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CaFCP proposes two Centers of Excellence in California for fuel cell buses to accelerate commercialization; $100M program

The California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP) has published “A Road Map for Fuel Cell Electric Buses in California: A zero-emission solution for public transit”. The roadmap suggests the steps necessary to move from the pre-commercial phase of fuel cell electric bus (FCEB) deployment and manufacturing (2012-2015) to the early commercial phase (2016- 2017) to a commercial model in 2018 and beyond, including the requisite fueling infrastructure.

This road map suggests a specific strategy for the implementation of two Centers of Excellence in Northern and Southern California, each of which would cost approximately $50 million and would operate 40 FCEBs. The two centers would allow for economies of scale sufficient to achieve 2016 DOE/DOT targets and begin to overcome the primary barriers to market: the capital cost of the vehicles and the cost of fuel, CaFCP suggests.

Transportation-related air pollution will need to be reduced by 90-95% below 2010 levels by 2050 if these regions are to meet national health-based air quality standards as required by federal law, and greenhouse gas emissions from transportation will need to fall by 85%. Both are necessary to meet California’s 2050 climate goals. The magnitude of the changes needed in the coming decades will require the complete transformation of transportation to zero or near-zero technologies by 2050. If California is to meet its emissions reductions goals it needs to begin developing the commercial markets for zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), including buses, now.

...California has gained considerable experience with the development and demonstration of zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) technologies through its zero-emission bus (ZBus) program. Fuel cell buses have consistently demonstrated superb operating performance in their ability to maintain sustained power and acceleration in a wide spectrum of operating conditions, smooth and quiet operation, and unmatched fuel efficiency.

...These environmental benefits and policy goals can only be achieved, however, if buses are available at capital and operating costs that meet the budgets of transit as well as state and federal agencies. Achieving these targets is possible with the deployment of fuel cell electric buses (FCEBs) at production volumes rather than through small demonstration fleets, an approach supported by the funding model for zero and near-zero emission buses in the federal transportation bill “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” (MAP-21).

—“A Road Map for Fuel Cell Electric Buses in California”

Currently, 15 FCEBs operate in revenue service in California among several transit agencies, including AC Transit and other San Francisco Bay Area transit agencies; and SunLine Transit. Despite improving performance among FCEBs, capital and operating costs remain a barrier to commercialization, the roadmap notes.

The capital cost of a full-size FCEB is currently more than $2 million (assuming a fuel-cell dominant configuration that meets performance targets—significantly higher than 2012 DOE/DOT FTA performance, cost, and durability targets for fuel cell transit buses primarily due to customized designs and low bus-manufacturing volumes.

Based on industry input, the $1 million target can be achieved through a limited production of FCEBs of the same design, while the $600,000 target requires commercial volumes, according to the roadmap.

Fceb1
DOE/DOT FTA targets for FCEBs.
Source: “A Road Map for Fuel Cell Electric Buses in California”. Click to enlarge.

In addition to the capital cost of the FCEBs, hydrogen fuel cost is an issue as well. Having a high throughput of hydrogen is important to achieving a fuel cost per mile competitive with conventional buses, the roadmap notes.

Centers of Excellence. The roadmap proposes establishing two Centers of Excellence in California with 40 buses per fleet, suggesting that, according to industry input, production runs of 40 FCEBs will be large enough to reduce the capital cost per bus to or below $1.0 million and fleet size will be sufficient to enable a fuel cost per mile competitive with a conventional bus.

The key elements of these centers are:

  • A single fuel cell hybrid bus configuration at each site, manufactured under a serial production run of 40 units over one to two years.
  • Vehicles that comply with transit agency requirements and are operated in normal revenue service on scheduled runs.
  • A 12-year operating period.
  • A single hydrogen fueling station with throughput sufficient to achieve a fuel cost per mile comparable to conventional buses.
  • Vehicles introduced in the 2015-2016 timeframe.
  • Regional training and education for transit staff and community stakeholders.

Assuming a 12-year operating period; a cost of $1 million per bus; maintenance facility upgrades of up to $2 million; mid-life powerplant overhauls for all buses of $80,000/bus; and infrastructure capital costs of approximately $5 million per site, the cost for each Center of Excellence would be $50.2 million including rolling stock and infrastructure. In contrast, the cost of purchasing a fleet of forty conventional buses is $19.2 million (vehicle cost only). sources.

The roadmap makes a set of recommendations to both California and the Federal government in support of such a program. In addition, CaFCP members will work with local, state and federal stakeholders to develop a funding model that supports the road map and implementation of the Centers of Excellence.

Resources

Comments

Roger Pham

@E-P,
Carbon fiber tank is not meant for seasonal storage, but for H2 filling stations for cars and buses and trucks, whereby H2 is filled and discharged several times per day. Seasonal storage of H2 will use pipeline system connected to underground caverns from depleted salt mines, or depleted NG or oil well, etc. These underground storage will cost next to nothing, cheap as dirt!
Nothing can beat the cost of dirt, but all the copper tubings for heat transfer into and out of dirt will cost a lot of pretty pennies (pun intended). H2 is made out of water, which is as cheap as dirt in the volume of water required!

Or, the H2 from wind, solar or nuclear energy can be stored chemically bonded to the carbon in the waste biomass as the waste biomass is being pyrolyzed into liquid or gaseous fuels. These are dropped-in fuels that can be used with existing oil and NG infrastructures.

