Monthly Archives: March 2018

Possible advances in Solar Technology

“Massive expansion of solar generation worldwide
by mid-century is likely a necessary component
of any serious strategy to mitigate climate
change. Fortunately, the solar resource dwarfs
current and projected future electricity demand.

In recent years, solar costs have fallen substantially
and installed capacity has grown very
rapidly. Even so, solar energy today accounts for
only about 1% of U.S. and global electricity
generation. Particularly if a substantial price
is not put on carbon dioxide emissions, expanding
solar output to the level appropriate to the
climate challenge likely will not be possible
at tolerable cost without signifi cant changes
in government policies. ” Source: “The Future of Solar Power”, Energy Initiative
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Copyright © 2015 Massachusetts Institute of Technology All rights reserved.

In this era of the transitional energy technology cusp, what we need now and what we will use to generate power in future are two very different things. Some say current technology, including battery technology, is all we need. I disagree. Here are some promising advances in solar technology which may light our future, but which at the current time are still in development.

Due to the actual state of technology today I have no objection to the deployment of new generation clean coal power generation. This is a far better interim solution for Australia than nuclear power, for reasons outlined in previous posts and in the next post to come.

Technion Israel – Advanced efficiency solar panels via optimised light frequency re-radiation. Promises 70% conversion efficiency

“New Technology Aims to Makes Photovoltaic Cells 70% More Effective

Technion researchers have developed a technology that could improve the efficiency of photovoltaic cells by nearly 70 percent. The study was conducted at the Excitonics Lab, headed by Assistant Professor Carmel Rotschild at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, with the assistance of the Grand Technion Energy Program (GTEP) and the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute (RBNI) at the Technion, and as part of the lab’s ERC project on new thermodynamic tools for solar cells.

The sun is a powerful source of renewable energy. In fact, it is currently the only energy source capable of supplying the energy consumption of the human race, so it’s no wonder that the use of solar energy is increasing. But there are currently a number of technological limitations when it comes to photovoltaic cell efficiency.

Photovoltaic cells optimally utilize a very narrow range of the solar spectrum – the broad light supplied by the sun; radiation not within this narrow range merely warms these cells and is not utilized. This energy loss limits the maximum efficiency of current solar cells to around 30%.

The Technion team’s method is based on an intermediate process that occurs between sunlight and the photovoltaic cell. The photoluminescence material they created absorbs the radiation from the sun, and converts the heat and light from the sun into an “ideal” radiation, which illuminates the photovoltaic cell, enabling higher conversion efficiency. As a result, the device’s efficiency is increased from 30% (the conventional value for photovoltaic devices), to 50%.

The inspiration for the breakthrough comes from optical refrigeration, where the absorbed light is re-emitted at higher energy, thereby cooling the emitter. The researchers developed a technology that works similarly, but with sunlight.

“Solar radiation, on its way to the photovoltaic cells, hits a dedicated material that we developed for this purpose, the material is heated by the unused part of the spectrum,” says graduate student Assaf Manor, who led the study as part of his PhD work. “In addition, the solar radiation in the optimal spectrum is absorbed and re-emitted at a blue-shifted spectrum. This radiation is then harvested by the solar cell. This way both the heat and the light are converted to electricity.”

The group hopes to demonstrate a full operating device with record efficiency within 5 years’ time. If they are successful, they feel could become a disruptive technology in solar energy. ” Source: https://www.technion.ac.il/en/2016/11/photovoltaic-cells-70-efficiency/ Expected lead time: 5 years.

“Nature” science journal paper on the Technicon process: https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms13167
“Thermally enhanced photoluminescence for heat harvesting in photovoltaics”
Assaf Manor, Nimrod Kruger, Tamilarasan Sabapathy & Carmel Rotschild

Article number: 13167 (2016)
doi:10.1038/ncomms13167 Received:
24 February 2016
Accepted:
08 September 2016
Published:
20 October 2016

“Abstract: The maximal Shockley–Queisser efficiency limit of 41% for single-junction photovoltaics is primarily caused by heat dissipation following energetic-photon absorption. Solar-thermophotovoltaics concepts attempt to harvest this heat loss, but the required high temperatures (T>2,000 K) hinder device realization. Conversely, we have recently demonstrated how thermally enhanced photoluminescence is an efficient optical heat-pump that operates in comparably low temperatures. Here we theoretically and experimentally demonstrate such a thermally enhanced photoluminescence based solar-energy converter. Here heat is harvested by a low bandgap photoluminescent absorber that emits thermally enhanced photoluminescence towards a higher bandgap photovoltaic cell, resulting in a maximum theoretical efficiency of 70% at a temperature of 1,140 K. We experimentally demonstrate the key feature of sub-bandgap photon thermal upconversion with an efficiency of 1.4% at only 600 K. Experiments on white light excitation of a tailored Cr:Nd:Yb glass absorber suggest that conversion efficiencies as high as 48% at 1,500 K are in reach.”Source: Ibid.

SSPS : Space Solar Power System, Japan

“J-spacesystems has been studying Space Solar Power System (SSPS) as an alternative future energy resource under a support of METI (The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) and the other related agency for the past several years.

“The study has covered from basic laboratory testing level to the practical power plant level. The activities have been supported by working committee. Participants of the committee were selected from people of wide range of backgrounds. They are experts for respective technologies working for universities, industries and research organization.”

“The Working Committee has investigated a simple, technically feasible, and practical configuration SSPS which consists of a large power generation/transmission panel suspended by multi-tether wires from a bus system above the panel. The upper surface of the generation/transmission panel is covered with solar cells, and the lower surface mounts transmitting phased array antenna elements and solar cells. An artist concept of the tethered SSPS is shown in Fig.2.”

The attitude is automatically stabilized by the gravity gradient force in the tether configuration. So the antenna surface of the panel is always oriented towards the earth without any active attitude control. No moving structure in a large scale makes this system highly robust and stable. The power generation/transmission panel consists of identical modules, which greatly contributes to the low cost production, testing, and realizing high quality. Another innovative feature of the module is the application of wireless LAN system for the signal interface among those panels, which leads to the reliable deployment, integration, and maintenance.
Fig3 shows concept of the “Baseline type” SSPS which is capable of 1.6GW power supply maximum and 1GW average on the ground. It is composed of a power generation/transmission panel of 2.6×2.4 km suspended by multi-tethers deployed from a bus system which is located at 10 km upward. The panel consists of sub-panels of 100 mx100 m with 0.1m thickness. Each sub-panel consists of module panels 1 mx1 m size. There is no wired signal interface between module panels. The control signal and reference signal for each module panel are provided from the bus system by the wireless LAN.
The power generation of the baseline type SSPS varies with the local time as the sun angle changes as shown in Fig.4. The average power amounts to 64% of the maximum power.”

“In order to utilize wireless power transmission, we have to consider three main elements:

“First element is generation of RF energy from the electric power.
The second element is to send the energy to the point of interest.
The last element is the receiving RF energy and converting it to DC electric power.
In addition to these elements, we have to understand and control unwanted emission and reflection of RF energy. We have covered these elements in our testing in some extent.

“Beam Control Experiment
The beam control experiment was initiated from 2001. The active array panel with phase shifters, AIA#1, and the hardware retro-directive active integrated array panel, AIA#2, were developed and tested. The combination transmission test was also carried out.

The purpose of the development was to understand the issue derived by the microwave beam steering with integrated panels. And its evaluation was carried out in the anechoic chamber of METLAB, which is the microwave power transmission experiment facility of the Kyoto University. Fig 5 shows experiment in test facility.”

“In 2007, high accurate beam control experiment was carried out using the phased array antenna (5.8GHz, one-dimensional, 12 elements, about 40 cm wide).

