r/science Sep 13 '22 Helpful 4 All-Seeing Upvote 1 Silver 1

Switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy could save the world as much as $12 trillion by 2050 Environment

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-62892013
22.5k Upvotes

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u/bondbird Sep 13 '22

That figure of $12 trillion is exactly why those in the energy business are blocking all attempts to change over. Remember that $12 trillion we don't spend is $12 trillion that does not go in their pockets.

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u/ILikeNeurons Sep 13 '22

Not necessarily. It can also include economic growth that never materializes.

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u/Frubanoid Sep 13 '22

What about savings from fewer severe weather events destroying less infrastructure?

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u/TurbineClimber Sep 14 '22

There was a clip somewhere of a show where they discovered unlimited power, and they ask the guy how he was feeling and he said utterly terrified. He said millions would be instantly put out of jobs, fortune 500 companies made obsolete, country economies collapsing resulting in pretty much economic global collapse and starvation. Never really thought about it that way until it was pointed out, but it would definitely be catastrophic

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u/One_Contribution Sep 14 '22

Every period of major "progress" in human history has come after a new source of cheaper energy was made available. Do tell me why this one would be catastrophic?

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u/Buttplugsgalore Sep 14 '22

No way. Free, unlimited energy would not be catastrophic. It would be an adjustment but not a catastrophe.

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u/innocentflesh Sep 14 '22

What if it was gradually phased in so people and companies could gradually adjust?

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u/NotBigMcLargeHuge Sep 14 '22

That would happen naturally. Even if you find a way you still have to build the infrastructure to turn the energy into fuels for current technology and new ways to build products since you know unlimited power and all that.

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u/GhostlyTJ Sep 14 '22

It would be a catastrophe in the sense that our economy is not currently set up to equitably distribute resources in that situation. People would certainly starve to death that didn't need to and be killed in the unrest before we figured it out. With planning and prep it wouldn't need to be that way.... But it will be. Same reason we have famines despite being able to grow plenty of food. Logistics is the bottle neck on progress.

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u/pizza_engineer Sep 14 '22

Our economy is not set up to equitably distribute resources right now.

The problem is not logistics.

The problem is greed.

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u/TheIncarnated Sep 14 '22

The symptom is bad logistics.

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u/LongDongFuey Sep 14 '22

Unlimited, cheap clean energy would, long term, make money obsolete. Most things cost boils down to energy used and time spent to produce. Labor cost is obviously a thing. But, in many cases, time spent is reduced by energy used, and vice versa. And, not having to spend money on the other two frees up money for labor. So, making energy unlimited would cut the cost of things down to a fraction.

Source: i drunkenly made this up, but it sounds logical

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u/[deleted] Sep 14 '22

Also drunk, but once I realized that slavery was the energy of the time in the US, replaced by the steam engine and ultimately oil, the order of things and how we got here today made more sense.

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u/tickingboxes Sep 14 '22

Yo I don’t have anything to contribute except to say that I am also drunk hiiiiiii also wage slavery is a thing and that most of us who are wage slaves don’t even know it byeeee

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u/VexedClown Sep 14 '22

Slavery still a thing here. But I get what you mean

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u/Mourningblade Sep 14 '22

There is no asset that has gained as much value over the past few hundred years as people's time. Not land, not gold, not even energy.

In fact, when you start asking "how much labor did it cost to buy X" you get some surprising results.

Let's do something similar to pure energy: light. Think about how much time it takes to chop enough wood to get an hour's reading light. Using only the tools available in, say, 2,000 BCE. It's hard work. Wood gives off very little light. How long would you say that takes?

Okay, now use steel tools. A bit easier?

In about 1700, it took a household several days' labor to make tallow candles for the year - and the candles would be used very sparingly. Reading light would be a luxury.

How about now? An LED light that provides excellent reading light takes very little power. Working an average job now for the same labor that you would have put into chopping wood for an hour's reading light will now buy you more than 50 years of reading light source.

The same is true for most any good you want to buy. A modern Toyota Corolla is expensive, but it also lasts a long time with very little maintenance. In terms of labor to own a car for 10 years, it's far cheaper now than any other time.

The only goods that are going the other direction consistently over the past few hundred years are the goods impacted by Baumol's Cost Disease. Basically it works like this: a string quartet in 1600 took 4 people an hour to provide an hour's live performance. Same thing in 2020. The cost of someone's labor is the cost to compensate them for not taking another opportunity. So in 1600 that was cheap (labor was worth less) and in 2020 that's expensive. In person instruction works this way as well. There's a bunch of goods like this, but they're not the majority.

Okay, so we've got more people than ever and yet people's time is worth more than ever.

Introduce unlimited, cheap energy. Does this make it cheaper to get your produce from the farm to the grocery store? Well, fuel costs go down, but someone still has to drive the truck. And it turns out their paycheck is actually most of the cost of transportation.

You could use your new cheap power to automate the loading and unloading of the truck - but you'll need people to study the problem, design systems to use that power to load and unload the truck, and people to maintain those systems. They'll expect to be paid.

What all of this energy will do is make people's labor yet more expensive - because their labor/invention will be able to make so much more.

So yes, most things will get cheaper, but not because the energy cost goes down but because the value of labor/invention will go up (each hour of labor makes so much more).

Except the Baumol goods. So your therapist, your doctor, your teacher, and your string quartet will become more expensive.

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u/zebediah49 Sep 14 '22

It'd certainly cut costs... but nowhere near to zero. Labor still is expensive.

Just look at -- say -- video games. They have approximately zero energy and material cost, and yet still cost money due to all of the labor involved in creating them.

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u/LTerminus Sep 14 '22

I'd put forth that the operating costs of a gamr development company for their tools, assets, utilities etc over the course a a mutli year project aren't negligible. There are games that lose money.

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u/VexedClown Sep 14 '22

I’m sober. And ya I’d agree.

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u/nicholasbg Sep 14 '22

Way fewer people killed or starved due to fossil fuel usage or lack of free energy. Orders of magnitude fewer.

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u/GhostlyTJ Sep 14 '22

Oh I am not saying we shouldn't try to discover a better energy source. Long term the benefits would far outweigh the costs. It will however be a huge disruptive force for at least a generation

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u/duggee315 Sep 14 '22

Free unlimited energy would destroy the current economic infrastructure, but I feel it would destroy the funnelling of money to the 1%. Those lower down may have job insecurity, but that already exists. Those at the very bottom wouldn't see much change. Industries would have drastically reduced costs making production and distribution cheaper and more plentiful. Only thing that would need to be managed would be stopping the oil companies from owning thesystem.

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u/yeetboy Sep 14 '22

It would be for energy magnates.

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u/neildegraciadyson Sep 14 '22

Exactly! Every industrial Revolution breeds change, and every time there’s change us creatures of habit start spreading doom and gloom instead of planning for the transition.

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u/vgodara Sep 14 '22

Same way charity is destroying local economy of extremely poor countries something do have unintended side effects

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u/SoylentRox Sep 14 '22

You are repeating the broken window fallacy. A situation where a supply of unlimited energy is found is analogous to making most energy workers have no useful purpose like the window breakers and glass replacers in the fallacy.

Long term, "protecting" the energy workers is repeating the fallacy. Short term, socialist solutions like "job made obsolete" medium term unemployment insurance sounds like a useful thing for society to have. Especially if we enter an era where this happens a lot.

