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Would you prefer that people swim?

Our economy depends on trade. Anything that reduces the cost of transportation makes trade more efficient.

How about a bridge that also produces more electricity than BC Hydro can with an entire province? Apparently a plan to build a floating bridge to Vancouver Island that also produces electricity using tides is being moth-balled because of a provincial/BC Hydro policy not to taint the grid with tidal power.

Dare I suggest that increasing the democratic voice of the people might make trade, transportation, and even the government more efficient? I suspect you'd prefer people drown rather than allow that to ever happen.

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How about a bridge that also produces more electricity than BC Hydro can with an entire province? Apparently a plan to build a floating bridge to Vancouver Island that also produces electricity using tides is being moth-balled because of a provincial/BC Hydro policy not to taint the grid with tidal power.
I know your claim is completely bogus because if it was possible to generate that much power from tides we would see companies lining up build projects like they are with run of the river hydro.

Also the only plan I saw for a bridge got bad reviews because it would have paved over a chunk of Gabriola Island.

Found the source of your claim:

http://vancouverpeakoil.org/2008/08/04/ebb...ower-developer/

One drawback for tidal energy is that power is only produced six to 12 hours a day. This can cause problems for the electrical transmission grid.
Intermittancy is the achilles heel for all renewables. The grid cannot handle it efficiently and it cannot replace baseload power.

So I see no conspiracy. BC Hydro refused to support the deal because it would create more problems than it would solve.

Edited by Riverwind
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Is it good to have bridges? For example, is it good to have a bridge to PEI?

Yes! And No!

People on Vancouver Island hate BC Ferries with a passion. And yet, a lot of people on Vancouver Island are probably grateful that the lack of direct land route maintains some level of exclusivity, some amount of buffer between them and all the craziness of the Lower Mainland, "keeps the riff-raff out" one might say. If the only thing separating Vancouver and Victoria were a short car drive, would Victoria begin to take on more of the characteristics of the Lower Mainland? It might...

Kelowna, BC sits on the eastern shore at the mid-point of a lake that is a kilometer or two wide and about 100 kilometers long. Kelowna is a city of about 120,000... and it is growing so rapidly that new housing developments are piling up on the mountains that surround the town and real-estate prices are right up with Vancouver as the highest in the country.

On the west side of the lake, directly opposite Kelowna, is a community called Westbank, of roughly 30,000 people. Many of them commute to work in Kelowna. Westbank's growth is largely a result of rising housing costs in Kelowna. Westbank's growth has been limited largely as a result of the difficulty of getting across the lake.

Up until last year, traffic across the lake had been via an old floating bridge, an ugly rusting monstrosity that was a blight to behold. 3 lanes of traffic pitifully undersized for the demands facing it, subject to frequent interruption as a lift-span had to be raised to allow boats to pass beneath. Last year, the new bridge was completed, a beautiful structure that is little more than a ribbon of road arcing through the air on one end and resting gently on the water at the other, 5 free-flowing lanes of traffic allowing unimpeded travel across the lake, the lift-span a thing of the past as even an oceanliner could pass under the arc on the west side.

On the bright side, the new bridge will make it far more convenient to get across the lake, opening the west side up to all kinds of development possibilities, and allowing many more people to live in the Kelowna region.

On the down side, the new bridge will make it far more convenient to get across the lake, opening the west side up to all kinds of development possibilities, and allowing many more people to live in the Kelowna region.

Whether it's good or bad is a matter of perspective.

-k

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I know your claim is completely bogus because if it was possible to generate that much power from tides we would see companies lining up build projects like they are with run of the river hydro.

I don't see anything bogus about this at all. I've attended several meetings that deal with approvals for run-of-river projects in my area as well as tide and wave power projects. I definitely recall tide and wave project applicants reporting its much more difficult to get the permits they need. Given the number of run-of-river projects that get the green light vs none being granted to the others I tend to agree with them. There is no doubt in mny mind the tide and wave proposals will also have a far less adverse affect on the environment than any run-of-river project I've seen so far.

As usual you're backing the wrong power horse.

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I definitely recall tide and wave project applicants reporting its much more difficult to get the permits they need.
I suggest you do a little more research into how electrical grids work.

run-of-the-river == consitent power supply.

tidal = sporadic power supply.

