Will Solar energy replace traditional energy sources by 2023?

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Along with many of the issues with solar already listed in this thread, those who are interested may want to look up the "Duck Curve" problem that arises from an over reliance on solar power(and wind to a somewhat lesser extent). I find it fascinating (but I'm known for finding boring things fascinating so take that with a grain of salt. One of my favorite books is about the evolution of the fork across history.) It turns out that the seemingly cheeky "the sun doesn't shine at night" issue is actually a far bigger and more complicated problem than it would appear to be at first glance when it comes to electrical infrastructure.

I also want to second photovoltaics being garbage as a source of "green" energy that are largely implemented as a virtue signaling or marketing tool to make supposed environmentalists feel better about themselves rather than actually helping the environment as was mentioned by others above

To the people who are saying Solar isn't completely environmentally clean as people say... Of course not. The second you dig into the earth and use chemicals to treat something, it becomes dirty. That's the same for crude oil and nuclear waste.

But to act like it's a Zero-Sum game is disingenuous.

While you dig for crude, refine it, use crude for logistics, and consume it for energy, every step of that is emitting something that's harmful for this planet.

While you mine rare minerals for solar panels, refine it, use them for energy, and discard them... You're creating harmful emissions for the planet in only two steps. Most of the solar panel can also be recycled. And let's not forget that 30 year time frame when they are not producing waste or any harmful emissions. Can we compare the two and says "Well, the new solution doesn't a hundred percent solve the problem, so might as well stick with the more harmful one because the other one wasn't a grand slam"?

Oh, and by the way

Scientists are working toward creating a new and improved solar panel, which offers a more affordable and efficient way to generate renewable energy.

A team of researchers from the University of Toledo, the University of Colorado and the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has found a way to increase solar energy efficiency by implementing a tandem perovskite solar cell in a full-sized solar panel.

Perovskites are compound materials that include a special crystal structure that is formed through chemistry. The researchers believe it could replace silicon as the most efficient solar cell material to convert sunlight into electrical energy.

While all-perovskite-based polycrystalline thin-film tandem solar cells could potentially reach the 30-percent efficiency threshold, they have been limited by the lack of high-efficiency, low-band gap tin-lead mixed perovskite solar cells.

The key to overcoming this limitation was guanidiunium thiocyanate, a chemical compound that significantly improved the structural and optoelectronic properties of the lead-tin perovskite films.

A mixed tin-lead organic-inorganic material containing a small fraction of guanidinium thiocyanate has a low bandgap, long charge-carrier lifetime, and efficiencies of around 25 percent, an increase from the 18-percent efficiency currently seen in silicon-solar panels.

"We are producing higher-efficiency, lower-cost solar cells that show great promise to help solve the world energy crisis," Yanfa Yan, PhD, a professor of physics at the University of Toledo, said in a statement. "The meaningful work will help protect our planet for our children and future generations. We have a problem consuming most of the fossil energies right now, and our collaborative team is focused on refining our innovative way to clean up the mess."

The new study is the culmination of several years of research, including the discovery of the ideal perovskites properties in 2014. Since then, Yan's team has attempted to create an all-perovskite tandem solar cell that can combine two different solar cells to increase the total electrical power, which is generated by using two different parts of the Sun?s spectrum.

The researchers continue to work towards improving the quality of the materials, as well as the manufacturing process to drive down the costs.

"The material cost is low and the fabrication cost is low, but the lifetime of the material is still an unknown," Zhaoning Song, PhD, a research assistant professor in the University of Toledo Department of Physics and Astronomy and co-author on the study, said in a statement. "We need to continue to increase efficiency and stability."

According to Yan, the researchers are also working with the solar industry so that they can ensure that the solar panels made of lead, which is considered a toxic substance, can be recycled so that they do not harm the environment.

The researchers will continue their attempt to harness this type of energy thanks to a $1.1 million grant the DOE awarded in April.

"Our UToledo research is ongoing to make cheaper and more efficient solar cells that could rival and even outperform the prevailing silicon photovoltaic technology," Song said. "Our tandem solar cells with two layers of perovskites deliver high power conversion efficiency and have the potential to bring down production costs of solar panels, which is an important advance in photovoltaics."

Advancements are at least being made in the realm of Solar Power. The "Sun doesn't shine at night" problem becomes less of an issue with the more productive solar collection media we produce. If you have a media that's more productive, you can have more batteries that charge quicker making it more viable for what you throw at it.

Does Solar need a crutch while it's growing? Absolutely. Wind Power where you can, Geothermal where you can. But that's literally no different than these houses that are using coal burning for electricity, and oil for heating said houses. Well, other than having less of a footprint than the latter solution.

Samtemdo8:

Wintermute:
No. Solar energy is a terrible idea because you wouldn't be able to power your house and watch Netflix during the night.

I don't think that is how Solar Energy work.

The only thing less efficient than transport of electricity is storage. That's really the fundamental problem with "replacing" traditional generation with wind and solar - production is fundamentally tied to current weather conditions. Moving to primarily wind/solar and using fossil fuels or nuclear to make up the shortfalls is probably doable, but not within 5 years. I'd point out that in many places hydro is also doable and tends to be less variable than solar/wind and is another option to tap.

Eacaraxe:

Funny story, but solar thermal solves for both of those issues while being more efficient, applicable, and cleaner than photovoltaic in the long run. Industrial-scale photovoltaic is a high-cost boondoggle that'll never, ever work.

Ironically it's also been around for over a century. As in, the first plant was built before WWI to pump water for crop irrigation, and the war and low oil prices made developing solar thermal a less attractive option than just burning oil. Which makes industrial scale photovoltaics an expensive flashy solution that isn't really an improvement over a very old alternative that's largely an application of tech we've had forever and improved upon.

It's like using "group ubers that follow a set route" instead of the damned bus.

Eacaraxe:

In one of the threads in the now-defunct R&P, there was a decent conversation going about coal country and how people living in coal country have completely lost their identity in the span of fifty years. Essentially, how the people of coal country went from the hardest-ass, ride-or-die unionists who literally fought armed conflicts against all comers for their right to economic self-determinism, to some of the most broken, impoverished, and shamed people in the country. The entire area used to be death-before-dishonor blue, and it could damn well be again if Democrats would seize the right message, remind these people who they used to be, and harness their unmitigated rage against the system that led them to this point.

