Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of Energy Independence

In summary, the book "Gusher of Lies" argues that the concept of America achieving energy independence is based on myths and falsehoods. The author, an energy journalist, claims that it is neither reasonable, possible, nor desirable. He also criticizes the idea of ethanol and explains why America should not and cannot be energy independent. He points out that even if the U.S. becomes energy independent, it will still be subject to global oil prices and be vulnerable to disruptions in the global economy. The author also argues that oil is not the only crucial import for the U.S. economy and discusses the role of other minerals. He also discusses the relationship between terrorism and oil money, and how it is often exaggerated. Overall, the book
  • #106
Funny how Mr. Pickens has stolen my (et al) idea.

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=19786522466

Does this mean that it is now OK for economists, investors, and other Pickens type billionaires now to come on board to this idea?
 
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  • #107
mheslep said:
Just getting back to this ...
At the large network scale were discussing here it never goes to zero. Denmark's wind never goes to zero. Denmark's wind w/ Scandanavian hydro (both renewables) never goes anywhere near. The larger the network and the more diverse (different renewables) the less variable is the entire system.

Ok, but if we now take Denmark + Sweden as a single "grid entity" which we should, then the wind fraction drops down to less than 10% in the grid (I didn't take the pain to look up relative contributions). Also Sweden is exceptional (a bit like Canada) with a geography extremely favorable to hydro, and Denmark is exceptional for wind (it's one of the best places in the world for that). So the Denmark-Sweden couple is about the utmost top quality you can find.

And it's not running smoothly:
http://www.saveoursomerset.com/windturbinefacts.htm (ok, this is an anti-wind activist cite, I just found it by googling a bit) and
http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf99.html

In fact, the Danes now plan to have electric cars on wind:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23832749/

where they plan to use the excess electricity to charge cars. On windless days, it will be on coal.

Not that there ARE days without wind power in Denmark.
Thats counter to the trends. Small, diverse renewable is growing faster than big centralized anything else.
Because its cheaper.

I wonder whether it is REALLY cheaper, or that there are just so many regulations (like the utility having to buy your wind power back at 2 am when they already have a surplus at a high price, and installation subventions etc...).

The cost of firming up a renewable like wind by contracting with other suppliers like hydro or idle gas turbine is known, it adds 10-20% to the overall cost of wind per kWhr. The firmed up wind is still cheaper than fossil + carbon tax, and in the US in 2008 its a lot cheaper than nuclear if one has the wind:

Well, that Belgian offshore project already came to 8000 Euro per KW (it was 800 million Euro for 300 MW installed / 100 MW hoped for effective) and that didn't include any buffering. So adding ~20% and we're almost at the double of that expensive nuclear.

And let us see how much a series of EPR reactors will cost.
 
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  • #108
vanesch said:
Ok, but if we now take Denmark + Sweden as a single "grid entity" which we should, then the wind fraction drops down to less than 10% in the grid (I didn't take the pain to look up relative contributions). Also Sweden is exceptional (a bit like Canada) with a geography extremely favorable to hydro, and Denmark is exceptional for wind (it's one of the best places in the world for that). So the Denmark-Sweden couple is about the utmost top quality you can find.
Ok, though the US midwest Texas to the Dakotas corridor is very similar to Denmark w/ average wind speed > 7M/sec (80M)
http://i.i.com.com/cnwk.1d/i/bto/20080304/3t_global_wind_540x420.jpg
The US has 70GW (average production) of hydro to Sweden's ~8GW. To use US hydro to firm the wind would require some large investment in transmission, so perhaps compressed air storage or the like would have to help out.
And it's not running smoothly:
http://www.saveoursomerset.com/windturbinefacts.htm (ok, this is an anti-wind activist cite, I just found it by googling a bit) and
http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf99.html
I see 'problematic' and 'difficult' used often in connection w/ wind variability. Regards reliability, at the end of the day all that really matters is whether or not the user is experiencing outages or brown outs. If nothing else, one can can on agenda sites to report loudly on a case; I see none reported for Denmark here.
Not[e] that there ARE days without wind power in Denmark.
No I think that was only for the W. Denmark case, not for the entire nation.
I wonder whether it is REALLY cheaper, or that there are just so many regulations (like the utility having to buy your wind power back at 2 am when they already have a surplus at a high price, and installation subventions etc...).
As I say, I am happy to support the politician who can rationally clear away the dead weight, meanwhile I am using the reported costs.
Well, that Belgian offshore project already came to 8000 Euro per KW (it was 800 million Euro for 300 MW installed / 100 MW hoped for effective) and that didn't include any buffering. So adding ~20% and we're almost at the double of that expensive nuclear.
Yes that offshore appears very expensive, if there's not some other economic reason in there sounds like they should have gone another way.
 
