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  1. #51
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    Close on heels of commencing use of wastelands in northern districts and rooftops in towns and cities, Gujarat is set to potentially use the existing 19,000 km-long network of Narmada canals across the State for setting up solar panels to generate power.
    ..........
    The pilot project will generate 16 lakh units of clean energy per annum and also prevent evaporation of 90 lakh litres of water annually from the canal, an official told Business Line here on Monday. The concept will, therefore, tackle two of the challenges simultaneously by providing energy and water security.
    http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/...?homepage=true

  2. #52
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    Why does one hear so little about geothermal. Seems to me the way forward. Expensive to drill in areas where one has to go deep, but then so is nuclear.

    Seems to me this is where the focus ought to be. Wind, wave etc. is just a patchwork of scratching along the surface.

  3. #53
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    Geodynamics - Our Projects

    This project has been around for ten years now but has been gaining ground and enough funding to expand and prove it's viability. What is holding it back is an unwilling government to invest in the infrastructure for the power lines and transformer stations the project would need to be able to deliver power to the east coast.

    Geothermal heat mining has the drawback that the heat does eventually run out from the buried igneous formations. The Innamincka project estimates 30-50 years supply of a quarter of Australia's current annual energy usage.
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  4. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Umbuku View Post
    Close on heels of commencing use of wastelands in northern districts and rooftops in towns and cities, Gujarat is set to potentially use the existing 19,000 km-long network of Narmada canals across the State for setting up solar panels to generate power.
    ..........
    The pilot project will generate 16 lakh units of clean energy per annum and also prevent evaporation of 90 lakh litres of water annually from the canal, an official told Business Line here on Monday. The concept will, therefore, tackle two of the challenges simultaneously by providing energy and water security.
    Business Line : Industry & Economy / Government & Policy : Now, Gujarat to cover Narmada canals with solar panels!
    Great find! Good idea about placing the panels over the canal to save (some of) the water from evaporating.


    ____________________________________________

    Stealing an update from Mid’s thread (since it’s local): http://teakdoor.com/thailand-and-asi...wer-plant.html

    Sonnedix Group announces that it has reached over 100 megawatts of operating PV capacity with the completion of a 9.5MW solar plant in the Mae Chan district in Chiang Rai northern Thailand.

    The solar power plant is the largest built to date in northern Thailand, and was constructed by Assyce Fotovoltaica and Ch. Karnchang Group using 41,000 REC solar modules and 16 ABB inverters.

    Long term bank debt was provided by Krung Thai Bank on a non recourse project finance basis.

    “We intend to pursue our growth in Thailand and Asia as one of its leading independent solar power producers. As Solar PV Power in Thailand keeps growing, considering the local community requirements is a key element to a successful integration”, said Sonnedix Chairman, Mr. Franck Constant.

    “Regardless of our growth, we cannot forget our environment, and giving back to the community is an important and necessary pledge to our long-term relationship”.

    Sonnedix is committed to its global Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative which invests in education, quality of life and good neighbor programs tailored to each plant it develops. In Thailand, Sonnedix Solar is currently donating and installing PV solar systems at local schools.

    The Chiang Rai Solar Plant can supply enough electricity to meet the annual needs of about 7,200 average Thai homes. It is expected to generate more than 14,400 megawatt hours of clean electricity per year, offsetting carbon dioxide emissions of more than 10,000 tons a year. A Buddhist inauguration ceremony took place at the power plant last week.

    Sonnedix Marks Completion of 9.5 MW Solar Plant in Thailand - Thailand Business News
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  5. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by FlyFree View Post
    Why does one hear so little about geothermal. Seems to me the way forward. Expensive to drill in areas where one has to go deep, but then so is nuclear.

    Seems to me this is where the focus ought to be. Wind, wave etc. is just a patchwork of scratching along the surface.
    Geothermal is patchwork because the individual facilities can't produce as much power than say nucular or hydro plants. The largest of the world has a capacity of 303 MW of electricity, and 133 MW in hot water for heating from 50 wells. One nucular reactor produces about 1,000 MW, and large dams many times that. Nothing against patchwork, power supply will become dezentralized.

    There can be much more energy recovered from the wind, than form the depths of the earth, but both of them are dwarved thousands of times by the solar radiation reaching earth. The earths core produces only twice as much energy by radioactive decay than is currently consumed by humanity.

  6. #56
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    The Australian solar PV market could tip the 10,000 mewagatt (10 gigawatt) mark as early as 2017, and could reach the “saturation” levels for owner-occupied houses in many areas in coming years, according to a new report.

    The five-year forecast prepared by leading market analysts Sunwiz and Solar Business Services says that the Australian solar PV market – currently at 2.5GW – will likely grow to between 6GW and 10GW by 2017.