Philosophically, though, let's consider this analogy:

He who uses renewable energy while saving fossil and nuclear fuels for another days is like a person who only spends the money that he is actively earning daily, while rarely reaching into his savings.
He is smart and realizes that with only a little bit of effort, he can take advantage of all the free energy from the sun and wind all around forever, never ever worry about any further energy crisis, nor worry about any pollution nor environmental destruction from the older forms of stored energy. We have a lot of unemployed people today, yet we allow them to sit around collecting unemployment checks or welfare checks, while our government is bankrupting from supporting all these people. If only we allow them to work on renewable energy projects and pay taxes and end our looming governmental deficits.

He who uses fossil fuels or nuclear fuels made from the past is like a person who is too lazy to work for money, and is only living on money inherited from his old folks...eventually the inheritance will run out, or sometimes unavailable, and the lazy bum will panic...as our civilization has been doing in the last many decades...one oil shock after another...one NG boom and bust after another...one energy embargo after another...and too lazy to doing anything differently!!!

Engineer-Poet
Carbon fiber tank is ... for H2 filling stations for cars and buses and trucks, whereby H2 is filled and discharged several times per day.
Oh, that.  Steel works fine for stationary applications, and it's cheap.
Seasonal storage of H2 will use pipeline system connected to underground caverns from depleted salt mines, or depleted NG or oil well, etc. These underground storage will cost next to nothing, cheap as dirt!
Judging from the lack of any follow-up to the Iowa Stored Energy Project which only intended to store air, I suspect that it's not quite so easy.  Natural gas storage doesn't hold huge amounts of energy, and H2 takes ~3 times the volume to store a given amount of energy.

By comparison, a single tank of fuel oil is often enough to heat a house for a full winter.  Liquids and solids are very preferable to gases, especially hydrogen.

Nothing can beat the cost of dirt, but all the copper tubings for heat transfer into and out of dirt will cost a lot of pretty pennies (pun intended).
Plastic is increasingly capable of taking on these tasks.
the H2 from wind, solar or nuclear energy can be stored chemically bonded to the carbon in the waste biomass as the waste biomass is being pyrolyzed into liquid or gaseous fuels. These are dropped-in fuels that can be used with existing oil and NG infrastructures.
Conversion to fuel is contrary to the goal of sequestration.  The best way to get carbon out of the atmosphere is to fix it and bury it, substituting energy sources which emit no carbon.  Instead of adding hydrogen to turn carbohydrates into alkanes, use electricity for 3/4 of the alkanes and sequester the oxidized carbon from the carbohydrates.
He who uses renewable energy while saving fossil and nuclear fuels for another days
Roger, Roger... Total human energy consumption is equivalent to fission of 5,000 tons of uranium per year.  Rivers dissolve and carry some 30,000 tons of uranium to the oceans every year.  There is no way to deplete the oceanic resource on the time scale of a civilization.  The resource is more than adequate for several times our energy consumption on the time scale from the Cambrian explosion until today!  Quit worrying about conservation of something that's in massive oversupply.

Roger Pham

@E-P,

Development of nuclear energy and renewable energy should proceed on a parallel path. It's not one vs another, but both together, since they can complement each other nicely. It depends on the geography, economy, and security. In cloudy and low-wind locations, nuclear energy would be best. In sunny and windy places, the economics of solar and wind is clear. HVDC lines can connect those places together to reduce the needs for energy storage and further enhancing energy security. Some sort of energy storage will still be necessary, and why argue against H2 that can serve both nuclear and renewable energy? H2 will be great as zero-carbon fuel for surface transportation, as well as for home heating in the form of CHP, as well as for seasonal energy storage. With a steady supply of nuclear energy to supplement renewable energy sources, we won't need as much seasonal energy storage.

With more cost-effective development of wind and solar energy collectors, rogue nations like N. Korea etc who claim that they need nuclear energy will be given solar and wind technology instead. They will have little further excuse to develop nuclear reactors.

>>>"Quit worrying about conservation of something that's in massive oversupply"

In a few hundred years, human will have enough technology for interplanetary and even interstellar travels. Guest what form of energy will be used to propel these spaceships? Nuclear energy, the only form that is compact enough for these vast distances. Chemical fuel will only be used to get to orgit, then electric propulsion will take over. A huge amount of nuclear fuel will be needed for manned mission into deep space. If we escalate the consumption of nuclear fuel from now to then, what will future generations use for space travels? Since you have a lot of nuclear energy knowledge, perhaps you can shed some light on this? Matter-anti-matter warp drive? Where do we mine anti-matter?

Roger Pham

One example that nuclear and renewable can work together is that solar energy is at its peak in the summer to supplement the rise in A/C usage, while solar energy is lowest in the winter while nuclear energy is steady thus can complement the decline in solar energy in the winter. Winter electricity usage is higher than spring and fall due to shorter days and many people use electricity for supplemental space heating and heat pump. So, some sort of H2 seasonal storage will still be needed for spring and fall seasons. This complementary relationship means reduction in seasonal energy storage requirement, and higher net efficiency (source to wheel) for BEV vs FCV. However, buses and larger or long-range vehicles will find H2 more advantageous.

Engineer-Poet
Development of nuclear energy and renewable energy should proceed on a parallel path.
I'm not so sure about that.  They have radically different characteristics.  Some related technologies are good for both (e.g. storage), but even there the economics don't work out the same.

Renewables other than hydro have yet to prove to be able to support a grid.  Nuclear power was proven ideal for base load generation in 1957.  France's grid is 78% nuclear; you can't find a grid that's 78% wind/PV, or even close.  What are the parallels?  I don't see them.