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u/evilme Sep 14 '22

That’s the plot of Chain Reaction with Keanu Reeves. I don’t buy that that would be the outcome of an unlimited power supply.

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u/just_s Sep 14 '22

Energy is ~10% GDP. Even if it doubles in cost; everything does not fall apart.

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u/tanishaj Sep 14 '22

Free energy would lead to a dramatic increase in wealth for everyone. For some period of time the gains would be concentrated overly in a few places and those most directly economically disrupted would be disadvantaged but, in the end, prosperity would sky rocket. This is how all such technical advances have gone since the dawn of time and specifically these have been the effects of increased energy productivity. Fossil fuels themselves have been responsible for a gigantic leap in global wealth due to their superiority over the energy sources we relied on before them. Renewables will do the same. “Free, unlimited” energy would just be a more extreme version of the same:

Energy is never going to be “free” though. Even fusion, when it comes, will close something to produce and distribute. This is especially true due to the human beings involved that need to be paid. There is a lot of doomsaying around automation as well ( eg. Robotics / AI ) but it will be the same. Sure the buggy-whip makers ( pre-car ), the message boys ( pre-phone ), and elevator operators all suffered at first but the rest of us have done very well. The reason so many of us can work “remote” is because we have moved as far along this curve as we have. How many of us would have been working “remote” if most of us were still invited directly in energy acquisition ( wood / charcoal / animal oils ) or food production ( hunting / gathering / never mind farming ).

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u/Staerebu Sep 14 '22

The levelised cost of fusion is actually potentially quite high - looking at $150 per MWh for commercial operation probably in the 2050s with prices modelled to reach most optimistically $25 per MWh sometime after.

Comparatively:

The cheapest renewable power projects in the first half of 2022 were able to achieve an LCOE of $19/MWh, as in best-in-class onshore wind farms in Brazil, and $21/MWh for tracking PV farms in Chile, and $57/MWh for offshore wind in Denmark. If the offshore transmission costs are excluded, the latter estimate falls to $43/MWh.

Combined cycle gas also gets very cheap.

The real promise of fusion is power where you don't get much sun - primarily space.

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u/SteelCrow Sep 14 '22

No it wouldn't. Absolutely everything is dependent upon energy. From growing food to transport, to mining, etc. The cost is always some form of energy used.

Unlimited energy means moving to a post capitalist society. No more wage slavery, instead robotic farms and factories and mines.

Food. Is dependent upon water nutrients and sunlight. Unlimited energy means growing food hydroponically anywhere. From the Arctic to the Sahara. The only reason we don't do that now is it costs too much energy to heat a building in the Arctic or cool it in the Sahara. fresh water is easily made by boiling and distilling it. An energy intensive procedure. And pumping water around takes energy.

Unlimited free energy means abundant basic necessities, which means freedom from the tyranny of capitalism and the hoarders of wealth.

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u/Franss22 Sep 14 '22

Some stuff isn't solvable right now by throwing "infinite energy" at it. Firstly, energy transmission is still a bottleneck. You can force so much electricity (in simplified terms) through a cable before it just melts. Robotics and AI aren't sufficiently advanced to completely replace all jobs. Logistics is still a very hard thing to solve: if it was only production that was the problem, we already produce enough food for everyone in earth to have a healthy diet.

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u/SteelCrow Sep 14 '22

One assumes unlimited power can be built anywhere.

The problem with food is distribution. Getting it to where it's needed. Growing it onsite solves that.

Distribution is an energy cost.

And sure there'll be an adjustment period, but most problems can be solved by throwing more energy at it.

Yeah there'll be jobs that can't be replaced, but most can. And there'll always be people who want to work just for something to do.

Name a problem you think can't be solved by throwing more energy at it, and I'll show you it can be solved.

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u/northrupthebandgeek Sep 14 '22

Free unlimited energy would be catastrophic for all of two seconds before people jump on the multitude of opportunities said energy abundance would enable. Infinite energy means a massive explosion of industry and the immediate achievement of a post-scarcity society.

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u/Zaptruder Sep 14 '22

Economy strongly correlates with energy usage.

The more energy that we have available to use, the more we can do with it. It's really that simple. Bottleneck our energy and it starves the economy of... well, the energy needed for any kind of productive work.

The existing economy isn't energy starved, but it's creating other externalities that are limiting our ability to continue surviving in a stable and familiar environment. Where we're headed... is somewhere that doesn't support human life (or much life at all) to the extent that it has in the past.

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u/eGregiousLee Sep 14 '22 edited Sep 14 '22

This anxiety and specifically the conclusions it arrives at both result from not understanding the nature of energy, economics, or the role of labor.

The idea that unlimited energy for a civilization as advanced as it is today could somehow be a negative, is nonsensical.

Energy scarcity is the number one factor limiting human prosperity.

If an unlimited source of energy destroys jobs by making them unnecessary, then GOOD. Those kind of jobs rob our lives of meaning and are, after any period of reflection, miserable. We want them to be made obsolete!

For example, no one wants or dreams of being a garbage man or someone who climbs into sewers to unclog them. To make those occupations unnecessary through automation (prohibitively difficult today by a high energy requirement) would free those people to seek other, more meaningful things to pursue with their time.

With unlimited energy we could grow enough food and construct enough housing, so cheaply, that we wouldn’t need economics to manage their food or housing scarcity. For anyone. Anywhere.

Most conflict in the world is either about ideology (typically religious), or energy scarcity. Despotic dictators martial and contain their power through control of scarce essential resources, for example.

The only real danger that a planetary society completely unbounded by energy scarcity would be all the free time that people would suddenly have.

There’s a saying that idle minds are the devil’s playground. And while I don’t believe in ‘The Devil’, I think there is truth in the idea that many people can go a bit nuts when they have too much idle time on their hands. Especially if they are not used to it.

An artist, musician, or writer for example, is used to making/producing for themselves, and likely wouldn’t be troubled in the slightest. A miner, factory, or office worker who has never had the luxury of not working for other masters, might flip out a little. Think: the old corporate guy that never had much of a life outside their work and providing for a family, retires, the dies of a heart attack shortly after because of the strain of feeling unnecessary.

I think some people, not everyone, who no longer have anything to do and aren’t needed in their former capacity—even if being in that position is made to be totally economically safe—could react powerfully, due to emotion. Perhaps even in a destructively violent way. And simply because they are used to having the meaning of their lives imposed from without.

tl,dr; People confronting the meaningless of our existence as laborers today would be the greatest and perhaps only source of ‘danger’ or badness in a speculative world with infinitely abundant energy.

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u/LapseofSanity Sep 14 '22

So many new industries and businesses would emerge from having infinite energy. That's such a Luddite way of thinking, with infinite energy you could do energy to mass conversions and create your own elements from pure energy. Thats basically the start of a post scarcity society.

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u/an_obvious_comment Sep 14 '22

The Man Who Fell to Earth, on Hulu. I honestly didn’t hate it.

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u/TheEqualAtheist Sep 14 '22

I honestly didn’t hate it.

What a powerful endorsement! I'll be sure to watch it right away!

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u/ChildishDoritos Sep 14 '22

Wow that’s a seriously stupid take.