    The actual outcome will depend on the speed of the growth in the largely untapped commercial sector, the pace of large, utility-scale solar farms, and the industry’s ability to penetrate more challenging parts of the residential sector.

    One of the most extraordinary findings of the report is that many parts of Australia could reach “saturation” point in the owner-occupied residential solar market. The analysis shows that the national average penetration rate is running around 20 per cent, many areas are at greater than 35 per cent, and some localities are already at 90 per cent. (see separate story). It concludes that penetration rates in the range of 50 per cent and 75 per cent are “entirely probable.”

    The owner-occupied sector forms the largest part of the residential market, and it should be noted that “overall “ penetration levels, which includes all homes, including apartments, is running at around 10 per cent in Australia, although close to 20 per cent in South Australia. The Sunwiz and Solar Business Service analysis suggests that the solar industry will have to target the more challenging sectors – the rental market, the high-rise markets and those homes with “difficult” locations.

    Australia may have up to 10GW of solar PV by 2017 : Renew Economy

  7. #57
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    Commissioning Of Final Turbine Completes World's Largest Offshore Wind Farm | CleanTechnica

    The 175th and final wind turbine was installed at the London Array offshore wind farm in December of 2012, but was finally commissioned this week, which not only finalises the end of major construction activities but also confirms the London Array’s position as world’s largest offshore wind farm.

    The installation of the 175 wind turbines started back in January of 2012, and has been completed by MPI Discovery, A2SEA’s Sea Worker and Sea Jack.

    “This is the final major milestone of the construction phase and the culmination of more than two years’ offshore construction work which began in March 2011 with the installation of the first foundation,” said Project Director Richard Rigg.

    “It has been a complex operation but I am delighted that the commissioning of the wind farm has now been completed on schedule, despite the worst of the winter weather.”

    “Having the final turbine installed is another landmark in this flagship project for the UK and for DONG Energy,” said Benj Sykes, Country Manager for DONG Energy’s UK Wind business. ”The London Array will soon be the largest operational offshore wind farm in the world – building offshore wind farms of this size and larger in the future allows us to harvest the advantages of scale and is an important element of our strategy to drive down the cost of energy.”

    In fact, the London Array is already exporting power to the UK grid, according to Siemens AG, from the farm which now has a total capacity of 630 megawatts, covering the annual power consumption of 480,000 British households.

    The London Array was built 20 kilometres off the coasts of Kent and Essex on a site 245 square kilometres.

    “As we now look to our pipeline of future projects, Dong Energy is determined to drive down the costs of our offshore wind farms to 100 euros per megawatt-hour for projects we’ll be sanctioning in 2020,” Sykes said. “Building London Array, the world’s largest offshore wind farm, is a great achievement.”

    Tony Cocker, Chief Executive Officer of E.ON UK, commented: “London Array is a significant achievement in renewable energy. The world’s largest operational offshore wind farm will be capable of generating enough energy to power nearly half a million homes and reduce harmful CO2 emissions by over 900,000 tonnes a year.
    “It’s been a tough time for the team working on site. The recent bad weather and north easterly winds have whipped up the waves preventing access to the site so this milestone is true reward for their hard work.”

    “Just over two years ago, we celebrated the first of 177 foundation installations in this massive undertaking,” said Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar, another partner in the London Array. ”Today, after overcoming challenges on both land and at sea, we celebrate the commissioning of the final turbine.

    “As a partner in some of the world’s most sophisticated and large-scale renewable energy projects, Masdar recognises the value of robust collaborative efforts as exemplified by the London Array. Masdar is proud to be contributing to the United Kingdom’s clean energy mix and remains committed to growing offshore wind capacity in the UK and worldwide.”

  8. #58
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    Brazilian-Made Plastic Solar Panels, a Clean Energy Breakthrough


    PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil, Mar 12 2013 (IPS) - As part of the country’s growing emphasis on green tech research, Brazilian scientists have developed plastic solar panels that could revolutionise power generation from this clean, renewable energy source.

    What looks like a thin, flexible sheet of regular plastic is actually a solar panel printed with photovoltaic cells, which convert sunlight into electricity. This new material, totally unlike the heavy and costly silicon-based panels commonly used to generate solar power today, was created by scientists at CSEM Brasil, a research institute based in the southeast Brazilian state of Minas Gerais.

    Made by incorporating organic photovoltaic cells into common polymers, the new panels resemble transparent sheets of plastic with stripes where they have been printed with carbon-based organic polymers.

    The technology to produce these organic photovoltaic cells has been studied in Europe and the United States for a number of years, and has now been further developed in Brazil.

    According to its inventors, the new “solar plastic” could represent a minor revolution in the way clean energy is produced from sunlight.