Also, experiment of synchronized reference control system by closed loop technique for multiple phased array panels were carried out.”

source: http://www.jspacesystems.or.jp/en_project_ssps/

Japan Demoes Wireless Power Transmission for Space-Based Solar Farms
Sending kilowatts of power half a kilometer is just a start. Japan is planning orbiting solar farms in the 2030s
By Evan Ackerman

: Photo: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
Phasers Locked on Target: In a test of space-based solar power, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and JAXA sent 10 kilowatts 500 meters by microwave.

Some think the way to make solar power the backbone of a renewable energy economy is to avoid the problematic Earth entirely and head out into space, where the sun is always shining and weather means something entirely different. Solar power satellites (SPS) are more than a concept: it’s an area of active research and development, led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). JAXA explained its 25 year technology development roadmap that culminates in a 1 gigawatt SPS sending solar power back to Earth in the 2030s in IEEE Spectrum last year. Last week, JAXA and Mitsubishi demonstrated their progress on one of the most difficult components of that system: long range wireless power transmission.

Space-based solar power on a commercially viable scale will be an enormous undertaking. For an output of 1 gigawatt, Japan is planning on deploying a solar collector weighing over 10,000 metric tons and measuring several kilometers across. It would live in geosynchronous orbit, some 36,000 kilometers from Earth.

Arguably, the most difficult part of this whole business (from a technological perspective) is getting the power from the satellite back down to Earth where we can actually use it, and until we can find a long enough extension cord, there’s only one way to make it work: wirelessly.

The only efficient ways to transmit power wirelessly over a very long distance, according to JAXA researchers, is with either lasers or microwaves. Lasers are impractical because they’d run into the same problems that solar power does on Earth: they don’t work through clouds. Microwaves, though, work even if the weather is bad, so they’re what JAXA has been planning on using to transmit power.

On Thursday, JAXA was able to deliver 1.8 kilowatts “with pinpoint accuracy” to a receiving antenna (rectenna) 55 meters away using carefully directed microwaves. According to JAXA, this is the first time that anyone’s been able to send such a high power output with this level of direction control. Also on Thursday, Mitsubishi (in partnership with JAXA) managed to send 10 kilowatts of power over a distance of 500 meters, using larger antennas with more of an emphasis on power over precision.

The obvious question here is one of efficiency: being able to transmit power is great, but if you lose most of it along the way, will the overall system ever reach commercial viability? At this point, the conversion system (solar to DC to microwave to DC to AC) is about 80 percent efficient, but that excludes loss of energy in transit. Neither JAXA nor Mitsubishi are commenting on the efficiency of these specific tests (which, to be fair, weren’t’t optimized for efficiency), but we do know that as of last year, JAXA expected a 1.6 kilowatt microwave beam to yield a rectenna output of about 350 watts from a 50 meter test.

Within the next five years or so, Mitsubishi is hoping that they’ll be able to use this system for short range high power delivery (like electric car charging), and medium range delivery of small amounts of power (like powering warning lights on transmission towers). Meanwhile, JAXA is planning on testing the technology in space by 2018, with a small satellite transmitting several kilowatts from low Earth orbit to a microwave receiver on the ground. JAXA hopes to have a 100 kW satellite in orbit by 2021, and a 200 MW version by 2028. By 2031, if everything goes well, a 1 gigawatt commercial pilot plant will be in operation, with a full on commercial space-based power industry to kick off with one launch per year starting in 2037.” end quote, source: IEEE Spectrum at https://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/green-tech/solar/japan-demoes-wireless-power-transmission-for-spacebased-solar-farms

Nuclear industry, that icon of undelivered futuristic broken promises, will scoff at these ideas and anything else which might, in the PR battle, cause it to loose even more honest face.

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Modern Physics and Future Power Generation

The following piece is inspired by the article at http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2012/03/20/technological-applications-of-the-higgs-boson/#.Wrsn_P3lDwc , “Technological Applications of the Higgs Boson” By Sean Carroll | March 20, 2012

Research into the Higgs Field and the Higgs Boson has been very costly over many years. The large Hadron Collider which enabled the existence of the Higgs Boson to be confirmed is hugely expensive to build and maintain. What possible use will this fundamental be? Will any of the knowledge gained be applicable to the field of power generation?

“On 4 July 2012, the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider announced they had each observed a new particle in the mass region around 126 GeV. This particle is consistent with the Higgs boson predicted by the Standard Model. The Higgs boson, as proposed within the Standard Model, is the simplest manifestation of the Brout-Englert-Higgs mechanism. Other types of Higgs bosons are predicted by other theories that go beyond the Standard Model.” Source: CERN at https://home.cern/topics/higgs-boson

With Einstein’s famous formula, contained in his 1905 General Theory of Relativity, science has had since that time the theoretical framework to work toward efficient production of vast amounts of useful energy. So far the application of nuclear fission has been the only technology used to produce power according to the formula E = MC squared. (The reverse equation M = E/C squared is also true. ) Nuclear reactors are extremely inefficient in the percentage of fission energy they actually capture, harness and change into electrical power in the grid. Most of the energy is lost as heat, radiation and friction.

Einstein’s formula shows the equivalence between Mass and Energy. The mediator which allows the conversion of Mass into Energy and vice versa is the speed of light squared. In simple terms, Mass and Energy can be interpreted as both being the same “stuff” in different states.

The Higgs Field and the particle associated with it, the Higgs Boson, is the field by which fundamental particles are endowed with mass. The Standard Model holds that there would be no mass without this interaction been fundamental particles and the ever present Higgs Field. While researchers at CERN theoretically confirmed the Higgs Boson, or at least a particle which fits the specifications for the Higgs Boson, modern physics has yet to confirm the Higgs Field. However, if such a field does not exist, from what I understand, much of the Standard Model of modern physics is wrong. Including much of the understanding of General Relativity. E and M are equivalent to one another, and the state of “stuff” in any precise location depends entirely upon the modifier constant, C squared. What is energy and what is mass entirely depends upon how C squared (the speed of light squared) operates (either as a multiplier or a divider) of the basic stuff of the cosmos.

How Energy is gifted with mass by the Higgs Field, and how Mass is transformed into Energy, mediated probably by the field’s associated particle, the Higgs Boson, it quite beyond my understanding and imagination. One can see however that a tiny amount of mass becomes a huge amount of energy when transformed by the equation. One can see that a huge amount of energy is needed to produce a tiny amount of mass.

However:

“Over the past few decades, particle physicists have developed an elegant theoretical model (the Standard Model) that gives a framework for our current understanding of the fundamental particles and forces of nature. One major ingredient in this model is a hypothetical, ubiquitous quantum field that is supposed to be responsible for giving particles their masses (this field would answer the basic question of why particles have the masses they do–or indeed, why they have any mass at all). This field is called the Higgs field. As a consequence of wave-particle duality, all quantum fields have a fundamental particle associated with them. The particle associated with the Higgs field is called the Higgs boson.” Source: “What exactly is the Higgs boson? Have physicists proved that it really exists?” Stephen Reucroft of the Elementary Particle Physics group at Northeastern University, Scientific American, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-exactly-is-the-higgs/

When humanity learns how to directly manipulate the Higgs Field, it seems quite plausible to think we might be able to trigger controlled energy flows from it by simple interaction. For mass is to the Higgs Field as light is the Electromagnetic Field. A disturbance in the EM field is what light is. Mass is a disturbance in the Higgs Field. If E becomes M in the Higgs Field, it means that the field is perpetually extremely energy dense.

While nuclear industry maintains that it remains the high point in modern energy technology, I disagree. Fission is very rudimentary and wasteful. Fusion is proving difficult.

The invocation of universal ever present “field” as described by modern physics in its expression of the Higgs Field takes up us back years to the Lorenz Field or ether idea. The Lorenz equations, along with the Heavyside equations (Faraday’s work on EM with Heavyside, as Faraday could not do maths) may be totally irrelevant to the Higgs Field.

However, just as people dreamed of directly tapping the Lorenz “ether” long ago, I see no difficulty in thinking that the cosmos is fully of energy, that it last for billions of years more still. And that one day, when we fully understand how the form of the physical universe came to be, we might tap that ever present energy directly for clean and eternal power.