Incorporating sporadic tidal power into the grid is expensive and sometimes it means that power will need to be dumped even if it is available. The people investing in tidal power want a guarantee that all power they produce will be purchased. BC Hydro cannot give them that guarantee. That is why tidal power is uneconomic no matter what the promoters may say.

Edited by Riverwind
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I suggest you do a little more research into how electrical grids work.

run-of-the-river == consitent power supply.

Until there's a drought.

tidal = sporadic power supply.

Sporadic? Ever hear of a tide prediction? I can tell you exactly what the tide will be doing twenty years from now.

Incorporating sporadic tidal power into the grid is expensive and sometimes it means that power will need to be dumped even if it is available.

Only a moron would produce something when its not needed. Only a moronic tidal-power company would set up shop without a tide book. It would be like flying without knowing which way the wind is blowing.

The people investing in tidal power want a guarantee that all power they produce will be purchased. BC Hydro cannot give them that guarantee. That is why tidal power is uneconomic no matter what the promoters may say.

I've never heard a tide proponant mention that but I have heard many a run-of-river applicant crow about their hopes the government will let power rates rise. Not allowing the competition to operate has got to be a sweet deal too. By the way aren't you the same Riverwind that's busily defending the practice of lobbyists meeting in private with the government?

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Sporadic? Ever hear of a tide prediction? I can tell you exactly what the tide will be doing twenty years from now.
Does not make a difference. The problem is consumption patterns are always changing and it is difficult to switch base load power on and off. What this means is the tide might start coming in and the power will not be needed. Even if they could plan ahead and switch some base load power off to allow the use of the tidal power there is a cost to switching the baseload power off for a few hours. The tidal companies are expecting BC Hydro to pay that cost and BC Hydro is saying that they don't want the hassle. Run of the river installations are either running 24x7 or they are completely offline so they don't have this sceduling problem.

Ironically, hydro power is the most flexible source of power followed by natural gas. If BC Hydro was forced to accept the tidal power the tidal power would offset few GHGs because the coal plants would keep running at full capacity while the hydro is turned off.

Edited by Riverwind
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It seems to me that a tide ought be rising half the time and falling half the time...

The most obvious means of generating power from tides would only generate power during the half cycle when the tide is falling. There might be other ways... huge floats that could pull cable as they rise or fall, perhaps, might be a way to generate power throughout the whole tidal cycle.

Wind, solar, and tidal all need some way to store energy effectively to become more meaningful. There are ways to store energy... batteries, capacitors, flywheels... all having major drawbacks on this sort of scale.

I have often wondered about using wind, solar, or tidal to synthesize hydrogen. Hydrogen can be stored and transported, could be used for fuel cell vehicles, and could power huge fuel-cell generators.

-k

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A floating bridge between Vancouver Island? Not gonna happen for a number of reason, least of which it is a stupid idea.

1) Hazard to Navigation:

The Straight of Georgia is a major maritime route, with everything from Post-Panamex Container Vessels to small sailing boats plying its waterways daily. About the only thing you don't see on the Straight are Super Tankers filled with crude oil. Any fixed link, be it a tethered pontoon suspension bridge, a floating bridge, a suspended floating tunnel or any combination of those could potentially be a major hazard to navigation. One can easily what could happen if say one of the small oil tankers that do transverse that route were to loss power or steerage and plow into the bridge structure. The potential loss of life would be enormous and the ecological damage incalculable. The the cost of repairing the damage would tax the Province to the breaking point.

2) Weather:

Contrary to many dry landers beliefs, the Straight of Georgia is not a completely safe and calm waterway as I learned while serving on minesweepers back in the '70s. When one of our infrequent gales blows, which the are apt to happen at anytime from mid-autumn to mid-spring, then any floating bridge structure will be tossed about like a cork in a bath tub full of squirming kids. And during the stronger storms, the stresses places on those structures could well tear them apart. Very year, BC Ferries are forced to cancel or postpone sailing of even their biggest ferries due to adverse weather conditions in the Straight, and these are vessel that are quite capable of transversing either the Pacific or Atlantic oceans. Any storm that can force ferries to stop sailing would also force the closure of any fix link for safety sake.

