Is it possible that there will be less innovation in the next decades because of environmental concerns?

Is it possible that there will be less innovation in the next decades because of environmental concerns?

[ 12/May/21 – Reply to comment by John Doner – “Despite comments to the contrary, renewable energy is much more expensive that fossil fuels.”….]

That is a very short sighted analysis, however true it may be right now.

Solar only works with reliable, safe cheap battery technology. That is not simple, and lots of people are working on it.

I am reasonably confident that it will be solved at scale.

Grid scale storage does not need to be light weight, does not need to rely on lithium. It doesn’t really matter how big and heavy it is (within reasonable limits) so long as it is reliable, safe and has a long cycle life (100,000 plus cycles to 50% capacity). Some contenders under development, but not quite there yet.

The issue with solar for capitalists is that it is distributed, and not easily monopolised, and does not therefore generate a lot of ongoing profit.

The incentives of the economic systems and the real long term needs of people are now directly opposing in a large and exponentially increasing set of contexts.

That is the real issue.

[followed by]

If you define reliable battery technology as fairy dust it does strongly indicate where your biases are.

[followed by]

I agree that there are issues with creating light weight batteries.

We may have enough lithium for devices where weight is an issue, but it is not going to work for grid scale storage.

I get that there are multiple levels of things that are not yet working at the required scale, and that does not mean that they will not end up delivering at scale as the technology matures.

What is needed for grid scale storage is battery technology based on common materials, like sodium or aluminum, that can be produced cheaply at scale.

Yes – there are issues.

And you used the term “fairy dust”, which is a mythical substance; seemingly as a sign of disrespect rather than any sort of real attempt to address very real issues.

You do not appear to be interested in seriously considering anything that conflicts with your existing dogma. You seem more interested in insult than doing the very difficult work to address difficult issues of substance.

In respect of nuclear power, the arguments are more complex. Every one of us is subject to about 5 beta decays in our lungs every hour (and growing), as a result of Krypton-85 resulting from the nuclear industry (mostly power) – and that is not the only isotope to pose risk to humanity – Strontium 90 and Caesium 137 are not nice. Chernobyl and Fukushima have resulted in substantial areas of land (thousands of square kms) being uninhabitable, and both resulted in measurable increases in “background” radiation doses. Actually pinning any particular cancer death on the decay of a particular atom from a particular source is impossible. And the increases in cancer from multiple sources (including both diet and background radiation as the major contributors) deliver much higher fatality rates than direct deaths from nuclear weapons or accidents. And it is still possible even with those to make a case that nuclear, if done well (which it often isn’t) is a reasonably safe power source.

And we have a nuclear reactor – 93 million miles away that we cannot avoid having. Might as well use it if we can – and it seems entirely possible that we can – viably, and we are not there yet (as you note). And we are a lot closer that we were 50 years ago.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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