[Beowulf] Electricity cost: a critical survival issue of our ICT infrastructures.

Vincent Diepeveen diep at xs4all.nl
Thu Apr 11 13:49:14 PDT 2013

On Apr 11, 2013, at 9:14 PM, Lux, Jim (337C) wrote:

> I like the idea of solar panels to power your cluster.. no energy  
> storage required, just run when the sun shines.  Yes, there is a  
> substantial ecological/waste problem with solar panel manufacture..  
> so maybe we need to scale up and run solar thermal for our  
> cluster.  You can build a nice 5-10 MW solar thermal plant, and  
> that should run a few thousand nodes quite nicely.  Electricity  
> costs are estimated at around $50-60/MWhr from parabolic trough or  
> power tower designs.

Well this is of course nonsense - it doesn't deliver electricity when  
you need it. So there is no "costs a megawatt hour". It's thrown away  
cash of course as it doesn't produce
when you need it. So you still need to have a normal contract to  
deliver energy and you still  pay the full price for that contract of  
course. No 'reduction' as you're gonna eat
power at the times that the power peak is there - as there is not  
much of a sun then.

> But to address Vincent's concerns about data sources and such:
> The data comes from the US Government Energy Information  
> Administration which provides independent statistics and analysis.   
> It's pretty complete, detailed, and cross referenced with original  
> sources.  The EIA doesn't really have much of an axe to grind:  
> they're more about collecting data, unlike, say, DoE (whose origins  
> as the Atomic Energy Commission always make it slightly suspect for  
> me)

Yeah there is a big difference in statistics from the USA, depending  
upon which administration has office. Republican or Democrats. Both  
are guilty there.
Burocrats wouldn't dare to show statistics their boss doesn't like,  
provided they CAN manipulate it.

Note this is far worse in the nations in Middle East. Especially the  
stockpile of oil each nation has sitting in the ground is complete  
fantasy charts.

I'm not going to promote one or another form of energy. Nuclear  
versus coals versus gas. It's a choice between 3 evils and we'll have  
to wait for the next Einstein to show
up to help us out finding a cleaner form of nuclear energy.

Optimistically the scientific community says they expect it somewhere  
around 2050-2060, let's hope so!

> Nuclear power is decreasing in the US because all the nuclear  
> plants are getting old and being decommissioned and there's  
> essentially no new plants coming on line. No new plants started  
> since 1974 and Three Mile Island in 1979 basically put paid to any  
> new starts and led to lots of cancellations.  The other problem was  
> the huge financial overruns on plant construction (WPPS). Unless  
> they're heavily subsidized, it's hard to make money with a nuclear  
> plant, and that doesn't even begin to get into the costs of waste  
> disposal and storage, for which there is no long term solution in  
> the US.  Today, wastes tend to be stored at the point of generation.
> We will just wait for fusion power, too cheap to meter, from  
> seawater which is (always) 20 years in the future (and has been  
> since 1950).  (and we'll worry about the radioactively hot waste  
> stream then.. it's not fission products that are the problem..  
> neutron activation is a big issue)
> The big safety issue with nuclear power is the long lasting effects  
> of a unlikely but severe disaster. Unlike a hydro dam break (which  
> has comparable probability and immediate impact), a serious nuclear  
> accident has effects that literally last millennia.   Chernobyl,  
> Fukushima, TMI, etc. all have BIG downstream effects which will  
> last substantially beyond the prompt effects.
> Coal usage is not surprising.  There's an enormous coal mining,  
> distribution, and consumption infrastructure (e.g. the big coal  
> fired plant in the southwest which basically on top of a coal  
> mine).  Coal is cheap, particularly for surface mining.  The cost  
> is basically digging it out of the ground and dumping it into rail  
> cars for transportation. And it's found in a lot of places.
> However, the remediation costs for emissions and such is becoming  
> prohibitively expensive.  Inevitably, there's "other stuff" along  
> with the carbon in coal, and burning gigatons of it is a good way  
> to extract those substances (Sulfur, Mercury, etc.).  It would be  
> exceedingly expensive to build a brand new coal fired plant and  
> meet emissions rules.  To date, what they do is a succession of  
> "minor modifications" (which can be surprisingly large in scope) to  
> an existing older plant that doesn't have to meet the present rules.
> Jim Lux
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Vincent Diepeveen [mailto:diep at xs4all.nl]
> Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2013 11:09 AM
> To: Eugen Leitl
> Cc: Lux, Jim (337C); Beowulf at beowulf.org
> Subject: Re: [Beowulf] Electricity cost: a critical survival issue  
> of our ICT infrastructures.
> At european energy market one has to PAY if you deliver windmill or  
> solar panel energy at hours the market doesn't need the energy.
> So a huge energy producer exploiting such windmill parks  
> effectively loses more money than he makes. Same with solar plants  
> - yet there is very few of those and the ones there are very tiny.
> This is a realistic worldview on solar and windmill energy of  
> course and should be also translated into not subsidizing it except  
> for research.
> Right now it's moving money directly from EU to China which  
> produces windmills and solar panels, of course at a price no one  
> here can compete with.
> Gas always has been huge in Netherlands as energy source (we also  
> export gas) yet oil hardly gets used to produce electricity.
> World wide usage of coals only is increasing, especially in 3d  
> world nations. The nations using lots of coals only use more and  
> more of the stuff.
> I'm a bit amazed though USA is using that much coals and gas as  
> when compared to the nuclear production of it.
> Of course assuming the table is correct that Jim quoted, as there  
> is no market where that much desinformation gets spreaded as in the  
> energy world, as there is always billions at stake and politicians  
> simply don't want to bring the bad news to their voters that there  
> is as of yet no good way to produce electricity without some sort  
> of major disadvantage, be it CO2 output or killing all fish and eco  
> life of a river with a hydro plant or the risk of a melt down of a
>   nuclear central. They just are not prepared to tell the truth and  
> governments then mess up statistics not seldom.
> On Apr 11, 2013, at 12:59 PM, Eugen Leitl wrote:
>> On Wed, Apr 10, 2013 at 09:40:38PM +0000, Lux, Jim (337C) wrote:
>>> In the US, electricity comes mostly from coal and natural gas, with
>>> the latter rapidly replacing the former.  France is somewhat unusual
>>> in having significant nuclear generation, but in the US, nuclear has
>>> been roughly constant at about 20%.
>> It doesn't have to be nuclear, coal or gas
>> http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2012/10/german-
>> coal-fired-generation-of-electricity-falls-while-renewable-
>> generation-rises
>>> In PetaWattHr
>>> Coal	1.517
>>> Gas	1.231	 (natural)
>>> Nuc	0.769
>>> Hydro	0.277
>>> Renew	0.219	(wind, tidal, solar)
>>> Oil	0.013
>>> Other	0.012	(no idea what this is, biomass?)
>>> Gas	0.011	(other, blast furnace gas, e.g.)
>>> Coke	0.010 	 (from oil)
>>> Over the last few years, Coal is decreasing by about 200 TeraWh/ yr,
>>> Nat gas increasing by about the same. Oil is decreasing by about 3-4
>>> TWh/yr, renewable is increasing about 20-25 TWh/yr.
>>> http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.cfm?
>>> t=epmt_1_1
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