Costs:

No matter which sort of fixed crossing is used, it will cost the Canadian and BC taxpayers BILLIONS!! At minimum, in the tens of billions but more likely in the hundreds of billions. To help off-set this cost, the crossing would have to be a toll route, and the estimates for that toll on a BC Government web site range from a low of C$120 to a high of C$280 for a one way crossing. Factor in the additional cost in fuel burned while driving across a fixed link, the BC Ferries start to look like a real bargain. Also, any fixed link to the Island will terminate either in Duncan or at Duke Point in Nanaimo, which means you will have to drive the Malahat for a couple of hours if you wish to get to Victoria, incurring additional fuel and environmental costs.

These are just a few of the reasons that a fixed link between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island is a non-runner. Personally, I would rather take a Ferry to the Island and use that one hour forty-five minute trip to relax and rest, or visit the buffet and watch the scenery go by.

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Even if the tolls were the same as it costs to take BC Ferries, almost every traveller would happily pay, just for the relief of not being held hostage by that scurvy band of sea-dogs for a two hour voyage, plus however many hours you need to line up to get onboard.

Arrrrh, there be a two-sailing wait at Tsawassen, me hearties! Now get thee to the galley, and give the wench $8 for a cheeseburger while ye waits, for there be naught else but seagull crap for ye to eat at the terminal, matie.

-k

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I have often wondered about using wind, solar, or tidal to synthesize hydrogen. Hydrogen can be stored and transported, could be used for fuel cell vehicles, and could power huge fuel-cell generators.
Hydrogen is a dead end until they figure out a way to store a large amount of the stuff without needing 100s of pounds of metal. I heard some futuristist on CBC talking about the benefits of 'hydrogen powered planes' because hydrogen was lighter than jet fuel. It would have been hilarious if it was not so typical of the clueless environmental activists who don't understand the huge technical barriers to a CO2 free energy system.
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Even if the tolls were the same as it costs to take BC Ferries, almost every traveller would happily pay, just for the relief of not being held hostage by that scurvy band of sea-dogs for a two hour voyage, plus however many hours you need to line up to get onboard.

Arrrrh, there be a two-sailing wait at Tsawassen, me hearties! Now get thee to the galley, and give the wench $8 for a cheeseburger while ye waits, for there be naught else but seagull crap for ye to eat at the terminal, matie.

-k

Sorry kimmy, but the tolls I gave are on the low end of the scale...........on the high end with a public-private partnership option and a 20% return to pay for profits, insurance and maintenance, the tolls could be as high as C$800 for a one way crossing......I can fly return to the UK for that, twice sometimes.

Here is an interesting Link for you to read.

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Hydrogen is a dead end until they figure out a way to store a large amount of the stuff without needing 100s of pounds of metal. I heard some futuristist on CBC talking about the benefits of 'hydrogen powered planes' because hydrogen was lighter than jet fuel. It would have been hilarious if it was not so typical of the clueless environmental activists who don't understand the huge technical barriers to a CO2 free energy system.

The weight of tanks capable of storing hydrogen might be a barrier to building a hydrogen-powered Yaris... but hydgrogen fuel-cell powered buses were in service 10 years ago, using technology by Ballard Power Systems of BC.

And the weight of the tanks would not be an object at all for stationary generating plants.

I think that whether hydrogen were viable as a means of storing energy collected from wind/solar/tidal would depend mostly on efficiency. Suppose you take 100MWh of free electricity from windmills and use it to synthesize hydrogen... if when you run the hydrogen through your fuel cell array you get 60MWh out, then that's probably a very viable means of ballasting the unpredictability of wind power. But if you only get 6MWh back out, then it's a colossal waste.

I don't know what the efficiency of synthesizing hydrogen is (the energy value of the hydrogen produced vs the amount of energy put in.) If it sucks, there must be other means of storing the energy retrieved from wind/solar/tidal power to achieve 24-hour stability. Simple one, off the top of my head: use that electricity to pump water into an elevated reservoir; use water to turn turbines on its way back down. Easy, technologically simple, reliable proven technologies... obvious really. Electrical motors are 85% efficient or more, mechanical pumps can be 75% or more, and electrical generators can be over 90% efficient... so even including the mechanical losses and inefficiencies, it should be possible to retrieve over 57% of the energy spent pumping water uphill.

The difficulty you mention-- the sporadic nature of wind/solar/tidal power is understood, but this is not an insurmountable problem.

