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Fusion Power

Fusion Power

Fusion reactors hold the potential to completely free us from fossil fuels. A company in Vancouver called General Fusion, Lockheed Martin, and ITER in France all have projects under construction.

DTsea | 16 luglio 2014

Yep. Only 20 years away, as it has been for the last 50 years.

pvandeloo.ipod | 16 luglio 2014

Nuclear power in general hold much more promise than renewable energy like wind and solar due to higher energy densities. Cost of energy could plummet with the new generation 4 nuclear reactors and safety be improved upon greatly due to passive safety and computer modelling not possible before.

However politically it is a problem in a few countries. In China and Russia luckly they are not as fearful as in Germany.

nwdiver93 | 16 luglio 2014

Nuclear Power is an economic dead end.... killed by solar.

Phase 1 (Today - ~2020)
Where we are now is REALLY easy... you just slap some panels on your roof, no need to worry about storage or "self-consumption". To the grid your PV array just looks like reduced load.
Solar is cheaper per kWh than nuclear... even today.

Phase 2 (~2020 - ~2035)
Hawaii and Germany are either here now or getting close... When peak power is 80%+ of demand you're still <20% of total generation. Most grid-tie inverters CANNOT regulate voltage and frequency. They are on or off; they are inverting 100% of what's available from the panels or they produce nothing. This would need to change to expand past ~20%. Germany has "smart" inverters that can be active participants in grid stability. When frequency gets too high they can curtail power or preferably divert power into a battery bank. Demand Response and small amounts of storage become critical. SMA has already developed solutions. They are starting to bundle inverters with a 4kWh battery pack and they've got what's called the "Sunny home manager" http://www.sma.de/en/home-systems/so...tem-smart.html I wrote an anti-net-metering blog and this is why... we've got to dump "net-metering" LONG before "phase 2" Investments in "smart home" technology are worthless with "net-metering" in place. Solar "would" start to lose it's cost advantage with nuclear... but as the capacity factor of nuclear falls the capital costs increase on a per kWh basis.

Phase 3 (~2035 - ~2050)
IMO going from 80% => 100% wind/solar is probably going to be harder than 0% => 80%. My prediction is that we'll likely have sufficient solar PV installed to completely displace fossil fuels but be unable to due to a lack of storage and the disparity between summer/winter insolation... but... unlike nuclear, so long as it's cheaper to install solar than import power from the grid we will continue to build out solar PV FAR beyond what is 'needed'. The path to >80% solar/wind is probably the day when we've got so much excess energy during the summer months that there's nothing better to do with that extra energy than split water. The hydrogen can then be stored for later use.

Keep in mind that the cost of equipment will likely continue to fall... even though "smart" inverters will be more sophisticated than the grid-tie inverters we're using today I would expect the cost to be the same or lower. Similarly even though we'll need an overabundance of solar in "phase 3" with module prices expected to fall <$0.30/w in 2020 that won't be a problem.

While my premise has always been that solar is cheaper than nuclear the fact I'm 100% certain of is that there IS an economically viable path to 100% solar/wind while there IS NO path to any reasonable expansion of nuclear... let alone >50%. 100% nuclear could in fact be cheaper than 100% solar but with the cost point of solar where it is there's no way for nuclear to expand. The window for nuclear expansion was in the 70s, 80s and 90s... cheap solar has slammed that door HARD.

http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/8078-Nuclear-power/page25

pvandeloo.ipod | 16 luglio 2014

Im sorry but energy density for solar is much much lower than for nuclear especially for new generation 4 designs that will come online this century.

Intermittent sources still have to sort out their storage problem. In Germany we have very high costs due to our extremly unreliable energy system (sometimes solar produces 50% of our daily energy needs and sometimes less than 1%). Solar is no where near economical. The solar panel costs are a tiny fraction of the overall costs (installation and back up power for days when the sun does not shine and the wind does not blow and for night time). Only through enormous subsidies has solar and wind become such a huge percentage of our energy system.

I will have to do more research on this topic but solar and wind are still decades off from being economical. We need a battery miracle.

Brian H | 16 luglio 2014

ITER is a non-commercial research boondoggle.