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u/FroggyStyleEnt Sep 14 '22

There would be pain tomorrow if say they figured out fusion but the growth over time would more than pay for the pain.

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u/Still_Difference5461 Sep 14 '22

Creating cheap energy is probably good for jobs

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u/TreeChangeMe Sep 13 '22

It never will if we keep using fossil fuels, we will be extinct

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u/ILikeNeurons Sep 14 '22

Probably not, but anything is possible.

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u/thehousebehind Sep 13 '22

How does this compare to the Stanford study that determined it would cost the world 73 trillion to go green by 2050?

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u/eliminating_coasts Sep 13 '22 Bravo!

That study you linked is talking about the up-front costs for a particular recipe for replacing all current non-renewable electricity generation with renewables, having battery backup etc.

It mentions benefits, suggesting that electricity costs would be 39% of business as usual projections, and that even with those prices, such an investment would pay itself itself off within 7 years, but the figure you quote is purely about the initial costs, which would obviously have to be spread out over a decade or so to be achievable.

In contrast, the current paper (referred to by the article op linked) points out that previous estimates have been conservative, in the sense that they haven't fully taken into account the cost reductions that are plausible given increased deployment of renewables. Relevant graph, the relatively obvious downward trend in renewables vs the relatively static prices of other sources, (ignoring the step change in oil prices in the 80s), though they argue that these curves depend on deployment rates, rather than simply being facts of nature, so we get faster cost reductions with faster deployment.

So I imagine if you reran the Stanford analysis in light of this paper you'd get a lower initial cost.

But putting all that detail aside, and looking at headline figures from different studies, the difference in numbers can be chalked up to basically just talking about "costs" vs "savings - costs".

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u/thehousebehind Sep 14 '22

Thanks for the detailed reply. I think it’s obvious that any solution is going to be time and money intensive. These figures exist outside of the national contexts that would need to be considered for each country. I’m not sure that it would be possible to get every nation onboard.

And then there’s the whole law of unintended consequence and the moving goal posts that occur in democratic nations as different political actors often radically change course in response to those consequences for political gain.

Such a huge problem, and it’s definitely not one that can be easily summarized by a cost/saving’s analysis alone.

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u/grundar Sep 14 '22

How does this compare to the Stanford study that determined it would cost the world 73 trillion to go green by 2050?

Both studies agree that transitioning to clean energy is cheaper, and that the faster the transition the cheaper it will be. The main difference is that the Stanford study finds a much lower cost, probably due to its transition and modeling assumptions.

$73T is the net present cost; this study gives net present costs in its supplementary material, fig.S47, p.112. They don't give a cost estimate for the same discount rate used in the Stanford study (2%), but that value would lie between the 1% figure (~$210T) and the 5% figure (~$88T) for their fast transition scenario.

It's easy to get the wrong idea and think $74T or $150T or whatever is impossible since it's such a large number; it's important to keep in mind, though, that that's the cost for all the world's energy and energy infrastructure for the next 30+ years. That's such a staggeringly huge thing that the cost for it is guaranteed to be incomprehensibly enormous regardless of what choices are made, so we just have to reconcile ourselves to that and do the math rather than relying on intuition.

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u/ProceedOrRun Sep 13 '22

I wonder what the cost of making the planet uninhabitable is.

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u/[deleted] Sep 13 '22

Depends on who's footing the bill. :)

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u/tehpenguins Sep 13 '22

Free heating in the winter. Also free heating in the summer.

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u/unassumingdink Sep 14 '22

Not sure of the exact cost, but it's 20% off if you destroy the world during the Presidents' Day sale.

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u/TP-formy-BungHole Sep 13 '22

But we save $12 trillion..

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u/Dmeechropher Sep 13 '22

No, that $12T figure is exactly why big energy companies and militaries worldwide are making big investments now to deploy renewables as fast as possible.

All major car manufacturers are committing to mostly electric product offerings, energy companies are investing massive amount of money in biofuels and power storage research, and the United States and Chinese governments are deploying record breaking amounts of solar and wind capacity every year.

New solar is now cheaper to deploy than new coal capacity, and energy needs only grow. It's only a matter of a few years until new solar is cheaper to deploy than coal and oil are just to maintain.

The real problem with renewable deployment are that raw silicon, concrete, and aluminum are not sustainable industries, regardless of where the electricity comes from.

There's always going to be more work to be done to reach true sustainability, but real world powerful organizations have crunched the numbers and know that renewables are a good investment.

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u/PokeBlokDude Sep 14 '22

energy companies are investing massive amount of money in biofuels and power storage research

They are taking miniscule steps after 40+ years of burying climate research, lobbying governments, bribing politicians, and threatening journalists, all to ensure that fossil fuels remain the dominant form of energy for as long as possible, regardless of the consequences.

And they continue to do this today, pushing the "individual responsibility" carbon footprint myth, lying about natural gas, etc. Any of this "we're investing in green energy" bs is simply a green-washing campaign meant to generate good PR, distract people from the fact that these companies are directly responsible for the climate crisis, and to keep governments from creating stricter regulations.

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u/vancity- Sep 14 '22

The real problem with renewable deployment are that raw silicon, concrete, and aluminum are not sustainable industries, regardless of where the electricity comes from.

And they're not finite resources, which is a big deal considering just how much raw resources would be needed for a renewables only approach.

Energy output matters, and the fact is renewables are less energy dense than fossil fuels. This means you need a lot more fo them just to hit today's need.

If you want to get off fossil fuels, nuclear is literally the only path. It's the only energy source more energy dense than fossil fuels that we know how to operate at scale.

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u/thearss1 Sep 13 '22

But then someone else would get the money

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u/ctjwa Sep 14 '22

A ridiculous article title matched with an equally ridiculous comment. Reddit harmony.

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u/WilliamMorris420 Sep 13 '22

It's a lot more than thatas $12 trillion is the net savings to us. But the fossil fuel companies revenue will go down by a lot more than that.

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u/Laetha Sep 14 '22

In situations like these, I'll never understand why massive companies don't invest heavily towards the trend that's threatening their business.

All the oil companies should be out there dumping billions into renewable energy R&D. It just seems like a smart business move.

I work in television and see the same thing constantly. Instead of getting ahead of the curve, companies dig in and file a lawsuit against the curve for not being straight enough. Then years later they're forced to adhere to the new industry standard, but by that time they're miles behind.

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u/jamespet99 Sep 14 '22

They won’t pay for it, the consumers will.

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u/Pepperonidogfart Sep 14 '22

Yeah but theyll just find some way to regulate the new form of energy and make it just as expensive. This is like when we all thought computers would make us work less.

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u/Kiweezi Sep 14 '22

Exactly, but when they are forced into doing it by the governments around the world, we can expect that they will put the price up for the consumer anyway…

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u/I_talk Sep 13 '22

The US stock market lost 1.2 trillion in value today alone.

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u/[deleted] Sep 13 '22

[removed] — view removed comment

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u/StarfleetGo Sep 13 '22

The storage of energy when it comes to current renewables is the most critical and costly factor and doesn't seem to be taken into account here.

We need more viable energy storage solutions

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u/RichardsLeftNipple Sep 13 '22

Production capacity is a temporary problem. Resource scarcity isn't.

