It would be a very small community in a very special set of
circumstances, indeed, to make that a workable solution at anything at
all like a reasonable cost.
There's a lot that can be done for individuals or very small or
specialized purposes or areas w/ a particular combination of natural
The problem is, there's 300+ million in the US grid alone and that's the
system that has to be both functional and simultaneously not put us into
excessively dire position competitively.
Part of the problem is that people seem to think 'power' always equals
'electricity'. US should have been requiring passive solar design and
super-insulation for new houses for 20-30 years now. That would have
made a noticable difference in how much new electrical generating
capacity was needed. Other than crunchy treehuggers, most people seem to
prefer the beige McMansions of many gables, which aren't exactly energy
misers. Not just because they are big, but because they take no
advantage of the free energy mother nature has to offer, like sunrooms,
The project is going ahead. You sound like a part of problem in green
movement. Be part of solution. Yes, near our city there is an area where
wind blows pretty well 24/7/365. Here even now we have an option to buy
green power or conventional power(thermal, hydro). I can tell power
company which is city owned what I want. My power is 7 cents/Kwh locked
in for 5 years. By locking in they give some incentives Green costs
little more but all of us has to chip in some where. Right now federal
and provincial government have rebate program for green
effort(conserving energy). We can upgrade our heating/cooling equipment,
windows/doors/siding/insulation/roofing to claim refund to a certain
limit Right now I am reroofing to save energy and upgrading old gas
furnace to 95% efficient one. a/c was done last year.
Look up 'fungible commodity'. Works like a grain elevator or oil/natural
gas pipeline. You buy 'X' units of whatever from your vendor, and they
dump it into the system. The system hands 'X' units over to you at your
point of delivery. Is it the same 'X' units? Probably not. But it looks
and smells and works the same, so who cares?
Power grid is fed from more than one source of
generation. If total consumption is X mega Watts. We know what
percentage of that is from where at different cost. Key word here is
cost not what kind of power is fed into my house. If I support green
energy at higher cost, that means we use more clean power.
Maybe some of you need few more cells up in your brain to see what is
what? Think like an intelligent adult, not like a kitergarten kid.
It's spelled kindergarten. And for someone claiming you live
somewhere that the wind that blows 24/7 is going to supply 100% of the
energy for a city of 1 mil, I wouldn't be hurling insults.
Wind can provide some fraction of the overall solution. But your
statements are not reality. Clearly you've bought into a lot of pure
propaganda. Like that you can just buy as much green power as you
want from your electric company. That may be true in some cases,
because very few people are actually doing it. But if even 10% of
the electricity demand had the option of specifiying that their
electric company supply them with only green energy there wouldn't be
enough green energy to meet it. And day after day, I see the same
environmental extremists who tell us to go green show up to block the
development of ANY new sources of energy, whether green or not. They
have blocked windmills in the ocean, solar in the desert, all for
Ah yes, so we'd better build a new green grid system to
carry the "good" electrons and ensure they don't get
mixed up with the "bad" coal/gas/oil based electrons.
GE is itching to build one but the poor dears don't
have the money and can't come up with a viable business
plan. So, they're doing what any good business would do:
their lobbyists are working hard on their corporate
welfare applications! After all, it seems that the
tax payers love to fund projects that are totally
non-viable economically but highly correct politically.
| Malcolm Hoar "The more I practice, the luckier I get". |
I've been part of the solution for 30+ years. I've said before and
continue to agree it's a part but cannot be 100% for very practical reasons.
"Pretty well" isn't the same thing as "definitely does". Give me the
name of the generating facility and I'll look into its actual generation
And while you're buying (or fooling yourself into think you are since
once it's on the grid one electron is pretty much indistinguishable from
another; at most one generation facility displaces some of another) the
rest for the remainder of the grid is coming from those other sources.
It ain't all wind until there's nothing else and that is virtually
impossible. I would be very surprised if much over 20% of the total
generation is actually wind owing to operational constraints. What is
I'm still waiting to hear which wind farm is in and where this magical
location is so I can check out its production figures and the
And, of course, the utility grid to which it's connected that is going
100% green in the very near future so I can see it's long term
I don't know where you read that, but it's wrong.
Given their ability to generate cheap power, in general it's far more
cost effective to run them baseloaded and use others for load following
but it's not a requirement.