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  • #109
mheslep said:
The US has 70GW (average production) of hydro to Sweden's ~8GW.

Yes, but US power consumption is roughly 30 times that of Sweden, so we'd need to expand our hydro production by a factor of almost 4 to reach a comparable figure. This is never going to happen, as essentially all of the stuff that should be dammed in the US has already been dammed.
 
  • #110
quadraphonics said:
Yes, but US power consumption is roughly 30 times that of Sweden, so we'd need to expand our hydro production by a factor of almost 4 to
reach a comparable figure.
This is never going to happen, as essentially all of the stuff that should be dammed in the US has already been dammed.
Yes I know, but that is not quite the scenario, as we're looking at 3.13 GWe nameplate wind in Denmark backed up elsewhere by hydro and others. In any case in the world-nuclear piece I overlooked Norway and its 27GWe of hydro, even though Denmark imports the most power from Sweden (hydro and nuclear). The five international transmission links total 5.4GWe to export or import as necessary. Perhaps something like 2:1 (hydro backup:wind) is reasonable, accommodating 35GWe wind in the US. For wind under production all other energy sources on the grid can help out, fossil (especially quick on/off gas turbine), nuclear, whatever.
Edit: there's also Compressed air storage to hold excess wind energy in reserve for when its needed. Two of these facilities already exist.
http://www.seco.cpa.state.tx.us/re_wind-reserve.htm
 
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  • #111
mheslep said:
Perhaps something like 2:1 (hydro backup:wind) is reasonable, accommodating 35GWe wind in the US. For wind under production all other energy sources on the grid can help out, fossil (especially quick on/off gas turbine), nuclear, whatever.

That sounds indeed reasonable, but it would then mean that one would have about 3.5% of wind energy in the US. I even think that you can get more without problems. I'm not saying that one cannot have wind energy, I'm only saying that to go beyond something like 20% of consumption is difficult.
 
  • #112
quadraphonics said:
Yes, but US power consumption is roughly 30 times that of Sweden, so we'd need to expand our hydro production by a factor of almost 4 to reach a comparable figure. This is never going to happen, as essentially all of the stuff that should be dammed in the US has already been dammed.
Some hydro plants get more peak time output by using excess electricity on the grid to pump water back into the dam during the low demand periods. Perhaps the US could increase hydro power this way both by greater utilisation of existing plants and by allowing for hydros to be built in places where the natural supply rate of water wouldn't currently justify it. Or perhaps they already do this??
 
  • #113
http://www.salon.com/comics/opus/2008/07/06/opus/index.html

Did I watch too many x-files?

I believe.
 
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  • #114
Art said:
Some hydro plants get more peak time output by using excess electricity on the grid to pump water back into the dam during the low demand periods. Perhaps the US could increase hydro power this way both by greater utilisation of existing plants and by allowing for hydros to be built in places where the natural supply rate of water wouldn't currently justify it. Or perhaps they already do this??
Hydro can used to store energy primarily in two ways.
1. Dedicated pump storage projects, a small portion of the over hydro capacity, that use over capacity typically at night to store power to be later released in generation during high day light demand.
2. Traditional hydro generation only projects run at an average of ~50% annual capacity in the US due to variable river flows. Wind and other variable sources combine with hydro by simply allowing wind to service demand during high output, allowing hydro dams to build up water levels, which can then back up wind when it is low. This is main wind backup used by Denmark/Norwary/Sweden, and to some small degree in the US now, principally by North West hydro generation. Bonneville Power Administration (for instance) charge 0.6 cents/kWh to back up wind.
 
  • #115
vanesch said:
That sounds indeed reasonable, but it would then mean that one would have about 3.5% of wind energy in the US. I even think that you can get more without problems. I'm not saying that one cannot have wind energy, I'm only saying that to go beyond something like 20% of consumption is difficult.
Agreed. 20% is the plan on the table now from US DoE and T Boone Pickens, Esq. I believe one gets the rest by wide geographically diverse turbine location and a good mix of generation sources.
 
  • #116
Energy Independence may be a worthwhile goal.

It seems to be working for Denmark.

Flush With Energy - Thomas Friedman, NY Times, 8/10/2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/10/opinion/10friedman1.html?em

. . . .
Unlike America, Denmark, which was so badly hammered by the 1973 Arab oil embargo that it banned all Sunday driving for a while, responded to that crisis in such a sustained, focused and systematic way that today it is energy independent. (And it didn’t happen by Danish politicians making their people stupid by telling them the solution was simply more offshore drilling.)

