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Bob Wallace
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Spending modest amounts on nuclear research makes sense. Perhaps a way will be found to make nuclear energy significantly less expensive. None of the currently used technology is affordable. If you look at all the built/being built/bid nuclear in Europe and the US the lowest price is a subsidized 13c/kWh. (Vogtle's 11c LCOE by Citigroup plus 2c to cover the subsequent two year delay at $2 million per day.) The current cost of unsubsidized wind + solar + storage to make them 24/365 electricity sources is about 8 cents. By the time a new reactor could be built the unsubsidized cost of wind + solar + storage could be 5 c/kWh or lower. We'd need some real breakthrough developments. Not just trimming fuel costs (which are already low) or eliminating backup generation for safe shutdowns. Something that would cut the cost 50% or more.
Self-driving and insurance - "Allstate, Geico, State Farm, and others are grappling with innovations that could put a huge dent in their revenue. As carmakers automate more aspects of driving, accidents will likely plunge and car owners will need less coverage. Premiums consumers pay could drop as much as 60 percent in 15 years as self-driving cars hit the roads, says Donald Light, head of the North America property and casualty practice for Celent, a research firm. His message for insurers: “You have to be prepared to see that part of your business shrink, probably considerably.”" " a system introduced on the 2013 Honda Accord beeps when cars get too close to traffic ahead or leave their lane without signaling. It has had a measurable effect on the frequency of some types of claims: Bodily injury liability losses dropped 40 percent and medical payments decreased 27 percent, according to a 2014 study of insurance claims data"
"It does not matter much if it cost 5000 USD or 20000 USD to add self driving technology to a car." I doubt it will take anything like that to add self-driving. Digital sensors and lenses are inexpensive. Radar modules are inexpensive. Processing is not all that expensive. Most likely the system will use a series of stills rather than video and do some simple object/distance processing frame to frame to calculate impending problems. Cars will likely be 'drive by wire'. They somewhat already are. We don't have a lever system operating the carburetor, the computer controls fuel and air flow. We're already driving partially run by wire brakes with our ABS systems. Steering - we might leave the mechanical link in for a generation or two for driver assurance and just stick in a servo motor at the most appropriate point. Our cars already have basic navigation systems. Maps come with a GPS system that sells for not much more than $50. The car would just need more detail and likely wouldn't store all the maps for the entire country/continent but would download what it needs once we enter the destination. No sense storing details for North Dakota if you're driving from New York to North Carolina. Black box data? How much would really be needed? At the end of a trip store summary data and any shot sequence during which the car had to perform an out of the ordinary operation (dodge a dog). Compress the heck out of the files and storage required gets very small. Perhaps give the owner of offloading data more than a few months old and then dump it. Just keep the statistical summaries.
"The transition to BEVs is also going to be fairly slow. Problem is you need to build 200, 50GWh battery factories to make 100 million long-range BEVs per year and for Tesla to build just one takes 6 years. So we are talking decades for sure before we see a full transition to BEVs." I believe you need to rethink this. A battery factory is a) a building with b) machines in it. It's not the case that there is only one crew in the world that can build building or one factory that can build industrial machines. Spread them around the world a bit and we could build 200 large buildings in a couple of years. And it probably wouldn't take much longer to pump out the machines to make the batteries. Tesla is likely taking 6 years because they are looking at expected rate of sales growth and assuming that's about right to meet demand.
"Recharging BEVs overnight would soon increase electricity cost and is more likely to overwhelm grid capacity during those hours." A study by the NREL found that the current US grid has adequate generation capacity and transmission to charge about 70% of all US cars if they were all electric. The grid will stay ahead of EV charging needs. More EVs charging is likely to decrease the cost of electricity. EV charging can be a huge dispatchable load. That means that when supply is struggling to meet demand EVs can drop out and we can avoid using expensive gas peakers. EVs will also be able to suck up wind, solar and other supply spikes. That means that we won't toss away generation or need to install storage to capture it. EVs will likely cause more wind and solar to be installed. Wind is now our cheapest source of new capacity and solar is about to become the second cheapest. Both are expected to fall below 3c/kWh over the next few years. And that's for new capacity. Paid off wind and solar produce for 1c/kWh or less. We should be enjoying decreasing electricity prices starting in a few years. And that does not include the massive savings we will enjoy as the external costs of coal disappear.
