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Thread: Alternate Energy Possibilities for Alberta

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    Default Alternate Energy Possibilities for Alberta

    Do we have any mechanical or electrical engineers here? I have energy questions.

    According to the AESO in Calgary, Albertans used just under 11,000 megawatts of electricity this summer of 2015.

    Our province has capacity to generate 14,600 megawatts with its current coal-fired and and natural gas infrastructure. We can generate another 1600 megawatts using current wind and biomass and solar assets.



    Question 1) is solar tech advanced enough that we could feasibly generate 5000 MW of commercial electricity in Alberta?

    Question 2) are nuclear, hydro, and biomass feasible in our climate and landscape?
    Imagine: a world free of hypothetical situations!

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    Recent stats on Alberta electricity generation:

    http://www.energy.alberta.ca/electricity/682.asp
    Imagine: a world free of hypothetical situations!

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    If we go nuke, then it needs to be a thorium based liquid salt. No chance of meltdown and no long lived radionuclides. About as clean as nuke power can be and the only issue with radioactive material is neutron contamination of materials used in the reactor. And there is a lot of materials research into new ceramics and metal alloys that don't suffer from neutron contamination/embrittlement/etc/. Can burn up long lived isotopes and clear up some of Canadas long lived waste problem. High pressure gas and any high pressure liquids that can convert to steam systems even if Gen IV is just a bad idea. And any form of nuke that is non Gen IV shouldn't be considered at all, ever. Selling people on the idea of thorium molten salt would be hard. Not a lot of people understand the science of nuke power and even fewer understand it can be safe. I don't trust any non Gen III+ to be anything but a dirty bomb waiting to happen. Molten salt and pebble bed reactors are where it's at. Fuel can't burn if you don't use graphite moderators, the expansion coefficient prevents dangerous temp rises and adds a negative feedback mechanism versus boiling water/high pressure water moderated reactors.

    Edmonton is great for solar given the high amount of sunlight we get. We have a boat load of large buildings with huge flat roofs that are doing nothing. They should be converted to large solar arrays given the costs of solar are ever cheaper. Batter tech is getting better and more economical as well.

    Add in some small wind farms as well to the mix to add some redundancy and additional load handling to the grid. And there are some good spots for it around the province that we should utilize. Even if it's only able to daily generate 500-1000MW that's a substantial amount of fuel that isn't used. Especially if you use it to charge capacitors/batteries that are used as load stabilizers/peaking supply. Spinning up or down plants causes lots of additional efficiency losses and pollution when compared to steady state. If you can replace the need to spin additional units up or increase the speed of currently running units for short term peaks (say when people come home from work and turn on stoves, and tvs and ac) and instead use power that is stored at grid level to compensate for that you would see HUGE efficiency number gains and pollution rate drops. I think a lot of people don't understand how a large grid should use renewables and say stupid crap like "the sun don't always shine and the wind don't always be blowing". It's frankly a stupid opinion not based in fact. You don't need to use renewables in that way. You use the advancements in battery tech and capacitors to stabilize the grid prevent peaking and then use large baseline power units like nuke and hydro. And of course when you have solid grid build out with little concern for feedback events or frequency de-stabilization events because you have DC interconnects/separation and huge capacitor banks to prevent line sage and over voltage and under voltage. And batteries providing quick shortterm peak support as well then the problems of brown outs and cascading failures (see the major blackouts on the east coast) that are so distruptive of current power tech. With a stable integrated grid then you can have solar, biomass and wind doing much more work because you can get the power to where you need it. If the sun isn't shinning the wind is probably blowing and if it's dark out people are probably sleeping so you can run your units at peak efficiency and build up your grid stored electricity. I also think we should look at at least having one large pumped hydro project in the province where the pumps are run by solar and wind and a small run of the river hydro unit that will further compliment grid storage. 1 or 2 large pumped hydro units also can be used during drought seasons to supplement a loss of water and also during potential flood seasons to help mitigate water inundation and provide additional flow control.

    Geothermal is too deep but we've got the drilling expertise. I had a pdf that should the temps and bore hole depths of a geothermal map of the province sitting around somewhere but couldn't find it. I am sure if you googled you could dig it up. Geothermal should be looked at as a source of district heating and cooling versus using nat-gas. It being a source of potential power is probably unlikely given the depths of drilling required.

