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  1. One of the more fascinating Classical Economic theorems states there is no such thing as a market that is both free and stable: a completely free market in any commodity of necessity must devolve into oligopoly and monopoly, either of which eventually deliver that commodity to the consumer at a higher price than did the free market from which they came.

    So the E.U. has their Competition Commission, and we our anti-trust laws and Federal Trade Commission.

    Adam Smith was not the free-market ideologue would-be oligopolists make him to be. Smith was a Scot who as a child witnessed first-hand the predations of a “free” market regulated by the English. Wealth of Nations was a populist tract expounding how a “free” market should ideally work, minimally regulated such as to achieve the goals, not of the few, but of the larger society it serves.

  2. Here is a good article on the impact to commodities from electric vehicles.
    Now add in the added impact on these same commodities from the batteries needed to provide short period stabilization (less than an hour) and eventually long term (several days or more) back up for homes and then utility district scale. There is no way that batteries are going to get less expensive than they are now.
    Fusion power will come before this fairy dust battery I keep hearing about.
    I just can not see how we can afford a majority Electric Vehicles, 100% like CA, or battery backup for renewables separately let alone both without massive increases in the price of electricity.

    1. We can’t, but that doesn’t stop the wind fantasy movement. It is a vaguely considered, but concretely held article of faith with them that there is storage that will cure all of wind’s ills. They haven’t crunched any numbers and amongst the converted, even those with engineering skills refuse to consider the possibility that it can not work.

      1. This.

        I had hopes for the Iowa Stored Energy Park.  Using sandstone aquifers as reservoirs for CAES struck me as brilliant, especially in a state as windy as Iowa.

        ISEPA completed its testing, scheduled no followups, and disappeared.  Even its web site is history.  Storing energy, even when your medium is free, is hard.

        The thing nobody else is doing is conversion, like finding a way to make cement clinker as power is available.  Converters which can run as dump loads and are economic at low duty cycles are the only thing left.  The thing, though, is that with enough such converters the negative pricing that’s killing nuclear power goes away… and nukes will run them at higher duty cycles than ruinables.

      2. @EP
        The problem I have with these dreamers is that they do not realize the magnitude of the energy usage. In 79 or 80 while living in NJ we had a very cold spell lasting for several weeks. While talking to my neighbor, who worked at PSE&G, how cold it was and how long it had been so cold he told me that for the last few weeks they have been gasifying coal to maintain the gas pressure. He said that most of the reserves in the underground storage have been depleted to the point that without the conversion there would be no gas pressure at all. He also talked of how it took all summer just to fill up the storage caverns, abandoned slurry extracted mines. Look at https://www.eia.gov/naturalgas/storagecapacity/
        Over 4,000 Billion cubic feet of storage in the US, 1,000 billion in the NY, NJ, PA area and PSE&G does not have enough to supply their customers for two weeks. Do the calculation of therms to joules and then to battery capacity. No way, no how can batteries do it. and environmentalists will never let Hydro be the backup source for their dream of 100% renewable. Using more distribution lines will mean doubling and even tripling the capacity of existing HV power transmission lines, and then only used less than 25% of the time, if that. Look at how hard it is to get an Oil Pipeline. Why is it going to be any easier to build their dream – a HV DC power line?

      3. The problem I have with these dreamers is that they do not realize the magnitude of the energy usage.

        Most people cannot do math.  Of those who can, too many will not.

        “Anyone who cannot cope with mathematics is not fully human. At best he is a tolerable subhuman who has learned to wear shoes, bathe, and not make messes in the house.” — Lazarus Long (Robert A. Heinlein)

        Or as someone likes to say all the time, MPAI (most people are idiots).

        We need to get the idiots out of critical places, like public office and voting booths.

      4. I view being innumerate as roughly equivalent to being illiterate.

        Unfortunately, while society regards illiteracy as a sad tragedy and something to be corrected even as late as old adulthood if possible, society seems to view innumeracy are an irrelevant characteristic like baldness.

      5. On further consideration society views baldness as worse than innumeracy. There are innumerable baldness “cures” and vast fortunes spent on “correcting” baldness. No such effort is put into correcting innumeracy.

      6. Engineer-Poet says,
        > ISEPA completed its testing, scheduled no followups, and disappeared. Even its web site is history. Storing energy, even when your medium is free, is hard.

        Not really. After spending 80% of a decade and 20% of the advertised cost of $400 million on lots of computer modeling, and 3 test wells, they decided they’d picked a bad location, folded, and wrote a report on mistakes made.

        “…57 municipal utilities in four states who owned the project, ended the project after eight years of development because of project site geology limitations. About $8.6 million had been invested in ISEP by the ISEPA members, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Storage Systems Program, and the Iowa Power Fund.”