"Hydrogen is the Obvious answer to seasonal intermittency.' Hydrogen is a very lossy storage technology. Pump-up hydro and flow batteries are much more efficient. With wind and solar dropping in price overbuilding is another solution.
The myth of free/almost free/surplus/whatever electricity. At a high rate the US is converting coal to natural gas. We now are generating more of our electricity from NG than with coal. NG is highly dispatchable. Before NG sells for less than its operating costs plus a reasonable profit it will simply turn off. We have "surplus" electricity for a few hours a few nights a year because thermal plants are hard to turn on and off. As thermal capacity drops so will the amount of cheap electricity. And at the same time we're seeing storage growing, more EVs coming to market as well as utilities implementing TOU billing which encourages businesses and retail customers to move load to cheaper rate hours. If your H2/synfuel solution won't work at industrial electricity prices then it isn't viable.
Wind and solar are turned into dispatcable generation via storage. Stored new wind and stored new solar are cheaper than new nuclear. But dispatchable will not be an issue for some time. Our grids are capable of absorbing very large amounts of wind and solar with no additional storage. We have a very large amount of fossil fuel generation which can simply be turned off.
The job right now is to get battery prices down for the technology we have. Tesla appears to have a battery pack that competes head on with $2.80/gallon gas. The Gigafactory is expected to make Panasonic/Tesla packs competitive with $2.10/gallon gas. Other battery manufacturers are playing catchup but should be no more than two years behind. Any improvement in capacity would certainly be appreciated, but it's not necessary. What we need is more players other than Tesla driving the cost of other cells and packs down. And we need a rapid charge system parallel to Tesla's if other manufacturers don't want to use the Tesla Superchargers. --- I'm less excited about the GM Bolt than I was. They claim they will market a 200 mile EV, but they've announced no reasonable way to drive that car long distances. Where's the charger system? They also haven't announced what that 200 miles is based on. Is it an EPA range or a "perfect conditions" range?
There's at least one study that finds in-hub motors and their unsprung weight not a problem. There's also the solution of using separate motors for each wheel, mounting the motors on the frame and connecting to the wheels with half axles. This would allow high quality computer controlled 4WD.
It's only the cathode. It's not a complete solution. "If so, affordable extended range BEVs could become common place early in the next decade?" They can using current battery technology. Making affordable long range EVs is only a matter of ramping up production in order to bring the price of cells down further. Panasonic/Tesla are currently around $180/kWh and should be at $130/kWh when their Gigafactory is running. $130/kWh for cells + 30% for packaging would mean $170 for battery packs. Tesla's Mod3 is expected to have a >200 mile range and use 50 kWh of storage. That puts the battery pack price at $8,500, close to the price of a new ICE and support systems. Throw in a few years of fuel savings and EVs become extremely competitive with same-model ICEs. Any battery improvements are icing on the cake. The price for Panasonic's lithium-ion battery is expected to drop to $100/kWh over a few years. That would make price cost $130/kWh and a 50 kWh pack $6,500. Eight years of not buying $3/gallon gas for a 50 MPG hybrid (13k annual miles) would pay for the $6,500 battery pack. Looks to me as if the ICEV is doomed. That should be very clear five years from now.
"Good, I made you look at one of my numbers." I look at all your numbers. Most make no sense. It's pointless to attempt to discuss nuclear and renewables with you E-P, your bias is so extreme that you are incapable of being objective.
