Energy - Fossil, Renewable, Nuclear

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#1
An interesting controversy on this one in Ontario right now. Here's two different articles from major national chains:
Ontario Power Generation stands by plan to bury nuclear waste near Lake Huron
Surely in the vast land mass that comprises Canada, there must be a better place to permanently store nuclear waste than on the shores of Lake Huron," said U.S. congressman Dan Kildee.
...
No matter what process is followed, burying radioactive waste beside the Great Lakes, the irreplaceable drinking water for 40 million people, will always be a bad idea.
And the other:
Study shows deep nuclear waste vault at Bruce Nuclear poses no greater harm to Great Lakes than more remote sites
A joint review panel concluded the Bruce site – 1.2 kilometres from Lake Huron and 680 metres below the surface, in virtually impermeable sedimentary rock that hasn't moved in millions of years – would be ideal.

“You can look at this geographically or geologically,” Powers said. “Geographically, it's located 1.2 kilometres from the lake. Geologically, it is 450 million years from the lake.”
Notice the large difference in tones there? Read the whole of both articles for what seems to be a relatively complete picture of the dispute, but it does come down to one thing IMO: is any science good enough for storage, or is it all optics? I'm getting the feeling it's the 2nd. I think it's right to take into account any transportation risks versus a place on-site with regards to how "bad stuff" could happen in transport.

I'm clearly on the "side" of the 2nd article, because quite frankly they have the better catchphrase that's correct scientifically. It's interesting to me that the statement (from the official making the report) wasn't reported on by the CBC at all. Well, not surprising, but interesting that it's so blatant.


Also, why is a guy from the USA commenting on this and being given large press in Canada? That's unusual in itself. Yes it's a border lake, and it's somewhat logical, but it's WEIRD in Canada. Usually just being from the USA gets your opinion shouted down up here.
 
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#3
Sweet, yet another excuse to link to my perennially favorite paper Expert Judgment on Markers to Deter Inadvertent Human Intrusion into the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Sandia National Laboratories report.
This place is a message...and part of a system of messages...pay attention to it!
Sending this message was important to us. We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture.
This place is not a place of honor...no highly esteemed deed is commemorated here...nothing valued is here.
What is here is dangerous and repulsive to us. This message is a warning about danger.
The danger is in a particular location...it increases toward a center...the center of danger is here...of a particular size and shape, and below us.
The danger is still present, in your time, as it was in ours.
The danger is to the body, and it can kill.
The form of the danger is an emanation of energy.
The danger is unleashed only if you substantially disturb this place physically. This place is best shunned and left uninhabited.
 
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#4
I like the message at the end Den. Though the paper is a little big. Glad you posted that part, as reading the actual pdf is a bit... lengthy.
 
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#5
I like the message at the end Den. Though the paper is a little big. Glad you posted that part, as reading the actual pdf is a bit... lengthy.
Took me a weekend of on-and-off reading, but it's such a fascinating exercise in thought.

Here is an excerpt site that I usually quote-mine to get people interested in reading the whole report: WIPP Exhibit: Message to 12,000 A.D.
 
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#8
There wasn't another good "energy" thread that I saw right away, so I picked this one: Ontario’s crisis of unaffordable energy

For those non-Canadians here, the person they're referring to at the town hall commented that she's paying $900/m on her mortgage, and $1200/m on her electricity/heat.

The greater message of the article though is something that I think is often ignored: cheap energy virtually always means a more prosperous country. Everything just goes "faster" when energy is cheap, and it really impacts those at/near the bottom in awesome ways, like their heating/cooling bills, gas money, etc. A lot of the (wrong-headed IMO) push to "greener" technologies also means "more expensive." This is the idea behind a carbon tax, in that if you tax the carbon-sourced energy to be as expensive (or more) than the "green" tech (which often needs rare-earth materials dug up from horrifically unsafe and polluting Chinese mines, but that's a whole other topic), then the non-carbon sources will be economically viable, and a transition will happen. What this leaves out of course is that the end result is that energy is just more expensive for everybody, impacting quality of life for everybody.
 

GasBandit

Staff member
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#9
There wasn't another good "energy" thread that I saw right away, so I picked this one: Ontario’s crisis of unaffordable energy

For those non-Canadians here, the person they're referring to at the town hall commented that she's paying $900/m on her mortgage, and $1200/m on her electricity/heat.