In sunny and windy places, the economics of solar and wind is clear.
They yield cheap energy, but cheap dispatchable power is another matter.  Aruba is a great place for wind, but so far Hawaii has not been despite both being islands running mostly on petroleum.
Some sort of energy storage will still be necessary
Desirable, perhaps, but "necessary" is a different matter.  Nuclear can do without storage; it's 19% of the US grid mix already, and the number of storage systems for it can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
why argue against H2 that can serve both nuclear and renewable energy?
Because it's inefficient and needs an entirely new infrastructure to make it useful.  If you are going to spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure, why not just build another 300 GW of nuclear plants?  Use cheap ice storage to move A/C loads to overnight, and run trucks on overhead wires instead of diesel fuel.
With more cost-effective development of wind and solar energy collectors, rogue nations like N. Korea etc who claim that they need nuclear energy will be given solar and wind technology instead. They will have little further excuse to develop nuclear reactors.
They had no excuse for building the Pu-generating reactor in the first place, but that didn't stop them.  If they want to do something and they can, they will; excuses are not required.
A huge amount of nuclear fuel will be needed for manned mission into deep space. If we escalate the consumption of nuclear fuel from now to then, what will future generations use for space travels?
Let's finish saving the biosphere using maybe 14% of the annual uranium additions to the world's oceans, and let the future worry about itself.

Roger Pham

@E-P,
You still don't see how renewables and nuclear can work together?

Nuclear will provide baseload, at 90% capacity factor. Solar PV will provide the daily peak demand that coincides with factories and businesses, while wind will top that up, excess wind can go to short-term energy storage (compress air at >70% round trip efficiency, or pumped-hydro at >80% efficiency) or long-term storage in the form of H2 at 50% round-trip efficiency, although winter CHP usage of H2 can get much higher efficiency. Solar thermal electricity has its built-in storage that can complement wind and used as peak dispatchable power. Peak dispatchable power is expensive because the gas turbine built for that purpose is not as efficient and only used a small fraction of the time. Solar thermal electricity fits that purpose real well with much less cost, because the fuel is free.

Excess production of all of the above will go into H2 production. You haven't seen much energy storage for nuclear energy because we have been using petroleum like addicts ("America is addicted to oil"). With H2 gradually taking place of petroleum in surface transportation, we will see far more cost effective use of H2 as storage of nuclear and renewable energy that will return better value for all nuclear and renewable energy generators. Electric overhead caternary cables can be used for train or trucks, but only for major roadways, but cannot replace H2 + onboard FC for going where there is no overhead cable, because they are complex and quite unsightly, with all the overhead clutters.

Don't greatly overestimate the cost of H2 infrastructure. Most power will still being transmitted via electrical lines, only to produce the H2 locally via electrolysis, except for local H2 pipelines to bring back H2 from underground storage to local sites of use. Low-cost HVDC lines will form the bulk of long-distance energy transfer from one region to another. Old and unsafe NG pipelines due for replacement can be replaced with new piping that is H2-compatible, and overtime, the H2-compatible piping system will take over.

>>>"Let's finish saving the biosphere using maybe 14% of the annual uranium additions to the world's oceans, and let the future worry about itself."

Large-scale use of nuclear energy will take much more than 14% of the annual uranium additions to the world' oceans. Perhaps breeder reactor should be the rule, but what about the nuclear proliferation risk? Is that why it is not practice much today?

And we should plan for the future of our children and grandchildren and great grand children etc... instead of "letting the future worry about itself." We should at least give them a chance to leave the earth and the solar system when the earth will no longer be livable due to our currently damaging and selfish activities.

Engineer-Poet
Nuclear will provide baseload, at 90% capacity factor. Solar PV will provide the daily peak demand that coincides with factories and businesses, while wind will top that up
I don't see it.

The industrial/commercial demand peak isn't at solar noon, it's at mid/late afternoon after solar's output has fallen considerably.  That's going to take storage of some kind (the simplest is probably time-shifting of A/C load, but the usefulness of that varies seasonally).  Residential peak demand is in the evening most places, on winter nights in the north.  Solar generation during those times is minuscule to zero, and wind generation is zero during polar-high cold snaps.  The overall energy balance hangs on having excess generation to top off storage, but the economics go to pot when there's an excess.

If you do have excess, what do you try to save?  Cut back on uranium, when it's dirt cheap?  You might as well overbuild the nuclear capacity with its 90+% capacity factor instead of putting on sources which hit 30% or so and can't be dispatched.

excess wind can go to short-term energy storage (compress air at >70% round trip efficiency, or pumped-hydro at >80% efficiency) or long-term storage in the form of H2 at 50% round-trip efficiency

To make that useful you need weeks or months of storage, plus make-up for losses.  While having a bunch of RE may appeal to some people's aesthetics, with nuclear the most storage you need is about a weekend's worth.  Expanding the contribution of RE also means expanding the storage systems to compensate, and that's going to run into money.  Distributing storage systems could be problematic.  What do you do if there's a regional shortage of energy for vehicle fuel?  Do you convert H2 to electricity in one place, transmit electricity across the grid and make H2 in the zone of shortage?

Don't greatly overestimate the cost of H2 infrastructure.

The USA has roughly $1 trillion invested in the petroleum refining, distribution and retailing system.  Hydrogen is incompatible with any of it, so its equipment, pipelines and so forth will have to be all-new.  H2 pipelines carry about 1/3 the energy per volume of gas as natural gas pipelines do, and the light molecule is harder to pump.

If most uses of vehicle fuel are replaced by electricity, we'll have enough biomass and such to satisfy the remaining needs.  The existing petroleum infrastructure is compatible with many liquids and the fraction of it still required can be re-purposed.  Saving a trillion bucks is not an option the bankrupt USA can ignore.