Haven't you listened to some of the farther left folks on these forums, clearly what happened is that right about the time Democrats started talking about trying to kill coal everyone in coal country suddenly and unexpectedly became drastically more sexist, racist, and homophobic. Because being sexist, racist and/or homophobic is the only conceivable reason you wouldn't vote for the Democrats. It couldn't possibly be that you stop being able to tap into the union vote when you start trying to dismantle the industries those unions represent, and it's not like coal is a massive sector of the economy in coal country (say, the largest export from the region by a huge margin), right?

Of course, I'm old enough to remember being in elementary school and a kid getting beat up because he mentioned his daddy was a Republican. In WV. That was in the late 80s.

At this point someone undoubtedly wants to point out that Clinton had an exceptionally poorly sold plan to transition the region out of the coal industry. Unfortunately, that plan could be described as "lose your job, go on welfare while you do retraining, then relocate for a new job that pays half what the old one made" which isn't exactly a desirable plan, even less so when you're someone making 6 figures with little education but tons of specialized experience and you're supporting a family (literally describing my future brother-in-law here).

I work for a company where I really should vote Republican for my own benefit (our customer's plans are very sensitive to government policy and GOP policy tends to favor us getting more new work, while Dem policy tends to hurt us), but I generally don't because so many of their other policies are god awful.

ObsidianJones:

Advancements are at least being made in the realm of Solar Power. The "Sun doesn't shine at night" problem becomes less of an issue with the more productive solar collection media we produce. If you have a media that's more productive, you can have more batteries that charge quicker making it more viable for what you throw at it.

Does Solar need a crutch while it's growing? Absolutely. Wind Power where you can, Geothermal where you can. But that's literally no different than these houses that are using coal burning for electricity, and oil for heating said houses. Well, other than having less of a footprint than the latter solution.

Ironically more productive solar actually makes the "sun doesn't shine at night" problem even worse because of the duck curve problem I mentioned above. Solar doesn't work when the energy demands on the electric grid typically peak. This creates a huge Delta between the demands on the grid at its lowest( during the day with the solar working) and at its highest (in the evening when solar doesn't work). This causes all sorts of problems of which I'll only mention a few. One is that we can't store energy for crap, meaning the grid needs to produce energy at the same rate it is consumed at the time it is consumed, and the grid producing too much or too little energy causes everything to break. This further means that solar can't actually replace any energy production infrastructure, as you will still need to have enough capacity from your non solar sources to cover the entirety of your peak demand. The high demand Delta caused by solar combined with its highly inconsistent output due to weather conditions also means your other sources have to be highly and quickly throttleable and you need a lot of feedback from your grid to figure out how much more power it needs.

My comment about photovoltaics (as opposed to thermal solar power) has more to do with my experience in the engineering of building systems. I actually implement these supposed green systems sometimes for my job. In my experience people don't care about going to green unless it is very visible. Things like insulation, efficient HVAC, or not making the entire exterior of your building f-ing glass all go out the energy inefficient windows in favor of spending money on solar panels and green roofs despite being far worse returns on investment in both terms of being green and saving money on energy costs. It's far more important to look green than actually be green. It's about marketing. I also frequently have to disillusion people of the very prevalent belief that going green will save you money in the long run. This is far from a guarantee, and frequently the lower operating costs won't offset the higher upfront cost over the life of the system.

Silent Protagonist:
Ironically more productive solar actually makes the "sun doesn't shine at night" problem even worse because of the duck curve problem I mentioned above. Solar doesn't work when the energy demands on the electric grid typically peak. This creates a huge Delta between the demands on the grid at its lowest( during the day with the solar working) and at its highest (in the evening when solar doesn't work). This causes all sorts of problems of which I'll only mention a few. One is that we can't store energy for crap, meaning the grid needs to produce energy at the same rate it is consumed at the time it is consumed, and the grid producing too much or too little energy causes everything to break. This further means that solar can't actually replace any energy production infrastructure, as you will still need to have enough capacity from your non solar sources to cover the entirety of your peak demand. The high demand Delta caused by solar combined with its highly inconsistent output due to weather conditions also means your other sources have to be highly and quickly throttleable and you need a lot of feedback from your grid to figure out how much more power it needs.

My comment about photovoltaics (as opposed to thermal solar power) has more to do with my experience in the engineering of building systems. I actually implement these supposed green systems sometimes for my job. In my experience people don't care about going to green unless it is very visible. Things like insulation, efficient HVAC, or not making the entire exterior of your building f-ing glass all go out the energy inefficient windows in favor of spending money on solar panels and green roofs despite being far worse returns on investment in both terms of being green and saving money on energy costs. It's far more important to look green than actually be green. It's about marketing. I also frequently have to disillusion people of the very prevalent belief that going green will save you money in the long run. This is far from a guarantee, and frequently the lower operating costs won't offset the higher upfront cost over the life of the system.

The difference between wasted Sunlight and wasted crude? That crude is gone. Sunlight will always be replaced.

The actual problem that you cite exists in all power solutions. If you don't have enough oil to heat your home, your home won't get heated. If you don't have electricity reaching your domicile. you won't have lights on. Coal, oil, gas? Infinitely more finite than Solar, Wind, and Geothermal.

But to your point about people's disillusions, I'm a hundred percent with you. When I was a personal trainer, I had people ask me how many crunches would it take them to have a six pack forever. Not joking, not being funny at all, in a good deal of people's minds, there was a set number of crunches that will just change their dna into rippling muscles that will never break.

But the people you're talking about are like the same people who get married because of the tax benefits. I've priced solar systems myself, and I know this isn't about any long term savings. In fact, to have a system that meets my requirements, it would probably cost the same as buying a new house. Panels, Power Storage, Wiring and all.

I have no problem with that. This, to me, is about self sufficiency as much as possible. If a wind turbine has to be added to it and I get more energy efficient appliances, all the better. In life, there is no one stop shop for every problem associated with a subject. If that was the case, there would be such a thing as perfection in this world. There is not. But there is having a limited and dwindling supply of resources who are controlled by people who don't have my best interests at a heart that is vastly cheaper than another solution, and there is that actual other solution that has a high cost of investment, a different way of living my life than I do now... with the possibility of never having to have my resources controlled by another person on this planet again.

To me, the cheaper system costs more of me than I'm willing to pay.

