Why are electric furnaces so expensive?

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Re: Why are electric furnaces so expensive?

Postby Marconos » Sat Jun 21, 2014 1:30 am

therapist wrote:Heh yeah, I'm not even an environmentalist in real life. Lol.

In real life, coal is only useful for the stored power inside of it. In factorio, you need coal for producing goods, and unlike oil, coal is finite. It just pains me to watch people shoot themselves in the foot and call it "legitimate strategy".

For me, its like watching people stranded on an island drink salt water trying to beat dehydration. Mass-Coal is a fine strat for a speed run or if you don't plan to push thru to the endgame though.

Map size is infinite no? If so isn't coal infinite as well?
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Re: Why are electric furnaces so expensive?

Postby therapist » Sat Jun 21, 2014 6:19 am

Marconos wrote:Map size is infinite no? If so isn't coal infinite as well?


The point is, you wouldn't have to explore miles of planet to get more resources if you don't squander the resources that are around you.

Also, to be technical, you don't factor in the cost in coal to move the coal to your base, to mine the coal, to load it onto train or other transport method. Even if you use your "infinite iron" to make conveyor belts circling the planet, you'll run out of coal smelting that iron before you run your conveyor belts or trains to distant resource patches. Then you have to factor in the cost of running power poles out to said coal, smelting materials to create those power poles, and burning coal to run the mining drills and train station cargo loaders.

If you try this, you'll eventually run yourself out of materials (coal) before you reach the coal patch you intend to mine out for the purposes of continuing mining operations. Infinite planet or not, if covering distance cost coal, there is not an infinite amount of "reachable" coal. Unless of course your advocating I walk out there and mine it myself.

Maybe it is better phrased this way: The faster you switch to solar, the less total distance on the planet you have to cover to recover said coal, the more you resist the switch, the more you shoot yourself in the foot by creating unnecessary work for yourself later.

This is the reason I think it is a good idea for the devs to make electrical furnaces cost more, it forces the player to stay in the "coal phase" longer and adds the challenge of creating a ticking clock for the player, ie: the longer you stay with non-electric furnaces and boilers, the less goods you will be able to produce with your "starting coal" without setting up trains and other resource intensive systems to acquire more coal for plastics/explosives. I consider it optimal to "rush" to the "free unlimited fuel" stage of your factory's development, and watching people waste time and resources unnecessarily is hard for me.
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Re: Why are electric furnaces so expensive?

Postby Rahjital » Sat Jun 21, 2014 8:23 am

therapist wrote:In real life, coal is only useful for the stored power inside of it. In factorio, you need coal for producing goods


I would just like to point out that this is not true. Coal is used for making plastics in reality, in addition to many chemical and agricultural products, carbon fibers, pollution scrubbers and many other useful things. Hell, you even NEED coal (and limestone) to make steel! Be glad the devs didn't put that in. :P

Seriously though, coal needs more use. Right now, it's pretty much impossible to run out unless you build a massive steam engine powerstation, and even then you don't need to care about it nearly as much as about other resources.

Coal patches are placed at statistically regular intervals, so unless you are silly enough to only go exploring and expanding once your coal reserves run out, you will only run out of coal in this way after playing for weeks, if not more. A train twith six wagons has a range of roughly 50 thousand tiles when relying on the three stacks of coal it can carry. A single wagon full of coal can power the train for another 330,000 tiles. Even if you account for the losses brought by having to stop to refuel, a train running purely on coal can still go for 350,000 tiles while carrying 100 stacks of cargo. A circle with a radius of 50,000 tiles, a fraction of that distance, still contains billions upon billions of coal. Unless you play with resources set to the lowest amount possible, worrying about coal is somewhat pointless. ;)

To get back on topic, I don't believe electric furnaces should be any more expensive. They offer inferior performance for greater cost to steel furnaces, and crossing this performance gap requires level 2 modules, driving the costs through the roof. The furnaces aren't very useful unless you are using solar power, and even then they are only worth it when you try to save on coal or pollution.
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Re: Why are electric furnaces so expensive?

