The progress of static grid power

I read recently that we will need to add another 900 nuclear reactors over the next fifty years to meet global demand. The current count is 435. That is a huge number. There will also be a lot of coal burners brought on line besides. The key point of all this, is that all our static grid power must be produced in this manner.

Here, we actually do not have a meaningful fuel supply problem for a century or two at least, although it is going to get more difficult. That is why uranium is at $75 a pound from $10.

As I have posted, the residential reliance on grid power is open to displacement by both geothermal systems or super efficient solar systems. I notice that a company has started producing solar shingles using silica wafers. What took so long?

This is all good, except that that is only a portion of grid power demand. The major portion is industrial and commercial. This sector has already done handstands over the past thirty years to minimize its reliance on grid power while the residential market is even now just beginning.

There is really no better way for them to generate power that they have not already put to work.

Of course, since stable grid power by way of nuclear and coal is available on demand, it will continue to be the supply of choice.

The two available major alternatives are tidal generation, very much in its infancy and deep geothermal, rapidly coming up to speed. There are a number of bit players such as wind power, while becoming economic have other drawbacks slowing their implementation on a similar scale.

I personally love deep geothermal which is quietly going from strength to strength as we discover the tricks of dealing with deep hot caustic environments. Our real strength, however, is the simple fact that one hundred years of drilling technology can take us into the type of geology we need. Our oil industry service industry is almost ready for this challenge.

Even sedimentary rocks are getting hot at fifteen thousand feet. We can reach twice that although from a oil industry perspective there is little point because costs are climbing on a power curve and it is eventually too hot for hydrocarbons. In other words, drilling below the hydrocarbon zone should put you into the geothermal zone. This is a bit of a simplification and a gross understatement of the difficulties that will prevent us from rushing out and actually doing it that way any time soon.

Iceland is at least teaching us how to do it. And we are currently focusing on the quiescent volcanoes. This is actually an unlimited source of power.

In the more difficult cooler hot zones, we still retain the option of using the good old Rankin cycle engine (reverse refrigeration) to generate brake horsepower.

Right now we are perfecting our knowledge.

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