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Old 07-10-2021, 11:07 PM   #1
Street Pharmacist
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Default The Energy Transition and technologies

I'd like to have a thread dedicated to all things involved in the transition underway including renewable electricity generation, but also industrial and commercial changes in sustainability (materials, agriculture,etc). However, I recognize this is a Calgary based forum and many people work in the Oil and Gas field. It's not my intent to anger people or have the tired old discussions about whether or not Climate Change is real or whether there is anything we can do about it (see what happens in the Electric Vehicle thread). If someone else wants to discuss those things, there's a whole other thread dedicated to it. The people who work in Oil and Gas are people just like those that work anywhere else and are not inherently bad or evil. Obviously any massive disruption in energy production will involve people's way of life and for good reasons discussing this leads to heated debate and I want to keep this thread clear of that if possible.


In that vein, here's a rule I propose to keep it on topic:

1) Any discussion here assumes climate change is a significant and urgent threat and is caused by human activity largely by greenhouse gas emissions. If we don't start with this as a fact it'll turn into a climate change argument and things will go sideways.






For reasons I'm not completely clear on, I have become fascinated by all the technology advancements in this space. It started with a fascination of electric vehicles and soon I was reading everything I could find on solar power and it went on from there. I now listen to quite a few podcasts (The Interchange, The Energy Gang, EV News Daily, The Energy Transition Show, Cleantech Talk, MITei, the Big Switch, Redefining Energy), read a few websites semi frequently (cleantechnica, InsideEVs, energytransition.org), and I've watched a few TedTalks. I've found from reading/listening to so many diverse people is just how far behind North America is. Not necessarily in the technology side (though we are), but in the public perception of where we are at in this transition as a global community. Here some completely facts that I don't think many in North America have paid attention to that show how far things have come:

-Investment in clean energy hit $500B USD globally in 2020 and will grow much faster with both Europe and the US strengthening their 2030 GHG targets

-The newest Offshore wind turbines can power 18,000 homes EACH. Just 30 years ago the first wind turbines ones were only about 30kW

-Solar panels are less than 10% the price they were just 10 years ago and still falling. Grid installation of solar is the cheapest electricity generation method and still falling

-In 2010, an EV battery cost $1150 per kWh. It's currently between $120-$130 and will be below $100 with 2-3 years

-Almost one third of all new solar capacity in the last 5 years has been in China

-There's a global arms race to build lithium battery factories and China is absolutely destroying everyone else. There are right now 88 factories producing at least 1 GWh of batteries per year, and that's expected to be 181 by end of 2021/beginning of 2022 for a total of about 500GWh per year. There's already an additional 2.5 TWh in the pipeline by 2030 with more likely to be added.

-China accounts for over 2/3 of production and up to 80% of the supply chain


Anyone else find this stuff interesting?
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Old 07-10-2021, 11:18 PM   #2
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-The newest Offshore wind turbines can power 18,000 homes EACH. Just 30 years ago the first wind turbines ones were only about 30kW
Whatís this in relative terms? How many kW is 1 home in the formula?

Iím genuinely interested in this thread. Iím far from knowledgeable on the subject though, which is why I asked the above questions.
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Old 07-10-2021, 11:21 PM   #3
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This just in, China makes stuff cheaper than anyone else because they have a billion people and substandard pay/labor laws. Not to mention the lack of regard to waste caused with manufacturing.
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Old 07-10-2021, 11:28 PM   #4
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Whatís this in relative terms? How many kW is 1 home in the formula?

Iím genuinely interested in this thread. Iím far from knowledgeable on the subject though, which is why I asked the above questions.
A home might use 1000 kWh per month which is about 33 per day or 1.4 /hr so a 30kW turbine could supply 20 homes or so.

The modern turbines can be 15 MW or more.

Iím concerned on the wildlife affects of the offshore wind but probably a reasonable trade off.
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Old 07-10-2021, 11:31 PM   #5
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In 2010, an EV battery cost $1150 per kWh. It's currently between $120-$130 and will be below $100 with 2-3 years
I think itís down to $70 per kWh for some batteries already.
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Old 07-10-2021, 11:53 PM   #6
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Anyone else find this stuff interesting?
I do. Work in the industry.

The biggest problem with renewables is dispatch.

I'm all for renewables, but they need to be spread out across the province to be of more use than they currently are.

A HVDC link to Site C is an absolute must. Mildly annoyed that the province hasn't started working on that yet.
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Old 07-11-2021, 12:00 AM   #7
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This just in, China makes stuff cheaper than anyone else because they have a billion people and substandard pay/labor laws. Not to mention the lack of regard to waste caused with manufacturing.
All true, but they're strategically buying mining outfits and moving the mineral refining to China. It's not happening by accident

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Old 07-11-2021, 12:08 AM   #8
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Whatís this in relative terms? How many kW is 1 home in the formula?