And we should plan for the future of our children and grandchildren and great grand children etc... instead of "letting the future worry about itself."

A century ago, nobody knew about nuclear fission; within 60 years of its discovery, France got 78% of its electricity from it.  A century from now, our grandchildren can look at their options and decide what they want to do.  Who knows what they'll have in their toolkit, or what they'll want to do with it?  My job is to get them there with an intact economy and a livable climate.  Fission does that, "renewables" (unreliables) are mostly a distraction.

wintermane2000

The h2 infrastructure supposedly will only cost 4% of the retail price of h2 at the pump over 40 year rollout. So its gona be ok.

Roger Pham

Testing for wp censor.

Roger Pham

@E-P,
If you woul look at Electropaedia electricity demand page (google it), toward the bottom of the page, you will see a power demand curve for California on a summer day, in which the peak power demand has a flat top from 1-6 pm which corresponds quite well with solar PV output. Notice that the peak is slightly more than twice the trough in the curve, meaning that solar PV can provide for demand above the trough level, while nuclear can provide for the other half that constitute the baseload.

If nuclear energy is used 100% for this curve, then the power must be throttled down to less than 50% for the trough, and that would be wasteful. Also, for spring and fall, nuclear energy in this case must also be cut down to less than 50%, clearly an unacceptable situation.

Roger Pham

Thanks to wme2k for your support. Clearly, the H2 infrastructure will cost far less than the petroleum infrastructure because the pipeline system is very short and there is no need for expensive refineries. So, even if nuclear is used 100%, there will still need for H2 production for transportation fuel. For buses and trucks, BEV is clearly inadequate, due to the short range and long recharge time of BEV.

Furthermore, many homeowners will want FC-CHP for home energy security in the event of storms knocking down the powerlines.

"renewables" are mostly a distraction?
History has shown that "renewables" have served human civilizations for over 5000 years. Fossil and nuclear are more likely to be distractions in recent history that are merely a blip in the long history of human civilizations. It's time to return back to safe and sustainable energy sources.

Roger Pham

I must hasten to add that even though the US gov is bankrupt due to low tax rate and high unemployment and worthless economic stimuli and high entitlement roles, there are deep-pocket corporations and people with the cash for investment into a new H2 infrastructure and renewable energy. When these investments will be made, this will employ millions of people with decent wages that will add to the tax revenue while reducing unemployment and welfare roles, and this will solve the budget deficit problem. Once the economy picks up, the gov. then can return the tax rate back to the CLINTON era, and able to payoff gradually the huge gov. debt with a budget surplus.

Roger Pham

So, to sum up the energy picture:

Nuclear for baseload year round.
Solar PV and solar thermal for summer peak load, and for H2 production in falls and springs.
FC-CHP for winter usage above nuclear baseload.
Wind energy for making H2 for transportation use year round, AND for H2 for seasonal storage for winter FC-CHP usage.
Hydro to substitute for solar where hydro is available.
HVDC powerlines to improve regional matching of power supply and demand.

Engineer-Poet

I'd sum it up very differently:

  1. Nuclear for base load and mid-load.
  2. Nuclear dump loads include waste disposal by thermochemical or plasma incineration.
  3. Small modular reactors beneath cities replace natural gas with low-pressure steam for district heat.  Absorption A/C replaces some compression A/C.
  4. Nuclear electricity replaces all diesel for railroads, much diesel for OTR trucks, increasing amounts of gasoline for LDVs.
  5. Fuels from waste and biomass replace remaining fossil fuels for vehicles, aircraft, peaking power, etc.
  6. Wind and PV provide energy for places too distant to be grid-connected.

It's expensive to store electricity to get back as electricity (except pumped storage), and expensive things should be done as a last resort.  Even plasma incineration is energy-positive, and it makes more sense to use off-peak nuclear power to turn garbage into fuel for on-peak hours than making hydrogen because somebody said it was "green".

Roger Pham

@E-P,
There are many roads leading to Rome, and many ways to provide future zero-carbon energy. However, it remains to be seen which route is the most cost-effective. You seem to believe that H2 storage is expensive, but available data and wme2k showed that it is very affordable.

Prudently, diversifying energy sources is the best way to achieve energy security and avoiding monopoly. Never put all the eggs in one basket.

In a practical socio-economic context, diversifying energy sources will afford better use of the labor force: High skilled labor for nuclear and lower skilled labor for wind and solar energy. Low skilled labor can be employed to clean the solar panels and the wind turbine blades. Nuclear energy requires highly reliable people that is available in short supply and command higher wages. The US Air Force has a special program known as "People Reliability Program" (PRP) to select and retain a special work force to handle nuclear devices and technnoligies. These people have their own special files and monitoring program quite separated from a regular USAF personnel program.

Do you really doubt the technological acumen and judgement of the Germans when they plan to phase out nuclear reactors? Germany is European's most technologically advance country, the inventor of most of engine technologies in use today, and together with Northern Europe, they are investing more than the rest of the world on H2 economy.

Engineer-Poet
Prudently, diversifying energy sources is the best way to achieve energy security and avoiding monopoly. Never put all the eggs in one basket.

Each nuclear reactor is a separate source of electricity.  Each uranium mine is a separate source of fuel.  Using fast reactors, the USA's 700,000 tons of UF6 inventory is enough to power the country for centuries.  We have more security of U-238 supply than any other energy source.  Why "diversify" to things which are worse on many or all metrics?  Difference for its own sake is pointless; it must be better, in at least some way for some necessary purpose.

High skilled labor for nuclear and lower skilled labor for wind and solar energy.

