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On Electricity (Generation)

Hemos posted more than 7 years ago | from the looking-at-tomorrow dept.

Power 330

Engineer-Poet wrote a piece a few months back that focuses on electricity production; or rather how or what we will need to do to keep pace with people's demands while balancing that with environmental and economic impact. Lengthy but well-reasoned and good reading.

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They're typical media (1)

SiliconJesus (1407) | more than 7 years ago | (#17047278)

They will not post what they disagree with. Try telling any green environmental lefty that Ethanol is a bad thing and show them why, and they turn their nose saying, "But, but, but, but its GREEN!"

Good find man. I think I'll post it in a few of my discussion nodes.

Re:They're typical media (1)

Randle_Revar (229304) | more than 7 years ago | (#17054792)

Try telling some green environmental lefties that Ethanol is a bad thing and show them why, and they turn their nose saying, "But, but, but, but its GREEN!"

Fixed, because I am a green environmental lefty and I am not a fan of ethanol.



Engineer-Poet, I haven't had time time to read all of the article yet, but I started skimming it and it looks very good.

Did you submit it to technocrat and hugg? Worldchanging might also be interested.

No and no. (1)

Engineer-Poet (795260) | more than 7 years ago | (#17057088)

I'm no longer a member of Technocrat, and I barely know what Hugg is. But I know Michael Milliken reads my blog, so I expect things to be noted at both Worldchanging and Windsofchange in the next week or two.

Re:They're typical media (4, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800458)

They will not post what they disagree with. Try telling any green environmental lefty that Ethanol is a bad thing and show them why, and they turn their nose saying, "But, but, but, but its GREEN!"
There's nothing wrong with Ethanol, save for studies 30 year out of date that are perpetuating the idea that it's energy negative. And it's not a "green" problem. It's a problem of finding an alternative fuel source before the rising prices of petrol cause too many economic problems.

As it so happens, Ethanol is being used as an ocatane-booster additive in the majority of gasoline today. In part, it's because it's safer than cleaner than most of the chemicals previously used to improve octane ratings. Another part of it, however, is that up to 10% Ethanol mixtures are helping to lower the cost of gasoline as the prices for gas surpass that of Ethanol.

Re:They're typical media (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17800708)

There's nothing wrong with Ethanol,
Try telling that to the Mexicans whose tortilla prices [kentucky.com] have gone through the roof due to increased corn demand for use in ethanol production!

Wrong (2, Insightful)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800726)

Wrong wrong wrong.

Ethanol is being used to reduce emissions on that small fraction of badly running automobiles out there. It does not have any effect on modern engines except to lower their mileage. Modern engines don't even require the "higher" octane rating, as they can compensate as required for slightly lower octane ratings.

Ethanol actually reduces the specific energy of gasoline.

Lastly, ethanol's true cost is in growing and producing ethanol - namely, water use and the agricultural pollution.

Ethanol is not the answer. Neither is bio-diesel. Nothing that replaces the current liquid storage medium will be the answer. The true answer is either nuclear or solar (also nuclear:) or wind/tidal. The last 3 are all extra-planetary in their power source and thus not add to planetary heat as we're merely shifting energy from A to B: solar/wind are both driven by the sun, and tidal is mostly driven by the moon). Nuclear is still using "stored" power, thus can still have a net add to planetary heat.

Re:Wrong (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800826)

I can't wait for the luddite arguments against tide power. "But it will slow the moon down! EEEK!"

-jcr

Re:Wrong (4, Funny)

x2A (858210) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801224)

You won't be laughing when the moon comes crashing into your house!

Re:Wrong (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17800928)

Nuclear is still using "stored" power, thus can still have a net add to planetary heat.

That is one of the most bizarre anti-nuclear statements that I have seen (and I've seen a lot). The heat added by nuclear power plants will be as significant to heating this planet as rubbing your hands together is significant in heating your house.

Ethanol is not the answer. Neither is bio-diesel. Nothing that replaces the current liquid storage medium will be the answer. The true answer is either nuclear or solar (also nuclear:) or wind/tidal.

You are living in a fairy land. When you can design a truck than can carry goods cross country that can plug into the grid or a ship that can carry goods across the oceans that you can plug into the grid I might start to agree with you. But you aren't going to mount a nuclear reactor in a truck (and probably not a commercial ship) nor can you use solar panels to power either. Thus you must have ridiculously powerful batteries or other energy storage devices that do not exist today. We use liquid energy storage not because it is cheaper than electricity (which it is not), but because it is transportable and usable in places the grid does not reach.