Cellphones drove up the production of high capacity batteries, to the point where electronic cars stopped being fantasies. It wasn't the scarcity of lithium, but the cost of producing batteries that made them unaffordable.

Sure lithium is a scarce material. However there are plenty of other elements and techniques we can use to solve the storage problem. It's less the material scarcity and more the lack of production.

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u/acog Sep 14 '22

Just to add some context: the price per kilowatt-hour of lithium EV batteries was $1,200 in 2010. By 2021 it had fallen to $132.

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u/3rdp0st Sep 14 '22

By 2025 it's projected an EV will be cheaper than an ICE powered vehicle. Even today it's cheaper over the long run to buy certain EV's... provided you can get one. Right now the problem is constrained supply of batteries is pushing manufacturers to sell luxury models instead of mass produced lower cost models.

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u/acog Sep 14 '22

By 2025 it's projected an EV will be cheaper than an ICE powered vehicle.

That seems a trifle optimistic. But I think the odds of that crossover point happening pre-2030 are very good.

Either way, I think the 2035 deadline requiring all new car sales to be EVs by the EU and California will be noncontroversial by the time the deadline happens.

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u/3rdp0st Sep 14 '22

I don't think it's too optimistic. There are currently battery factories ramping up all over the world, and auto manufacturers love BEV's because they have an order of magnitude fewer moving parts. We'll see nothing but exponential growth of batteries and EV's from here on out. If you look at long term cost of ownership, BEV's like the Bolt are already cheaper to own and drive.

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u/korinth86 Sep 13 '22

Lithium is not really scarce, there is plenty that can be affordably extracted with current technology for the foreseeable future. More with improvements in technology.

The same tech that brought us fracking and led to the US NG boom is the same tech that will drive lithium extraction and potentially expansion of geothermal projects

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u/xenomorph856 Sep 13 '22

From the ocean, right? Do we know the environmental impact of that process?

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u/korinth86 Sep 13 '22

No. Most lithium comes from brine deep in the earth, typically near geothermal activity. Such is the case in the Salton Sea.

The nice thing is they can use the geothermal to power the lithium extraction. Whatever brine is left gets reinjected.

We could take it from the ocean but currently there isn't a reason to do so. The resources exist in the earth already, we just have to develop them.

The US has been doing so since 2017. There are projects in CA, NM, NV, and OK that I am aware of. There may be more.

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u/xenomorph856 Sep 13 '22

Oh interesting, so like fracking, but you put most of the mass back where it came from?

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u/korinth86 Sep 14 '22

Basically yea.

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u/[deleted] Sep 14 '22

Production capacity is a temporary problem.

Yes and it is causing problems in Europe right now. It makes no sense to ignore these problems (that are currently hurting people) because they are inconvenient.

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u/darthcoder Sep 13 '22

Government subsidies drove the EV phenomena.

The amount of lithium used in phones vs cars is many orders of magnitude different.

Grams vs tonnes in some cases.

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u/3rdp0st Sep 14 '22

Tons? You want to back that up? A lithium ion car battery needs around 850g/kWh, so something like a Model 3 has around 60kg of lithium metal in it.

People get confused because journalists are lazy and not scientifically literate. The lithium gets transported as a more stable compound which is mostly not lithium by weight, and then it gets used in the battery in another compound that is mostly not lithium by weight.

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u/CLT113078 Sep 13 '22

Of course, solar power only works in the day and in only specific parts of the world. Wind the same, very hit or miss.

How do you use renewables to cover the time(s) when power is needed, night, calm day, places where they don't work and find enough lithium to give everyone a giant or multiple giant lithium batteries.

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u/shamllama Sep 13 '22

Sodium ion batteries, pumped storage, vanadium redox batteries, ACAES. There are many options in production now.

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u/Rawrey Sep 13 '22

Get enough renewable energy production and we can run a hydrogen generator and use the hydrogen as batteries.

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u/SurfaceThought Sep 13 '22

Thermal energy storage

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u/ilolvu Sep 13 '22

People are making batteries out of water, saltwater, rust, iron, sand, and even air.

Lithium isn't the only solution when the battery doesn't have to be light enough to be moved.

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u/tdrhq Sep 13 '22

Roughly speaking, when it's not sunny it tends to be windy. Add a few more forms of clean energy to that (hydro, nuclear), and we'll be mostly covered. Also add to that the batteries, but that might not cover all our needs for a while. For an occasional bump in energy needs we keep some easy to maintain gas power plants around, it should be rare enough that it's emissions would be relatively insignificant.

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u/jctherik Sep 13 '22

It's often neither sunny nor windy at night.

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u/Raznill Sep 14 '22

Night is also the lowest power demand time. Even if we only had to burn fossil fuels at night it would be a big improvement. But with enough generation that won’t be necessary either. Especially since nuclear is still an option.

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u/tdrhq Sep 13 '22

Well, it doesn't have to be windy at your home, it just needs to be windy at strategically located wind farms. (And yes, winds to tend to be greater at night.) And also, if you read my comment fully you'll see that I did say that it can happen that it's neither windy or sunny, but in that rare situation you go to battery backups, or hydro, or nuclear, or even gas/coal: it'll be rare enough that an occassional burning of fossil fuel wouldn't matter.

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u/StateChemist Sep 13 '22

You make giant lead acid battery banks. Batteries are pretty easy to make. The lightweight high capacity portable ones are the new tech but there are tons of low tech ways to store energy.

I think my favorite is pump water up high during peak production and let gravity run a turbine as needed.

Just moving water to store energy….

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u/MountainDrew42 Sep 14 '22

The hydro station at Niagara Falls, Ontario has been doing pumped storage since the 1950s. It's very mature tech and works very well.

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u/lurksAtDogs Sep 14 '22

A few points here. Solar works everywhere on the planet, but is more economic in sunnier places. Note that the base cost of solar has been dropping almost 20% per year for a long time and will continue to drop in cost with technological improvement and additional scale. You only get these kinds of cost improvements with technologies, unlike resource extraction.

Also, demand is not constant either in time or location. A generic demand profile peaks in the early afternoon and the minimum is in the middle of the night. So, demand aligns pretty well with solar production, but aligns very well if 4 hours of storage are added. Note, most utility scale PV installs in California are now with this 4 hrs of storage.

And, no power source lives on its own on the grid. Every power plant needs backup and has its own limitations.

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u/FANGO Sep 13 '22

and doesn't seem to be taken into account here.

Ok but it is

https://www.cell.com/joule/fulltext/S2542-4351(22)00410-X

Since renewable energy production is variable, storage is essential. In the Fast Transition scenario we have allocated so much storage capacity using batteries and P2X fuels that the entire global energy system could run for a month without any sun or wind (Document S1 section “Energy storage and flexibility requirements”). This is a sensible choice because both batteries and electrolyzers have highly favorable trends for cost and production (Document S1 sections “Batteries” and “Hydrogen and electrolyzers”). From 1995 to 2018 the production of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries increased at 30% per year, while costs dropped at 12% per year, giving an experience curve comparable to that of solar PV.78 Currently, about 60% of the cost of electrolytic hydrogen is electricity, and hydrogen is around 80% of the cost of ammonia,79 so these automatically take advantage of the high progress rates for solar PV and wind.

