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Author Topic: Your Green Energy News Center
Lyrhawn
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Solar power's epic price drop

More from The Economist

The Economists says that in places like California, solar is cost competitive with every other form of energy production, without subsidies, right now. And it hasn't hit its floor yet.

And speaking of California...

All of the new energy generation capacity to be added in the second half of 2013 will come from renewable sources.

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Lyrhawn
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"Flash" charging bus system charges an all electric bus in 15 seconds

Pretty cool idea. The bus works just like any other, but it can charge in the time it takes to stop and let people out along its preplanned route. Eliminates the need for unsightly power lines you see above some trams, and makes mass transit a little greener.

Tesla plans dramatic expansion of Supercharger network

And a technological upgrade that will charge 3 hours of drive time in 20 min. Plus, it's free for Tesla drivers.

Plus, details on the new Chevy Spark are out. It's probably the cheapest all EV car out there.

Plus, it will soon be able to charge really, really fast, gets 119mpg (equivalent) and looks as cute as a button.

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Lyrhawn
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All-solid lithium-sulfur batter stores four times as much energy as lithium-ion

It's also cheaper to make and safer to use in addition to having four times the energy density. They still have some issues to overcome, like making the batteries more durable, and I wonder if the technology is scalable, as in, can it be used to quadruple cell phone capacity as well as electric car capacity? Because that would be a game changer for a huge number of electronics and other things. I also wonder about the weight. If you could quadruple the storage of a car's battery pack without adding weight, or, say, double it by removing half the weight, that could really bring the cost down.

$675 million saved in 2012 by switching to LED lights

Geothermal energy revolution in the offing. 4GW of new capacity planned for next couple years

[ June 11, 2013, 12:30 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]

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Lyrhawn
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US Military critiques lack of renewable energy development, says US should focus more on renewable, less on securing fossil fuels

US adds 723MW of solar capacity in first quarter of 2013. Equals an okay sized big city power plant.

Big breakthroughs in graphene-based technology pave way for a new era of electronics and other efficient smaller flexible devices

Audi's carbon neutral E-Gas plan is up and running.

E-Gas, simply put, converts water into something akin to compressed natural gas. They're working on a way to make it liquid.

[ June 26, 2013, 08:47 PM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]

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Glenn Arnold
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While you're talking about Tesla, you should mention the battery swapping stations they are planning:
Link

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Glenn Arnold
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Ok, I didn't put this link in the other thread, so I could use it to bump this one.

World's largest solar power plant

Apparently there's a lot of controversy over birds being burned when they fly into the path of the mirrors.

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Lyrhawn
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It's a pretty big milestone, but it also drives home the fact that there probably isn't an energy source in the world, absent decades away fusion power, that isn't going to cause an environmental problem of some kind. It's all about choosing the least damaging system.

Other big news in solar and wind power is that there are now many solar and wind plants actively using molten salt battery storage to store and use energy when the wind stops blowing and the sun isn't shining. It may be a stopgap until a better long term alternative comes up, but it's a big change since it has the potential to eliminate one of renewables' biggest negatives.

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Glenn Arnold
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Cross posting from the other thread:

These are two big projects from my employer, FuelCell Energy.

World's largest fuel cell park

Also this: Largest Fuel Cell park in U.S.

And using fuel cells to convert biogas into hydrogen

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
It's a pretty big milestone, but it also drives home the fact that there probably isn't an energy source in the world, absent decades away fusion power, that isn't going to cause an environmental problem of some kind. It's all about choosing the least damaging system.

The "least damaging" system (when "damage" is defined as "changing the environment") would be for us to just exterminate ourselves. Or live as animals.

I know that's not what you're really advocating. I think you're implicitly advocating for something more like this: the system that best meets human energy needs while also causing the fewest identifiable negative effects.

But that's not what you said, and I think it's beneficial to realize the actual implications of what you said. And, of course, the implications of what you probably meant.

[ February 24, 2014, 01:06 PM: Message edited by: Dan_Frank ]

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Lyrhawn
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Wow, Dan.

That's maybe the most ridiculous nitpicking I've ever heard from you, or anyone maybe. And I say that because, in the context of this thread, obviously no one means what you're taking that statement to mean. Do I really have to add "of energy production" to the end of my sentence as a qualifier?

Nor have I heard any but the wildest of fringe elements actually suggest we put down all technology and return to the wild.

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Dan_Frank
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Putting the focus entirely on what does the least "damage," and not on what provides the most abundant, reliable energy, is a way of downplaying the dramatic deficiencies of solar, wind, etc.

It assumes zero "damage" is the primary goal.

