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The Story of Storage

Mark Nelson

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Chris Keefer  0:00  

Welcome back to Decouple. Today I'm joined once again by Mark Nelson for the third in our mark Nelson's masterclass sessions. We had a great one on coal recently. And prior to that we've touched on natural gas. And I think the sky's the limit, we got a lot of topics to get through mark, we're definitely going to have you on for some of our regular scheduled programming. But this is turning into a lot of fun. So a warm welcome back to Decouple. It's been a week or two.

Mark Nelson  0:33  

Well, good to be back. I've stored up lots of information for you.

Chris Keefer  0:36  

Oh, good one, good one. So you've given it all the way mark, the topic today is indeed storage. And I was a little I mean, sometimes they get little intimidated talking to yourself and a number of other experts. I am, after all, a bit more of a kind of anthropologist of energy, given my educational background, but, you know, I wasn't sure how we're going to tackle this topic. You know, when we talk about storage, I think of the kind of breathless hyped media articles about various startups, you know, figuring out breakthroughs were told, with, you know, new new ways to store hydrogen, for instance, or, you know, cranes with giant blocks of concrete being used. A lot of it's around the intermittency problem of renewables and how to solve that, rather than sort of working through, you know, a number of these, these so called breakthroughs and debunking them, I thought it would be so much more interesting to sort of, for you to teach us, I guess, how to think about storage on a more sort of first principles basis, broad terms, that sort of thing. So we can approach these individual things, and there's not enough time to go and debunk a lot of them, but have the right analytical tools to do that. I wanted to start off with kind of one intuition, or one example of that, that I want to bring to the table, we can chat about that. And then you know, I know you have a kind of architecture of what you're what you're going to talk about. And you know, we'll do our our dance that we do in our interviews. But, you know, I was struck by I'm not sure if it was Mike Conley or Tim Maloney's peace roadmap to nowhere, or maybe it was through David Mackay. But this whole idea that, you know, fuel is storage, fossil fuels are storage, uranium is storage. And we're not used to thinking about them that way, I think because the the cultural discourse is so much around balancing intermittency. And the kind of cultural zeitgeist is often particularly in the green environmental clean tech folks to reject, out of hand, these forms of, of energy and storage. But you know, uranium is this stored Stardust, you know, billions of years old fossil fuels are the accumulation of millions of years of photosynthetic energy. And what strikes me about a lot of the storage that we're talking about now is it's manmade storage, using you know, if we're gonna stay with those eight guys, to you're using, you know, weather harvesting machines, we're actually making the energy to then put into storage rather than harnessing these existing sources of stored energy that are, you know, hyper dense. And again, I've taken, you know, geologic, if not longer time to accumulate. So, that was kind of, I guess, the starting point and kind of a flavor. I'm hoping of kind of what's to come in terms of thinking through first principles. But Mark, I'm, I'm really excited for this. Why don't you take it away? As we say?

Mark Nelson  3:19  

Sure. Well, I'll start, as I think a lot of topics can start with a pithy quote from the great physicist and teacher, Richard Feynman, on what is energy. So he starts off his energy, his famous physics courses with the most basic intro, and one of the things he asked to discuss is, what is energy? And his answer, which is useful enough for us, and paraphrasing here is, we don't know what energy is. But it comes in packages and changes form. So comes in packages, that's not going to be an issue so much for us in this lecture, that's a reference to quantum minimums of energy going back and forth. So we're above that level, we're going to be dealing with amounts of energy that are almost always very safely above the quantum level. So it changes for that's the important thing is what synergy we don't know. But it changes form. And our conversation about storage is really about changing it from one form back, and then back again.

Chris Keefer  4:29  

To where we are we starting, Mark?

Mark Nelson  4:32  

We can start with why why batteries come up? Why storage comes up at all? Sure. There's a lot of topics in energy, especially in the politicized, modern energy environment, where the way you think about a topic the way you first heard about a topic, the way you approach a topic and think through it ends up trapping you on one side or another of a debate of an idiot logical debate of a business argument. Let me give an example from a famous riddle that people use where a young man gets hurt in a car accident ends up in a hospital in the emergency room. And the doctor approaches the table and says, I can't operate on this guy. He's my son. And then it's a The question is asked to the audience. How is this possible? And the the way, the reason the riddle works? I've missed some setup there. But the reason the riddle works is that people hear doctor in an emergency room and they think Chris Keefer, they don't think a woman turns out that the answer to the riddle is the doctor, the emergency surgeon is a woman and the person injured is her son. So the path dependency and gender expectations are what lock you out of the correct riddle answer in that case. But in our case, when you mentioned that fuel is storage, well, that's another thing that kind of ends up determining how you can think of storage. So for example, does France have way too many nuclear reactors will certainly they have a crisis now and people don't think so. But for most of my career, experts have been telling me that France has too many reactors that needs to get rid of it, and that their low capacity factor that is there, the low usage rate of French reactors is an example of how there's just too many. But if you actually look at the way, the French were operating the reactors, they were taking long, lazy summer vacations, long fuel outages, long inspection outages, partly because they just could they didn't need as much electricity in the summer. But then the goal would be to have every single one of France's reactors All 58 All 63 gigawatts ready to roll in the wintertime, right in there for when the peak of electricity demand came. But then that creates an interesting question is the fleet being operated like a battery, if there's something like, this big triangle of nuclear electricity being produced, is that a replacement for a battery, it certainly replaces natural gas from natural gas storage that would otherwise be needed in France, maybe not this year, the nuclear availability is going to be pretty low, and the gas availability is pretty low. That's what the crisis is about. But then, now we're back to thinking if the nuclear can be made available in the winter, specifically, is that uranium as energy storage, you already have a conversion device, the nuclear reactor, and in fact, the fuel is already loaded in it. So is turning making sure that all your reactors on is that kind of energy storage. And it turns out that as you move through the arguments for the normal energy storage that we've heard about the batteries, maybe the compressed air storage, maybe even the gravity storage that some people propose where you lift heavy weights and drop them through that you end up with an argument that's so broad for what storage is that it obviously includes uranium, and of course, obviously includes the natural gas that would otherwise be needed, if you weren't turning on all your nuclear plants for the winter. So I think what we'll start is say, if energy comes in packages, and is transmitted from form to form, it goes back and forth between forms, what are the forms that end up mattering to us in electricity storage?