What was the trick? To be sure, Denmark is much smaller than us and was lucky to discover some oil in the North Sea. But despite that, Danes imposed on themselves a set of gasoline taxes, CO2 taxes and building-and-appliance efficiency standards that allowed them to grow their economy — while barely growing their energy consumption — and gave birth to a Danish clean-power industry that is one of the most competitive in the world today. Denmark today gets nearly 20 percent of its electricity from wind. America? About 1 percent.

. . . .
There is little whining here about Denmark having $10-a-gallon gasoline because of high energy taxes. The shaping of the market with high energy standards and taxes on fossil fuels by the Danish government has actually had “a positive impact on job creation,” added Hedegaard. “For example, the wind industry — it was nothing in the 1970s. Today, one-third of all terrestrial wind turbines in the world come from Denmark.” In the last 10 years, Denmark’s exports of energy efficiency products have tripled. Energy technology exports rose 8 percent in 2007 to more than $10.5 billion in 2006, compared with a 2 percent rise in 2007 for Danish exports as a whole.

“It is one of our fastest-growing export areas,” said Hedegaard. It is one reason that unemployment in Denmark today is 1.6 percent. In 1973, said Hedegaard, “we got 99 percent of our energy from the Middle East. Today it is zero.

. . . .
 
  • #117
Astronuc said:
Energy Independence may be a worthwhile goal.

It seems to be working for Denmark.

Flush With Energy - Thomas Friedman, NY Times, 8/10/2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/10/opinion/10friedman1.html?em
All credit to the Danes for their wind energy, but they are hardly energy independent. They're tightly coupled now to Norway's hydro, Swedish hydro and nuclear, and German coal fired energy during wind lulls, as they've foregone new local fossil and nuclear. Also, unless one has a completely local supply of oil, it is misleading to say the Danes are independent of mideast oil even if not a single drop of middle east oil arrives in Denmark. The oil market and price is global, as Mr The World is Flat should know, and getting oil from the Norway's North sea instead of Saudi Arabia will not insure ample supply or low price.
 
  • #118
My brother was telling me about a portable nuclear power plant being developed by Toshiba. I read about it about 6 months ago and thought it was just one of those little wish list things that companies advertise. It looks as though it may be economically feasible. $25M for a 200kw plant that lasts for 30 years I think he said.

hmmm... 200kw*24hr*365*30 = 52.6M kwh
$25M / 52.6M kwh = $0.475 / kwh

Well. Maybe not.
But he said they were installing one in a small town in Alaska.
Might be something to watch.
 
  • #119
OmCheeto said:
My brother was telling me about a portable nuclear power plant being developed by Toshiba. I read about it about 6 months ago and thought it was just one of those little wish list things that companies advertise. It looks as though it may be economically feasible. $25M for a 200kw plant that lasts for 30 years I think he said.

hmmm... 200kw*24hr*365*30 = 52.6M kwh
$25M / 52.6M kwh = $0.475 / kwh

Well. Maybe not.
But he said they were installing one in a small town in Alaska.
Might be something to watch.

I think that's a hoax.

It's probably this advertisement, no ? http://www.coolest-gadgets.com/20071219/toshiba-creates-home-nuclear-power-plant/

Toshiba DID design a "small" nuclear power plant, but of 10 MW or something, with about 30 years of autonomy. It was a small fast breeder reactor, the Galena reactor, the Toshiba 4S: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toshiba_4S
I don't think it went beyond the paper stage.

I guess it is from this that the urban legend of "your nuke in your garage" came.

Current (and foreseable) regulations make such a device impossible. It is simply legally impossible to operate a nuclear power reactor without a huge amount of procedures, safety checks, etc... which would render such a project economically totally impossible.
 
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  • #120
vanesch said:
I think that's a hoax.
Just because something does not come to fruition, does not make it a hoax.
Current (and foreseable) regulations make such a device impossible. It is simply legally impossible to operate a nuclear power reactor without a huge amount of procedures, safety checks, etc... which would render such a project economically totally impossible.

Have you ever operated a nuclear plant?
Once you tell them what to do, they pretty much run themselves.

The only thing I didn't like about the Galena-Toshiba reactor was the fact that Galena sits along the Yukon river. And they want to sink their liquid sodium cooled reactor into the ground. Ice water flood + kilo degree liquid sodium cooled nuclear reactor = not such a good idea. Perhaps they should put one on the top of the hill in Ruby instead. Maybe the Galenites could move. Ruby is so much more picturesque.
 