The greater message of the article though is something that I think is often ignored: cheap energy virtually always means a more prosperous country. Everything just goes "faster" when energy is cheap, and it really impacts those at/near the bottom in awesome ways, like their heating/cooling bills, gas money, etc. A lot of the (wrong-headed IMO) push to "greener" technologies also means "more expensive." This is the idea behind a carbon tax, in that if you tax the carbon-sourced energy to be as expensive (or more) than the "green" tech (which often needs rare-earth materials dug up from horrifically unsafe and polluting Chinese mines, but that's a whole other topic), then the non-carbon sources will be economically viable, and a transition will happen. What this leaves out of course is that the end result is that energy is just more expensive for everybody, impacting quality of life for everybody.
A $1200 heating bill made me think she lived in (google, google google) Fort Severn or something, not Buckhorn. So, that's pretty ridiculous.

But yeah, this is basically what guys like me are talking about when we say "sure, you can enact that kind of energy policy, so long as you're willing to accept a complete and utter collapse of western civilization and our way of life."
 
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#10
A $1200 heating bill made me think she lived in (google, google google) Fort Severn or something, not Buckhorn. So, that's pretty ridiculous.
I haven't got a clue where Buckhorn is.

But I'm wildly confused about that electricity/heating bill, and have been wildly perplexed about all the similar stories from here in Ontario. My bill is like 6% of that. (Rounding up!)

Maybe I should've looked into this at some point, but I didn't so I'm still befuddled.[DOUBLEPOST=1484806240,1484805958][/DOUBLEPOST]Also, TIL there's a Fort Severn. I thought you'd mistyped Port Severn.
 

GasBandit

Staff member
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#11
I haven't got a clue where Buckhorn is.

But I'm wildly confused about that electricity/heating bill, and have been wildly perplexed about all the similar stories from here in Ontario. My bill is like 6% of that. (Rounding up!)

Maybe I should've looked into this at some point, but I didn't so I'm still befuddled.[DOUBLEPOST=1484806240,1484805958][/DOUBLEPOST]Also, TIL there's a Fort Severn. I thought you'd mistyped Port Severn.
I had to google Buckhorn, too. It's about 50 mi NE of Toronto, apparently.
 
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#12
Aye, I googled it afterwards.

I was expecting it to be out Kingston way (East end of Lake Ontario) for some reason.
 
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#13
Aye, I googled it afterwards.

I was expecting it to be out Kingston way (East end of Lake Ontario) for some reason.
I've had over $1000/month electricity bill in Newfoundland. And on the southern part of it too (not high Labrador) during winter, so this story is unsurprising to me, especially if you have a Carbon Tax on top of other things in Ontario.
 
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#14
The carbon tax only started this year, so it's not a contributor to any of these stories yet.
 
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#15
The carbon tax only started this year, so it's not a contributor to any of these stories yet.
No, but the phasing out of other energy sources for this cause IS a part of the story already. Less supply = higher prices in most cases, and this is one of them. If there were a glut of electricity, prices would fall, which is good for everybody (except the most extreme of the environmentalists).
 
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#16
Less supply = higher prices in most cases, and this is one of them.
Are you sure this is one of them? Everything I hear about out electricity supply has been that we have significantly more capacity than demand.

And after a quick google, I found the site for the corporation that seems responsible for planning and managing Ontario's suppy. Here's some basic stats showing that we far more than enough capacity to supply what is being used, and if you click through some of the links you'll find they list Ontario's peak generating capacity at 36000 MW while the forecast peak energy use is 25000 MW (in bad weather, summer)
 
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#17
Remember Enron and how they manipulated the market to create phony electricity shortages in California? How do we know the same thing isn't still going on, just much less blatantly?
Well, the supplier is the government, so that means the market is definitely being manipulated.

Oh wait, that was Gas's line.


But yeah, Ontario has long been fucking up its electricty system in politically idiotic ways. Our current government spent around a billion dollars to not build a power plant. A previous government sold off bits of the infrastructure in a privatization kick that didn't workas intended. And several governments combined funneled endless cash into certain nuclear plants that just laid unused and apparently unfixable. I can't remember if that last issue was ever resolved.

It's a giant mess all its own, it doesn't need to be called an Enron.

*sigh*
 
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#18
Again on energy, this time a Pipeline spill, complete with headline: 200,000 litres of oil spilled after pipeline leak in southern Sask. (Note for non-Canadians: Sask = Saskatchewan, one of our prairie provinces)

Notice they didn't say Barrels, which is the usual measure, but Litres, because the number is higher. Not just one source, all of them say this higher number. Now let's put that number in perspective. How many "normal" liquid train cars is that? I googled quickly, and came up with this article on wiki: DOT-111 tank car From the article, about 80% of the cars in Canada are this type, so it's PERFECTLY representative.