-k

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The weight of tanks capable of storing hydrogen might be a barrier to building a hydrogen-powered Yaris... but hydgrogen fuel-cell powered buses were in service 10 years ago, using technology by Ballard Power Systems of BC.
Buses represent a pretty small part of the transportation picture. But things appear to be progressing: http://www.redherring.com/blogs/25671
I don't know what the efficiency of synthesizing hydrogen is (the energy value of the hydrogen produced vs the amount of energy put in.) If it sucks, there must be other means of storing the energy retrieved from wind/solar/tidal power to achieve 24-hour stability.
http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/08-03-12.html#feature
Since most electricity comes from fossil fuels in plants that are 30 percent efficient, and electrolysis is 70 percent efficient, you end up using four units of energy to create one unit of hydrogen energy: 70% * 30% = 21% efficiency.11
Now 70% efficiency sounds good but you have to get the electricity back from the hydrogen and there are losses there. There is also the issue with operating voltage. Fuel cell batteries may work well for low volatage applications but be completely useless for high voltage electrical transmission applications.
Simple one, off the top of my head: use that electricity to pump water into an elevated reservoir; use water to turn turbines on its way back down. Easy, technologically simple, reliable proven technologies... obvious really.
It is being considered along with compressed air storage. But it is very lossy.
The difficulty you mention-- the sporadic nature of wind/solar/tidal power is understood, but this is not an insurmountable problem.
The real question is whether the costs will result in a significant drop in productivity.

I look at energy as a way of amplifying human production. If we had nothing but wood for fires then most humans would have to be employed in tasks related to food production. Each village would have to be nearly self sufficient because transportation over long distances is impractical. The development of oil as a power source allowed food production to be mechanized and trade to expand. This dramatically reduced the number of people that needed to work in food production which freed people to pursue many other activities. The greater specialization encouraged by cheap transportation also meant other goods could be produced much more efficiently in terms of labour, energy and materials. The net result was a dramatic rise in standard of living.

What this means is increasing the cost of energy and transportation by using intrinsically less efficient processes will reverse these trends by hindering trade and forcing more people to be employeed producing the basic necessities like food and energy. This will result in a drop in standard of living. How big a drop will depend on how less efficient these processes are.

Now I realize the enviro-luddites out there think a lower standard of living is a good thing. The trouble is most humans today live in these huge cities which depend on low cost trade over long distances and an economy that can produce a lot food and energy with few people. There are simply to many people to allow us to convert these cities back into the relatively self-sufficient communities that existed 100 years ago.

That is why it not enough to come up with some technologically feasible scheme funded by higher energy taxes. We need to find ways to produce energy without dramically increasing the amount of resources we spend producing the energy (which is directly related to the cost). I realize that we can absord some increases in energy costs but there is a limit. Society will collapse if energy costs rise too much relative to other costs.

Edited by Riverwind
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http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/08-03-12.html#feature

Now 70% efficiency sounds good but you have to get the electricity back from the hydrogen and there are losses there. There is also the issue with operating voltage. Fuel cell batteries may work well for low volatage applications but be completely useless for high voltage electrical transmission applications.

Inverters can be over 80% efficient; industrial-sized transformers are 98% efficient or better. The fuel-cell stack itself would be the weak point, only 50-60% efficient. 70% * 50% * 80% * 98% = about 27% efficiency... so that's obviously pretty wasteful compared to a water-tower solution.

It is being considered along with compressed air storage. But it is very lossy.

I don't know about compressed air, but there's no reason for a water-tower type system to be less than 57% efficient, as I mentioned earlier. 57% efficiency might not sound super great, but given the amount of loss in a conventional system (I have heard fossil fuel generators can be 60% efficient, your earlier cite claims 30%...) it completely comparable. Particularly since the cost of the inputs is free. 57% of free is awfully cheap!

The real question is whether the costs will result in a significant drop in productivity.

(...)

What this means is increasing the cost of energy and transportation by using intrinsically less efficient processes will reverse these trends by hindering trade and forcing more people to be employeed producing the basic necessities like food and energy. This will result in a drop in standard of living. How big a drop will depend on how less efficient these processes are.