The project with the least cost and best stats and best prospects: http://lawrencevilleplasmaphysics.com/

nwdiver93 | 16 luglio 2014

Solar is ABSOLUTELY economical and has been for >3 years. Yes, Nuclear Power is orders of magnitude more energy dense than Solar but Solar has more than sufficient energy density to be viable. I installed a ~10kW PV system on a friends shed for $18k. That system is producing ~25000kWh/yr at a 20 year average cost of ~$0.05/kWh compared to ~$0.12/kWh for power from the grid. The panels should last ~60 years and the inverter ~15-20.

As I posted, yes, we will need storage but not for ~10 years or so and the fact that Solar PV will suppress the Capacity Factor of thermal sources like nuclear completely destroys their economic viability. Nuclear is dead.

You are correct that Solar has only grown to where it is due to subsidies but thanks to Swansons Law and economies of scale those subsidies are no longer required. The subsidies worked!!

Dramsey | 16 luglio 2014

Interesting how the price of solar cells had plummeted, but the price of home PV installations hasn't. Still does make much economic sense here in Nevada. Do-it-yourself types can probably lash together something feasible, though.

But, responding to the OP: nobody has yet demonstrated a sustainable net-plus fusion reaction-- that is, one that actually produces more energy than it consumes. And they've been trying for over half a century. Right now the only difference between fusion power and perpetual motion is that the first is at least theoretically possible.

nwdiver93 | 16 luglio 2014

Sadly most PV installers still view it as a 'boutique' market and their margins reflect that. Most installers charge ~$1/w for the install meaning they clear >$10k for 2 or 3 days of work since they also mark up the equipment they sell you.

DIY really is the way to go... until PV installers start charging reasonable rates...

risingsun | 16 luglio 2014

@nwdiver93

The solar installation industry is consolidating into larger installers like Solar City who can explore all economies of scale. Prices will come down due to competition between installers.

DTsea | 16 luglio 2014

the issue is inverters, wiring, framework, etc is all there. Only the cell prices have dropped.

nwdiver93 | 16 luglio 2014

"the issue is inverters, wiring, framework, etc is all there. Only the cell prices have dropped."

Actually ALL the equipment prices have fallen (well, not the wiring) dramatically; to be fair the cost of labour is also down but not as dramatically. In 2011 I spent $3400 on an 8kW inverter; Last year I bought a 10kW inverter for $3000.

Larger companies like Solar City and Sun Run are helping to bring down costs but we still lag WAY behind Germany in terms of affordability.

Boy... we REALLY highjacked this thread... well, solar IS a type of Fusion :)

Timo | 17 luglio 2014

Solar is not useful everywhere. Where it is, fine, but it isn't all-around solution for everyone. We need other cheap and constant solutions as well. Fusion is great solution.

I hope LPP experiment gets to boron-hydrogen fusion running soon. That's aneutronic reaction, meaning that there is no radioactive waste whatsoever. Equipment is also small, you can fit one in one room in your basement if you want. Safe, clean, abundant, cheap...

DTsea | 17 luglio 2014

Fusion- safe, I will buy it. Clean too. Abundant or cheap? Not soon.

nwdiver93 | 17 luglio 2014

"Solar is not useful everywhere."

That's what the grid is for...

http://new.abb.com/systems/hvdc

pvandeloo.ipod | 17 luglio 2014

Nw driver. Solar is NOT economical. If you would include the costs of installation and back up power required you would see. There is no storage solution for soloar so it is presently no feasible for it to become a major energy supplier without prices exploding. Look at germany to see what the delta is going on. Prices have skyrocketed since the massive built up of intermittend sources. Sometimes they produce 50% of energy and sometimes less than 1% of energy needs. At night they produce 0. wake up and realize that without cheap and abundant storage solutions solar will stay uneconomical. Its absurd to state that it is presently if you include those costs.

pvandeloo.ipod | 17 luglio 2014

Your stupid graph is almost meaningless at it only looks at one aspect of costs. Start looking at the storage problem and what enormous costs lack of storage creates.

pvandeloo.ipod | 17 luglio 2014

Solar is not feasible if here is no storage. Everyone knows thos.

pvandeloo.ipod | 17 luglio 2014

I suggest you read this 2014 article by vaclav smil, one of bill gates favourite energy authors and a distinguishef expert:

http://www.vaclavsmil.com/wp-content/uploads/scientificamerican0114-521.pdf

nwdiver93 | 17 luglio 2014

Storage won't be required for solar for another ~10 years... as mentioned in my previous post.

