I don’t understand the reasoning behind Nuclear Power (a finite resource)

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I don’t understand the reasoning behind Nuclear Power (a finite resource)

Post by eBagger »

I haven’t launched my first rocket yet, so I’m not sure where or if nuclear comes into play with that. I know Nukes will be beneficial to rid large, advanced colonies of biters. But when there is Solar I’m not sure the need for Nuclear.

As somebody who was anxious wasting my coal until I hurried up and got Solar, it was a relief knowing I now had basically unlimited power.

And by the time you get to nuclear you should have fields and fields of solar panels like I do, so it’ll take quite a few reactors to run your factory.

From what I understand even a smaller ore patch has enough Uranium to keep the average base running for like 100 hours (from what I saw some from posts) but still, with the number or robots and resources you can easily amass it will take minutes to add a few more hundred (or thousands) of solar panels.

I mean, I’d rather the game have it an as option for power than not, but I don’t see why it seems to be the end all power solution. Maybe I just haven’t reached a large enough base that requires easily expandable massive energy needs. And it was cool finally getting my first centrifuges and kovarex and supply of 235 and nuclear reactors/steam engines, but after I had done that I just stopped the inserters from inserting cells and saved them up and switched back to solar, because my panels were already were doing the job. If somebody can explain why I see videos of playthroughs where everyone is rushing to get to nuclear power thatd be cool.

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Re: I don’t understand the reasoning behind Nuclear Power (a finite resource)

Post by mmmPI »

There are some positive to the nuclear,

First it's an original challenge to lay out a nuclear power plant that function as expected, and try to automate the fuel saving :)

Second, and the most important to me, it's very space efficient, depending on the size of your planned base, you reduce the need for large defense perimeter for an easier to manage one.

Thrid i can think of is that it is far more "ressource efficient" during a long time before the infinite nuclear fuel consumption cancel this out. By that i mean that for the amount of material that you need to build a nuclear power plant and run it like 100 or 1000 hours/ long time, you will produce much more energy much faster than if you where to use those ressources to make a solar field. If one wants to reach large scale faster, it's possible to power your solar pannel & accumulator factory with a nuclear power plant at first so it produces full speed right away, and then use this nuclear power plant only as a back source of power for your larger solar grid once it is your main source of power. That could explain why on filmed playthrough people try to "rush" this stage, it's a faster power spike than the slowly ( potentially boring for audience ) increasing coverage of solar which leaves you free to do something else for a longer time period than if one had to constantly add new solar every one or 2 episode :)

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Re: I don’t understand the reasoning behind Nuclear Power (a finite resource)

Post by SoShootMe »

While nuclear power is technically finite, it is (depending on map settings, but usually) unlimited in practice.

As for advantages, to quote myself on nuclear power compared to solar power (see the original for more detail):
SoShootMe wrote:
Fri Jan 28, 2022 8:23 am
Roughly, at scale, that means nuclear has 70 times greater power density, requires 1/10 the number of entities/tiles to be placed, and is 8 times cheaper to build.
Greater power density means less space to clear of biters (which may be more or less important depending on map settings). Fewer entities/tiles means fewer robots and/or less time to build. Cheaper to build means the resources you would use to build out solar can be used for other things, like the beacons and modules that massively drive up the need for power.

For balance, I think early availability, relative simplicity and - long after you've launched the first rocket - lower UPS (game performance) impact are the principal benefits of solar over nuclear. Solar also has no placement restriction at all (slightly lessens the effective benefit of nuclear power's density) and no ongoing pollution whatsoever (but the amount for nuclear power generation is usually small compared to the rest of your factory).

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Re: I don’t understand the reasoning behind Nuclear Power (a finite resource)

Post by Khagan »

SoShootMe wrote:
Wed Sep 07, 2022 10:21 am
SoShootMe wrote:
Fri Jan 28, 2022 8:23 am
Roughly, at scale, that means nuclear has 70 times greater power density, requires 1/10 the number of entities/tiles to be placed, and is 8 times cheaper to build.
70 times the density sounds about right, but I think the cost of construction is in practice more like 20 times cheaper.