There's no reason why a renewable energy system would be more labor-intensive or inefficient in operation than a fossil-fuel one. By the time you consider the cost of fossil fuels, and the energy spent in acquiring them and in transporting them to the generating station, it will be entirely the opposite, in fact.

(...)

That is why it not enough to come up with some technologically feasible scheme funded by higher energy taxes. We need to find ways to produce energy without dramically increasing the amount of resources we spend producing the energy (which is directly related to the cost). I realize that we can absord some increases in energy costs but there is a limit. Society will collapse if energy costs rise too much relative to other costs.

Ignoring the environmental argument and concentrating strictly on the issue of efficiently meeting energy needs, the difference in cost is this: a fossil fuel plant requires continual inputs, while a renewable energy plant will have a higher up-front cost but operate on free inputs.

I have little doubt that for the time being, wind/solar/tidal plants will cost more dollars per megawatt of capacity than their conventional counterparts. Right now, I can't begin to guess at how much that difference might be. Perhaps for the price of building a wind-farm, you could build an equivalent gas-burning plant plus buy enough natural gas to keep it running for 1000 years. But what if it's only 100 years, or 20 years? What if it looks like the price difference could buy 100 years of natural gas at the time, but increasing scarcity and demand for natural gas means that by 10 years in, using tidal power would have turned out to be cheaper?

That calculus is going to change in favor of renewable energy eventually. Non-renewable fuels are becoming more expensive. Sunshine and wind and tide are going to cost exactly the same in 20 years as they cost today, and the cost of the technology that exploits them is going to become cheaper every year as it advances.

-k

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Ignoring the environmental argument and concentrating strictly on the issue of efficiently meeting energy needs, the difference in cost is this: a fossil fuel plant requires continual inputs, while a renewable energy plant will have a higher up-front cost but operate on free inputs.
That is not exactly true. Maintaince costs are not trivial.
But what if it's only 100 years, or 20 years? What if it looks like the price difference could buy 100 years of natural gas at the time, but increasing scarcity and demand for natural gas means that by 10 years in, using tidal power would have turned out to be cheaper?
The lifetime of power plants is usually 30-40 years because equipment wears out (hydro is the exception). So we don't make plans today based on what the price differentials will be like in 100 years. That said, I agree that we should ensure funding for large scale renewable projects to see what improvements can be made. However, we cannot make policy that assumes that the technological breakthroughs will occur. Electricity generation is not like computing and it takes decades to introduce new techonology. We definately cannot outlaw coal at this time and this fear of nuclear has to go. Unfortunately, our political class has been taken over by a bunch of people who think they can legislate that innovation occur on their schedule.
That calculus is going to change in favor of renewable energy eventually. Non-renewable fuels are becoming more expensive. Sunshine and wind and tide are going to cost exactly the same in 20 years as they cost today, and the cost of the technology that exploits them is going to become cheaper every year as it advances.
It takes a lot of energy to make a solar panel or a tide turbine. The bigger issue is the much larger electrical grid that will be required. This means increased transportation and material costs many not allow the differential to close as fast as people might like. It will have to eventually because eventually we will run out of fossil fuels. But again: the problem is not planning for the switch over. The problem is politicians demanding that the switch over occurr before the alternate technologies are ready.
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That is not exactly true. Maintaince costs are not trivial.

Maintenance costs apply to whatever type of plant you build. They're predictable. The cost of wind, tide, and sunshine is predictable too. The cost of fossil fuels is not predictable, except that it is going to keep rising.

The lifetime of power plants is usually 30-40 years because equipment wears out (hydro is the exception). So we don't make plans today based on what the price differentials will be like in 100 years. That said, I agree that we should ensure funding for large scale renewable projects to see what improvements can be made. However, we cannot make policy that assumes that the technological breakthroughs will occur. Electricity generation is not like computing and it takes decades to introduce new techonology. We definately cannot outlaw coal at this time and this fear of nuclear has to go. Unfortunately, our political class has been taken over by a bunch of people who think they can legislate that innovation occur on their schedule.

I'm not advocating that existing plants be shut down, but a huge portion of our electrical generating capacity is already tied to fossil fuels, and will remain so for decades into the future even if not a single new fossil fuel burning plant were constructed. The cost of transporting our goods and heating our homes and turning our electrical turbines has already risen more rapidly over the past decade a lot faster than people expected. The rising cost of fossil fuels is a bigger threat to our quality of life than the aspirations of "enviro-luddites".