And the grand total is: Less than 2 cars. Its capacity is listed on wiki as 113,979L. So if there is a train derailment, instead of a pipeline leak, you only need TWO cars to be impacted to be WORSE than this. And usually... let's just say that trains carry one hell of a lot more than two cars typically.

Trying to sensationalize this is also almost-comedic:
Approximately 200,000 litres of crude oil was released onto agricultural land, but no oil entered any creeks or streams. Officials say the spill affects an area as much as 20 metres in radius.
20 meters is a bit more than 60 feet btw. My driveway is longer than that. That's maybe the length of my house, and in most places something that big would barely qualify as a pond.


You want biased reporting, you have it right here. This is pure anti-pipeline sensationalism. Every little "non-event" is massive news. This is actually a GREAT example of how WELL they work on making leaks small, as opposed to trains, or any other method of transport. That it was only that much is quite awesome actually.
 
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#19
That's a great interpretation you give there, dude, but it's also a very selective reading. If there's a 200K liter oil spill, they're very, very lucky it's all so frozen over it can't seep into the ground. Even so, a 20m spill will mean millions in damages. If it had reached a creek or the ground wasn't frozen, that'd have affected thousands of square meters of terrain.

Also, it's not exactly being blown up to epic proportions, is it? It's a small news item on some local networks. Are you suggesting it isn't worth reporting on at all?
 
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#20
Also, it's not exactly being blown up to epic proportions, is it? It's a small news item on some local networks. Are you suggesting it isn't worth reporting on at all?
CTV is one of our NATIONAL networks. So it's not local news. Remember, anything pipelines = bad, unless it's success, in which case, cover it like it's a failure. This should be covered about as widely as a garbage truck rolling over and spilling out, and instead it's (at least) national news.

I'm biased on this. I admit it. I used to be in that industry (not anymore), so I know the ins and outs. But remember that for a LARGE percentage of the energy you use in North America, it's either transported by pipeline, or by rail. There isn't an alternative, and pipelines are MUCH safer than rail. Sensationalizing non-events only helps the idiotic anti-pipeline stance that's shaped up out there.

Remember, it's not pipelines vs "nebulous cheap-as-oil-but-green" energy, and if we are obstructionist to pipelines the dream will dominate. It's pipelines versus HUGE energy prices because of lack of resources. Just talk to Ontario about that. Jobs are already leaving the province because of high energy prices. IMO they haven't seen ANYTHING yet. Cheap energy is the lifeblood of economies. Stories like this only hurt everybody.
 
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#21
Yeah, see, I assure you *my* energy is about 50/50 nuclear and wind, and I'm perfectly fine with that. Using oil just to burn it is a horrible waste of resources, in my opinion, as nuclear is easier, cheaper, and despite what a lot of people say, so far, less horrible for the environment. Also, we need oil for other things like making plastics.
 
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#22
Yeah, see, I assure you *my* energy is about 50/50 nuclear and wind, and I'm perfectly fine with that. Using oil just to burn it is a horrible waste of resources, in my opinion, as nuclear is easier, cheaper, and despite what a lot of people say, so far, less horrible for the environment. Also, we need oil for other things like making plastics.
I'm one of the most pro-nuclear people on this board, but the political environment over here just isn't going for it, because a lot of the companies over here are complete idiots and make the whole thing much more dangerous than it should be. Also a reluctance over here to fund alternative nuclear power sources (Thorium/LFTR) which is abundant, and you can't make bombs from.

As for Belgium (if that's not where you're from, forgive me), the Energy in Belgium article in wikipedia disagrees with you. Greatly. You're close with Nuclear (50-60% according to the article), but as of 2012, ALL renewables were in the 3-5% range, not 50%, with fossil fuels being over 20%. Something tells me it hasn't changed that drastically in 4-5 years.

Nice graph of that there too:
 
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#23
Yes, hi, I'm not a company. Domestic power use in Belgium is about 18% green as of this moment, and some people - like, you know, me, have a "green" tariffs which guarantee 100% green energy. Total Belgian power is around 10% green right now - four years is a lot in this sector as i'm sure you're aware.
 
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#24
Yes, hi, I'm not a company. Domestic power use in Belgium is about 18% green as of this moment, and some people - like, you know, me, have a "green" tariffs which guarantee 100% green energy. Total Belgian power is around 10% green right now - four years is a lot in this sector as i'm sure you're aware.
How good is the tracking on that kind of thing? I've always been deeply skeptical that power is actually allocated such that you can claim AT ALL TIMES that said capacity is going to those who request it, and that people aren't actually dipping into fossil-fuel capacity and such during stressful times. So that's always felt like a "I can pay more and be good" (ie: an indulgence) rather than actually changing the way you're getting electricity and who from. For example, about 10-15 years ago, there was a claim from where I lived that their transit was "riding the wind" and their energy was 100% wind power... except for the fact that there was only barely that much wind CAPACITY in the province (assuming it was blowing all the time, which it doesn't, and assuming that the bursts were actually leveled out to an average, which isn't how it works either), let alone all the times it was actually running, and combined with others who were paying more for it like you are.

