid, and using the batteries from electric vehicles, solar can be a significant contributor. Yes though I don't know what significant means here. I very much doubt 50% in the time frame of the OP. Solar at$1.00 a watt is economical enough to return a nice profit without subsidies.
I see nothing here yet to support that assertion.

It can also be deployed in months instead of years, meaning that return on capital investment is much faster
I see this as one of the strongest points in favor of solar. Even transmission deployment disappears for rooftop installations.

A nuclear plant can take a decade or more to construct, tying up the investment capital during this period.
Yes, though that's a political consequence in the US, not something intrinsic to the technology.

In the end, economics will determine what the makeup of our energy supply looks like. Solar power is fast becoming competitive with coal.
Not true. In some scenarios, for peak power, solar PV is nearly competitive with peaking gas turbine plants, but not even close to coal without carbon taxes.

mheslep
Gold Member
Levelized cost of energy (not power) for multiple sources, before subsidies.

From http://www.newenergymatters.com/UserFiles/File/Presentations/NEF_2009-11-23_Guardian_Cleantech.pdf" [Broken]
PV thin film 3-4X coal.

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Levelized cost of energy (not power) for multiple sources, before subsidies.

From http://www.newenergymatters.com/UserFiles/File/Presentations/NEF_2009-11-23_Guardian_Cleantech.pdf" [Broken]
PV thin film 3-4X coal.

Thank you for the reference. It is useful information.

Even at 4X I would think countries without coal deposits would be building.

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