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Milestones and Trends in Renewable Energy

Hemos posted more than 8 years ago | from the slow-movement-forward dept.

Power 295

Sterling D. Allan writes "Some reflections and projections: The year 2005 saw large wind power installments come into a price range where they are now competitive with traditional grid prices. 2006 could see several solar designs do the same. Cold fusion was boosted with two, concurrent and independent sonofusion breakthroughs, though the stigma in the name is still deeply seated. 2006 could see floating wind turbines arrive on the commercial scene -- floating in the water like oil rigs, or floating high in the air, courtesy of helium. 2006 will see at least three companies offering after-market kits for adding Brown's gas (H and O from electrolysis, common ducted) to the air intake of vehicles for enhanced mileage and performance. Many other fuel economizing systems are slated to mature in the marketplace. Climate change evidence will continue to mount. It will yet be years before we harness lightning, but stable tornado systems prototypes that tap waste heat from power plants could arrive this coming year. Will 2006 be the year that clean energy becomes more the vogue than cool computer gadgets?"

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295 comments

First Post (-1, Offtopic)

Susannchen (942563) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378125)

GNAA announces a 2005 success; rings in the new year with rumors of a hai2u partnership
GNAA annonuces 2005 a success; rings in the new year with rumors of a hai2u partnership
Saturday December 31, 2005

Jmax (GNAP) - Miami, Florida, USA - GNAA leader timecop announced earlier today that "2005 was, overall, a success." In 2005 the GNAA found itself a new home, a myriad of new members, and some old returning members. Also, in 2005, GNAA won the war on blogs and jews.

The War on Blogs [wikipedia.org] is a front led by timecop against blogs and Jews. Blogs are a new form of spam used by politicians in order to gain votes and spread propaganda, and by denizens of the Internet (or "netizens") in order to gain fame and popularity. They are primarily used for self-promotion and other selfish uses. Jews are often the maintainer of blogs, as acts such as self-promotion and seeking fame are the priorities of Jews.

Other successful acts by the GNAA in 2005 include the obtaining of staff status on the IRC network freenode by ex-member Grog which led to panic and drama, and the trolling of avchat gooks. Said gooks were met by such lead trolls as depakoye, Staos, Jmax, and lenny. They were shocked to see the hideously obese body of depakote masturbating itself. depakote comments on the subject: "I find eating my own seed a way of sustenance. This is basically a secret passed down to me from ancient times, a method of nearly unlimited energy.

"I've gained massive amount of weight in my earlier years because of my theory of atomic compression. The weight of my body against my testes and grundle produces an effect which nearly mimics a fusion reaction, binding the atoms of the semen into a super-dense fluid, which is said to have magical powers on whomever it is blessed upon."

I, for one, was disgusted and amazed at the absolute idiotic genius of the beast that is depakote. The very sight of his large black body aroused me in such a manner that cannot be described, only felt. The nauseating stench of his semen caused me to ejaculate on sight. Needless to say, a Gay Nigger orgy occurred

2005 also proved to be a grim year for the GNAA; members l0de and Staos, and leader timecop, died. Lead technician l0de died in New Orleans during the Hurricane Katrina, which become the source of pain and suffering for many niggers in the area. Staos died of leukemia in mid-November. Leader timecop died a tragic death in late December when he was killed in a car accident while on his cell phone IRCing.

2006 will be a good year for the GNAA. The LastMeasure's new updates [nimp.org] will be tested in full; and rumors of a partnership with hai2u [hai2u.com] are rampant. Without giving out too much information, I can say with confidence that hai2u will be playing a larger part in GNAA business affairs.


About hai2u:
hai2u.com is a publicly held (NASDAQ: HAI2) Fortune 500 company, with operations based in Phoenix, AZ. Founded in 2004 by CEO Jim Blecenkley the company currently employs more than fifteen hundred diverse Americans, generating annual revenus in excess of approximately 5 billion USD.

About GNAA:
GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) is the first organization which gathers GAY NIGGERS from all over America and abroad for one common goal - being GAY NIGGERS.

Are you GAY [klerck.org] ?
Are you a NIGGER [mugshots.org] ?
Are you a GAY NIGGER [gay-sex-access.com] ?

If you answered "Yes" to all of the above questions, then GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) might be exactly what you've been looking for!
Join GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) today, and enjoy all the benefits of being a full-time GNAA member.
GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) is the fastest-growing GAY NIGGER community with THOUSANDS of members all over United States of America and the World! You, too, can be a part of GNAA if you join today!

Why not? It's quick and easy - only 3 simple steps!
  • First, you have to obtain a copy of GAYNIGGERS FROM OUTER SPACE THE MOVIE [imdb.com] and watch it. You can download the movie [idge.net] (~130mb) using BitTorrent.
  • Second, you need to succeed in posting a GNAA First Post [wikipedia.org] on slashdot.org [slashdot.org] , a popular "news for trolls" website.
  • Third, you need to join the official GNAA irc channel #GNAA on irc.gnaa.us, and apply for membership.
Talk to one of the ops or any of the other members in the channel to sign up today! Upon submitting your application, you will be required to submit links to your successful First Post, and you will be tested on your knowledge of GAYNIGGERS FROM OUTER SPACE.

If you are having trouble locating #GNAA, the official GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA irc channel, you might be on a wrong irc network. The correct network is NiggerNET, and you can connect to irc.gnaa.us as our official server. Follow this link [irc] if you are using an irc client such as mIRC.

If you have mod points and would like to support GNAA, please moderate this post up.

.________________________________________________.
| ______________________________________._a,____ | Press contact:
| _______a_._______a_______aj#0s_____aWY!400.___ | Gary Niger
| __ad#7!!*P____a.d#0a____#!-_#0i___.#!__W#0#___ | gary_niger@gnaa.us [mailto]
| _j#'_.00#,___4#dP_"#,__j#,__0#Wi___*00P!_"#L,_ | GNAA Corporate Headquarters
| _"#ga#9!01___"#01__40,_"4Lj#!_4#g_________"01_ | 143 Rolloffle Avenue
| ________"#,___*@`__-N#____`___-!^_____________ | Tarzana, California 91356
| _________#1__________?________________________ |
| _________j1___________________________________ | All other inquiries:
| ____a,___jk_GAY_NIGGER_ASSOCIATION_OF_AMERICA_ | Enid Al-Punjabi
| ____!4yaa#l___________________________________ | enid_indian@gnaa.us [mailto]
| ______-"!^____________________________________ | GNAA World Headquarters
` _______________________________________________' 160-0023 Japan Tokyo-to Shinjuku-ku Nishi-Shinjuku 3-20-2

Copyright (c) 2003-2006 Gay Nigger Association of America [www.gnaa.us]

OUTGOING (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14378126)

HELLO WORLD
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INCOMING (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14378134)