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Re: I don’t understand the reasoning behind Nuclear Power (a finite resource)

Post by SoShootMe »

Khagan wrote:
Wed Sep 07, 2022 10:45 am
70 times the density sounds about right, but I think the cost of construction is in practice more like 20 times cheaper.
The basis for my calculation included landfill for nuclear power (since building onto water is a convenient way to scale it up), but that represents around half the raw resource cost. Excluding that, I'm not sure it would be quite as much as 20 times cheaper, but it definitely wouldn't be too far off. Also, it's stone, which is usually plentiful compared to the iron and copper that represent the main resource cost of building solar power.

Different designs will also change the numbers, of course; the solar figures were (intended to be) simultaneously optimal for space, entities and probably also raw resources, but there's clearly much more scope for variation with nuclear (quite possibly no design is optimal for all). The difference is unlikely to be drastic for any reasonable design.

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Re: I don’t understand the reasoning behind Nuclear Power (a finite resource)

Post by Nosferatu »

Before nuclear was included solar was the only option - that was boring.
You don't need it to launch a rocket.

It's a fun challenge.
Once you are finished you won't have to worry about energy for a long time.

On megabase scale it's often replaced by solar again for ups reasons. By then you will have automated large scale deployment of solar fields.

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Re: I don’t understand the reasoning behind Nuclear Power (a finite resource)

Post by Tertius »

Nuclear power isn't that important for your first rocket, or for completely researching the whole technology tree (without any of the infinite tech of course). As you already found out, solar energy is most easy until then, because it doesn't need fuel and it doesn't produce pollution and it doesn't need sophisticated layouts.

But if you want to continue with that map after your first rocket, for example if you want to launch more rockets or just want to keep your factory growing and continuously launch rockets, spend the resulting science packs for the infinite tech, you need vastly more energy, and with it come a nice additional puzzles to solve:
- mining uranium or (different than ordinary ore)
- refining uranium
- enrichment of U-237
- developing a reactor layout with all its components: reactor itself, water supply, heat exchanger, turbines

All these are interesting to develop and nice challenges on their own. I do it this way: I see the demand for some factory layout to produce some item, then I load my sandbox mode and develop a blueprint that does produce this item, or energy, or a construction kit for my railway.
Then I get back to the real map and use the self developed blueprint. It's an iterative process, since blueprints developed in sandbox mode usually lack some feature required for non-sandbox mode.

On my current map, I want to create a really big and well laid out factory with all the nice blueprints I developed. No spaghetti, all with plenty of space, everything perfectly organized and use all items and components the game has to offer. Ignore nothing. This includes modules for the factory and military tech to keep all the non-peaceful biters away. This also includes nuclear power just because it's there and it lasts a long time while the factory grows. My plan is to use solar power for the energy baseline (for example the power drain from all the laser turrets around my base) and nuclear for actual production.
I created 2 nuclear plant layouts: one 2x2 as start (480 MW) and one tileable 2x8 (2.4 GW). The last one will last forever, I assume. One thing less to think about: when to extend the solar panel fields.

Nuclear power plants are very satisfying to develop. It's a pleasure to get things working. Insert fuel only if it's necessary, don't waste energy, organize heat flow, water flow, steam flow, energy flow.

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Re: I don’t understand the reasoning behind Nuclear Power (a finite resource)

Post by mrvn »

I agree with nosferatu. You certainly do not need nuclear to launch a rocket. It will cost you tons of research, resources and time to build that you can better spend launching the rocket. If launching the rocket is all you want to do then nuclear is the wrong thing. You don't even need solar, there should be plenty of coal to launch the rocket.

I can see 2 strategies here:

1) Bottle up and build everything crammed together with steam engines for power and just get off the planet as quick as possible before the biters overrun you.
2) Explore outwards and kill biter nests in your pollution cloud. And when you have all that nice space cleared of bitters you might a well drop solar panels there, keeping your pollution cloud smaller. And yes, this also works against the fear of running out of coal (or for a bad seed with hardly any coal).