  • #121
OmCheeto said:
...Have you ever operated a nuclear plant?
Once you tell them what to do, they pretty much run themselves.
.
If you mean they run independently, they do not. For instance, the NRC gets detailed operation reports from every plant in the US which they review every morning. Not much chance an individual could comply with that kind of reporting for a garage reactor.
 
  • #122
mheslep said:
If you mean they run independently, they do not.
Doesn't mean they couldn't. They are incredibly simple devices.
For instance, the NRC gets detailed operation reports from every plant in the US which they review every morning.
Looking for what? Have they seen anything out of the ordinary since, say, 1979?
Not much chance an individual could comply with that kind of reporting for a garage reactor.
From what I recall, if the operators at TMI had not been there, there would have been no accident.

But this is just hearsay. I'm old, and can't remember all the details.

To get back to the orginal topic though; If I'm not energy independent by this time next year, I'd like to be banned from the forum. I spend too much time arguing about trivialities when there are things to be done, researched, and actually created, to prevent this from being a delusion.
 
  • #123
With the possibility of not seeing a renewable fuel source in a couple of years, what can we see from this outset?
 
  • #124
ubermensch said:
With the possibility of not seeing a renewable fuel source in a couple of years, what can we see from this outset?

Well Superman, I'd say right off the bat, that you have not been paying attention. Energy is all around us, and has never been, and has always been, renewable.

Energy either came, or will come from the sun, or one of it's satellites. :smile:

...

sorry...

and, I am, still, not, william shatner...

:wink:
 
  • #125
OmCheeto said:
Just because something does not come to fruition, does not make it a hoax.

The hoax is in the "Toshiba is planning to commercialize a garage reactor". It is very well possible that some of their engineers had fun in adapting the design of the S4 to even smaller power just to have a good laugh with his buddies, or for any other fun reason. But for sure, Toshiba doesn't commercialize or doesn't plan to commercialize private garage reactors - they would have filed a demand for approval (like they did for the S4) and they didn't - and they'd know it would never pass.

Have you ever operated a nuclear plant?
Once you tell them what to do, they pretty much run themselves.

I work in an institute that has a reactor. They really don't "run by themselves" :-)

And really, you don't have an idea about the regulations. A private basement reactor is simply so remote from anything that could ever pass regulations that it isn't even thinkable to ask.

The only thing I didn't like about the Galena-Toshiba reactor was the fact that Galena sits along the Yukon river. And they want to sink their liquid sodium cooled reactor into the ground. Ice water flood + kilo degree liquid sodium cooled nuclear reactor = not such a good idea. Perhaps they should put one on the top of the hill in Ruby instead. Maybe the Galenites could move. Ruby is so much more picturesque.

So you worry about a professionally guarded reactor somewhere in Alaska, but you wouldn't worry about your neighbor Joe Sixpack running his basement reactor ??
 
  • #126
With respect to Toshiba 4S -

On Feb. 2, 2005, the NRC staff met with the city manager and vice mayor of Galena, Alaska to discuss and answer questions on the city’s plans to build a Toshiba 4S reactor to provide its electricity. Toshiba began pre-application discussions with NRC staff in Oct. 2007, and the company expects to submit a design approval application in 2009.
http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/new-nuc-plant-des-bg.html

USNRC said:
Currently there are four certified reactor designs that can be referenced in an application for a combined license (COL) to build and operate a nuclear power plant. They are:

Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) design by GE Nuclear Energy (May 1997);

System 80+ design by Westinghouse (formerly ABB-Combustion Engineering) (May 1997);

AP600 design by Westinghouse (December 1999); and

AP1000 design (pictured at left) by Westinghouse (January 2006).


GE is working on certification for ESBWR:

Areva submitted its EPR certification application on Dec. 11, 2007. The staff expects the certification process to continue through 2011.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), a Japanese firm, met with NRC staff in July 2006 to discuss its intent to apply for design certification for the U.S.-specific version of its Advanced Pressurized Water Reactor, an evolutionary design being licensed and built in Japan. MHI expects to submit a design certification application early in 2008.

There is also a US private venture - Hyperion Power Generation ( http://www.hyperionpowergeneration.com/ ) - which offers a 25MWe compact design. There is no serious discussion with the NRC AFAIK.


Nuclear power units would not be in or under some individuals garage. One must obtain a license from the NRC to contruct and operate a nuclear reactor, and the process is rigorous and expensive.
 
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  • #127
vanesch said:
I work in an institute that has a reactor. They really don't "run by themselves" :-)
The one I operated did. You must have a poorly designed reactor system.
And really, you don't have an idea about the regulations.
Having worked in the nuke industry for 4 years, yes I do.
 