ObsidianJones:

You are misunderstanding the duck curve problem. I encourage you to look it up as it is actually very interesting and I am sure there are sources far better than me at explaining it. It isn't about "wasting" sunlight or crude and is very much a problem unique to solar power and wind to a somewhat lesser extent. It's not about there not being enough of the energy source, but about timing. Other sources of power, be they fuels, hydro, nuclear, or even geothermal can be relied on at any time and we can control how much they do or do not produce reliably. Solar(and wind to a lesser extent) only produce during part of the day and are highly prone to weather conditions outside of our control. This is a problem because as mentioned before we do not have a good way to store energy at scale and need to produce it as it is consumed or everything breaks. Typically the demands on the electric grid are about the same throughout the day and night with a significant but relatively small bump up in demand during the evening. With the widespread introduction of solar there is a significant drop in demand during the day time, which cuts off right when demand hits its peak. The problem is the massive swings in demand on the non solar sources of power over the course of a single day.

Oddly enough, on the issue of disillusionment and ulterior motives, it was the most cynical ones that only cared about the dollar signs that were the most likely to end up with a building that was actually relatively eco friendly. It's the ones that cared about being green that were more likely to want the stupid things the media has convinced them are green at the expense of measures that will actually significantly reduce their footprint. And don't get me started on LEED certification.

ObsidianJones:
To the people who are saying Solar isn't completely environmentally clean as people say... Of course not. The second you dig into the earth and use chemicals to treat something, it becomes dirty. That's the same for crude oil and nuclear waste.

Frankly, it's not as simple as all that, and you're not taking into account a metric asston of intervening variables. Note that I mentioned it's a polite way of externalizing environmental cost to the former third world. Well, that's where the rare-earth deposits we need are, and to say most of them are squarely in countries that lack a happy relationship with the West is an understatement to say the least. So, we have our geopolitical, realist, IPE reason for taking a second, hard, look at photovoltaics right there.

Then, we have to deal with the fact they're in LDC's. That means investment to build infrastructure to access sites, produce the raw product, transport it, refine it, and transport the refined product to producers. All while jumping through the aforementioned geopolitical and social hoops the whole way. Hell, that's one reason the Chinese are looking to improve relations with Latin-American and African countries -- not just for oil and arms trade, but because they're also sitting on extensive proven and unproven rare-earth reserves.

All to swap one non-renewable resource for another. We're kicking the can down the road, and invoking a hell of a lot of externalities to do it. And, like petroleum's relationship with polymers and minor consumer products, rare earths are better put to use in other products. Like motors, power storage, and electronics. Including for use in areas that, as I alluded to earlier, are poor in terms of solar insolation, but amply-wealthy in other forms of renewable sources like wind and water.

Or we could build, basically, mirrors, pipes, and turbines. That already are capable of hitting the 30% efficiency threshold on tech, that, as mentioned here,

Schadrach:
Ironically it's also been around for over a century.

is already quite old and well-proven. Especially when you start talking about storage media. The drawback to PV is you need electric batteries, and with those you get your choice of two out of three options: cheap, efficient, or environmentally-friendly. Solar thermal's an entirely different ballgame, as with those the option of storing heat enters the picture, and thermal batteries can be cheap, more efficient than any electric battery on the planet, and environmentally friendly at the same time.

All that's before you start talking about the really kinky shit that's currently on the table, like molten salt solar furnaces. There's one experimental solar furnace in France capable of heating a medium up to 3,500 Celsius -- four times hotter than the running temp of current-generation molten salt (nuclear) reactors. Nothing like that will produce GW-scale energy, but not too shabby for the 20th Century's answer to Archimedes' death ray.

PV isn't the answer. But, this is the key takeaway, it's not the only means of harnessing solar power. If you want accessibility, efficiency, sufficiency, safety, and applicability, solar thermal's the answer sparing some paradigm-changing rapid unforeseeable developments in chemistry or physics.

At this point someone undoubtedly wants to point out that Clinton had an exceptionally poorly sold plan to transition the region out of the coal industry. Unfortunately, that plan could be described as "lose your job, go on welfare while you do retraining, then relocate for a new job that pays half what the old one made" which isn't exactly a desirable plan, even less so when you're someone making 6 figures with little education but tons of specialized experience and you're supporting a family (literally describing my future brother-in-law here).

Funny thing is one wouldn't even have to do all that to make "coal country" gangbusters economic ground. Just legalize weed; whole region's primo territory for growing the shit. Even fuckin' McConnell was smart enough to figure that one out, which is why industrial hemp cultivation's legal now.

Silent Protagonist:
You are misunderstanding the duck curve problem. I encourage you to look it up as it is actually very interesting and I am sure there are sources far better than me at explaining it. It isn't about "wasting" sunlight or crude and is very much a problem unique to solar power and wind to a somewhat lesser extent. It's not about there not being enough of the energy source, but about timing. Other sources of power, be they fuels, hydro, nuclear, or even geothermal can be relied on at any time and we can control how much they do or do not produce reliably. Solar(and wind to a lesser extent) only produce during part of the day and are highly prone to weather conditions outside of our control. This is a problem because as mentioned before we do not have a good way to store energy at scale and need to produce it as it is consumed or everything breaks. Typically the demands on the electric grid are about the same throughout the day and night with a significant but relatively small bump up in demand during the evening. With the widespread introduction of solar there is a significant drop in demand during the day time, which cuts off right when demand hits its peak. The problem is the massive swings in demand on the non solar sources of power over the course of a single day.

Oddly enough, on the issue of disillusionment and ulterior motives, it was the most cynical ones that only cared about the dollar signs that were the most likely to end up with a building that was actually relatively eco friendly. It's the ones that cared about being green that were more likely to want the stupid things the media has convinced them are green at the expense of measures that will actually significantly reduce their footprint. And don't get me started on LEED certification.

Not really. I just haven't shared a part of this with you. That's my fault for that.

I'm looking for complete off the grid living. Growing my own food, producing my own energy in a plot of land I will own that means I'll have to drive twenty minutes to get to a store if I ever need one. One of the perks to (hopefully) moving to Ontario in a few years means I don't have to take part of the asinine mandatory Grid tie in that most Counties in the US have.

The duck curve hopefully will not apply to me in Ontario. That's the issue here.