Note: Instead of burning coal in furnaces try producing solid fuel from oil. Oil declines as you pump it until it reaches a minimum and then you get the oil/s for infinity. It's an unlimited resource.


In a game with a normal recipe and research multiplier nuclear power also makes no sense before Covarex. The amount of ore you need to mine to get the rare uranium type is insane. Where are you going to store all the bad uranium? To use Covarex as soon as researched, and you do want to use that to solve the storage crisis, you need to mine 40 of the rare uranium. Between the time you researched the centrifuge and got 40 of the rare uranium you can probably research Covarex. But that is even more research diverted from the rocket. If the recipes are set to expensive or multipliers turned high this might be different. Personally I find storing the excess uranium bad and don't ever do nuclear without covarex anymore.

But there might be a good reason to do nuclear anyway. Just for fun or because it's there. Or you do have a map with very little coal and slow oil and biters all around you that prevent placing solar panels. Ever played on an island before? Suddenly resources are truly finite.

Otherwise nuclear is a post first rocket / long term game thing.

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Re: I don’t understand the reasoning behind Nuclear Power (a finite resource)

Post by ColonelSandersLite »

Tertius wrote:
Wed Sep 07, 2022 4:36 pm
On my current map, I want to create a really big and well laid out factory ...I created 2 nuclear plant layouts: one 2x2 as start (480 MW) and one tileable 2x8 (2.4 GW). The last one will last forever, I assume. One thing less to think about: when to extend the solar panel fields.
It depends on what you consider to be really big... The kinda sorta agreed upon baseline definitiion of a megabase is 1000X6 sci/min. Your power just won't cut it for that. Beacons and prod mods are surprisingly power hungry.

I'm in the process of building a 5.4kX7 spm base. *Just* the lab and space science builds eat a combined 3ish GW. I checked it and my first megabase drew 10-11 gw to make 1214X7spm.
Last edited by ColonelSandersLite on Wed Sep 07, 2022 8:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: I don’t understand the reasoning behind Nuclear Power (a finite resource)

Post by ColonelSandersLite »

eBagger wrote:
Wed Sep 07, 2022 8:54 am
And by the time you get to nuclear you should have fields and fields of solar panels like I do, so it’ll take quite a few reactors to run your factory.

Here's the thing from my perspective -
Solar is pretty expensive, takes up a ton of space, and is very boring. Sooooooo boring.

I will only build it in exactly 3 situations.

1 self sufficient off the grid remote area radar outposts that are just there to reveal the map. These get torn out once they have done their job.

2 I'm uranium poor for some reason and I need more power to get more uranium.

3 Megabase territory for the UPS.


Don't ignore the cost of solar panels. They *aren't* cheap once you multiply their base cost by "fields and fields" and it takes resources to clear the land to build them.


Did I mention they're boring?

I got so incredibly bored with them that I have abandoned the tilable designs for something a bit more interesting to look at.


celtic power A.jpg
celtic power A.jpg (331.34 KiB) Viewed 575 times
celtic power B.jpg
celtic power B.jpg (298.81 KiB) Viewed 575 times
So... I guess I'm running on celtic power now. That's green right?

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Re: I don’t understand the reasoning behind Nuclear Power (a finite resource)

Post by FuryoftheStars »

ColonelSandersLite wrote:
Wed Sep 07, 2022 7:56 pm
I got so incredibly bored with them that I have abandoned the tilable designs for something a bit more interesting to look at.

celtic power A.jpg

celtic power B.jpg

So... I guess I'm running on celtic power now. That's green right?
That’s awesome. :lol:

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Re: I don’t understand the reasoning behind Nuclear Power (a finite resource)