The Cost of Storage is declining rapidly and when we need storage it will likely be more than cost effective.... as mentioned in my previous post.

The BOS (Balance of System) cost of solar is ~$2.50/w which equates to <$0.07/kWh... not a lot of people that pay less than that for power from the grid... and that's assuming a 20 year life; modern panels are more likely to keep working for 60+ years.

Here is one storage solution that shows A LOT of promise...
http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/VRB.pdf

pvandeloo.ipod | 17 luglio 2014

For solar to be a meaningful percentage of energy production and cost comprtitive we need storage. Back up power for when the wind doesnt blow and the sun doesnt shine that cant run ant full capacity because of a large percentage of solar and wind has higher keh costs. These higher costs are due to renewables and should be added to their expense. Obviuosly you and your cut solar panels dont care. You sre delusional. Germany already has huge price spikes and you want to convince me that solar is economical and doesnt need storage. Of course is doesnt need storage if others pay for back up power and it gets subsidies to boot.

It took 60 years on average to transition from 5% to 50% production of energy production. Since we are not ecen at 5% yet and challenges are enormous (see article) you can expect that only at the end of the century we will be any where near your hopeful projections. The 22nd century might be the century of renewables.

nwdiver93 | 17 luglio 2014

Never said you don't need storage for solar...

"Storage won't be required for solar for another ~10 years... as mentioned in my previous post."

What's your definition of "meaningful percentage"? I call 20% of total generation "meaningful"; We can get to that point without storage.

Solar is growing at an exponential rate; last year China installed more Solar PV than the US has installed in 30 years.

Solar has only been 'cost-effective' without subsidies for ~3 years in most markets. You ain't seen nothin yet :)

pvandeloo.ipod | 17 luglio 2014

Lol.

Its not cost effective without storage. let that sink in.

If you produce 10 percent of your electricitx via solar on sunny days that 10 percent can not be sold by other producers like nuclear. However to keep the lights on other non intermittent reliable sources still have to BE ABLE to produce 100% of the electricity the country needs when the wind doesnt blow and the sun doesnt shine. Because you demand energy even at night. This means that 100 percent capacit is created but cant be used. This creates a much higher kwh hour cost for traditional power plants that have been relegated to a certain extend to a back up power role. What also happens is that on some days solar creates so much energy that it has to be exportet at a cost. These enormous costs are not paid be solar and wind. Thus when not calculating honestly they might seem economical. In the real world however, not your fairy tale land, they are not. This is why in germany costs have exploded.

holidayday | 17 luglio 2014

Tesla is working on batteries that can cover the storage solution.

Do you know the price per kw storage that would make solar+storage competitive to traditional energy sources? (coal, gas, nuclear)

nwdiver93 | 17 luglio 2014

"Do you know the price per kw storage that would make solar+storage competitive to traditional energy sources? (coal, gas, nuclear)"

In a way that's the wrong question to ask... the way to look at this is...

"what is the cost of storage where it's more cost-effective to store excess energy than curtail renewable production"

In that case it's the wholesale cost of whatever non-renewable source you're displacing (for grid-level). Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries look like they could very well be <$0.05/kWh over a 20+ year life by 2020.

Residential-level storage can be even more compelling once 'net-metering' schemes are pulled back. Depending on the market $0.10/kWh storage could be cost-effective. A price-point that we've already reached if you can find a re-purposed LEAF battery (They go for ~$100/kWh and should still have >2k cycles left or ~$0.05/kWh)

Solar is going to expand to 20% and beyond; free-market economics are going to drive that. When consumers can choose $0.05/kWh from their roof or $0.20/kWh from the grid which way do you think they're going to go? And as iPod mentioned, that's going to further drive up the cost of grid power by lowering the capacity factor of existing generation; AKA 'The Utility death spiral'

In a few decades utilities will be reduced to electricity storage and trading companies...
http://www.eei.org/ourissues/finance/Documents/disruptivechallenges.pdf

nwdiver93 | 17 luglio 2014

While YES, we will need storage........ eventually.