In a former life a primary selling point/competitive advantage of our
reactor design was the capability to load follow at rates that far
exceeded those of our competitors. Turned out to not be a significant
factor in the longer run since the switchover to almost a fully-nuclear
grid never happened as we then expected, but it would have been a major
operating consideration had the expected generation mix changed as we
expected at the time.
As a side note I've mentioned before, during the eight years since the
Gray County wind farm went online here, I've also watched the Wolf Creek
Nuclear station average capacity factor. While wind is roughly 40%,
Wolf Creek has an overall average of about 85% and a couple of years of
>95%. (That's possible since they're on 18-month fuel cycles.)
I said I read it, I didn't say it was gospel. If you
have information to the contrary I'd love to read that
too. I know that there are many different reactor designs
in the world and I have no intimate knowledge of nuclear
plant operations but I do know that there is an optimum
level for any power system to operate efficiently. I've
always understood that the startup and shutdown of a
power plant of any type is not a flip of the switch, it's
much more involved especially for a nuclear plant. If
I'm wrong, please set me straight and point me to a source
of information so I may learn.
I'm right here...NucE, 30 years in commercial nuclear.
It does take time (couple days or so) to start up any large power plant
from cold shutdown whether it's fossil _or_ nuclear. Little of that has
to do w/ the technology of firing the boiler per se, it's mostly limited
by metallurgy and how fast one heat the components w/o exceeding design
thermal stress limits.
As for power control for commercial nuclear reactors, they are
controlled basically as another poster said by positioning control rods
(neutron absorbing material) in the core. It is somewhat analogous to
controlling a conventional boiler; the more fuel/air in, the more flame.
A chain reaction doesn't work _quite_ the same, but can be envisioned as
follows. The control rods are withdrawn to a certain position and by
them being further out of the central fuel region the number of neutrons
will increase since they're no longer being absorbed in the control rod.
These neutrons will then be absorbed in the fuel, a certain fraction
of them causing fissions and as a byproduct therefrom releasing yet
further. At this point the power is continuing to increase as this
process continues (under close monitoring/control, of course). As the
power approaches the desired power level, whether that is 10%, 20% or
100% or anywhere in between, the control rods are gradually inserted
further until the number of neutrons absorbed by the control rods and
fuel comes into balance. At that point the reactor will continue to
operate at that power level until some change is made to either insert
or withdraw them to absorb more or less than required to maintain the
status quo and a new equilibrium point established again. All of this
is, of course, controlled and monitored by plant control systems with
operators in charge.
There are a few unique things about the operations of a nuclear unit as
compared to fossil, but really surprisingly few.
As noted, I spent 30+ years consulting supporting commercial generation
starting in nuclear and gradually evolving to fossil as the nuclear work
slowed so I've been around 'em both first hand for quite a spell.
It's been about four decades since I majored
in physics at college and I do understand the
basic operation of a conventional nuclear plant.
I assume your experience is with light water
reactors rather than heavy water rectors like
the CANDU. Did you work with pressurized or
boiling water rectors or both? Which is the most
common type in the US? I've read some about the
Pebble Bed Modular Reactor design and was wondering
what you may think about it? I wonder if the tree
huggers would be more receptive to a PBMR in the
Some peripheral contact w/ CANDU thru contacts at Chalk River, but no in
depth work w/ them.
Primarily PWR altho fair amount of generic control system work on BWRs.
Don't recall exact count in the US but I think it's very roughly 2:1
PWRs. There're statistics easily available at the NRC site on all
operational reactors in the US you can look up as easily as I.
PBMR is interesting concept -- guess we'll have to see how the utilities
like it. AFAIK there aren't any license applications for one on file w/
the NRC. At last look there were something on the order of 27 on the
docket for LWRs over the next 7-8 years. Whether the C-sequestration
folks have any intent of actually accomplishing something useful will be
clearly demonstrated in their response in hearings. Unfortunately, I
suspect I already know what the reaction will be...
This irrational fear of anything "nuclear" resulted in the
name Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imagining being changed
to the more politically correct MRI to keep the dumb masses
from freaking out. The tree huggers will never admit the
fact that coal fired plants put more radioactive material
into the atmosphere than any of our nuclear power plants
(Chernobyl excluded)ever have. Those wacko Luddites would
rather see the economy stifled by high energy prices than
allow safe, nonpolluting nuclear power to exist. If I step
in carbon black before kicking one of those nutjobs in the
ass, could that be called my carbon footprint?
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