Iím genuinely interested in this thread. Iím far from knowledgeable on the subject though, which is why I asked the above questions.
These are numbers from Siemens own website, but the turbines can do 15MW. Of course that's only when the wind is blowing well. It's also using European homes as the benchmark, and their average usage is lower. These particular turbines have blades that are 108m long which is absolutely insane

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Old 07-11-2021, 12:27 AM   #9
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-Solar panels are less than 10% the price they were just 10 years ago and still falling. Grid installation of solar is the cheapest electricity generation method and still falling
I've said quite a few times unless due to pure stupidity, solar will become so cheap it is nearly free. And by extension we will have more energy than we know what to do with. At this point I can see hydrogen being a good way to store excess power.

Unfortunately I am not confident that in this part of the world we won't see massive government interference and screw the whole thing up.
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Old 07-11-2021, 12:28 AM   #10
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Don't have a lot to add at the moment but will be watching this thread. Have been listening to many of the same podcasts as you. Didn't see Energy vs Climate on the list, you should check it out as it's somewhat Alberta focused.

One of the things they've talked about a few times that hit home for me (and we've seen the importance of in the US) is more interties. Whether north south or east west, there's a lot of easy wins. For example, Alberta has huge solar/wind potential but those are intermittent. BC, not so much, but they already have massive Hydro (which of course, you can debate how green that is but it's already there). Tie the two grids together and both provinces benefit from clean energy and grid stability.

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Old 07-11-2021, 12:31 AM   #11
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I think itís down to $70 per kWh for some batteries already.
I haven't seen anything that low, but Musk said they were below 100 kWh at cell level a couple of years ago. Assembled pack cost is a whole other beast though. The most consistent source I've found is bnef and they have the 2020 pack cost at $137. It's generally agreed that $100 and lower is needed for price parity though I'd argue that other things are also relevant (wiring schemes, electric motors, cooling systems, etc).

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Old 07-11-2021, 08:28 AM   #12
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U of C reearchers are saying the cost of replacing and disposing of solar panels will be much higher than regulators have anticipated. The efficiency of panels is improving so rapidly year over year that panels will not be in service for 30 years, but 10 years or less.

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If early replacements occur as predicted by our statistical model, they can produce 50 times more waste in just four years than IRENA anticipates. That figure translates to around 315,000 metric tonnes of waste, based on an estimate of 90 tonnes per MW weight-to-power ratio.

Alarming as they are, these stats may not do full justice to the crisis, as our analysis is restricted to residential installations. With commercial and industrial panels added to the picture, the scale of replacements could be much, much larger.

Ö The totality of these unforeseen costs could crush industry competitiveness. If we plot future installations according to a logistic growth curve capped at 700 GW by 2050 (NRELís estimated ceiling for the U.S. residential market) alongside the early replacement curve, we see the volume of waste surpassing that of new installations by the year 2031. By 2035, discarded panels would outweigh new units sold by 2.56 times. In turn, this would catapult the LCOE (levelized cost of energy, a measure of the overall cost of an energy-producing asset over its lifetime) to four times the current projection. The economics of solar ó so bright-seeming from the vantage point of 2021 ó would darken quickly as the industry sinks under the weight of its own trash.

https://hbr.org/2021/06/the-dark-sid...hero-main-text
If weíre going to increasingly rely on an energy source that produces huge amounts of toxic waste that cannot be readily disposed of, I wonder why we donít just ramp up nuclear.
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Old 07-11-2021, 08:39 AM   #13
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Those of you who follow these topics maybe know a lot more about specific discussion points that always get me thinking when alternative energy comes up:

- How sustainable is battery and solar panel production given the rare earth metals (?) needed to produce them, the production techniques, and the production byproducts
- How much investment and upgrade is needed on electrical grid infrastructure and road infrastructure to accommodate a growing number, perhaps someday a majority, of electrical vehicles on the roads
- Are there improved efficiencies on storing excess electricity regardless of source

Genuinely interesting topic.
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Old 07-11-2021, 09:00 AM   #14
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Don't have a lot to add at the moment but will be watching this thread. Have been listening to many of the same podcasts as you. Didn't see Energy vs Climate on the list, you should check it out as it's somewhat Alberta focused.