    We should be using biomass way way way more given the large amounts of agri-business and food product business in the province. It would cut down on methane releases by huge volumes (important because methane is 25x worse as a green house gas compared to CO2) and provide local electrical supply and add redundancy to the grid. Also we should be using landfill biomass even more so than we currently do.

    Hydro isn't really feasible for much more than about another 500-800 MW's we don't have the height change in areas where we have the water outflow numbers. We have the height change in the mountains, but not enough collected flow. Again have a pdf of this somewhere that detailed this out. *see pumped storage mention further up.

    There is already a thread about this elsewhere I believe.

    Anyways those are my 2 cents. Google the things I talked about for more info.

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    There is no business model for thorium reactors, whatsoever. They are talked about on the internet a lot, and in theory they could be much better, but they aren't at the point where you can just build it and use it like other models. At current stage they are a research pipe dream. Primarily due to problems in needed infrastructure to actually create the reactor, and zero market for fuel fabrication. In normal reactors, you can sell off byproducts (fuel fabrication) that fund operations. You can't do that with a thorium reactor, meaning that you need to recover all costs from the sale of power. Currently, they aren't efficient enough to do this at any global energy price levels.

    We are best off right now stimulating the installation of micro generation on as many homes, businesses, and institutional buildings as we can. That would reduce reliance on our current uses, and make it easier to transition to renewable large-scale generation in the future. Offer subsidies and rebates for micro generation now, ramp up taxes on fossil fuel energy gradually reaching full cost recovery, and wait for a business case for large-scale renewable generation that the private market can fill.
    Last edited by Jaerdo; 23-11-2015 at 06:30 AM.

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    Float solar panels on our oil sands tailings ponds.

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    ^^I agree that there is lots of R&D left to do for LFTRs. There are a few companies wanting to build liquid fuel reactors in the near future, but those proposals are stripped down versions that use uranium or uranium-thorium mixtures and skip online processing altogether. They will be valuable stepping stones, but not really an improvement over a gen III+ water moderated reactor. The 233U - 235U - 238U mixture that they will produce is going to be hard to recycle. The reactor that is fed only thorium and produces only heat and fission products is still a long way off. The original LFTR prototype from the 1960s also used a large amount of graphite moderator, which would need to be replaced fairly often. Eliminating the moderator requires significantly more fissile material (not a huge problem, but definitely a drawback).

    Lead-cooled reactors are another interesting Gen IV option. They could be mass-produced in a factory that reprocesses waste to extract uranium and plutonium, packages it into a core assembly and fills the whole thing with lead. The modules could be shipped to a powerplant site, installed in a silo, the lead melted and the chain reaction started by removing the shutdown rod. A large negative temperature coefficient will then automatically keep the module at a nearly constant temperature (~500°C), regardless of how much heat is removed to generate electricity. Coolant circulation would be by natural convection (no pumps to fail), and the core would last 10-20 years. At the end of that time, re-insert the shutdown rod, let the lead solidify and ship the whole thing back to the factory. On the downside, they would also need a lot of fissile - the waste from 60 years of operation of a 1 GW LWR might provide enough plutonium to fuel a 100 MW lead cooled reactor (although it could then be recycled for millennia).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium48 View Post
    ^^I agree that there is lots of R&D left to do for LFTRs. There are a few companies wanting to build liquid fuel reactors in the near future, but those proposals are stripped down versions that use uranium or uranium-thorium mixtures and skip online processing altogether. They will be valuable stepping stones, but not really an improvement over a gen III+ water moderated reactor. The 233U - 235U - 238U mixture that they will produce is going to be hard to recycle. The reactor that is fed only thorium and produces only heat and fission products is still a long way off. The original LFTR prototype from the 1960s also used a large amount of graphite moderator, which would need to be replaced fairly often. Eliminating the moderator requires significantly more fissile material (not a huge problem, but definitely a drawback).

    Lead-cooled reactors are another interesting Gen IV option. They could be mass-produced in a factory that reprocesses waste to extract uranium and plutonium, packages it into a core assembly and fills the whole thing with lead. The modules could be shipped to a powerplant site, installed in a silo, the lead melted and the chain reaction started by removing the shutdown rod. A large negative temperature coefficient will then automatically keep the module at a nearly constant temperature (~500°C), regardless of how much heat is removed to generate electricity. Coolant circulation would be by natural convection (no pumps to fail), and the core would last 10-20 years. At the end of that time, re-insert the shutdown rod, let the lead solidify and ship the whole thing back to the factory. On the downside, they would also need a lot of fissile - the waste from 60 years of operation of a 1 GW LWR might provide enough plutonium to fuel a 100 MW lead cooled reactor (although it could then be recycled for millennia).
    So it's maybe an option for the long term.

