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Alternative/Renewable Energy

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Karl, Dec 23, 2011.

  1. Karl Bill McLean (32)

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    I thought a thread on Alternative/Renewable Energy would fit well in the nest of topics like Climate Change, Carbon Tax, Nuclear Energy etc.

    There is so much noise out there about Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Hydro, Tidal/Ocean, Biomass, Biofuel etc. Can it provide Baseload, is it economically viable, is it technologically feasible, how far is it away from useful application, what percentage of total power requirements can it supply, who's leading various areas, what are the drawbacks or issues with each type of technology, which are relevant for us in Australia etc etc

    At the risk of looking like a Wikipedia Junkie, this link provides good unbiased basic information http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_energy

    My gut feel is that Solar Thermal and PV, Geothermal, Wind and Tide/Ocean are naturals for us.

    Solar is undergoing rapid technologocal development it seems, with Spain as the epicenter, which I found interesting. Solar Thermal Plants and Solar PV generation is popping up everywhere. We have The Outback. Seems like we should be making better use of it.
  2. Karl Bill McLean (32)

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  3. Cutter Nicholas Shehadie (39)

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    Not renewable energy, but energy saving.a no brainer.

    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/polit...-switch-off-20120307-1ukby.html#ixzz1oTgJCe8Y

  4. Cave Dweller Syd Malcolm (24)

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    How about nuclear? R&D must stop trying better enrichment techniques because that only leads to Bomb topics in forums and UN sanctions and spent those effort into better waste disposal. After all we are using elements from the earth to create electricity without poisoning the air.
  5. Cutter Nicholas Shehadie (39)

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    I'm torn on nuclear. There is still no safe way to dispose of radioactive waste. It is highly toxic and the contamination lasts generations. It may not poison the air, but it poisons something.

    Let's make the efficiency savings first. How many people would be happy with a nuclear power station near their house, school, workplace?
    Jnor likes this.
  6. Scotty David Codey (61)

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    I wonder what the average household size is in these two regions? Figures should surely be stated per head of population, not per household.

    Architecture, mechanical engineering and construction methods have a big influence on the energy consumption of a house hold. Most new houses are designed to conform to a certain star rating, which has a lot to do with sticking insulation in the walls and roof. This means they are cheaper to cool and heat, but cooling and heating is still required. There is not enough push to design housing that naturally cools or heats - catching the sun in winter, but shielding in summer, high level openable windows, extensive cross ventilation, thermal mass and insulation. Design should concentrate first on making artificial heating and cooling not required, and second on making it cheaper/more efficient when it is required.

    I also note that the writer of this article has a quarterly power bill that seems to be around $750, and is approximately double what mine is. What on earth is he doing? Obviously not practising what he preaches.
    yourmatesam likes this.
  7. Scarfman Knitter of the Scarf

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    Right on Scotty! One of the worst things for future energy use at the moment are all the McMansion estates in Western Sydney (and the rest of Australia) which are utterly irresponsible in terms of design for energy use. Absolutely zero committment to making a base design that works for Western Sydney's climate. It's all about as large a floor plan as possible using the cheapest materials possible.
  8. Scotty David Codey (61)

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    I stuffed up a little in the design of my house extension. It was an old workers cottage on stumps which we extended to the rear to add a kitchen, living and deck (and replace the bathroom). The intention is to build under both original and extension down the track.

    The issue is that the extension is towards the west, and is the living areas. Living therefore heats up in the afternoon, despite having additional overhang to rear roof, grey glass, louvres on each side to provide cross ventilation and large openings to the rear. Being constructed of timber (which is a good sustainable product) it unfortunately has very little thermal mass, and therefore heats up quickly. We often find ourselves migrating to the old part of the structure in the afternoon, where all the bedrooms are, and are up to 5 degrees cooler, hardly ever needing AC on, just ceiling fans.

    I am seriously considering adding a living area to the front of the house when constructing under. Either that or when building under the rear extension limiting the amount of openings to create almost a cellar (it will be slightly 'in ground', and more protected from the sun).

    Simple things like putting the right rooms in the right place, the right windows and doors, ceiling fans and shielding from the summer son prove a massive difference in energy use of a building. They also provide a visual benefit, in that the house design is unique, and not the 'mc mansion' that Scarfy mentions.

    The whole energy rating system needs a shake up to concentrate more on these sorts of design principles, rather than just chucking a pink batt in a wall.
    yourmatesam likes this.
  9. Scotty David Codey (61)

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    And if you are interested in timber in design (low carbon footprint!), check out the following link. A friend of mine works for this company in Vancouver. The stuff they are doing in northern europe, canada and even nz is way ahead of where we are with timber in construction. (He had just helped produce a report on timber in multi-storey construction - up to 30 stories high!)

    http://www.eqcanada.com/Timber/timber.html
  10. Scotty David Codey (61)

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    Bringing it back to politics, this is an example of what the BER gave us. I was there on saturday - it was around 20 degrees outside and about 27-28 inside. This is a 'school hall'. No high level ventilation, very little natural light. Visually it is appalling. Constructed out of steel. High carbon footprint with high ongoing energy use through large amount of artificial light required.

