Solar boiler / Solar thermal energy

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Zequez
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Solar boiler / Solar thermal energy

Post by Zequez »

So could we have an alternative to the regular carbon-based boiler: a solar boiler?

It could work exactly as the boiler, although it would need to be bigger. And VERY expensive, like 100 solar panels and advanced circuits/microprocesors, more steel and copper, and if we ever get salt, it should also need salt.

It would be nice if you could win the game without causing pollution.
Last edited by ickputzdirwech on Sun Jul 11, 2021 11:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: changed title

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Re: Solar boiler?

Post by Garm »

err what do you mean "win the game w/o pollution" ? You can do that right now with solar panels....

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Re: Solar boiler?

Post by Drury »

Yep, AFAIK boilers are only good for steam engines... You can phase those out with solar panels entirely.

I don't see the point of this.
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Re: Solar boiler?

Post by Coolthulhu »

Why would a solar boiler be expensive?
Like regular boiler, it requires entire clunky infrastructure around it. The infrastructure is a cost in itself, so it should be more resource efficient than solar panels.

Most efficient solar power plants IRL are essentially solar boilers, except they use a working fluid other than water. This allows them to have much higher cost efficiency than photovoltaic solar panels, but requires them to be quite big.

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Re: Solar boiler?

Post by Kenyi »

A solar boiler wouldn't make the game winnable without pollution, because the steam engine will still continue to pollute the area. Ergo, it wouldn't be as effective as you think it would. It's still a nice thought though, not having to build a coal feeding line around your boilers and have the sun do all the work during day.

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Re: Solar boiler?

Post by filippe999 »

Kenyi wrote:A solar boiler wouldn't make the game winnable without pollution, because the steam engine will still continue to pollute the area. Ergo, it wouldn't be as effective as you think it would. It's still a nice thought though, not having to build a coal feeding line around your boilers and have the sun do all the work during day.
Steam engines generate pollution? they shouldn't as they are simply releasing vapour into the atmosphere, it should cause it to rain more often but i don't see how they can cause pollution

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Re: Solar boiler?

Post by ssilk »

They don't. The boilers produce the poliution!
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Re: Solar boiler?

Post by Kenyi »

ssilk wrote:They don't. The boilers produce the poliution!
You're absolutely right, I was just being an idiot, apologies.

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Re: Solar boiler?

Post by Zequez »

Garm wrote:err what do you mean "win the game w/o pollution" ? You can do that right now with solar panels....
But we should have more options. Solar panels are really inneficient space-wise.

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Re: Solar boiler?

Post by ssilk »

But you have so much of that in the game. And the steam engines/burners/pipes/pumps take also a lot of space.

In my opinion the current needed space is also somehow realistic. What makes sense, is to have larger panels, whit a bit more power per tile, but needs also more resources...
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Re: Solar boiler?

Post by Coolthulhu »

It makes sense to have large, low-density "farms" supply dense "city". It is both realistic and simple to implement.
It becomes rather boring later on, though. Solar panels are very simple and thus uninteresting.

It would be more interesting if it was done like it is in real life: a large surface covered with mirrors that don't actually produce any power, a focal point of all the mirrors that heats up a working fluid and a thermal engine that transforms that heat into useful work.

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Re: Solar boiler?

Post by ssilk »

I really like that. Cause that's the way an uranium boiler can also work. Or a fusion boiler: Something which is "heats a boiler thingy".
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Re: Solar boiler?

Post by filippe999 »

you could have an electric boiler that could be feed by a specialized solar/accumulator power. that way you're not generating pollution from power generation

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Re: Solar boiler?

Post by Elfface »

I'm not sure if I agree with that. From a realism point of view it's adding an uneeded step. Use solar energy to make electricity to boil water to turn a turbine to generate electricity.

If there were other things that required boilers, then an electric one would be worthwhile. But having one generate more electricity than it costs to run, with no additional resources, makes anything else worthless.

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Re: Solar boiler?

Post by Coolthulhu »

Electric boiler could be factorio's imitation of another real life concept: pumped-storage hydroelectricity.
Since storing energy chemically (in accumulators) is expensive, it is more economically viable to pump water up a river when there's excess energy available and run it down through a turbine when energy demand is high.

There's also hot water storage, but it's only used to produce electricity with solar boilers, not electric boilers.

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Re: Solar boiler?

Post by DrNoid »

That doesn't make an electrical boiler make any more sense.

You have electricity, so you use it to boil water... to make electricity?

As long as there is no other use for hot water, an electric boiler is useless... By definition it would require more electrical energy to boil the water than you get back from the steam engine. If it didn't you'd have a perpetuum mobile by just using the electricity from the steam engine boil the water for that steam engine.

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Re: Solar boiler?

Post by Coolthulhu »

In Factorio, you can produce energy from hot water all day, but from sun only when the sun is shining. With an electric boiler, you could heat up water in the day when you've got excess power and then use it up in the night. You can already store hot water from regular boilers to decrease fuel usage in the night. With electric boilers you could decrease it to 0.

Accumulators are not cost-effective, neither in factorio nor in real life. In factorio they are best used as short term buffers for smoothing out energy usage spikes.

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Re: Solar boiler?

Post by ssilk »

I see the only usage for example if the refinery works better, if you heat the oil/water you input. Heated sulfur-acid? Why not? Heated petroleum oil to gain more production speed for plastic bars? Why not? But to make hot water to create electrical energy...?

Hm. When it is a nice side effect why not? But not as only feature!
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Re: Solar boiler?

Post by Elfface »

So... a different type of accumulator? There might be an argument to be made for that, or the ability to 'tech up' existing ones with rarer materials or larger footprints, but that's still no reason to have an electric boiler. At least not yet.

Right now, the only use for a boiler is to heat water to power a power plant, generating electricity. If it took less power to run the needed boilers than the power plant put out, then it would always be the correct choice, as you wouldn't need to transport coal or other fuel, depend on inserters etc. If it took more power, then there'd be no point in using them at all.

If there were more things to boil, then an electric boiler might be worthwhile, even if it was less efficient than burner-boilers as you could set it up without needed to run fuel. But until then, I'm not seeing a need.

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Re: Solar boiler?

Post by Coolthulhu »

Elfface wrote:So... a different type of accumulator? There might be an argument to be made for that, or the ability to 'tech up' existing ones with rarer materials or larger footprints
Too boring. Accumulators are already very boring (plop and forget), but at the same time fulfill their purpose. Better accumulators would be pure redundancy. Worse accumulators could be helpful in limiting energy sharing between networks (shared accumulator - it's described on wiki).

Having an alternative method of storing energy could be interesting. It doesn't need to be electric boiler, it's just that electric boiler would be trivial and very quick to implement - all of its components are already in the game.

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