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  1. If you liked that, you’ll love this:
    Ontario still wants to buy two nuclear reactors from Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. but can’t because the federal Conservatives are standing in the way, Premier Dalton McGuinty said Wednesday.
    The province’s efforts to move ahead with the purchase have been stymied by Ottawa’s decision nearly two years ago to put AECL’s nuclear reactor business up for sale, he said.
    The problem is that the federal government won’t come to the table, McGuinty said. Last June, he wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and asked him to allow AECL to make a deal with the province, which he said would have enhanced the Crown corporation’s value.
    “We’re at a table, and we want to negotiate the sale of reactors with AECL,” he said.
    “Well, there’s nobody sitting on that side of the table, because they’re elsewhere trying to make a sale of the entire asset itself to some third parties.
    “As long as they do that, they’re putting our discussion in abeyance.”
    Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2011/01/19/mcguinty-aecl-sale-ottawa.html?ref=rss#ixzz1BdCi3SZd

  2. How is large-scale energy storage R&D coming along? I’ve heard some noise about things like arrays of hundreds (or thousands) of massive, high-speed, magnetically levitated (so there’s no friction) flywheels, in a vacuum chamber (so no air resistance) being used for very efficient and rapidly-responding energy storage for wind farms. I’ve also heard of highly-compressed gas energy storage systems. I’m not a huge proponent of wind, but I do think that, while I don’t believe wind can become >50% of our energy, because of some of the issues that Rod raised in this article, it does seem to me like large-scale storage could make wind energy dispatchable and a bit more reliable (there is still the possibility of extended becalmings that completely stop the flywheels from spinning), but some good storage facilities at the wind farms could go a long way to solving some of these problems. With sufficient storage, I could see Wind, Solar, and other ‘alternative power’ perhaps, becoming maybe 20-30% of the mix.
    Personally, I’d think a future where something like 50-70% of our power comes from nuclear, with perhaps 20-30% coming from Wind/Solar/Hydro/Geothermal/Biomass, and another %10-%20 coming from coal and shale gas would probably not be a bad way to go. I’m not sure if reducing coal/gas burning down to 20% would get us to the levels of carbon reduction necessary to meet climate goals, but I would think it might – that would be a pretty large reduction from where we are today.

    1. From what I have read, the problem with storage is that it costs about as much as simply building more generation. The other problem is that a certain amout of the energy is always lost. This is one of the big problems with compressed air storage. Compressing air unavoidably causes the temperature of the air to rise. If this heat were retained, the energy it represents could be recovered when the air is expanded again to spin a turbine. However, this requires insulated storage, which underground caverns are not. And it reduces the capacity of that storage. The heat loss is a big deal. As I understand it, the temperature rise represents more than half of the energy put into compressing the air.

    2. NREL has a white paper on storage technologies (compressed air, pumped water, and batteries) and their cost benefits for wind. They suggest there may be a cost advantage when wind penetration rates reach 20% or higher. Namely because storage capacity helps to boost the capacity factor of wind (by some 16%). “For both the business-as-usual cases and the 20% wind cases, results indicate that the value of storage to wind increases along with amount of wind in the system. However, storage does not become sufficiently valuable to warrant the investment until there is significant wind capacity already on the grid.”
      http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/pdfs/43510.pdf
      Presumably, the cost benefits of additional storage also applies to other energy sources as well.

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