I certainly cannot believe that nuclear industry holds all the answers it thinks it does to economic power. For a start, its companies keep going bankrupt.

With the advent of solar panels for the average South Australian home (and mostly, in the city we mainly all have them), the formula for the conversion of light into electricity is far more important to our power bills than is Einstein’s famous one.

Calculating the Energy from Sunlight over a 12-Hour Period
(Written in response to an inquiry recently received)

Incident sunlight is usually thought of in terms of power per unit area. The typical units are mW/cm2. At the earth’s surface, the nominal value of the solar constant is 137 mW/cm2. This value corresponds to high noon with the sun directly overhead (as would occur at the equator or in the tropics).

The energy from sunlight may be obtained from this number and a little geometry. If we take energy in mJ (millijoules), then from the units alone we obtain

mJ = (mW/cm2) x (Area in cm2) x (Time in sec) source: NASA.

https://www.grc.nasa.gov/www/k-12/Numbers/Math/Mathematical_Thinking/sun12.htm

Direct Solar to Hydrogen Conversion

Direct solar-to-hydrogen conversion via inverted metamorphic multi-junction semiconductor architectures
Altmetric: 123Citations: 12More detail
Article

Direct solar-to-hydrogen conversion via inverted metamorphic multi-junction semiconductor architectures
James L. Young, Myles A. Steiner, Henning Döscher, Ryan M. France, John A. Turner & Todd G. Deutsch
Nature Energy volume 2, Article number: 17028 (2017)
doi:10.1038/nenergy.2017.28

source Link: https://www.nature.com/articles/nenergy201728

Abstract
Solar water splitting via multi-junction semiconductor photoelectrochemical cells provides direct conversion of solar energy to stored chemical energy as hydrogen bonds. Economical hydrogen production demands high conversion efficiency to reduce balance-of-systems costs. For sufficient photovoltage, water-splitting efficiency is proportional to the device photocurrent, which can be tuned by judicious selection and integration of optimal semiconductor bandgaps. Here, we demonstrate highly efficient, immersed water-splitting electrodes enabled by inverted metamorphic epitaxy and a transparent graded buffer that allows the bandgap of each junction to be independently varied. Voltage losses at the electrolyte interface are reduced by 0.55 V over traditional, uniformly p-doped photocathodes by using a buried p–n junction. Advanced on-sun benchmarking, spectrally corrected and validated with incident photon-to-current efficiency, yields over 16% solar-to-hydrogen efficiency with GaInP/GaInAs tandem absorbers, representing a 60% improvement over the classical, high-efficiency tandem III–V device. end quote.

References: see source link for more information including 35 reference papers.

Hydrogen is a high energy fuel which will grow in demand as the hydrogen economy develops along with relevant infrastructure. The prospect for solar plants to provide desalination and hydrogen production on site with a co-located hydrogen thermal power plant may be one means by which solar thermal and solar pv power may be augmented at night and in times of high demand by a diverse set of co located solar facilities including solar water desalination, direct solar hydrogen conversion, thermal solar power, solar pv power and hydrogen thermal power production. P. Langley

Solar water desalination

Source Link:
http://www.pnas.org/content/114/27/6936

Nanophotonics-enabled solar membrane distillation for off-grid water purification
Pratiksha D. Dongare, Alessandro Alabastri, Seth Pedersen, Katherine R. Zodrow, Nathaniel J. Hogan, Oara Neumann, Jinjian Wu, Tianxiao Wang, Akshay Deshmukh, Menachem Elimelech, Qilin Li, Peter Nordlander and Naomi J. Halas
PNAS July 3, 2017. 114 (27) 6936-6941; published ahead of print June 19, 2017. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1701835114
Contributed by Naomi J. Halas, May 16, 2017 (sent for review February 2, 2017; reviewed by Svetlana V. Boriskina and Amy Childress)

Significance
Current desalination technologies provide solutions to the increasing water demands of the planet but require substantial electric energy, limiting their sustainable use where conventional power infrastructure may be unavailable. Here, we report a direct solar method for desalination that utilizes nanoparticle-assisted solar vaporization in a membrane distillation geometry. This scalable process is capable of providing sufficient clean water for family use in a compact footprint, potentially for off-grid desalination at remote locations.

Abstract

With more than a billion people lacking accessible drinking water, there is a critical need to convert nonpotable sources such as seawater to water suitable for human use. However, energy requirements of desalination plants account for half their operating costs, so alternative, lower energy approaches are equally critical. Membrane distillation (MD) has shown potential due to its low operating temperature and pressure requirements, but the requirement of heating the input water makes it energy intensive. Here, we demonstrate nanophotonics-enabled solar membrane distillation (NESMD), where highly localized photothermal heating induced by solar illumination alone drives the distillation process, entirely eliminating the requirement of heating the input water. Unlike MD, NESMD can be scaled to larger systems and shows increased efficiencies with decreased input flow velocities. Along with its increased efficiency at higher ambient temperatures, these properties all point to NESMD as a promising solution for household- or community-scale desalination. end quote

Please see full paper at the source link given above.

Water Consumption of Solar Thermal Power Plants

Nuclear industry advocates active in a South Australian community forum claim that the water use of Solar Thermal Power Plants is extremely high, in fact too high to be viable either now or into the future.

We have seen that ” In 2008, nuclear power plants withdrew 8 times as much freshwater as natural gas plants per unit of energy produced, and up to 11
percent more than the average coal plant.” (Source: ii Averyt, et al. Freshwater use by U.S. Power Plants: Electricity’s Thirst for a Precious Resource. Union of Concerned Scientists, EW3, 2011.) and:

Regarding nuclear power plants: “once-through cooling systems withdraw 25,000 to 60,000 gallons of water for each megawatt-hour of electricity produced, recirculating cooling systems, also known as closed-cycle cooling systems, withdraw only 800 to 2,600 gallons per megawatt-hour and are used when nearby water sources lack sufficient volume to allow once-through cooling. After water is withdrawn from a source to cool steam, it is then cooled and pumped back into the condenser for reuse. Though plants with closed cycle cooling systems withdraw far less water than once-through cooling systems, they consume (through evaporation) about 600-800 gallons per megawatt-hour, roughly half the amount they withdraw.” (Source: Union of Concerned Scientists) further:

“Other water uses for nuclear power
While cooling systems account for the vast amount of water
withdrawn by nuclear power plants, fuel extraction and refining have
also impacted water sources. Uranium fuel extraction, for example,
requires 45-150 gallons of water per megawatt-hour of electricity
produced and uranium mining has contaminated surface or ground
water sources in at least 14 states.” (Source: UCS. EW3. 2011) Additionally:

“Additionally, nuclear power plants
intake water to cool service equipment, such as chillers for air
conditioning units or lubricating oil coolers for the main turbine.
Service water system flow rates can range from 13,500 to 52,000
gallons per minute depending on the season and the power plant” (source: UCS. 2007)

More information regarding NPP water consumption at : https://nuclearexhaust.wordpress.com/2018/03/25/water-consumption-of-nuclear-reactors/ , the primary source document for which is: Union of Concerned Scientists at https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/documents/nuclear_power/fact-sheet-water-use.pdf

So, is the nuclear industry correct in its assertion that solar thermal electricity production is not feasible as it will forces regions into prolonged water shortage and worse?

Source Link:
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1936-704X.2013.03156.x

Journal of Contemporary Water Research & Education
© Universities Council on Water Resources

Water Requirements for Large‐Scale Solar Energy Projects in the West
George B. Frisvold Tatiana Marquez
First published: 3 February 2014 https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1936-704X.2013.03156.x

Abstract:

“This study estimates how much water would be required to meet Renewable Portfolio Standards for electricity generation in five western states if 100 percent of this demand were supplied by solar power. Future renewable electricity demand (net of current supplies) is estimated for 2025 and 2035. One scenario assumes the most water‐intensive solar thermal technology supplies all this future demand. Although not a feasible scenario, the assumed water intensity (1057 gallons/MWh) provides an upper‐bound estimate of solar power water consumption that may be compared with regional water balances. A second scenario assumes the water intensity of future projects is comparable to the average of solar projects actually being deployed. Water intensity for these 34 projects with 8.7 GW of capacity averages 228 gallons/MWh – a lower rate than many conventional electricity facilities (i.e., coal, natural gas, nuclear). Water requirements by 2035 would be 0.8 percent of regional consumptive use of water under the upper bound scenario and 0.2 percent of consumptive use based on current, average water intensities.” end quote.