I didn't say "this is your position," I said it was the implication of your position.

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Lyrhawn
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Why wouldn't zero damage be the primary goal?
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Dan_Frank
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Because there are more important goals.

And because everything we do impacts the world around us. What's the focus? What is "damage?" Changing the environment in unnatural ways? Ways that harm some animals? Ways that harm some humans? Harm humans more than they help humans?

I'd only agree with one of those definitions, but ask 10 people and you'll get different answers. So what does it mean?

Everything in life involves some risk, and some potential for problems. Problems are inevitable. Saying the goal is zero environmental "damage" ignores that reality.

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Elison R. Salazar
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When even a 3 degree increase in the temperature of the oceans can kill 80% of plankton (and a large chunk of our oxygen production) its important that take the steps to minimize that damage.

Nothing is more important than insuring this world is still habitable 100 years from now, and 100 years after that.

Suggesting the least damaging system is offing ourselves is disingenuous hyperbole.

The fact is there is a combinations of systems that can provide enough power for our needs (and provide the surplus needed for civilization) that when combined with sustainable living can accomplish those goals.

For example, building solar systems in orbit that beam down the energy collected through microwave lasers.

Crowing about what Lyrhawn meant vs what was implied by his post strikes me as semantics. The goal is a greener economy and energy system, period; as green as we can get it and the only way that's going to happen is by throwing government research and development grant money at the problem; that's the American Way.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
Because there are more important goals.

And because everything we do impacts the world around us. What's the focus? What is "damage?" Changing the environment in unnatural ways? Ways that harm some animals? Ways that harm some humans? Harm humans more than they help humans?

I'd only agree with one of those definitions, but ask 10 people and you'll get different answers. So what does it mean?

Everything in life involves some risk, and some potential for problems. Problems are inevitable. Saying the goal is zero environmental "damage" ignores that reality.

What reality? You're still being vague.

You are, however, parroting a lot of anti-environmental talking points I've heard a dozen times over, so I'm not sure if you have a specific point or you just don't care for the tree huggers.

But if you'd like to lay out your specific opinion on what your ideal system is, I'm more than willing to hear you out.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
Because there are more important goals.

And because everything we do impacts the world around us. What's the focus? What is "damage?" Changing the environment in unnatural ways? Ways that harm some animals? Ways that harm some humans? Harm humans more than they help humans?

I'd only agree with one of those definitions, but ask 10 people and you'll get different answers. So what does it mean?

Everything in life involves some risk, and some potential for problems. Problems are inevitable. Saying the goal is zero environmental "damage" ignores that reality.

What reality? You're still being vague.

I am? "That" refers to the previous two sentences. I can elaborate though.

Having a goal of zero environmental damage ignores several important things. One problem with it is that problems are inevitable, so the best approach is one that allows for rapid correction of errors rather than trying to maintain stasis.

Another problem is that life involves some risk. Decisions involve risks. Often times, excellent decisions involve risks. So simply trying to minimize risk is a bad approach. You will stifle progress.

Another problem is that "environmental damage" doesn't have a clear meaning, and can be twisted around to fit various agendas. So the criteria itself is broken, regardless of the above two issues.

quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
You are, however, parroting a lot of anti-environmental talking points I've heard a dozen times over, so I'm not sure if you have a specific point or you just don't care for the tree huggers.

Well, I'm anti-environmentalist, so I guess that makes sense. But, whether you've heard them before or not, you haven't refuted any of them yet, so...

quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
But if you'd like to lay out your specific opinion on what your ideal system is, I'm more than willing to hear you out.

I don't think speaking in ideals is super useful. That said, I think the best system is to use the most practical and abundant sources of energy we have in order to maximize progress and improve our ability to handle new problems as they arise. And then, when those new problems arise, I think we should handle them while continuing progress.

I think any regressive or static system is basically a death sentence, sooner or later.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
One problem with it is that problems are inevitable, so the best approach is one that allows for rapid correction of errors rather than trying to maintain stasis
What exactly does this have to do with lessening environmental damage? In other words, how is this a specific deficiency of renewable energy? Do bad things never happen to systems that pollute more? They are problem free? And for that matter, what are you defining as a problem?

quote:
Another problem is that life involves risk. Decisions involve risks. Often times, excellent decisions involve risks. So simply trying to minimize risk is a bad approach. You will stifle progress.
You're speaking in abstractions, and for that matter, ones that seem better suited to a motivational speaking tour than a specific discussion on the pros and cons of energy sources. Why is it you think protecting the environment is risk-free? And for that matter, you think clinging to the same energy sources we've been using for a hundred years is a measure of progress? That's an interesting point of view coming from someone who usually prizes technological progress above all else.

quote:
Another problem is that "environmental damage" doesn't have a clear meaning, and can be twisted to fit various agendas. So the criteria itself is broken, regardless of the above issues.
That's a fair point. But it seems like you're tying it into a fairly simplistic view of the world. Why does there have to be a grand unifying theory of environmental damage that's static and never changes? Again, as someone who champions progress, that's a definition that will change with time, and on a case by case basis for different circumstances and situations, it would seem like you'd agree with that.