Postby ssilk » Sat Jun 21, 2014 8:44 am

I think the point are the module slots. With production modules inside and some (green) module in beacons outside it has an unbeatable advantage.

The modules are THE reason, why you need to specialize your factory into different parts.
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Re: Why are electric furnaces so expensive?

Postby therapist » Sat Jun 21, 2014 3:38 pm

Rahjital wrote:
therapist wrote:In real life, coal is only useful for the stored power inside of it. In factorio, you need coal for producing goods


I would just like to point out that this is not true. Coal is used for making plastics in reality, in addition to many chemical and agricultural products, carbon fibers, pollution scrubbers and many other useful things. Hell, you even NEED coal (and limestone) to make steel! Be glad the devs didn't put that in. :P


Not really true, coal is a compressed source of carbon and all of the things you listed require carbon, not necessarily coal. This is the difference between iron and steel, it isn't hardened by the heat of coal, the coal releases carbon which becomes imbued within the iron, creating steel. Here is an article about the future of electric steel production without using coal:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/artic ... ectricity/
Funny, the article mentions that a big problem they are having is making the steel mills the same size, because electric furnaces take up more space than classical blast furnaces. I think the OP or someone had asked the logic behind the larger footprint, and there you have it.

This mirrors perfectly what I'm saying about "coal power". Your atmosphere is filled with carbon, even space is thought to contain massive amounts of carbon (and oxygen) which are beaten only by the massive amounts of hydrogen and helium that exist. Just like sunlight surrounds us but hasnt been harnessed except by nature, so is this true of the carbon in coal. Again, I'm not an environmentalist in any way, burn all the coal you want in real life, but the wise thing to do would be to harness the much more abundant source of carbon you are surrounded by and immersed in at this very moment. This lets you save the compressed sources of carbon for applications that require alot of carbon coming from a very small package, steel and the other products you list don't necessitate the use of coal, but rather carbon.

Rahjital wrote:Seriously though, coal needs more use. Right now, it's pretty much impossible to run out unless you build a massive steam engine powerstation, and even then you don't need to care about it nearly as much as about other resources.


Hmmm, must be our play styles, I always run myself low on coal from producing plastic and explosives and you already know that I do everything in my power to save every last nugget of coal I can get my robot arms on.

Rahjital wrote:Coal patches are placed at statistically regular intervals, so unless you are silly enough to only go exploring and expanding once your coal reserves run out, you will only run out of coal in this way after playing for weeks, if not more. A train twith six wagons has a range of roughly 50 thousand tiles when relying on the three stacks of coal it can carry. A single wagon full of coal can power the train for another 330,000 tiles. Even if you account for the losses brought by having to stop to refuel, a train running purely on coal can still go for 350,000 tiles while carrying 100 stacks of cargo. A circle with a radius of 50,000 tiles, a fraction of that distance, still contains billions upon billions of coal. Unless you play with resources set to the lowest amount possible, worrying about coal is somewhat pointless. ;)


You covered the train fuel side just fine, but what about electricity and the coal used for smelting? Will you have enough coal to smelt all the materials to run power poles for 330,000 tiles out to the train station inserters and distant coal mines? Smelt 330,000 tiles worth of train track? Then have enough coal to power all that equipment? No way. You'll run yourself out of coal trying to get access to more coal if you attempt something like this. I sound like an environmentalist here, but purely from a gameplay standpoint, it just isn't feasible to use coal to run your a large operation past your starting area. You get diminishing returns the further from your base you go, and eventually, over a large distance, your returns will be diminished to the point you actually run yourself dry. Coal is a temporary solution, and the more temporary you choose to make coal, the more resources left for the production of coal dependent goods and the less mining and transporting you will have to do later.

Of course I'm not "worried" about coal, I'm just lazy, and don't want to go coal hunting and setting up trains and all that mess if I can help it. My main train station that runs to distant lands mostly moves copper and iron, almost all of my stone and coal come from local mining operations that don't require me to stray very far from home unlike ore which I blow thru faster than I can mine the stuff.