Chris Keefer  8:48  

Just on a second on that on that French point, because I think this argument comes up a lot. And the way I'm sort of thinking this through is, you know, in terms of a kind of renewables versus nuclear power grid, shall we say, I don't think 100% is really realistic for either of them. But with nuclear, the problem is, you know, running all out meeting baseload demands, and Frances case, I guess this is a bit different. But the typical way, it's described as you're kind of running flat out generating as many kilowatt hours as you can. And there's the problem of peaking. Whereas with renewables, it's kind of like you need to fill the troughs when it's not there. I mean, and build the peaks when there's not this coincidental alignment of, of, you know, Weather-dependent production demand. And it seems more efficient to me to have the stable base and figure out how to add peaks. And we're probably talking about in the, in the rest of this episode, at some point how nuclear and storage can work together. But I just think that's kind of, again, an interesting sort of first principles, and that the French example in terms of the kind of overbilled is is an interesting, even kind of counterpoint to that. So, anyway, I'm not sure if that's a useful addition, but I'm just kind of doing my own little processing here and hadn't thought about France that way. You've just demonstrated

Mark Nelson  9:56  

my point, perhaps, Chris, that you come to this thinking me Maybe we can keep nuclear even expand it. For those who come to the energy debate out of a tradition, an intellectual tradition, or a business tradition of either not considering nuclear or thinking that nuclear isn't, is just a barrier that you have to get rid of, then you define your problem in very different terms. You don't say such things. As baseload, you say, oh, baseload doesn't exist, or we don't need generators that have to make money by turning on all the time. And once you've eliminated that as part of your building block, then you have new problems that you can solve with more investment and a different mix of technologies. The reason why we're having this storage episode now like why, why, why August 7, why are we recording is because I saw a tweet from a guy I respect a lot as a, as a storage and energy analyst. And he was pointing out that battery storage in the US has absolutely taken off. This is almost entirely lithium ion storage batteries, right. So he was showing just not even an exponential elements to, you know, hyper parabolic takeoff, just bam, just straight to space that that he'll have a hockey stick curve is what one person called it. And this storage in the US, I'm not sure what the total investment would be, it'd be on the order of 10 $20 billion, I would think I would want to check on that. But that's it's a blended cost of all that storage together lithium ion storage, that's suddenly been installed. And it raises the total energy storage in these batteries, the total capacity stored in these batteries, that can be discharged over a long period of time, up to the size, or the amount of a single, decently sized, pumped hydro storage facility that were built all around the country in the 70s. That is to say, we've spent many, many billions, building lithium ion batteries whose total energy storage, not the instantaneous power they generate. So this is the difference between like, since the Tour de France concluded just a while ago, it all out peak sprint capacity for the best sprinters as launched by teammates towards the finish line versus the total output in a stage when you're getting the most out of a general general classification performer. Right? Those are the two things we're talking about the total output stored over time, it is now up to the level of a single decent pumped hydro storage facility. Now, I think maybe we stop here, we go back and just say, what are the energy storage families? And how do they store energy? And how does that end up affecting the value or the use of those different storage types?

Chris Keefer  12:59  

Let's do it. Okay,

Mark Nelson  13:00  

so one of the things that most people have heard back in, I don't know, would it be middle or high school science classes that there are different there are different energy types, so different potential energies, so one we have is gravitational potential energy. What this is referring to is that if you have a bunch of mass sitting in the universe, it just starts space time such that other mass wants to go be with it. That's, that's my very silly way to explain gravitational force. We are familiar with this from the first day we start crawling or walking as what causes us to fall towards the floor and not the wall when we lose our balance, right. So gravitational potential energy is when you take mass, and you put it somewhere where you are then allowing it to fall in some way to a spot closer to the center of in our case, the earth. More concretely, it's say you have a big block of concrete, or maybe steel, and you lift it up with a crane. You it takes energy to lift that block. Where did that energy go? Well, in effect, it's stored as gravitational potential energy, should you release the block. Now you can't just drop the block and have it slammed into the ground, you're not going to get much more than the most vanishing fraction of your energy back out that way from trying to harvest it out of I don't know, something getting smashed on the ground. Instead, what you're wanting is for the weight to fall slowly in a controlled fashion while running a generator of some kind under load, and that would be getting your electricity back I suppose that you would have put in to the gravity store

Chris Keefer  15:00  

So so I have this kind of again it coming is an outsider, you know not being a, I think you've called it like a shaper. I'm a word. So I'm not really a great shape rotator. You know, I have this kind of Stephen Colbert sense of kind of like truthiness. It feels like a bullshit detector on a lot of stuff. But I have this insecurity, you know, not being able to rotate the shapes, which is why I come to folks like you for this analysis. But I mean, this is comical to me looking at it when thinking about the scale of storage. I mean, you already mentioned sort of the 10s of billions of dollars into lithium ion batteries. And you know, I think with Mark Mills, we talked about, you know, how many seconds or maybe minutes of nationwide storage that would give one. But, you know, this gravitational stuff just seems incredible, incredibly silly to me the way you've broken it down into first principles. I mean, that applies to hydroelectricity, which is pumped storage, which is clearly not. But you know, in terms of these cranes lifting enormous concrete blocks, it just boggles my mind that, that this stuff is, you know, not left off the shelf. Am I Am I like, way off base here? Like?

Mark Nelson  16:06  

Yeah, I think it's, I think you're too deep into energy to remember how seductive that idea is going to be to the vast majority of, shall we say, impolitely word cells not shape rotators. So for those who feel an instinctive attachment to simple, elegant visualizable ideas, a crane lifting heavy blocks of metal or lead, that just feels right, you know, and then for a person trying to visualize the just sheer energy in these massive, massive blocks high up in the sky coming down, you just, you just have an intuition that there's a lot of energy there. So I disagree with you. It's just that one of the most basic parts of your intro engineering education would be that no, that's actually not a lot of energy that that an extremely heavy block, lifted extremely high, and then allow it to fall with perfect recapture of energy. That is as much energy as contained and relatively small amounts of gasoline burned and captured in a.

Chris Keefer  17:17  

And I remember learning about hydro, and just the the amount of volume that goes through a turbine. That's the key. So one hour, it's Ansel, it's so good.