There is currently NO NEED or even ANY real benefit to storage for Solar PV.... let that sink in.
The infrastructure costs to support solar PV are currently NEGATIVE.... let that sink in.

http://puc.nv.gov/uploadedFiles/pucnvgov/Content/About/Media_Outreach/An...

Timo | 17 luglio 2014

Grid is not very useful for (northern) Europe to make solar useful. Up here you don't get much Sun in winter when it is most needed. You would need damn long distribution cables to make it useful. We have seasons here.

pvandeloo.ipod | 17 luglio 2014

Nwdriver "Solar is going to expand to 20% and beyond; free-market economics are going to drive that. When consumers can choose $0.05/kWh from their roof or $0.20/kWh from the grid which way do you think they're going to go? And as iPod mentioned, that's going to further drive up the cost of grid power by lowering the capacity factor of existing generation; AKA 'The Utility death spiral"

These higher cost are caused by solar due to its intermittend nature and lackmof storage capacity, If you include those costs and or the costs of storage solar and wind are an order of magnitude away from being cost competitive. Therefore xour 0.05/kwh are a total farce. Let that sink in.

nwdiver93 | 18 luglio 2014

I really don't know how many more ways I can state this... if solar is <20% of total generation intermittency is COMPLETELY irrelevant; STORAGE is COMPLETELY irrelevant. The cost per kWh of solar generation IF total generation is <20% solar then the cost of solar is ~$0.05/kWh... Did I mention that if Solar is <20% of total generation Storage and Intermittency don't matter?... AT ALL?

How about this... until solar penetration exceeds ~20% of total generation it is irrelevant how reliable or when or how much solar energy is produced...

To be clear there is no need for storage until solar is >20% of total generation....

It costs ~$0.05/kWh to displace fossil fuel kWhs with solar IF total generation is <20% solar.

nwdiver93 | 18 luglio 2014

Just so there is no confusion... until we install enough solar that the energy we produce from our solar panels is 1wh of every 5wh of energy produced or ~20% it doesn't matter that we don't have grid storage and the cost of that solar energy IS the cost of the system... ~$0.05/kWh.

We WILL need storage or demand response when >20% of the electricity we produce comes from solar.

However... as long as >80% of our energy comes from DISPATCHABLE sources, we do not need storage for solar.

So, we can keep installing solar without installing batteries UNTIL total generation is ~20% solar...

bigd | 18 luglio 2014

@pvandeloo.ipod nwdiver93 Is correct in his assessment. The only problem is most do not have the means to make the 20year commitment for payoff. His numbers are correct that it is cheaper in the long term and as the economy gets better and solar goes down even lower it will grow to the reality that most will have solar power. By that time the storage issues will also be solved.

Timo, I said most, some areas may always need some kind of alternative source rather than solar. I am not enough of an expert on that area.

nwdiver93 | 18 luglio 2014

"The only problem is most do not have the means to make the 20year commitment for payoff."

PPAs and loans are quickly closing that gap. Just about anyone in southern CA that owns their home can get solar now for $0 down. You just pay ~90% for the power from the panels what you were paying to PG&E.

pvandeloo.ipod | 18 luglio 2014

This is false. Storage and pack up costs have to be included below 20 percent as well. Solar is not economical even below 20 percent. Since i cant explain it to you read this:

"Proponents of intermittent renewable energy such as solar PV and wind often claim that these energy sources will reach parity with standard grid power in the near future. As discussed in a previous article, however, this is a highly misleading claim, primarily because intermittent and non-dispatchable renewable energy is worth much less per kWh than steady and dispatchable baseline power.

....

Negligible storage costs (<1% penetration)

Initially, when solar contributes less than about 1% of electricity, the intermittency will be essentially negligible. As the blue line shows, current utility scale installed PV prices (~$2/Wp) are already close to parity with coal in the most ideal locations (highest PV capacity factors) under this assumption. However, this first percent of solar PV penetration is the only region where the standard grid parity mantra of renewable energy advocates is relevant.

Storage costs half of power plant costs (10-20% penetration)

As we move up to a 10-20% penetration of intermittent renewables, we also move down to the red line in the graph. Under this scenario, solar PV (and wind) starts to rely significantly on the energy storage implicit in fossil fuels. Standard power plants then have to be operated at lower capacity factors and at lower efficiencies due to more ramping and more spinning reserve.