Post by ColonelSandersLite »

mrvn wrote:
Wed Sep 07, 2022 4:42 pm
I agree with nosferatu. You certainly do not need nuclear to launch a rocket. It will cost you tons of research, resources and time to build that you can better spend launching the rocket. If launching the rocket is all you want to do then nuclear is the wrong thing. You don't even need solar, there should be plenty of coal to launch the rocket.
I definitely agree with that. I have run the game like that a couple of times for achievement hunting purposes and found that just building more coal was the way to go. Can't say I remotely care about the fee-fees of the biters. They can eat lead if they have a problem with my pollution cloud...
mrvn wrote:
Wed Sep 07, 2022 4:42 pm
In a game with a normal recipe and research multiplier nuclear power also makes no sense before Covarex. The amount of ore you need to mine to get the rare uranium type is insane. Where are you going to store all the bad uranium? To use Covarex as soon as researched, and you do want to use that to solve the storage crisis, you need to mine 40 of the rare uranium.
Definitely don't agree with you on that point. In my current game, I ran on nuclear power *without* covarex for 82 and a half hours. For no reason other than I couldn't be bothered to set it up and it just wasn't even remotely urgent.

How many chests? A 5X10 square grid of them. Doesn't take up that much space. I guess it's noteworthy though that a lot of the storage for the 238 ended up taking the form of bullets. No idea how many of those are floating around my base at any one time.

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Re: I don’t understand the reasoning behind Nuclear Power (a finite resource)

Post by ColonelSandersLite »

FuryoftheStars wrote:
Wed Sep 07, 2022 7:59 pm
ColonelSandersLite wrote:
Wed Sep 07, 2022 7:56 pm
I got so incredibly bored with them that I have abandoned the tilable designs for something a bit more interesting to look at.

celtic power A.jpg

celtic power B.jpg

So... I guess I'm running on celtic power now. That's green right?
That’s awesome. :lol:
Thanks!

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Re: I don’t understand the reasoning behind Nuclear Power (a finite resource)

Post by mmmPI »

ColonelSandersLite wrote:
Wed Sep 07, 2022 7:56 pm
Here's the thing from my perspective -

celtic power A.jpg

celtic power B.jpg

So... I guess I'm running on celtic power now. That's green right?
That is more than gigantic !

also really nice !

also green as sulfuric-acid based accumulator x)

too bad it's too big for blueprint x)

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Re: I don’t understand the reasoning behind Nuclear Power (a finite resource)

Post by ColonelSandersLite »

mmmPI wrote:
Wed Sep 07, 2022 9:09 pm
too bad it's too big for blueprint x)
They're actually blueprintable just fine. A lot of that work is done with just a custom blueprint tile book and manual touch ups. I wrote a custom java tool to help with the more intricate designs in image A. That would be the trinity knot (but not it's border), the interwoven triskelions, and the tree of life and it's border braid. It converts black and white bitmaps into solar blueprints. Mostly just got really sick of trying to freehand curves in factorio land. Unfortunately, input has to be pretty low resolution because of the footprint size of accumulators and solar panels in factorio. Can't really be helped. IIRC 1 pixel in the source BMP is equal to a 6 square X 6 square area in the game.

I intend to clean up and share the tools I made to do the job and include some samples once I finish this factory up.

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Re: I don’t understand the reasoning behind Nuclear Power (a finite resource)

Post by mmmPI »

ColonelSandersLite wrote:
Wed Sep 07, 2022 9:20 pm
They're actually blueprintable just fine. A lot of that work is done with just a custom blueprint tile book and manual touch ups. I wrote a custom java tool to help with the more intricate designs in image A. That would be the trinity knot (but not it's border), the interwoven triskelions, and the tree of life and it's border braid. It converts black and white bitmaps into solar blueprints. Mostly just got really sick of trying to freehand curves in factorio land. Unfortunately, input has to be pretty low resolution because of the footprint size of accumulators and solar panels in factorio. Can't really be helped. IIRC 1 pixel in the source BMP is equal to a 6 square X 6 square area in the game.

I intend to clean up and share the tools I made to do the job and include some samples once I finish this factory up.

This feel too big compared to what i use as blueprint given the tiny trains on the map. If i try placing such large blueprint and by mistake i zoom too close on the radarview, my computer let me know it doesn't like that . was not clear in my wording sorry.


