electric grid

Blue Bird

Active member
I heard a person being quoted on the radio basically saying that as long as the wind blows pretty hard, we won't have any rolling black outs. When we start depending on the wind and the sun shining we are in serious trouble of becoming a third world country. Factories cannot depend on intermittant electricity to produce goods and services. Old Bearcat, is there any nuclear power plants in the near future in our country? If I wanted rolling blackouts I would move to California. I certainly do not want California policies and politics in Texas!!!
 

Texlonghorn75

Active member
I heard a person being quoted on the radio basically saying that as long as the wind blows pretty hard, we won't have any rolling black outs. When we start depending on the wind and the sun shining we are in serious trouble of becoming a third world country. Factories cannot depend on intermittant electricity to produce goods and services. Old Bearcat, is there any nuclear power plants in the near future in our country? If I wanted rolling blackouts I would move to California. I certainly do not want California policies and politics in Texas!!!
So that is enough incentive to get out and vote I hope. Don't need the California, Oregon, New York and Michigan policies and politics.
 

dammitbobby

New member
Like it or not though, wind is the only thing keeping us from rolling blackouts, ERCOT works for the benefit of energy companies who don't want to invest in improvements to support an evergrowing grid. It's a lot easier for them to stuff dollars in their pockets than fix worn out equipment.
 

Old Bearkat

Moderator
OK,
First, there are just two nukes under construction in the US right now and they are almost finished. Vogtle 3 and 4 in Georgia. Unit 3 should start up this year with unit 4 early next year. Other than a few gas fired combined cycle plants, and a couple of coal fired plants, nothing else is being built right now except for those worse than useless wind and solar installations. Dammitbobby was right on one thing, the grid operators are not spending enough on adding new lines and maintaining the existing ones, but that is a direct consequence of the current laws that allowed the money boys to grab control of ALL the companies that generate and transmit electricity. When the guys who ran the utilities were engineers who came up through the ranks, the companies were run much more sanely. Like all the big corporations, the utilities are run to squeeze the last short term dollar out to fund the current executive's golden parachutes. They care ONLY about the bottom line for the next quarter, not 5 or ten years down the road. Heck, even one year out is too long a timeline for most of them.

Let's start with wind power. First, if it were not for the massive federal and state construction and operation subsidies, it would not exist in any meaningful fashion. Capacity Factor is a measure of how much actual power is produced as compared to the nameplate rating multiplied by 365X24. Wind turbines have an overall average capacity factor of about 30%. Nukes average 90% to 95%, coal about 90% and gas fired about 80% (only because they are generally used as peakers and swing plants). Wind is intermittent and usually fails when you need it the most. If you wantto replace a 1000 MW coal plant, theoretically you could build 250 4 MW wind turbines, but given the 3X disparity between the average capacity factors, you would have to triple that to 750 to match the annual output of the coal plant. The amount of concrete, steel and other resources required to build 750 wind turbines could build 10 coal fired plants, 3 or 4 nukes or about 20 combined cycle plants. the energy required to build wind turbines is also more than the machines can generate in electricity in their brief 20 year design lifetime and most do not make it that long. 10-12 years is the current average. The huge composite blades cannot be recycled and have been banned from most landfills. Wind turbines are a net gain in pollution so they also do not help "save the planet". The construction subsidies are just another form of graft for favored companies as are the operation subsidies.

Solar is even worse. the average CF in the US is about 25%. solar operators get the construction and operating subsidies as wind and are even worse about not exceeding the energy needed to manufacture and install them. PV panels also have the dubious distinction of leaching out the toxic metals used to make them into the soil they are built above. Another dirty little secret is they lose about 0.25% efficiency per year due to ultraviolet breakdown of the cells. the stronger the sun, the faster the efficiency loss is. PV panels also cannot be easily recycled, and old ones usually are dumped into landfills. Their lifetimes are also about 10 to 20 years tops.

On the other hand, the new nuke, coal and gas fired plants are designed for 60 year lifetimes. When I was involved in the license extension for the Dresden plant in Illinois, a NRC staffer told me that based upon the latest reactor vessel sample tests, there is no reason the current operating nukes cannot run for 100 years safely. There are coal plants right now that were designed for 40 year lifetimes in the late 1950's and 1960's that are still in service and operating well.
 

Blue Bird

Active member
Thanks OBK, the wind and solar are even worse than I thought. This green energy push is going to ruin our country!!!
 

jamwash

Member
Thanks OBK, the wind and solar are even worse than I thought. This green energy push is going to ruin our country!!!
And yet for some reason, a solar farm was built in Tom Green and Schleicher County.

Personally, I believe that wind and solar could help. But the main problem is politicians wanting to completely remove gas and oil. Also, will the green energy even be utilized correctly? Also, why can’t green energy, gas and oil energy coexist?
 