Mark Nelson  17:25  

Yeah, let's answer this. How is it that hydro is not a scam if lifting heavy blocks with cranes is a scam. Even though some very famous energy investors have put in a lot of money to one of these big crane block scams that's eventually going to blow up and go to zero in value, but, but it's so seductive, because we intuitively think of the heavy things that we've lifted, and it feels right on a personal scale. Yeah. Because we don't

Chris Keefer  17:49  

like how, how sinister Do you see these investors? Is it just trying to get a hype train going and other people throw money in? The stock value goes up, they get out early? You know, and then it crashes? Isn't that cynical or do these to these you know, vultures or I call them vulture capitalist these venture capitalists actually belief like you think that of smart people working for them just saying like, again, laughing the idea of the block for

Mark Nelson  18:13  

people who have been in a world of infinitely copyable software, or viral information spread, or trying to think of other other areas that just aren't, or finance where a certain amount of leverage from the right business and the right business arrangements can lead to a very large amount of money with relatively little effort. There can be a complete detachment from the world of physical things of reality. And look, we're still I'm still challenging on this I'm saying you say that the crane seems silly. But yet then you start to express some confusion about how hydro is not a scam. Why does hydro work? And how would I do this? I'll put you on the spot Chris, what are those the key things that makes hydro and pumped hydro storage work? If water is as you know, a lot less dense than that the blocks that are going to be lifted up and down by by that crane. You know, so Can Can you tell me then since you have such great intuitions

Chris Keefer  19:21  

aren't gonna I'm gonna crunch my word. So mind here, I mean, obviously just hydroelectricity you're not putting the energy into get the water behind the dam and you know, there's huge volumes and sources there. Okay, but you're pumping

Mark Nelson  19:35  

energy is heating the earth evaporating water and driving and collecting it with a series of rivers and channels and valleys into this space behind drums, massive dam that we built in advance, right. So that's part of it, that a great deal of the the lifting is not being done by us. So that's an important part of that. And hydro

Chris Keefer  19:59  

and then in terms In terms of being a keener with my you know, friend, you know, sitting in the front row my hands up, I would guess that the the pumped hydro makes more sense than cranes again, because you can move large volumes pipelines are effective ways to move liquids. You know, there's less friction involved, it's more efficient to move move water with pumps than it is to lift blocks with with cranes, that's my guess. So

Mark Nelson  20:20  

in terms of efficiency, it's going to be very similar. And we'll get to some of the efficiency issues in pumping just a little bit with a different energy storage type that sort of like to talk about, but you did you did pretty well. I'm not gonna say immediately that you stopped saving lives at the emergency room and come down to the the nerd caves with us and start, you know, laboring in the storage minds. But you did pretty well. I think I think you can, you can pat yourself on the back there

Chris Keefer  20:50  

are blushing, blushing.

Mark Nelson  20:52  

So yeah, it's just a massive volume of water, which, you know, it's not it's not super dense, but it's not chopped liver, you know, actually, it's probably about the same density as chopped liver, but chopped liver being mostly water. By mass. Yeah, so water is still pretty heavy. And if you move an immense amount of it, you have relatively low losses from pumping it using energy to pump it up to a higher reservoir, what would those losses be? So there's going to be some friction between the water and the pipe that you're moving it through, there's a little bit of friction loss, what does that turn into? Well, it's going to, it's going to be a little tiny bit of heat, and maybe a tiny bit of sound. Not that anyone's around to hear it out in the deserts of the mountains, where these pumped hydro storage facilities are, a bit more of the energy is going to be in ever, ever, ever. So slightly compressing the water. But there's almost not in fact, that's the magic of using water. It works at the temperatures and pressures available on this planet makes life possible. And it does not compress much when you're moving it. So that's that's a really important thing. We'll deal with compression in just a bit. So moving water up a hill with a pump and allowing the water to flow back down through a turbine, that's going to end up having about 80% round trip efficiency that's going to be one of those numbers we returned to a few times in this conversation for how much energy you put in, how much do you get back? One of the things that really annoys me about the professionals versus amateurs energy debate thing is that a lot of the professionals say, Oh, those stupid people trying to jump in and tell us that batteries aren't a power source are batteries aren't an energy source? Well, I mean, they really aren't you. They work if you haven't charged up. And the net effect of them being on your system, is that you're going to use up about 20% of the energy you attempt to store now if that's energy use store as opposed to wasting it. Okay. But it needs to be acknowledged that putting storage in a system is going to induce losses, compared to a system that otherwise doesn't need storage. So then that need that need part ends up becoming really decisive later. What does it mean to need storage? Because as we open this conversation, sometimes storage, how long the form of fuel, and yes, if you do need it, how much at what cost and who gets paid, and who takes the risks from building that storage and operating it for the good of the system? Right. So we'll push that towards the end of the conversation. And I think we can just sum up a few facts about this pumped hydro storage, pumped hydro storage is built around the world tends to be built in advanced and rich countries, typically at the same time and by often the same companies as that as those paying to build nuclear reactors. This is very important actually. pumped hydro storage is a huge money investment, huge capital investment upfront. To provide a system that if you keep maintaining it

should work for an extremely long time, why you just replace the pumps and make sure that your top and bottom pools of water your reservoirs are doing okay and in good condition and that you're there power lines continue to bring in electricity and take it back out. Right so that's the pump storage thing, but it's an immense investment upfront that involves construction and environmental issues. Sometimes larger, sometimes less large, depending on whether you're hijacking an existing body of water with plants and animals and humans living around it. Or if you're using a total custom built set of reservoirs that have no other purpose to serve other than your pumped hydro storage. So that can make the difference on the environmental issue. But many of these environmental issues sound like the ones that we hear about for big power plants or maybe for power lines. So there there is an environmental debate around pumped storage. That sounds a lot like the environmental debate around building almost any type of infrastructure. So many of these things were built back in the 70s, before the total clamp down on building infrastructure really started taking hold. How much pumped hydro storage is there? Well, that tweet I referred to that, that I made a sort of joking quote, tweet on congratulations to the batteries, they are now as big all the batteries in America on the grid are now as big as one pumped hydro storage facility. We're talking about 20 gigawatt hours of storage there, what is 20 gigawatt hours for a pumped hydro plant? Typically, that's something like one or two gigawatts of power. That's the instantaneous power. That's the same as the peak sprinting. work being done that that one or two gigawatts, it's about one or two large reactors worth, it's about approximately one or 2 million people's worth of power, being very approximate here. And that one or two gigawatts, operating for 20 to 10 hours, perhaps before you run out of water in the reservoir, the water level drops to a level too low to keep powering the the turbines. So there we go. That's a big pump facility. In the US, we have something like I guess it'd be a few 100 gigawatt hours from a number of these large facilities scattered around the US. And these were again built almost always by and often near nuclear operating facilities and by their owners. And by leading question mark was it once you build a nuclear plant, you save almost no operating costs, turning down the power. So if you know that electricity demand has a little hump shape from people going from home to work, cities powering up and then people leaving and going back to home, if you know that there's a certain heartbeat to society, certain rhythms as to the energy usage and society and you know, you want to run your nuclear plant all out, then it makes sense to have a daily reach charge and discharge have as much of your Pumped Storage Facility as you have time to move. So what I mean there is you have a huge capital investment to build a facility, then you have a high degree of certainty that a significant proportion of your facilities, capacity is going to be used daily for decades. Even if the price difference between day and night, is relatively small, you can make it up on volume, if it's a highly assured price difference. And in the case of electricity systems that don't really operate on a mark wholesale market basis. These are kind of the shadow, these prices are not real prices on like an auction or a market. They're kind of the shadow generation costs for the utility as a whole what the utility would have to spend making up that power from the pump storage facility in the daytime through something other than the combined nuclear plus pump storage system. And why would that make up power be well, in the age before a lot of renewables were built? That would be say fossil fuels, coal or natural gas? Gotcha. So the global pumped hydro storage capacity is obviously bigger than America's. It's about nine terawatt hours. So what is that that's about 9000 gigawatt hours. And that's we can probably guess that pumped hydro storage facilities are typically designed to have their maximum power output anywhere from five to 50 hours. That's a big range. But that gives you an idea.

