Homepage Forums General Transition Issues Repowering the electric utility industry

This topic contains 55 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by Avatar Brian H 9 years, 10 months ago.

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  • #2848
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    JimmyT
    Participant

    Lerner wrote: Ther are two issues here. One is the safety of focus fusion reactors. The second is the economies of distributed vs. centralized power supply.

    On economics, there are fairly big savings from distributed energy. If we are talking about expanding energy production, the cost of distribution is significant and would be greatly reduced with distributed production, as would the costs of large-scale outages. Will that counter-balance travel time for skilled labor? You would have to look at some realistic numbers. But distribution from remote centralized GW generators is not free.

    I think that It’s quite possible that the savings from distributed energy will actually be greater then the other (considerable) savings from focus fusion.
    I know that where I live we pay about a dime/kwh and I believe only about 2 cents of that is generation costs. Now, I know that the other 8 cents is not all distribution costs. And even if it was, all of it can’t be eliminated. But it does give us a pretty big piece of the pie to work with.

    In fact, if (as has been suggested elsewhere) this does enable power distributors to eliminate power lines: Do they own the swaths of land those pass over? Or is it just a right of way thing? If they do own it, they could sell it. Lots of land in the aggreate. Maybe enough land to finance the purchase and instalation of the fusion units?

    Rematog? Do you know the answer to the land ownership question?

    Oh, and how are all the UFO’s going to “gas up” if we eliminate all those power lines? Maybe some intergalactic agreements are needed.

    #2849
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    Brian H
    Member

    JimmyT wrote:


    In fact, if (as has been suggested elsewhere) this does enable power distributors to eliminate power lines: Do they own the swaths of land those pass over? Or is it just a right of way thing? If they do own it, they could sell it. Lots of land in the aggreate. Maybe enough land to finance the purchase and instalation of the fusion units?

    That brings something else to mind. When it looks like FF is about to hit successful proof-of-concept, go waayyy short on copper futures. There will be a glut like you never imagined before.

    #2851
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    Rematog
    Member

    Almost all land under transmission lines is right-of way. Farmers fields, etc. But some is owned.

    Cost of power, wholesale, is generally between $40 and $80 per MW-hour, or 4-8 cents per kw-hr. So yes, some savings is possible with distributed…but. I know more than half of my power bill is “Fuel adjustment” This is a direct charge for the cost of fuel (mostly natural gas were I live) burned to make the power. So, I disagree that distributed generation will be the largest savings. That will be fuel costs and elimination of pollution and pollution controls.

    Unless we are talking about a “Mr. Fusion” in every home, there will still be a large cost to distribute power “the last mile”. And, if larger users (malls, office complexes, etc.) can go off grid, the cost to small users to support the need distribution system will go up, not down. It’s not just big transmission lines, but also the poles on you neighborhood street.

    #2854
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    Brian H
    Member

    Rematog wrote: Almost all land under transmission lines is right-of way. Farmers fields, etc. But some is owned.

    Cost of power, wholesale, is generally between $40 and $80 per MW-hour, or 4-8 cents per kw-hr. So yes, some savings is possible with distributed…but. I know more than half of my power bill is “Fuel adjustment” This is a direct charge for the cost of fuel (mostly natural gas were I live) burned to make the power. So, I disagree that distributed generation will be the largest savings. That will be fuel costs and elimination of pollution and pollution controls.

    Unless we are talking about a “Mr. Fusion” in every home, there will still be a large cost to distribute power “the last mile”. And, if larger users (malls, office complexes, etc.) can go off grid, the cost to small users to support the need distribution system will go up, not down. It’s not just big transmission lines, but also the poles on you neighborhood street.

    That’s already in place, by definition, for existing homes etc., and would be a necessity in any case for new development. It’s the longer-distance stuff and the highest voltage step-up/step-down transformers that would be unnecessary with distributed power.

    There’s another aspect that would need to be taken into account: charging for EVs. There has been a lively discussion going on over at the TeslaMotors blogs about the feasibility of having high voltage/high amperage charging readily accessible, vs the slower/lower power circuits available in most households — or neighbourhoods, for that matter. More than a few residents using their 240V70A circuits 3

    #2855
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    Rematog
    Member

    Exactly right, distribution is in place. And, therefore, it must be maintained. Tree limbs cut, poles replaced when they rot, wire replaced when they fall during ice storm, hurricane, etc..

    Yes, increased usage (with decreased price, esp if used to replace natural gas for heating, hot water, cooking) and then possible electric vehicles would mean upgrades to the distribution system as well. Also, if twice as much power is sold, cost to “deliver” a kw-hr is less (not quite half, but likely close).

    Yes, the HV transmission system would require far less in the way of upgrades as new load is taken up by “nodes” of 50-100 FF modules at less centralised, and closer to urban, locations. But, one of my main points, that the first 5-10 years would see repowering existing plants, which have much of the infrastructure already in place, with transmission systems designed for power to “go in here”, is not contradicted by any of this.

    I’ve been assuming that the “distributed” power was, as had been mentioned elsewhere, powering individual buildings (large offices, skyscrapers, malls, etc. It is that kind of use that I see as farthest down the road, and as having the least impact on our world.

