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I have always been a little concerned by the way that capitalist economics demands constant growth of the economy.
A small business, or farmer might be perfectly happy if their income and expenses merely match.
Is it the impossibility of infinite growth that leads to the boom and bust cycle? Where growth becomes unsustainable and a bust is required to 'reset' the capitalist system?
Given a finite supply of stuff...how can the economy grow?
the wildly varying estimates of the value of assets
In fact, it only takes a natural disaster, a fire or a war or riot to destroy the value you thought you had.
The net upshot is that a coal station is only running about 60% of the time, but there's a lot more expensive equipment than wind.
the amount of equipment you need to make wind energy is relatively modest, just a big windmill, a generator and a long cable to the nearest part of the grid........when the wind blows you get your energy from there, when it stops you ramp up the other generators.
The main problem with wind is NIMBY-type issues; but onshore is down to commercial pricing.
Quotethe amount of equipment you need to make wind energy is relatively modest, just a big windmill, a generator and a long cable to the nearest part of the grid........when the wind blows you get your energy from there, when it stops you ramp up the other generators.There's the rub! The whole point of retail electricity is that it is there whenever you need it at the point of use. Your food won't spoil, the lights stay on in the operating theatre, and so on. So whenever you build a windmill, you have to build a fossil or nuclear generator with the same peak capacity, to cover the times when the wind doesn't blow, and then only run the non-wind machine at about 60% of capacity. And you now need two connections to the grid (not a trivial "cable".... HV wiring, pylons, switchgear, isolators....) So the inherent capital cost of wind power is more than twice that of conventional energy, and the overall return on capital is about half that of an all-conventional system.
By privatising electricity supply, requiring a significant installed base of windmills, and imposing a renewables levy on conventional power generators, government has killed the electricity industry or doomed us to rising prices.
There is no point in investing in new conventional plant unless the retail price of energy is allowed to double, because you could get your money back quicker elsewhere - e.g. by buying a useless windmill! - and there is no longterm commitment to supply anyway.
The power companies were sold off below market value and bought by investors looking for a quick killing, not by philanthropists. If wind power really is that cheap, why are the owners paid not to generate electricity when demand is low?
QuoteThe main problem with wind is NIMBY-type issues; but onshore is down to commercial pricing.Have you ever lived 2 miles downwind of a 10 MW windfarm? No windfarm owner does - the racket is astonishing (on the few days when it is working, that is). Imagine an airport running 24/7 with no gaps between arrivals.
The other problem is that all the "good" onshore sites in the UK (i.e. sites where annual output can exceed 10% of rated peak) are already occupied. There are plenty of offshore sites remaining with 20% potential, but the cost of an offshore windmill is horrendous (you need to burn thousands of tons of coal to make the concrete foundations and steel pylon, for a start) so only the "best" sites are worth developing.
1 tonne of steel is about 20 gigajoules... ...around 30 tonnes... ...20%, some run at 5%...95% of the time (5% maintenance time...
And wind power in the UK does not have a single extra generator built to accomodate it, not a single one, nor are any planned.
That very rarely happens. It's usually that there's a fault in the network and the power can't get to the consumer from the generators.
Aircraft are 130 dBs, whereas Windmills are like 80-90 dB when it's really windy.
QuoteAnd wind power in the UK does not have a single extra generator built to accomodate it, not a single one, nor are any planned.That is the problem in a nutshell. We are phasing out reliable sources and replacing them with unreliable ones.
QuoteThat very rarely happens. It's usually that there's a fault in the network and the power can't get to the consumer from the generators. Alas, it happens for several weeks of each year. No fault, just no demand for expensive windpower, so the supply contract ensures that the taxpayer pays anyway.
QuoteAircraft are 130 dBs, whereas Windmills are like 80-90 dB when it's really windy. Which is why I mentioned arrivals, not departures. Quite a different noise spectum.
It does seem that windfarm capacity factors have improved, I will grant you, but that masks the underlying problem that the capacity factor of a coal or nuclear station is determined by economics whereas that of a wind farm is determined by the weather. We have some control and discretion over the former but not the latter, and it is a sad but inevitable fact of meteorology that the days with the highest power demand are those with the lowest wind speed (persistent anticyclones).
I would be delighted if all our energy needs could be met by renewables, but present policies are not helping.
Actually reliability, wind is more reliable. If the forecast says you'll get a certain amount of power, you do get that. With other sources, the power station can get a fault and disappear, all at once.
But I would argue that increases in productivity from automation and computers in other industries haven't always resulted in higher wages, or more leisure time, for all workers.
Land and housing prices often go up at 5% to 10% a year, while wages and the price of commodities increase at a much slower rate of perhaps 3% a year.