So according to the sources above, nuclear once through cooling uses up to 60,000 gallons per MW generated. Nuclear closed cycle nuclear cooling system uses up to 2,600 gallons per MW generated. Additional water use at the plants and in mining and preparing the nuclear fuel consumes up to an additional 52,000 gallons of water per minute.
Nuclear best case: up to 52,000 gallons per MW
Worst case: 60,000 gallons per MW
Additional consumption adds substantially to the total water consumption of nuclear industry.

By contrast the worst case for a solar thermal power plant based energy supply is 1057 gallons/MWh. The realistic prediction of a solar powered grid is for water consumption to average 228 gallons per MWh generated.

This results in NPPs with single pass cooling systems using about about 56 times the water consumption of a Solar Thermal power plant.

Solar Thermal uses about 2.5 times less water per MW than an NPP with a closed cycle cooling system.

The current state and future trends in lithium battery technology.

The nuclear industry points out, quite correctly, that the current technology of lithium batteries is flawed. The current batteries are extremely volatile in the presence of water. The current batteries must remain within a relatively narrow band of operating temperatures. The current batteries, both in consumer products and in industrial applications, are vulnerable to internal physical degradation with age. Many people have witnessed the swelling domestic lithium batteries, for example, laptop batteries, can under go. Such is the force of this expansion that laptops can be twisted out of shape and destroyed. Where a worn out and degraded lithium battery suffers an internal short circuit, high temperatures result which may cause a fire. Industrial lithium batteries are vulnerable to various failure states and are, in a degraded state or when driven beyond design limits, vulnerable to overheat and fire starting.

The nuclear industry correctly points out that in some countries, the manufacture of lithium batteries have resulted in the uncontrolled release of toxic chemicals into the environment. The nuclear industry and its advocates have discussed in public their acknowledgement of the regulations and methods which must be obeyed by all manufacturers of electronic components including lithium batteries. US and EC regulations aim to ensure sufficient containment and control of toxic waste does no harm. The planet has long been polluted by toxic chemicals and toxic radiologic chemicals as well. The nuclear industry assures us it’s nuclear waste is perfectly safe and economically stored. That it is not dispersed in an uncontrolled manner anywhere. Even the exclusion zone around three melted nuclear reactors is perfectly safe according to industry advocates. (see previous post for part of the reality to that).

The nuclear industry thus sees itself in a world where exclusion and nuclear agency controlled regions (eg the US Superfund sites, the exclusion zone around Chernobyl, the exclusion zone around Fukushima, the zone around Sellafield, that former fuel plant which is now a decontamination centre, providing a whole new range of jobs to a generation of nuclear worker – the cleanup worker- and which will be so for many years to come.) which it considers not needed and bad propaganda, while at the same time surrounded by the dangers of chemicals used in the making of semi-conductors, such as reactor control and sensing systems, solar panels and lithium batteries. Nuclear advocates post photos from China displaying the results of its semiconductor and battery manufacturing. The nuclear industry applauds the Chinese talent for building reactors (except of the AP!000 reactor there, which has again been delayed due to Chinese concerns about safety). However when it comes to using the photos of the effects of toxic electronic industry waste upon the environment, the nuclear industry regularly neglects to mention that the photos where taken in China and other nations which suffer from high levels of corruption and inadequate enforcement of the law.

The nuclear industry is fascinated with the idea that by comparing its behaviour in the West, both now and in the past, with current and recent environmental disasters of the chemically toxic kind from electronics manufacture is a PR bonus for itself. A recommendation that the choosing to pay more taxes to buy a state or national reactor will reduce the toxic material released by the chemical and electronics industries. Both of which the nuclear industry is reliant upon.

Further, the nuclear industry seems to forget that the average person can add up. Nuclear waste and emissions plus electronics toxic chemical waste is not better than electronics toxic waste alone. It’s worse.

The final answers to the nuclear industry in its strident condemnation of the technologies employed by the renewable energy industry centre around the promises made by the nuclear industry since the 1950s. 1. The promise of zero emission cars powered by nuclear energy. 2. The promise of cheap and safe electricity generation.

People with memory of the period from the 1950s to the 1960s and to some extent the 1970s will perhaps have a vague recollection of the repeated promise that nuclear industry would give the workers of the world a radically new form of personal transport, powered by a form of nuclear power. The industry also promised nuclear powered aircraft with nearly unlimited range. Though prototypes of the atomic aircraft reactor were made, and though one such aircraft carried aloft the nuclear reactor propulsion system, fuelled up but not actually powering the craft, the nuclear powered personal automobile never eventuated.

The nuclear powered aircraft cost billions and failed, the nuclear car, promoted heavily and no doubt at some cost both however served their purpose. In the post war world, which was slowly, very slowly, learning the truth about nuclear hazards and costs, the promise of nuclear safety and economy was critical to the public acceptance of nuclear reactors. If they could fly overhead with passengers traversing the world, if the motorist could drive for decades without the need of refuelling, well then, nuclear energy must be safe.

The reality is: The aircraft were blatant propaganda costing billions. The cars would only be a reality if plutonium or strontium thermal batteries were actually safe as an energy source for trucks, cars, buses and trains.

The safety of such nuclear thermal batteries, packaged in the boots and bonnets of cars hurtling down freeways, either in the 1950s or now is non existent. Image a nuclear Ford Pinto. Ting, and entire suburbs would need to be evacuated and decontaminated.

Besides, in a world where threats lie potentially anywhere, who would trust the common person with sufficient plutonium to power a car – add sufficient explosives to such a vehicle and it would be a mobile radiological weapon. It would be that in a normal and innocent accident. The futuristic promises of the nuclear industry have always been propaganda.

So of course, the nuclear industry doesn’t like the lithium battery. It’s safer than their radionuclide thermal batteries. But the present lithium batteries do need improving. Nuclear industry knows the flip side to their argument. Their promise of the 1950s – non polluting cars due to a lack of car exhaust – applied to today, would rely upon the same lithium batteries as solar storage does.

The rise of the lithium battery powered car presupposes and demands a battery manufacturing process which does not emit toxic chemicals either from the factories nor from the waste toxins the process results in. Waste storage and containment is critical. The history of the electronics industry is long, and bitter lessons have been learned and no doubt need to be relearned. However the sooner the nuclear industry confesses it’s view of the future relies upon the same batteries and the same need for the safe storage of toxic chemical waste, the more rational the nuclear industry energy storage will be.

In 2017 the Chinese government made it a key plank in the processes of government, industrialisation and public administration to ensure that the environment of China was restored. This was under taken to ensure that the natural world was able to sustain the needs of the Chinese people and the needs of the natural world. The Chinese government has many pressing issues. However history has repeatedly shown that when China is determined to achieve its domestic goals, it does so. In the modern era China has lifted more people out of poverty than I think any nation ever has, probably in the history of civilisation. There is little basis to doubt that China is able to control and store toxic chemicals from its electronics and battery production. While the West may be better at such things generally at the present time, there is little doubt China find the solutions it needs and that these solutions, when shared with other nations, will the world situation regarding toxic waste generally.

The nuclear industry remains unhappy that it’s nuclear waste is so easy to detect. The detectors are cheap and anyone can read a rad meter. It’s a lot harder to detect benzine or the solvents used in electronics etc. But then again nuclear industry relies upon traditional toxic chemicals in daily operation, while it generates waste with is both chemically and radiologically toxic. It is an industry which has new competitors in the energy market, and it does not like that market reality. I can always make bombs I suppose.