Rahjital wrote:To get back on topic, I don't believe electric furnaces should be any more expensive. They offer inferior performance for greater cost to steel furnaces, and crossing this performance gap requires level 2 modules, driving the costs through the roof. The furnaces aren't very useful unless you are using solar power, and even then they are only worth it when you try to save on coal or pollution.


I totally agree, they are expensive enough as it is. Although the devs decision to require oil for the production of plastic for the production of electric furnaces was a really good move, because otherwise, you could almost skip oil as a fuel source until much later in game and run your factorio on solar energy.

ssilk wrote:I think the point are the module slots. With production modules inside and some (green) module in beacons outside it has an unbeatable advantage.

The modules are THE reason, why you need to specialize your factory into different parts.


Interesting, I almost never put modules into my smelting facility until long long long after I have accomplished almost every other goal in the game. I experimented with using modules in my steel production loop, but ultimately decided to simply build more electric furnaces instead of speeding up or adding effectiveness to those furnaces with modules. Is there a real cost advantage or some other advantage you gain by using a smaller amount of furnaces with modules, rather than just spamming up 50+ electric furnaces?
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Re: Why are electric furnaces so expensive?

Postby Rahjital » Sat Jun 21, 2014 8:47 pm

therapist wrote:Not really true, coal is a compressed source of carbon and all of the things you listed require carbon, not necessarily coal.


The form of carbon is important, though. You can't just throw in a tank of carbon oxides and expect it to work. :P Graphite is sometimes used for it, but it's needlessly expensive. Theoretically diamonds would also work.

The article is nice, but I think the person who wrote it got iron smelting and steelmaking confused. Iron oxides are not made into steel directly but through pig iron, which needs high carbon amount and therefore coal (or carbon if you like). Even electric furnaces need that in reality. I'm glad the devs didn't put it into the game, though.

therapist wrote:Hmmm, must be our play styles, I always run myself low on coal from producing plastic and explosives and you already know that I do everything in my power to save every last nugget of coal I can get my robot arms on.


Whoa, you must produce a really huge amount of plastics and explosives. I usually use separate coal patches for my steam engines and industrial production, but I also make a ton of explosive rockets and slowdown capsules in addition to all the needed plastics so my use of coal isn't that low.

therapist wrote:You covered the train fuel side just fine, but what about electricity and the coal used for smelting? Will you have enough coal to smelt all the materials to run power poles for 330,000 tiles out to the train station inserters and distant coal mines? Smelt 330,000 tiles worth of train track? Then have enough coal to power all that equipment?


There's no reason to carry electricity by poles, you can just build a local powerplant if the lines would get too long. As for rails, that's a greater problem, but not by all that much. Even if I had to move 1000 tiles for each mined patch, the amount of coal mined from the patch would greatly overshadow the cost of rails needed. I would be more worried about my iron reserves if I was in a scenario like this.

We have strayed faaar off-topic here, though. Maybe we should open a thread in general discussion instead...

therapist wrote:Interesting, I almost never put modules into my smelting facility until long long long after I have accomplished almost every other goal in the game. I experimented with using modules in my steel production loop, but ultimately decided to simply build more electric furnaces instead of speeding up or adding effectiveness to those furnaces with modules. Is there a real cost advantage or some other advantage you gain by using a smaller amount of furnaces with modules, rather than just spamming up 50+ electric furnaces?


Modules are much more expensive than electric furnaces are, so if you are deciding purely on cost, more furnaces is the answer. If you value the compactness of a factory or just want to upgrade an already standing foundry without needing to do much rebuilding, you will want modules.
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Re: Why are electric furnaces so expensive?

Postby therapist » Sat Jun 21, 2014 10:46 pm

Rahjital wrote:The form of carbon is important, though. You can't just throw in a tank of carbon oxides and expect it to work. :P Graphite is sometimes used for it, but it's needlessly expensive. Theoretically diamonds would also work.


The form of carbon only dictates the method used in production. Carbon is carbon. Humans just prefer to use the easy but highly limited sources as oppose to the sustainable but abundant sources and this generally goes for all resources. In real life, great plan; in factorio, completely unnecessary and ultimately stifling to future production.