One recent study for wind power calculated that costs of keeping backup fossil plants operating at lower capacity factors and efficiency (together with some added transmission costs) would increase the real cost of wind to triple the price of new gas and 1.5 times the price of new coal in the US. This represents a doubling of the standard costs calculated when the intermittent and non-dispatchable nature of wind energy is simply ignored.

Storage costs equal to power plant costs (20-40% penetration in selected regions)

As we move beyond a 20% penetration rate, specialized energy storage becomes necessary. According to EIA estimates, the most feasible option; pumped hydro storage, will cost about twice as much as a coal plant per watt. It will, however, lose only about half the energy lost by the coal plant in the energy conversion process. It can therefore be estimated that pumped hydro storage will inflate solar PV prices roughly by the same factor as a thermal power plant inflates the price of coal.

Even though the installed PV price of roughly $0.3/Wp required by this scenario seems highly unlikely ever to materialize, it should be noted that regions with abundant natural hydro capacity could potentially achieve these penetration rates of intermittent renewables at much more affordable prices. Denmark’s wind backed up by hydro from Sweden and Norway is one such example. Very few regions on earth are suited for this kind of arrangement though.

Storage costs double power plant costs (20-40% penetration in most regions)

Pumped hydro is only available in certain (relatively rare) topographies. Thus, for most cases, a day or two of battery storage will be most practical. Despite lots of noise from battery optimists, the 150-year old lead-acid battery is still the cheapest option we have for this purpose, but suffers from drawbacks such as short lifetimes (especially at deeper discharge rates) and relatively low efficiencies (about 20% of energy cycled through the battery is lost).

Lithium-ion batteries reduce these problems, but are also more expensive. One case study found that a lead acid battery and a lithium-ion battery could store energy for about $0.34 and $0.40 per kWh over their respective lifetimes. This cost (which must be added to the cost of renewables) is much greater than fossil fuel power even by itself. To better link this to the graph above, consider that most suppliers will sell you about $4 of batteries per watt of solar PV for protection against blackouts (example) where the battery warranty period is only about half that of the panels.

It should also be mentioned that, in the hypothetical scenario of very cheap solar PV and relatively expensive storage, it could be more economical to simply build a large overcapacity of intermittent renewables and spill a large portion of the power produced. In the graph above, this will reduce the capacity factor of the installation, but could create a transfer from the purple to the green line.

Storage costs quadruple power plant costs (>40% penetration)

Finally, the light blue line right at the bottom comes into play when one starts thinking about longer term energy storage to compensate for longer cloudy (or wind-still) periods or even for slow seasonal variations. This line (which really is a matter of complete impossibility for intermittent renewables) is especially applicable to regions with long cloudy spells and seasonal mismatches (e.g. solar PV in Germany). On the flipside, however, it is also much less applicable to regions with very reliable renewable energy resources that are well aligned with seasonal demand (e.g. solar PV or solar thermal in desert areas).

Chemical storage is probably the only viable option for such longer-term storage requirements with hydrogen normally being the first option that comes to mind. A Spanish study found that hydrogen from combined wind and solar projects would cost about €25/kg which translates to about $0.90/kWh of hydrogen internal energy. Converting this stored energy back to electricity at a later time will inflate the price by another factor of 3 (similar to natural gas power plants), bringing the total cost up to $2.70/kWh – about 50 times more expensive than conventional power. Other forms of chemical storage might be more economical, but it will be very difficult to rise above that light blue line.

Conclusion

The previous article stated that current solar PV technology is still about one order of magnitude more expensive than coal. Based on the above analysis, it can be stated that this will be the case at roughly 20-40% penetration of solar and wind into our electricity networks (about 8-16% of total energy), beyond which the prospects for PV (and wind) will rapidly deteriorate. This is a good example of the law of receding horizons discussed earlier.

However, the cost of storage is not the only influential variable in determining the real grid parity target for solar PV. The next article will therefore investigate four additional factors: the coal price, the PV panel lifetime, the PV discount rate and a CO2 price."

Full article:
http://oneinabillionblog.com/energy/renewable-energy/the-impact-of-energ...