Eacaraxe:
*snips*

The remainder of that very post was me linking to an article about a new type of solar panel predominantly chemical means. You're saying PV. I'm saying Solar. I already admitted to the harm that going down the route of PV will have, but I'm looking forward to new, hopefully easier to produce without as significant impact as current energy collection and consumption methods have now.

I don't know how to answer you.

Schadrach:
snip.

Eacaraxe:
snip .

Got your complaints

Just answer me one question, are renewables less or more environmentally friendly than coal? You can even break it down into different types of renewables (eg, you think solar is worse than coal but hydro is better.)

Edit: Got - as in understand.

trunkage:
Just answer me one question, are renewables less or more environmentally friendly than coal? You can even break it down into different types of renewables (eg, you think solar is worse than coal but hydro is better.)

Yeah, I'm not playing this cute little, completely transparent, rhetorical game of asking a loaded question so you can play the relative privation card. Least of all when my part of this entire thread has been A) shitting on the fossil fuels industry, and B) shitting on photovoltaics for the same reason I'm shitting on fossil fuels, C) shitting on environmentalists for being stupid and prideful donkeys who advocate for the worst-available alternatives using the worst-available forms of the argument, and D) advocating for a better form of solar than PV.

You answer a counter-question first. What's cleaner, PV or CSP?

Well no, it's not exactly clean or possible to totally go to solar power. First the realities are that the production of the solar panels is not a clean process. This is because all the material and production of the panels come from polluting sources. Then you have the real fact that solar power really only works well in places where you have limited clouds and constant clear skies.

Northern California,Seattle are horrible places while Arizona, Nevada and Texas are a more perfect. Countries in the Middle East are far more perfect locals for solar power then nations further north. You also have the fact that solar power panels do lose between 0.5%- 8.0% of energy absorption per year. Meaning they are not install and forget about it as each panel ages from host of factors.Humidity also is something to think about with even the best solar panels over time can start to separate layers in the panel.They are also very fragile than what most people even know about,stone or hail can damage the outer protection layer. Weakening the unit power intake or just breaking it.

https://energyinformative.org/lifespan-solar-panels/

Solar also requires battery storage units to keep the power regulated so it can be used later on and those last around 5-12 years if lucky in a aired part of the world. Heat kills lithium batteries and that is the major component used in solar systems both business and private. Lithium is not totally clean process either requiring several steps to make still slightly cleaner then fossil fuels. You also have to worry about land space; solar power plants also have to be placed on over three or four stadium lots of land. This to just generate enough power that a coal ,nuclear, Hydro plant generate during their operation. Plus the cost of replacement parts and operation deterioration is not something to sneeze at.

https://www.theguardian.com/vital-signs/2015/jun/10/tesla-batteries-environment-lithium-elon-musk-powerwall
https://blog.pickmysolar.com/how-green-are-home-batteries-the-environmental-impact-of-lithium-ion
https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2018/05/23/if-solar-panels-are-so-clean-why-do-they-produce-so-much-toxic-waste/

Even with over three decades of work on solar, the tech is still far to expensive over its life time of operation. It also ends up requiring more land than most commercial farms today. Plus the fact that China is one of the major manufactures of panels which are subs quality, so yeah it's not perfect. My prediction would be in 30 more years possibly it might be small enough and more efficient.

Solar is cleaner but not a perfect end all solution as it is very finicky where it can be placed to be optimized. The process to make the panels is also not the most environmentally friendly either. It takes a lot of land to just make 20MW -70MW even with smaller panels to make electricity. The system relies on batteries which deplete when they are hot and over time even in the best environment stop working around 10 years. Chemical Solar plants have massive cons, depleted chemical storage/use. The ability to fry birds miles in the sky is not environmentally friendly. So solar panels are not their yet, maybe in 30 plus years time.

https://www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/resources/technologies/large-scale-solar
https://gizmodo.com/this-is-what-a-20-megawatt-solar-farm-looks-like-5943708

https://www.greenmatch.co.uk/blog/2014/08/5-advantages-and-5-disadvantages-of-solar-energy
https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/downloads/emerging-issues-and-challenges-integrating-high-levels-solar-electrical
https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/053015/pros-and-cons-solar-energy.asp

RobertEHouse:
Chemical Solar plants have massive cons, depleted chemical storage/use. The ability to fry birds miles in the sky is not environmentally friendly.

This is honestly what I'm getting at, more than anything. These are the only statements in the entire post that speak towards anything but PV. Making "solar energy" synonymous with PV is, at least in my opinion, reckless, dangerous, and self-defeating, since it causes misconceptions of what solar is and what it isn't, and frames discussion of solar energy in the context of a single, expensive and inefficient, means of generating electricity from it.

"Solar" is the source, not the means. PV is but one of many means of generating electricity from solar energy. In the common discourse about energy, we as a society have a highly disturbing trend of conflating source and means, and that leads to problematic discussion. Personally, I attribute it to the dominance of fossil fuels in energy production; there's only one way of deriving energy from fossil fuels, burning it. Fossil fuel and wind are the only sources constrained to a single means of power generation of which I'm aware; not even hydro is that limited (tidal, wave, and salinity gradient in addition to hydroelectric).

Nuclear, for example, is an amazingly versatile power source with potential applications that well exceed the steam cycle.

ObsidianJones:

Advancements are at least being made in the realm of Solar Power. The "Sun doesn't shine at night" problem becomes less of an issue with the more productive solar collection media we produce. If you have a media that's more productive, you can have more batteries that charge quicker making it more viable for what you throw at it.

No.

Better and more solar cells does NOT help the "the sun doesn't change at night" problem at all.

In certain countries (that actually use solar and have invested in it for decades) we already have energy prizes dropping into the negatives at times because we somehow have to get rid of the excess solar power for grid stability. Solar panels produce far more 100% of the needed energy when the sun is shining. And the very same countries have then to import extra expensive energy made from gas and coal in the evening. Adding more solar panels would not even reduce the consumption of fossil fuels anymore.

For decades we have basically ignored storage. Because there is no good storage solution. Large scale batteries that can take over a significant part of total energy consumption of a country are ridiculously expensive, degarde way too fast when used every day, use limited ressources, have bad efficiency and so on.

Punped storage plants is still by far the best we can actually do. But those take a lot of space and water. And require certain geography. And are expensive and still not that efficient. We wil never be able to build enough pump storage plants all aver the world to actually get solar to the level where it can provide most of our energy demands.