    “While the capacity for power generation is almost the same, its small size means that it can be given uses that are almost impossible for silicon panels,” said the chairman of CSEM Brasil, Tiago Maranhão Alves, a physical engineer who participated directly in the research.

    The lightweight, flexible new material can be used to power the electrical components of automobiles and in electronic devices like mobile phones and wireless computer keyboards and mice.

    But the Brazilian researchers are concentrating on the production of solar panels, which can be used to cover relatively large areas, like windows. “A panel with a surface area of two or three square metres could be sufficient to generate the energy needed in a house lived in by a family of four,” Alves told Tierramérica*.

  9. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Necron99 View Post
    I will happily stand corrected by someone who knows, but batteries are made from rare earth metals. I doubt there exists enough of these metals to provide batteries for all the cars currently in use?
    Electric may have niche uses but its a dead end.
    Hydrogen cells are the future of personal transport.

    Indeed, the problem for cars in future is not gonna be a lack of energy, its going to be a lack of rare metals that will cause our society to stop.

    Read "Wasted World" by Rob Hengeveld, and you'll have a few moments to worry. Some rare metals will be completely used in the next 20 or so years, others will be too difficult (i.e., too energy-consuming) to win.

  10. #60
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    rare earth metals are not that rare, compared to other metals such as copper or molybdenum. The issue has been that these metals ar not found in concnetrated deposits as much as copper. but then there's not been a massive amount of looking as until resent spike in demand caused by advent of electric cars and bikes there wasn't a massive market to make it worth looking for these minerals, especially once the Chinese started selling that stuff at prices non Chinese mines could not compete with. The Chinese mines have manages to achieve massive cost savings by basically not giving a shit about the effects that the radioactive waist from their mining operations have on the locals.

    now that demand is going to exceed current production rates in the near future, that the Chinese are no longer effectively dumping metal on the market a lot more mining is going to restart in the US, and new mines in Vietnam and Mongolia. so in the mid term there won't be a shortage, and given the nature of batteries being built with these metals the recycle rates going to be quite high... which will mitigate against long term supply issues as will migrations to alternative battery technologies.

    saying that one thing we all need to do is learn to do more with less... when it comes to all resources. And the first crisis we are likely to face is availability of agricultural water, this issue is already causing an ongoing reduction the amount of land farmed in china as industry and cities are given priority. One reason why bio fuels that complete with food crops for land and water are not sustanable.

  11. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by hazz View Post
    ...

    saying that one thing we all need to do is learn to do more with less... when it comes to all resources. And the first crisis we are likely to face is availability of agricultural water, this issue is already causing an ongoing reduction the amount of land farmed in china as industry and cities are given priority. One reason why bio fuels that complete with food crops for land and water are not sustanable.
    In the mid-term, at current consumption levels. However, we are facing increasing consumption, due to growing middle classes in places like Brazil, India, China.
    And due to a growing world population. 7 billion now, likely 10 billion in the forseeable future.

    Thats not sustainable.

    All resources are finite. Except for solar energy... that is, then we need solar cells made from rare materials.

    I am afraid that learning to do more with less isnt going to help the 10 billion of us.

  12. #62
    Guest Member S Landreth's Avatar
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    A climate denier who doesn’t seem to want to move out of the way of progress (for selfish reasons),..

    In a lengthy interview in the spring issue of Massachusetts-based Common Wealth magazine, petroleum coke magnate Bill Koch went full on climate-denier and finally came clean about his long-standing opposition to the Cape Wind project. The reason he has spent millions of dollars to block the project comes down to one simple point: he doesn’t want to ruin the view from his Cape Cod waterfront estate.

    In the interview, Koch called the project “visual pollution” and explained that he “was buying more property on the Cape for a family compound and the windmills would interfere with the aesthetics.”

    Would this be a good point to mention that the symbol of Oyster Harbors, the gated community in which Koch’s Osterville compound is located, is actually a windmill?

    While Cape Wind proponents have long assumed NIMBY-ism was at the root of Koch’s position, this is the first time he’s come out and admitted it so publicly, even actually saying the words, “I didn’t want it in my backyard.”

    Unfortunately for Koch, he doesn’t have final say over the project, because the wind farm won’t actually be built in the backyard of his compound, though it will be (barely) visible from his veranda. This visual simulation shows what the turbines would look like from Cotuit, the town next to Koch’s.


    And Koch is laughing all the way to the bank, because the simpletons who follow him and repeat what they are told just keep making him wealthier: Koch Comes Clean On Dirty Opposition To Cape Wind

  13. #63
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    I was looking at a large lake by the sea yesterday and it occurred to me that another source of solar energy is available, the gravity of the moon in the form of tides.
    I'm thinking a huge artificial tidal lake with turbines at a neck where water would at all times be forcing in or out driving generator turbines.
    Seems kind of simple and obvious to me.
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  14. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by Koojo
    I'm thinking a huge artificial tidal lake with turbines at a neck where water would at all times be forcing in or out driving generator turbines.
    There are a few of those.