Get that in your head. Back up power is needed below 20 percent. If solar supplies 10 percent on sunny days and non during the night somebody has to pick up the slack. Do you get that point????? That somebody is operating at lower capacity due to solar and is thus operating at a higher cost. These higher costs have to be added to the cost of solar. Thus solar is not economical even below your magical line of 20 percent.

Timo | 18 luglio 2014

@bigd, my comment was directed more to nwdiver93 that seems to think that solar solves all problems. No matter how cheap it will get it wont do that, because it's too unreliable.

Fusion OTOH could solve all our problems. Problem with it is not that it wont work, it is that funding for those fusion research projects that could work is tiny (DPF), and funding for those projects that wont work ever is huge (Tokamak).

holidayday | 18 luglio 2014

Timo: "No matter how cheap it will get it wont do that, because it's too unreliable."

Which is why grid storage is needed if solar is to become a larger percentage of total grid load.

As the sun sets, the percentage of load of non-solar sources must ramp up quickly to meet needed demand. Some types of power plants can ramp up quickly, but most cannot. Batteries will manage that ramp-up much better than trying to turn on / ramp up power plants for the brief time between sunset and bed-time, when energy usage drops to baseline.

It's not the energy generating capacity that's needed, it's how quickly that generating capacity can take over when the sun sets.

nwdiver93 | 18 luglio 2014

"Storage and pack up costs have to be included below 20 percent as well."

LOL... Reality must have missed that memo because there are A LOT of people with solar in areas where there isn't yet grid storage...

@Timo

Yes, there are remote regions in Alaska and Siberia where Solar PV will not work 3 or 4 months out of the year... for the other ~99.9% of humanity it will work just fine...A Fusion plant would work great for them but IMO it would be a little overkill...

pvandeloo.ipod | 18 luglio 2014

"Storage and pack up costs have to be included below 20 percent as well." me
"LOL... Reality must have missed that memo because there are A LOT of people with solar in areas where there isn't yet grid storage"

nwdriver you are beyond help. back up powers higher expense must be added to dolar costs and isnt . of course you can have solar if you built backup power which operates at lower capacizy and higher costs.

maybe you are too brainwashed zo comprehend

Tiebreaker | 18 luglio 2014

@Brian H

+1

Let me repeat the link:
http://lawrencevilleplasmaphysics.com/

nwdiver93 | 18 luglio 2014

Yes.... I am 'brainwashed' by reality... I've installed solar on several homes... no batteries on any of them... works great, no problems.

Several studies have also shown that to a great extent solar has a NEGATIVE cost... WITHOUT STORAGE!!

Net Metering saves Nevada rate-payers (w/o solar) ~$36 Million;
http://puc.nv.gov/uploadedFiles/pucnvgov/Content/About/Media_Outreach/An...

Value of non-dispatable distributed generation ~$0.14/kWh
http://www.ilsr.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/MN-Value-of-Solar-from-IL...

EVERY study I've seen shows at net-postitve effect of distributed generation at levels <20%...

WHY?
- Distributed generation relieves stress on transmission lines since energy is produced feet from where it's consumed... not miles
- PEAK consumption is during the day... when solar generation is still on-line

EVs can play an important role in the future since they represent a significant amount of 'storage capacity'; they can be prompted to start charging when there is a surplus and prompted to stop when there is a deficit. 1000 cars charging at 3kW represent 3MW of 'spinning reserve' if the utility has control of when those cars charge.

Grinnin'.VA | 18 luglio 2014

@pvandeloo.ipod | JULY 18, 2014:

"If solar supplies 10 percent on sunny days and non during the night somebody has to pick up the slack."

The overall peak demand for electricity from the grid occur in the summer on hot, sunny days. That happens to be the same time that solar is most productive. Solar electricity generation satisfies some of the peak load. This is true with no grid storage for all levels of solar up to some maximum, probably up to 20-30% of the peak load. With grid storage the level of solar generation increases.

Ron :)

nwdiver93 | 18 luglio 2014

The threshold for how much PEAK production can come from solar is obviously higher than 50%.

http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/details/beitrag/german-solar-breaks-thre...