QuoteActually reliability, wind is more reliable. If the forecast says you'll get a certain amount of power, you do get that. With other sources, the power station can get a fault and disappear, all at once.We live and learn. On my planet, all rotating machinery is subject to occasional breakdown and surface wind forecasts are at best an educated guess. But what do I know? I only fly around in the stuff, propelled by rotating machinery. And whenever I fly near a windfarm, I notice a substantial proportion of windmills are not turning: clearly there is no demand for free electricity on Earth, since they are all 100% reliable.
There is however a more serious side to "reliability". The point of electricity, gas, JETA1, coal, or cow dung, is that you can get the power you need when you need it, not when the wind thinks fit. And if you need more, you just turn on the tap or shovel more peat into the furnace: "no wind" won't appease the train traveller or the victim on the operating table.
Without even going into details of general meteorology and cyclone genesis, I might ask windmill enthusiasts to step outside around dawn and dusk. Remarkably, just when electricity demand is highest, surface windspeed is least.
QuoteActually reliability, wind is more reliable. If the forecast says you'll get a certain amount of power, you do get that. With other sources, the power station can get a fault and disappear, all at once.We live and learn. On my planet, all rotating machinery is subject to occasional breakdown and surface wind forecasts are at best an educated guess. But what do I know?
The UK has plenty of capacity.
●● security of supply is threatened as existing plant closes: overthe next decade we will lose around a quarter (around 20 GW) ofour existing generation capacity as old or more polluting plant close.Modelling suggests that de-rated1 capacity margins could fall belowfive per cent around the end of this decade, increasing the likelihoodof costly blackouts. In addition to this huge reduction in existingcapacity, the future electricity system will also contain more intermittentgeneration (such as wind) and inflexible generation (such as nuclear).This raises additional challenges in terms of meeting demand at alltimes, for example when the wind does not blow;
Well, you're clearly not a meteorologist.
Really? Can you point to that in the above chart for the last week, because I can't see that ever happening.
Incidentally I'm intrigued by the high capacity factors now being claimed. These don't match up with the wind roses, so I wondered how to get a high capacity factor without breaking the laws of physics. It turns out to be very easy. If I put a 100 kW wing on a 50 kW alternator, I will get twice the capacity factor because the alternator is working flat out when the wing is only at 50% power. It all depends on what you mean by "installed capacity", and knowing how politicians like their statistics massaged, you can get any answer you like.
On that particular day (Tuesday October 6, 2013) the graph I sent you a link to shows the UK wind farms produced a rock-steady 2G of power the whole day, which is almost exactly average,
The wind is always lower in summer, and higher in winter. There's also 10GW lower demand then, to some degree this balances out.
The UK could do much the same thing, it already has some taps to Europe.
Since the commissioning of the 2,000 MW DC link in the 1980s [i.e. under an agreement between nationalised industries] the bulk of power flow through the link has been from France to Britain.
In general, I believe the average worker today in the USA, and most of Europe is better off today than one century ago, two centuries ago, or three centuries ago.However, one concern is that not everything follows the same inflation curve. Land and housing prices often go up at 5% to 10% a year, while wages and the price of commodities increase at a much slower rate of perhaps 3% a year. Part of the increase in land values is pushed up by an increasing population, and rarity. A century and a half ago, the government could hardly give away land, especially on the frontiers. Today, that land giveaway is all but gone, and there is increasing competition for the land due to population growth.There is, of course, always the goal to get "bigger and better", but I presume if the population would stabilize, then home prices would also stabilize. But, obviously with supply and demand, anything that becomes rare with respect to demand will also cause the inflation disjoints.
So what I guess I am asking, is there a way that mathematicians can predict when an economical system becomes unstable.
The other unsustainable aspect is that things that used to be small luxuries (store bought clothes, appliances) are incredibly cheap, but big ticket items, like a university education or houses or land (which you mentioned), are becoming more and more expensive,
big ticket items, like a university education ... are becoming more and more expensive, almost out of reach for an increasing number of people.
Quote from: cheryl j on 16/10/2013 03:41:41big ticket items, like a university education ... are becoming more and more expensive, almost out of reach for an increasing number of people. Unconventional sources of education are now available from the Khan Academy, and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are now available from a number of universities.At this point, it is not clear how to get a recognised certification from these institutions - or how these institutions are going to charge a reasonable fee for the course material.
We have a lot of energy reserves
I imagine that they attracted little interest from the superpowers because its not so easy to make nuclear weapons with a Thorium reactor.
Defining a sustainable fishing industry is a major political challenge in Europe at the moment.