There are currently a few times a year when electricity prices drop low. That's mainly because nuclear and coal would rather sell at a loss rather than shut down and restart. Those plants will go away, as will the subsidies for wind which allow wind to bid in as low a 1 cent per kWh and still make a profit. EVs and storage are starting to come on line. They will eat up those cheap kWh and raise the price floor. The days of <3.5c/kWh are limited. As are the current hours those prices are seen. One cannot supply hydrogen or syn fuel based on a few late night price drops. Especially seeing that those bargains are temporary. Furthermore, in order to supply the nation's fuel needs with H2/sys it would take massive additional wind/solar buildout. There's not enough 'surplus' capacity to power the sort of fuel plants that would be required. If your H2/syn solution won't work at industrial electricity prices then it's going nowhere. No one will build the capacity needed and sell it to you unless they are recovering costs and making a profit.
No, Harvey. Gas in the US, depending on the state, is running $2.41 to $3.46 per gallon. "At $130/kWh ICEVs would need <$2/gallon gas to stay in the game."
It is a long, long way from the lab to the market. If this battery can make the jump then it would be a very significant game changer. But we can get off oil with the battery technology we have in hand. Tesla is going to force down battery prices and make adequate ranged EVs affordable.
"You are far better off building zero-emission nuclear, but Windbag Bob is hysterically opposed to anything that splits atoms and would rather burn black rocks regardless of the cost to the environment." That's silly. Much of what you claim about nuclear is silly. China has no great plans for nuclear. At best nuclear will provide well under 10% of China's electricity if China continues on with its current rate of build. Starting in 2013 wind produces more electricity than did nuclear. In China the rate of installation of both wind and solar is growing much more rapidly than nuclear. "Trying to eliminate nuclear REQUIRES coal as the backup for "renewables" (which aren't)." That's another silly. Renewables, which are renewable (common word usage) do not require coal backup. In fact, coal is a very poor backup option as its output is not easily controlled. "China has gotten politics out of the way, and has the most ambitious nuclear plans of anywhere in the world. South Korea is close behind." Even with China and South Korea and North Korea and all other reactor building countries the number of nuclear plants worldwide is falling and nuclear continues to lose market share. "China's cost, even for FOAK, is roughly half of what we're seeing in the US. " Low cost labor. Won't hold as China's standard of living continues to rise and as their labor force ages. You know that China is involved in the Hinkley Point project which is priced at 15 cents per kWh. Solar, on the other hand, has a very low labor input all the way from manufacturing to operation. CitiGroup Vogtle 11c/kWh before subsequent time and cost overruns - "wind can easily take multiple weeks off" if you set the geographical area small enough. By the same token nuclear can, and does, take years off. Longer periods of low wind requires proper grid design and management just like we have to engineer our way around long shutdown periods for reactors. -- Bob - "E-P. Imagine what it would cost to run a grid on mainly 13+ cent per kWh nuclear." E.P. - "That's about what I'm paying; it works just fine." And this where you took a giant leap over the silly shark. You know damn well that you pay 13 cents retail but the cost of producing that electricity is well under 5 cents. You can't pass that off as ignorance on your part. It can only be due to "fibbing".
EOS Energy Storage at $160/kWh, 10,000 cycles is only one emerging storage company to watch. Alevo states that they will be shipping this year with a projected cost of $100/kWh and 40,000 cycles. This company developed out of public view for about 10 years and must have impressed someone as they have a start-up fund of $1 billion in private money. Ambri should be grid testing their liquid metal batteries this year and states that they should start manufacturing and shipping next year. $100/kWh and unlimited cycles for at least 30 years.
