I have a nasty tendency to revise working systems to make them better. I’ll put a lot of time and energy into fixing something that isn’t broken, it’s just inefficient or badly implemented in some way. Part of my motivation for writing things up here is to justify that the work is really something I need to do.
The problem I’m attacking is that I’m running a lot of my system on oil extracted from oilsand and refined into nitro diesel now. That means I’m doing periodic mining runs for oilsand, and I don’t like doing that. My energy demands are only going to go up when I build things like the vacuum freezer and the second tier Electric Blast Furnace.
I have solar panel technology now, but the amount of power I can get from that is pretty small compared to my demand, so that’s not an answer.
I should get into oil drilling, but that’s going to require a lot of investment. To prospect for oil, I need a steady supply of explosives, and that means an oil -> explosives refining line and that’s complicated. Oil rigs also supply one of 4 products, depending on local reserves: heavy oil, oil, light oil, or natural gas. I only have refining set up for “regular” oil.
One thing that might help in the short run is restructuring how I approach generating electricity.
I’m not utilizing my renewable energy well. I have 3 sources of energy I’m converting into electricity. Steam from burning wood, ethanol from fermented saplings, and oil from oilsand. The automatic treefarm supplies the wood and saplings.
I’m under utilizing the wood and ethanol. The treefarm generates far more wood than I burn. The Large Steam Boiler only runs about half the time, and then waits for the steam tank to drain. My ethanol production used to be trivial, but I cross-bred trees until I got better ones, and now I have a huge, unused surplus of ethanol. Very little is connected to the ethanol pipes because the output used to be so sporadic.
The way I’m generating electricity now, the energy source (steam, ethanol, nitro diesel) gets piped to a turbine or generator, and used locally. If a particular machine group is hooked to nitro diesel, that’s where it gets is power. It can’t draw from steam or ethanol.
That’s going to get worse if I get into oil drilling. Heavy oil converts to heavy fuel, and light oil and natural gas convert to liquid propane. A surplus in liquid propane’s not going to help a shortage in machines running off nitro diesel.
I think I need a smart, central generator system that draws on energy sources in sequence. I.e. it uses ethanol before steam, and steam before nitro diesel. When I start making other fuels, it should switch between those easily, on demand. As far as the rest of the factory is concerned, it’s electricity, source unimportant, instead of the dedicated system I have now.
Central generation was impractical at the 32 volt tier, because power losses for distance were significant. Now that I have 128 volt tech and limited amounts of 512 volt tech, that shouldn’t be a problem.