We might not be able to put innovation on a schedule, but it is a fact that innovation occurs a lot faster when there's money to be made.

It takes a lot of energy to make a solar panel or a tide turbine.

It takes a lot of energy to make a boiler and a steam turbine as well. It also takes a lot of energy to get a ton of coal or natural gas out of the ground, and a lot more energy to get it to the power plant in a form it can be combusted in, and when you've burned it, you have to go get another ton of coal out of the ground and do the same thing all over again.

At some point the lifetime cost of a fossil fuel generating plant is going to exceed the lifetime cost of a renewable energy plant of equal capacity. It's an inevitability, it can't not happen.

The bigger issue is the much larger electrical grid that will be required.

What... renewable electricity requires a bigger power-grid than fossil fuel electricity?

We need investment in our powergrid. It's aging, overworked, and the demand being placed on it will rise every year. That's a fact, whether the electricity comes from wind, coal, or the Hammer of Thor.

This means increased transportation and material costs many not allow the differential to close as fast as people might like. It will have to eventually because eventually we will run out of fossil fuels. But again: the problem is not planning for the switch over. The problem is politicians demanding that the switch over occurr before the alternate technologies are ready.

I'm not sure if you're anticipating a day where one day somebody throws a switch and hundreds of fossil fuel plants shut down and hundreds of alternative energy plants suddenly whir to life. That's not how it is going to happen.

This is an incremental process... as you mention, we're talking about plants with operational lifetimes of decades. A power generating plant started today, of whatever type, might well still be running when I die of old age. Many of the coal and natural gas burning plants that already exist might still be running when I die of old age. I don't think we should be gambling that fossil fuel will still be cheap and plentiful that far into the future.

The experience of the past several years has made me quite worried about the cost of relying on fossil fuel for electricity decades into the future. We've already seen electricity costs rise sharply. I know what tides and sunshine will cost when I'm old. I don't want us to be sitting around in 2039 thinking "shit, why the fuck did we build all those fucking natural gas burning powerplants in 2009 when we already knew that natural gas was god damned expensive?" If that's how it turns out, how am I going to be able to afford to watch "Murder She Wrote" and "Matlock"?

-k

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I'm not advocating that existing plants be shut down, but a huge portion of our electrical generating capacity is already tied to fossil fuels, and will remain so for decades into the future even if not a single new fossil fuel burning plant were constructed.
There are 25,000 coal plants running today. Most of them will be still running 20 years from now. The trouble is some of them are coming to the end of their lives and need to be replaced. But the environmentalists are preventing this because they think that renewables are ready to replace this capacity. Renewables are not ready to do that and we need to let the aging plants get rebuilt into facilities that will run for another 40 years. The delays mean the old inefficient and polluting (in the traditional sense) plants are kept running way beyong their expected lifetime. This is setting us up for serious supply problems in the near future.
The rising cost of fossil fuels is a bigger threat to our quality of life than the aspirations of "enviro-luddites".
Different fuels have different supply constraints. I am not worried about peak oil because we have lots of coal and natural gas to provide the lower cost electric alternative once the oil supplies tighten again. The problem is the "enviro-luddites" want to force us to stop using all fossil fuels at the same time. That is a recipe for economic disaster.
We might not be able to put innovation on a schedule, but it is a fact that innovation occurs a lot faster when there's money to be made.
What people forget is there has been money to be made with these technologies for decades and a lot of money has already been spent on R&D which has produced incremental improvements but nothing that will allow this technology to be a viable replacement for what we have now. The storage problem is particularily intractable. Our current electrical grid is extremely complex because it constantly has to balance consumption with load. This means anyone who could come up with moderately efficient high capacity "battery" suitable for electrical transmission applications could make a lot of money even without the renewable angle. But this has not happened which suggests that it is not likely to happen simply because governments subsidize it. The fuel cell car is another example of a promising technology that never seems to be ready for prime time despite billions invested. The technology may come eventually. But it is dumb to bet trillions that it will come within a certain time period.
It takes a lot of energy to make a boiler and a steam turbine as well. It also takes a lot of energy to get a ton of coal or natural gas out of the ground, and a lot more energy to get it to the power plant in a form it can be combusted in, and when you've burned it, you have to go get another ton of coal out of the ground and do the same thing all over again.
A small coal plant can produce 500MW constantly. It would take approx 600 2.5MW wind turbines spread over a large geographical area to match that capacity. That is a lot of material although I have not see an exact pound by pound comparison.
What... renewable electricity requires a bigger power-grid than fossil fuel electricity?
Think about it: 1 coal plant needs one relatively short trasmission line to get the electricity to market. The equivalent for wind installation would require a huge mesh connecting 600 turbines that are usually a long way from the market. The grid required is at least an order of magnitude larger for renewables.
I'm not sure if you're anticipating a day where one day somebody throws a switch and hundreds of fossil fuel plants shut down and hundreds of alternative energy plants suddenly whir to life. That's not how it is going to happen.
I know it is not going happen. That is why I am ranting about environmentalists who think we can switch off the fossil fuel power sources today. We need a coherent plan that encourages the expansion of renewable sources without preventing the replacement of existing fossil fuel plants.
I don't think we should be gambling that fossil fuel will still be cheap and plentiful that far into the future.
We have lots of coal and natural gas. Oil is the only fossil fuel facing supply problems in the next 50 years.
The experience of the past several years has made me quite worried about the cost of relying on fossil fuel for electricity decades into the future. We've already seen electricity costs rise sharply. I know what tides and sunshine will cost when I'm old.
No you don't because you don't know what it is going to cost to replace those worn out solar panels which require some rare elements to manufacture. You also don't what will be involved in the storage technology that gets developed. If it fuel cells there could be rare earth metals in them too.