  • #128
OmCheeto said:
..Having worked in the nuke industry for 4 years, yes I do.
OmC, there are many things one can do in the 'nuke industry'. Having made this statement above about NRC reporting
OmCheeto said:
Looking for what? Have they seen anything out of the ordinary since, say, 1979?
perhaps you could agree, though you may be very familiar with the operational area in which you were involved, you are unfamiliar with the mass of regulatory compliance necessary.
 
  • #129
We currently have a lot of portale reactors in aircraft carries and submarines. We need more research on really long extension cords.:smile:
 
  • #130
edward said:
We currently have a lot of portale reactors in aircraft carries and submarines. We need more research on really long extension cords.:smile:
Those naval reactors are large, 100MWe and up on a carrier (each, there are two)
Nimitz class:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A4W_reactor
 
  • #131
edward said:
We currently have a lot of portable reactors in aircraft carries and submarines. We need more research on really long extension cords.:smile:

Oh the stories I could tell about nukes and extension cords. But that's soon to be B. Elliott's job.

My stories are still mostly classified as secret. :smile:

But the numbers that I've seen for the Toshiba machine indicate that my numbers were way off.

10 megawatts for 30 years at $25 million indicates a cost of 1 cent per kwh.

hmmmm...
 
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  • #132
OmCheeto said:
The one I operated did. You must have a poorly designed reactor system.

Well, it is a research reactor, not a power plant. It "does operate on its own" of course once it has been started up etc... for about 10 weeks (that's the time we do with a fuel load - yes, that's burned up very fast I know)... until there is the slightest problem, like a glitch on the grid, or one or other alarm that goes off or whatever, in which case there is an automatic shutdown. That happens, I don't know, once a month. Then people have to track down the reason for the alarm, fix it (if it wasn't a false positive which happens), and restart it again. So, yes, it would "run on its own" (if allowed to, which it isn't, regulations require presence of a minimum number - I think it is 4 people - present all the time in the control room, 24hr/day, 7days/week) until the next problem, or the end of the fuel elements, which would happen in any case in a few weeks time.
So what it can do is to cope with absence by putting itself in a safe state automatically. That's it.

Having worked in the nuke industry for 4 years, yes I do.

Well, then you should know that it is near impossible for a private citizen to own a reactor - unless it is someone like, say, Bill Gates who pays for all the regulatory expenses, and pays a crew to watch over it.

The reporting is not to report "failures". The reporting is normal business, to keep checking that the regulations are being followed up. To avoid a situation in which it would even be conceivable that something really bad is even made possible.

I'm not saying that it is impossible to design low-power reactors - I'm not sure they could be competitive below a certain power, but even that I leave in the middle. What I can guarantee you is that regulations make it absolutely impossible for Joe Sixpack (even a moderately wealthy Joe) to have his private garage or basement reactor, like he could have his private swimming pool, or his private supercomputer if he puts the money on the table. You will never be allowed to have a private reactor that is left unattended by a professional crew and which allows Mr. Anybody to fiddle with it.
 
  • #133
BTW, in order to "prove" that this Toshiba garage reactor is a hoax, look at the 3D drawing of page 33 in this document, describing the 4S:
http://www.iser.uaa.alaska.edu/Publications/Galena_power_draftfinal_15Dec2004.pdf#search='Toshiba 4S'

and compare it to the drawing of the "basement reactor" on the advertisement:
http://www.coolest-gadgets.com/20071219/toshiba-creates-home-nuclear-power-plant/

or here:
http://www.engadget.com/2007/12/19/toshibas-building-a-micro-nuclear-reactor-for-your-garage/

or here:
http://www.computer-advice.info/2007/12/19/toshibas-building-a-micro-nuclear-reactor-for-your-garage/

or the dozens of other gullible "scoop" transmissions.

It is clearly exactly the same 3D picture !
 
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  • #134
vanesch said:
BTW, in order to "prove" that this Toshiba garage reactor is a hoax

The pop press's moniker of "garage reactor" is simply a quaint allusion to it's small size. As Astronuc pointed out earlier, they are not meant to be put in anyones garage.

Unless I suppose your name were Gates or Allen. I would imagine they could afford 24/7 staffing of operators and security guards. Let's see, 4 operators @ $50/hr and 4 security guards at $30/hr yields a cost of $320/hr with 200kwh per hour gives a cost of $320/200kwh = $1.60/kwh
+$0.05/kwh capitol expenses.
yields $1.65/kwh total operating expense.

hmmmm...

I think they can get their power cheaper than that.

But it would yield bragging rights.

Kind of like owning your own pro football team.
 
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