You want a jobs program, not an energy program.  In order to keep the low-skilled workers in business, you'd have to restrict the supply from superior sources in order to keep their niche artificially profitable.  That is one of the worst ideas I've ever seen.

Do you really doubt the technological acumen and judgement of the Germans when they plan to phase out nuclear reactors?

Do you realize that their technological acumen is being used to take them to the wrong side of their Kyoto emissions limits?  More to the point, are you willing to bet your life that the Germans are immune to ill-considered fads and sweet-sounding words from politicians?

they are investing more than the rest of the world on H2 economy.

Read up on the tulip bubble and get back to me.

Roger Pham

>>>>Each nuclear reactor is a separate source of electricity.

Many nuclear reactors if built rapidly, will be built by one company with a common design requiring certain critical parts and common computer program and language...that'll make 'em vulnerable to sabotage. Have you heard of the Stuxnet worm...? If certain common design will be found to be defective and vulnerable a decade or two from now, all reactors of that design will have to be shut down!!! The more reactors sharing a common design or builder or computer program or language, the more vulnerability you will have. Yet, for cost-effectiveness, commercial builders will try to do just that in order to minimize development cost and maximize profits. The more fissionable radioactive materials that will be transported around, the higher the risk of environmental contamination.

>>>Why "diversify" to things which are worse on many or all metrics?

Solar and wind and hydro are not worse on many matrics. Solar PV and Solar thermal can complement nuclear very well on summer days, at comparable cost without environmental risks. Solar PV can be deployed very rapidly and flexibly. Wind if used for H2 production will not have any intermittency problem. H2-FC-CHP will give people energy security when powerlines are down, or whatever reasons causing massive blackouts, such as sabotage etc. PEM FC now costs $50/kW, far below that of NG gas turbines. H2 is the lowest-cost renewable energy fuel one can have, and can be produced everywhere electricity is available. No refinery needed, no long-distance pipeline needed. If H2 is added to waste biomass to make hydrocarbon fuels, less biomass will be needed, and the biochar can be left on the ground as means of carbon sequestration.

>>>>You want a jobs program, not an energy program. In order to keep the low-skilled workers in business, you'd have to restrict the supply from superior sources in order to keep their niche artificially profitable. That is one of the worst ideas I've ever seen.

Jobs program and economic stability is what needed to solve the USA's coming existential crisis. With increasing unemployment, the USA's racial and ethnic diversity are the explosive mixture that will blow this nation apart! In countries with racial and cultural homogeneity, all they have to do is to kick out the minorities and assuming a nationalist and fascist regime. There are movements in Greek that is heading toward that direction. South of the US border, drug and crime lords are controlling many regions, and extreme sufferings are happening there as we are debating this. Extremely frequent kidnappings, extortions are forcing many to leave their country, only to find that they are totally not welcomed by their northern neighbor, and worse, their northern neighbor is on the way to be like south of the border. Drug gangs originated south of the border are now operating in many large US cities, and the violent homicidal deaths are skyrocketing in Chicago.

No, E-P, energy and climate change problem are not the most pressing problem that we are facing right now. The problem is much worse than that, when Washington is digging itself deeper into deficits and printing more paper money. We are facing existential crisis!

Engineer-Poet
Many nuclear reactors if built rapidly, will be built by one company with a common design...

Whoa, hold it.  That's completely irrelevant to security of the energy SOURCE.  Further, nuclear reactors can be built to be self-regulating (even EBR-II demonstrated this), requiring no control systems at all, hackable or otherwise.

Have you heard of the Stuxnet worm...?

Have you heard of redundant systems and "clean room" software development?  I have done forensic analysis of failed software at the bit level; I know that Stuxnet-type hacks can be avoided using the right practices.  Want a worst-case prescription?  Write all the code for Linux systems using a stock distribution that's at least 3 years old.  Nobody can go back in time to plant a worm in them.

The rest of the grid has more vulnerabilities than a single, hardened reactor design would have. 

Solar and wind and hydro are not worse on many matrics.

Let's see... dispatchability, materials requirements per average watt, cost per average watt... those are 3 big ones where solar and wind do pretty poorly.  Hydro is maxed out in all of N. America except Quebec.  Nuclear even beats wind for energy payback time, repaying the direct energy needed to construct the plant in less than a month.

Solar and wind are better for operation when the grid is down.  This is why I own a wind turbine and hope to get some PV installed soon.  I don't expect them to run industry or get close to cost parity.

Solar PV and Solar thermal can complement nuclear very well on summer days

There's this thing called "the rest of the year" to worry about, too.

at comparable cost

When Denmark gets its wind-driven grid prices down to parity with 78%-nuclear France, let me know.

without environmental risks.

Not even the Chernobyl debacle did any damage to the environment.  The babushkas who've returned to their homes in the evacuation zone are doing better than those who stayed away.

If H2 is added to waste biomass to make hydrocarbon fuels, less biomass will be needed, and the biochar can be left on the ground as means of carbon sequestration.

I think you missed the point:  the purpose of adding H2 is to increase the carbon conversion, ideally eliminating the char and any role it might have in sequestration.  The "losses" in this case are one of the goals of the exercise.

Jobs program and economic stability is what needed to solve the USA's coming existential crisis. With increasing unemployment, the USA's racial and ethnic diversity are the explosive mixture that will blow this nation apart!

Energy that comes with millions of make-work jobs attached is expensive.  Expensive energy means no industrial base.  No industrial base means a third-world economy where all major manufactured goods are imported, including your solar panels.  The US rose to industrial primacy on cheap, reliable energy.  Renewables can be one or the other, but not both.