Rahjital wrote:The article is nice, but I think the person who wrote it got iron smelting and steelmaking confused. Iron oxides are not made into steel directly but through pig iron, which needs high carbon amount and therefore coal (or carbon if you like). Even electric furnaces need that in reality. I'm glad the devs didn't put it into the game, though.


Actually, steel IS produced without the need for coal. Your assumption that coal MUST be used is actually rather outdated.

" electricity and N.gas can be used to produce steel without using coke, coal where these are available at reasonable cost. But it may be back to pevillion, since in most countries electricity is still produced by using coal as fuel.. "

Steel without coal is already being produced and is indistinguishable from coal coke style steel, the catch being that currently coal provides the electricity to run the whole kit and caboodle.

Rahjital wrote:
therapist wrote:Hmmm, must be our play styles, I always run myself low on coal from producing plastic and explosives and you already know that I do everything in my power to save every last nugget of coal I can get my robot arms on.


Whoa, you must produce a really huge amount of plastics and explosives. I usually use separate coal patches for my steam engines and industrial production, but I also make a ton of explosive rockets and slowdown capsules in addition to all the needed plastics so my use of coal isn't that low.


I think it is mostly plastic, my module production doesn't end until I have several stacks of all 9 variants. Explosives come later, and generally force me to add a coal mine or two. I really wish you still needed rockets to produce science packs, I always liked the idea that my sci packs were individual rocketry experiments.

Rahjital wrote:There's no reason to carry electricity by poles, you can just build a local powerplant if the lines would get too long. As for rails, that's a greater problem, but not by all that much. Even if I had to move 1000 tiles for each mined patch, the amount of coal mined from the patch would greatly overshadow the cost of rails needed. I would be more worried about my iron reserves if I was in a scenario like this.


I'm not sure if having small individual plants for your mines is cheaper than a centralized power plant, if we are talking about some "coal only" scenario then I might agree, but assuming there is a centralized factory and smelters 330,000 tiles away producing all sorts of modules circuits etc, you are going to be required to haul said coal "home" anyway.

Rahjital wrote:We have strayed faaar off-topic here, though. Maybe we should open a thread in general discussion instead...


Meh, just discussing why the switch off of coal is worth the cost of electric furnaces, I believe it has alot to do with the infeasibility of coal power and coal dependent smelting in the long term.

Rahjital wrote:Modules are much more expensive than electric furnaces are, so if you are deciding purely on cost, more furnaces is the answer. If you value the compactness of a factory or just want to upgrade an already standing foundry without needing to do much rebuilding, you will want modules.


This is the thinking behind my strategy exactly. I used to be a productivity module nazi, until they nerfed those modules into uselessness. Now, since productivity is no longer an option until the super late endgame, I simply concentrate on mining, defense, and "the mother of all throughput" setups. I would like very much to see some of ssilk's saves, he seems to have very different and possibly innovative ideas about the "best" setup and i think sometimes the language barrier makes it hard to picture what he does.

Does anybody know if the devs have plans to increase or decrease the cost of electric furnaces? I think the added cost has been nice because it has forced me to develop oil but I think there are other ways that don't include coal that plastics could be produced that might be more realistic and possibly more fun. It just feels weird using so much coal to make plastic, maybe silicone produced with coal could become a separate product in the future, I think there are already mods that have silicon wafers.
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Re: Why are electric furnaces so expensive?

Postby krux02 » Sat Aug 30, 2014 1:36 am

I don't use electric furnaces at all. Not that they are more expensive that normal furnaces, they also are much bigger. And when I finally am able to build electric furnaces, I have already my smelting line setup with coal supply. So "upgrading" to electric doesn't make sense to me. And I don't use modules, they are not worth the price if just more factories cost almost nothing.
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Re: Why are electric furnaces so expensive?

Postby DaveMcW » Sat Aug 30, 2014 1:41 am

krux02 wrote:And I don't use modules, they are not worth the price if just more factories cost almost nothing.