HELLO TROLL
03426 03426
HELLO TROLL
26432 26432 16821 16821 98630 98630 34547 34547 96690 96690
56753 56753 23470 23470 97121 97121 47466 47466 07173 07173
99706 99706 39544 39544 79933 79933 27711 27711 17298 17298
30295 30295 02491 02491 11439 11439 05744 05744 11194 11194
50215 50215 69627 69627 36540 36540 94267 94267 98023 98023
12843 12843 39802 39802 80730 80730 56769 56769 81955 81955
44103 44103 91949 91949 44139 44139 12834 12834 77100 77100
10097 10097 45396 45396 55700 55700 92747 92747 41184 41184
67930 67930 32554 32554 35198 35198 88503 88503 17012 17012
35334 35334 21424 21424 11111 11111 35910 35910 69833 69833
81819 81819 91622 91622 50517 50517 66692 66692 47756 47756
16174 16174 48028 48028 23836 23836 47780 47780 54963 54963
39406 39406 40313 40313 21273 21273 87241 87241 44678 44678
76377 76377 24693 24693 38852 38852 77982 77982 36885 36885
45877 45877 99425 99425 45521 45521 12200 12200 44885 44885
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68830 68830 84114 84114 00165 00165 38750 38750 50489 50489
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75994 75994 92139 92139 90786 90786 80093 80093 14737 14737
57692 57692 07596 07596 41928 41928 19408 19408 11821 11821
60220 60220 00463 00463 12126 12126 37321 37321 54798 54798
82638 82638 29912 29912 24602 24602 13891 13891 66980 66980
70303 70303 38726 38726 33521 33521 00742 00742 26174 26174
93488 93488 54702 54702 51087 51087 24718 24718 28736 28736
93084 93084 43268 43268 79019 79019 74439 74439 31259 31259
87881 87881 42587 42587 59448 59448 78770 78770 83708 83708
91862 91862 32200 32200 93287 93287 99690 99690 48706 48706
16307 16307 20381 20381 83540 83540 50745 50745 01391 01391
71497 71497 49742 49742 27701 27701 34740 34740 62747 62747
06303 06303 10108 10108 21482 21482 19444 19444 56724 56724
26781 26781 34066 34066 90659 90659 28798 28798 78875 78875
67178 67178 15752 15752 25163 25163 39098 39098 60957 60957
73472 73472 43432 43432 14067 14067 93895 93895 10318 10318
45163 45163 65949 65949 79973 79973 33515 33515 40160 40160
65586 65586 39477 39477 93711 93711 48173 48173 52703 52703
22931 22931 50213 50213 45673 45673 28119 28119 97786 97786
67650 67650 04611 04611 81733 81733 36129 36129 61719 61719
57085 57085 80649 80649 73664 73664 18947 18947 25661 25661
03427 03427 51747 51747 88553 88553 05059 05059 67248 67248
35865 35865 50367 50367 97757 97757 81177 81177 25871 25871
57475 57475 06643 06643 93856 93856 09018 09018 21981 21981
00305 00305 75164 75164 77087 77087 63389 63389 61212 61212
61143 61143 22662 22662 71883 71883 78275 78275 23117 23117
89815 89815 54883 54883 33761 33761 35364 35364 55441 55441
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63164 63164 00726 00726 30981 30981 34638 34638 62202 62202
53959 53959 18989 18989 57158 57158 26466 26466 60269 60269
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29629 29629 18013 18013 31081 31081 29836 29836 97085 97085
82049 82049 05672 05672 09315 09315 38256 38256 30577 30577
18371 18371 66508 66508 34530 34530 50144 50144 20172 20172
13726 13726 51195 51195 09050 09050 76497 76497 05139 05139
23487 23487 24020 24020
GOODBYE

Gadgets (3, Insightful)

edgr (781723) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378135)

Clean energy sources will become as cool as cool computer gadgets because they are themselves cool gagdets. I mean, come on, how cool is a wind generator floating in the air?

Re:Gadgets (2, Interesting)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378163)

I spent a good year designing and building a 2.5 KW wind generator, I wished NL wasn't so anal about 'horizon pollution' or I would have it up today.

mandatory viewing, MS vs IBM :) [ww.com]

Re:Gadgets (2)

bigman2003 (671309) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378251)

I think the author of the article is a little optimistic. In his paragraph about Tesla, he writes that public interest in 'the free energy genius' will increase because David Bowie is portraying him in a new movie. Then he said that the 150th anniversary of his (Tesla, not Bowie) birth will increase international awareness.

No...nobody cares about Tesla.

It's like the George Foreman Grill. Nobody knows who really invented the thing. But we all know that some ex-boxer turned nice-guy advertises it.

In America at least, they would be better off having the women of 'Desperate Housewives' do a pitch for renewable energy, that would generate a lot more interest than Tesla.

For those of you who do not live in America, please feel free to insult the United States and tell us how shallow we are. Then imagine that instead of the women from Desperate Housewives your own celebrities were used. Maybe Kylie Minouge, or Sophia Loren, or Bridget Bardot...or Jerry Lewis.

Re:Gadgets (1)

kamapuaa (555446) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378289)

or Jerry Lewis.

Zing! Maybe it's just me, but that "Jerry Lewis is popular in France" joke just never gets old. Keep the chuckles coming, bigman2003.

Cold Fusion Soon (1)

Zdzicho00 (912806) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378432)

For more information about Cold Fusion please check Lenr-Canr [lenr-canr.org] site.
It seems that it's bigger far beyond the "clean unexhaustible energy source" thing.
Sir Arthur C. Clark considers that as a modest introduction to "Nuclear Chemistry" - just see results obtained by Iwamura.
The international conference ICCF-12 [iccf12.org] was held in Japan recently.

Only if they are real (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14378711)

Except some of these "energy gadgets" are based on unconfirmed observations or are just plain frauds. Just at the bottom of page 1, there are 3 "magnetic generators" and a mention of cold fusion.

Yes. (4, Informative)

Zarhan (415465) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378137)

Finland and France are constructing new nuclear power plants - first new ones in Western Europe for many years, and China and Russia are also going to nuclear (with 40 pebble-bed reactors coming to China in the coming decades).

So yes, we're finally starting to see some clean energy.

Re:Yes. (5, Interesting)

Da Fokka (94074) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378193)

Pebble bed reactors are inherently safer and make efficient use of nuclear fuel. And they can be a lot smaller than conventional nuclear reactors, which makes them more attractive for smaller scale use.

However, PBRs have a very large drawback. It is nearly impossible to extract useful material from the spent fuel pebbles. Manufacturing these pebbles is not a trivial process, by the way.

Personally, I'd like to see more development of integral fast reactors. They are not modular in design, but these plants are designed with the entire fuel cycle in mind and can burn up nuclear fuel so efficiently that the waste degrades to background radiation in just 300 years.

Re:Yes. (4, Interesting)

pfdietz (33112) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378296)

It is nearly impossible to extract useful material from the spent fuel pebbles.

It's also impractical to extract useful materials from spent fuel rods of conventional reactors, unless you're running a weapons program and don't care about the cost. Pu from commercial reprocessed fuel is expensive to separate, and it has a negative value once you've separated it -- the extra hassle of designing your fuel fabrication plant to be able to handle Pu (which is much more radioactive than enriched uranium) dwarfs the cost of the uranium you save.

If you're concerned about uranium running out, the incremental approach will be to go to cycles with higher burnup and fuel efficiency. CANDU reactors are like this, particularly if used with thorium-uranium fuel elements.

Re:Yes. (1)

L1-A (67473) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378538)

The PUREX process is expensive and leaves one with other transuranics and the fission products as waste. However the pyrometallurgical process extracts all actinides and leaves mostly just fission products. The resultant fuel is a fast fuel. Furthermore by extracting actinides as a group, the proliferation threat is reduced. I believe this is a practical approach to the reprocessing of light water power reactor fuel.

By fully burning the actinides and disposing of only the fission products, the waste volume is significantly reduced as is the amount of decay heat produced (a primary limiting factor to waste storage).

An overview of this topic exists in the December 2005 issue of Scientific American beginning on page 84.