But I think regardless of nailing down every specific thing that counts and doesn't count, whether this bird or that tortoise are important enough to make a list, there are a ton of things that damage the environment and damage ourselves to the point where we all pretty much agree they shouldn't be allowed. Polluting rivers, causing acid rain, soil erosion from poor farming methods, etc. These are all things that hurt is in the short and long term, so we passed laws to stop them or created policies that stopped or avoided them. Not only did the world keep turning, our quality of life improved drastically.

quote:
Well, I'm an anti-environmentalist, so I guess that makes sense. But, whether you've heard them before or not, you haven't refuted any of them yet, so...
I haven't refuted anything because I wanted to understand where you were coming from better before I tried. It's funny that you are so cautious about speaking in ideals when that's all you've really given me in this discussion. No specifics on why one thing is better than the other, just a lot of ideological rhetoric and filler that can be used to stifle a discussion.

What exactly am I refuting? The merits of progress? The value of risk? Reductio ad absurdum straw men statements that takes environmentalism to an extreme and then denounces it? Until you give me something that I can grab on to, this whole discussion feels a lot like I'm shouting at the wind,

quote:
I don't think speaking in ideals is super useful. That said, I think the best system is to use the most practical and abundant sources of energy we have in order to maximize progress and improve our ability to handle new problems as they arise. And then, when those new problems arise, I think we should handle them while continuing progress.

I think any regressive or static system is basically a death sentence, sooner or later.

That's an incredibly short-sighted world view. It's also one of the most contradictory philosophies I've ever come across. You see planning for the future as a form of stifling progress, even when NOT planning for the future can stifle progress. You also see no intrinsic value in nature or culture. If burning a Van Gough got us to "progress" or the future or whatever fantasy thing you're hooked on, that'd be fine with you. As would strip mining the Grand Canyon or hacking down Joshua Tree Park.

But here's what I really don't get. Your whole argument is progress. How is renewable energy NOT progress? How is using a century old energy infrastructure considered progressive and not regressive. It fits the very definition of static.

The future sorts itself out messily. Things go much smoother for humanity when we at least try to plan ahead.

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Glenn Arnold
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Just 'cause it's news: My photovoltaic system is being installed on my roof as I write this.
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Lyrhawn
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Cool.

If you'd be interested I'd love to read more about the process. Costs, installation, the research you did, tax credits, how you went about finding a company to do it, if you have problems with the power company, if you can sell back the excess power, if you bought a battery backup system, and what your experience is like after you have it installed.

[Smile]

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Glenn Arnold
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Cost, to me, was zero. I'll be paying $57 per month for the next 20 years for electrons, but installation was covered by tax credits.

The company was Roof Diagnostics, and they use SunRun as their finance company. Technically it's a lease, but my payment is tied to electrical production of the panels. The panels are guaranteed to produce at least 95% of my average energy usage over last year. If I use less than that I get reimbursed by the electric company, but if I use more, I pay the going rate to the electric company.

I had signed a contract with RealGoods Solar previously, but once they did the engineering design on my house they backed out. It really depends a lot on your house. Realgoods originally wanted to put all the panels on my garage, but some of them needed to go on the north side, with a reverse tilt. They decided that was a dealbreaker.

Roof Diagnostics mounted some of them on the south side of the garage, and then put some more on my house, and ran a trench between the garage and the house to run the cables through, so they could connect the strings in series before they went to the inverter.

Battery systems make no sense. They're expensive, power limited, and need to be replaced about every 5 years.

My system has now been completely installed, but it hasn't been inspected and turned on. The power company and the local building inspector have to look at it before it can be commissioned. Should be within a few days, though.

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BlackBlade
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I'm jealous.
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Glenn Arnold
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Last April I got solar panels installed on my house. It cost me nothing to install. My total cost for electrical service since last April has been $288. That will probably be true for the next 5 years, because of a tax credit in NY State. Once the tax credit expires it will go up to $972/year for the remaining 15 years, at which point I will own the solar panels.