One of the things they've talked about a few times that hit home for me (and we've seen the importance of in the US) is more interties. Whether north south or east west, there's a lot of easy wins. For example, Alberta has huge solar/wind potential but those are intermittent. BC, not so much, but they already have massive Hydro (which of course, you can debate how green that is but it's already there). Tie the two grids together and both provinces benefit from clean energy and grid stability.
BC and Alberta already have an inter tie. The same goes for Saskatchewan and Montana. Perhaps you mean you want additional ties with BC for added capacity?
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Old 07-11-2021, 09:10 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Finger Cookin View Post
Those of you who follow these topics maybe know a lot more about specific discussion points that always get me thinking when alternative energy comes up:

- How sustainable is battery and solar panel production given the rare earth metals (?) needed to produce them, the production techniques, and the production byproducts
- How much investment and upgrade is needed on electrical grid infrastructure and road infrastructure to accommodate a growing number, perhaps someday a majority, of electrical vehicles on the roads
- Are there improved efficiencies on storing excess electricity regardless of source

Genuinely interesting topic.


These are good questions and a frequent target for those pushing back on renewable energy as a solution. If we truly want to have a sustainable human community these will have to be solved regardless of costs, but transitioning with only economic frameworks driving forward will not solve them. Clearly policy is going to be needed.

Yes rare earth metals are going to be needed and mining in general has environment impact. GHG emissions are existential and local environmental is not. That isn't to say we ignore it, rather that we should create policy and enforcement of environmental policies. We move earth and do local damage for fossil fuels as it is, this isn't a new problem to solve, but we need government action. Long term, recycling and a circular economy are going to be necessary to make it sustainable.

As for the grid, yes there'll need to be lots of investments. DoubleK would have better answers, but to make renewables work we'll need more electricity, longer transmission to make it resilient (time shifting the diurnal generation), distribution infrastructure for charging and home heating. For example, I recently moved and do not have room on my 120A panel for a 60A service to a charger nevermind replacing my hot water tank with an electric hybrid tank (these are cool), and a heat pump eventually. That's just my house. Then if everyone on my block goes this way the local infrastructure will need to be upgraded to support the increased power. There's also unknowns with EV charging. Will some plugged in cars allow small amounts of their battery to act as grid storage? Where will most people charge? In Canada many people have their own parking and therefore can install chargers for overnight flexible charging, but what about apartments? Will they use fast chargers mainly? Slow chargers at grocery stores? My short answer is upgrading will absolutely be needed but lots of it will necessarily be incremental as we learn where it's needed

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Old 07-11-2021, 02:16 PM   #16
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BC and Alberta already have an inter tie. The same goes for Saskatchewan and Montana. Perhaps you mean you want additional ties with BC for added capacity?
We have one but it's pretty underutilized.

More integration of the two grids would allow Alberta to have a base load of clean energy when the wind isn't blowing or the sun isnt shining. BC gets $$ from AB and lower cost solar/wind when energy is abundant.

It's a win win for both provinces.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cbc.ca/amp/1.5848042
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Old 07-11-2021, 05:18 PM   #17
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U of C reearchers are saying the cost of replacing and disposing of solar panels will be much higher than regulators have anticipated. The efficiency of panels is improving so rapidly year over year that panels will not be in service for 30 years, but 10 years or less.



If weíre going to increasingly rely on an energy source that produces huge amounts of toxic waste that cannot be readily disposed of, I wonder why we donít just ramp up nuclear.
The report mentions that cumulative waste will reach 78 million tonnes from Solar panels. In contrast the US coal industry in 2014 generated 130 million tonnes of coal ash.
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Old 07-11-2021, 06:41 PM   #18
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The report mentions that cumulative waste will reach 78 million tonnes from Solar panels. In contrast the US coal industry in 2014 generated 130 million tonnes of coal ash.
And when we think of nuclear plants we only think of spent fuel as waste, but 96% of waste from a nuclear plant is not the fuel but all the other stuff. It's not insignificant
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Old 07-11-2021, 08:27 PM   #19
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We have one but it's pretty underutilized.

More integration of the two grids would allow Alberta to have a base load of clean energy when the wind isn't blowing or the sun isnt shining. BC gets $$ from AB and lower cost solar/wind when energy is abundant.

It's a win win for both provinces.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cbc.ca/amp/1.5848042
I'm in modest agreement with you, however the current hydro in BC would need to ramp up substantially to look after alberta during low periods of solar/wind and AB would have to design our solar and wind capabilities to accommodate them.

Not an impossible task, it's reasonable but ambitious especially given the tenuous relationship the 2 provinces currently have. I also believe Kenney comes across as a redneck ######bag to BC and Horgan taking a hardline stance against anything AB wins him a lot of votes.
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Old 07-11-2021, 08:59 PM   #20
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The people who work in Oil and Gas are people just like those that work anywhere else and are not inherently bad or evil.
This was a really weird statement. Disturbing people feel it even needs to be said.
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