There are two spikes in daily energy consumption. One at the middle of the day, one in the evening. Solar can and in certain countries does completely take care of the spike at the middle of the day and comtributes somewhat to the rest. But solar won't ever be able to do more unless we get new ideas about storage.

ObsidianJones:

The difference between wasted Sunlight and wasted crude? That crude is gone. Sunlight will always be replaced.

The actual problem that you cite exists in all power solutions. If you don't have enough oil to heat your home, your home won't get heated. If you don't have electricity reaching your domicile. you won't have lights on. Coal, oil, gas? Infinitely more finite than Solar, Wind, and Geothermal.

You can store srude/oil/whatever. You can't store sunlight.

It doesn't matter how much excess energy your solar panels produce over the day, you won't be able to use even one bit of it when the sun is down.

immortalfrieza:

Kwak:

immortalfrieza:

This is because the vast majority of environmentalists (like most of humanity with problems that have existed for decades, centuries, or longer) have no real desire to do anything whatsoever to realistically actually SOLVE problems,....

Environmentalists with very few exceptions are nothing more than pretending like they're doing something in order to make themselves feel better so avoid the effort of actually doing something.

What are you basing this on? Sounds like a caricature that doesn't exist.

How about the fact that "environmentalists" have existed for decades and yet for all the rhetoric we're still dealing with the exact same problems with protecting the environment with little to no actual advancement made to actually fix them. If environmentalists as a whole cared enough to put real effort into saving the environment these issues would have been solved a long LONG time ago.

If you ignore the fact that lobbyists have existed longer than environmentalists and they are pretty good in having the government supporting fossil fuels; then yeah, what a bunch of hypocrites.

Satinavian:
No.

Better and more solar cells does NOT help the "the sun doesn't change at night" problem at all.

In certain countries (that actually use solar and have invested in it for decades) we already have energy prizes dropping into the negatives at times because we somehow have to get rid of the excess solar power for grid stability. Solar panels produce far more 100% of the needed energy when the sun is shining. And the very same countries have then to import extra expensive energy made from gas and coal in the evening. Adding more solar panels would not even reduce the consumption of fossil fuels anymore.

For decades we have basically ignored storage. Because there is no good storage solution. Large scale batteries that can take over a significant part of total energy consumption of a country are ridiculously expensive, degarde way too fast when used every day, use limited ressources, have bad efficiency and so on.

Punped storage plants is still by far the best we can actually do. But those take a lot of space and water. And require certain geography. And are expensive and still not that efficient. We wil never be able to build enough pump storage plants all aver the world to actually get solar to the level where it can provide most of our energy demands.

There are two spikes in daily energy consumption. One at the middle of the day, one in the evening. Solar can and in certain countries does completely take care of the spike at the middle of the day and comtributes somewhat to the rest. But solar won't ever be able to do more unless we get new ideas about storage.

ObsidianJones:

The difference between wasted Sunlight and wasted crude? That crude is gone. Sunlight will always be replaced.

The actual problem that you cite exists in all power solutions. If you don't have enough oil to heat your home, your home won't get heated. If you don't have electricity reaching your domicile. you won't have lights on. Coal, oil, gas? Infinitely more finite than Solar, Wind, and Geothermal.

You can store srude/oil/whatever. You can't store sunlight.

It doesn't matter how much excess energy your solar panels produce over the day, you won't be able to use even one bit of it when the sun is down.

Do you know why Cell Phones are a thing? The advancements of Computing Power and Batteries. The advancement of Computing Power itself came from the myriad of ways that engineers found to refine RAM and move from Vacuum Tubes to Microprocessors and the like. That was up from Punch Cards. And that itself is a huge step up from the Analytical Engine.

The only thing I'll ever give a capitalist society is that when there is a demand, people will come out of the woodworks to answer it. With the demand of Solar Energy increasing, we don't just have homebuilt or Tesla Powerwall here to answer the call. We have companies like Sonnen-Eco and Pika Energy Harbor Smart Battery vying to get their piece of the new market.

The more companies fighting for the same market space, the more choices we have. The more money buying their products, the more it drives innovation. We didn't just invent wireless and go "Great, that's all we need". Do you think we're going to stop at 5G once the first nation cracks it and makes it their own? Hell no. The 'loser' in that race will take all the info they get from 5G and then get to work on 6G. Innovation drove everything we all take for granted. Like how you and I are having a conversation, yet I have no idea where you live or even what you look like.

The better a product made, the better the support industry around it will be pushed and push themselves to swim with those advancements. And like I said many times before, better collection paired with better storage will erode many of the problems we see today. Because they are all a variation of the same idea: What if it isn't enough? Better collection and better storage will create 'enough'.

Also, sidebar? There is a direct link to how just being able to collect more Solar Power will effect how an individual's energy consumption after the sun goes down. Here where I moved, there's a place here in Western New York showing off the capability of being a Net-Zero Building. But even they address the problems of solar panels given our position on the planet and the current efficiency of the panels

All of the solar panels were installed at a fixed 10-degree angle, and the spacing between them was set to maximize the solar power creation (electricity) in the summer months when the daylight hours are the longest, and the sun is at its highest position in the sky. In the winter months, particularly in December when the daylight hours are the shortest, and the sun angle is low, our solar panels are expected to produce very little electricity.

You can not change the day and night cycles. But if you can change the efficiency in which you collect the energy, that simply means more power available to you if you have suitable energy storage.

Eacaraxe:

RobertEHouse:
Chemical Solar plants have massive cons, depleted chemical storage/use. The ability to fry birds miles in the sky is not environmentally friendly.

This is honestly what I'm getting at, more than anything. These are the only statements in the entire post that speak towards anything but PV. Making "solar energy" synonymous with PV is, at least in my opinion, reckless, dangerous, and self-defeating, since it causes misconceptions of what solar is and what it isn't, and frames discussion of solar energy in the context of a single, expensive and inefficient, means of generating electricity from it.

"Solar" is the source, not the means. PV is but one of many means of generating electricity from solar energy. In the common discourse about energy, we as a society have a highly disturbing trend of conflating source and means, and that leads to problematic discussion. Personally, I attribute it to the dominance of fossil fuels in energy production; there's only one way of deriving energy from fossil fuels, burning it. Fossil fuel and wind are the only sources constrained to a single means of power generation of which I'm aware; not even hydro is that limited (tidal, wave, and salinity gradient in addition to hydroelectric).