Or is the tracking of such capacities (nationally) quite good where you are? From what I know about the electricity sector (not a lot, but not zero) I tend to the skeptical on that one, but I could be wrong on that in any specific case.
 
A

Anonymous

Anonymous

#25
Well, that's always a bit up in the air, of course. One megawatt doesn't look different from another. A supplier has to prove they're providing whatever they claim as green in a green way, though. That is, if 10 MW of their clients' usage is sold as "green", they have to produce at least 10 MW green at that time. I suppose in the end it'll often just mean the energy their non-green clients are using ends up slightly less green than it might've been otherwise.
 
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#27
err,the Anonymous wasa misclick.
Figured, no worries. It's all related to the "peak" problem, how everybody uses lots right when they get home from work (cooking dinner) and such. Though that's not the "Real" peak either, since manufacturing and business usage is much greater than home usage, at least in the USA according to their EIA: https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=86&t=1

If you click through the 3 categories there, home, business (buildings mostly) and manufacturing, the numbers are 10 Quadrillion BTU, for homes, 7 for non-manufacturing business, and 19 for manufacturing. 10 vs 7 vs 19. Or 10 vs 26 if you prefer.

Basically, the big machines involved in manufacturing (or even small ones, like arc welders) use a LOT of energy. Your home doesn't compare, and most of those costs aren't reducible by much, hence why higher energy prices suppress business/manufacturing activity so much, and thus economies in general.
 
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#28
More pipeline/energy news, though IMO good news this time:
NYT Article - Trump Revives Keystone Pipeline Rejected by Obama
CTV News (Canada) - Trump signs Keystone order, but far from done deal
HuffPo - Trump Signs Executive Orders On Keystone XL, Dakota Access Pipelines

Figured best to give perspectives from each side of the border, plus an extra one.

What I found as a fascinating statement was this from the NYT article:
Anticipating criticism from advocates of tackling climate change, [Trump] added: “I am, to a large extent, an environmentalist, I believe in it. But it’s out of control and we’re going to make it a very short process. And we’re going to either give you your permits or we’re not going to give you your permits. But you’re going to know very quickly. And generally speaking we’re going to be giving you your permits.”
This is in reference for how long Keystone was in Limbo, from 2010 until 2015, which for just about any business is a damned long time to be up in the air. And I'm using 2010 not 2009, since it was 2010 when Canada gave approval, so you guys already had that year.

Edit: The differences in the articles are fascinating IMO. The types of reporting alone are probably worth a paper in media studies on which each emphasizes, and the difference therein. Interestingly, the spill I mentioned a few posts up is mentioned (and linked to) in the HuffPo article, but not in the others. With a bit of other correlation, the CTV article also talks about how the vast majority of the increase in oil exports to the USA has been via rail. And I mentioned above about how FEW cars are needed to make a spill larger than the one HuffPo linked to (for reference, if TWO (2) cars derail, the spill is bigger).

Anyways, interesting stuff!
 
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#29
Interesting: Cameco threatening legal action after Japanese company cancels major uranium contract

TEPCO has its plants shutdown because of new regulations after Fukushima, and thus doesn't need uranium if the power plants aren't operating. The article says it best as to why the Canadian company is claiming bullshit:
The company is arguing the shutdown is a "force majeure" or unavoidable catastrophe that cancels the contract. However, Cameco disagrees, and plans to fight the company in court.

"We can't see how TEPCO can claim Force Majeure due to government regulations when other Japanese utilities have successfully restarted their plants," said Cameco president and CEO Tim Gitzel in a conference call. "Nuclear power is not prohibited in Japan. In fact, three are operating right now, and seven have been approved to restart."
 
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#30
What I found as a fascinating statement was this from the NYT article:

Anticipating criticism from advocates of tackling climate change, [Trump] added: “I am, to a large extent, an environmentalist, I believe in it. But it’s out of control and we’re going to make it a very short process. And we’re going to either give you your permits or we’re not going to give you your permits. But you’re going to know very quickly. And generally speaking we’re going to be giving you your permits.”
Quick process? Trump is going to make yea or nay decisions quickly so that companies aren't going to be left in limbo over whether they can go ahead with their developments or not? You know what could do with a quick decision? That Scottish Wind Farm off the coast of Aberdeen.