An efficiency module 1 is more cost-effective than a solar panel.
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Re: Why are electric furnaces so expensive?

Postby Zarajohn » Fri Jul 17, 2015 11:31 am

Hello,
Because its safe, clean-burning operation as compared to oil- or gas-burning furnaces. electricity is so expansive rather than natural gas. That is way electric furnace filter is costly.
Thanks
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Re: Why are electric furnaces so expensive?

Postby Marconos » Mon Jul 20, 2015 3:37 pm

My thousands of electric furnaces powered by over one thousand steam engines says hi :D

My self and many others only use coal for power as solar power is too easy.

I use steam early game then when I fire up my massive smelting lines electric all day long. No way can I move the coal needed plus the raw materials for coal furnaces.
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Re: Why are electric furnaces so expensive?

Postby Nasabot » Fri Oct 30, 2015 12:03 pm

Electric furnances are perfectly fine, however, I do not like it, that there is a perfect solution for a certain task(which is electric furnance for smelting)

Maybe it would be a cool idea to make steel furnaces worthwhile. A game is more interesting, if you have several options which are balanced to each other but offer certain advantages and disadvantages.

My idea is to make steel furnances more interesting by giving them a certain perk over electric furnances:

-more pollution efficient
-more energy efficient
-make them also modulable
-make them smelt steel exclusivly(? ofc you would have to change the recipe then^^) or give it a big boost for steel smelting


Personally Id make steel furnances the optimal solution for steel smelting.

Also consider, that a player should be rewarded by integrating complexity into his factory. Electric furnances are a "no brainer", why do they also need to be the optimal solution for everything? Things like this make a game shallow by offering lots of "pseudo choice".
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Re: Why are electric furnaces so expensive?

Postby Apotheosis » Wed Nov 04, 2015 6:25 pm

Steel furnaces already use less energy and produce less pollution than electric furnaces actually. You should only switch to electric furnaces if you plan on using modules with them or plan on powering them with solar panels.
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Re: Why are electric furnaces so expensive?

Postby Mindblower » Fri Mar 04, 2016 5:57 am

Yes , I think. An electric furnace is an expensive way to heat a home, using resistive heat. Perhaps it is pricey because It is a highly advanced smelting machine.
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Re: Why are electric furnaces so expensive?

Postby bobingabout » Fri Mar 04, 2016 1:07 pm

We were discussing electric cars at work a couple months ago.

These are all real-world scenarios.


To burn(Combust in a controlled explosion, in this case) fuel in a car, the overall efficiency after refining is around 90%
To burn that fuel in a boiler, and convert it to electricity is already down around the 50% mark. continue on with cable losses, and the 33% loss to charge batteries, the efficiency of an electric car after refining was around 25%

Which is therefore cleaner? You're burning 3 to 4 times as much raw fuel to power the electric car, not to mention all the extra pollution created by things like disposal of batteries.

Similar arguments can be said about "Energy saving light bulbs". Okay, this comparison is a bit off topic, but, here it is anyway.
old style light bulb? non-toxic.
Energy saving light bulb? Toxic.
it also costs more money, resources and power to create an energy saving light bulb. By the time you take into account the manufacture and disposal costs, the old style light bulb is the better choice. Fortunately LEDs are a much better solution than the old style "Energy saving" light bulbs.


Besides the point... burning a fuel directly at the required source should be cheaper and more efficient than using electricity.

Now lets look at a factorio based scenario, looking at real world facts.

I mean, think about it. Burn coal in a furnace, heat is the desired result, and is created at the desired location.
Burn coal in a power plant, heat isn't the desired result, it's a means to an end to create pressure, to rotate a turbine, this turbine produces electricity. this electricity is then transmitted to the desired location, where it is once again turned into heat. the amount of heat you get from the electricity is less than the heat required to create that electricity. You only actually get about a third.

Now I don't know actual factorio game values, but in theory you should be seeing similar results, electric furnaces are more convenient, because you just need power lines, but at the end of the day, they should be more expensive to both build, and run then coal powered alternatives.