    Maybe Lockheed Martin will have the fusion thing figured out soon too.

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    Solar here is interesting. More seasonal but with much longer duration in the summer.

    So maybe keep the coal plants for cold dark winter baseload demand situations when most people are inside anyways, and the health pollutants will mostly not be an issue.

    For the co2 plan for co2 capture/conversion on those coal electric plants.

    In the mountains there's likely some potential for more environment obliterating hydro dams but maybe some potential for small hydro.

    Waste heat to steam generation might also provide some benefits...
    Last edited by KC; 23-11-2015 at 04:04 PM.

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    The best large hydro site in Alberta is the Slave river in the NE corner. Expect opposition from at least some environmentalists and at least some of the local (mostly indigenous) population though.

    More rooftop solar would be great for shaving the air-conditioning driven summer peaks, where the heat reduces both the generation and transmission capacity. It would be of little use in fall and winter though, providing much less total power and providing it outside of peak hours.

    Residential co-generation has great potential for winter, and would be complementary to solar. Nobody seems to be selling the required appliances though.

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    Rooftop solar, wind, maybe grid-fed biomass and the newer larger lithium and other home storage batteries may combine to lower the peak demand (peak shaving) for natural gas (which apparently only offered a 30% CO2 reduction over coal). That would also free up more natural gas for export. This would likely require time of use electricity rates or seasonal, solar driven rates to incentivize the system.

    Whats not talked about is that a dollar saved is more than a dollar earned if you can export the consumption and import the dollars.
    Last edited by KC; 23-11-2015 at 06:06 PM.

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    ^I would think that 2000 megwatts could be easily produced via rooftop solar; Alberta is one of the sunniest places in Canada for annual sunshine hours.

    2000 MW would definitely lower the peak demand for natural gas!
    Last edited by reservoircat; 29-11-2015 at 09:12 AM.
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    In a post years ago on c2e I suggested that we use the vast amount of commercial and industrial warehouse roof area in this city for something or other.

    Hey maybe horizontal wind turbines with solar panel blades.

    For sloped roofs...
    http://www.ridgeblade.com/index.html#
    Last edited by KC; 29-11-2015 at 07:41 AM.

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    I think there needs to be some kind of carbon capture for the coal-burning power plants.
    "Talk minus action equals zero." - Joe Keithley, D. O. A.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Cat View Post
    I think there needs to be some kind of carbon capture for the coal-burning power plants.
    Isn't that a waste now? Carbon capture requires public subsidy to be economically viable (which means it isn't) and all coal plants have to be offline in fifteen years,which requires public subsidy.
    Industrial plants capital profiles are generally based 25 years or longer.
    So that would be way too expensive. Coal plants should be left as is and working to close them based on highest polluter per Megaton since this is now government policy... Which is debatable if it's really a good policy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DanC View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by The_Cat View Post
    I think there needs to be some kind of carbon capture for the coal-burning power plants.
    Isn't that a waste now? Carbon capture requires public subsidy to be economically viable (which means it isn't) and all coal plants have to be offline in fifteen years,which requires public subsidy.
    Industrial plants capital profiles are generally based 25 years or longer.
    So that would be way too expensive. Coal plants should be left as is and working to close them based on highest polluter per Megaton since this is now government policy... Which is debatable if it's really a good policy.
    Depending on the the cost of alternative sources but assuming nothing gets cheaper than coal in the next couple decades, two things may happen. One, we lose the low cost electricity produced by coal and two we have to pay for "accelerated depreciation" / stranded investment impact on coal plants with decades of remaining useful life. So in technical terms we'll be hit with a "double whammy" on electric costs with offsets of other benefits and smiley faces.

    Carbon capture in various forms is on the horizon, but coal burning creates a lot of other pollutants that only filtering could likely eliminate.
    Last edited by KC; 29-11-2015 at 02:06 PM.

