cassowary wrote: ↑
Sun Dec 16, 2018 3:24 pm
Solar and Wind to replace fossil fuels in 20 years.
Solar photovoltaic and wind power are rapidly getting cheaper and more abundant – so much so that they are on track to entirely supplant fossil fuels worldwide within two decades, with the time frame depending mostly on politics.
Russia, under Putin, is a one-trick pony. It can only make money from oil and gas. It is the same for Saudi Arabia and Iran. All these trouble makers will go the way of the Dodo bird.
Okay Cass! Solar and wind are good for electric power production. But yet there are certain uses for both oil and coal that solar and wind power are no substitute for.
Coal, for instance, is an ore for certain hydrocarbon chemicals as well as still indispensable in ferrous metals production. Oil, when refined, is a source of bitumen for road construction and hydrocarbon gas for plastics, as well as petrol and jet fuel. While solar and wind should largely eliminate the need for these fuels for electric power production. Still, if coal and oil were to be eliminated from electric power production it would radically reduce global greenhouse emissions into the atmosphere.
The fact that widespread use of solar and wind should depress global demand for both coal and oil (especially the former) should predictably lower global prices of both. You can be sure that some bright sparks will see that as a business opportunity unless government legislation worldwide ties their hands.
There is another sort of clean, green energy - pumped hydro. You probably know how hydro-electric generation works. Water from a dam is channelled gravitationally to drive turbines. Pumped hydro works the same way - the difference being that the released water is collected in a dam below the power station and then pumped back to another dam above it.
It works on the basis on the difference in prices - peak demand versus non peak public demand varies throughout the day. Thus there are spikes in demand coinciding with breakfast and dinner time while during the hours from midnight to 6AM there is little demand. So the in Australia where there is a "floating" price for electric power; prices are higher during those times of spike demand and much lower during the early hours in the morning. The hot water system in my own home is an "off peak" job that takes advantage of the low price of those early hours while the insulated tank preserves the heated water for use by our household throughout the day. Likewise, pumped hydro woks on the same difference. During times of peak demand water is released from the upper dam to generate hydro-electric power to be sold at a high price while during the early morning the pumps are run to return the water from the lower collection dam back to the upper release dam. The difference between the peak sale prices and the lower off-peak pumping price represents the profit for investors in pumped hydro,.
Presently, our Federal government is investing a billion dollars in a pumped hydro project in our Snowy Mountains: this country's biggest single source of hydro-electric power. The pumped hydro will be used to augment power supplies to Sydney and Melbourne, our two biggest metropolitan centres accounting for almost half of national electric power usage.
In an extensive, well watered country like Canada they might be able to afford to let water used once to produce hydro electricity to flow on downstream and be wasted. But in a dry continent like ours where fresh water is a scarce commodity, that is not a great idea.