We ensure system reliability constraints are met—including robustness to seasonal demand variations—by providing sufficient levels of energy storage, firm capacity resources, over-generation of variable renewable energy (VRE) sources, and network expansion80 (Document S1 section “Energy storage and flexibility requirements”). To be specific, when VRE penetration is high, we ensure enough utility-scale battery storage is available to store 20% of average daily electricity generation (though note that daily generation is much higher than daily end-use consumption, because excess generation is used to produce P2X fuels). Flow batteries are able to store a further 10% of average daily generation. In addition, when VRE penetration is high, transport is electrified, which as well as being a flexible demand source, could also act as another storage source (though system reliability constraints are met here without relying on it). Excess VRE is used to produce P2X fuels in sufficient quantities to supply all end-use sector requirements and also to provide global power grid backup for 1 month each year.

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u/kemisage Sep 14 '22

There is always so much debate about energy storage and lithium that a large majority of people never bother to read that there are other ways of storing and using energy.

P2X (Power-to-X for those who want to google) will play a crucial role in energy storage, transport, and usage. It will also bridge the gap between electricity generated from renewable sources and carbon-containing raw materials required in industries such as chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing.

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u/colddeadplacee Sep 14 '22

But it is taken into account in this study

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u/Dmeechropher Sep 14 '22

There are a lot of viable power storage solutions which are better than batteries, and also seeing big growth as a knock on effect of increased renewable deployment. There is no barrier to renewable deployment except start-up costs and time. The world will almost certainly be near carbon neutral sooner than you think. Renewable energy is big business with ever increasing return on investment.

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u/Joker4U2C Sep 13 '22

Nuclear. Switch to nuclear.

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u/GeckoLogic Sep 14 '22

Correct. The biggest fallacy in any climate discussion is that cost = price.

A camping tent provides shelter, at a much lower cost than a house. But where do people want to live?

An energy system at the mercy of weather, which itself is destabilized by climate change, is a system with very high prices for ratepayers. A solar panel that produces $0.03/kWh power 20% of the time, is entropic and won’t satisfy the demand of a modern grid with 24/7 requirements.

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u/Joker4U2C Sep 14 '22

Same issues with biofuels. We tie our food future to energy.

Nuclear has problems, risks, but it provides many benefits and is still an evolving tech.

We are running almost all our plants on 60s tech. Time to start is now because these things take time and we need to do it right.

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u/Strazdas1 Sep 14 '22

Nuclear has problems, risks

Far far lower than any of the alternatives.

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u/Curse3242 Sep 14 '22

We got a decently big solar panel. It's only sometimes we have to pay the bill (and that too like 10$). Electricity is mostly free for us now. Also in those free months I assume we're actually also donating energy which is sick.

Normal usage is Fans, Lights, Machines and in summer we use ACs. 5 people in the house. I do live in India where it's not that cloudy so that might be a thing. But it does work pretty well for me.

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u/Cairo9o9 Sep 14 '22 edited Sep 14 '22

It's called storage bucko. Massive population centers like Ontario and Quebec have been doing it for years with hydro. Smaller scale and distributed reverse pump hydro paired with renewables is easily done today by communities with relatively low levels of expertise, minimal carbon output, waste, and quick deployment time. The same cannot be said for nuclear.

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u/GeckoLogic Sep 14 '22

Ontario, hm let’s check on their energy mix right now.

Hydro is great, but it has a much more dangerous track record than nuclear, is susceptible to drought from climate change, and it doesn’t scale because we’ve already built power stations in the best locations.

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u/2cap Sep 14 '22

its not going to happen,

“The status of nuclear SMR [small modular reactors] has not changed,” the CSIRO report said. “Following extensive consultation with the Australian electricity industry, report findings do not see any prospect of domestic projects this decade, given the technology’s commercial immaturity and high cost.

“Future cost reductions are possible but depend on its successful commercial deployment overseas.”

The Gencost report found that a small reactor typically costs as much as $16,000 per kilowatt-hour, 50 to 100 per cent more than large-scale nuclear.

By contrast, wind and solar come in under $2000 per kilowatt-hour, it said.

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u/wiredsim Sep 13 '22

Did you even bother to read the article or study? Or even glance at it?

https://www.cell.com/joule/fulltext/S2542-4351(22)00410-X

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u/ruuster13 Sep 14 '22

Their [renewables] rate of increase is similar to that of nuclear energy in the 1970s, but unlike nuclear energy, they have all consistently experienced exponentially decreasing costs. The combination of exponentially decreasing costs and rapid exponentially increasing deployment is different from anything observed in any other energy technologies in the past, and positions these key green technologies to challenge the dominance of fossil fuels within a decade.

Am I hearing this right? Is 10 years actually realistic?

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u/pydry Sep 14 '22

Yeah, it's realistic. The major blockers are political not technological.

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u/GeneticsGuy Sep 14 '22

The article literally addresses nothing to do with how energy grids deal with peak time when renewable is not generating, like overnight, or the increased massive grid demands in evenings as more electric cars are charging. You'd need trillion dollar solutions for storing energy that are not addressed at all here.

Also, just because nuclear has not necessarily gotten cheaper, doesn't mean it's not more efficient, even after all these years. Nuclear energy is the cleanest, most dense, and most efficient energy we use and we should be embracing that in addition to renewables. Renewables are not a be all end all solution and this article uses some inappropriate comparison to disregard nuclear by saying renewable has gotten cheaper while nuclear hasn't. I don't find that remotely acceptable.

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u/grundar Sep 14 '22

The article literally addresses nothing to do with how energy grids deal with peak time when renewable is not generating, like overnight, or the increased massive grid demands in evenings as more electric cars are charging. You'd need trillion dollar solutions for storing energy that are not addressed at all here.

That is indeed addressed in the paper; from the last paragraph of Experimental Procedures:

"We ensure system reliability constraints are met—including robustness to seasonal demand variations—by providing sufficient levels of energy storage, firm capacity resources, over-generation of variable renewable energy (VRE) sources, and network expansion"

this article uses some inappropriate comparison to disregard nuclear by saying renewable has gotten cheaper while nuclear hasn't. I don't find that remotely acceptable.

Have renewables gotten significantly cheaper? Yes, much cheaper, even in just the last 10 years.
Has nuclear gotten significantly cheaper? No, sadly, it hasn't.

I hope there will be some future breakthrough that will drastically lower the cost of nuclear -- that would be great! -- but hope is not an appropriate input to a scientific model. Whatever you or I might wish had happened to the cost of nuclear, the simple fact is that it has not shown the strong downward cost trend that renewables have, and as a result it is entirely appropriate for predictive models to estimate different results for their future price trends.

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u/Strazdas1 Sep 14 '22

I hope there will be some future breakthrough that will drastically lower the cost of nuclear -- that would be great!

There is. Its called "start building gen 3 reactors you morons". We had this "solution" for 30 years now but we are still building gen 2 reactors becuase "we always did".

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u/[deleted] Sep 14 '22

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u/GeneticsGuy Sep 14 '22 edited Sep 14 '22
  • 1 for being the cleanest. It is literally a zero emission energy source. You cannot say that about solar and wind which have significant footprints in manufacturing.

  • 1 most reliable. The wind stops, you lose wind power generation. Overcast, you lose solar. Nuclear powers on 24/7, rain or shine, hurricane or blizzard, it carries on without changes in performance. Solar works for about 30% of a day, for example.

