More means of generating electricity

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Burner Inserter
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More means of generating electricity

Post by Phidi » Sat Jan 13, 2018 11:53 am

Hi everyone,

as you probably know, if you have ever built a big base, electricity is one of the biggest pollution producers. Right now we have boiler-based, solar and nuclear power. Now here are the problems with them:

Boiler-based: This way is good enough for the beginning. But there it produces tonnes of pollution, a single boiler has a pollution value of 27 (!) which is higher than any other machine. On top of that, the amount of fuel used by an end-game setup is ridiculous because a steam engine produces 900kW meaning you need several boiler-engine setups.

Solar: Solar power is the only source of power that doesn't produce pollution. The problems are obvious: In order to get a high power output the amount of space needed is gigantic. Not only for solar panels but also for accumulators. The resources for a high production rate are high too.

Nuclear: This new kind of power production does indeed produce tonnes of power, one reactor has an output of 40MW alone. The thing with this producer is that it requires lots of resources for a full efficiency setup which makes it a great mid-to-late game producer. One thing most people don't see with nuclear power is the pollution: Uranium fuel cell production uses sulfuric acid (oil processing), centrifuges, which takes a long time creating uranium producing more pollution, and (of course) mining drills. It can also get very complicated to have the correct ratios using pipes and pumps.

As you may see, a non-polluting early-to-mid game power production method is not available. In order to find one I analysed the global energy mix, the picture is below.
The global primary energy production
EnergyMixPrimary.png (30.07 KiB) Viewed 1154 times
Take a look at this and see how the energy is distributed. I'm now going thorugh here piece by piece:

Oil and coal: Coal power is the first kind of energy production you get, just put coal in a boiler. For oil you first need to research solid fuel and then put it in boilers.

Natural gas: This kind of power production is not in Factorio yet. How could this be done? Well, first natural gas 'patches' would need to be added, then a gas well would be needed to harvest the gas. Then it could directly be piped into a gas boiler or somehow be processed into solid fuel. The problem would be the addition of gas, gas wells and gas boilers. It could be researched parallel to oil processing.

Nuclear power: Already in the game.

Hydroelectricity/Water power: This would probably need the most efford to implement. First, water would need to be changed so that it flows. I don't know much about programming but I think it this would take a long time. The some kind of flowing water power plant was required. The amount of power produce then could be either static or variable, which takes even more effort to implement.

Renewables: There are some kinds of renewable energy, one of the most prominent is solar power, which we already have. Hydroelecticity can be found above. Wind power has been requested before so I won't write about this. So what's left? Biomass and geothermal energy. Biomass is literally putting wood in boilers to heat water. This can already be done. Geothermal energy is another topic. Adding it can be done in several ways: First, where does the heat come from? Either some kind of fissure or so as a kind of 'heat well' or a hidden 'ground heat factor'. A geothermal plant could then be placed on such a fissure or on the ground. It would either produce heat for heat pipes and exchangers or steam from water. The rest would be like nuclear or boiler-based power.

EXTRA! Solar thermal power: This one is a really cool one I think.
A solar thermal power plant
SolarThermalPower.jpg (126.27 KiB) Viewed 1152 times
This one is a solar thermal panel directly producing energy using a stirling engine generator. A stirling engine creates mehanical motion using heat which is really cool in my opinion. It would still only work during the day.
Another kind of solar thermal power production
SolarThermalPowerII.jpg (1.84 MiB) Viewed 1154 times
I think this one would be more suitable for Factorio. Using these curved mirrors the sunlight is reflected on the heat pipe above the mirrors. This heats a heat conductor liquid, either some kind of oil or molten salt. In the game this could work like a heat producer creating heat for heat exchangers, only during daytime of course. A heat storage could then be added for heat storage during the night.

Now you may ask how to realize this heat system because heat pipes, exchangers and turbines are unlocked with nuclear power. So to solve this problem a research like 'thermal power' or so could be added which unlocks heat pipes, heat exchangers and turbines.

So what do you think of this? Write your opinion in the comments!

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Re: More means of generating electricity

Post by QGamer » Sat Jan 20, 2018 4:05 am

Phidi wrote:...A heat storage could then be added for heat storage during the night...
Something similar already exists. Storing Steam in Storage Tanks will not lose any heat. So, make extra Steam with the heat exchangers and store the Steam in tanks until it's needed.

I like your ideas!

I'd LOVE to see a geothermal heating plant connects to the heat pipe system. I feel that heat pipes are kind of a one-trick pony, as in vanilla game they are ONLY used in a nuclear power plant.

The solar thermal power idea is cool, but I'd rather see a geothermal plant--simply to add variety to the game.

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Re: More means of generating electricity

Post by steinio » Sat Jan 20, 2018 8:22 am

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Re: More means of generating electricity

Post by AndreyKl » Thu Apr 04, 2019 9:32 am

Phidi wrote:
Sat Jan 13, 2018 11:53 am
Oil and coal: Coal power is the first kind of energy production you get, just put coal in a boiler. For oil you first need to research solid fuel and then put it in boilers.
This part is oversimplified.

1. Coal has energy density of ~24 MJ/kg (type dependent), processed fuel has density of ~46MJ/kg (or 32,7 MJ/l).
2. Coal is a natural mineral, it has impurities: 8-45% of coal mass is actually other minerals that either can't burn or will go to atmosphere when burned.
3. Liquid/gaseous fuels are much easier to filter and ration (e.x. mix with oxygen) which results in increased efficiency/less waste

Liquid fuel boilers or combustion based generators can be a good and reasonable mid-step in terms of energy production.

P.S. I'm of opinion that power system needs to be expanded a bit in general. Storage included, like huge, heavy wheal that is called 'kinetic energy storage' for tier 2 (much more storage, slight drain to maintain).

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