Re:Yes. (1)

pfdietz (33112) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378585)

The pyrometallurgical approach leaves the new fuel even more radioactive than PUREX, since it's optimized the keep actinidies out of the waste stream, not fission products out of the recycled actinide stream. So the objection to getting 'hot' material in your fuel fabrication plant applies even more here. I suspect robotic handwaving is applied to wish this problem away on the powerpoint slides.

The spot market price for uranium has been around $30/lb. this year. It would have to increase by an order of magnitude or more for breeding and reprocessing to make economic sense. Just store the cooled spent fuel, folks -- it's not like armored dry casks are dangerous or particularly expensive.

More about integral fast reactors (3, Interesting)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378347)

You don't mention the biggest benefit - the ability to use the spent fuel from the slow neutron reactors currently in use, with reprocessing. They are actually part of the solution to the mounds of nuclear waste we already have.

There is only one thing worries me about modern nuclear plants, and that is the access to cooling water. If you plan on using rivers or lakes, you need to be pretty sure that global warming will not dry them up.

Much as I like relatively low overhead technologies like wind, solar, bio-Diesel and bio-ethanol, I have to admit that I'm a convert to the idea of fast neutron sodium-cooled non-breeder plants. They even seem to be relatively terrorist-proof. And they would provide some well paid tech jobs that are not just in moving bits around.

Re:Yes. (5, Interesting)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378275)

And yet, strangely, in France and Germany, ecologists want to revert to coal plants to prevent nuclear pollution.

Re:Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14378399)

France has always been big on nuclear power plants. The country certainly does not want to install old tech fossil burners, just because a few pseudo science hippys are scaremongering about Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.

Re:Yes. (1)

Hasmanean (814562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378463)

No, the dangers from nuclear power are far worse than those from coal, global-warming aside. Nuclear plants have the potential to make a large portion of the landscape uninhabitable for tens of thousands of years, due to benign accident, sabotage, or outright terrorist attack. Nobody can design a plant that can be permanently safe in the face of a determined military strike, or any such terrorist attack. Even if you could, your neighbour down the road will not hold to your higher standards (try telling him "I'm ready for nuclear power, but you are not.") In the case of an accident at a plant, who knows what the effects would be for people living there. Would it be mass evacuations to another continent, or what? Nuclear power is best left alone. unless the plants are built in the middle of the Sahara desert. (Incidentally, that is also where the worlds 3rd largest uranium deposits are to be found, in Niger. Convenient enough for everyone--no transport of nuclear waste, and a safe place to put it back after it is done. Nature has provided us with a simple way forward--a large deserted wasteland to put the nuclear plants in, with copious solar energy resources nearby for an alternative power source when feasible, and a central location in the middle of the old world.) Energy central. Hasan

Re:Yes. (2, Insightful)

Da Fokka (94074) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378540)

Chernobyl killed about 3000 people, that about 10% of the amount of mine workers that die in China each year. And Chernobyl was a very unsafe design with unsafe procedures. Modern nuclear power plants are inherently safe - if the cooling fails, the nuclear core will stay at a resting temperature until started up again.

In the face of a nuclear attack a nuclear power plant is way safer than say, a refinery.

Wait a sec. (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378693)

China loses 30000 mine workers a year? You are implying that they died from mining accidents or job-related sickness. Where do you have accurate docs for that?

Don't get me wrong. I am a fan of nukes, but your numbers sound way out of line.

America (2, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378500)

It pissed me off when I saw that GWB was giving the oil industry HUGE tax breaks while cutting alternative energy research. The two industries that need a jump start are nuclear and alternative. As it is, California wants to build huge coal plants in eastern states and then ship the electricity back. Worse, California is not insisting on tight environmental laws be applied. I would rather that America offer huge tax incentives to start building nukes, wind, and solar.

no mention of bio-diesel (3, Informative)

User 956 (568564) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378149)

They didn't mention bio-diesel [biodiesel.org] that I could see. Though I have to admit, that's not really a technology I'm rooting for. I'm not sure if I could stomach a $50,000 mercedes that smells like french fries.

Re:no mention of bio-diesel (2, Insightful)

NardofDoom (821951) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378173)

Would it be better if your $50,000 Mercedes smelled like a truck stop?

Re:no mention of bio-diesel (2, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378192)

that depends. what kind of truck stop [conservativenews.org] are we talking about?

Re:no mention of bio-diesel (2, Interesting)

pfdietz (33112) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378312)

Bio-diesel, if produced in large enough quantities to be significant, would be an ecological disaster. Much better to let the enormous areas of land that would be needed lay fallow or remain in a wild state.

To satisfy ultra-low sulfur requirements, Fischer-Tropsch diesel makes more sense. Converting stranded natural gas capacity around the world to FT diesel production would add 4 million barrels of oil per day equivalent liquid fuel production.

why? (2, Informative)

zogger (617870) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378511)

Why would it be a "disaster"? Really, expound on this a bit. All the proposed methods and techniques and crops are "wrong"? It is not useful to use the sun and photosynthesis (our only practical fusion power at this point) to make biodiesel and other bio-derived fuels? What's wrong with using some of the huge quantities of biowaste produced every year to make fuel? What's wrong with putting more farmers to work and expanding crops? Using permaculture and low till ag techniques combined with some solar and perennial and self seeding annual crops, seems to me it could be quite a viable alternative, plus tend to spread out the jobs and money involved in the whole energy business, rather than have it remain in the hands of the current cartels. It's somehow wrong for joe third world farmer who's nation has little to no natural oil in the ground to also help grow the fuel his nation needs, rather than exporting precious hard currency to go purchase expensive petroleum on the world market? It's wrong for a first world farmer to expand his operations and produce fuel as well as food crops? Why?

Sorry, overall I would have to completely disagree, bio derived fuels are here now and they work ( I've made and used ethanol fuel before, incredibly easy), they aren't energy sinks, you get a gain with the newer processes, they use a closed carbon cycle that is neutral, unlike petroleum from the ground or liquid fuels derived from coal, they require very little if any infrastructure changes for either the vehicles or the fuel delivery process to the end user, (unlike the "hydrogen" schemes currently being pushed where most everything has to change radically and expensively) and there are a raft of techniques and crops out there that could be used, something for every climate and level of technology around the planet basically. You can take most any vehicle already out there and run it on either ethanol or biodiesel with very little changes, and the fuel stations are already set-up to handle and dispense liquid fuels into "normal" fuel tanks. It's an outstanding energy transition option while we are waiting for the universal backyard Mr. Fusion reactor and the pie in the sky "hydrogen economy" which is still a long ways off.

Anyway, the point is moot, it's *being done now on a large scale* all over the world and we aren't seeing much if any "disasters" associated with it.

Re:why? (3, Informative)

pfdietz (33112) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378732)

Why would it be a "disaster"? Really, expound on this a bit. All the proposed methods and techniques and crops are "wrong"?

Because it would cause very large areas to be replaced with unnatural monocultures instead of natural ecosystems. The underlying cause is the great inefficiency of photosynthetic energy conversion.

Biodiesel is fine as a boutique-scale touchy-feely fashion statement for those who don't think too much about what they are actually proposing. As a real solution to the problem of producing significant amounts of liquid fuel, it's a ghastly crime against nature.

What's wrong with using some of the huge quantities of biowaste produced every year to make fuel?

Well, aside from the fact that if organic waste is not recycled into the soil it can cause the soil to degrade, the biggest problem is that even if all of it were converted to fuel, it would not produce more than a small faction of fuel demand. US refineries produced about 125 billion gallons of gasoline in 2003; using all US corn stover (for example) for cellulosic alcohol production would produce maybe 12 billion gallons. And that's just gasoline, which accounts for just a third of the output of an oil refinery.