Nuclear, for example, is an amazingly versatile power source with potential applications that well exceed the steam cycle.

The biggest issue with Nuclear though is we are still struggling with disposal. It has to be properly stored for thousands of years and we cannot even manage to keep the containers sealed for that long. We keep leaking that shat everywhere and cant find any safe place to keep it and this problem keeps getting worse for every nation using nuclear energy. The more we increase use the worse it gets. Not to mention that we can't even manage to properly maintain and protect the facilities. We live on a violently everchanging planet and we cannot even guarantee that earth the reactors are sitting on is going to be in the same place long enough to keep it safe. Just looking at the reactors in the New Madird failed rift seismic zone tells us that we cannot guarantee anything with that long term. The problem with nuclear is when it goes wrong, it can cause a mess we cannot clean up.

The sheer incompetency and recklessness that my family has already endured from nuclear power plant builders, the NRC and the bought off EPA, I now have no faith that this will be properly maintained. Hell they falsified and buried test results and couldn't even be bothered to install the reactor or much at all at the plant properly while building the damn thing why would we think they would properly maintain this long term? They simply cannot be trusted, at least not in the US, with such an overwhelming responsibility long term. This is creating a problem that has to be maintained for thousands of years and no one living today will be there to guarantee it is even done in the future. It would be safer for the people, water, soil, animals, air to focus efforts on renewable energy we can clean up if it breaks.

Satinavian:

It doesn't matter how much excess energy your solar panels produce over the day, you won't be able to use even one bit of it when the sun is down.

People should be in bed then anyway.

ObsidianJones:

Do you know why Cell Phones are a thing? The advancements of Computing Power and Batteries. The advancement of Computing Power itself came from the myriad of ways that engineers found to refine RAM and move from Vacuum Tubes to Microprocessors and the like. That was up from Punch Cards. And that itself is a huge step up from the Analytical Engine.

The only thing I'll ever give a capitalist society is that when there is a demand, people will come out of the woodworks to answer it. With the demand of Solar Energy increasing, we don't just have homebuilt or Tesla Powerwall here to answer the call. We have companies like Sonnen-Eco and Pika Energy Harbor Smart Battery vying to get their piece of the new market.

There is a demand.

Electricity during the day costs only a fraction of electricity in the evening the European energy market. If you were able to store it, you could make money from that.

But it turns out that no storage is actually good enough to make that actually profitable.

Yes, we do have companies offering solutions for home owners. But those only work because you can skip some transormation issues and losses if you have batteries and solar panels together. And even then it is more than questionable if it is a good economic decision to buy such a battery.

The more companies fighting for the same market space, the more choices we have. The more money buying their products, the more it drives innovation.

The storage problem was important part of the discussion 30 years ago. We have occasionally negatve energy prices for more than a decade. And yet, there is no real competition between large scale energy storage providers whatsoever. Because none of them can actually get it to work in a way that the stored energy is cheaper than building a new coal plant, buy the coal and even CO2 certificates. Storage technology really is that lacking that a battery park would not pay for itself even if provided energy for free. And that won't change with better or more solar panels.

And yes, we get some innovations for batteries lately - driven primarily by the wish for electronic cars because those are at least somewhat close to be economically sensible.

You can not change the day and night cycles. But if you can change the efficiency in which you collect the energy, that simply means more power available to you if you have suitable energy storage.

But we don't have suitable energy storage. We are not even anywhere close.

I am not saying it is hopeless. I will link a pretty recent report on the whole energy situation in Germany from our Fraunhofer institute :

https://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/content/dam/ise/en/documents/publications/studies/recent-facts-about-photovoltaics-in-germany.pdf

(If you want more numbers than texts)
https://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/content/dam/ise/de/documents/publications/studies/Photovoltaics-Report.pdf

Germany is close to having 10% of the wordwide photovoltaics capacity installed. So it is a good example of a country really trying to rely on solar.

This overview does discuss among other things storage problems and potential strategies to solve them in detail (Mostly chapter 17.) but is very clear that we won't be able to phase out fossils anytime soon (Ch 16.) Because of storage. And only because of storage. And that is even though we also try to do what we can with wind and water (we technically even have more wind power capacity than PV capacity).

In 2018 we had over 40% of electricity from renewables for the whole year (US had 17% btw). Planning predicts 65% in 2030 but not much sooner. Worldwide and also in the US it will be far below that.

It gets even worse when you consider that electricity is only part of our energy consumption and i certainly don't see combustion engines vanishing in only 10 years even if there is at least some progress there nowadays.

Lil devils x:
The biggest issue with Nuclear though is we are still struggling with disposal. It has to be properly stored for thousands of years and we cannot even manage to keep the containers sealed for that long.

We don't really need to seal it for thousands of years.

The more radiactive an isotope is, the sooner it is gone. Sure, radioactive waste will be radioactive for a long time but it will be less radioactive for most of this time when only the longer living, less radioactive elements remain in some quantity.

Depending on actual storage solutions, radioactive waste will be be not much more radioactive than natural backgroud radiation in many places after only 300 years. Still radioactive but it won't be a big catastrophe if the storage solution fails then. This whole "it needs to be super safe for thousands or even tens of thousand of years when no one remembers it anymore" is not really true.

Germany stopped using nuclear and I think it was a really big mistake. It is basically the only reason we won't actually achieve our climate goals because we had to replace it with coal.

May wanna look at 2050. That's when my state aims to have 100% renewable powered infrastructure by at least.

I'm not sure why everyone's getting so hung up on solar.

Wind power is cheaper (some claim now cheaper even than oil/gas), less environmentally problematic, and whilst it does have it's own reliability issues, not so bad as the sun setting half the day. Sure a load of nimbies will complain they spoil the view of their lovely rural hillside / coast, but boo hoo to them. With a well connected network (including solar where useful) it's pretty much guaranteed the sun will be shining and air moving in enough places to keep the TVs on and electric cars charging.

Likewise don't get hung up on chemical batteries in terms of energy storage. In many places it's viable to combine with hydroelectric; pump water up into a reservoir and then let it down through turbines during the off phase. As a similar concept, there's compressed air storage. There are forms of heat storage, kinetic storage (e.g. flywheels), etc. which can all operate on household and larger scales.

Similarly, I don't think the idea is that we'll never again burn gas or stick radioactive rods in water. The idea is that traditional "conventional" power generation recedes into being the backup to be utilised when the weather occasionally leaves us in the lurch.

