Phil’s Dad wrote: It will be locally distributed not centrally transmitted for reasons of neither economics nor technology. In the UK right now we are threatened with refinery strikes that could lead to power outages. EU wide we look nervously at Russia with its hand poised over the gas taps. Iranian oil is no certainty – the Supreme Leader isn’t singing our praises right now (this is not a political rant just a statement of fact). Whether you look at it on a national, continental or world wide scale there are solid reasons to want control over your power supply. That applies to individual businesses just as it does to local communities. There will still be outages and disputes but they will be on a tiny scale compared to the potential down side of the current system.
IBM’s founder famously once said the world wide demand for computers would be about six or seven units. He said that because his paradigm was the before picture. We need to think in terms of the after picture.
The title of this thread is “Re-powering the Electric Utility Industry”. I prefer “Rethinking the Electric Utility Industry.”
(…and what do we do with all that Helium? :blank: )
I used the expression “Energy independence for everyone who wants it” once or twice! That’s a big deal.
If you want to try to “grok” the after picture, start by listing or contemplating the programs, projects, developments, and possibilities that are not currently pursued because of energy and other resource input costs. And remember that energy cost affects pricing of every stage, of every good and service. Now cut those input costs by 90%+, and rethink the options.
The most obvious Big Item is desalination. If it becomes cheap and easy, consider the consequences (from California to the ME to the Australian outback). Waste disposal with plasma torches is another. BEVs for all is another.
Starting this thread based on Phil’s Dad’s post – moved over here. Am trying to keep topics a bit more organized. Hard when everything’s so interrelated. Anyway, this looks like a good topic title.
Below is the inciting post. Moved over from here: https://focusfusion.org/index.php/forums/viewthread/191
“Greed is good” (Micheal Douglas in Wall Street). Throw in a few space elevators and the resulting space-based economy will quickly dwarf the Earth’s. Now that’s a Carrot!
Aeronaut wrote: “Greed is good” (Micheal Douglas in Wall Street). Throw in a few space elevators and the resulting space-based economy will quickly dwarf the Earth’s. Now that’s a Carrot!
Someone calculated that moving a 1km-diameter rocky/nickle-iron asteroid into near-Earth orbit would make easily accessible the equivalent of all the precious metals mined in the history of mankind, plus a significant fraction of the base metals. The value would work out to about $1 Million per capita for the planet. Which is about $6.5 quadrillion. That even makes Obugabe’s deficits look small!
Brian H – I struggle to follow my own advice on this – which is to avoid thinking in a way more relevant to the past. You are right that many of the things we don’t do because of energy cost become possible. They will have a spin off effect by making other things possible that haven’t even been thought of yet. But… if we have a sudden increase in the amount of nickle/iron ore available it would drop in value enormously and you would need to revise your figure accordingly.
This is exactly why energy cost will drop dramatically when small scale fusion becomes universally available. But only if it is universally available. If we stick to the old fashioned transmitted network, even powered by FF, with big centralised clusters of generators, controlled by a few, then profits will rise rather than consumer costs falling. (Aeronaut’s “Greed is good” scenario – more on that in a tick).
That said I am not to concerned about the centralised picture prevailing in the long run. It exists at present only because it is cheaper to buy from the (expensive to maintain) grid than to construct your own source. Those economics are stood on their head by FF.
But I still maintain that a localised outcome is inevitable not for economic reasons but for simple security of supply. That leads me to a different view of greed. The desire for more of a thing than you need. Perhaps the desire to have it all. It becomes meaningless when everyone has as much as they want, under their own control, sustainably, for the long term. Over to Mr Lerner!
I’m all for local FF generators, PD. The biggest obstacles I’m anticipating right now are regulatory, transmission equipment prices, and not knowing some of the technical details such as the expected output voltage. Please forgive me for sounding gloomy, I’ve already sited one in my mind’s eye that would work without a transformer for very local consumption- say a few km, perhaps.
Aeronaut wrote: I’m all for local FF generators, PD. The biggest obstacles I’m anticipating right now are regulatory, transmission equipment prices, and not knowing some of the technical details such as the expected output voltage. Please forgive me for sounding gloomy, I’ve already sited one in my mind’s eye that would work without a transformer for very local consumption- say a few km, perhaps.
I don’t think it’s either/or. Both models and many intermediate possibilities will be explored. Some areas that start out with distributed will set up local generators for economic reasons, and local sites will sometimes tie into the grid. As for utilities skimming all the margin, that would be very hard to pull off. People will see what is going on in neighboring jurisdictions, after all.