Re:no mention of bio-diesel (1)

Yartrebo (690383) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378726)

Have you looked at natural gas prices in the US and in the UK. Both are running over $10/million BTU. The developed world is nearly out of their natural gas reserves worldwide production is likely to peak within two decades.

Those 4 Mbpd of stranged gas are very much needed in the form of gas and the market is likely to outbid what gas to liquid producers are hoping to pay for their gas. Right now in the USA, the margin is in favor of liquids to gas as the gas actually sells for more than crude oil. With US and European production expected to steadily drop over the coming years and decades, we will need all the LNG we can get.

On the economical (but not an ecological) side, coal is a more likely feedstock because of its price. It is also one of the cleaner ways to use coal, with CO2 being the only substantial emission.

Re:no mention of bio-diesel (1)

pfdietz (33112) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378761)

The price of natural gas is highly variable across the world (by more than a factor of ten) so the pricess in the US or UK are irrelevant. Natural gas, unlike petroleum, is difficult to transport. OF COURSE you wouldn't use US or UK natural gas to make FT diesel! You'd use Nigerian natural gas that's being flared off, or Siberian gas, or gas in Bangladesh, or other such places. These places don't have pipelines that can deliver the gas to markets paying those high prices -- that's what 'stranded' means.

The competitor with FT diesel for stranded gas is cryogenic liquefaction and transport. The cost of this has come down, but it's still not cheap. FT diesel does not require refrigeration or dedicated infrastructure on the receiving end, nor does it require long term contracts.

OT, but I'm wondering about the 'nonsense' posts. (0)

SlashTon (871960) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378155)

My apologies for going wildly off topic, but what's with the spammy, weird posts that appear very quickly after a new story is posted? Are there really bots out there checking for new topics and barfing their spam all over them? If they were advertisements or "click me!" links, I could understand, but some of them seem to be plain nonsense.

Re:OT, but I'm wondering about the 'nonsense' post (1)

Susannchen (942563) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378216)

Are you nuts? There is no offtopic post at the beginning except this hello world 34856347857834 shit.

Re:OT, but I'm wondering about the 'nonsense' post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14378409)

There's a GNAA post up there too. Read at -1 if you're going to comment on trolling.

Until It Hurts (4, Insightful)

ehaggis (879721) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378160)

Until it hurts, U.S. consumers will not switch anything. The market will drive change. Gas prices are currently inconvenient but it is not something that keeps people from getting to work. When prices are prohibitive, maybe we will see changes.

U.S. citizens must also get out of the "grid" mentality. Electricty on site, not relying on the grid is a shifting in thinking for most. Lori Ryker addresses this in her book, "Off the Grid" [amazon.com]

Re:Until It Hurts (1)

NardofDoom (821951) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378182)

I heard on Marketplace this morning that new sulphur regulations are going to push gas prices up by about 60 cents/gallon.

I totally agree about the 'grid' mentality. But a grid can be a good thing. If systems were standardized and people had home generators (PV or hydro or something), then electricity could flow out of a house as easily as it flows into a house.

Re:Until It Hurts (2, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378202)

The market is good at eventually seeking the best answers, however the market cannot handle very large shocks very quickly(obviously nothing can handle huge shocks perfectly but) the problem is, oil is so ingrained in our current economy it's going to take the market a long while to find adequate substitutes for all its uses without an outside shove. I know that I personally would probably starve to death if tomorrow I woke up and all the oil supplies were cut off. Oil is essential in not only the production of food, but perhaps more importantly, the distrubution of food to everyone who isn't a farmer. While the market should decide the winner(s) of the alternative energy battle, I applaud both government and non-government actions in researching alternative fuels even if they are not cost effective right away.

Re:Until It Hurts (1)

thryllkill (52874) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378249)

"oil is so ingrained in our current economy it's going to take the market a long while to find adequate substitutes for all its uses without an outside shove."

Or at least as long as it takes the oil companies to figure out how to package and sell these new energy sources to the consumer.

Re:Until It Hurts (3, Interesting)

syphax (189065) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378513)


I think markets are good things, but I remember learning about external costs and market failure in like week 3 of microeconomics class.

Energy markets have HUGE externalities (national security, environmental impacts, etc.), so government involvement is actually necessary to achieve the 'right' solutions. Of course, that leads to the topic of governments' track record at successfully correcting externalities and market failure...

Your sig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14378631)

Please quit refering to americans as USians. If you wish to be diminutive, then how about yankees, yanks, gringos (not quite right, but ...), howle, etc. But USians??? It sucks.

Re:Until It Hurts (3, Insightful)

Toby The Economist (811138) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378271)

The problem is that the deadly cost of using oil and gas is globally distributed.

It is one of the roles of the State to ensure the people who ought to bear a cost *do* bear a cost.

In this case, carbon taxes would be the solution.

However, this requires willpower on the part of the State.

When this is lacking, the people who ought to bear a cost do not and as such the fuel they are using is cheaper than it ought to be and so has a competitive advantage in the market.

Re:Until It Hurts (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378526)

Until it hurts, U.S. consumers will not switch anything.

There are two responses the U.S. government may take to tightening oil supplies: one is to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in energy research, perhaps setting an idealistic, Kennedy-esque goal of full reliance on cheap, clean renewable energy by 2025.

The other is to do everything in its power to suck the very last drop of the black stuff out of the ground, no matter who or what happens to be living on that ground at the time, and no matter what the human or environmental cost of propping up a short-term solution to a long-term problem.

One of these solutions is essentially American in character: innovative, daring and creative. The other is profoundly un-American, and far more expensive.

One can only hope that 2006 will be the year the United States government returns to the path that reflects fundamental American values.

Re:Until It Hurts (1)

mrkurt (613936) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378727)

The other thing that could drive the adoption of renewable energy sources is the issue of national security and our dependence on oil from the Middle East. The situation with Russian gas and Eastern Europe is a prime example of the dangers of dependence upon energy sources from states that might seek to use these as weapons against their political adversaries. We need to seek renewable energy sources, for the health of our economy and for our own security, not to be brought to our knees by would-be despots.

Of course, the Bush Administration has done nothing about this issue except say "Drill in ANWR!", ignoring the fact that the supplies there and anywhere else we find oil or gas will eventually run out, and we may well be left in the same situation, of being dependent on supplies from overseas. If there is ever a time to start a major push toward renewable energy sources, it is now.

Question for all greens (3, Interesting)

sparks (7204) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378179)

Let's assume that wind, wave, solar, and even cold fusion will be able to provide all our energy needs - in fifty year's time. (I personally don't think that will be the case, but - hey.)

How should we generate electricity until that happens? Let's assume that energy demand will not decline any time soon, but rather will continue to rise.

Coal?
Oil?
Natural gas?
Nuclear?

Which of these is the least-worst to you?

Re:Question for all greens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14378258)

[quote]Which of these is the least-worst to you?[/quote]

I remember hearing a lecture about gravitational waves, and a bunch of whacko professors in Germany that plan to send some monstrocity into space to measure them. They were talking about these waves as huge ripples in the structure of space, and so on (in that we're-so-close-to-god-we-can-smell-his-deodorant expressions that physicists tend to adopt when talking about stuff like that).

Then I thought, how cool would it be if we could "surf" these waves, i.e. harness them to generate energy. This I imagine would be the first type of energy used that does not come from the sun.