No, E-P, energy and climate change problem are not the most pressing problem that we are facing right now. The problem is much worse than that, when Washington is digging itself deeper into deficits and printing more paper money. We are facing existential crisis!

Great.  Let's use the paper to build hard assets with 60+ year lifespans.  Whether or not the financing scheme goes broke, the assets will still be there.

Roger Pham

@E-P,
I've tried my best to show you the merits of renewable energy and how RE and nuclear can fit into the zero-carbon future. As intelligent as you are, I just can't understand as to why you just refuse to see the whole picture!

Please be reminded that the total energy consumption of the USA is many times the total energy value of the electricity produced. The total amounts of fuels used is enormous. Renewable fuels can be made by wind turbines that seem to careless how intermittent the wind is, just like wind mills were used centuries ago to mill grain, or to pump water in the farms in the MidWest.

Do you realize how low the cost of solar PV is right now? $0.50/W. Yes, that's how riculously low it really is. The total installed cost of solar PV in Germany and Australia is about $2/W. When produced 2000kWh/year for 25 years life span, 1kW of PV can produce 50,000 kWh, for an amortized cost of 4 cents/kWh. Now, if the installation cost is instead decreased to $1.5/W, the we will see 3 cents/kWh instead, with mass installation of PV farms made in assembly lines, or if installed cost is $1/W, then we will see 2 cents/kWh. Do you see how ridiculously low LCD TV's and monitors and computer chips etc...are right now from 10 yrs ago? Yes, solar PV panels are heading that direction. Soon, we will see solar PV energy too cheap to meter!

By building so much more RE capacity than required by the grid at any moment, and using the HVDC lines to even out the grid supply and demand, and store excess RE as H2, and then incorporate some of the H2 into waste biomass to make hydrocarbon fuels to store even more energy very cheaply, you can see that the intermmittency of RE will cease to become a problem. For example, on cloudy days on one location, energy can be diverted from wind energy when H2 production is temporarily halted, or from other sunny parts of the grid, etc.

Does Germany appear to be a third-world economy to you? Germany's economy seems to be doing much better than the rest of Europe when Germany is investing heavily into RE. That confirms my notion that RE development, and also nuclear development, will boost the economy and will bring jobs to fulfill the tax role, and reverse the budget deficit problem. When the top 3% keep money in their pocket and don't know where to invest, the economy stalled. When they start investing into America's future, the economy will pick up! Tariffs must be imposed on imports in order to boost the domestic manufacturing base.

Engineer-Poet
I just can't understand as to why you just refuse to see the whole picture!

You haven't shown me how the RE is a better expenditure of resources than more nuclear.  The externalities of the RE are not trivial, and most of the schemes like storage work as well or better with nuclear than RE.  The only large-scale electric storage facility in Michigan was built specifically to store off-peak generation from the Palisades nuclear plant; if it was only fed by wind farms, it would have far less throughput and add far less value.

Please be reminded that the total energy consumption of the USA is many times the total energy value of the electricity produced.

If you sum up all the posts on The Ergosphere, you have a book on it.

Do you realize how low the cost of solar PV is right now? $0.50/W. Yes, that's how riculously low it really is. The total installed cost of solar PV in Germany and Australia is about $2/W.

State your units correctly:  that is per PEAK watt.  In Germany, the capacity factor of PV is about 0.11.  That increases the cost per average watt to $18, and the generation on cold winter nights is 0.  Cold winter nights are generally calm, so wind output would be low to zero as well.

When produced 2000kWh/year for 25 years life span

Maybe in Arizona, SoCal or Spain you can get that, but in Germany you'd be lucky to get 1000 kWh/kW/yr.

Let's do a quick BOTE calculation on this.  Assume storage is 50% efficient, German PV is $2/W(peak) and capacity factor is 0.11, German off-shore wind is $1.5/W(peak) and capacity factor 0.35.  15% of PV output is used immediately (85% stored), and 20% of wind is used immediately (80% stored).  The electrolyzers cost $50/kW input for 4x peak usage, and the FCs cost $150/kW output at 1.0x peak usage.  Wind is built to 3x average load and PV is built to 5x average load.  Your PV- and wind-powered Germany cost works out like this:

1 kWh wind -> 0.2 kWh used + 0.8 kWh stored, 0.4 kWh returned = 0.6 kWh delivered.
Delivery of 1 W(avg) requires generation of 1.67 W(avg), at 35% capacity factor this is 4.76W nameplate.
At $1.5/W, this costs $7.14 for the wind farm, plus 0.8*4.76*.05=$0.19/W for the electrolyzers and $0.15/W for the FCs (not counting the difference between average and peak consumption).  Your total capital cost per average watt is $7.48.  I'd do the same analysis for the PV but it's going to be worse.

The FOAK EPR going up at Olkiluoto costs about the same; its costs are estimated now at €5000/kW(e), and that is with all the teething pains.

Can you put a bunch of wind under a city and have it provide, not just electricity, but low-pressure steam for district heat in a cold snap in the dead of winter?  SMRs can potentially do that.  If you used mPower reactors your energy supply would be secure for the life of the core (4 years).  You can't get better security than that.

By building so much more RE capacity than required by the grid at any moment, and using the HVDC lines to even out the grid supply and demand, and store excess RE as H2, and then incorporate some of the H2 into waste biomass to make hydrocarbon fuels to store even more energy very cheaply, you can see that the intermmittency of RE will cease to become a problem.

My point is that we can't afford the expense of doing it that way, even if you can get rid of the NIMBYs standing in the way of the HVDC network.

Does Germany appear to be a third-world economy to you?