    The reduced cost, vastly reduced environmental impact, and just as vastly increased availability of power will all be more important than any reduction in need for centralized plants. In my opinion.

    #2861
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    Brian H
    Member

    Rematog wrote:

    The reduced cost, vastly reduced environmental impact, and just as vastly increased availability of power will all be more important than any reduction in need for centralized plants. In my opinion.

    😆 😆 Yes, big centralized plants seem near and dear to your heart. But for the rest of us, the concept disregards, discards, and dissipates one of the main unique features of FF: smallness and lack of significant construction costs. Not leveraging those is a) a waste of advantages, and b) unlikely to last much time at all.

    Your preference for large integrated structure will, I expect, be much offended by the way the generators actually get deployed.

    #2863
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    Rematog
    Member

    Offended, not at all. Employed would be better description.

    100 single unit sites will take many times as much engineering and management manpower as one site with 100 units.

    Thats many times as much employement opportunity for me ;-{O

    #2866
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    Brian H
    Member

    Rematog wrote:

    100 single unit sites will take many times as much engineering and management manpower as one site with 100 units.

    So you maintain. That would only come about as a result of make-work regulation, however. Will you be lobbying for that? :ohh:

    #2870
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    Rematog
    Member

    Certainly regulations make work….but that’s not the stated purpose for most.

    While we may disagree on how much more singleton units would cost to install, it is certain that they would cost more. Compare custom built homes with tract homes. The custom built costs more, per square foot, to build. Focus Fusion would be subject to many, in fact I think at lot more, of the same effects.

    And, hard numbers will be looked at, by experienced professional engineering firms, before the first million is spent.

    Thats a fact, jack.

    Ask, and I will post some background about how multi-million dollar projects are financed by major corporations and Wall Street.

    #3068
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    Brian H
    Member

    Rematog wrote:

    Ask, and I will post some background about how multi-million dollar projects are financed by major corporations and Wall Street.

    Which brings up an interesting point: where would the initiative and cash come from to begin putting these in place? I can see local town councils around the country [around the world!] looking at their utility arrangements, computing the savings in a single year of having locally sourced FF power, and putting up the cash for their own generators. Such projects might have some of the fastest payback times ever recorded. One generator would turn out about 40 gwh per annum, and if the savings was just 5

    #3073
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    Rematog
    Member

    Brian,

    I think a lot of the funding for the first phase (first 5 to 10 years of deployment) would come from the traditional utilities. They will get most of the money from issuing bonds. After they start to deploy FF modules, self funding (from increased profits due to cost savings) can fund additional FF modules.

    First of all, they will have the financial ability to put down big deposits for them, right away. The political climate and the financial paybacks, as you mentioned, will drive them.

    Think about this. Almost every voter gets their electricity from a utility, either public or investor owned. So the political pressure will be to have this be a high priority for the first 200,000 or so FF modules (at 5 MW ea) that can be purchased in the US. Especially in the first five years of deployment, I would foresee the demand for modules far exceeding the ability of factories to make them.

    I believe it will be at least ten years after the first commercial FF module is sold before there is not a waiting list for FF module deliveries.

    This has happened during “booms” in the history of the utility industry. During the mid 90’s, you could make a profit selling delivery “places in line” for gas turbines. I would expect that “rationing” of the available FF modules so that consumers across the country benefit will take place, whether formally or informally.

    Outside of the US, it will be similar. I would also expect the Third world, despite it’s great need, to be one of the last to get them. They will have to wait till the US/Europe/Developed Asia (China-Japan-Korea) have theirs before many FF modules would be available to the rest of the world. Real-politic.

    #3076
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    Brian H
    Member

    Rematog wrote:

    I believe it will be at least ten years after the first commercial FF module is sold before there is not a waiting list for FF module deliveries.

    Excellent post, I think that’s all right on. Spawning of FF generator factories will be fast, though. Here and everywhere. There won’t be a bottleneck problem from one or a few sources.

    #3081
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    Lerner
    Participant

    I think Rematog is imagining that all production will be in the US initially. I don’t think that will be true. LPP intends to license the technology widely. India and China will obviously start producing FF generators rapidly for their own use, as will many other countries. Most of the production there will likely come from state-owned factories, in my opinion.

    Of course he is right that for quite a while production will be far less than demand. There will be a ramp-up. But that is no reason to belive that developing countries will be slower to adopt.

    #3085
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    Rematog
    Member

    Eric,

    No, I didn’t assume US would be only producer. But did assume production of significant numbers only in economically advanced countries. By this I mean US, Canada, Europe, Japan, Korea, China. Possibly some other countries such as Australia, Taiwan, India, Brazil, South Africa, etc. would produce some, but not enough to be major exporters. My point is that all the main producers (and the smaller ones as well) would “consume” almost all of the FF modules they produce domestically in the first 5 to 10 years. Only after that would the developing world start to see major deployments.

    Rematog

    #3086
    Avatar
    Lerner
    Participant

    China is certainly itself a developing country, with more than half its people still in agriculture. Also, I don’t see nations putting export restrictions on FF generators, as Rematog seems to think they will.

    Another thing to remember is that once FF is commercialized to any significant extent, the price of oil will collapse, greatly benefitting those in all oil-importing countries.

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