Re:Question for all greens (4, Insightful)

Claire-plus-plus (786407) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378285)

Oil won't last, cheap enough to use for power generation, for 50 years.

Coal is too damed poluting

Nuclear is not that easy to set up and then switch off again, that is... the nuclear waste will always be there and after switching off the reactor it will stay hot for years.

If I had to use one of the current technologies that provides most of our power (by no means all, Aussieland has quite a bit of wind power and solar these days) I would use natural gas, there's more of it than there is oil and it burns cleaner than coal.

Oh and by the way, I think if we can't find renewable power in 50 years we are screwed. Saying "I don't think that will be the case" won't help.

Re:Question for all greens (1)

Imsdal (930595) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378404)

I would like to propose that the marketing genius who came up with the term "natural gas" be awarded a lifetime achievement award. That said, I think we should all stop using that BS term.

I suggest "natural oil" for oil and "fossil gas" for natural gas instead.

Re:Question for all greens (1)

Claire-plus-plus (786407) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378424)

Natural gas is natural, in that it comes straight from the ground. They called it that to distinguish it from LPG (liquid petroleum gas) that is made from oil.

Re:Question for all greens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14378477)

If they just wanted to distinguish that they should have labeled it 'crude gas'. Calling it natural may have been done before anyone considered the buzzword possibilities, but it sure hasn't hurt its image any.

Nuclear is by far the most Reasonable option (1)

SC00813D03S (942698) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378468)

It has the lowest energy cost, even with the proper storage of spent material. Coal is 2nd, if it is clean, which would make it expensive, and Oil and Natural Gas come last but only they continue to come up with tons of new supplies, which is not a fargone conclusion at present. hard to be optimistic about Natural Gases with the present world wide price jump in prices; just ask the Ukrainians!

As far as switching off Nuclear, you don't need to "switch off" anything. With the PBR design, you just replace the pebbles and then all you have to do is store the pebbles untill we can afford to reprocess them(10-20 years), certainly not 10,000 years like some FUDsters would have you believe. This is the time of Solutions after all, what else are all those people in white lab coats working on?

  All the other Nuclear technologies are not nearly as safe, certainly not safe enough to put close to the urban centers that would benefit the most nor safe enough to have nuclear powered farms, oil rigs, clean coal to fuel facilities and High Energy manufacturing. If a PBR plant needs to be decommisioned, it is simply a matter of transferring the still viable pebbles to other reacctors and then disassmebling like any other Industrial Equipment. Certainly not an impossilbe task for the government that succesfully landed that tin foil wrapped contraption on the moon some 35 years ago.

Want to bring manufacturing back to America? Can't do it without the discounted energy only Nuclear provides. Kept the French from falling into anarchy for many decades now, couldn't do any worse for Americans.

Re:Question for all greens (2, Insightful)

Da Fokka (94074) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378523)

You bring up a very valid point. We'll be stuck with fossile fuels for a long time anyway, so research into CO2 sequestration is also very important.

Re:Question for all greens (1)

nathanh (1214) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378698)

Coal? Oil? Natural gas? Nuclear? Which of these is the least-worst to you?

Natural gas, followed by nuclear fission (nuclear fusion being an unknown), followed by oil, with coal being the least preferred. There are many reasons to choose natural gas.

Many houses in developed countries already have natural gas piped directly to their homes. For homes without piped natural gas there is well developed bottle technology which is only slightly more expensive than piped gas. The transportation and storage of natural gas in tankers and bottles is therefore a solved problem, with known costs and known dangers. Firemen are already trained to deal with natural gas fires and most people are aware of the dangers of sparks and flames near a gas leak (natural gas is conveniently laced with an odour so you can detect leaks).

Natural gas is easily and very efficiently converted to heat for the purposes of cooking, hot water and home heating. Electricity is actually a very poor method to create heat; although electric heaters are themselves very efficient the distribution of electricity is not efficient and power plants aren't efficient so the overall energy cycle is not efficient. In Australia, where natural gas is very cheap compared to electricity, many homes use natural gas for purely economic reasons. It makes much more sense to pipe natural gas to a home for heating than it does to convert any fuel into electricity (at a loss), distribute the electricity to the homes (at a loss), then convert the electricity into heat. The energy losses required to distribute natural gas are relatively insignificant.

One problem with a centralised power source - ie, nuclear fission with existing technology - is that there is a heavy reliance on a complex infrastructure; the electricity grid. This infrastructure is expensive to build and maintain and the central power plant is a catastrophic point of failure (a single power plant going offline affects 10s of 1000s of homes). Natural gas is to a large extent already decentralised; bottles mean you can operate "off the grid" and even for piped gas there are fewer homes supplied per reserve. This makes a natural gas energy system more resilient to damage. It is certainly a safer bet than the fragile centralised model provided by large-scale power plants.

Cars can easily be converted to run off compressed natural gas instead of petrol. In Australia we have a high proportion of cars that use liquid petroleum gas and it is common to find LPG bowsers at petrol stations in all capital cities. In my own city the majority of taxis have been converted to LPG for economic reasons; nearly any car can be converted to LPG for a few thousand dollars and LPG is so much cheaper than petrol that the taxi pays for the conversion within a year (or so I've been told when chatting with the taxi drivers). Now although LPG and CNG aren't the same thing (not even close) the popularity of LPG does prove that compressed gas power for cars is possible, the converted cars are acceptably safe, the infrastructure is feasible, the entire system is economical, and so CNG is likely to be a feasible solution for vehicular power.

Natural gas is an exceptionally clean burning fuel, basically producing not much more than CO2 and H20. There are some impurities (eg, sulphur, butane) but even then the pollutants produced pale into insignificance compared to the pollutants produced by burning petrol or, even worse, diesel. I'm struggling to remember the exact formulae (it's been years since I studied this) but I recall natural gas produced less than 10% of the pollutants when compared to petrol. Also the pollution produced by gas, oil and coal are nothing compared with the negative social stigma associated with nuclear pollution, no matter what the facts are regarding nuclear fission's actual contribution to pollution. For right or for wrong, nuclear power is socially unacceptable because of perceived problems with nuclear waste, and no amount of logic is able to sway the public fear of nuclear disaster.

Nuclear fission has an interesting side-problem that is largely political in nature. Nuclear power plants can be used to create extremely dangerous weapons materials (aka plutonium). Although this isn't a scientific or environmental argument against nuclear power, it is a strong argument nonetheless. The recent news about Iran wanting nuclear power and North Korea demonstrating their nuclear power capabilities should make everybody wary of the idea of using nuclear power to meet global energy demands.

Finally, it is possible to create natural gas from renewable sources (most interestingly, it can be extracted almost for free from land fill). Unfortunately right now the most economical source of natural gas is from fossil fuels which is not renewable. However none of the fuels you listed are economically renewable; for all practical purposes all four fuels are non-renewable. The benefit of natural gas is that it would be fairly easy to convert from non-renewable to renewable energy simply by changing the source of natural gas from natural deposits to artificially manufactured natural gas (perhaps biogas).

I hope that explains why I think natural gas is the best short-term solution. The best long-term solution is a combination of renewable sources (eg, wind power, solar heating) combined with a reduction in energy usage. For example, I have managed to halve the heating bills for my house by making simple modifications to curtains, door seals and using water saving shower heads. I have managed to quarter my lighting bills by using energy efficient globes. I have similarly started using energy efficient computers - my computer rack which drew 1.2kW last year draws a mere 100W today with no loss in functionality - and energy efficient appliances (eg, microwave your vegetables instead of boiling them in a pot on the stove). If I could reduce my transport requirements - perhaps by telecommuting or working closer to home - I would further reduce my energy footprint. All of my energy comes from renewable sources; I subscribe to a local Greenchoice program, so although I share the grid with non-renewable power plants, 100% of the money I spend is funding the renewable sources. It costs a small amount more than electricity from coal but it's not significant (about $80/year).