    This is the legacy that we now have to live with all over the country.

    [IMG]
  11. Cave Dweller Syd Malcolm (24)

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    You got a good point there. But you must remember nuclear power was never the energy source of the future. It was the "Will do for now" solution to reduce carbon emissions. Back then there was nothing else really as Hydro you need dams and coal is not eco friendly. So to stop the air pollution nuclear plants were used. Steam gets used generate the power basically. In practical units, the fission of 1 kg (2.2 lb) of uranium-235 releases 18.7 million kilowatt-hours as heat.

    So I am not saying build plants like crazy. Use one to use so long until other sources becomes realistic and much more cost effective. What do you have in Australia to make use of? Wind? Lakes dams for Hydro? Solar?

    The disasters in the US and Ukraine was due to human error where the latter was not even build to safety specifications and the contamination could have been avoided if it was.

    The safety of the power reactor itself has received the greatest attention. In an operating reactor, the fuel elements contain by far the largest fraction of the total radioactive inventory. A number of barriers prevent fission products from leaking into the air during normal operation. The fuel is clad in corrosion-resistant tubing. The heavy steel walls of the primary coolant system of the PWR form a second barrier. The water coolant itself absorbs some of the biologically important radioactive isotopes such as iodine. The steel and concrete building is a third barrier. Reactor systems rely on elaborate instrumentation to monitor their condition and to control the safety systems used to shut down the reactor under abnormal circumstances.

    The Nuclear Fuel Chain
    [IMG]

    [IMG]The Core of One of the Four Darlington Reactors -- Before Startup

    [IMG]

    CANDU Fuel Bundle

    [IMG]
    Spent fuel pool at the Gentilly-2 CANDU reactor across the St. Lawrence River
    from Trois-Rivières, Québec

    Spent nuclear fuel is extremely radioactive; as a result, it spontaneously generates a form of heat called "radioactive decay heat".

    Used fuel bundles removed from a CANDU reactor must be cooled in pools of circulating water for at least seven years. During that time, if cooling water were to become unavailable for a protracted period, the spent fuel would overheat and its metallic cladding would rupture, releasing radioactive gases and vapours.

    Every nuclear power reactor has one or more spent fuel pools to accommodate its high level radioactive waste.
    [IMG]
    Dry spent fuel storage silos, outdoors,
    at Point LePreau, New Brunswick

    After years of wet storage, CANDU spent fuel bundles can be moved into dry storage silos to make room for additional waste in the pools.

    Just for interest sake
    [IMG]
    This glass ball is the exact size of the plutonium core in
    the bomb that destroyed Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.

    You can find more here with nice pictures how the pits look where they drown the waste when cooling it. As well as the bad of it
  12. Cutter Nicholas Shehadie (39)

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    Some good posts there Scotty.

    Cave dweller - how long does it take to build and bring into production a nuclear power station?
  13. Cave Dweller Syd Malcolm (24)

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    The construction part are the easiest, cheapest and one of the quickest ways to power. It is the long run that it becomes more expensive due to the R&D. But a lot of billions disappear because governments are naughty and make nuclear weapons in the shadows. I do not want to drag other political issues into the thread but I will just say in short that is why they are so nervous when a certain country started using Nuclear power. Because they know what they have been doing and how easy it is to make weapons without anyone knowing it. But that is a countries own choice these days. It does not say if you build a plant you are looking to do naughty things. I believe some countries do not bother to try and build one as they will never ever need it.

    But like I said it is only the stop gap until a efficient source arrives. I found this earlier. Gema solar tower. It is up and running now while producing electrical energy 24 hours a day. This is done by heating molten salt with concentrated solar "light".
    [IMG]
    http://www.physorg.com/news/2012-03-thermosolar-power-station-spain-night.html

    I have no experience or knowledge in that so I can not really comment on it. Just one last thing. People always complain about a nuclear reactor and the dangers of it yet they let US Carrier ships and subs dock in their waters etc etc. Those are using Nuclear power reactors like you will get in a plant.

    That was nuclear energy and I think there is not much to add and I will not mention it again so the thread can continue to other sources.
  14. wilful Larry Dwyer (12)

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    I wouldn't want any large industrial facility near my house etc. however, if given the choice between a large coal fired station and a nuclear power station, I know that I would choose nuclear every time.
  15. fatprop David Wilson (68)

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    A really good piece on current realities in energy policy.

    That is what is being really done now, like Germany closing Nuke and building coal fired o_O

    Well worth a listen


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