femtoinfluencer t1_j1v09p0 wrote

I remember being snarky that the community college I went to 20 years ago had hours of operation for its website, then while talking to a CS prof about it, I learned that it was all running on top of a VAX from the late 1980s. The web servers were up to date, but they had to talk to that beast to get their data, so...


femtoinfluencer t1_j1uzy2x wrote

Behind a policy like this lurk unspeakable horrors, like The Thing but composed of decades-old code instead of flesh, quasi-sentient golems which will tear apart & devour legions of programmers with nary a thought. And god only knows what kind of hardware it's running on.


femtoinfluencer t1_j1uz53z wrote

> Seems more likely that they don't want to have to pay for any of the infrastructure to support transmission.

This is an anecdote, but I've never lived anywhere in the USA with electric distribution infrastructure as seemingly shitty as Masschusetts. As soon as the weather gets even a touch spicy, it's a question whether the power will go out, and at least in my experience it's been that way since the 1990s (which was the first of several times I've lived in state or split my time between MA and somewhere else).

Like look. I know it's still within spec for a "developed country" - we don't have rolling blackouts, the power is on 99.9% of the time. But that being said I've never lived anywhere else where most of the houses in well-to-do neighborhoods have a generator on a concrete pad outside. I was staying with friends who are fairly well off and was walking around that neighborhood last year when the power went out and it was quite an experience suddenly hearing like 50 generators autostart, took me half a minute to figure out what the hell was happening. That level of not being able to trust the power company isn't typical for the entire USA, and that includes other places which get cold af in the winter.


femtoinfluencer t1_j1uy5th wrote

You have good points.

I will say that solar PV needs a LOT of area to generate power in amounts that we currently use/need it as a civilization, but, blanketing far more urban surfaces with PV installations even in marginal areas could make a big dent in our energy needs. I believe this type of policy has been effective in Germany.

The other issue is that tons of new solar generating capacity would absolutely have to come with grid-scale storage for when the sun isn't shining, and that's not yet a solved problem. Researchers are working their asses off to scale up battery storage to grid scale but it's not yet ready for prime time. Another 5 to 10 years will likely solve that, but it remains an additional capital cost + logistical issue to then set up a bunch of grid-scale storage facilities, plus all the changes to the power grid to accommodate them. Edit: there are also other forms of grid storage, but they're either less developed than batteries, or have requirements that limit them to favorable geographic areas (pumped hydro and the like).

A couple things to keep in mind about nukes:

First, modern reactor designs are drastically safer than the reactors everyone thinks of when they think about nukes. Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima are generations-old reactor designs with many many more failure modes than current designs. Chances of accident with a major radiation release are so much less with current designs, you can't ever truthfully say zero, but they really are leagues better than the type of nuke plants we're used to thinking about.

Second, nuclear waste is largely a solvable (not solved - but solvable) problem. As long as we are using uranium for fuel, it's possible to build reactors that then burn the waste for power, the resulting waste of that process is both less in quantity and less problematic. There is also the possibility of switching to thorium for fuel, which generates much less / less bad waste in the first place, unfortunately thorium reactors haven't yet been scaled up / installed / operated for years at grid scale. So either of these solutions have a ways to go before they are actual solutions, but, at least they are possible. If new nukes do become a policy then it would be good to push that policy towards solutions like this.


femtoinfluencer t1_j1uvb3w wrote

For what it's worth, a large portion of the "radioactive for thousands of years" problem is solvable, and there are a couple ways to solve it.

The problem is that comprehensively solving it and having a system in place for it being solved is not done yet, because either you need to build enough plants that burn the waste (plus systems for transporting it etc) or you need to switch to something like thorium as fuel, which generates much less / less toxic waste in the first place. Either of those things is doable, but they take A LOT of work.


femtoinfluencer t1_iwqoxwo wrote

> It’s like they’re aimed too high.

There are loopholes in US auto regulations which have led to this. Theoretically it will be getting fixed by an act of Congress any year now. Then we just have to wait for all the vehicles which now pass code to age out of the nationwide fleet.