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Renewable grid thoughts

Thoughts on large scale power generation in the US:

  • the US must move towards a sustainable and renewable power generation grid
  • the US has a lot of work to do to research and develop this renewable power generation
  • it will likely require MANY different types of energy sources due to limitations of each technology, mostly number of locations limiting the amount of generation that can practically be generated
  • the US needs to put forth policy, provide funding and make sites available to enable commercial development and for building large scale deployments

requirements:

  • diverse array of mechanisms
  • flexible technologies
  • scalable implementation
  • pretty cheap
  • extremely safe
  • sustainable and harmless to land and life

goal:

  • hydro
  • wind
  • solar
  • geothermal
  • tidal
  • safe nuclear
  • 3x next generation energy sources (hydrogen fuel, fusion, SBSP)

development sequence:

  • develop or discover physics (science)
  • small scale feasibility (paper)
  • small scale R&D (engineering)
  • small scale testing (funded and built)
  • small scale deployment (on the grid)
  • large scale feasibility (paper)
  • large scale R&D (engineering)
  • large scale testing (funded and built)
  • large scale deployment (on the grid)
  • <1% of grid total
  • >1% of grid total
  • ~10% of grid total

status:
Technologies are developing at different rates; some are far more mature (hydro, wind) and others are barely off the ground.

  • [DONE] hydro: very mature; widely deployed
  • [DONE] wind: fairly mature; widely deployed
  • [DONE] solar: fairly mature; widely deployed
  • [WIP] geothermal: fairly mature; but lacks wide scale deployment
  • [WIP] tidal: in development; no deployments
  • [WIP] safe nuclear: in development; no deployments
  • [WIP] hydrogen: very early technology; no deployments
  • [WIP] fusion: very early technology; no deployments
  • [WIP] SBSP: very early technology; no deployments

conclusion:

  • this plan did not look at storage for intermittent sources
  • this plan did not look at security or reliability concerns
  • each technology will need to supply at least 10% of grid power to completely displace non-renewable sources
  • we could reduce our power consumption, although we really want to increase our consumption so this is not realistic
  • we could also increase the efficiency of our electrical grid; this technology does not exist but could be worth another 5-50%
  • this plan will take decades
  • Unless a future technology has a major breakthrough this will not enable the "energy revolution" we were hoping for (e.g. 10x or 100x more available energy could transform our society)

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