"$5000/kW overnight cost at 7% for 20 years would amortize to 5.9¢/kWh" Using overnight costs ignores cost during construction, but let's play along. 5.9¢/kWh isn't a total costing. It doesn't include operating costs and owner profits for example, but let's play along. Now we have a very low ball estimate of 5.9¢/kWh, how would that compete in an open market? First, that 5.9¢/kWh assumes that the reactor can sell 100% of the power it produces at 5.9¢/kWh. Onshore US wind is now (unsubsidized) less than 4¢/kWh. Nuclear would have to underprice wind in order to sell its product and endure a loss. PV solar in the sunny parts of the US is now (unsubsidized) about 6.5¢/kWh but by the time any of this 'new nuclear' could come on line it's very likely solar will have dropped below 5¢/kWh which would create an additional period of loss for nuclear. In fact, it is expected that the cost of both onshore wind and PV solar will drop to 3¢/kWh over the next few years. Now we've got nuclear which has a base price of 5.9¢/kWh but is experiencing a loss of about 3¢/kWh for the majority of the average 24 hour cycle. Let's be generous to nuclear and assume only a 12 hour average daily loss period. Nuclear would have to sell during the other 12 hour for 8.9¢/kWh to recoup it loss. EOS Energy Systems is getting ready to ship zinc batteries and report a cost of $160/kWh with 10,000 cycles. Using 7%, 20 year financing that's a cost of 2.4¢/kWh for daily cycle storage plus 3¢/kWh for wind or solar electricity or 5.4¢/kWh. A mix of half (12 hours) of 3¢/kWh wind and solar and half stored wind/solar at 5.4¢/kWh would be 4.2¢/kWh which is less than both 5.9¢/kWh and 8.9¢/kWh. I hope I've been adequately kind to nuclear. I find the idea that nuclear electricity could be sold for such a low price unrealistic, but even at that low number nuclear does not make financial sense. The idea of small, factory built reactors is not a new idea. One needs to ask themself if SMRs would be a financial winner why some large corporation is not already making them. We've been putting SMRs on Navy vessels for a long time, building small reactors is nothing new. Building stuff in factories is nothing new. If SMRs could produce electricity for 5.9¢/kWh wouldn't one expect them to be purposed for projects like Hinkley Point rather than a large reactor whose electricity would cost ~15¢/kWh?
Davemart - "Gasoline costs in Germany around $6.28 US gallon: which is over double the $3 you used." Gasoline does not cost $6.28 US in Europe. Gas costs about the same in Europe as it does in the US. The US and European countries add taxes on top of the cost of gasoline with European countries taxing fuel (and, generally, electricity) at a much higher rate. We're already seeing some US states taxing or talking about taxing EVs in order to obtain some of the income that is derived from fueled vehicles. Europe might decide to tax H2 less as a subsidy, but that is not now known.
Harvey - "BW...the beauty of H2 generation is that you do NOT have to generate it 24/7. You can generate it during surplus low cost REs (Hydro (8% of the time in our region), Solar (6 tp 8 hours/day), Wind (variable but well known) hours and STORE it for future multiple uses." You can also store energy with pump-up hydro or flow batteries. Both of which are much more efficient than storing energy as hydrogen. It's hard to see how the low efficiency of H2 as a storage medium can be overcome.
$11/kg. The Toyota Mirai holds 5 kg and has a 312 mile (EPA) range. That's $0.176 per mile. A 25 MPG ICEV burning $3/gallon fuel costs $0.12/mile. FCEVs won't gain market presence at those sorts of H2 prices (and that's a non-delivered, non-taxed price.) "The price of clean H2 could drop substantially with very cheap ($0.015 to $0.03/kWh off peak demand periods) surplus-excess Solar and Wind REs and future more efficient technologies." The availability of large quantities of very cheap off peak surplus-excess electricity is a fantasy. Adding EVs, storage and dispatchable loads to the grid will flatten out the price curve. And as coal and nuclear plants exit the grid there will be no one needing to sell at a loss due to the difficulty of shutting down and restarting. "Electricity in the US currently comes 45% from coal, so by your reckoning BEVs should be abandoned." There are only two sources for hydrogen. Reforming methane, which is a high CO2 output process. Or using grid power, like we would use to charge EVs. Big thing is, extracting and compressing H2 would take 2x to 3x more electricity per mile than would charging EVs. And that would mean coal plants staying online far longer while additional renewable generation was installed. "most cars in the world have nowhere convenient to plug in to, or any cost effective means of providing those plugs." That's also a failed argument. At this time over 50% of US drivers have a place to plug in where they park. Workplace and apartment parking lots are adding charge outlets (30,000 in Southern California right now). Other countries may not have as many outlets at the moment but adding an accessible outlet is small work. "You also completely ignore that renewables are not available 24/7 all the year around in Germany" That is true of Germany and true of everywhere. Building a reliable grid based around mainly wind and solar is simply an engineering task. It does not require magic. Widely connected grids minimize the need for storage and dispatchable generation. They also allow storage and dispatchable generation sharing.