That's good to hear you plan to share :) i could use small pixelated source just fine :)

Or just 1 one those for my whole game and i would cut it into small pieces of puzzle

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Re: I don’t understand the reasoning behind Nuclear Power (a finite resource)

Post by mrvn »

ColonelSandersLite wrote:
Wed Sep 07, 2022 7:56 pm
celtic power A.jpg

celtic power B.jpg

So... I guess I'm running on celtic power now. That's green right?
Wow, blueprints please.

Did you make them by hand or did you write a image-to-blueprint generator?

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Re: I don’t understand the reasoning behind Nuclear Power (a finite resource)

Post by mrvn »

ColonelSandersLite wrote:
Wed Sep 07, 2022 8:38 pm
mrvn wrote:
Wed Sep 07, 2022 4:42 pm
In a game with a normal recipe and research multiplier nuclear power also makes no sense before Covarex. The amount of ore you need to mine to get the rare uranium type is insane. Where are you going to store all the bad uranium? To use Covarex as soon as researched, and you do want to use that to solve the storage crisis, you need to mine 40 of the rare uranium.
Definitely don't agree with you on that point. In my current game, I ran on nuclear power *without* covarex for 82 and a half hours. For no reason other than I couldn't be bothered to set it up and it just wasn't even remotely urgent.

How many chests? A 5X10 square grid of them. Doesn't take up that much space. I guess it's noteworthy though that a lot of the storage for the 238 ended up taking the form of bullets. No idea how many of those are floating around my base at any one time.
I just find it uggly. And then you always design the chest field to small and at some point it's full and you only notice because you have a blackout.

I never looked into uranium bullets, maybe that does eat up a good part of the uranium. Way before that I switch to lasers.

"For no reason other than I couldn't be bothered to set it up". Yeah, that is a valid reason. Never underestimate the power of procrastenation.

I have a very simple covarex setup. The modules and beacons are purely optional but they do make it produce the first fuel a lot faster. The left centrifuge must be primed with at least 40 light green uranium once. The filter inserter makes sure none of the catalyst leaves the covarex centrifuge, which can happen if the right centrifuges outputs a light green uranium just before the left one finishes a cycle. The first 40 light green uranium produced are stored in the centrifuge so it takes a while to output fuel. The more you can prime the process the faster it outputs fuel.
covarex.png
covarex.png (492.83 KiB) Viewed 510 times


Iirc one covarex centrifuge without any modules is good for 13 reactors. With productivity modules alone less, with beacons more.

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Re: I don’t understand the reasoning behind Nuclear Power (a finite resource)

Post by SoShootMe »

ColonelSandersLite wrote:
Wed Sep 07, 2022 7:56 pm
So... I guess I'm running on celtic power now. That's green right?
Very impressive.
ColonelSandersLite wrote:
Wed Sep 07, 2022 8:38 pm
In my current game, I ran on nuclear power *without* covarex for 82 and a half hours. For no reason other than I couldn't be bothered to set it up and it just wasn't even remotely urgent.

How many chests? A 5X10 square grid of them. Doesn't take up that much space. I guess it's noteworthy though that a lot of the storage for the 238 ended up taking the form of bullets. No idea how many of those are floating around my base at any one time.
Nuclear power without the Kovarex enrichment process is (as you've proved) possible, but I find not worthwhile in practice. Each reactor needs 0.3 uranium fuel cells per minute to run continuously, and just a single Uranium ore processing centrifuge will produce (a little more than) enough U235 for this on average. Storing the excess U238 is a pain but you also need a reasonable buffer of fuel cells to ensure that "on average" qualification doesn't cause you to run out, which in turn means you need to have produced a good handful of U235 before you can rely on nuclear power.

You could instead have put that U235 towards getting enrichment running sooner, guaranteeing fuel cell supply and (practically speaking) enabling the other uses of U235, nuclear fuel and atomic bombs. As a side-effect, the need for U238 storage is reduced; 3 steel chests is (normally) sufficient.

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Re: I don’t understand the reasoning behind Nuclear Power (a finite resource)

Post by mrvn »

Don't forget nuclear fuel for trains. With covarex you could even use it in furnaces.

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