Mind you, that has had a quick decision. Multiple times. In government, in the courts, they've all looked at it & reasonably quickly decided "Yup, let's go ahead with that". Still hasn't gone ahead, because Trump's been fighting it since 2011. I guess he doesn't think we need quick decisions when those decisions go against him...
 
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#31
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#32
Big Tesla/Solarcity solar project opens on Kauai: Tesla's new solar energy station will power Hawaii at night

To me this is a "good news... but" kind of story, and I'll outline why:
  1. What kind of subsidies did this get? Land, taxes, direct funding, etc. How do those compare to other power projects? If it's in-line to those, then OK, but still, I wonder.
  2. How much did the project cost up-front and to whom at which levels of government/industry? Is this 100% private, with the power company on the island having a contract with Tesla and that's it? Seems unlikely, but technically possible.
  3. What's the lifetime of the project, and replacement/maintenance costs of both the panels (glass breaks over time, though at least it's not an area known for hail... I think, they do get hurricanes now and then) and the batteries themselves. Thus if the batteries last 10 years, the cost of replacement should be factored in over that time, along with expected panel breakage/replacement/maintenance (cleaning off the panels of bird poop for instance).
  4. Will this reduce power costs on the island at all? Often more supply = less price with many goods, but so many don't work that way either (usually due to subsidies and deals, see #1). Sometimes with renewables the power companies offer to "let" you pay MORE to say "you're getting your energy from wind" or whatever, even if sometimes that's obviously a lie.
  5. What was this land used for before the project went in? Lots of Kauai is undeveloped (I've been there BTW), but still, this looks like it could have been agricultural land. Was it? Or just natural land that has been cleared and re-purposed? That has an impact as well, but it's not all the same.
So this could be an example of solar being used with storage for good purpose, but it could also be massive subsidies in action.

And on the other hand, why haven't other methods been supported on the Hawaiian islands so far? In another comment set on this article elsewhere, people mention at a minimum Ocean temperature methods, as well as geothermal. I know the volcano is extinct under Kauai, but can you dig down non-trivially far and get a similar benefit, or no? Why that isn't ALREADY 100% of the power generation on Hawaii (big island I mean) is something that boggles my mind (Kilauea has been erupting continually since like '84 or something).
 
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#33
Big Tesla/Solarcity solar project opens on Kauai: Tesla's new solar energy station will power Hawaii at night

To me this is a "good news... but" kind of story, and I'll outline why:
  1. What kind of subsidies did this get? Land, taxes, direct funding, etc. How do those compare to other power projects? If it's in-line to those, then OK, but still, I wonder.
  2. How much did the project cost up-front and to whom at which levels of government/industry? Is this 100% private, with the power company on the island having a contract with Tesla and that's it? Seems unlikely, but technically possible.
  3. What's the lifetime of the project, and replacement/maintenance costs of both the panels (glass breaks over time, though at least it's not an area known for hail... I think, they do get hurricanes now and then) and the batteries themselves. Thus if the batteries last 10 years, the cost of replacement should be factored in over that time, along with expected panel breakage/replacement/maintenance (cleaning off the panels of bird poop for instance).
  4. Will this reduce power costs on the island at all? Often more supply = less price with many goods, but so many don't work that way either (usually due to subsidies and deals, see #1). Sometimes with renewables the power companies offer to "let" you pay MORE to say "you're getting your energy from wind" or whatever, even if sometimes that's obviously a lie.
  5. What was this land used for before the project went in? Lots of Kauai is undeveloped (I've been there BTW), but still, this looks like it could have been agricultural land. Was it? Or just natural land that has been cleared and re-purposed? That has an impact as well, but it's not all the same.
So this could be an example of solar being used with storage for good purpose, but it could also be massive subsidies in action.

And on the other hand, why haven't other methods been supported on the Hawaiian islands so far? In another comment set on this article elsewhere, people mention at a minimum Ocean temperature methods, as well as geothermal. I know the volcano is extinct under Kauai, but can you dig down non-trivially far and get a similar benefit, or no? Why that isn't ALREADY 100% of the power generation on Hawaii (big island I mean) is something that boggles my mind (Kilauea has been erupting continually since like '84 or something).
I bet you could tweet some of those questions right to Elon Musk and get some responses. He's very active/responsive on Twitter.
 
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#34
I bet you could tweet some of those questions right to Elon Musk and get some responses. He's very active/responsive on Twitter.
That would require me to do more than lurk on Twitter. Be a true Twit....ter user. Nah.
 
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