    List of tidal power stations - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I knew only of the Rance tidal power station in France, but Wikipedia lists a handful. The problem is that only very vew locations are suitable for the purpose. Only two are producing significant power, the others are much smaller.

    The tidal flow or tidal stream generator has higher potential as they can be built in many more locations.

    Tidal stream generator - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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  15. #65
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    The concept is quite simply and the first tidal power station went on line in rance, france in 1966(presumably to celebrate british winning the world cup). the problem is that they have very low capacity factors, 26% in the case of the french plant... simply because they only really generate their peak powers as the tide changes. This this plant with a peak output of 240MW its average output is 62 MW which is not very much at all.

    saying that there are a few others being built, but you have to consider the relatively small outputs from these plants and compire that to the enviromentage damaged caused by damming an estuary.... which i belive is what killed a project to sam the seven river estuary

  16. #66
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    There have been many plans for a plant in the Severn estuary and some of them would have been viable. The one I liked was 10 miles long and used the same technology as the French plant at Rance. Power output was significant and more cost effective than nuclear. I think the main problem was excessive silt build-up, probably worse than that seen in Rance.

  17. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by Koojo View Post
    I was looking at a large lake by the sea yesterday and it occurred to me that another source of solar energy is available, the gravity of the moon in the form of tides.
    I'm thinking a huge artificial tidal lake with turbines at a neck where water would at all times be forcing in or out driving generator turbines.
    Seems kind of simple and obvious to me.
    Are you kidding? The tide in the open ocean is 60 cm, and in a reservoir perhaps 6 mm. Just not enough head of water to produce energy. A dam on one end, and 100m or 200m of water pressure/gravity on the turbines, that's a deal.

    Could put large turbines into the ocean currents, though. But that's still SF.

  18. #68
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    The schemes in france and korea are getting tidal heads of well over 5M and are generating electricity; which is more than proof of concept

  19. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by hazz
    The schemes in france and korea are getting tidal heads of well over 5M and are generating electricity;
    Yes, but unfortunately that large tidal heads occur on few places and even fewer of them around the world have coastal structures that make exploiting them easy. You can do it but they mean little to nothing in the big picture of energy needs.

    Tidal flow generators are much more promising.

  20. #70
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    Two-For-One: A New Solar Dish Delivers Low-Cost Electricity Along With Fresh Water


    One challenge that continues to hound solar power is the efficiency with which it converts sunlight into electrical power. Right now, that efficiency ranges from 10 to 30 percent, while much of the rest is lost as waste heat. But Swiss researchers associated with IBM have built a new solar dish, called the High Concentration PhotoVoltaic Thermal system (HCPVT), that tackles the waste heat problem by using it to generate fresh water.

    The dish itself is covered in small mirrors, which concentrate sunlight on a small module of photovoltaic cells. That design puts the dish at the leading edge of efficiency, converting 30 percent of the received solar radiation into electricity and providing 25 kilowatts of power. But it also means the solar module faces an enormous concentration of heat. To keep it from melting, the HCPVT employs a liquid coolant system that IBM first developed for its high-performance computers, and that’s 10 times more effective than traditional passive air cooling.

    The liquid keeps the solar cells operating safely at up to 5,000 times the normal solar concentration by drawing away the waste heat, after which the heated coolant is used to vaporize salty water in a desalinization system. As a result, the HCPVT is able to recover half the waste heat and put it to productive use.

    According to IBM, the HCPVT is built from unusually low-cost materials, meaning the per area price of setting it up is significantly lower than comparable solar systems, as is the cost per kilowatt hour:

    “We plan to use triple-junction photovoltaic cells on a micro-channel cooled module which can directly convert more than 30 percent of collected solar radiation into electrical energy and allow for the efficient recovery of an additional 50 percent waste heat,” said Bruno Michel, manager, advanced thermal packaging at IBM Research. “We believe that we can achieve this with a very practical design that is made of lightweight and high strength concrete, which is used in bridges, and primary optics composed of inexpensive pneumatic mirrors — it’s frugal innovation, but builds on decades of experience in microtechnology….

    With such a high concentration and a radically low cost design scientists believe they can achieve a cost per aperture area below $250 per square meter, which is three times lower than comparable systems. The levelized cost of energy will be less than 10 cents per kilowatt hour (KWh). For comparison, feed in tariffs for electrical energy in Germany are currently still larger than 25 cents per KWh and production cost at coal power stations are around 5-10 cents per KWh.