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    Currently we're seeing about 4.6GW of generation from coal (it's the TNG column. MC is maximum capacity) (12:15ish 11/30/2015)



    This is taken from the Alberta Electric System Operator's Current Supply & Demand report, here

    "Other" is principally biomass, in case anyone thought it'd be solar...
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    We should really have two goals:

    1) Reduce the numbers seen above as low as we possibly can.

    2) Inflate the "other" category's share.

    The reason that these should be our priority is that they can be done without massive investment in megaprojects, and they are politically acceptable. Both can be done by introducing energy saving investments into homes and businesses, and microgeneration.

    We do not have the political will or financial resources to spend billions on megaprojects in hydro, nuclear, etc. However, we definitely have the political will to spend on rebates for microgeneration and personal energy efficiency.

    People love seeing tangible tax expenditures on their own personal things. They don't care that a nuclear plant they will never see is replacing a coal plant they will never see. But a row of solar panels on their roof and new insulation in their walls? They get that, and they want it.

    This brings us closer to our goal, and ultimately makes it easier to carry out the megaprojects in the future given less grid strain.

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    On the reduction side:

    - I'd love to see the building code require triple pane windows at a minimum - commercial and industrial buildings included. (Ignore any gases benefits because if the seals fail the window falls to it's minimum capability. Triple pane and coatings are permanently beneficial. Quadruple pane might even make sense here.)

    - Then require more insulation in walls. Possibly 2x10 minimum. Moreover, there's no way that the citizens should continually get hit with strict standards while businesses get away with doing almost nothing. Warehouses everywhere should have to be retrofit with added insulation, be required to add solar wall like features, etc.

    - Really work on reducing the power consumption of street lighting which is being used whether its needed or not. (And at night it's coal-fired-base-load draw.) How many people are out and about from 1 am to 5 am, yet every street in the city is lit at maximum draw. Right now we're just mindlessly replacing streetlights with LED versions of the same thing without any thought to added conservation measures. We're just obtaining the tip of the iceberg in terms of energy savings there.

    As for transportation. Much stricter controls on commercial vehicles. The city could even consider installing its own electric refueling stations about the city and then sell them off once electric car ownership hits a sustainable level.
    Last edited by KC; 30-11-2015 at 03:08 PM.

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    On streetlights, it is kind of absurd that we haven't started using solar streetlights yet. Our climate is perfect for them. Combined with LEDs they would generate more power than they use throughout the year.

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    ATCO considering large hydro project in Alberta

    Large-scale hydropower in northern Alberta will be an “enabler” to the province’s transition to more renewable electricity as the region shifts away from coal power, ATCO Group’s head of electricity said.

    “Hydropower could make an important contribution to baseload power,” Wayne Stensby, a managing director at the Canadian energy infrastructure company, said in an interview in Calgary Monday. ATCO is considering a large hydro project, he said, without providing details.

    Alberta Premier Rachel Notley unveiled sweeping changes to the province’s climate policy, including a faster transition from coal to more renewable and natural gas power; an economy-wide carbon price and a cap on oil-sands emissions. As much as $15 billion will have to be invested in new electricity generation, according to National Bank of Canada.

    Investment in renewable energy will be helped by certificates and will come from the private sector, Alberta’s Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said Monday.

    Alberta has the potential to generate at least 42,000 gigawatt-hours a year on its five main river systems, mainly in the north of the province, according to a 2010 report commissioned by the Alberta Utilities Commission. That compares with less than 2,000 gigawatt-hours generated annually by existing hydropower plants in the province.
    http://www.edmontonjournal.com/busin...933/story.html

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    Wasn't sure where to put this so this recent alternative energy thread seemed like a decent fit.

    Many of us already know about the Ontario boondoggles over the last how many years regarding energy, the adopting of alternatives and the disgraceful management that came with it. Well, looks like them boondoggles finally have a collective price tag.

    Ontarians paid $37-billion above market price for electricity over eight years: AG

    Ontarians have paid $37-billion more than market price for electricity over eight years and will pay another $133-billion by 2032, after the provincial government’s process for planning the system “broke down.” Electricity prices have ballooned by 70 per cent.

    What’s more, Hydro One is in rough shape, with ever-increasing power outages and aging equipment “at very high risk of failing” that needs $4.472-billion worth of repairs – even as the province is in the process of selling 60 per cent of the company to the private sector.

    Auditor-General Bonnie Lysyk made these blockbuster revelations about Ontario’s expensive and aging electricity system in her annual report Wednesday, which also put several other provincial policies under the microscrope.
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/...ticle27560753/

    Yowzers.