There's no need to wait for new technology in order to be green, or at least greener. The future is already here; you just have to embrace it.

Climate Change (4, Funny)

Kohath (38547) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378181)

Climate change evidence will continue to mount.

Yes. In fact, depending on where you are today, it's colder or warmer, wetter or dryer, brighter or darker, calmer or stormier than normal. Some places are even foggy. It's all evidence of climate change.

What else could it be? Can we afford to wait to find out?

Stop commerce now. Before the weather gets any less precisely normal.

+1 parent so funny! (2, Insightful)

kamapuaa (555446) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378274)

He sticks his head in the sand, in the most hilarious of fashions!

Climate Change-Denial, No change. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14378466)

"Stop commerce now. Before the weather gets any less precisely normal."

It's easy to poke fun, as long as all the bad things happen to the other guy.

Re:Climate Change (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14378490)

Yeah, because developing new industries like wind and solar that could potentially fuel the world's energy needs is really bad for commerce. Put your Michael Chrichton down please.

Re:Climate Change (1)

syphax (189065) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378562)

Stop commerce now. Before the weather gets any less precisely normal.

Err, my false dilemma detector just went off (it goes off a lot these days, esp. when I hear that we have to have illegal wiretaps OR surrender to the terrorists).

Yeah, weather is variable. Climate is too. But CO2 concentrations are very high by historic standards and rising, and so are temperatures (don't even start with the satellite record). The fact that CO2 traps heat is not questioned. So I missed the part that lets us not be concerned about any of this?

Re:Climate Change (3, Informative)

LarsWestergren (9033) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378584)

You are describing weather, and weather changes, correct. But when you measure weather over time, you get a climate average, and that average is shifting:

CBS [cbsnews.com] : "The year 2005, the World Wildlife Fund said, is shaping up as the worst for extreme weather, with the hottest temperatures, most Arctic melting, worst Atlantic hurricane season and warmest Caribbean waters.

It's also been the driest year in decades in the Amazon, where a drought may surpass anything in the past century, said the report by international environmental group. "

BBC: "The area covered by sea ice in the Arctic has shrunk for a fourth consecutive year, according to new data released by US scientists. [bbc.co.uk]

They say that this month sees the lowest extent of ice cover for more than a century.

The Arctic climate varies naturally, but the researchers conclude that human-induced global warming is at least partially responsible. "

Sadly, not in the UK (0)

mustafap (452510) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378224)

It seems that our government is preparing to build reactors again, as the current batch are reaching end of life.

I feel rather ashamed to be in the generation that saw what a f**king mess we made of things, and then decided to go do some more. God help the next generation.

Re:Sadly, not in the UK (2, Insightful)

JackDW (904211) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378259)

It seems that our government is preparing to build reactors again,

But nuclear reactors are the only practical alternative to oil/natural gas-fired power stations. Which is the cleaner fuel, again? We made a mess because we didn't build enough reactors: we relied too heavily on dirty fossil fuels.

Re:Sadly, not in the UK (1)

Claire-plus-plus (786407) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378313)

"Only practical alternative"? I think it can be established that there are plenty of practical renewable sources of power. Nuclear is not all that clean really, that waste has to go somewhere. And it's not sustainable or renewable. There is a finite quantity of uranium in the planet. You're not getting ours in Australia either. Our biggest mine was endangering a national park, so we closed it down. Yay us.

Re:Sadly, not in the UK (1)

pfdietz (33112) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378361)

I think it can be established that there are plenty of practical renewable sources of power.

I think the UK government looked at them, and concluded that, no, they would not do the job. Solar isn't practical, particularly in the UK. Wave power is an engineering joke. Geothermal is too expensive. Hydro is at its limits. Biomass is inadequate. This leaves wind. Wind is fine if you are subsidized, don't care about aesthetics or littering the countryside with bird fragments, and have enough of other kinds of power to level the load when the wind isn't blowing.

They're going to build more reactors, or they're going to restart coal mining, or they're going to shiver in the dark. Or, I guess they could torpedo the economy with massive energy price increases, but somehow I don't see any rational politician doing that for long.

Re:Sadly, not in the UK (1)

JackDW (904211) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378421)

They're going to build more reactors, or they're going to restart coal mining, or they're going to shiver in the dark.

Quite. I find it ironic that environmentalists have actually made the environment worse by protesting against nuclear power: they only succeeded in forcing more coal, oil and gas-fired power stations to be built instead. Because of their misperception of the greater evil, we have burned more fossil fuels and produced more CO2. And now we have to build more nuclear power stations anyway, for economic reasons. D'oh!

Re:Sadly, not in the UK (1)

Gildersleeve (932517) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378627)

...They're going to build more reactors, or they're going to restart coal mining, or they're going to shiver in the dark...

With the way politics currently work here, what is most likely to happen is that there will be masses of cash spent on inquiries, 'public consultations' and enviromental impact assessments, but nothing actually done about the problem as long as we can continue to buy enough surplus nuclear power from the French.

Re:Sadly, not in the UK (1)

MayorNagin (913831) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378337)

The problems with nuclear in the UK are: - different designs were used for each station instead of (cheaper) uniformity - interest rates rose, making it harder to get a return on any large construction work - we still don't have fast reactors and a closed fuel cycle (so Plute is not a valuable product) - some silly engineering failures have kept down power output - and the new generation of stations we should have had in the 1990s has not been built (except Sizewell C) - plus it appears supervision of reprocessing plant needs to be tighter

Re:Sadly, not in the UK (1)

pfdietz (33112) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378377)

Reprocessing makes no economic sense at current uranium prices. It's cheaper to just let the spent fuel sit in shielded storage in case this changes in the future.

"Green" Power isn't everything (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378338)

I just talked with my father yesterday, and he let me know that the local power company has decided against expanding their wind turbines, as there's only usable wind 30% of the time, and the maintenance costs make the cost of it's electricity exceed that of other power sources.

At least nuclear power is an on demand system which doesn't produce pollution, but containable waste. Combining breeding reactors and an intelligent waste management system* would fix problems so that even the flawed yucca mountain repository would be sufficient.

*Our current system isn't intelligent.

Re:"Green" Power isn't everything (1)

pfdietz (33112) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378444)

only usable wind 30% of the time

This is one of the flaws of wind power -- the wind doesn't blow all the time, and (worse) you can't schedule the outages. This means the power is not 'dispatchable', which reduces the value of the power to the utility. Simplistically, since the utility needs to have backup capacity available, wind only displaces fuel costs, not capital costs. This is fine if it's displacing natural gas (if you were foolish enough to build too many gas-fired plants and then watched the price of gas skyrocket), but sucks if it displaces coal or nuclear, which have very low fuel costs.

You might think energy storage would save you, but storage is also expensive, so you end up adding more capital costs that way.

Re:"Green" Power isn't everything (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378595)

No, but where wind may be very useful would be to provide power to convert fuels. One that sounds interesting is to convert CO2->CH4. By using CO2 from the air, we would be carbon neutral.

Not this year (4, Funny)

dheltzel (558802) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378225)

Will 2006 be the year that clean energy becomes more the vogue than cool computer gadgets?"