Many of the batteries being built in the US are for legal reasons. That is just the last button are the regulations put into place by utility grid, regulators and operators. Many of the batteries being built in the US are designed to go to dump power at their maximum out rated output for about four hours. Now, that doesn't mean that you can make money with batteries dumping four hours a day. And we can talk about that later. But it just means that typical lithium ion storage facilities are designed to store enough energy to run at their maximum rate. It power output for about four hours.

Chris Keefer  30:02  

But bottom line this means that the famous I might I might say this wrong but the dunkel floaty, that German period of the doldrums of winter with no wind and in cloudy weather with no sun. Neither of these sources are providing enough hours of storage. I'm not talking about seasonal storage here. And I think that's one of the great challenges. We have forms of seasonal storage, and they're called fossil fuels. And uranium essentially is kind of my my guess here. But

Mark Nelson  30:29  

well, let's zoom out then. So there's about nine terawatt hours of electricity storage in the form of water moved up to high grounds around the world. How does that compare to other numbers? Well, I mentioned the French having a sort of peak of their nuclear production in the winter, that peak is about 45 to 50 terawatt hours of electricity. What is total French demand over the course of a year, over the course of a year total French demand is going to be something like 500 to 600 terawatt hours, same same as in Germany, approximately. So how does that compare to the total global say, natural gas storage facility this is natural gas pulled out of the ground somewhere, pumped back into storage somewhere and then extracted and burned either directly in homes and businesses as heat or in power plants to make electricity to energize the grid. The total global storage of underground natural gas is about 4000 terawatt hours of energy, which ends up being approximate like, you know, something like 2000 to 2500 terawatt hours of electricity. That's compared with a big European country needing 500 terawatt hours, a French nuclear fleet operated in Everybody get ready for winter mode with about 5045 to 50 terawatt hours of electricity being provided. And it compares with the total USA grid connected battery capacity that we spent what 1015 $20 billion on have about 0.02 terawatt hours or 20 gigawatt hours. Okay, so these are these are fairly profound differences. I'm not trying to say that we shouldn't build any lithium ion batteries, it's just they they, they have come down in price by a factor of 10. They're going to go up a little bit. And that, yeah, well, maybe we should say, yeah, they've gone down in price cost is a little bit different. But let's say cost and price are the same, they've come down in price about a factor of 10. But the amount that we would need to play on the same playing fields, the same number scales as the nine terawatt hours of pump storage around the world, let's call it 10. Just for easy math. Well, I mean, USA battery of 0.02, versus the pumped hydro storage of tin. So that's, yeah, it's about 500 times different now that's just comparing the USA battery installed capacity to the globe, I would guess that USA, as typical is going to be something like a quarter of the global total, maybe a bit more, because we've been such a leader in installing these batteries, partly through the action of say California, mandating them.

Chris Keefer  33:31  

So obviously, energy security, has come back into the energy debate in a big way since the Russian invasion. And even prior to that, with the kind of arbitrage pricing we saw with natural gas around the world.

And I'm just striking me right now. And this is just like such an obvious truism. But storage is energy security. Right. And, you know, I think we've talked about that in previous episodes, the ability to store energy is, I mean, it's just so basic, I even kind of feel embarrassed to bring it up. But I think I think that's relevant to what we're talking about, and why Europe is finding itself in a bit of a desperate situation, because there really is very little capacity to store any significant energy from the renewables that put so much investment into. They've shut down most of their coal, which is a fuel that's easy to store on site, as we were mentioning a coal masterclass a couple of weeks ago. And the other form of seasonal storage they have is natural gas. And that's highly constrained by ESG. And the Russian invasion and geopolitics is that,

Mark Nelson  34:29  

yeah, I think that's a I think that's a I think that's a great way to look at it, Chris. And so we can store energy extremely easily. The trick is to store it in a form that gives you nearly all of your energy back. So you don't want to lose too much in interest, shall we say? Just the physics of the universe. You don't want to pay too much of attacks. Batteries are as I mentioned, let me make it explicit. Lithium ion batteries are really good in terms of round trip efficiency. They are going to give you about as much energy back maybe a little bit more than pumped hydro storage. So these are 80%. Give or take a bit, right. Now, in terms of energy security, you want to be able to get the energy back when you need it, and how you need it, and you don't want it before then that is stability of your energy storage ends up being very important at the point that energy security is a major concern. One of the issues we've had with lithium ion batteries out in California, is that some of the facilities have had runaway heat chain reactions. Now this is, this is something that we've seen with lithium ion batteries used in other let's say more mobile applications. So in electric vehicles, there have been issues with the energy stored in the lithium ion batteries coming out when you don't want it and how you don't want it as fires, violent, violent. Fires, right? That I guess the paradox, I would say about energy storage is that we already have extremely energy dense energy storage, it's called a bomb. The reason that's a joke is that obviously, you don't want energy to come back out at that speed. And a lot of what makes a bomb a bomb is not having that much higher energy density for chemical explosives than say, chemical energy storage, like gasoline or diesel is that it comes out all at once and against a pressurized container. So so it's a little cute when I say it's like a bomb, but energy storage, that puts a lot of energy in one spot at one time. We'll always have physical risks because of that.