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    ^ NEWTON'S CRADLE

    I saw a headline in an old 1970s Oil Week or something magazine where a MLA was saying we should be burning natural gas and exporting the electricity. Line losses hurt though. Still, if no one wants more pipelines, maybe they will accept tie lines - to run their electric cars.

    So while I don't know what it might be called in various industries, there's the Newton's cradle effect. (I've put almost zero thought into this, however, if natural gas is cheap enough, take the line losses in stride. We just need to undercut our neighbour's price and they their neighbour's price and so on. So, maybe we should pipe natural gas to the borders, build gas turbines there, then run more tie lines. We sell that generation to BC, so BC can the sell it’s generation to Washington. Washington sells all its generation to Oregon, Oregon sells theirs to California. California’s air becomes much cleaner.

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    Wasn't there a plan to build a Nuclear plant in Peace River a few years back?

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    ^^^^I wonder if the coal phaseout will prompt Transalta to resurrect the dunvegan dam project.

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    What if Alberta did decide to build a new damn. Would we not get the same opposition to this from Native Bands and the rest of the eco warriors. Damns cause environmental damage, sometimes disrupt migrating animals etc. Anything the provincial government puts forward in the way of alternative energy is going to be shot down by the usual cast and crew if they think it's going to harm the environment in any way. Who wants years of protests.
    Last edited by Gemini; 07-12-2015 at 11:29 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaerdo View Post
    On streetlights, it is kind of absurd that we haven't started using solar streetlights yet. Our climate is perfect for them. Combined with LEDs they would generate more power than they use throughout the year.
    Our climate may be good for solar power, but our latitude is not. Running a streetlight for 16 hours after 8 hours of charge time will require a big panel and a low power light. Also, in some neighborhoods the streetlights are heavily shaded by trees.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gemini View Post
    What if Alberta did decide to build a new damn. Would we not get the same opposition to this from Native Bands and the rest of the eco warriors. Damns cause environmental damage, sometimes disrupt migrating animals etc. Anything the provincial government puts forward in the way of alternative energy is going to be shot down by the usual cast and crew if they think it's going to harm the environment in any way. Who wants years of protests.
    Dams aren't ugly though so you don't get a opportunity for a shock value photo op.
    be offended! figure out why later...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium48 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jaerdo View Post
    On streetlights, it is kind of absurd that we haven't started using solar streetlights yet. Our climate is perfect for them. Combined with LEDs they would generate more power than they use throughout the year.
    Our climate may be good for solar power, but our latitude is not. Running a streetlight for 16 hours after 8 hours of charge time will require a big panel and a low power light. Also, in some neighborhoods the streetlights are heavily shaded by trees.
    Battery storage will be a key to taking advantage of a lot of potential here. Maybe we could use solar to pump water up off the river into a lake battery and then drain it in the fall to run a turbine. We could use waste heat to run power units to pipe and pump oil sands waste water to high ground and do the same over much longer time spans after sludge settlement. (How's that for an airy-fairy idea. . )

    Active and passive solar could probably be much more widely be used in the oil-sands. (Preheating pipes, etc.)

    Conservation, off topic for this thread, also offers a lot of potential. Say, don't run streetlights all night long everywhere in the city. Cars have headlights. So summon in the drone-lights to fly overhead of the few pedestrians walking around those areas off hours. An aerial drone spots movement and sends in another drone to light the path. Cats and dogs would love it.
    Last edited by KC; 08-12-2015 at 09:25 AM.

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    ^there is that idea of injecting compressed air into salt caverns:

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgar...ment-1.3352412

    Rocky Mountain Power has come up with a better way to ensure you have power when you need it. It wants to carve out massive caverns the size of 60-storey skyscrapers in naturally occurring salt layers underneath the Lloydminster area in eastern Alberta. Each cavern could store enough energy, in the form of compressed air, to power a town of 100,000 people for five days.

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    I see that TransAlta stock is taking a hit. I'm not sure exactly why but it might be an opportunity if it's just disenchanted conservatives throwing in the towel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by moahunter View Post
    ^there is that idea of injecting compressed air into salt caverns:

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgar...ment-1.3352412

    Rocky Mountain Power has come up with a better way to ensure you have power when you need it. It wants to carve out massive caverns the size of 60-storey skyscrapers in naturally occurring salt layers underneath the Lloydminster area in eastern Alberta. Each cavern could store enough energy, in the form of compressed air, to power a town of 100,000 people for five days.
    Can't salt brine of some sort store heat as well?