The Origins and Designed Purpose of the first Lithium Batteries.


“This year (, the battery industry celebrates the 25th anniversary of the introduction of the lithium ion rechargeable battery by Sony Corporation. The discovery of the system dates back to earlier work by Asahi Kasei in Japan, which used a combination of lower temperature carbons for the negative electrode to prevent solvent degradation and lithium cobalt dioxide modified somewhat from Goodenough’s earlier work. The development by Sony was carried out within a few years by bringing together technology in film coating from their magnetic tape division and electrochemical technology from their battery division. The past 25 years has shown rapid growth in the sales and in the benefits of lithium ion in comparison to all the earlier rechargeable battery systems. Recent work on new materials shows that there is a good likelihood that the lithium ion battery will continue to improve in cost, energy, safety and power capability and will be a formidable competitor for some years to come.

The present day market for lithium ion batteries is far more complicated than the original small electronic devices for the 3C market mentioned above. Many additional markets have been opened for small devices such as toys, lighting (LCD and fluorescent lights), e-cigarettes and vaporizers, medical devices, and many others. The discovery24,25 that lithium ion battery packs using 18650, 26700 and 26650 sizes can be designed to operate at much higher power than originally suspected has opened markets for portable electric tools, garden tools, e-bikes and many other products. While high energy 18650 cells now have as much as 3.4 Ah, the high power cells have sacrificed some capacity to obtain 20A or higher continuous discharge capability in the 18650 cell size. While some cells claim as high as 2.5 Ah capacity, it is difficult to sustain such a high capacity during cycling. Modeling studies by Reimers26 and Spotnitz and coworkers27 show clearly the important effect of multiple tabs and tab placement. Other important design variables are the electrode thickness, the carbon content of the positive electrode, the porosities of the electrodes and the type of carbon used in the negative electrode.

In addition, the development of ceramic coatings to the separator or the positive electrode has had a beneficial effect on preventing internal short circuiting during cycling due to adventitious presence of metal particles on the surface of electrodes. These particles are small and generally airborne and frequently result from mechanical slitting of the electrodes. The separator is only of the order of 12 to 25 μm thick so the concept that very small conductive particles can penetrate the separator and cause a short has been acknowledged as a major failure mechanism of lithium ion batteries.

There are several deficiencies of present day lithium ion batteries that, if remedied with suitable ease and cost parameters, would enable superior lithium ion batteries that could open new applications and expand the market for present ones. This section will discuss deficiencies of the lithium ion battery and possible approaches to improve the technology. First it is important to consider certain market factors that will have important ramifications on cost, material availability, and needed technology improvements to enable mass production of different cell types and sizes.

Market pull is strongly acting on lithium ion battery manufacturers as application companies and governments around the world are asking for increased capacity and energy with lower cost to fulfill the needs of greenhouse gas reductions through implementation of electric vehicles of all types to replace petroleum and energy storage so that intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind and solar can replace coal and natural gas fuels for energy production. The cost element is particularly important, for example, for motive power applications, especially for plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV) and battery electric vehicles (BEV). Recent estimates place the cost of producing lithium ion cells is as low as $145 per kWh and the cost of a battery pack as low as $190 per kWh.36 The goal of most auto manufacturers and the US Department of Energy is $125 per kWh for a battery pack.37 While the Tesla Motors Model S BEV has a 60 to 100 kWh battery, the new Chevrolet Bolt BEV will have a 60 kWh battery and the Tesla Model 3 will have a “less than” 60 kWh battery pack when available. The latter models are the first mass market BEVs that will have in excess of 200 miles (320 km) range which is believed to be a requirement for general public acceptance. Tables II and III give the data on many BEVs and PHEVs in current production including battery sizes and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated ranges, ranked by present sales in the US.

A second area of major production possibility is that of energy storage in connection with stabilization and storage for the electric grid. This area is driven as much by the requirements of government regulations and incentives to enable renewable energy sources such as solar and wind generation, which are inherently intermittent, to fit the demands of electrical utility producers and users.38 Many government and private demonstration projects are proceeding around the world and a great many energy storage schemes including alternative storage devices such as pumped hydro, compressed air, flywheels, etc. as well as many battery types such as flow batteries (mainly aqueous based at this point), lead acid, high temperature and others in addition to lithium ion. While the other methods do not concern this work, it is a fact that many of the demonstrations involve lithium ion because of the long cycle life and calendar life possible with conservative charging and discharging regimes. In addition, cost is a very important driver for use of lithium ion, but some applications such as frequency stabilization are not as cost sensitive. If lithium ion batteries are adopted for these applications, great demands will be placed on the availability of materials, especially lithium carbonate. It is likely that a very conservative approach will be used for lithium ion batteries, while inherently safer systems such as aqueous flow batteries will continue to see more innovation in order to achieve low cost objectives.

Twenty five years ago, the lithium ion battery made its debut into the market place as a result of innovative work by Asahi Kasei and development and marketing by the Sony Corporation. The realization of lithium ion batteries came about rapidly and has continued to display remarkable progress in capacity, energy, power and cost reduction. Safety remains a strong concern for the industry, but developments in separator technology have improved the outlook for safer batteries. With recent progress in new materials, the author projects that the lithium ion battery will continue to improve in all of its properties with successful implementation of new battery concepts in active materials, inert materials and cell designs.” end partial quote, source: Manuscript submitted October 17, 2016.
Revised manuscript received November 15, 2016.
Published December 1, 2016.
© The Author(s) 2016. Published by ECS. http://jes.ecsdl.org/content/164/1/A5019.full

While safer toxic waste storage from lithium battery production is expected to rapidly extend to China, the development of a temperature tolerant and fire proof lithium battery which does not react violently when in contact with water can be expected in the near to intermediate future.

For example:

U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the University of Maryland develop Fire and Explosion Safe Lithium Ion Battery
“ADELPHI, Md. — Researchers at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the University of Maryland have developed for the first time a lithium-ion battery that uses a water-salt solution as its electrolyte and reaches the 4.0 volt mark desired for household electronics, such as laptop computers, without the fire and explosive risks associated with some commercially available non-aqueous lithium-ion batteries.

Their work appears Sept. 6, 2017, in Joule, Cell Press’s new interdisciplinary energy journal.

This technology will bring the Soldiers a “completely safe and flexible Li-ion battery that provides identical energy density as the SOA Li-ion batteries. The batteries will remain safe — without fire and explosion — even under severe mechanical abuses,” said co-senior author Dr. Kang Xu, ARL fellow who specializes in electrochemistry and materials science.

“In the past, if you wanted high energy, you would choose a non-aqueous lithium-ion battery, but you would have to compromise on safety. If you preferred safety, you could use an aqueous battery such as nickel/metal hydride, but you would have to settle for lower energy,” Xu said. “Now, we are showing that you can simultaneously have access to both high energy and high safety. This work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Advanced Research Program Agency – Energy. ” end partial quote. ARL Public Relations at https://www.army.mil/article/193407/army_umd_researchers_develop_water_based_lithium_ion_batteries_that_dont_explode

It is only of 2017 that a safe explosion proof lithium battery arose. The US Army is not the only organisation working on the development of safe, high energy density lithium batteries. Chinese researchers in conjunction with the University of Melbourne are working on similar safe lithium batteries.

When electric powered vehicles become significant in the world automotive market, the current generation of lithium ion batteries a major problem. At the end of their lives, that is, after about 10 years, millions of these old batteries will have to be safely stored around the world. That many old conventional lithium batteries present more than one hazard. The old batteries are toxic, fire prone and react destructively in the presence of water.

New generations of lithium batteries already exist in research labs which are safe and non reactive, enabling a much safer service life and much safer and easier storage.

It is premature in March 2018 to inflict millions of current generation lithium ion batteries upon the world. A proportion will cause fire in service and all of them present difficult to solve safe storage problem when the batteries are old and worn out.