Old Bearkat

Moderator
Jamwash, all you have to do is look at the numbers. The "green" tech cannot compete on a level playing field, so it has to be subsidized. I guarantee the government heavily subsidized those pv installations in Tom Green and Schleicher counties. Without the subsidies solar pv is a guaranteed money loser. Some connected company got a big government check to build it, and gets another check each month of about 3 cents for every kw hour generated. Then there is the indirect subsidy provided by the Fedgov. EVERY power plant that connects to any grid pays a grid connect fee based on their average annual capacity factor and availability. The lower your CF and availability, the higher your connect fee. Also, the true generation cost is used to determine the order of dispatch by the grid operators. The congresscritters and their state equivalents have exempted solar and wind from these requirements. By law, the grids always have to take their output whenever it is available. They are exempt from the connect fees. Solar and wind are unreliable, intermittent power sources that are a never ending headache for grid operators
 

Texas6Man

Member
As someone who works in solar I can tell you all now it is not the answer in any shape or form! It’s an absolute joke, but the pay is great lol! And ERCOT, that’s the sleaziest group I’ve ever seen. I can say for a FACT that they aren’t truthful, as I have seen them put warning out to conserve and raise temps blah blah blah and yet a 225MW Solar site is curtailed (meaning shut off intentionally, and not by the site operators) so there’s hidden things that goes on they aren’t telling people!
 

Texlonghorn75

Active member
Solar and wind energy generation is just a patch work addition and not a true solution. It helps in areas without nuclear or fossil fuel generators but nuclear generators are the best answer but politics has prevented more from being built. Why? Take a good look at who is in Washington DC.
 

Old Bearkat

Moderator
The commercial nuclear power business is a story of botched opportunities. It all started with Commonwealth Edison building the Dresden 1 plant (~200 MWe) and putting it online in 1960. It ran well and produced very cheap power. This resulted a several other utilities ordering similar sized plants up to about 500 MWe. These were built quickly and also ran well. This caused quite a few more orders, this time for plants in the 500-800 MWe range. all were finished within 4 or so years. Note that EVERYTHING was made in the USA. By the late 1960's, the bandwagon really started rolling and the number of ordered plants literally exploded. This overloaded the entire infrastructure from manufacturing to design to construction. By 1970 there were close to 200 plants on order.

Guess what happens when demand exceeds supply?

You got it, costs rise and shortages develop. There was an extreme shortage of construction and engineering talent to build and design them, and a lot of heavy construction companies got into the business with inexperienced people. A LOT of mistakes were made during construction that required re-work, further driving up costs and stretching schedules, but everyone kept going because the promise of cheap reliable power was just too tempting. By 1979 there was close to 75 units operating and over 100 under construction. Costs kept rising though as the Carter inflation problems piled on top of the stretched nuclear infrastructure problems. Also about this time the regulatory structure changed. Congress changed the old Atomic Energy Commission, which was a regulatory, research and promotion bureaucracy. In it's place was the nuclear research division of the department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

About this time, the Three Mile Island Unit 2 accident happened. The NRC spent 3 years developing the report and recommendations to fix the problems. They decided that all plants had to be retrofitted with new safety systems and new plants had to have them before getting a construction permit. Plants under construction did not have to install them before going online, but had to have a plan to retrofit them before the second fuel loads. This put further strains on the infrastructure, and costs were spiraling out of control. In 1980 we started seeing planned plants cancelled. Close to 200 units were cancelled. Many close to being finished were mothballed. Also note that anti nuclear protests were quite the rage among the political left during this time. A little known fact is that the anti nuclear pressure groups were financed by two sources - the coal companies and the KGB.

By the mid 1980's the demand had greatly eased and costs levelled out. The last two plants to go online were Comanche Peak in 1991-1993 and Watts Bar in 1995. At that time there were about 120 nukes in the US. By 2000, the last heavy forging plant capable of making large reactor vessels was closed and the big steam generator manufacturing facility in Florida was also closed. The craft and engineering guys have mostly retired/died and the ones building the Vogtle 3 and 4 units in Georgia will disperse after those are done. No one is planning any more. Most of those two plants components were manufactured on Japan and South Korea. Very few young American men are going into the heavy construction trades and even fewer into engineering. I seriously doubt we'll see any more serious effort at nukes in my lifetime. We have a lot of natural gas and a 1200 MWe combined cycle plant can be designed and built in 18 months. Those are the future in the United States.
 
Solar and wind energy generation is just a patch work addition and not a true solution. It helps in areas without nuclear or fossil fuel generators but nuclear generators are the best answer but politics has prevented more from being built. Why? Take a good look at who is in Washington DC.
The wind does not always blow and the sun does not always shine. Nuclear power is the best solution.
 
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