    Sodium acetate solutions.
    Last edited by KC; 10-12-2015 at 10:00 PM.

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    I wonder how much heat could be captured out of our temperature changes eg. Outdoor temp changes like -5 to -25, etc.

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    And going along with the whole Ontario fiasco, here's a shocker.

    Dalton McGuinty's ex-chief of staff, deputy charged in gas plant scandal

    Former Ontario Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty's chief of staff and deputy chief of staff have both been charged with criminal offences over the deletion of computer files about the gas plant scandal.

    The former employees, David Livingston and Laura Miller, are accused of deleting thousands of government emails pertaining to the decision to cancel two Greater Toronto Area gas-fired power plants, in Oakville and Mississauga, in the lead-up to the 2011 provincial election. The controversial decision cost Ontario taxpayers $1.1 billion, according to the auditor general.

    The OPP said in a release that the charges come after a "complex" investigation into the scandal led by its anti-rackets branch.

    The OPP investigation began in June 2013 after McGuinty's resignation as premier.

    McGuinty was questioned about the matter by the OPP in April 2014. Months later, provincial police served a court order to Queen's Park staff asking for documents related to the scandal.

    Documents released during the police investigation last February showed Livingston and Miller compiled a list of senior Liberal staffers in the then-premier's office whose computers would be purged.

    They then hired Miller's partner, IT consultant Peter Faist, to wipe clean dozens of the hard drives on a weekend, the documents alleged.

    Miller resigned from her position as executive director of the B.C. Liberal Party Thursday after the charges were announced.

    None of the allegations have been proven in court.

    Livingston, 63, of Toronto and Miller, 36, of Vancouver are each charged with:




    • Breach of trust.
    • Mischief in relation to data.
    • Misuse of a computer system to commit the offense of mischief.

    The accused are scheduled to make a first appearance at the Ontario Court of Justice in Toronto on Jan. 27, 2016.
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toront...rges-1.3369470

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    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium48 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jaerdo View Post
    On streetlights, it is kind of absurd that we haven't started using solar streetlights yet. Our climate is perfect for them. Combined with LEDs they would generate more power than they use throughout the year.
    Our climate may be good for solar power, but our latitude is not. Running a streetlight for 16 hours after 8 hours of charge time will require a big panel and a low power light. Also, in some neighborhoods the streetlights are heavily shaded by trees.
    They don't need to power the lights 24/hours a day. They only need to deliver their cost in energy and pollution savings in their lifespan.

    The idea that we should only do large-scale projects that take us 100% off fossil fuels all the time needs to die. Microgeneration should be our #1 priority right now because, though it doesn't remove 100% of our reliance, it is cheaper, easier, and it makes large scale projects easier in the future.

    We need quick wins, and microgeneration is the way to go for that. Sure, solar streetlights won't take 100% of the power needed for bulbs off the grid, but they might take 60% if they are grid-tied and delivering generation for other uses during the day. That is 60% less power that a future mega-project needs to provide.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaerdo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium48 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jaerdo View Post
    On streetlights, it is kind of absurd that we haven't started using solar streetlights yet. Our climate is perfect for them. Combined with LEDs they would generate more power than they use throughout the year.
    Our climate may be good for solar power, but our latitude is not. Running a streetlight for 16 hours after 8 hours of charge time will require a big panel and a low power light. Also, in some neighborhoods the streetlights are heavily shaded by trees.
    They don't need to power the lights 24/hours a day. They only need to deliver their cost in energy and pollution savings in their lifespan.

    The idea that we should only do large-scale projects that take us 100% off fossil fuels all the time needs to die. Microgeneration should be our #1 priority right now because, though it doesn't remove 100% of our reliance, it is cheaper, easier, and it makes large scale projects easier in the future.

    We need quick wins, and microgeneration is the way to go for that. Sure, solar streetlights won't take 100% of the power needed for bulbs off the grid, but they might take 60% if they are grid-tied and delivering generation for other uses during the day. That is 60% less power that a future mega-project needs to provide.
    Hybrid lights. Solar until it runs out then the hard wired lights kick in...