As is expected given the market demand and hence rich rewards for successful research, the next generation of safer and easier to store lithium ion battery already exists and is being tested and perfected in laboratories around the world.

Nuclear vs Solar : Their Relative Dependence On the National Grid.

Synopsis: Nuclear power plants are reliant upon stable electricity supply FROM the grid in times of reactor emergency, and for normal shut down and start up. Reactor emergency cooling systems designed in the West have an operational life in emergency core cooling situations of 8 hours. This applies as much to the current AP1000 design as it does to the Mk1 GE of the late 60s, which is still in service around the world.

Solar power in conjunction with battery storage is approaching the cost benefit point where residential urban dwellings will benefit from grid disconnection.

If a nuclear power plant were approved today, it would not come online for 15 – 20 years. In that time, the state of renewable power generation and storage in SA would be such the need for a large multi mega watt fuelled generator of any kind would not be needed. Certainly in the case of the uranium “burning” reactor, the cost of a nuclear compatible grid would be unacceptable to the normal domestic energy consumer in this state.

It seems to be beyond the ability of Australian politicians to comprehend the nature and the timeline involved in the requirement to intelligently respond to the energy technology transitional cusp Australia and South Australia presently live in. The time line will extend for the best part of 20 years. An attempt to force a power generation regime upon South Australians which is not compatible with and cost competitive with the final shape of the energy paradigm will waste billions of dollars and force Australians to continue to live accelerating energy costs.

Nuclear Power:

“The safe and economic operation of a nuclear power plant (NPP) requires the plant to be connected to an electrical grid system that has adequate capacity for exporting the power from the NPP, and for providing a reliable electrical supply to the NPP for safe startup, operation and normal or emergency shutdown of the plant.

Handout photo from Tokyo Electric Power Co. shows workers attempting to repair power lines at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, March 2011. The power grid connection to Units 1, 2, 3 and 4 was destroyed during the earthquake.

“Connection of any large new power plant to the electrical grid system in a country may require significant modification and strengthening of the grid system, but for NPPs there may be added requirements to the structure of the grid system and the way it is controlled and maintained to ensure adequate reliability.

kawamoto takuo – Flickr: Fukushima 1 Nuclear Power Plant_48 Transformer building terminating power lines from the 500kV Futaba power transmission line behind reactors 5 and 6 at the Fukushima I nuclear power plant in Japan. These lines remained energized throughout the entire earthquake and tsunami incident of March 2011. This photo was taken on June 23, 1999 during a plant tour. "On 23 March, it was reported that the cooling pump at Reactor 5 stopped working when it was transferred from backup power to the grid supply.[87][88] This was repaired and the cooling restarted approximately 24 hours later. RHR cooling in Unit 6 was switched to the permanent power supply on 25 March.[89] On 28 May, the temporary seawater cooling pump for Reactor 5 stopped, which was discovered by TEPCO at 21 local time. At that time, the temperature in the reactor was 68 °C, and in the spent fuel pool 41 °C.[90] At 11 in the morning the following day the temperatures had risen to 92.2 °C and 45.7 °C.[91] Cooling was restored at 12:49 pm.[92] "Seismic Damage Information (the 59th Release-Corrected)" (PDF). Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. 28 March 2011. Retrieved 12 April 2011.
"Cooling system stops at No.5 reactor in Fukushima". Xinhua News. 29 May 2011. Retrieved 29 May 2011.
"Earthquake News No. 96" (PDF). JAIF. 29 May 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 October 2011. Retrieved 29 May 2011.
"Status of TEPCO's Facilities and its services after the Tohoku-Chihou-Taiheiyou-Oki Earthquake(as of 4:00 PM, 29 May)". TEPCO. 29 May 2011. Retrieved 29 May 2011.

“The organization responsible for the NPP and the organization responsible for the grid system will need to establish and agree the necessary characteristics of the grid and of the NPP, well before the NPP is built, so that they are compatible with each other. They will also need to agree the necessary modifications to the grid system, and how they are to be financed.

“For a Member State that does not yet use nuclear power, the introduction and development of nuclear power is a major undertaking. It requires the country to build physical infrastructure and develop human resources so it can
construct and operate a nuclear power plant (NPP) in a safe, secure and technically sound manner. ” end quote. Source: “ELECTRIC GRID RELIABILITY AND INTERFACE WITH NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS” IAEA NUCLEAR ENERGY SERIES No. NG-T-3.8, IAEA, COPYRIGHT NOTICE All IAEA scientific and technical publications are protected by the terms of the Universal Copyright Convention as adopted in 1952 (Berne) and as revised in 1972 (Paris). Reproduced for study purpose and fair use.

“Vibrations from the magnitude 9.0 earthquake triggered an immediate shut down of 15 of Japan’s nuclear power stations. Seismic sensors picked up the earthquake and control rods were automatically inserted into the reactors, halting the fission reaction that is used to produce electricity. This sudden loss of power across Japan’s national power grid caused widespread power failures, cutting vital electricity supplies to Fukushima Daiichi. There were three reactors, one, two and three, operating at the time when the earthquake hit while reactors four, five and six had already been shutdown as part of routine maintenance work.” “Japan earthquake: how the nuclear crisis unfolded”. Richard Gray, Science Correspondent, The Telegraph, 20 March 2011. end quote. The disaster sequence at Fukushima Diiachi units 1, 2, and 3, with consequences for Unit 4 spent fuel pool, commenced with the failure of the power grid. Caused by the Designed in automatic responses to quake – shut down no matter what – and by local damage to local poles and wire. Nuclear reactor design thus demonstrates it’s ability to amplify the grid vulnerability to natural forces. Had more renewable energy sources been feeding the Japanese grid, the emergency shutdown of 15 nuclear reactors around Japan may not have resulted in the sudden lack of coolant pumping power Fukushima Diiachi ended up with and which, in the final analysis caused the mass meltdown of three reactors. As foreseen in 1975. Had Japan built more renewable energy sources into the national grid prior to 2011, the grid would have been more stable and more able to supply power to mass ranks of reactors suddenly without access to the grid upon which, the IAEA itself admits, is crucial to the safety of nuclear reactors. No other form of energy production uses the national grid as such an umbilical cord to prevent nuclear disaster. Only nuclear power is capable of repeated explosions and the release of toxic material which has cost that nations many billions of yen and which continues to render as internal refugees an entire generation of farming and rural families.   Further, there is a profound technical reason why nuclear reactors are built to shutdown during earthquake. It is explained in here: ““ANALYSIS OF FUEL BEHAVIOR DURING REACTIVITY INITIATED ACCIDENTS” by L. B. Thompson, E. L. Tolman, and P. E. MacDonald, Aerojet Nuclear Co. March 1975”. On page 22 the paper states :“fuel pellet enthalpy has a positive influence coefficient with respect to maximum cladding temperature; that is, an increase in maximum enthalpy increases the maximum temperature. An increase in heat transfer coefficient or rod diameter causes a decrease in expected maximum temperatures. “ end quote.  When earthquake vibration causes fuel pellets to impact each other in tune with the quake vibrations, the pellets may crumble and compress.  This increases the energy density of the fuel rod and causes overheating and boiling of water adjacent to the afflicted fuel rods. Reactor fuel is vulnerable to earthquake, not withstanding the patented but ignored means of overcoming the vulnerability.  drill a hole through each pellet so that if compressed by earthquake, the energy density of the fuel remains unchanged.   It’s an old Japanese patent, and the industry and the world mourns the day the idea was sealed into a box at the back of the nuclear idea warehouse. One such patent is this one: “Patent 4587089 Fuel assembly for boiling water reactor Takeda et al.
Quote: “The present invention relates to a reactor… “It is a primary object of the present invention to provide a reactor in which the earthquake resistance of the core is improved and the change of the power at the transient stage is reduced.” “the safety, the earthquake resistance, the stability, the fuel soundness and the fuel economy can be improved by means described below according to the present invention.” You have to hand it to the nuclear industry don’t you. Such admissions of vulnerability and solutions to that vulnerability become ignored and forgotten under the combined weight of nuclear denialism and technological arrogance. No problem with the Fukushima reactors or anyone other types. According to them.