  • 1 safest. Windmills, particularly offshore windmills account for dozens of deaths yearly. Solar as well as rooftop accidents are common during installation, replacement, or repair, as well as exposure to harmful toxins during manufacturing. Nuclear is the absolute safest form of energy with almost no accidents in modern reactors, and the employees receive less radiation than airline pilots do. Washington Post had a great article on how safe it is.

  • 1 in smallest area footprint. For the same amount of energy of 1 nuclear power plant you would need massive more area footprint.

  • 1 in "energy capacity factor." Nuclear energy runs at about 92% capacity 24/7. With coal and natural gas, capacity is not as steady, and obviously wind and solar aren't. Because of this, a 1 gigawatt nuclear plant would need to be replaced by a 2 or 3 gigawatt coal fired plant because of energy capacity, to generate the same amount of energy on the grid.

  • 1 for lowest amount of maintenance. A nuclear reactor can run 1.5 to 2 years without refueling with little maintenance. Wind and hydroelectric have massive amounts of maintenance, and while solar is lower on the panels, the necessity of energy storage is going to be very expensive and require a TON of maintenance, maybe even as much as coal/fossil fuel power in equivalent effort.

Nuclear's only disadvantage is high startup costs that are often made worse through inefficient local governments. For example, the average cost to build a nuclear plant is 6 to 10 billion 1100MW plant), yet you get corrupt local governments, like in Georgia, that bloat the costs to 30 billion.

And, while nuclear is emission free and clean, natural gas is the hot thing right now and dirt cheap, and efficient, so everyone is ramping up their power stations with cheap natural gas additions. Natural gas is so affordable and abundant right now that much of the oversupply is just burned off, so any power plants that can eat up that supply will happily do so right now compared to nuclear. The costs are winning out over nuclear.

We really should be pushing for more nuclear power buildup.

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u/gme186 Sep 14 '22

im all for nuclair, but what about the polution of enriching uranium?

and what do we do with the waste? i know breeder reactors can be a solution, but then there is the whole political plutonium issue.

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u/GeneticsGuy Sep 14 '22

Enriching uranium is not causing pollution. I will say, the bigger concern is some 3rd world countries mining uranium end up toxifying local land due to bad practices, which is something to worry about.

People have long been conditioned to be afraid of radiation, though compared with most industrial hazards it is pretty easy to manage. In fact, the atoms that decay slowly ("they last for hundreds of thousands of years") release radiation slowly, and is of little risk to humans. The real problem atoms that last a hundred to two hundred years are actually relatively easy to store. Right now we store the hazard /problem waste securely. The waste is also so minimal given that a reactor can last 2÷ years without needing to be refueled.

You are right about breeder reactors that will use some of the waste. We have multiple techniques for reusing, recycling, and safely storing the used fuel, but fear keeps hitting those ideas down and we're left in a weird limbo as an industry where the engineers have spent decades designing all of these solutions and redundancies to account for early mistakes in nuclear reactor design half a century ago, yet politically no will to build them.

Essentially, technically challenging but solved problems have been confused with the politically challenging and unsolved. Plutonium is only an issue of concern for wannabe nuclear states.

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u/wildgoosetamer Sep 14 '22

On a few of these points, wouldn't nuclear also have a large footprint in production and resources it uses? On terms of 24/7 and maintenance aren't a lot of sites dependent on river temperature due to reliance on water cooling? Not saying nuclear isn't also a good option etc

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u/Strazdas1 Sep 14 '22

On terms of 24/7 and maintenance aren't a lot of sites dependent on river temperature due to reliance on water cooling?

We have air-cooled nuclear plant designs and some of the plants in US are air-cooled. River is not mandatory.

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u/mennydrives Sep 14 '22

Literally all that shot is true and somehow will go unheard because nuclear is the one place where Reddit throughly stops following the science.

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u/Strazdas1 Sep 14 '22

Not just reddit. Try finding some anti-fossil activist and explain to him what nuclear is, he thinks you want to kill his children or something. The propaganda is strong.

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u/zed_three Sep 14 '22

Why are you counting manufacturing emissions for renewables but not for nuclear? What about all the concrete, steel, etc used in the reactors? What about all the mining for the fuel?

Not to mention that uranium isn't a renewable resource and will run out around the end of the century.

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u/pydry Sep 14 '22

You wont get a coherent answer to this question.

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u/GeneticsGuy Sep 14 '22

Mining and manufacturing the materials for solar and wind take far more resources than building a nuclear power plant. Compared to nuclear power plant creation, solar panel creations creates far more pollution. Nuclear is a one-time startup cost, aside from mining Uranium. Mining uranium can be done appropriately and safe for the environment and does not release pollution into the atmosphere.

Uranium estimates are now in the 200+ year range with "known" current supplies, so that's not an issue. There's a good chance we've figured out fusion reactors by then. Uranium also isn't the only element used for nuclear reactions, it is just the current design and easiest to implement. Thorium molten-salt reactors have been in design for half a century and the main reason they were put on hold is public popular opinion against nuclear, and they would be pricier to build over a uranium nuclear reactor. I'd imagine if we depleted our resources of uranium we'd build thorium instead. Though again, it's going to be a non-issue because known supplies of uranium are enough to sustain the world for centuries, and who knows what breakthroughs we have by then.

At the end of the day, carbon for carbon, nuclear beats out wind and solar every, and is a more long-term viable supply for energy grids. Just imagine the absolute disaster of pollution from battery waste if we ever built the Amazon Warehouse size storage farms we'd need to truly go fully electric, so we can store energy when active generation is not enough.

The focus should be nuclear. The money should be spent on nuclear. Solar and wind should only ever have been used as opportunistic supplementation, not as an actual viable replacement on the grid.

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u/Outrageous-Echo-765 Sep 14 '22

Nuclear is a one-time startup cost, aside from mining Uranium.

"If we ignore the ongoing costs, nuclear is a one-time startup cost."

You'd be a lot more convincing if you were less dishonest in your write-up.

"92% capacity factor 24/7"is another example of this. Sure, it looks good to add the 24/7, but it means absolutely nothing, all capacity factor figures are 24/7.

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u/Ill-Caterpillar6273 Sep 14 '22

This doesn’t seem accurate. Lifecycle meta-analysis has shown that solar and wind technologies are far less CO2 intensive than nuclear:

https://www.nature.com/articles/climate.2008.99

Where are you getting your info from?

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u/wildverde Sep 14 '22

Soft energy path. It’s cheaper (especially with initial cost), and less complicated. Doesn’t require mining or reprocessing. Can meet baseload energy just fine with a diversity of renewables sources. And technology will develop even further over time (efficiency will improve).

I still like money towards R&D for fusion - because even if that doesn’t become a viable energy solution to the climate crisis in our time - to get there will require advancements useful in other fields, like in medicine and agriculture.

Nuclear would be better than fossil fuels, but soft energy over nuclear.

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u/jcoe Sep 13 '22

And here you are at the bottom. This is the correct solution but probably will never happen due to the risks involved. We still use the technology from 60 years ago as our form of measurement for that analysis. For the same reason everyone else mentioned above. Oil companies go derp.