    Just one square meter of receiver area in the HCPVT system can provide 30 to 40 liters of drinkable water per day — about half the needed daily amount for the average person, according to the United Nations. The researchers think a large array of the dishes could produce enough fresh water to sustain a town. On top of that, the system can even provide air conditioning, using an absorption chiller rather than the standard compression chiller:

    The HCPVT system can also provide air conditioning by means of a thermal driven adsorption chiller. An adsorption chiller is a device that converts heat into cooling via a thermal cycle applied to an absorber made from silica gel, for example. Adsorption chillers, with water as working fluid, can replace compression chillers, which stress electrical grids in hot climates and contain working fluids that are harmful to the ozone layer.

    The prototype is being tested at IBM research facilities in Zurich, and the project was recently awarded a three-year, $2.4 million grant from the Swiss Commission for Technology and Innovation. The long-term vision is to build arrays in areas of southern Europe, Africa, the Arabic Peninsula, South America, Australia, and the southwestern United States — places that are remote, dry, and in need of both affordable sustainable energy and greater supplies of drinking water.


    With such a high concentration and a radically low cost design scientists believe they can achieve a cost per aperture area below $250 per square meter, which is three times lower than comparable systems. The levelized cost of energy will be less than 10 cents per kilowatt hour (KWh). For comparison, feed in tariffs for electrical energy in Germany are currently still larger than 25 cents per KWh and production cost at coal power stations are around 5-10 cents per KWh.

  21. #71
    Guest Member S Landreth's Avatar
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    OK there is a drawback. But it's a nice start and something new,......






    Mother Nature Network just flagged a fun diversion in the solar technology world: the Window Socket.

    It’s a portable solar charger, roughly the size of a hockey puck, which uses a suction cup to attach to any available window. It also has a standard electrical plug — though right now it’s only the European standard — so once it’s done charging you can plug an appliance into it right there on the window, or carry it around as a portable electrical outlet.

    Obviously, the device would be most useful on a trip, in a plane, a bus, a car, or outdoors — circumstances in which an outlet might be hard to come by.

    Besides the lack of an American outlet version, the Window Socket also has a few weaknesses. It takes five to eight hours to charge completely, which is a serious chunk of time, especially in travel situations — though it lasts ten hours after that. Furthermore, as Mother Nature Network notes, the design currently doesn’t deliver enough power for anything other than small electrical devices:

    As pointed out by more than a few commenters — the device’s initial appearance over at Yanko Design impressively garnered more than 300 comments — the big drawback here aside from the slow charge time is that the Window Socket’s battery is currently at 1000mAh which isn’t enough juice to really power anything save for a smartphone or other low-voltage mobile gadget.

    Though again, if travel situations are what’s primarily under discussion here, than enough juice for your smartphone may be all you need. And presumably, further improvements in technology will bring down the charge time and boost the power delivery.


    Other developments in the world of portable solar power include roll-up panels for the military, and a new ultra-thin solar panel design that may be able to fit directly on smartphones and other such devices.

    Green On-The-Go: A Portable Solar-Powered Electrical Outlet

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    This looks interesting, but I am unsure of all the ins and outs

    One giant leap for mankind

    One giant leap for mankind: £13bn Iter project makes breakthrough in the quest for nuclear fusion, a solution to climate change and an age of clean, cheap energy

    It may be the most ambitious scientific venture ever: a global collaboration to create an unlimited supply of clean, cheap energy. And this week it took a crucial step forward. Steve Connor reports

    An idyllic hilltop setting in the Cadarache forest of Provence in the south of France has become the site of an ambitious attempt to harness the nuclear power of the sun and stars.

    It is the place where 34 nations representing more than half the world’s population have joined forces in the biggest scientific collaboration on the planet – only the International Space Station is bigger.

    The international nuclear fusion project – known as Iter, meaning “the way” in Latin – is designed to demonstrate a new kind of nuclear reactor capable of producing unlimited supplies of cheap, clean, safe and sustainable electricity from atomic fusion.

    If Iter demonstrates that it is possible to build commercially-viable fusion reactors then it could become the experiment that saved the world in a century threatened by climate change and an expected three-fold increase in global energy demand.

    This week the project gained final approval for the design of the most technically challenging component – the fusion reactor’s “blanket” that will handle the super-heated nuclear fuel.

    The building site in Cadarache has also passed the crucial stage where some 493 seismic bearings – giant concrete and rubber plinths – have been set into the reactor’s deep foundations to protect against possible earthquakes.

    Peering over the edge of the huge seismic isolation pit, it is still possible to see some of these bearings before they are covered with a raft of reinforced concrete that will support the massive fusion machine at the heart of the £13bn Iter project.

