View Single Post
Old 02-28-2013, 05:24 PM   #501 (permalink)
The PRC.
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Elsewhere.
Posts: 5,304
Thanks: 285
Thanked 535 Times in 384 Posts
Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
The stations aren't the problem (assuming your probably government-run 3rd world utility can afford to buy fuel for the generating station), it's the grid. If you have sufficient generation on the grid to support demand, all is well*. If demand exceeds generation, then you get brownouts, blackouts, destroyed equipment, &c. See any EE text on powerflow & stability.
Our power generation is 1st world and is private, has been for 20 years - keep up at the back We also invented nuclear power, but the wrong kind but we do know what power is.

Think about "sufficient generation" for a moment, that is the problem.

Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
*Well, all is well until you get a wind or ice storm taking down a lot of lines. (My neighbor's kid works as an electric lineman in the Midwest, and you just wouldn't believe what he makes in a week after a big storm.) Or you maybe have a solar flare blowing out parts of the grid... Then you have the cost of running power lines all over the place - lines made of increasingly-expensive copper, which people will steal even when the lines are energized, lending a double meaning to "hot" merchandise :-)
Most lines in the UK are underground - ever wonder why we dig up the roads so much - guess where the lines went We do have some remote areas supplied by pylon lines but there are plans to move them underground as well.

Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
Now if you, as a person living in a 3rd-world country (or even a rural area of the US or Europe), just happen to want enough power to run lights, charge a cell phone or computer, maybe run a refrigerator or the occasional power tool, a solar or wind system looks like a pretty reliable alternative.
Have you thought this through fully ? What if you want to run your power tool and it is dark and the wind is not blowing, then what ?

Also think about this carefully - you are in charge of the grid - how do you plan for when all those people need their fridge or phone or lights ? And how many ? And what about if they all want Microwaves ? And how the hell do you run a fridge on interrupted power anyway - I mean cheaply.

To manage that you need reliable and "sufficient generation"

Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
You build your steel plant near a hydroelectric dam or nuclear plant, and ship the steel (or aluminum, etc) to where it's needed. Why do you think that most US aluminium production is (or was at one time) located near the Columbia River? And most other production is located where renewable hydroelectic power is plentiful?
You forgot the bit where you transport the ore to the plant, in trucks (which are not hybrids) or trains (which are not hybrids or cannot be built by hybrid machinery) and that transporting the stuff away again is also not on renewables. Thats before we think of the rails, and the track, and the landscaping to make a path and the machinery that does all of that bit.

Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
Sorry, but no. Properly designed peaking plants tend to be gas turbines, which can be brought from cold start to full power in minutes. They're also required for grids that are primarily powered by fossil fuels, since demand fluctuates.
What makes those gas turbines turn ?

[I]So long and thanks for all the fish.[/I]