[ExI] Are mini nuclear power stations the way forward?

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Tue Mar 22 09:21:59 UTC 2011

On Tue, Mar 22, 2011 at 12:24:58AM -0600, Kelly Anderson wrote:

> > You're insular. Most aren't. If you want to connect to power grid,
> > what's the price quite? 100 kUSD? More?
> Somewhere in that range. The point is that I don't want to connect to
> the grid. The grid has issues that I don't want to be tied to. If I

My point is that the 3 kUSD invested in batteries are negligible
if compared to connecting you to the grid. Nevermind that land
off-grid is much cheaper, so you likely saved a lot more, depending
on how large your land area is. 

And PV can power nomadic people as well.

> were up the hill in Japan, I would have the only working Internet
> around...

There's a nascent movement attempting to give Internet
infrastructure ownership into the hands of end users.
> > Batteries don't work yet. For some reason we decided
> > to waste some 40 years, and not do R&D.
> We need some pretty advanced nanotech to get batteries right. However,

Not really. You just have to figure out a cheap and stable electrochemistry
system suitable for solid/solid, solid/liquid, liquid/liquid or
solid/gas etc. fuel cells. Water is actually pretty good, once
hydrogen/oxygen fuel cells are cheaper and last longer. Meanwhile,
dump your PV peak into high-pressure water electrolysis, load hydrogen
gas cyliders directly (or build a gas holder, that'd be cheaper), 
and pipe it into a WhisperGen (>90% efficient Stirling/water heater combo).

> I think the future in offline storage MAY lie in compressed air. Large

No, only for very large scale. The thermodynamics of it doesn't allow
small scale.

> building sized batteries also have some interesting potential. An

The car industry will bring you pretty powerful batteries within
the next 10 years.

> installation of that type was installed a few years back in southern
> Utah. Quite interesting.
> >> I like solar very much. But it is VERY expensive.
> >
> > 3 USD/Wp, about twice the residential rate. In ten years it
> > will be residential rate where I sit, or below.
> For me it's been around 10x, including gasoline to run generators
> during the times the sun doesn't shine.

Yes, you can do things very expensively, if you want to.
> > If you live where it snows, and the inclination doesn't take care
> > of it, and you're off grid, then you should perhaps look intro
> > electric or other heating of the panels.
> That is funny. One of the least efficient things you can do with
> electricity is to create heat. Melting snow with electricity would

Yes, but one of the most inefficient things you can do with PV
panels you rely on to sit under snow. Climbing up the roof to
clean them off is not a particular sane way of dealing with the 

If I knew I had to do that, I'd have a roof which is trivial
to access and safe to be on, or built electric heating, starting
with small segments below so that the PV panels assist with self-dethaw,
or install combination solar thermal/photovoltaics (I presume you
have Si panels, these would profit from liquid cooling) and dethaw
them by running a warm liquid until snow slides off.

> likely not pay back for a week or more, by which time it would have
> snowed again.

Again, you can do things very hard for you, if you want to.
> >> off. It snows probably 20 times a year. It is a bit of a pain here in
> >> the real world.
> >
> > If it hurts, stop doing it.
> I have no alternative. If I could easily hook up a little coal power
> plant, you bet I would... :-)

You already have gasoline generators, why are you not running these to
defrost the panels? If you have gasoline generator backup, why do you
have batteries? I don't know the details of your installation, of course.

Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a> http://leitl.org
ICBM: 48.07100, 11.36820 http://www.ativel.com http://postbiota.org
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