It seems few people are looking at LFTR or Thorium fueled reactors. Lots of benefits relative to current technology, ie. no meltdown issues, lower fuel costs, no proliferation hazards, and vastly lower waste generation. Why is there not more R&D is not being done on Thorium fueled in the USA? Also probably a lot easier to build in smaller sizes for local power generation.
When an efficient storage is found, we will still need to:
Massively REDUCE our use of electricity. Where is the majority of our energy used ? Can the consumer store it ? Micro-nuclear, micro-fossil, micro-wind, and micro solar, along with mirco-storage, IMO, will all be needed. Produce the electricity close to where it is used, and use ALL the energy, heat included.
Also, IMO, the ban on incandescent lamps by the EU is premature. In most places that they are used, the "wasted" energy is not wasted, as the consumer also needs heat. The waste is when the required heat is allowed to escape from the building.
Many additional solutions have been voiced. But habitually as engineers we see the pitfalls of the solutions but forget that others do not. Build dams for storage-they break and flood. Fuel-cells how many chemicals are left over or will there be water safety problems? Nuclear is being tried, but now we see what happens when we have that unexpected Tsunami or meteor or saboteur? Trapped pressure then the tank ruptures. Even Hoover dam one of the best renewable energy sources developed has issues.
There will not be perfect results in any solution developed. At some point the people, lawers, government is going to have to realize we can not have it all. We also may have to stop living as high on the hog as in the past.
In any case we improve with every itteration and disaster that occurs.
The issue of changing from traditional sources of energy to renewables requires a more complete look of the variations of energy generatable from the different sources of renewable energy. Here in germany an experiment is ongoing testing in real life how the mixture of renewable energy sources are able to cope with the conditions in real life and through all seasons in our area. So far the results look very promissing! Allow me to expand a bit on it!
The key to solving the match of available generated renewable energy top the demand fluctuation lies in the mis of technologies involved. So we mix i.e. wind, solar, water biomass ernergy plants over the whole country, from offshore wind parks in the north sea and across the country to solar energy in the south. Ofcourse water as a storage and storage of gas in the underground.
Besides the dangers of operating nuclear plants as exemplified in Japan and elsewhere, how do we want to handle in a responsable and sustained way the storing of the nuclear waste for the short period of 100,000 years and more? We that are just as the modern human being on the face of this earth since a couple of thousands of years! If the cost for this would be added to that of operating the nuclear plants the economical picture looks different! Why is no opereator of an nuclear plant capable to pay for an insurance for his plan? Because he couldn´t afford to pay the rate if he is able to find an insurance company willing to insure the risk!
But may be we just need to ask ourselves what more God needs to tell us for us humans to understand it!:)
I've got a problem running away from a challenge (or problem, depending how you look at it) just because I experienced a failure. Einstein comes to mind...instead of walking away from the lightbulb experiment, he is quoted saying "... And why would I ever give up? I now know definitively over [###] ways that an electric light bulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp."
The world needs clean, reliable ways to generate electricity. The United States is expected to need 300 gigawatts of new capacity – that’s 150 times the capacity of Hoover Dam – by 2030. Developing nations can only grow as fast as they can power their economies. Global demand for new electric capacity will outpace the U.S. by tenfold in the same period.
I think we need to embrace the great strides we've made in nuclear technology and figure out ways to conquer the down sides (i.e. where to put the waste OR recycle it by turning it into something else, weatherability, and what happens when it gets old).
Consider a few years into the future. Electric cars have been on the road for a while, and their batteries no longer have the capacity they once did (probably at 60-80% of original capacity) - its time to replace the battery.
What to do with the old battery? Re-use it!
The battery is no longer usefull for traction (e-vehicles), but it would serve well as stationary energy storage for a home or very small business, even at half the original capacity. Attach an inverter/charger, and volia! Instant local storage.
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For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.