    Click here to see how the Iter Project could produce clean energy

    Over the next few years about a million individual components of the highly complex fusion reactor will arrive at the Cadarache site from around the world. They will be assembled like a giant Lego model in a nearby building which has a volume equal to 81 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

    Nothing is left to chance in a project that has defied potential Babel-like misunderstandings between the collaborating nations. The design, development and construction of a machine that will attempt to emulate the nuclear fusion reactions of the Sun is proving to be a triumph of diplomacy, as well as science and engineering.

    “It is the largest scientific collaboration in the world. In fact, the project is so complex we even had to invent our own currency – known as the Iter Unit of Account – to decide how each country pays its share,” says Carlos Alejaldre, Iter’s deputy director responsible for safety.

    “We’ve passed from the design stage to being a construction project. We will have to show it is safe. If we cannot convince the public that this is safe, I don’t think nuclear fusion will be developed anywhere in the world,” Dr Alejaldre said.

    “A Fukushima-like accident is impossible at Iter because the fusion reaction is fundamentally safe. Any disturbance from ideal conditions and the reaction will stop. A runaway nuclear reaction and a core meltdown are simply not possible,” he said.

    Conventional nuclear power produces energy by atomic fission – the splitting of the heavy atoms of uranium fuel. This experimental reactor attempts to fuse together the light atoms of hydrogen isotopes and, in the process, to liberate virtually unlimited supplies of clean, safe and sustainable energy.

    Nuclear fusion has been a dream since the start of the atomic age. Unlike conventional nuclear-fission power plants, fusion reactors do not produce high-level radioactive waste, cannot be used for military purposes and essentially burn non-toxic fuel derived from water.

    Many energy experts believe that nuclear fusion is the only serious, environmentally-friendly way of reliably producing “base-load” electricity 24/7. It is, they argue, the only way of generating industrial-scale quantities of electricity night and day without relying on carbon-intensive fossil fuels or dangerous and dirty conventional nuclear power.

    However, the daunting complexity of the Iter project is demonstrated by how long it has taken to reach this early stage of construction – and how much further it still has to go. There is at least another decade of building work and a further decade of testing before the reactor will be allowed to “go nuclear”.

    “Every single stage is inspected. Even the specially-prepared concrete cannot be mixed unless a nuclear safety inspector is present. If anything goes wrong with Iter, fusion will be dead,” said a spokesperson for the project.

    The roots of the Iter project go back to 1985 when Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the former Soviet Union, offered his country’s prowess in nuclear fusion as a bargaining chip in the nuclear disarmament talks with the US, which at that time was pursuing its “Stars Wars” defence system.

    Gorbachev and President Reagan, with the support of Margaret Thatcher and French President François Mitterand, signed an agreement to cooperate on nuclear fusion using the Russian “tokamak” reactor. This was a revolutionary device that could hold the super-hot fusion fuel by creating a “magnetic bottle” within the reactor’s doughnut-shaped vacuum vessel.

    Several experimental tokamak reactors around the world, including one at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire, have shown nuclear fusion is theoretically possible, but the giant tokamak at Iter will be the first to generate more power than it needs to attain the very high temperatures required for nuclear fusion.

    The Iter tokamak machine, which is twice the linear size and 10 times the volume of its nearest rival at Culham, will produce temperatures of well over 100 million C – many times hotter than the centre of the Sun.

    It is the first experimental fusion reactor to receive a nuclear operating licence because of its power-generating capacity. For every 50 megawatts of electricity it uses, it should generate up to 500mw of power output in the form of heat.

    Richard Pitts, a British nuclear physicist working on the project, said that even though Iter has a nuclear operator’s licence and will produce about 10 times as much power as it consumes, the Iter machine will still remain a purely experimental reactor, with no electricity generated for the French national grid. “We’re not building a demonstration industrial reactor. We’re building the first step towards one that does produce electricity for the grid. If we can show that fusion works, a demonstration reactor will be much cheaper to build than Iter,” Dr Pitts said.

    A critical phase of the project will be the injection of plasma – the superhot, electrically-charged gases of the atomic fuel – into the reactor’s vacuum chamber. This plasma, a mix of the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium, will drive the nuclear-fusion reaction.

    The plasma will be heated to temperatures as high as 300 million C to force the atomic nuclei close enough together to cause them to fuse into helium, a harmless and inert waste product that could be recycled as an important industrial raw material. Giant electromagnets powerful enough to trap an aircraft carrier will contain the plasma within a spinning vortex held by the magnetic bottle of the tokamak reactor.