With 'smart' inverters capable of reactive power management and frequency control there's no technical reason ~100% of PEAK production can't be solar PV. Obviously those systems can't carry the grid at night but if they can sustain ~100% of PEAK then that's ~20% of total...

sule | 18 luglio 2014

All we need is this:

And it will be available next year, in 2015.

nwdiver93 | 18 luglio 2014

LOL... yep... that's the only place we're going to be seeing non-solar fusion anytime soon; Sci-fi... Fusion is the energy source of the future and it probably always will be :/

Timo | 19 luglio 2014

@nwdiver93, do you have a globe in your home? If yes, check it. Pretty near entire Europe gets seasons where Sun is very low on winter, and north-Europe doesn't get it at all. Most of Europe latitude is at the same level with south Canada. That's way more than 0,1% of people. For Example in UK at midwinter day length is only about 7 hours total, and during that time Sun is pretty d*mn low.

Then there are just plain bad weather which can block the Sun for month straight. That affects couple of billion people.

For all those that doubt fusion, LPP gets fusion constantly, it's just the getting in positive energy gain that's is still a bit away (I hate what they did to their website and focus fusion site, it's damn hard to find anything in those pages now).

Brian H | 19 luglio 2014

nw;
More verbose ignorance. Focus Fusion is scratching and clawing for minimal funding, but if obtained will be available at industrial scales by 2020. To repeat, it has the BEST results and LOWEST barriers to break-even of any project in the world.

At 1% of the true installation costs of solar/wind/pixiedust, and 10X cheaper per kWh output than even coal or gas. Totally distributed, totally dispatchable (available 24/4, ramping up and down to match demand instantly), waste-free. Fuel available for 10X current world electric demand for a few billion years. Fossil fuels and even hydro are rendered obsolete.

Renewables will be the first economic road-kills, though.

Brian H | 19 luglio 2014

An interesting little exercise in arithmetic:
5 MW generators are probably the "sweet spot" per module. One generator could thus charge 50 Teslas at 100 kW non-stop, day and night, at an installed cost of 1-2 SCs (without storage!), and power cost of about 0.3¢/kWh (about 24¢ for a full usable charge of 80 kWh) per car.

Brian H | 19 luglio 2014

typo: (... 80 kWh per car).

Timo | 19 luglio 2014

24/7 also I hope :-)

I don't think they get to 5MW directly, but even at 500kW / unit it would still be pretty d*mn cheap. Even 50kW at those prices would be cheap. Just make an array of 100 of those to get 5MW.

nwdiver93 | 19 luglio 2014

"At 1% of the true installation costs of solar/wind/pixiedust, and 10X cheaper per kWh output than even coal or gas."

Get back to me when they actually build one at cost... in the mean time we've already got >100GW of solar installed. I built a 10kW system for $18k and since March it's produced ~10000kWh...

Pixie Dust? Solar PV vs Focus Fusion; Only one of these is currently producing electricity.

Grinnin'.VA | 19 luglio 2014

I think someone reminded us that generating electricity from controlled fusion has been a hot topic of research for about 50 years, ALWAYS 'expected' to be practical about 20 years in the future.

At that rate of progress, we may burn up the last drop of oil on the earth before we have a practical working fusion reactor!

If someone thinks they know how to make controlled nuclear fusion practical, I suggest that they explain their astounding breakthrough to some working researchers in the field. If you can do this, you are guaranteed to become a billionaire.

Sorry, but this appears to me to be a tale of fantasy. BTW, I got an M.S. in nuclear physics.

Ron :)

Timo | 19 luglio 2014

There has been a lot of money thrown in tokamak research which is basically a one big black hole where no money never comes back. That's the problem, if the installation is not huge and shiny and costs billions of dollars, you don't get government funding. That's the fusion that will never happen.

Focus fusion is completely different beast. In there fusion happens in tiny compartment with just non-scifi -looking capacitors jolting invisible energy inside some box that could fit into kitchen drawer. Material to do that fusion comes from couple of gas bottles that look like something you could have in your garage.

It's not impressive. That is why it doesn't get funding. But it works. It does generate energy, unfortunately no yet net energy.

If you have M.S in nuclear physics, then you should know that there are quite a few scientific papers made from that research, and there has been results that people thought are impossible just a couple of years ago. If you don't then I suggest you update your knowledge of that area. They have been "explaining their astounding breakthroughs" to researches in the field. It's relatively new area in plasma research, less than decade old.

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