  36. #36
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    Yes, grid tied. It doesn't matter if it never directly powers itself. The point is to produce more into the grid than it consumes, which is entirely possible.

  37. #37
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    ^ So basically you are thinking of streetlight poles as convenient places to put grid-connected solar panels. Not sure that is any better than rooftops where they would not create additional ground shadows, but maybe.

    There will still be a limited place for solar in Alberta though - it will be great for powering air conditioners on hot summer days when thermal generators and transmission lines have to be de-rated, but it will do nothing for the other demand peak on winter evenings, and can't supply baseload because it turns off at night.

  38. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium48 View Post
    ^ So basically you are thinking of streetlight poles as convenient places to put grid-connected solar panels. Not sure that is any better than rooftops where they would not create additional ground shadows, but maybe.

    There will still be a limited place for solar in Alberta though - it will be great for powering air conditioners on hot summer days when thermal generators and transmission lines have to be de-rated, but it will do nothing for the other demand peak on winter evenings, and can't supply baseload because it turns off at night.
    Streetlight poles could become tall batteries.

    Solar's utility depends on the storage options. Displaced is displaced. Less fossil fuel burning in the summer is less greenhouse gases - and carbon taxes. That's now a desirable outcome. It might also serve to extend coal and gas plant life for some future benefit.

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    ^ Batteries would help even out the day/night cycle, but would do nothing for the seasonal cycle and would be depleted quickly during an extended cloudy period. The ability of solar to supply the summer air conditioning peak at precisely the time when transmission and other generation is under maximum stress will make it a valuable addition to the grid at up to ~15-20% of total capacity. Add some modest battery storage to shift the early afternoon peak output to the evening peak demand and a somewhat bigger share starts looking reasonable, but it would need to be backed up with something else for winter and for extended cloudy periods. Further increasing the solar fraction would require rapidly increasing amounts of storage or increasing amounts of backup generation, with quickly escalating costs and possible reduced efficiencies for backup generation. If solar displaces gas 50% of the time, the gas plant that gets built to meet that demand might be a 40% efficient gas turbine that is cheap and can be cycled on and off easily instead of a 60% efficient combined cycle plant that costs more and is more difficult to turn on and off, and the total carbon emission savings will be small.

    The best way to get a lot of solar onto the grid would be to pair it with something complementary. Combined heat and power systems in houses would be an almost perfect fit, with some nighttime output for most of the year, maximum output on cold winter evenings, some output on cool, cloudy spring and fall days and zero on sunny summer days. We would get solar electricity when the sun is shining, and essentially 100% conversion of gas to electricity when it is not. A 50% share for solar + cogeneration might be possible, with most of the other 50% supplied by hydro, nuclear and/or gas combined cycle powerplants.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium48 View Post
    ^ So basically you are thinking of streetlight poles as convenient places to put grid-connected solar panels. Not sure that is any better than rooftops where they would not create additional ground shadows, but maybe.

    There will still be a limited place for solar in Alberta though - it will be great for powering air conditioners on hot summer days when thermal generators and transmission lines have to be de-rated, but it will do nothing for the other demand peak on winter evenings, and can't supply baseload because it turns off at night.
    What would be the problem with them creating shadows?

  41. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by KC View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by DanC View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by The_Cat View Post
    I think there needs to be some kind of carbon capture for the coal-burning power plants.
    Isn't that a waste now? Carbon capture requires public subsidy to be economically viable (which means it isn't) and all coal plants have to be offline in fifteen years,which requires public subsidy.
    Industrial plants capital profiles are generally based 25 years or longer.
    So that would be way too expensive. Coal plants should be left as is and working to close them based on highest polluter per Megaton since this is now government policy... Which is debatable if it's really a good policy.
    Depending on the the cost of alternative sources but assuming nothing gets cheaper than coal in the next couple decades, two things may happen. One, we lose the low cost electricity produced by coal and two we have to pay for "accelerated depreciation" / stranded investment impact on coal plants with decades of remaining useful life. So in technical terms we'll be hit with a "double whammy" on electric costs with offsets of other benefits and smiley faces.

    Carbon capture in various forms is on the horizon, but coal burning creates a lot of other pollutants that only filtering could likely eliminate.

    Interesting article below - but rearward looking. I'm still hopeful that new carbon capture technologies will save the day. A few years ago solar panel pricing was sky high, but technology improves and sometimes costs can come down quite dramatically.