    The original date for “first plasma” was scheduled for November 2020 but delays with the construction and commissioning phases have pushed this back to October 2022 – although some of that lost time has since been clawed back. One of the electromagnetic coils used in the giant magnets, for instance, had to be scrapped after a worker in one of the participating countries left a towel on one of the superconducting cables which then became compressed within a coil. Costly mishaps like this put the entire project behind schedule.

    Rem Haange, deputy director-general of the Iter project, said that despite the delays, which are perhaps inevitable with such a huge and complex engineering project, no further problems are envisaged that could threaten the viability of the Iter project. “There are no technical issues any more that will be show-stoppers. We think we’ve overcome all the technical issues,” Dr Haange said.

    Although the foundations for the main reactor building are still being laid, there has been a lot of development work off-site in the different member nations – the EU, Russia, US, China, Japan, India and South Korea. More than 90 per cent of the Iter machine’s engineering components, for instance, have now been commissioned.

    These components, some the size of small houses, will be shipped by road and sea to Cadarache in the coming years, and the task of putting them together into a working machine will be formidable. Iter will have enough superconducting cabling, for instance, to wrap around the Earth 15 times.

    “There are a million parts to the Iter machine and this will be the most complex and technically challenging assembly task. The tokamak reactor is 30 metres tall and consists of 18 toroidal magnetic coils weighing hundreds of tons that will each have to be positioned with a precision of less than two millimetres,” said Brain Machlin, head of Iter’s assembly operation.

    As the components of the tokamak arrive in the coming years, Iter engineers will be holding their breaths to make sure the parts fit together perfectly. But even if “first plasma” happens within the next 10 years, it will still be another five years or more before they have the confidence to put radioactive tritium fuel into the vacuum vessel – and go nuclear.

    Even if everything goes to plan, the first demonstration power plant using nuclear fusion will not be ready until at least the 2030s, meaning commercial reactors could not realistically be built until the second half of the century.

    The long timescales mean nuclear fusion does not often get on the political agenda, unless superpower summitry is involve as it was at the height of the Cold War in 1985. But in the end, the long wait for nuclear fusion, and the experiment to save the world, may prove to be well worth the effort.

    Timeline: Chain reaction

    1929: Scientists use Einstein’s equation E=mc² to predict release of large amounts of energy by fusing atomic nuclei together.

    1939: German-born physicist Hans Bethe, pictured, demonstrates that nuclear fusion powers stars.

    1950: Andrei Sakharov and Igor Tamm in the USSR propose a “tokamak” fusion reactor.

    1956: Tokamak programme begins in strict secrecy.

    1969: Tokamak results declassified, astounding Western scientists.

    1973: Design work begins on Joint European Torus (Jet), a tokamak-type reactor in Europe.

    1983: Jet completed at Culham, Oxfordshire, on time and to budget.

    1985: USSR proposes an international fusion-energy project.

    1988: Design work begins for International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, later known as simply Iter. 1992: Design phase begins for Iter.

    1997: Jet produces 16 megawatts of fusion power, the current world record.

    2005: Cadarache, France, chosen as Iter site.

    2021-22: “First plasma” scheduled, when ionised gases will be injected into the Iter tokamak.

    2027-28: Iter “goes nuclear” with injection of tritium.

    2030s: First demonstration fusion reactor to produce electricity for grid.

    2050s onwards: First commercial nuclear fusion power plants.

  23. #73
    Member Chico the Fox's Avatar
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    A shorter, maybe more promising story about fusion, if not a bit contradictory to the previous

    Nuclear fusion from Google, Lockheed, Draper Fisher



    A well-known venture capitalist has his eye on one of the biggest and most elusive prizes of our times: nuclear fusion. And the “skunkworks” project he’s eyeing is not from some stealth startup or academic lab. Rather, it’s under development at aerospace company Lockheed Martin and has connections to, yes, the omnipresent Google.

    Steve Jurvetson, managing director at Silicon Valley VC Draper Fisher Jurveston (DFJ), has posted photographs and information on Flickr of a presentation by Lockheed senior program manager Charles Chase of a small fusion machine that Chase says Lockheed will fashion into a prototype by 2017. Chase made the presentation last week at Google “Solve for X” gathering. Solve for X encourages solutions to pressing problems.

    There is nothing in the posting that says DFJ or Google are currently backing the project financially. But one can assume that Jurvetson might be waiting out the count to invest in a possible grand slam, as VCs are known to try to do (Jurvetson’s own portfolio has included Hotmail, Tesla Motors and SpaceX, among others). Google has a history of investing in sustainable energy.


    Atomic again. VC Steve Jurvetson has been on the nuclear trail before. Here he is outside an accelerator-driven neutron source under construction at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee, in 2004.
    Many people regard fusion power as the Holy Grail of energy because in theory it would provide a safe, endless power source. Fusion mimics the process of the sun, hurling atoms together rather than splitting them apart as today’s nuclear fission technology does.