* * *

Satinavian:

In 2018 we had over 40% of electricity from renewables for the whole year (US had 17% btw). Planning predicts 65% in 2030 but not much sooner. Worldwide and also in the US it will be far below that.

You might be wrong here. The developing world already currently has about half the world's renewable energy generation, and it's investment and growth in renewables is higher than the West. China is already the world's renewables leader, India is rapidly following suit, and all across Latin America, Africa and Asia they're all moving decisively towards renewables. Of course such projections are always tricky - the USA might take a decisive turn to renewables, and who knows what, but I wouldn't underestimate the growth of renewables in the developing world.

The developing world is mostly operating from much more of a "blank slate" with limited energy infrastructure. Everyone knows fossil fuels are finished, and if these countries are going to build new power infrastructure from scratch, they're choosing the future - they can both save themselves the fuel import costs and acquire self-sufficiency, use it to help develop their industrial base etc.

Agema:

You might be wrong here. The developing world already currently has about half the world's renewable energy generation, and it's investment and growth in renewables is higher than the West. China is already the world's renewables leader, India is rapidly following suit, and all across Latin America, Africa and Asia they're all moving decisively towards renewables. Of course such projections are always tricky - the USA might take a decisive turn to renewables, and who knows what, but I wouldn't underestimate the growth of renewables in the developing world.

I know that those regions tend to grow faster than the west. But i doubt that they will reach the estimated 65% in only 11 years.

Also China is not the world's renewable energy leader. They managed only 26% in 2017 (can't find a 2018 number, only for capacities but those count renewables at peak performance and thus are unreliable). While better than the pityful US figure, it is significantly lower than Germanys 40% and yes, i doubt they manage to increase that to 65% until 2030, even with the full power of the communist party. Which matches their own projections : The most ambitious scenario from the decitions of the 19th National Congress see them at 43% in that year. I have even less confidence into India etc to reach higher numbers.

Satinavian:
We don't really need to seal it for thousands of years...basically the only reason we won't actually achieve our climate goals because we had to replace it with coal.

Over 99% of the mass of spent fuel can be recycled into usable fuel, or captured and sequestered for use in scientific research, nuclear medicine, or diverted to secondary consumers like NASA. The US prohibition of reprocessing in the '70s prevented the tech from maturing for decades, and it's a significant chunk of why we deal with isotope shortages in nuclear medicine and the exclusive reason why the US has had to do pants-on-head shit like buy plutonium from Russia for NASA. The remaining 1% can actually be injected into very high-temp and fast reactors, and burned off safely.

Reprocessing is currently so expensive because it's not a mature tech, and it has proliferation issues. It's simply cheaper to mine and refine uranium, than it is to reprocess spent nuclear fuel. That's why we have "disposal" issues; it's an artificial problem that could well have been long-solved had the US remained a global leader in nuclear development.

Sorry, sick kid. Been a bit busy

Also, you know you don't HAVE to get offended by everything. Or think everyone is out to get you.

Eacaraxe:

You answer a counter-question first. What's cleaner, PV or CSP?

Firstly, I'm going to point out that I said environmentally friendly, which is a different benchmark (I feel) than cleaner. If your just worried about emissions/ carbon footprint, CSP is better. But, Mr New Vegas listed all the things I was going to say about how it damages the environment that has nothing to do with clean. Also, I don't think he list insects, as that's huge issue as well as cleaning because those roasted bird get stuck on panels so quickly.

But, PV requires batteries and the metals required to make them are more environmentally unfriendly to dig out than coal or metal to build wind turbines. But things like lithium don't have to be dug out continuously like coal. So its a high damage but less continuous situation. It's like economics. There are cons and benefits to everything and we need to figure out what the best strategies that will probably have a mix of sources (e.g. going all hydro makes no sense because location, location, location). Or, as you pointed out later, we could do nuclear but

Reprocessing is currently so expensive because it's not a mature tech, and it has proliferation issues. It's simply cheaper to mine and refine uranium, than it is to reprocess spent nuclear fuel. That's why we have "disposal" issues; it's an artificial problem that could well have been long-solved had the US remained a global leader in nuclear development.

Also, the issue wasn't the US government. It's coal and oil lobbyists. Batteries never changes much since the 80s until recently because there was no need. Those coal and oil lobbyists had us covered and there was no need to have any other fuel source. They demonised nuclear well before Chernobyl and won. They demonised renewables and won for so many years, that it still has an impact today.

Also saw these the other day. Don't know anything about these yet. My amateur engineering head has questions like... most things want to stop vibration for very particularly reasons. How will this last a long time? Wouldn't it be prone to breaking all the time?
https://vortexbladeless.com/

So, CSP needs to have it generators put in a place where it will do little damage. We could probably find such a place. Or we could develop technology that diverts bird from reactors (eg. like shark repellent devices). Or maybe it just damages things too much. So, environmentally friendly wise PV>CSP>Coal. I would still pick CSP over coal because, I think, it still have less environmental impact. But I'm not going to pretend it has none.

trunkage:
Just answer me one question, are renewables less or more environmentally friendly than coal? You can even break it down into different types of renewables (eg, you think solar is worse than coal but hydro is better.)

Yeah, I'm not playing this cute little, completely transparent, rhetorical game of asking a loaded question so you can play the relative privation card. Least of all when my part of this entire thread has been A) shitting on the fossil fuels industry, and B) shitting on photovoltaics for the same reason I'm shitting on fossil fuels, C) shitting on environmentalists for being stupid and prideful donkeys who advocate for the worst-available alternatives using the worst-available forms of the argument, and D) advocating for a better form of solar than PV.

OR, as I said.... you could just stop getting offended at everything.

A lot of this shitting is happening because of lobbyist. From all sides. We, as a society, have this mentality that to like something, we must hate it's opponent. It's really stupid but it's really effective at winning arguments. You don't need logic, you need feelings, especially hatred against something. Lobbyists are really good a twisting public perceptions.

Also, people have their own lives. This may be bad, there is only a limited amount of attention they can hold. Sometimes we need to be economical with relaying messages. A slogan is going to win over a nuance argument. Pretending otherwise is a fantasy. I understand why people are just focusing on words like Solar or Coal. It's how you win arguments

Hate on the general perceptions if you want. I personally don't find them at fault because they are being lead by people with lots of money.