Chris Keefer  36:44  

And I think we're we're getting at with this is that, you know, lithium ion batteries have a really important storage function on the grid. And that's more like modulating voltages. And so they kind of are the bombs of energy storage, because they have just really quick discharges, they can they can respond very rapidly, but they're incapable of providing the the gigawatt hours you know, like, as you mentioned, with pumped hydro 50 hours or more of sustained output,

Mark Nelson  37:07  

I would not call them the bombs of energy storage that we might go for flywheels, what are flywheels extremely heavy, disk shaped wheels spinning at extremely high speeds. So flywheels are fascinating. They have a lot of great properties for energy storage, one that they don't have so much is that in order to store a lot of energy in the inertial, I mean, the rotational inertia of having mass on a rim going really fast. In order to store a lot of energy, you have to have those things going extremely fast. Very tiny issues with axles or bearings can lead to violent deconstruction and deposition of that energy very, very rapidly. And at least one flywheel startup a number of years ago, destroyed their factory in a big physical explosion of a flywheel getting a little off and then just

Chris Keefer  38:02  

just kinetically reckon Yeah,

Mark Nelson  38:05  

so I like to say that not because flywheels are going to be some dominant energy storage source for us just that, well, they're one of the excellent options that might reduce certain kinds of investment on a grid in order to have more people have electric vehicle charging at home. Imagine if you could drip in electrical energy to a flywheel getting it faster and faster throughout the day, or throughout the night, depending on exactly when electricity is least being consumed by your subdivision that is putting less stress on equipment by having a higher, maybe a higher average load, but fewer spikes, right. So let's say everybody in a rich neighborhood in Silicon Valley has got these flywheels then you can drip in the electricity, store it on the in this spinning wheel. And then you can break the wheel or put, you know, have the wheel coupled slightly to a generator and have that dump power back out in a rapid fashion to quickly charge an electric vehicle. I'd kind of as an engineer, I liked this vision, I think this is kind of cool. The energy density of electric vehicle batteries is going to probably always be way, way lower than the chemical storage on these vehicles. This makes these vehicles very heavy if they're trying to be the same size. And have this Abba similar range to vehicles running off of energy storage through chemical means that is gasoline and diesel. Yeah. So this leads to part of this trade back we're trying to talk about where the density, the cost. The one thing we haven't said yet the number of cycles, how many times can you charge and discharge before a substantial piece of the system or maybe the entire system has to be rebuilt, regenerated since some part off for recycling, right? These are all things that are involved in the trade offs on electricity storage, and all of bid is a trade off you have to face if you need more storage from these chemical or physical means because you're not generating it from stored fuel.

Chris Keefer  40:13  

Fair to say that we're fuel philic over here and Decouple worlds are a cause. I mean, I don't want to frame this as being anti storage. I think we're building up the complexity of it, we're talking about how nuclear works very well with certain forms of storage.

Mark Nelson  40:30  

Well, certainly, Chris, I don't want to be compared to some ways of getting energy out of fuel. storage can be a very fast acting, handy way to get your energy back. So in the case of electricity, batteries are already shall we say, communicating with the medium that the grid is speaking in, right, it's already singing the same tune with its electrical potential energy. So batteries have a very important role to play on the system, regardless of what else is on the system. But there are limits to this, it is still very helpful to have batteries ready to play with electric fields straight off. I mean, that is handier than grabbing a bit more fuel and throwing it in a turbine in many in many times and places as so long, so long as you've ensured that the battery is in the right sort of spot, and that it's already charged.

Chris Keefer  41:25  

I think I think maybe, again, getting pretty meta here are first principally using stored energy to make stored energy is just more kind of thermodynamically viable sounds to me versus I guess, I mean, wind and solar not being forms of stored energy, but using that stored energy. I mean, it's just, it's just kind of obvious, it's gonna, you're gonna be able to less reliably charge. The stories that you need to dispatch leader if you have a source that's unreliable, because it's not stored energy,

Mark Nelson  41:54  

I appreciated you, I feel the theme of this episode is Chris testing his intuitions and trying to take ideas and converting them into stored ideas and then regurgitating them later on a different topic. It's sort of a parallel discussion, the first half you got there was was not great, and is actually an argument that people use for wind and solar against fuels. That is to say, we're taking energy directly from the wind directly from from photons. And we're putting that straight into storage without needing to say converted to, from fuel stored energy to, to electrical energy. So that's an argument that's being made for wind and solar, as opposed to taking the energy from uranium losing, you know, 60% 65 70% of it to convert it to electricity. That's the waste heat. That is the issue with the overheating rivers and France. We've heard a lot about recently, so you lose that then you put it in storage, lose another 20%. And then you use it doesn't that sound thermodynamically less efficient than taking the wind energy Emery LeMans mistake Emery Levin's would hate that inefficiency. Exactly. That's exactly the sort of inefficiency he attacked. Now his organization is going to support any number of inefficiencies as long as it supports the original use of wind and solar. So taking wind and solar energy, converting it to electricity to electricity using wind turbines and solar panels. Sing that across lines and wires, putting it at a facility that's going to use it to break apart water through hydrolysis, break apart water into hydrogen, oxygen, take the hydrogen and recombine it in an energetic fashion with oxygen, that's hydrogen combustion, and then use that as energy there for any amount of inefficiency as long as you define it such a way as to cut nuclear out of the cycle. That's the path dependency problem we talked about at the start of the episode. But it is not right to say it's more thermodynamically efficient, per se, to take a fuel, convert it now at the point that we start defining the needs of an entire society over time with uncertainties with chaos with mistakes, and put all that together, you start to get a different answer. But if you're trying to retreat to what is most thermodynamically efficient or not, you can get bogged down in definitions and incorrect statements best to stay away from that. I think what you're probably trying to indicate is if your outcome is you must provide energy for society to keep it running. And you need to have a really high certainty of doing it. It does make a lot of sense to have energy at available at all times from your stored fuels, for example, and then to put say, extra or momentarily unneeded energy, not by turning down your power plants or turning down your nuclear reactors, but by filling your energy storage. Because you know where your energy is coming from. It's going to be coming from this facility at that time of day on average, likely right? Then you can be pretty sure that you can fill a large volume of enter of energy store Which, and then discharge it later. I think what you're trying to get to is this, the way I explained it is all the energy used for all of society is like a deep ocean of energy demand. It's way beyond the surface. Sometimes there are tides in and out in seasons, for example, many of the world's people and most of the World Wealth is in the Global North, which does of course, have a lot of land, it's pretty high north, and moves back and forth.

