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TED Talks: Thorium, An Alternative Nuclear Fuel?

No, it isn`t mined in Asgard. Sounds like a great alternative, but what are the downsides?

submitted by: CaptKangaroo
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TED Talks: Thorium, An Alternative Nuclear Fuel?. No, it isn`t mined in Asgard. Sounds like a great alternative, but what are the downsides?
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Hits: 8597 | Favorites: 7 | Emailed: 10 | Rating: 3.3 | Category: Technology | Date: 02/01/2012
 
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patchgrabber
Male, 30-39, Canada
 5597 Posts
Thursday, February 2, 2012 8:32:12 AM
Solar power relies on batteries and always will, plus they don't make power when it`s cloudy.


Incorrect. Although they do rely on batteries, second generation photovoltaic cells are extremely efficient. Yes, the amount of energy absorbed is reduced, but they do absorb light photons that penetrate clouds. To follow your logic, plants, algae etc. can`t photosynthesize when it`s cloudy, which is just not true.

Angilion
Male, 40-49, Europe
 10534 Posts
Wednesday, February 1, 2012 10:17:56 PM
Bah, I missed the real world implementation of something I'd seen a while back as a possibility.

There is a solar power station setup that can do base load because it does have controllable output on demand. It can store enough heat to generate 300MWh of electricity with 1% loss of heat over 24 hours...and the design is scalable.

So scratch the baseload problem. You can use solar for baseload, if you do it right.

Shame it`s next to useless here in England. Not enough space, not enough heat. Wave looks much better here - lots of coastline on a narrow island and the sea on some parts of it has big waves.

Angilion
Male, 40-49, Europe
 10534 Posts
Wednesday, February 1, 2012 10:03:14 PM
Without batteries it doesn't make sense to use for more than a small fraction of energy supply. You cant just shut off the powerplants while you are making solar power so it doesn`t displace the need for traditional power plants. This is why people think it is moronic.


Hopefully not, since it`s not true. If you build a solar power station properly, you can vary the output up to whatever its maximum is at that point and you could cut the power output immediately if you had to (at the turbine).

There are good arguments against solar, but that`s not one of them.

It is true that you can`t really use solar for baseline generation, but not because you have to run it on full all of the time. It`s because you can`t control the maximum output and varying output quickly enough to match variations in demand is more difficult than with some other methods.

Lebowski42
Male, 18-29, Western US
 67 Posts
Wednesday, February 1, 2012 9:08:42 PM
Nearly all the energy on the planet comes from the sun, that being said solar power is only effective on sunny days. Without batteries it doesn't make sense to use for more than a small fraction of energy supply. You cant just shut off the powerplants while you are making solar power so it doesn`t displace the need for traditional power plants. This is why people think it is moronic.

Angilion
Male, 40-49, Europe
 10534 Posts
Wednesday, February 1, 2012 6:55:53 PM
TKD_Master: Solar power relies on batteries and always will


There are existing, working solar power stations feeding to national grids right now and they don't rely on batteries. They don`t use batteries at all. There are no batteries with anything like the storage capacity required to be of any use in large-scale power generation.

Although I did recently see some interesting early work on a new type of battery that can be made practically any size and which uses only very common materials. The energy density is lower than Li-ion, but the idea is that you can build warehouse-sized batteries and use them for mass storage. That would be extremely useful for any national grid, regardless of how the electricity is generated.

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