        “…cost and economics considerations, while important, are only two of the challenges for implementing cost-effective bulk storage. Institutional, policy, legislative, and market forces also exist and need to be addressed.”

        “…computer reservoir modeling … results showed the geology of the site to be challenging because of low permeability of the sandstone storage structure. Instead of the contemplated 270 MW, the site could perhaps accommodate a smaller CAES Project of about 65 MW… found the Dallas Center site as unsuitable for a CAES project of any size… showed that a CAES project smaller than 270 MW would not be cost-effective…The Board agreed and voted unanimously on July 28, 2011, to terminate the project.”

        SAND2012-0388, Printed January 2012, Lessons from Iowa: Development of a 270 Megawatt Compressed Air Energy Storage Project in Midwest Independent System Operator

  3. The discussion about the troubles caused by very low wholesale market prices reminds me of what I’ve always said about policies that mandate large amounts of renewable generation, regardless of cost, practicality, or if new generation is even needed. As time goes on, I’ve come to believe that the 3rd part of that statement is the most important.

    It would be one thing if policies gave a preference to renewables whenever a utility was planning to build new generation (i.e., when demand required it). But forcing a large amount of new generation onto a saturated grid is another. If the new renewable generation must be built, then some other generators must be removed, and very low market prices is the mechanism by which this is being achieved. The non-renewable generation with the highest ongoing costs will go first, and prices will fall until enough traditional generators close to make room for the mandated renewables. People are trying to blame cheap gas, but it is clear that mandated renewables are playing a large role in this.

  4. With respect to the issue of finding replacement parts for existing nuclear plants, I’m actually somewhat surprised that there is not a reasonable supply chain for those components. We have hundreds of nuclear plants that are at an age where they would need such replacement parts. Is that not enough demand to justify the industrial capacity to produce those parts?

    Follow on question. To what degree is the wonderful NQA-1 (or N-stamp) program responsible for this? I’ve heard a lot about the lack of N-stamped suppliers. Are any of these components similar to ones used in other industries? In other words, are there large numbers of industrial suppliers that could provide those components, if not for the “nuclear grade” requirements? We all know how nuclear-grade versions of similar (or identical) components cost several times as much. In this case, there may be a lack of availability in addition to high cost.

  5. Of all the major power disruptions, nation-wide over the past five years, only 0.00007% were due to fuel supply problems. The vast majority were the result of severe weather knocking down power lines

    So the whole let’s give nuclear and coal more money thing is just lobbyists, and has no basis in reality.

    Nuclear power is deadly, dirty, short of uranium in 8 years, and several times the cost of solar or wind.


    Waste to synthetic fuels can provide the backup that solar and wind need.
    Hydro too.

    1. @Brian

      I approved your comment with some trepidation. My guess is that it’s a “fly by” comment consisting of false talking points designed to derail a meaningful conversation.

      If I’m wrong, you will take the time to engage again. If I’m right, your comment will be put where it belongs.

      1. Every thing is verified with links and logic. Please, discuss something I wrote. Fuel problems are indeed .00007% of the major grid outages. The problems with nuclear are all facts. LNT and collective dose are proven. epidemiology does not work for 100,000 extra deaths out of 8M and the authors of the IAEA papers mostly admit that, right in their papers. The IAEA and the DOE are both chartered to promote nuclear power, it’s right on their web sites. It’s really important to realize the IAEA is a PR agency, just like the Tobacco institute. They only admit thyroid cancers because they are rare except for radiation exposure and do show up in epidemiology studies. It takes 100,000 tons of .1% ore per reactor year (GW), the average overburden is around 20 times globally for open pit uranium mining. In situ requires a waiver to allow them to destroy water systems, since the now porous rock continues to leach. The IAEA graph of mining capacity shows a shortfall in 2025 if nuclear increases, and around 2035 if it decreases. Then is shows a resource depletion shortly thereafter. You can search peak uranium The average quality of the ore has decreased to less than .1 and even .01 in some cases. Right around .01% is takes more energy to mine and refine than it can ever create. Add in the million year storage energy and costs, and nuclear is net negative energy.
        Go to Lazard energy and check the cost before subsidize, which doesn’t even include some of the major gov breaks for nuclear and nuclear is several times the cost of solar or wind. Solar and wind are being sold at less than 2 cents per KWH in many places in the world, without gov breaks.l
        Check out the links I provided, they go into more details with links. I know you don’t want to hear or accpet it, but they are backed up.

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    Renewables people are masters in marketing. Unreliable intermittent generators whose output is all over the place, and usually badly correlated…

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