I don't know if I'm eligible to get the Tesla Powerwall, because the company that owns the solar panels makes money selling extra kilowatt hours to the local power company during the daytime, when the powerwall would be sucking up extra kilowatt hours. I'll have to check to see. But as it stands, the $288 that I'm spending is all grid connection fee paid to the power company, not to the solar panel company.

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Glenn Arnold
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And for world news: German renewables progress

And: World's largest fuel cell park in South Korea. (I've posted this one before, in another thread, but it fell of the page.)

Also: Largest Fuel Cell Park in USA

And this: Direct internal reforming fuel cells convert methane to eletricity and produce hydrogen as a byproduct.

But while all this is happening, wind farms aren't being built in the USA because of climate denial politics.

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Glenn Arnold
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One more: CO2 capture for sequestration by running a fuel cell on the off gas from a fossil fuel's plant.
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Glenn Arnold
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This is a project I"m working on. The theory looks good. So far the tests are working. ExxonMobile and FuelCell Energy
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Glenn Arnold
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Important milestone.

Coal usage at low point.

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Glenn Arnold
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And in the jobs sector: Wind Power reaches 100k jobs milestone.
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Glenn Arnold
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Nothing like sexy green energy. Tesla is world's quickest prodiuction car.
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Glenn Arnold
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But for your more mundane chores John Deere introduces electric tractor.
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Glenn Arnold
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Looking back at the top of the page, I see Lyrhawn asking for more information on my solar panel installation. Here it is:

Solar panels are boring. They just sit there and save me money.

I posted once, at about the one year anniversary of their installation, and perhaps should have posted again last year when I got a $67 check from the electric company. I didn't get one the first year, so I don't know if I just didn't have any surplus that year, or if they only pay out every other year. I'll be waiting this April to see if I get another check.
I did get a $2,605 tax credit from NY last year, out of a $5000 credit from the state of NY. I'm not sure how the accounting works out, but the credit comes incrementally over 5 years. I haven't figured out how big it is this year.

[ February 11, 2017, 03:33 PM: Message edited by: Glenn Arnold ]

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Dogbreath
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These are all pretty cool developments. I find it encouraging how many new (and pretty decent paying) jobs there are related to wind and solar - I would love to see some sort of program in place to help educate and transition folks working in coal into those jobs. (I think it would deal with a lot of the anxiety and anger we've seen over coal jobs disappearing)

Thanks for posting these nifty articles! [Smile]

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Glenn Arnold
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Interestingly enough, Hillary Clinton's oft quoted "put a lot of coal miners out of jobs" was part of a quote in which she said just that.

The full quote was:
"So for example, I'm the only candidate which has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity using clean renewable energy as the key into coal country. Because we're going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business, right?

And we're going to make it clear that we don't want to forget those people. Those people labored in those mines for generations, losing their health, often losing their lives to turn on our lights and power our factories."

Of course, Bernie Sanders also said he would have a program to bring solar and wind power into West Virginia, but he managed to not have a sound bit that sounded so negative.

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PanaceaSanans
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quote:
Originally posted by Glenn Arnold:
Hillary Clinton's [...] full quote was:
"So for example, I'm the only candidate which has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity using clean renewable energy as the key into coal country. Because we're going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business, right?
And we're going to make it clear that we don't want to forget those people. Those people labored in those mines for generations, losing their health, often losing their lives to turn on our lights and power our factories."

That is interesting. Do we know why people did not respond favorably to this particular notion? Why was the "put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business" so much more dominantly discussed than the "bring economic opportunity using clean renewable energy as the key into coal country"? The latter seems so much more relevant...
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Glenn Arnold
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Because it was picked up by her political enemies, who just kept repeating: "We're going to put a lot of coal miners out of business." Without context, it sounded like she was gloating about putting people out of work, and they bought it. It's one of the major reasons why West Virginia went so overwhelmingly for Trump.
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Samprimary
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to be honest though it's west virginia and it would not have voted democratic in any conceivable matchup
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
to be honest though it's west virginia and it would not have voted democratic in any conceivable matchup

Probably not, but that line might have made the difference in Pennsylvania, and maybe even Ohio, where there is significant coal mining and they suffer the same problems as West Virginia's decline on a smaller scale.
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JonnyNotSoBravo
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94 year old inventor and team come up with battery technology that has three times the energy density of today's lithium ion batteries while being safer and more efficient.

This will make renewables far more likely to adopted if its claims are true and it actually makes it into production. It would also make electric cars far more likely to be adopted. If the more advanced electric cars can go 250 miles on a single charge, imagine if the range was 750 miles.