I have reasonable faith that the market will sort out the energy supply problems provided the government is proactive and makes sure renewables are getting deployed before they are economically viable (this will smooth the inevitable transition). I am really worried about a future if the government tries to regulate out of existance certain fuel types. This applies to nuclear as well as coal.

Edited by Riverwind
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Yes! And No!

People on Vancouver Island hate BC Ferries with a passion. And yet, a lot of people on Vancouver Island are probably grateful that the lack of direct land route maintains some level of exclusivity, some amount of buffer between them and all the craziness of the Lower Mainland, "keeps the riff-raff out" one might say. If the only thing separating Vancouver and Victoria were a short car drive, would Victoria begin to take on more of the characteristics of the Lower Mainland? It might...

I was thinking of this, or the example of Kelowna, when I started this thread.

(In Montreal, a rough equivalent would be extending the metro to Laval. This makes it easier for suburbanites to travel into town.)

Usually, we can take an individual decision about our participation in the outside world. If one chooses to remain aloof, one can do so. But what happens when the crowd moves in? In theory, one could compensate one's loss of privacy but evaluating this loss is probably difficult. To use your Kelowna example, the people on the west side of the lake will see their property values rise. This is compensation for their loss of isolation. Individuals may not see this rise as just or correct compensation.

Incorporating sporadic tidal power into the grid is expensive and sometimes it means that power will need to be dumped even if it is available. The people investing in tidal power want a guarantee that all power they produce will be purchased. BC Hydro cannot give them that guarantee. That is why tidal power is uneconomic no matter what the promoters may say.
I'm with Riverwind on this point. When it comes to electricity, it's all about peak power demand and this is part of the problem of wind, tidal and even solar. They are too risky.

The problem basically is that we have no feasible means to store electricity. Hydro at least has the advantage that its energy can be stored between seasons.

I don't know what the efficiency of synthesizing hydrogen is (the energy value of the hydrogen produced vs the amount of energy put in.) If it sucks, there must be other means of storing the energy retrieved from wind/solar/tidal power to achieve 24-hour stability. Simple one, off the top of my head: use that electricity to pump water into an elevated reservoir; use water to turn turbines on its way back down. Easy, technologically simple, reliable proven technologies... obvious really. Electrical motors are 85% efficient or more, mechanical pumps can be 75% or more, and electrical generators can be over 90% efficient... so even including the mechanical losses and inefficiencies, it should be possible to retrieve over 57% of the energy spent pumping water uphill.
I too don't know how costly it is to produce hydrogen, store it, then to recreate its energy. I suspect that it's costly.

As to your pumping water idea, same basic loss but I suspect even worse.