German industrialists are already talking about moving production out of the country due to high electricity costs.  Japanese business is doing it already.  If these RE-intensive schemes are continued, those two economies will be hollowed out as sure as you're alive.  I expect China to snap up the work, burning ever more coal in the process.  Only the wrong people will benefit from it.

Roger Pham

@E-P,
OK, so at least you'd agree that RE's with storage would cost comparable with nuclear. So, then, diversification of energy resources would make sense at least economically.

Your assumption of 50% round trip efficiency for stored energy is too low. For pumped hydro, it is 80%. For adiabatic compressed air, it is 70-80%. For H2, 80% efficiency for making H2, while 60-70% for PEM-FC to make electricity, so 50-55% round trip, but for winter H2 usage by FC-CHP, or for FCV's using waste heat for cabin heating or defrosting, the round trip efficiency is nearly 80%. If the electrolyzers are located where the waste heat can be used for hot water heating, and then the H2 is released to local pipelines to be saved for winter use or rarely for emergency backup for the grid, then you can see that round trip efficiency is well over 80-90%.

Socio-economically, diversification makes even more sense. Let's look at Spain and Greece with 50% youth unemployment. How many percentages of these youth would you trust to allow to work in a nuclear facility? A small percentage, may be, while the rest can work on solar fields and wind farms and factories producing these, while many will be employed to clean and repair these wind turbines and solar plates and reflective mirrors. If Europe let these youths with nothing to do while collecting bailouts from tax monies of hard-working German people developing their own RE future, we can see the sad economic picture of Europe. However, if Europe would collaborate on RE future, we will see Spanish and Greek youths building solar energy facilities and HVDC lines to transmit some of these energy to Northern Europe, while Northern Europeans would build H2 generation and storage facilities and plants for hydrogenation of waste biomass and the H2 economy to store these solar energy from southern Europe for winter use, the unemployment problem and economic decline will reverse itself quickly. European laws must stress heavily on tariffs on imported goods from countries with lower environmental conditions and lower labor protections, etc. in order to level the playing field for European manufacturers.

You can see that if Northern Europe only focus on wind and H2 storage, while Southern Europe would develop Solar massively to supply the North with these solar energy, the yield and hence the cost of solar energy would be half that of if solar energy is harnessed in Northern Europe, including the lower labor cost of high-employment Southern Europe. So, the cost of solar energy that the Germans are paying for can be much lower if these solar PV's are deployed in Southern Europe instead, taking advantage of more sun and lower labor cost.

I sure hope that German Industrialists have enough sense of patriotism to not moving production out of the country, but instead, obtain cheap renewable energy from Southern Europe, while at the same time boosting Southern European economy. Where there is a lot of unemployment, labor cost must be low, and since RE is labor-intensive, low-cost labor will allow for low-cost RE.

The bottom line is that socio-economic-environmental successes require more than ruthless and cold-hearted economic calculations. They require the love for your country, for your people, and for the environment, and for all of humanity, and the love for all living creatures in this Earth.

Engineer-Poet
at least you'd agree that RE's with storage would cost comparable with nuclear.

No, they are on par with the cost of the FOAK units of a brand-new design, and don't incorporate the cost and losses of the storage reservoirs.  China's overnight cost of an AP-1000 is about $3000/kW.

Your assumption of 50% round trip efficiency for stored energy is too low.

Why bother storing, when you can produce it as required?  That's what "dispatchable" means.

Socio-economically, diversification makes even more sense. Let's look at Spain and Greece with 50% youth unemployment. How many percentages of these youth would you trust to allow to work in a nuclear facility?

Have you looked at the electric production costs of Spain under the RE incentives lately?

Why would you EVER specify an energy-production system which requires so many "youths" to work to produce energy, as opposed to manufactured or agricultural products?

I sure hope that German Industrialists have enough sense of patriotism to not moving production out of the country

If you think patriotism overrides economics, you don't know the modern MBA.

but instead, obtain cheap renewable energy from Southern Europe

Industry doesn't run on "energy".  It runs on "dispatchable power".  If making "cheap energy" into dispatchable power isn't cheap, industry won't take it.

The bottom line is that socio-economic-environmental successes require more than ruthless and cold-hearted economic calculations.

They require acknowledgement that some things are not fungible... for instance, Germans and Greeks.  But that is an even MORE cold-hearted economic calculation.  Calculations involving energy prices are, sadly, only too easy to divorce from sentimentality.

Roger Pham

>>>>"Why bother storing, when you can produce it as required? That's what "dispatchable" means."

Fossil-fuel and nuclear energy are stored energy from millions and billions of years ago. That's why they are dispatchable. H2 and synthetic hydrocarbon are energy made today and are also dispatchable just the same, even better if H2 is used by FC having very rapid fluctuation in power output without worrying about the thermal stress on the turbine blades. Solar thermal electricity with thermal energy storage are also dispatchable. Hydro-electricity is dispatchable and can be used to store excess wind energy as well. If you look at all the external costs of fossil fuel and nuclear energy, then RE is very cheap!

>>>"Why would you EVER specify an energy-production system which requires so many "youths" to work to produce energy, as opposed to manufactured or agricultural products?"

Because youth unemployment is as high as 50%, and because we need the labor to develop massive renewable energy. Or would you rather they join the criminal gangs or cartels and do extortion, kidnapping for ransom, smuggling, gambling and prostitution for a living?
Another analogy: If a family with a lot of kids is in serious debts and the kids are sitting around doing nothing, while having to borrow money to buy foods, would you rather have the kids grow a garden and raise animals to be self-sufficient food-wise, or would you rather see them starve?