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Glenn Arnold
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I read the article on the solid state lithium batteries, and was reminded of this video which discusses the potential energy densities in upcoming battery technology.

Oh, and I don't think I mentioned this, but last summer I bought a Zero motorcycle. I figured my electricity cost was about $160 last year, to travel about 8000 miles.

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Lyrhawn
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If that battery technology actually pans out (as many battery experts believe it won't), it will be revolutionary.

As it happens, it would likely have very little effect on renewables per se. There are major differences between consumer and industrial scale energy storage, and this likely wouldn't be applicable on the industrial scale. But it would make hand held devices last many times longer, and would possibly (if it could be made fairly cheaply), push electric cars into the mainstream if the charge times could be kept down.

Time will tell, but it could be huge. It just needs to be real.

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Glenn Arnold
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Lyrhawn, which battery technology? The 94 year old inventor one, or the Zero motorcycle one?
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Lyrhawn
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The 94 year old inventor one, sorry I read over your second line.
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JonnyNotSoBravo
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
If that battery technology actually pans out (as many battery experts believe it won't), it will be revolutionary.

As it happens, it would likely have very little effect on renewables per se. There are major differences between consumer and industrial scale energy storage, and this likely wouldn't be applicable on the industrial scale. But it would make hand held devices last many times longer, and would possibly (if it could be made fairly cheaply), push electric cars into the mainstream if the charge times could be kept down.

Time will tell, but it could be huge. It just needs to be real.

Could you show me some sources on the part that I put in bold? I'm curious what makes you think it's unlikely to be applied industrially. Do you have an electrical engineering background?

The reason I ask is that they specifically mention battery-driven cars in the 94-year-old inventor's article that I linked to, which makes me think that they're developing the battery with cars in mind. This in turn tells me that these batteries will need to be made on an industrial scale in order to make a difference.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by JonnyNotSoBravo:
quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
If that battery technology actually pans out (as many battery experts believe it won't), it will be revolutionary.

As it happens, it would likely have very little effect on renewables per se. There are major differences between consumer and industrial scale energy storage, and this likely wouldn't be applicable on the industrial scale. But it would make hand held devices last many times longer, and would possibly (if it could be made fairly cheaply), push electric cars into the mainstream if the charge times could be kept down.

Time will tell, but it could be huge. It just needs to be real.

Could you show me some sources on the part that I put in bold? I'm curious what makes you think it's unlikely to be applied industrially. Do you have an electrical engineering background?

The reason I ask is that they specifically mention battery-driven cars in the 94-year-old inventor's article that I linked to, which makes me think that they're developing the battery with cars in mind. This in turn tells me that these batteries will need to be made on an industrial scale in order to make a difference.

I don't have an electrical engineering background, I just work in a building full of people who do. Specifically, people who work on electric car batteries.

But I think you misunderstood me (or perhaps I misspoke). I didn't mean to say that these batteries couldn't be produced at an industrial scale, but that they were unlikely to be used for industrial applications (i.e. large scale energy storage).

Also, everything above was bolded, so I'm not sure which part you wanted to focus on. [Smile]

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Glenn Arnold
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Another article on solid state lithium batteries.

Funny, until I read this article, I didn't think I knew much about batteries, but much of the technology is the same as with fuel cells.

I should note that we regularly run our fuel cells at 185mA/cm^2. Commercial stacks run at 140mA/cm^2.

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Glenn Arnold
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And yet another article about litiium cell technology

A couple of notes here: First the notion of a stack of cells isn't new. My Zero motorcycle uses flat stacked cells. For that matter, 9 volt batteries are arranged in a stack. The idea of a cell stack eliminates redundant components, and achieves higher energy densities.

Of course, I work with fuel cells, and they are also arranged in stacks, which among other things, maximizes the current path through the cells and minimizes internal resistance to current flow. Again, I see terminologies in the article such as "bipolar plate" which are standard components of a fuel cell. I'm thinking I should get a job in battery development just to expand my working knowledge.

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Glenn Arnold
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Tesla battery development.
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Dogbreath
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That's pretty cool. [Smile]

(Glenn Arnold is not the last poster in this thread)

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Glenn Arnold
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Toyota is planning on using solid state lithium, on a pretty aggressive timeline.
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Glenn Arnold
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So, this is a project I've been working on for a couple of years.

The description in the video is more conceptual than technical, but I think it gets the point across. We can make electricity, while isolating CO2 from a combustion based power generation source, to be sequestered, most likely in the same underground storage where natural gas is found.

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Glenn Arnold
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Electric cars are big news, but electric Semis are where it's at.
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