Does the South Australian power grid meet the IAEA requirements for Nuclear Power Plant Connection? Is our grid more robust than Japan’s?

“SOUTH AUSTRALIA ELECTRICITY REPORT SOUTH AUSTRALIAN ADVISORY FUNCTIONS
Published: November 2017, Australian Electricity Market Operator AEMO.

“The highest risk of USE (Unserved Energy) in South Australia in the 10-year outlook is in 2017–18. This risk is being addressed by the South Australian Government’s Energy Plan3 developing additional diesel generation and battery storage, and AEMO pursuing supply and demand response4 through the Reliability and Emergency Reserve Trader (RERT)5 provisions. Without these actions, the USE in South Australia could exceed the reliability standard. The USE risk is forecast (subject to significant uncertainty) to reduce after 2017–18, due to increasing renewable generation. Power system security and reliability will be tested on extremely hot summer afternoons and evenings, when photovoltaic (PV) generation drops to low levels. The risk increases if this coincides with low wind generation, unexpected generation outages, or constraints on electricity imports from other regions. South Australia’s mix of electricity supply sources continues to evolve. South Australia has become increasingly reliant on electricity generation from gas-powered generation (GPG) since the closure of coal-fired generation. South Australia’s reliance on natural gas for energy supply and maintaining system security means gas supplies must be available for GPG during critical times. AEMO considers the gas supply-demand balance across the east coast of Australia to be finely balanced, with continued risks of supply shortfalls. AEMO continues to monitor this balance, and is collaborating with industry and governments so sufficient gas is available to keep meeting demand and minimise the risk of energy supply shortfalls.” End quote

The relative scarcity of natural gas in the Australian market is the natural consequence of the policies of successive national governments, which continue to favour excessive export of Australia’s natural endowment of this relatively clean and formerly inexpensive energy source.  

It can be seen that if a nuclear reactor was sited in South Australia, it would not meet the IAEA requirements for a stable electrical connection to a grid capable of assuring bountiful grid supply to the nuclear reactor in the event of an emergency shut down of that nuclear reactor.

That bountiful supply of electricity in the South Australian portion of the national grid, will not be available until the state government has forced the now privatised energy suppliers to construct sufficient clean generation capacity and battery storage of a non nuclear nature.

At that point, the SA grid will be potentially able to meet all other IAEA requirements for a nuclear compatible grid. These additional steps will include the construction of several multi million dollar interstate interconnectors.   No authority would approve the siting of a nuclear reactor in SA without such expensive redundancy plus the rebuilding of the related long distance poles and wire.

At the same time, while the SA government attempts to build a reliable state based generation capacity based upon renewables and gas, it is hampered by the single, vulnerable, solitary interstate grid interconnector.  We need at least two at the moment.  A nuclear powered SA would require double redundancy at least.

The cost of a  nuclear reactor compatible grid would add a very large additional burden onto South Australian households.   Had government continued to have owner status as a stakeholder in the SA energy market, the transition to renewables would have commenced in a far more rational fashion that it has over the last 16 years.

At the other side of the energy technology transition cusp, the last thing South Australia with its natural endowments in renewable  energy potential needs is a nuclear reactor which taxpayers will have to fund for the 20 years it takes to build the thing, and for the centuries of watching its waste when it is decommissioned.

The problem of nuclear waste and human and grid energy to guard it:

“IAEA Estimates of Global Inventories of Radioactive Waste”

Original Link for  full text download http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications/PDF/te_1591_web.pdf

“The accumulations of radioactive materials can be considered a burden for human society, both at present and in the future, since they require continuing monitoring and control. Knowing the amounts and types of such radioactive inventories can help in the assessment of the relative burdens. Knowledge of the national or regional radioactive waste inventory is necessary for planning management operations, including the sizing and design of conditioning, storage and disposal facilities. A global inventory, either of radioactive waste or of other environmental accumulations of radioactive material, could be used to provide a perspective on the requirements and burdens associated with their management, by means of comparisons with the burdens caused by other types of waste or other environmental threats. The IAEA officer responsible for this publication was K. Hioki of the Division of Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety.” end quote.

 OK, Hioki san, let’s look at your country, Japan:
How does the waste from Japan’s car industries and electronics industry, the things which cannot exist without nuclear power in Japan, compare with this:

Progress of Fukushima Cleanup and Interim Storage Oct 2017 Gov. of Japan
Original Link for pdf download: http://josen.env.go.jp/en/pdf/progressseet_progress_on_cleanup_efforts.pdf

 


 

wow, i hope the nuclear industry can do it at a profit. It would be horrible if taxpayers had to pay. Oh, they do do they? Why? So how much profit from 1974 until today did those reactors mark? MINUS how many billions of yen? Jesus H Christ. I suppose that’s what you get with a socialist government. What ? They are right wingers? Hell. Are you sure? well fuck me. And you reckon all of this was due in the first instance in the accident sequence was due to fifteen reactors shutting down, with the resultant grid instability compounded by a power pole going down in Fukushima? The batteries for the emergency valves went flat, the 8 hour design life time of the emergency cooling system expired, despite which the workers kept the 3 reactors from melting down for 3 whole days, and then there were explosions and toxic material scattered to the four winds. wow. Who the hell approved that? I thought the nuclear industry was never wrong!!!! How come a nuclear reactor, or rather 3 of them, each capable of powering a city, hasnt got sufficient power to power itself on vital functions? How come it has to rely on the grid in the first place? I mean, christ, it uses rechargible batteries to keep the emergency core cooling systems (3 each for each reactor ) and they have no grid independent means of recharging them? Oh what, since then the US installed portable diesels at each similar reactor in the US? Wow, they are addicted to the 1950s arent they?

The Cost of the Australian National Electricity Grid – a primary reason for rising power prices in South Australia

source:
https://grattan.edu.au/report/down-to-the-wire/

Down to the wire: A sustainable electricity network for Australia
by Tony Wood, David Blowers and Kate Griffiths

State governments have spent up to $20 billion more than was needed on the electricity grid, and households and businesses are paying for it through their power bills.

Customers in NSW, Queensland and Tasmania are paying $100-to-$400 more each year than they should.

Those state governments should write down the value of the assets to reduce electricity bills, or give direct rebates to customers.

The cost of the National Electricity Market’s power grid rose from $50 billion in 2005 to $90 billion today. But up to $20 billion of that was not needed to cover growth in population, consumption, or even demand at peak times.

There have been some improvements in reliability of supply, but not enough to justify the spending.

The over-investment was overwhelmingly in NSW and Queensland. In 2005, the NSW and Queensland governments required their network businesses to build excessive back-up infrastructure to protect against even the most unlikely events. At the same time, growth in demand for electricity slowed, as appliances became more energy efficient and more households installed solar panels.

Unless state governments fix the mistakes of the past, consumers will continue to pay for assets that are neither used nor useful. And prices that are higher than they should be will lead to poor investment decisions in future.

In Queensland and Tasmania, where the businesses are still state-owned, the Government should write down the value of the assets. This would mean governments foregoing future revenue in favour of lower electricity bills.

In NSW, intervening to revalue the privatised businesses would create too many problems, so the Government should instead use the proceeds of the privatisations to fund a rebate to consumers.

To prevent the mistakes happening again, state governments should move to full privatisation, because the evidence shows that privatised electricity businesses deliver lower prices for consumers, without compromising reliability or safety.

And governments should change the way electricity is priced, so all consumers can see when demand is high. Network costs would fall if customers reduced their consumption at critical peak periods.

Consumers are copping the bill for the past excessive spending on the electricity grid. Governments should act now to give some of that money back to consumers, and to ensure Australia has a more sustainable and affordable electricity network.” end quote full report at : https://grattan.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/903-Down-to-the-wire.pdf

Who Owns South Australia’s electricity grid?