" Germany will need grid-scale storage on a scale many orders of magnitude bigger than anything done so far." Some calculations are that Germany will need no storage until renewable penetration is above 80%. Adding a lot of EVs to their grid could take that number considerably higher. "Getting to even 40% RE on an annual basis will be a huge achievement for the country." 28.5% in 2014. We should see 40% achieved before long. Do remember, Germany is not an island. Europe commonly trades electricity back and forth. If France couldn't rely on other European countries to take up its surplus nuclear and then supply their grid when their nuclear isn't sufficient then France would be sunk. France is heavily dependent on German electricity.
I was in Beijing about 18 months ago. More nuclear and less coal certainly would help the quality of their air. But the choice is not "Coal or nuclear?" The choice is "Coal or nuclear or renewables". Renewables are cheaper, faster to install and bring significantly fewer problems into our lives. Best not to judge wind farms on the capacity factor of a farm built a couple of years ago or longer. Wind technology has greatly increased lately and CF numbers are increasing. We used to think of US onshore wind in terms of ~35% CF. GE reports that wind farms with CFs of over 50% are becoming common. Germany is doing great. They have a very reliable grid and their wholesale electricity prices continue to fall. Of course Germany will need to utilize a wider grid with a move to renewables. If you're not relying on large centrally located plants then the best strategy is to maximize your harvest area in order to lower variability and to share dispatchable generation and storage. Renewables require a different approach to supplying the grid 24/365. And the net result should be cheaper electricity for all, even without including the external costs. "To generate 100% of their electricity via solar they'll need to install 8 times their nominal power needs. " This is a pretty worthless argument. No one proposes an all solar or all wind or all any one source renewable grid. The best mix for the US looks to be about 50% wind and 40% solar with other renewables filling in the rest. But that's a 50 state average, the percentages will differ from state to state. Take a look at a few states and see how they differ. Compare Arizona, Washington, and Oklahoma, for example. That's how things will likely work in Europe. Countries with northern ocean access will likely use a lot of offshore wind. Countries with a lot of hydro will use a lot of hydro (or trade it away for wind/solar and profit from the net gain). Countries in Southern Europe or Northern Africa will likely use a lot of solar.
An analysis of the Vogtle reactor costs by Citigroup in early 2014 found the LCOE for electricity from those reactors will cost 11 cents per kWh (subsidized). That assumed no further cost/timeline overruns. They also stated that reactors built after the Vogtle units would likely produce more expensive electricity as they would not be able to receive the low financing rates as Vogtle has obtained. Following the Citigroup study it was announced that the Vogtle reactors would be delayed at least an 30 additional months. The cost of this delay will cost $2 million per day.. That additional cost will push the final cost well over 13 cents per kWh. Take the 13 cents for the Vogtle reactors. Add in the higher financing cost for future builds (the recession is over). Add in the lost opportunity cost for money taken from customers. Add in the value of subsidies. Do a full accounting and you'll see that 13 cents is a lowball number for new nuclear. Will the AP1000 design help reduce costs? Not so far in both the US and China. China's costs are not usable in countries that have labor costs typical of the US and Europe. Nuclear has a very high labor component. You might want to check and see how Germany is getting along. Sounds like someone fed you some faulty information. Will China continue to build nuclear reactor at their current rate? With rising labor costs and falling wind/solar prices I suspect we'll see a slowing in China's nuclear program starting over the next few years. Growth rates for wind and solar are very much higher than for nuclear already. Add to that the facts that China is now starting to move a lot of their manufacturing inland where labor is more accessible (without requiring some many people to move into already oversized cities) and China's statement that they will build no more inland reactors. It's not a good time to go long on nuclear.