As the earth till seasons, right, so it gets cold all at once, or it gets hot all at once over a swath of, you know, a few billion rich people. Yeah. So there are there are some waves in this ocean. But if you're starting with a big stack of pretty much guaranteed to like TriCity or guaranteed energy from stored fuels, then dealing with the bit up and down, becomes a lot more simple. Now, the way the way folks that are committed to wind and solar first, as a first principle is we're doing when it's solar second principles, how do we make it work? Those folks would say, Well, no, there's a seasonality to the weather patterns to so when you need lots of energy in the northern winter, that we currently get from stored natural gas and a little bit of stored French uranium, well, we're gonna get bigger wins in the winter. The problem is, you're not guaranteed to get it in any given month, or any given day or any given week. And sometimes that donco float that you talked about that the dark calm, it's gonna come and sit over significant areas for enough time that if you don't already have nearly the size of energy system that you would have needed, anyway, storage system, like the underground natural gas or a nuclear fleet standby or something like that, you're not going to fill that in with the batteries, we've been discussing about a factor of 10x cheaper on the batteries. It's just not, it's not going to cut it. And there's also some trade offs and batteries

Chris Keefer  46:57  

doesn't change the service that the they provide. One of my favorites, wait, wait,

Mark Nelson  47:01  

wait, wait, it would change the service that is required of them, which may be devastating to the operational economics of batteries over their relatively short 10 to 20 year lifetime. That's the important part. That is the reason why lithium batteries make a lot of sense in many applications, is because you're doing sharp discharging or small amounts, over a very large number of cycles, right? That way, and or you need you very much need fuel, Independent Electricity, mobile. So phones are an extreme example of how this is just absolute slam dunk. Best in class, exactly what you use, lithium batteries for cars are a sort of edge case where we are still working through the process of finding out whether on a society scale, mining enough lithium and putting enough batteries together to make cars work for lots of people in rich countries, whether that can compete well against fossil fuels. Initial answers are it seems like it probably will. We may have to say do lighter cars, smaller cars or shorter travel

Chris Keefer  48:07  

distances. But no more? No more Hummer? eV? Well, I

Mark Nelson  48:11  

mean that that certainly uses up an amount of lithium that would be near or relevant on the grid, I would say compared to seasonal storage needs that we've talked about, but it's going to be the same as say 20 to 50, extremely small Micromobility uses of the same batteries.

Chris Keefer  48:30  

Mark, what about? What about plugging in the EVS as grid storage.

Mark Nelson  48:34  

So in this case, we're already we're already stacking up a few of these thermodynamic losses back and forth, potentially, especially if we have batteries on the grid, too. But let's ignore that for a moment, say, plugged in cars as storage on the grid. So first of all, you still have your overall higher demand on the grid, maybe less fuel burned if you have more of these cars. Another thing is the whole point of electric vehicles is that freedom of use. I mean, that's why people complain about transit that isn't frequent enough, it doesn't go where they need it. Vehicles are often real freedom, and frequently the illusion of freedom. Yeah, so I live without a car. So I'm a little biased, but many of your listeners have and love vehicles, and I'm going to keep using them. So I'm going to be I'm going to be ecumenical here about transit. So these cars when plugged in, you would have to tie a system together and obligate through some escalating system you would have to obligate users to be using to be not using their cars or not charging them or not having them available for some period. If instead of plugging their car in walking away and expecting to return to a charged vehicle, they plug it in, walk away and return to a vehicle that's not only not fully charged, but they're not allowed to remove from the grid except with severe penalties. So everybody talks about this demand side or behavior response changing people as things that are going to be totally optional, and are going to be, you know, money in the hands of people who cooperate with the unstated part being money lost from those who don't cooperate, who is able to not cooperate and put, you know, forego revenue or not worry about penalties, the rich, that gets us very bad, very, very dangerous

Chris Keefer  50:20  

to internal combustion engine vehicles and an Eevee for this sort of virtue signaling about I mean, you say

Mark Nelson  50:25  

virtue signaling EVs have some real advantages as products. It's not an absolute slam dunk or not in every case, but I have to always fight back about this EVs have some excellent engineering properties to them. One of the ones that surprisingly, not all the way there is local air pollution, that is modern internal combustion engines are are in most places. Pretty fantastic in terms of many types of pollutants. A lot of the pollutants from being near roadways, living their work, roadways are tire particles, particles from the vehicle and the roadways themselves coming up. Because electric vehicles on a size equivalency basis, internal sizes tend to be heavier, they actually increase tire wear. And because of the higher torque in electric vehicle engine motors starting up with as much I don't know, do we have to explain torque on this? Anyway, there's just a lot of local pollution from tire part. And that's not going to be solved by switching to EVs. It's one of the surprising back and forth. trade offs. Right. Got it.

Chris Keefer  51:33  

Interesting. So yeah, I just wanted to bring up a fun anecdote. But you're talking about, you know, this, this analogy of the ocean and the waves on it and the tsunamis and the tides. One of my favorite anecdotes comes from Sir David MacKay, again, sustainable energy without the hot air, when he talks about, I forget which year of this World Cup but there's a penalty kick about to happen. And essentially, all of England is watching this game and they all get up and make tea at the little break for the penalty kick and the grid managers are just scrambling and I think it was the pumped hydro facility that sort of save the UK grid at that moment. I think they hadn't sort of peak discharge of four gigawatts and that's what helped them sort of squeak through blacking out the news.

Mark Nelson  52:13  

Yeah, diner wick diner, wig pumps, horrid storage facility is up in the, in the Scotland. Well, it's in the Lake District. No, it's in Wales. Sorry, near Snowdonia. That's the one of its, you know, tallest peaks in the British Isles. So diner wig is this hollowed out mountain they went in and carved out the inside of a mountain to use his pump storage. Part of the design parameters like how did they decide how big a mountain they needed or how big of internal you know, hollowing out they needed part of the way they decided that is what was the amount needed to conveniently black start the British grid that is startup from nothing to something in order to then slowly build up by adding a power plant adding a city adding a power plant adding a city and building back up the the total meshed energy network that we call the grid. So that facility was designed to deal with after the penalty kicks and black starting the whole country.