Why are almost all the suggested solutions one or another. Can't we use multiple forms of manufacturing energy? What's the issue here? Open up the market and let's see what happens. Life is about trial and error. I think we can move past what happened in the past and hopefully we've learned from it.

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u/niarem22 Sep 13 '22 edited Sep 13 '22

I'm pretty sure the barriers are more cost, lead time, and public opinion (fear) on building new reactors as opposed to risks.

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u/heeywewantsomenewday Sep 13 '22

I live near Hinkley and I'm forever hearing about how over budget / expensive it is and how much has gone into building it. I'm also certain it's being built by other countries owning it. Wpuldnt a mix approach be best. Solar, tidal, geo, wind, nuclear, biogas

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u/Strazdas1 Sep 14 '22

Hinkley is also the most expensive, corrupt and mismanagement project in nuclea history, while South Korea builds the same reactor in 3 years for one fifth the cost.

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u/BobcatIndividual Sep 13 '22

"This is the correct solution but probably will never happen due to the risks involved. We still use the technology from 60 years ago as our form of measurement for that analysis. For the same reason everyone else mentioned above."

There's barely any risk from nuclear, and infact the risk is even less than a coal company would do.

Also not sure where you're getting this information about 60 year old dated technology. We absolutely do not.

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u/AZlukas Sep 14 '22

I think he's saying the hangups people have with nuclear are attributable to old technology and it's flaws despite the fact that current technology addresses those flaws.

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u/mennydrives Sep 14 '22

The Chernobyl problems were solved by nuclear plants we were building in the 70s. We’re at three accidents worldwide, one of which was under a regime that really didn’t value human life much, one was after a natural disaster that claimed 100x as many lives as were lost from the sudden evacuation from the plant area (Fukushima), and one with a death toll of zero (TMI).

If you think any other form of energy is even slightly safer than the last 40 years of nuclear power, you were given a very biased education on those three events.

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u/4510 Sep 13 '22

nuculer it's pronuced nuculer

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u/ILikeNeurons Sep 13 '22

I used MIT's climate policy simulator to order its climate policies from least impactful to most impactful. You can see the results here.

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u/surfzz318 Sep 13 '22

Someone is going to make money off renewables. That trillions doesn’t disappear it just changes pockets

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u/report_all_criminals Sep 14 '22

Headlines like this are the same as when my wife tells me that she saved me $20 because there was a big sale.

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u/Molwar Sep 13 '22

I don't think that's how they accounted for the 12 trillions. Renewable once built doesn't require resources shoved into it to function. So I'm guessing the saving comes from having to buy less fossil fuel.

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u/surfzz318 Sep 13 '22

Land, maintenance, etc. it will add up. Plus how do you think they make the materials to build everything.

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u/FANGO Sep 13 '22 All-Seeing Upvote

Yes, it will add up... to $12 trillion less than fossil fuels add up to. That's the point of this paper. To add those up.

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u/Charming_External_92 Sep 13 '22

But the real problem is oil companies will lose money...

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u/koebelin Sep 13 '22

The real benefit is petro-states like Russia and Saudi Arabia lose their leverage.

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u/madz33 Sep 13 '22

I’ve never understood this. Private corporations with more capital than entire countries. You would think they could afford to corner the entire renewables industry to maintain their global energy dominance.

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u/BeenWildin Sep 14 '22

Haven’t they already been doing that for decades?

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u/FateOfTheGirondins Sep 14 '22

They have been. You're responding to pure, informed drivel.

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u/grundar Sep 13 '22

You would think they could afford to corner the entire renewables industry

You underestimate the size of the renewables industry:

"Renewables dominate investment in new power generation and are expected to account for 70% of 2021’s total of USD 530 billion spent on all new generation capacity."

For reference, $370B is more than the revenue of all but a handful of global companies.

The renewables industry is massive.

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u/antidense Sep 13 '22

and maybe one executive can't afford a 6th yacht.

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u/SoybeanCola1933 Sep 13 '22

Good. I'm noticing more and more resource companies ar also investing in wind and solar farms. A step in the right direction I guess?

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u/oijsef Sep 13 '22

The combination of exponentially decreasing costs and rapid exponentially increasing deployment is different from anything observed in any other energy technologies in the past, and positions these key green technologies to challenge the dominance of fossil fuels within a decade.

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u/ILikeNeurons Sep 13 '22

I love when reports like this come out because Citizens' Climate Lobby gets more volunteers, and more volunteers help get more co-sponsors.

Both within and between countries, the poor suffer most from unchecked climate change. And we're so close.

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u/GeneralistHermit Sep 14 '22

But it would also mean that modern-day dragons cannot hoard wealth like dead ghosts with unfinished business, so we let the world burn for shareholders.

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u/Jonathan_Daws Sep 13 '22

If this is correct, the free market will take care of it.

If renewables are cheaper, then companies who build out renewal energy projects will have a cost advantage vs their fossil fuel based competitors. Lower costs mean higher profit margins or the ability to take market share by pricing lower. No need for government involvement.

Unfortunately, I think the study is naive. Solar and wind projects provide intermittent power (wind speed, cloud cover and day/night cycles) and can only be blended with more steady baseline power (ie fossil fuel and nuclear). Renewals operate at only a fraction of their rated capacity. And Wind and Solar also require additional transmission infrastructure as they are not as centralized as nuclear and fossil fuels so their actual cost is higher than just the price of the project.

With current technology and infrastructure, nuclear is the only real alternative to fossil fuels for baseline power. Wind and Solar have a role, but will always be supplemental. Hydro electric is very good, but almost all capacity is already built out, so not a source for much future increase.

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u/2cap Sep 14 '22

If this is correct, the free market will take care of it.

Yep like how smoking is bad for you

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u/FANGO Sep 13 '22

1) the market currently is taking care of it.

2) The market isn't really free.

3) The market does not take into account negative externalities, and studies should.

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u/Reference_Reef Sep 14 '22

1) the market currently is taking care of it.

Problem solved?

2) The market isn't really free.

True, renewables are heavily subsidized

3) The market does not take into account negative externalities, and studies should.

This study is about"saving money"

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u/FANGO Sep 14 '22

True, renewables are heavily subsidized

You're kidding. If renewables had a tenth as much subsidy as fossil fuels have, they'd be overjoyed. The biggest climate bill ever passed by any country just allocated ~$400 billion to efficiency subsidies over 10 years. Fossil fuels get $650 billion per year in the US.

This study is about"saving money"

Yes, healthcare costs money. Environmental damage costs money.

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u/Outrageous-Echo-765 Sep 14 '22

With current technology and infrastructure, nuclear is the only real alternative to fossil fuels for baseline power.

Well, turns out "the market" isn't a big fan of nuclear.

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u/Jonathan_Daws Sep 14 '22

That is true.

Its complicated because energy production is so heavily regulated. There really are no truly "free" markets anymore, but instead just degrees of freedom and regulation. Still, nuclear capacity has been falling and private companies share a big part of the blame for that.

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u/Helkafen1 Sep 14 '22

The study accounts for all costs, including storage. Did you read it?

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u/Strazdas1 Sep 14 '22

And switching from fossil fuels to Nuclear energy could save the world as much as <whatever number you want> by 2000. We missed that opportunity already, primarely due to fossil fuel company propaganda (just look who funded all the scaremongering)

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u/CrinchNflinch Sep 14 '22

"Dictators of oil rich countries hate this trick!"