No, no, no!
2006 will be the year that Linux takes over the desktop, 2007 will be the year that Duke Nukem Forever is released and 2008 will be the year that clean energy comes into vogue!

Also, I think somewhere in there they discover the cure to the common cold, but that part of my crystal ball is still a bit fuzzy (probably due to that cheap antenna from Walmart).

Oil became expensive, not wind became cheaper (4, Insightful)

Toby The Economist (811138) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378257)

> The year 2005 saw large wind power installments come into a price range where they
> are now competitive with traditional grid prices.

Incorrect.

The year 2005 saw oil come into a price range where it competes with wind.

Re:Oil became expensive, not wind became cheaper (1)

venekamp (445124) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378458)

You're almost correct. Probably wind installments have become somewhat cheaper and yes oil has become more expensive. However oil is not the only source of energy for power plants. There are also nuclear power plants and those prices are not correlated to oil. Same goes for coal and hydro plants. Natural gas on the other hand does follow the oil price, but is still cheaper then oil. In other words, when the oil price doubles, the power price does not.

So, I think wind has become cheaper and at the same time the "regular" energy price has gone up to a level where they can compete now.

Re:Oil became expensive, not wind became cheaper (2, Informative)

syphax (189065) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378493)

Incorrect.

Oil is not a dominant driver of the price of electricity. In 2004, the US got 3% of its electricity from oil, less than, say, conventional hydro, and not a whole lot more than non-hydro renewables (see here [doe.gov] ). Natural gas, on the other hand, was responsible for 18% (coal was 50%).

The cost of wind power has been steadily declining. Depending on the data you look at, it can be very competitive with traditional sources of electricity. In fact, because the marginal cost of producing electricity from wind is (nearly) zero, adding wind power capacity can *lower* electrical rates, because a wind farm operator can usually be the low bidder on the spot markets, lowering the final price (I'm speaking slightly out of my ass here, but the general idea is correct). Conventional generators are always bound by fuel prices for their marginal costs.

Re:Oil became expensive, not wind became cheaper (2, Informative)

castoridae (453809) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378603)

It gets hairier - wind is general a cent or two higher per kWH than conventional, but that includes tax credits (and I'm discussing *only* the US here - I have no idea what the picture looks like in other countries). But then conventional power is subsidized too, it's just better-hidden in the tax structure.

I looked into raising money and building a wind farm in the Western US over the last year, and I discovered a few things:

1. No utility is interested in buying "green power" unless they are mandated to by their state government.
2. Transmission is the real bottleneck; the costs of the required assessments are so high, that it's not practical to build a small (read ~1 MW) wind farm - you really need to think more like 100MW (=>$100M) to make this cost effective.
3. Home-sized wind turbines generate at considerably more cost than grid power - even with the credits. Practical only for off-grid properties, otherwise it's simply a philosophy thing, but not an economically-driven decision.

I am eagerly watching & waiting for the "market" to ease up and make smaller-time investments & projects possible.

UK you have the choice (1)

blackest_k (761565) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378569)

in the UK NPower has a program called juice
basically if you signup for this
All your electricity is generated by renewable energy sources.

Cost wise its exactly the same as non-renewable sources.

So if you want to be part of the solution choose a supplier that gives you this option.

The more people that sign up the more investment npower has to make to meet the demand simple really.

Re:Oil became expensive, not wind became cheaper (1)

daeviltwin (692894) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378639)

Well Toby the economist. The DOE and many other places say that only about 3% of electricty comes from oil. http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/st_profil es/us/fig3.html [doe.gov]

Since you are an economist you MUST have some numbers to back your statement up. So how is it at that oil, which is barely used in electricty is solely responsible for making windpower so much more cost effective?

You do have facts right? Or are you one of those republican econimists that pulls stuff out of his ass?

Wind Farms (4, Funny)

iBod (534920) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378280)

Beats me why so many people seem to keen to build wind farms [bwea.com] .

Surely, there is too much wind in the world already (witness recent events) and farming more of the damn stuff seems like utter lunacy to me.

Anyhow, couldn't we just import some foreign wind from some windy place?

Re:Wind Farms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14378413)

I break wind whenever i go to Taco Bell. Maybe they'll become an energy company.

Re:Wind Farms (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378651)

We can send you a big chunk of washington dc. Lots of wind and nothing else there.

A few grains of skepticism (1)

Starker_Kull (896770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378290)

One should keep an open mind, but not so open your brain falls out.* I think some of the folks doing alternative energy research really need to keep this thought in mind a bit more. RTFA and see what I mean.

Will we need to replace oil and its fossil fuel cousins at some point? Definitely.
In our lifetimes? If we are talking strictly about oil, probably. Coal? Probably not.
Does such a substitute exist that a) Can be stored, b) Can be transported, c) Can be used, and d) Is energy positive (meaning we get more energy out of it than we put in to extract/grow/create it) in our current engines, machinery and infrastructure? No.
Is one close? No.

Can we fund every idea in creation to find a substitute? No.

So we have to pick and choose, and it is VERY HELPFUL to have a grounding in basic physics and chemistry so we can intellegently develop alternatives. This journalist seems to be a bit deficient in the basic physics and chemistry department. He doesn't want to pick and choose, he wants to report that magic is just around the corner. This lack of realism is one reason why alternative energy sources are not taken as seriously as they should be.

* Carl Sagan

Re:A few grains of skepticism (3, Insightful)

ThosLives (686517) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378373)

You don't just need better technology to produce (more) power in a "clean" way. You also need better technology and awareness to consume less power. I'm proud of the fact that I only used an average of 3 kW-hr per day for the period between Nov and Dec of last year (That amounts to an average of only 125 W for the entire day). I'm not sure exactly what my transportation consumption was, especially because I'm travelling a lot because of work, but my "domestic" energy consumption has dropped quite a bit.

Generally speaking, consuming less requires no technology or additional cost. Sometimes it might cost something intangible, such as moving closer to work (think about it - if everyone who commuted 30 miles one way was willing to move to only commute 20 miles one way, or, if possible, 10 miles, the aggregate reduction in transportation energy consumption would be quite large).

The problem is the "consume less" mentality is not very popular, and, unfortunately, not a problem which is readily solvable through technological means. While more efficient devices are better, what typically happens is people just get more devices and use as much if not more resources than with the "less efficient" technologies. Ah, the wonderful ironies of life...

Re:A few grains of skepticism (1)

Starker_Kull (896770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378457)

This is very true - we are living in an unsual period of human history, namely one where the Quality of Life of your average human has been increasing for several centuries. I think this has led to the near absence of the "consume less" vs. "more stuff/energy" mentality. The oil bump (Hubbard's Peak) has been responsible for so many of our advances this past century that it may not be possible to maintain the same increases in QoL once cheap oil passes, which it is doing. Sadly, I think the mental adjustment to a "consume less" mentality is going to be very painful and politically disruptive over the next two decades... by which point it may not be as necessary!

As for transportation, I don't know if you are in the US, but in large swaths of the country, cars are the ONLY method available. I have several friends in Houston, one of the largest cities, who drive 100+ miles every day. This built-in energy inefficency makes it quite hard to change one's overall energy consumption quickly. So it is not just technology, but culture, infrastructure, location of jobs, etc.

No shortage of problems for bright /.ers to solve, eh?