I have reasonable faith that the market will sort out the energy supply problems provided the government is proactive and makes sure renewables are getting deployed. I am really worried about a future if the government tries to regulate out of existing certain fuel types. This applies to nuclear as well as coal.
I largely agree with your post, Riverwind. (I read it after posting above.)

It seems to me that the (peak) price of electricity in Canada is the problem. We have this wonderful resource and yet we waste it like Chavez wastes oil in Venezuela or the Saudis in Arabia.

The low price of electricity in Canada means that we don't use - or produce - it wisely. For example, I pay about 5 cents per kwh in Quebec but the price in Boston is about 15 cents per kwh.

Edited by August1991
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People on Vancouver Island hate BC Ferries with a passion. And yet, a lot of people on Vancouver Island are probably grateful that the lack of direct land route maintains some level of exclusivity, some amount of buffer between them and all the craziness of the Lower Mainland, "keeps the riff-raff out" one might say. If the only thing separating Vancouver and Victoria were a short car drive, would Victoria begin to take on more of the characteristics of the Lower Mainland? It might...

How true. When you mention a bridge they start bitching about how it would ruin their lifestyle. What they really want is the rest of the province to subsidize their lifestyle by pumping more money into the ferry's. Makes you wonder where the feds have been on this. The Trans Canada highway does end on Vancouver Island but they built a bridge to PEI which has 1/5th the population.

Hydrogen is a dead end until they figure out a way to store a large amount of the stuff without needing 100s of pounds of metal. I heard some futuristist on CBC talking about the benefits of 'hydrogen powered planes' because hydrogen was lighter than jet fuel. It would have been hilarious if it was not so typical of the clueless environmental activists who don't understand the huge technical barriers to a CO2 free energy system.

Liquid hydrogen does contain a lot more energy by weight than jet fuel but a lot less by volume so the problem would be where are you going to put it. Liquid hydrogen can be stored for limited lengths of time in tanks that aren't too heavy so it could be more suited to applications where large quantities are used quickly like aircraft, buses and transport trucks but not your car which might sit in the garage for days. To my knowledge, so far it takes more energy to produce hydrogen than you get out which is somewhat problematic, particularly if you are using CO2 emitting power sources to produce it.

This is an incremental process... as you mention, we're talking about plants with operational lifetimes of decades. A power generating plant started today, of whatever type, might well still be running when I die of old age. Many of the coal and natural gas burning plants that already exist might still be running when I die of old age. I don't think we should be gambling that fossil fuel will still be cheap and plentiful that far into the future.

A blended power system will be the future. It is unlikely we will be able to rely on another power source so completely as we have done with oil. At least not for the foreseeable future. But then, if our forefathers had seen wood and coal as the ultimate in energy technology, we wouldn't have what we do now.

I was thinking of this, or the example of Kelowna, when I started this thread.

When I was a little guy in the fifties an uncle had a farm in Westbank, We lived at the other end of the valley in Osoyoos and would visit the cousins regularly. At that time there was no bridge and you had to take a ferry to Kelowna. It was a big deal to go to Kelowna back then. The population of Westbank was about 2000 and Kelowna had less than 10,000. The old ferry now houses the Westbank Yacht Club. It's been all down hill since they built that bridge and the Coquihalla just made it worse. I used to want to move there but now ask myself why move to a place that has worse traffic than where I live now.

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A blended power system will be the future. It is unlikely we will be able to rely on another power source so completely as we have done with oil.
I wouldn't count on that.

Few people have VHS players now and even fewer have rotary phones. When a bridge is built, the change is usually rapid. (BTW, a bridge is a metaphor to opening to trade or introducing a new technology.)

Daily newspapers came about quickly around 1800 and their demise will possibly happen in a similar fashion. Once feasible hydrogen technology exists (assuming it ever will be), the gasoline internal combustion engine will disappear quickly. How long did it take gasoline to displace horses? Twenty years is short in any measure of history except one's life.

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Once feasible hydrogen technology exists (assuming it ever will be), the gasoline internal combustion engine will disappear quickly.
Everything depends on economics. The diesel and gasoline engines co-exist because neither is better than the other in all ways. So people choose the one that makes the most sense for their application. The same trade offs will likely exist for alternate energy. e.g. paying the capital cost for geothermal makes a lot of sense in cold Manitoba but not in warm Vancouver.
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