    Carbon capture analyst: “Coal should stay in the ground”
    http://www.rdmag.com/news/2015/12/ca...ld-stay-ground

  42. #42

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    I think one of the first serious solar power tower proposals was for Australia, maybe a decade ago. Never heard much more about them.


    This Solar Power Plant Can Run All Night
    Justin World
    Could it replace conventional energy sources?

    "...
    “This is the first utility-scale facility in the world with this technology,” says SolarReserve CEO Kevin Smith. “Our technology can truly replace conventional generation.”

    Most solar power plants, which use photovoltaic technology, capture energy through the solar panels themselves, converting the sun’s light straight to electricity and then routing it onto the grid for immediate use. That’s great when the sun is shining, but a few clouds can render the plants useless. And if it’s sunny when the power isn’t needed, the electricity will be wasted. ..."



    "Even with significant cost reductions, concentrated solar will need to face off against advances in battery technology that could make it easier to store power in electrical form—increasing the desirability of other renewable energy sources like photovoltaic and wind power. But Smith says his company’s technology has advantages over the competing methods right now.

    “People are spending a lot of money on the battery market,” he says. “But [Crescent Dunes] is more storage than all the utility-scale batteries in the world combined.”

    http://time.com/4291347/crescent-dun...r-power-plant/

  43. #43

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    So, this does 65,000 homes?



    This does about 520,000, 800MW, day and night full production: (Shepard - owned by Capital power and Enmax)



    https://www.enmax.com/generation-wir...-energy-centre

    One requires a lot less land / capital...
    Last edited by moahunter; 26-04-2016 at 12:56 PM.

  44. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by moahunter View Post
    So, this does 65,000 homes?



    This does about 400,000:



    One requires a lot less land...
    but in need of carbon capture technology. So, we're going solar, wind, etc.
    Luckily we have mountains already slopped towards the sun! Maybe we should scrape off the sides of mountains in our national parks and put solar panels up the sides. (No different than destroying river habitats for hydro.) Anything in the name of fighting global warming. Right?

  45. #45

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    Well, one alternative energy possibility is to buy from B.C., e.g. the new Dam they are building, but that comes at a price:

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opini...ticle29777411/

    Buying power from B.C. would also require 600 kilometres of expensive and environmentally contestable transmission lines while Site C’s electricity would cost more than twice Ms. Notley’s preferred option of supplementing cleaner-than-coal, natural-gas-fired generating stations with wind and solar power. Even with a hefty carbon tax, it’s difficult for Alberta to make Site C’s numbers work.

    The Canadian Energy Research Institute estimated in a January study that importing power from Site C would cost Alberta between $140 and $162 per megawatt hour, compared with $57/MWh for natural-gas-fired cogeneration. Using hydroelectricity could cut greenhouse-gas emissions from the oil sands by up to 16 per cent, but at a very high price per tonne of carbon reduced, one several times higher than anything Alberta has announced or is contemplating.

    Ms. Clark’s case is further undermined by questions surrounding whether she could guarantee that the power B.C. proposes to sell to Alberta would actually come from Site C at all. She couldn’t. That’s not how the electricity market works. Researchers at the University of Victoria’s Institute for Integrated Energy Systems project that “the majority” of the energy provided to Alberta through expanded transmission capacity would likely first be imported to B.C. from the United States and then exported to Alberta. “The potential emissions reduction … depends on the emissions from imported energy,” the UVic researchers noted.

    Big hydro operators such as B.C. Hydro and Hydro-Québec are expert “energy traders” that import power when spot-market electricity prices are low, allowing water to build up in their reservoirs. They unleash the water to run their turbines at full steam when demand and prices peak. Hence, the actual carbon profile of the electricity they sell to customers depends in part on the sources of their imported power.

    If the “majority” of power Alberta were to buy from British Columbia came from coal- or natural-gas-fired plants in the United States, Ms. Clark’s proposition could be a losing one for Alberta in both economic and environmental terms.

    Still, Ms. Notley and Ms. Clark need each other. If promising to buy electricity from B.C. allows Ms. Clark to claim that one of her conditions for building pipelines has been satisfied and that Site C is a success, it might be a price Ms. Notley is willing to pay. It could save her, and Ms. Clark’s, bacon.
    Last edited by moahunter; 28-04-2016 at 08:23 AM.

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