Talking about this makes me want to mod in a high end coal burning version of my additional types of furnace and even other machines in my mod.
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Re: Why are electric furnaces so expensive?

Postby starholme » Fri Mar 04, 2016 3:28 pm

Hey bob,

I'd love to know where you can get this 90% efficient car lol. The most efficient diesel engines(used by large marine ships) can only hit ~50%

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diesel_engine - Efficiency mentioned in first paragraph.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_efficiency - Best efficiency in real world is about 60%, gasoline automobiles ~25%.

The excellent Do The Math blog has this article where he mentions the max theoretical efficiency to be about 75% - http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/201 ... -gasoline/

Not even gonna start with the lighting one...

On topic, I think the current electric furnace is fine. Same speed as steel, higher power consumption, more pollution, larger footprint. Can use modules to use less power, make less pollution, doesn't need coal. Can be solar powered for less pollution.

I find it interesting that both are still in use in the real world: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blast_fur ... n_furnaces - similar to our steel furnace, and electric arc furnaces: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_arc_furnace
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Re: Why are electric furnaces so expensive?

Postby Arch666Angel » Fri Mar 04, 2016 6:35 pm

@starholme
Aside from the numbers: Bob is right with the Statement that electric cars/engines are pretty bad at energy efficiency if you look at the whole process compared with the energy efficiency of a fuel powered engine.
Which leads to the point that you cant compare numbers which derive from parts (the engine) with the numbers of the whole system (the car)...

And the usage of blast furnaces and arc furnaces is in part due to the need of having a chemical reaction if you smelt iron from minerals, as compared to smelt iron from mostly scrap metal.
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Re: Why are electric furnaces so expensive?

Postby Koub » Sat Mar 05, 2016 9:29 am

To be able to compare things, literally everything entering in the process of getting to the result should be accounted :
- the initial material gathering, what's needed to build intermediary materials until finished product
- consumables, and their own supply chain
- all the transportation needed for every part of your item
- How the energy used to make all this possible was produced.

Then only you can compare things.
A rough example :
Electric cars need lithium, which inturn needs energy and chemicals to be produced, more energy to be transported into factories that need even more chemicals and energy to produce your battery, and so on.
So even if the running impact on environment and upkeep cost of an electric car is lower than a regular car, if you compare a brand new electric car with its thermic counterpart, I'm pretty sure the electric one has used way more raw materials and has polluted a shitload more.
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Re: Why are electric furnaces so expensive?

Postby ssilk » Sun Mar 06, 2016 2:16 am

Koub wrote:Electric cars need lithium, which inturn needs energy and chemicals to be produced, more energy to be transported into factories that need even more chemicals and energy to produce your battery, and so on.
So even if the running impact on environment and upkeep cost of an electric car is lower than a regular car, if you compare a brand new electric car with its thermic counterpart, I'm pretty sure the electric one has used way more raw materials and has polluted a shitload more.


The life cycle assessment of an electric car should not be measured at the beginning of it's life cycle and not on it's end. :) Like anything, the usage should be measured at the end.
It's difficult to find some number about it, but I found for example this German article: http://www.focus.de/auto/experten/duenn ... 14399.html

They say:
Bei Betankung aus der Steckdose mit dem üblichen Strommix aus Wasserkraft, Solarstrom, Atom- und Kohlekraftwerken wird die Umwelt dreimal mehr belastet als bei Herstellung des Lithium-Ionen Akkus.

Translation: If you fill the car with the (in Germany) usual mix of water-, solar-, atom- and coal-electricity, then the environmental pollution is three times bigger as the creation of the Litium-Ion-Accumulator.

Further on they say, that you need to use green energy mix (only water, wind and solar-power), to have a positive life cycle assessment.
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Re: Why are electric furnaces so expensive?

Postby Pappus » Thu Mar 10, 2016 2:53 am

I have to agree there is a problem with all furnaces though. Steel furnace I dunno takes more effort to upgrade to them than just waiting a c ouple of minutes more and simply going electric furnace.
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