Chris Keefer  53:13  

So this so discharging it to prevent a blackout. You know, if they had miscalculated that and there had been a blackout, this is what they're relying on to BLACKstreet the grid that must have been a decision that crossed their minds for a second as long

Mark Nelson  53:25  

as they weren't using it for seasonal storage to deal with uncertainties of weather patterns, providing energy short bursts. This is what I'm trying to say. If you store up batteries and expect them to be available in the most severe, long lived wind or solar droughts, then it means they're not available for that immediate, immediate purpose. I suppose you are then if you don't know for sure you'll be able to recharge it and use it for the big storage. If you are building multibillion dollar storage facilities in case you need it. Once a year or twice a year three times you will never pay it off. That brings up what I want to I want to coin a phrase if you'll let me hear on on Decouple I'd like to coin the Bartholomew battery paradox. So Brian Bartholomew is a young man who puts out brilliant memes and very insightful information on his Twitter account. It was his tweet that led to this episode. So he released a meme in November of last year that use the the cute little dogs you know from the weak dogs to the strong dose showing like Big and Little potential and he shows the, I would say that fatal paradox of scaling up battery storage expecting it to pay for itself even considering declining cost of batteries. When you have a few batteries. They can make a lot of money making tiny adjustments extremely frequently all the time. You add a few more batteries and quickly that the size of that need is extinguished very rapidly by just a few batteries, well, then maybe you have the sun going up or the sun going down, right? As you build batteries to deal with that, you have a much bigger need. But all the batteries being there that are big enough to deal with that, therefore also neutralize the importance of any given battery. And they reduce the market value of that service, back to moving the average wholesale electricity price that would tell you, there's way too much solar here, throw the throw that price negative throw it to the floor, and there's way too little gas starting up here or grid storage starting up here, or nuclear starting up here. Because the sun's going down, we need a lot more to make up for the sun going down. So the wholesale price is high. As you start to add batteries, you reduce that differential. And the irony is that it reduces the economic returns to any given battery participating in the process. And since that's a daily mechanism, you're only getting what 365 days time. So how long does the battery lasts 1010 years, 15 years. And so any change to that price differential ends up being devastating to any given battery facility depending on where it's located. And then it gets even worse and completely unmanageable. By the time you talk about dealing with wind being really high this week, but not that week, or solar being high in the summer, but not in the winter, or solar being low. And then the wind being low, all of those things are infrequent enough, but large enough that if you were building storage to deal with it, instead of having enough fuel energy, that all went through way too much, then you have almost no compensation for any of the storage even as your system doesn't work without it. That's the paradox. And this

Chris Keefer  56:47  

is particularly within deregulated markets, wholesale markets, where you're getting these prices that are ranging from you know, hundreds of dollars per megawatt hour peak. Well, that's,

Mark Nelson  56:58  

that's up you're doing it with market prices. I mean, it's those market prices are intended to be a reflection of what costs you would have if there was some big entity like a vertically integrated utility, doing all of the engineering and all of the all of the layers of costs and work to tie together a system to have a total average cost of electricity to consumer that's manageable. So if you were a utility, that was ordered to make your own a lot more of your system, work through batteries, then eventually you'll need to pass these costs on to society in ways that will, you know, roughly directionally mirror what would happen in these electricity markets, assuming they don't completely blow up. So you're not you're not relieved at this problem, just because the price signals aren't there. But meanwhile, the price signals are not necessarily going to magically make a solution that economically works out for everybody, it may just reveal that you're completely screwed.

Chris Keefer  57:57  

Right? So Mark, I mean, we're getting pretty wonky was here a year ago, I would not have been able to keep up with this conversation whatsoever. I didn't know that it was going to kilowatt in a kilowatt hour for God's sakes. So I'm kind of proud of myself for sticking this. I used to ride horses quite a bit, a little bit of rodeo stuff. I feel like I'm sticking the horse here. I've lasted more than my eight seconds. But, again, I mean, I think that the purpose of this episode is to give people to teach people how to think and I'm referencing those those masterclass commercials v all the time, so teach people how to think about storage. Again, when when confronted with you know, these endless promises, the kind of journalism that you see around around these breakthroughs, is there anything else that we're kind of missing in order to give people the the kind of critical analytic skills to, to engage with that and be able to judge these potential solutions? That sounds like a big, you know, just to kind of recap, some of the stuff we've talked about are the different sort of qualities of stories is very short term versus long term forms. Scalability, you know, as come up, I think we're talking about gravitational storage versus, you know, pumped hydro storage again, and that's, again, scale seems to also be duration, how long it lasts for. We've talked about, you know, these forms of, you know, accumulation of geologic time storage, from fossil fuels or, or universal time in the form of uranium. Are we missing anything? Are there any other kind of key things you wanted to get through as we sort of wind down the episode to equip people with?

Mark Nelson  59:26  

Well, for one, I couldn't help but think when you mentioned horses that we could use, you know, horsepower and horse storage as as as appoint one of the reasons that the Mongol empire expanded so rapidly is because they were rocking up with a huge amount of horsepower like six or seven horses per Mongol warrior, and wherever those horses getting their energy well in stored solar power in grasses and other grazing material, right, or from captured grain from from peasants, whose farms you burned, yeah, you could feed a lot of horses and then if the horse got tired, you could eat And that stored energy for you and the horse could convert depending on the gender of the horse, you could convert some of that grazing material into milk, which then of course, milk stores energy as fat protein and sugar. The Mongols would have struggled to consume that milk sugar because they didn't have the genetic mutation apparently that we Northern European have. So then they would want to use the motion energy of the horse capture a little bit to shake up that milk, break it apart and make it food for bacteria in in, you know, skin bottles that then would turn that sugar into more consumable sugars and alcohol, then, of course, alcohol is one of the great bio fuels, right for conquering if you're a Mongol or for corn producers, if you're in Iowa, and wanting to make your product be involved in powering automobiles through energy storage, rather than through electricity. So yeah, it's all kind of connected. I think a number of us probably had this great book when kids called the math curse. And it starts with a boy being told by his teacher, you know, you can think of almost anything as a math problem. You can think about almost anything as energy storage. Hey, think about what is that sci fi horror movie, Soylent Green? Yeah, so the problem is not finding things that exist as energy storage. The problem is finding things that well aren't people for one, because we like being alive, and that aren't scalable, and cheap enough. And then making an energy system that uses so little of it, that the special properties of storage can be savored, without depending on them to provide what we get from fuels,

Chris Keefer  1:01:45  

folks, I mean, inside the mind of Mark Nelson here, and wow, I see why we call this a master class. You know, just on the Mongol front, it's pretty hilarious. I mean, they kind of historical trauma passed down generation to generation, I think, you know, the big Mongol invasions were, I think, 1200s If I'm not incorrect, my Ukrainian grandmother used to curse us as children. If we were misbehaving saying, May the Mongols take you? And I just thought that was fascinating that that degree of historical trauma passed down. I don't know over how many generations they can't run the numbers in my head as a word sell but pretty wild. I love the Mongol the Mongol reference just made my fucking day mark. Is that sort of like, is that the point of closure here? Is there anything else you wanted to throw in? We've got a few more minutes, we're sitting at that sweet spot of an hour. That was a pretty strong finish. I don't know if you can, if you can best that. But you know, wouldn't put it past you either.