Questions (1)

Wes Janson (606363) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378297)

or floating high in the air, courtesy of helium

Admittedly I don't know the details of this, but am I the only one who hears "floating wind generator" and thinks "Dipshits"? If it's tethered, you're going to run into a huge amount of problems. Small planes, birds, etc would all be problematic, as would the consequences of a broken tether. If it's NOT tethered, then I'd be curious as to how it functions, let alone safety. Large wandering structures floating through the upper atmosphere tend to not to appeal to airliners and the military.

Re:Questions (1)

deanpole (185240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378624)

Like this [magenn.com]

Really Clean Energy Sources (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14378314)

When promising technologies like Pebble Bed Reactors http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pebble_bed_reactor [wikipedia.org] finally become deployed, these windmills and other alternative energy sources will truely become Clean. Until then, unless it is coming from a natural gas power plant, the energy to produce these high tech devices will have to come from something as dirty as coal or as sketchy as a light water reactor or hydro power.

Tide-current water turbines (1)

NKJensen (51126) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378324)

Imagine a wind turbine - under water. That is also something to look for in the near future.

Tide currents have a much better predictability than wind, this is an important feature of this type of clean energy. The underwater turbines are below the surface so waves and ice won't hurt them (within some limits of course).

Ultra-low frequency noise will be a problem, though.

Re:Tide-current water turbines (1)

castoridae (453809) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378481)

Also hard to maintain, being underwater, and tend to need to be located on spots of coast that people would rather use as beaches. I also imagine a more avid tree-hugger than myself could come up with some marine creature whose habitat and livelihood is damaged by these...

Overly optimistic (1)

infolib (618234) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378331)

Anyone writing that the hypothetical hydrino "exhibits traits promising for many applications" just lost a big deal of credibility. I see the same trend in his treatment of other subjects - he seems to like "free energy".

I sure hope we can find better renewable energy sources, but this blog is hardly the one to take the pointers from.

Re:Overly optimistic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14378546)

Was thinking the same thing. Has this to do with the continuing trend in the States that science should be replaced by faith?

Dream on hippies. Learn about abiotic oil. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14378348)

Dream on global warming is a myth.

There is plenty of oil and ways to burn it cleanly.

Peak oil is a lie.

Wake up and learn about reality.

http://home.earthlink.net/~root.man/sci.html [earthlink.net]

NASA scientists are about to publish conclusive studies showing abundant methane of a non-biologic nature is found on Saturn's giant moon Titan, a finding that validates a new book's contention that oil is not a fossil fuel.

Oh please (1)

joib (70841) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378425)

The article is some mishmash of reality (wind power becoming competetive wrt fossil and the stirling solar systems are certainly interesting) and the most harebrained crackpot schemes around; Tom Bearden (Net loonie #1), "magnet power from vacuum", "blacklight power". Gee, it all sounds so credible.

Problems with generating your own power (1)

dana340 (914286) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378426)

I whole heartedly agree that as these technologies become more cost effective to produce, and as electric company rates are going up, we will see more of a change to renewable resources, but it will take time.

I was 8 (or somewhere around there) years old when I first heard about renewable energy, global warming and the like, that was 1992. It was possible to get wind turbines, and Photo-Voltaic Cells then, but they were very costly. now they are falling, woo-hoo. Our electric companies adopting these will be able to generate power on good days where there is wind or sun, but they will have a varying energy output. It is not really cost effective to store this energy locally, so this leads us back to the stressed power grid again. We have the ability to generate electricity, but not necessarily enough to keep with the demand. We need the means of getting the electricity from point A to point B.

The other major thing is the cool gadget factor. I am 21 years old, and I would like to build my house after I finish school and get an "actual" job, and of course, if I don't have the ability to make my own power right away, I'm going to have the wiring in place to retrofit everything. Hypothetically: I get a wind turbine, put it up in the yard, and I ran the wires back to my utility room, there is huge cost associated with hooking it up. I don't know the proper names of the equipment needed, but I imagine you would need something similar to a transfer switch to hook it up. Like what you have in your server room to plug in your equipment that does not have two power supplies.

Bottom line, this is the first year it is an economically feasible alternative, but unfortunately, this doesn't mean everybody will be jumping on the bandwagon this year.

Re:Problems with generating your own power (1)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378462)

I would suggest you join http://www.fieldlines.com/ [fieldlines.com] , there's a lot of knowledgeable people out there.

enjoy !

Reduce Methane and Generate Electricity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14378443)

A great thing would be more efficient digesters for farms around the world. We are getting to the stage were large scale animal manure digesters can produce worthwhile amounts of electricity from the methane. The equipment price has reached the break even point for some farms which is good becuase regulations on methane will only get worse in the future. Hopefully, genetic enginerring will help create more efficient digester bacteria.
Just think, your sewage plant could sell power back to the electric company and therefore lower taxes AND polutants to the environment.

         

Corps are really getting into being "green" (1)

ylikone (589264) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378552)

I have a relative that owns Green@Work Magazine (greenatworkmag.com) and he has very large corporations coming to him all the time wanting to advertise or whatnot. So, it seems that "green" is really catching on, and in the process I'm sure we'll see lot of innovation in the field.

Turbo Chargers (1)

stoopo (941343) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378563)

For about USD $2000 anyone could add a turbo charger to their vehicle to increase mileage and performance. For someone who drives 600 miles per week and could save 20 gallons per week, it would pay for itself within a year (with gas above USD $2). Since a turbo charger allows you to run at a lower compression, it's too bad all vehicles didn't come standard with them since it could be designed in from the start.

Sonofusion results are about neutron generation (2, Interesting)

radtea (464814) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378574)

two, concurrent and independent sonofusion breakthroughs

The big-news sonofusion results in 2005 were about neutron, not power, generation. There was some evidence that acoustically-driven cavitation could produce temperatures high enough to result in fusion-generated neutrons. This is quite exciting in terms of understanding the basic processes involved. However, in terms of the driving physics, this is hot fusion: a very small volume of material may be heated to extremely high temperatures for a very short time, resulting in a tiny amount of fusion occuring.

Due to fundamental physical constraints it is very unlikely that such a process is scalable in a way that will produce more power than is required to generate it. The bottom line for hot fusion is that the cross-sections for loss processes are orders of magnitude larger than those for the fusion process itself, and the losses scale as the surface area of the hot volume while power production scales with the volume. This means that the cube-square law strongly favours really big hot-fusion reactors (something the size of a star seems about optimal).

So while it is not impossible that one day we'll all drive cars powered by sonofusion, I don't think anyone working in the field is suggesting that.

It's interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14378610)

that this article lists the cost ($200,00.00 to $300,000.00) to build a fusion power plant the size of a gas station as less than the cost to build a gas station. I know this because I work in the construction field.

If the rest of his items are as accurate, then NONE of these pipe dreams will ever really exist.

His floating wind farms don't seem to be anchored to anything. Large scale use of wind farms will reduce the force of the wind, reducing transport of water and other things we don't take into account. Just like with Hydropower, there will ultimatly be important environmental impacts. Same with tapping ocean currents. Pull enough power out of the Gulf Stream, and it just stops. Then, most of Europe gets the same climate as Siberia. Not good.

He's relying on 'clean' fusion power, mostly in small devices that are currently only proposed. This 'clean' fusion power plan has been 'only 20 years away' since 1935. Main problem is it just doesn't work.

I had the same problem throughout the article. Lots of pipe dreams, not much real evidence.

Did anyone read the article? (2, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14378664)

Good grief it is full of more pseudoscience than a Kansas biology class.

A random thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14378688)

Can we use our farts as a renewable source of energy?
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