Satinavian:
Also China is not the world's renewable energy leader.

Depends on your measure. China generates more power through renewables than any other country in absolute terms, if not as a proportion. It also has the highest investment, and is the biggest producer and exporter of renewable energy technology, and seems to be the leading technology producer (at least in terms of patents). I think all in all China is probably most justified to call itself world leader in renewables.

Eacaraxe:

Satinavian:
We don't really need to seal it for thousands of years...basically the only reason we won't actually achieve our climate goals because we had to replace it with coal.

Over 99% of the mass of spent fuel can be recycled into usable fuel, or captured and sequestered for use in scientific research, nuclear medicine, or diverted to secondary consumers like NASA. The US prohibition of reprocessing in the '70s prevented the tech from maturing for decades, and it's a significant chunk of why we deal with isotope shortages in nuclear medicine and the exclusive reason why the US has had to do pants-on-head shit like buy plutonium from Russia for NASA. The remaining 1% can actually be injected into very high-temp and fast reactors, and burned off safely.

Reprocessing is currently so expensive because it's not a mature tech, and it has proliferation issues. It's simply cheaper to mine and refine uranium, than it is to reprocess spent nuclear fuel. That's why we have "disposal" issues; it's an artificial problem that could well have been long-solved had the US remained a global leader in nuclear development.

Interesting, do you have any links?

Agema:

Satinavian:
Also China is not the world's renewable energy leader.

Depends on your measure. China generates more power through renewables than any other country in absolute terms, if not as a proportion. It also has the highest investment, and is the biggest producer and exporter of renewable energy technology, and seems to be the leading technology producer (at least in terms of patents). I think all in all China is probably most justified to call itself world leader in renewables.

Most of China can't afford to be on coal. It costs the economy too much in lost production

Agema:

Satinavian:
Also China is not the world's renewable energy leader.

Depends on your measure. China generates more power through renewables than any other country in absolute terms, if not as a proportion. It also has the highest investment, and is the biggest producer and exporter of renewable energy technology, and seems to be the leading technology producer (at least in terms of patents). I think all in all China is probably most justified to call itself world leader in renewables.

China is just big and has a huge population. That doesn't make it world leader in nearly everything. And while they are the main producer and exporter of specifically solar panels (they don't have such a position with most other renewables), they got there only by being cheaper based on wages, environmental standards, ressorce availability and gouvernment price dumping, not for technological leadership.

Drathnoxis:
Interesting, do you have any links?

This site and pages on it have breakdowns on the maths, mass, reprocessing capacity versus generated spent fuel, etc. It's a pro-nuke lobby group, so know that bias going in.

Though, there's one page I'd divert your attention to in particular, this one. Because, it corroborates a lot of the info on the previous link, but it's from an anti- nuke group and is a pretty good example of bad science, shady logic, and rhetorical games used to execute a political goal, typically associated with pro-business voices.

Notice on that page they don't actually define the waste classifications? That's because low-level waste is exactly what it says on the tin. Materials including, contaminated by, or exposed to, trace amounts of short-lived (less than five years) isotopes or neutron radiation. A mop used in a nuclear power plant is a low-level waste item.

The letter classification is for materials containing different ratios of these isotopes; class-C LLW is hot, but it's hot for a few years then it can be disposed in a regular-ass landfill or hazmat site. Class-A is barely above background if it's above background at all, and so broad and expansive special dispensation has to be granted to certain consumer products to allow for landfill disposal, like glow in the dark wristwatches, brazil nuts, and bananas.

This classification going up is actually a good thing, because it means the really dangerous shit is being captured and sequestered. High-level waste is the dangerous shit; the medium-lived and long-lived isotopes like Strontium-90, Cesium-137, Cesium-135, Iodine-129. When you hear talk about how radioactive waste has to be put in special barrels and stored deep underground for centuries, this is what speakers are talking about, not goddamn LLW.

Here's where that article passes from the merely shady, to straight-up lies. Without capture and sequestration of medium- and long-lived radioisotopes, spent fuel is high-level waste and the entire mass has to be stored and disposed as such.

Eacaraxe:

Satinavian:
We don't really need to seal it for thousands of years...basically the only reason we won't actually achieve our climate goals because we had to replace it with coal.

Over 99% of the mass of spent fuel can be recycled into usable fuel, or captured and sequestered for use in scientific research, nuclear medicine, or diverted to secondary consumers like NASA. The US prohibition of reprocessing in the '70s prevented the tech from maturing for decades, and it's a significant chunk of why we deal with isotope shortages in nuclear medicine and the exclusive reason why the US has had to do pants-on-head shit like buy plutonium from Russia for NASA. The remaining 1% can actually be injected into very high-temp and fast reactors, and burned off safely.

Reprocessing is currently so expensive because it's not a mature tech, and it has proliferation issues. It's simply cheaper to mine and refine uranium, than it is to reprocess spent nuclear fuel. That's why we have "disposal" issues; it's an artificial problem that could well have been long-solved had the US remained a global leader in nuclear development.

The biggest issue royally screwing this up in the US is that Nuclear power plants in the US are privately owned.

In the mid-1950s, production of electricity from nuclear power was opened up to private industry. ... Today, almost all the commercial reactors in the USA are owned by private companies, and nuclear industry as a whole has far greater private participation, and less concentration, than any other country.

http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/country-profiles/countries-t-z/usa-nuclear-power-policy.aspx

Just as investors are often screwing up our video games in the name of "profit" they are doing the same, if not worse, in regards to nuclear energy in the US. They are the reason why the NRC and EPA have been paid to be incompetent here as it has never been about providing a better service or what is best for our future, people or country, it is about how they can increase profits for investors right now and damn the consequences. It is easier for them to take over regulatory agencies and buy them off to ignore the problems and shift all burdens to tax payers while funneling all profits to the private investors.

Don't expect this to improve as long as this remains to be the case. For nuclear in the US, it is all about cutting as many corners as possible and trying to make someone else pay to clean it up later while they cash grab as much as they can in the meantime by whatever means possible. The way they handle their business is why they cannot be trusted to do this right.

Lil devils x:
The biggest issue royally screwing this up in the US is that Nuclear power plants in the US are privately owned. [...] The way they handle their business is why they cannot be trusted to do this right.

Yup, agree absolutely...but who owns the TVA?

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