Mark Nelson  1:02:36  

Well, how about this? How about this, I just want to absolutely clear up any misconceptions that the haters wouldn't have listened this long anyway, but I'm saying I'm not against batteries. In fact, anybody who's a fan of nuclear should be a fan of storage, storage will not get cheaper at the rate that is needed to make up for fluctuations in weather and seasons. Storage that does not have to be paid for by nuclear plant owners is there for storage that nuclear is probably going to be able to use or at least benefit from. There's a reason why the TerraPower prototype reactor being planned for Wyoming includes a bunch of storage. And that's a good thing, not a bad thing. Nuclear plants already have the ability to ramp up and down. But why do that if we can have our own storage built along with nuclear plants, that means that something else has to change its behavior because it's more efficient to use the stored energy at the nuclear plant. The way maybe this isn't a great thing, because it's very slightly moving away from storage in general. But you know, General Patton said that the way to win a war isn't to die for your country, it's to make the other poor bastard die for his I would say for nuclear, the way to win the war for nuclear is not to turn down your power for the good of the grid, but make some other sucker turned down for the good of the grid. Part of that process is having a lot of available, well located storage that can be used by a number of power generators. There's a reason why the vast majority of storage was built by and for nuclear utilities historically, and batteries have one and a half, two orders of magnitude to grow before they're playing on the same playing field as the pumped hydro storage much of which was built to to smooth out demand and supply and allow nuclear plants to run straight through. I'll conclude with one of the one of the dumbest conversations I had and I had a bunch of really stupid conversations about energy in San Francisco because you had a bunch of like tech optimistic young people who don't read any history and they they believe their own hype that they're telling to their investors that sort of crap. I'm at a party or some some event for some politician at a bar just because I was poor and that was that was free drinks and interesting people. And I meet this kid who tells me with pride that energy storage is really taking off and that his company installed something like double the amount of energy storage that had ever been put on the grid in US history the previous year. And I was like, wow, so like 10s of gigawatt hours, like maybe hundreds of gigawatt hours? And he's like, wait, no, no, no, it's like, it's like, one gigawatt hour. I'm like, oh, so not doubling, because that's a tiny fraction of the grid storage. He's like, No, this is my company, you know, blew up energy storage were the biggest ever now. And I'm like, No, you mean lithium batteries? Like, yeah, that's energy storage. Like, right. So this is the type of narrative. This is the type of person who has been driven driving the conversation around batteries and the grid. And if we can have a more inclusive conversation, a more historically informed conversation, we're ready to negotiate for a much better energy system that maybe takes best use of fuels that don't emit carbon, and energy storage that's convenient, or flexible, or cost effective when used in just the right amount in just the right places. So maybe we end there, that with the right look at history, we can be ready for for large technology changes, while being realistic about which ones are likely to help, and in what amount and then just fighting for enough fuels to fill them. And for those fuels to be as carbon free as possible.

Chris Keefer  1:06:22  

Perfect. Yeah, man, what an hour. This has been great. I've definitely leveled up on some cheat codes. I'm still sort of stuck in this utilization from 40 minutes ago of the pumped hydro full of chopped liver. I once made a milkshake out of liver I was in this weird health craze, I was doing liver cleanses, and the liver is actually just to eat a lot of liver. And so I put some in my ex's blender, she wasn't happy about it. But anyway, strange mental imagery inside the mind of inside the mind of Krispy free,

Mark Nelson  1:06:54  

knock it off. And to help liver includes a lot of iron, which is a useful molecule for storing for attaching oxygen to which is a critical part of certain types of energy conversions in cellular respiration. Let's stay far away from that. And in fact, now that we're getting to the end of the hour, and I'm seeing this file upload going on on our digital studio, one of the really bad problems that tech optimists can have. And I'm a tech optimist, easily, you have to be to say that nuclear is going to work when we've lost the ability to build it in our country. What the tech optimists do is that they see data storage and data storage getting way denser and more compact. And then that leads to a very broken metaphor, that doesn't actually correspond with energy storage, which has much more severe limits on physical improvement. Right? That is to say, you can't do better than the chemical storage as violently released in a bomb unless you go to nuclear storage. And then that, of course, gets through a whole other issue with energy storage densities and nuclear forces. So let's stay away from that and just say, if we can eliminate the data and computational size metaphor, and if we can eliminate the path dependency in our thinking from saying only certain non fuel energy sources will do now we need a bunch of storage to make up for the loss of fuel. If we can get rid of those two things, then I think we've done a very good job with this episode.

Chris Keefer  1:08:29  

The point to end on we've we've obviously engaged a lot with both sort of deep questions of physics, but I liked how in this episode, we got into some of the framing that kind of cultural framing the Silicon Valley digital revolution framing, and we've talked before, about, you know, the misapplication of Moore's Law towards, you know, dropping energy prices from wind and solar, for instance. But I think what you just said there was absolutely key, the frame of a lot of, I guess, kind of venture capitalists investors, clean tech folks, the the hype media, that's such a reference point for them is, you know, again, how much my USB stick has now compared to 10 years ago. So physics, basic physics a lot different than than what we're doing in the digital world, Mark, thing, and we could chat all day, we both got things to move on to what's their next masterclass what are we touched on next?

Mark Nelson  1:09:19  

I know we did natural gas, but I think we should really touch on petroleum as an entire process on oil and the various products that come out of oil, and including associated natural gas and why it's still being used, how we got such a special situation where some countries seem to have an immense amount of global power with a relatively small percentage of global energy. I think that would be helpful uranium weights at the end of our journey, uranium mining rhenium processing in the future of uranium, and other transuranic fuels. I think that's that's what we can aim for, but I think we should go to hydrocarbons next

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