    But ever since scientists first began working on it in the 1950’s, it has remained 30-to-50 years away, because no one has figured out how to continuosuly harness more energy than they spend in creating fusion reactions.

    Large international government projects like ITER in France and NIF in Livermore, Calif. are nowhere near perfecting the technology on which they are spending considerable sums. ITER has a budget of around €13 billion ($17.3 billion), for instance.

    THE FIGHT FOR FUSION

    A number of smaller, privately held and in some cases venture backed startup companies have been tackling fusion using technologies different from those at the behemoths. Many of them have smaller fusion machines in mind, not like the 20-story “tokamak” that ITER is building, or the 3-football-field-long laser facility at NIF. The smaller fusion machines would have less capacity than the 1.5 gigawatt reactors that define nuclear fission new builds today, and thus could fit into the “modular” nuclear movement, auguring benefits like lower cost and transportability.

    The Lockheed “skunkworks,” as Jurvetson calls it is the latest known example. (Perhaps he takes the word from Lockheed. Chase’s LinkedIn profile identifies him as “senior program manager, revolutionary technology programs, at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works” - the Palmdale, Calif. division of the Bethesda, Md. company. Either way, a little intrigue is never a bad idea for a stealth marketing campaign).

    As Jurvetson reports:

    “Lockheed is working on a compact 100MW high-Beta reactor…that should be about 2×2x4 meters. They hope to have a prototype working by 2017, to be able to meet global baseload energy demand by 2050, in time to have an impact on our climate.”

    The 2050 projection is startling. Chase basically believes that Lockheed’s reactor can start connecting to the grid 10 years from now (5 years after the prototype is ready) and that it can feed all of the planet’s “baseload” requirements by 2050 (when he says “baseload” will entail supplying power for electric vehicles, among other things).

    Chase also says that the large government projects won’t be able to do this until the turn of the century, “when it might be just a little too late,” to stave off disastrous global warming consequences of fossil fuels. ITER and NIF’s own timelines are probably not as far out as Chase suggests for them.

    Lockheed will compete against privately-backed fusion startups, including: Lawrenceville Plasma Physics; the Jeff Bezos-backed General Fusion; Helion Energy; and the under-the-radar Tri-Alpha Energy, which has backing from Goldman Sachs, Venrock, Vulcan Capital, New Enterprise Associates and reportedly from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. And that’s just a sampling (write in below with your favorite fusion projects!).

    Each of these companies is approaching fusion with its own different approach. LPP and Tri-Alpha are attempting a form of fusion called “aneutronic,” which directly creates electricity in the form of charged ions, rather than creating heat to drive a turbine to make electricity.

    REBRANDING NUCLEAR

    Some fusion supporters want to drop the word “nuclear” from their technology, in order to distance themselves from a brand that suffers disdain from many public quarters (despite a remarkable safety record, a history of causing far fewer fatalities and illnesses than fossil fuels, and outperforming solar PV, hydroelectric and biomass as a low CO2 emitter over its life cycle - but more on that another time).

    Jurvetson is certainly among the crowd searching for a new moniker. On his Flickr posting, he notes, “Looking for a better name, I suggested that they call it ’sequestered solar.’”

    If you want to learn more about Lockheed’s project, you can see Chase in action at the Google event in a YouTube video below. I found it as I was posting this story, and haven’t had a chance to view yet. I will shortly, and I’ll probably write in more detail later on my Weinberg Foundation blog (Weinberg is a London-based non-profit group that advocates alternative forms of nuclear fission and fusion that could operate more efficiently and even more safely than the conventional nuclear technology that has been in place for some 50 years).

    Have a look. Feel free to react in the comments section below. Go nuclear, if you want:

  24. #74
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    That's a job-creation scheme for scientists. 60 years of work on this project, zero success so far because it can't be done. Controlled fusion can't work. It works in the sun because it's not controlled. Gravitation smashes a vast mass of Hydrogen into the right conditions for fusion to start. It's a small sun, but large enough to produce energy from the fusion of the smallest nucleii all the way up to iron, all those different fusions going on parallel. In a controlled fusion you can't do this, Hydrogen is fused to Helium and Lithium, and these two elements at once act as pollutants and cut off any further fusion. How are they supposed to be removed from a plasma hundreds of millions of degrees hot (which doesn't sound quite safe to begin with), held between huge magnets; to ensure continuous fusion?

  25. #75
    Member Umbuku's Avatar
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    Visiting a Nuclear Fusion Reactor

    Functioning test fusion reactor in Oxford.

    ITER nuclear fusion reactor design receives approval | News | The Engineer

    Planned 500MW fusion reactor to be built as a prototype outside of Paris France.

    It is already being done...

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