“There are four parts to the electricity market: generation, distribution, transmission and retail.

Of Australia’s eight states and territories, three governments retain full ownership of all elements of their electricity networks: Western Australia; Tasmania; and the Northern Territory.

Queensland also owns the generation, distribution and transmission of electricity, but the retail market has been privatised.

Chinese Government-owned State Grid Corporate and Hong Kong-listed Cheung Kong Infrastructure — the two companies whose bid for NSW electricity distributor Ausgrid were blocked by Treasurer Scott Morrison — already own significant shares in the privatised state power distributors.

Breakdown of Australia’s electricity industry
Power generators, which produce energy to sell to the wholesale electricity market.
Distributors, who design, construct and maintain the network of “poles and wires”
Transmitters, which transport power from generators to the distribution system via the high-voltage transmission network
Retailers, who purchase power from the wholesale electricity market to sell to retail customers
Australia’s retail energy markets have a multitude of private players but the big three are AGL Energy, Origin Energy and EnergyAustralia, which dominate southern and eastern Australia.

The trio jointly supply more than 70 per cent of small electricity customers and more than 80 per cent of small gas customers, as of June 30, 2015.

EnergyAustralia is owned by Hong Kong-based China Light and Power.

In South Australia, Cheung Kong Infrastructure/Power Assets owns a 51-per-cent share, on a 200-year lease, in SA Power Networks Electricity Distribution network.

The transmitter in that state, ElectraNet, is partly owned by State Grid Corporation — at 46.5 per cent, it holds the largest share.” end quote. Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-21/chinese-investment-in-the-australian-power-grid/7766086 Australian Broadcasting Commission ABC. By political editor Chris Uhlmann
Posted 21 Aug 2016.

The utter malaise in the SA power production market, in which government and voter choice was, until recently, suppressed, was caused by 1. the commercial only options chosen by the generating companies 2. Federal subsidies for wind generation in preference over solar Pv and solar thermal, geothermal and gas, 3. The 50s era status quo of low grade coal burning until the happy demise of the Port Augusta brown coal (aka almost like road tar burning) power station. 4. The complete resistance of the energy generators to build a solar thermal plant at Port Augusta against the back drop of politicians with heavy personal stakes in SA’s uranium fields sniping, at every opportunity, for a nuclear power plant to be built in this state. Which cannot happen, even if approved by law today, for another 20 years. By the time it is finished, it would be redundant and an albatross around the necks of the South Australian people.

The Australian Federal Government has no concept of the reality of the energy technology transition cusp we are living in at the present. It will take some years to complete. Out the other side, nuclear will be seen by governments around the world, but particularly here, to be a lunatic dead parrot, the advocates for which have made the bird appear to talk only by the precise navigation of the industry’s hand up the birds innards to the dead creature’s squawking apparatus.

Solar and the Grid

Unlike nuclear reactors, if solar PV and solar thermal loose connection to the grid, the consequences do not cost billions of yen and thousands of human hours of suffering. The concept of the nuclear refugee was a reality in 1945 and such refugees exist in a number of countries.

Rural and Remote Australians have had many decades of experience without connection to the electricity grid.

Such Australians were among the first to adopt solar PV panels and batteries to power their homes. Often farms also relied upon diesel generation for agricultural/industrial purposes and as energy supplementation.

Today solar/ battery powered rural households are more economic to set up. Current cost estimate guides give a range of prices to establish an off grid home. For example a price range from $!0,000 to $36,000, depending on capacity requirements, are given by the following estimate website: http://goingoffgridforlife.com.au/off-grid-cost-estimate-table/ This may represent a major form of cost relief for rural and remote homes, who would have to pay more for the extension of the grid to their homes. However, though many SA homes are already contributing to the national grid and lowering their energy costs by using solar PV panels, relatively few city dwellers have disconnected from grid. As the cost of solar panels and batteries reduce, this movement away from the grid by Australian urban dwellers will increase.

The combination of Solar PV and storage battery at the urban residential level demonstrates a critical vector of change in the present energy technology transition cusp.

Solar PV plus battery, coupled with progressive price reductions over time and technological improvements leading to progressively increased components efficiency at the same time demonstrates the potential for urban dwellers to become independent of the grid.

While think tanks point out the increasing cost of the grid via pole and wire servicing and rebuild costs, new technology is allowing more and more urban households to escape the constraints and costs of the grid entirely.

The solar/battery technologies, both those on the market today and those of the future are increasingly making the grid redundant for more and more people.

As we have seen, nuclear regulations demand that a grid be compatible with nuclear power. The grid which services a nuclear reactor requires a high level of investment, and in the words of the IAEA itself, “”For a Member State that does not yet use nuclear power, the introduction and development of nuclear power is a major undertaking. It requires the country to build physical infrastructure and develop human resources so it can
construct and operate a nuclear power plant (NPP) in a safe, secure and technically sound manner. ” Source: IAEA. see above.

The cost effectiveness of rendering Australia’s power grid nuclear compatible, for reactor safety is reliant on this, is highly dubious now, would certainly increase power bills for the twenty years of the planning, approval and construction phase.

In two decades time, it may well the case that the major urban centres will not have a residential power grid at all. Local grids may exist at the area or block level, in order to share rooftop generating capacity and neighbourhood storage capacity. But the idea that SA would need a residential power grid centred around a very remotely located nuclear reactor reliant upon the interstate interconnector for its safety stability and for increasing consumer demand for power restricted to household grid connection seems a deluded pipe dream even now.

Nuclear is tried to a highly specified and expensive grid for more than one reason. 1. Reactors require power from the grid for safe operation. 2. Reactors rely on power from the grid long term after emergency shut down. Emergency systems require absolutely secure connection to a powered grid. An interruption to that supply connection of more than 8 hours threatens the ability of even modern Western reactors to avoid the same fate as befell the three reactors of Fukushima Diiachi Number 1 power station. Not even in the Westinhouse AP1000 is the emergency passive system of cooling able to function for more than 8 hours. Mains power must be securely available to nuclear reactors even in shutdown.

Some Australian authorities are concerned that already, as household electricity consumption per household declines and grid costs spiral upwards at the domestic level, the trend of residential disconnection from the grid will make grid costs and energy costs for the industrial and commercial sector spiral upwards to unavoidable levels. The fact is residential grid connected energy users have always subsidised the bulk wholesale energy prices paid by industrial scale energy users. While the concept of bulk pricing is an accepted and fair one, if energy suppliers cannot provide economic industrial scale power to bulk users with current technology such as coal, gas, wind and solar – given that the price of solar and wind continues to reduce – then the generators within their privately owned sphere have only themselves to blame.

As grid costs continue to escalate, more urban dwellers will become independent of the grid. What industry is to do about the resultant increase in its energy costs as wage earners abandon the high price of traditional energy delivery and generate and store their own energy is up to government and industry. The wage earners are less and less keen to subsidise the bulk pricing industry has always enjoyed.

Australia in the 1950s led the world in solar research. That has not been the case for many years.

While some sections of industry and business see nuclear power as the answer, the economics and limitations of the grid, from the point of view of the domestic user, renders the idea ridiculous.

By the time a nuclear reactor, if approved to be built in SA today, was built and contributing to grid power, the year will be about 2038. And a very high proportion of the people in metropolitan South Australia will be running entirely from the sun and from battery storage. They wont be connected to the grid, they wont be paying the economic price of the nuclear plant, nor its power, nor its highly specified grid. They will have no need of it and will mourn the cost of the mistake as paid for, probably, by a special tax levy, needed to finance the bankrupt white elephant.

Instead of complaining industry and right wing politicians need to study the adaptions of technology needed to make renewable appropriate to them. It should not be hard to achieve an economic industrial grid powered by renewables and energy storage.

Costs associated with the grid are a major element to be dealt with realistically in the present era of the energy technology transitional cusp.

Nuclear needs the grid for many critical reasons, including safety. Solar can take it or leave it.