When you are farming, what are you doing? Collecting solar energy at 0.1 to 1% efficiency. When you use solar PV and solar thermal electricity, you are doing the same: collecting solar energy at 15-25% efficiency rate!!! New Solar CPV can get as much as 30-40% efficiency. Just look at the tremendous increase in energy production (uh, collection) efficiency with solar and wind collectors. We are awashed with energy. We just have to send some unemployed youth to work a little bit to collect it!

What do you means by "fungible?" Germany needs low-cost renewable energy for an industrial economy. Greece with its solar energy availability and unemployed youth population is in a good position to supply this energy at reasonable cost. What does "fungible" has to do with it? The more Greece, Spain, and others are sufficient and thriving economically, the more socio-economic stability Europe will have, and the bigger a market that Germany can sell its high-quality manufactured goods. If Germany would invest in Southern Europe to develop the economy there, Germany's excellent products will have a guaranteed growing market, and this will bring prosperity to all of Europe, and will spread to other parts of the world!

Do they teach that in MBA school? Nope! They would rather teach you how to make short-term profit or devious or short-sighted gains, while destroying the economy and the environment of the entire world...um...like Globalism!!!


Engineer-Poet
Fossil-fuel and nuclear energy are stored energy from millions and billions of years ago.

Nuclear energy is metamorphosed (via neutronium or quark-gluon plasma) energy from supernovae.  It's only about 1/3 as old as the hydrogen that supplies fusion energy to stars, which is the relatively direct source of the unreliables ("renewables").

H2 and synthetic hydrocarbon are energy made today

But not yet competitive anywhere.  Besides, what do you do if you have a shortfall in production and your seasonal storage winds up empty?  That sort of thing is tremendously damaging in a number of ways, which is another expense that doesn't wind up on the bottom line in the "RE can run everything" scenarios.

Solar thermal electricity with thermal energy storage are also dispatchable.

What do you do if you have a cloudy winter?

Hydro-electricity is dispatchable and can be used to store excess wind energy as well.

Only if you have exactly the right geography.  There's no way to use the dams on the Columbia and Colorado rivers to store excess wind or solar.

If you look at all the external costs of fossil fuel and nuclear energy, then RE is very cheap!

Sorry, inclusion of nuclear in that statement makes it false.  Nuclear has much smaller materials requirements than any RE scenario, arguably giving it the smallest external costs of all our options.

Because youth unemployment is as high as 50%, and because we need the labor to develop massive renewable energy.

Labor has to be paid.  Using lots of labor for its own sake drives up the cost of its product.  If that product is energy, it drives up the cost of everything that uses it.  If those uses become uneconomical as a consequence (and they do; see Spain and Japan), employment in those areas collapses as the users shut down.  Then you don't need the production labor either.

That's just one example of economic collapse through mis-allocation of resources.  It has happened before, and it'll happen again in the RE-centric neo-command economies.

would you rather they join the criminal gangs or cartels and do extortion, kidnapping for ransom, smuggling, gambling and prostitution for a living?

Mexico has a policy of mis-allocating energy resources (e.g. subsidized gasoline), and those exact problems are rampant.  The direct cost of oil to the Mexican economy is less than RE, so the social ills caused by a push to less-productive RE systems would be even worse.

would you rather have the kids grow a garden and raise animals to be self-sufficient food-wise, or would you rather see them starve?

If the garden wouldn't pay back the food required to supply its planters for ten years or more, the kids would starve in the short run.  If the garden had more expenses for fertilizer than the value of the food, it would be worse than useless.

What do you means by "fungible?"

fun·gi·ble [fuhn-juh-buhl]
adjective Law.
(especially of goods) being of such nature or kind as to be freely exchangeable or replaceable, in whole or in part, for another of like nature or kind.

The EU based the Euro on the theory that Germans and Greeks were economically fungible.  They aren't, any more than a BTU of heat on a cold winter's night is fungible with a BTU at noon at the height of summer.

Germany needs low-cost renewable energy for an industrial economy. Greece with its solar energy availability and unemployed youth population is in a good position to supply this energy at reasonable cost.

Why isn't it happening?  Why didn't the Germans put their PV systems around Athens and ship the power northward instead of accepting a lousy 11% capacity factor on local installations?  It's a much cheaper and simpler scheme than the trans-Mediterranian concepts being floated, why wasn't it underway years ago as a proof of concept?

It's because it won't work, that's why.  When you add the land and materials cost of the massive north-south power lines to the basic systems, the cost of the energy is too much for the economy to bear.

When you are farming, what are you doing? Collecting solar energy at 0.1 to 1% efficiency.

Fortunately, the collectors are extremely cheap and the product is quite valuable, otherwise the economics wouldn't work.  Bulk electricity is another matter entirely.

Germany needs low-cost renewable energy for an industrial economy.

There is no such thing.  Germany and the rest of the industrial world needs low-cost energy.  The world needs it to be low-to-zero carbon energy.  Renewable energy cannot supply it, and may never be able to.

The more Greece, Spain, and others are sufficient and thriving economically, the more socio-economic stability Europe will have, and the bigger a market that Germany can sell its high-quality manufactured goods.

Spain's fiscal collapse was driven in part by the hyper-generous RE subsidies in previous state budgets.  This mis-allocation of resources, combined with a suicidal tax on nuclear power which forced the shutdown of the oldest domestic plant and its replacement by imported natural gas, has accelerated the ruin of Spain's economy.  Spain's unemployment rate topped 26% last year.

We know we can run an industrial economy on zero-carbon nuclear power.  Nobody's succeeded in running one on renewables, despite utility-scale wind power dating to 1941 and PV and concentrating solar to the 19th century!  Ignoring the facts will come to grief; "those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad."

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