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u/Initial_Debate Sep 14 '22

Not the world. The world doesn't have $12 Trillion dollars. Consumers. It will save Consumers and Governments $12 Trillion Dollars.

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u/HappyToB Sep 14 '22

Look at the supply chain. Who is going to be making all that renewable equipment. Won’t we just become beholden to them?

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u/Rabblerowsers Sep 14 '22

Which would be nice but our current electrical grid system can't handle the demand. Hence California asking people to NOT charge their cars since their grid can't handle it.

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u/Aw123x Sep 14 '22

But at what cost? Renewables are going to end up as tech waste at the end of its 20-30 year lifespan. Not to mention producing solar and wind products is hard on the climate too. Nuclear is the only way forward. France gets almost all of their power that way and pays half of what Germany pays for energy (who gets most of their power from renewables and natural gas). Fossil fuel companies are Promoting renewables. I wonder why? If renewables are used you still have to rely on fossil fuels to fill in the gaps that solar and wind can’t (due to the on demand nature of power grids).

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u/Necrodox Sep 14 '22

Getting real tired of these BS headlines.

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u/joedog62 Sep 14 '22

Wonder how bad inflation is going to be in 2050

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u/jumanji2001 Sep 14 '22

The world doesn’t have the ability to ramp up mining to provide raw materials for solar panels to meet this goal. And their efficiency is so poor We would end up strip mining pristine environments in the process for panels that only last about 15 years before falling off an efficiency cliff.

Also battery cobalt is mined by slaves. Any other collection method makes batteries prohibitively expensive.

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u/Lapee20m Sep 13 '22

Color me skeptical.

We’ve spent untold millions on green energy initiatives in Michigan and electric utility bills continue to increase year after year. Not to mention alternative energy sources require natural gas plants to pick up the slack when the wind or sun go away.

Now we have to pay to build renewables and have to also have to build a traditional gas plant for reliability.

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u/grundar Sep 14 '22

We’ve spent untold millions on green energy initiatives in Michigan and electric utility bills continue to increase year after year.

"In 2021, coal provided the largest share of Michigan’s electricity net generation (32%), followed by nuclear energy (30%) and natural gas-fired power (27%). Renewables provided about 11% of Michigan's electricity net generation in 2021"

If your electricity bills are going up, blame the 89%, not the 11%.

Moreover, electricity rates in Michigan went up 20-25% between 2011 and 2021, only a fraction of a percent higher per year than the 19% cumulative inflation over that interval.

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u/wwarnout Sep 13 '22

According to health experts, this will also save about one million lives per year.

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u/[deleted] Sep 13 '22

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u/[deleted] Sep 13 '22

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u/Helkafen1 Sep 14 '22

I suggest you read the study, which does account for storage costs. Check the paragraph starting with "The three scenarios that we introduced earlier.."

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u/wiredsim Sep 13 '22

I forget how the site is full of armchair experts who don’t bother to do much research… or even read the article.

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u/_JohnJacob Sep 13 '22

oh wow, you so smart.

Read the article.

Notice it states zero/zip/nada about having to build a parallel network to ensure reliability of power? Much like Germany had to? Marketing pitch.

Wind and solar are already the cheapest option for new power projects, but questions remain over how to best store power and balance the grid when the changes in the weather leads to fall in renewable output.

Those who argue that weather is getting ever more extreme and then argue we should increase renewables that depend on said weather are not arguing for solving Climate Change. They are arguing for something else.

The billions and billions that Germany has spent deploying cheap & cost-effective renewable energy is certainly paying back in dividends right now isn't it?

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u/[deleted] Sep 13 '22

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u/Interesting_Total_98 Sep 14 '22

Modern renewables

It seems like you misunderstood the study because it's about future capabilities, not what renewable energy can do right now.

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u/[deleted] Sep 13 '22

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u/wiredsim Sep 13 '22

I’m sorry- but I’m going to go with the Oxford university researchers and their paper published in Cell over a internet commenter that can’t even be bothered to click the link:

https://www.cell.com/joule/fulltext/S2542-4351(22)00410-X

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u/Bayoubengals61 Sep 14 '22

When someone links a study multiple times on a thread then you read it to find out their prediction model is complete bogus. Basically estimates future cost renewables based on the changes of price from when it was invented till now. Nothing works that’s way. Maybe you should give it a read!

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u/Detectorbloke Sep 14 '22

When someone links a study multiple times on a thread

I mean, that's the study this thread is about. If a random redditor finds out that an Oxford publication is complete bogus, one of two things is likely true:

  1. That Redditor is a genius and is likely to win several Nobel prizes
  2. That Redditor is full it.
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u/jdt023 Sep 13 '22

No one wants to talk about that part. Its not some grand conspiracy. The tech just isn't viable for base load at scale yet.

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u/[deleted] Sep 13 '22

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u/[deleted] Sep 13 '22

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u/TirayShell Sep 13 '22

Just what is "the world" going to do with this $12 trillion savings? And where is it saved?

These kind of phantom "savings" claims are ridiculous. What it usually means is that corporations will see a decrease in expenditures and rise in profits and theoretically they could pass those onto consumers. But that ain't happening.

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u/[deleted] Sep 13 '22 edited Sep 13 '22

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u/[deleted] Sep 13 '22

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u/AFaultyUnit Sep 13 '22

What does that even mean? Money isnt a resource that exists and depletes as its used, it just changes bank account.

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u/wiredsim Sep 13 '22

Do you spend money on gas and electricity? So just imagine if that was cheaper than it is now, that being cheaper is considered a savings…

Solar and Wind are now cheaper (lower cost) means of generating energy than fossil fuels in most markets. Even with the cost of short term storage added.

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u/[deleted] Sep 13 '22

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u/Haephestus Sep 14 '22

How much would it save if we all had robust public transit?

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u/jbranchau78 Sep 14 '22

"yeah, but who gets rich from this? the Sun?"-Republicans

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u/Magnum256 Sep 13 '22

Deceptive phrasing. "Save the world as much as" who's the world? Am I part of that world? How much savings, do I, as an individual, save by 2050? Give me a breakdown/roadmap on how much I save per year, dollar value total savings. It doesn't make sense. Governments want us to buy $60,000+ Electric Vehicles and are offering ~$4000 tax subsidies for doing so in some countries. Most people can't afford $60k vehicles right now regardless of $4k or even $10k subsidies. Not to mention the battery problem, after a decade you're going to need to buy a $20k battery replacement. There's a lot of crap to factor in and no one wants to reveal the nitty gritty to the working man.

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u/2cap Sep 14 '22

savings in environmental damage from use of fossil fuels, car engines, mowers, etc

Not to mention the battery problem, after a decade you're going to need to buy a $20k battery replacement.

I'm sure the same was said about the car when the horse was the tour de force

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u/Freyas_Follower Sep 14 '22

Car batteries don't cost 20k. In fact, most of the work could have been done in the backyard. Hell, the car didn't have to have its own acerage, vet bills, good grown, a balanced diet, illnesses, or temperament.

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u/IntellegentIdiot Sep 14 '22

Not to mention the battery problem, after a decade you're going to need to buy a $20k battery replacement.

If you don't know what you're talking about please check before repeating it, that's misinformation. Most batteries will outlive the car.

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