Re:Wrong (2, Insightful)

Hobbled Grubs (651827) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801488)

The heat added by nuclear power plants will be as significant to heating this planet as rubbing your hands together is significant in heating your house.
This is not correct, the effect of the nuclear power plant is not the heat that it generates when generating electricity, it is all the electricity that is eventually transformed into heat when it is used. It wasn't heating anything at all as uranium ore, it was stable and a stored energy source.

Re:Wrong (1)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801610)

It's a combination of the two. Remember, electricity isn't generated from the heat, but by harnessing heat movement (i.e. thermodynamic principle of heat diffusing outward into its environment). Yes, there's a lot of heat emitted by all those things plugged in, but there's also a significant amount going out the cooling towers/cooling pond/river/lake/ocean as well.

Re:Wrong (1)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801644)

And, FWIW, this applies to any power plant that uses stored energy. Whether it's coal, natural gas, oil, or nuclear.

Re:Wrong (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17801680)

The heat added by nuclear power plants will be as significant to heating this planet as rubbing your hands together is significant in heating your house.
This is not correct, the effect of the nuclear power plant is not the heat that it generates when generating electricity, it is all the electricity that is eventually transformed into heat when it is used. It wasn't heating anything at all as uranium ore, it was stable and a stored energy source.
So what. A 3 GW thermal plant (meaning typically 2 GW are waste heat and 1 GW is electricity) still cannot compare with the solar flux of about 1 KW per square meter. A little over one square mile of land in the daytime will have the same amount of energy deposited by solar flux as the nuclear plant will generate. Feel free to calculate how many square miles of the Earth are facing the Sun at an given point in time and tell me how a thousand or so nuclear plants would make any difference.

Re:Wrong (3, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801150)

Ethanol is being used to reduce emissions on that small fraction of badly running automobiles out there. It does not have any effect on modern engines except to lower their mileage. Modern engines don't even require the "higher" octane rating, as they can compensate as required for slightly lower octane ratings.
This is an incredibly naive take on Ethanol consumption. The higher octane does have an effect. That effect is to burn the gasoline hotter and more completely, thus extracting energy than would have otherwise been extracted from a lower octane fuel.

It's true that in a pure-ethanol vehicle, you'll need more fuel to make up for lower energy density. However, the faster and hotter burn cycle can be compensated for, allowing engine designers to extract a fairly competitive amount of energy from the fuel.

The lower energy density just isn't that big of a deal when the choice is between needing 20% more Ethanol fuel at $2.50/gal vs. purchasing petroleum fuel at $3.75/gal.

Nuclear is still using "stored" power, thus can still have a net add to planetary heat.
This must be the oddest argument I've ever heard against nuclear power. First and foremost, any escaped heat is wasted energy that could have been used for electricity. So plants try to loose as little as possible. However, they do lose some, but nowhere near enough to have an impact on global conditions. "Global Warming" models are not based around how much heat that power plants release, but around concentrations of greenhouse gases that hold heat in. The theory is that if the concentrations were lowered, the Earth would be better able to radiate away the excess heat.

Re:Wrong (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801786)

This must be the oddest argument I've ever heard against nuclear power. First and foremost, any escaped heat is wasted energy that could have been used for electricity. So plants try to loose as little as possible. However, they do lose some, but nowhere near enough to have an impact on global conditions.

I believe the point was that no matter how efficient the energy conversion process may be, in the end all the generated electricity will eventually be turned into heat as it's consumed. (I agree that this isn't on the same order of magnatude as the CO2 energy-trapping effect, though.)

Mostly right (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#17802150)

Well, actually any heat we generate is miniscule compared to what comes in every day from the Sun, so your take on nuclear power contributing to heating is not actually a big deal. But, you're right that the competition for resources involved with ethanol could be a problem. Some think it is a near term problem just because of governement incentives: http://www.earth-policy.org/Updates/2007/Update63. htm [earth-policy.org] .

If Brown is correct, then buying flour now would be a good hedge.
----
Solar doesn't increase grain futures. http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users -selling-solar.html [blogspot.com]

Eh....not necessarily (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 7 years ago | (#17802160)

Modern engines don't even require the "higher" octane rating, as they can compensate as required for slightly lower octane ratings.

Hmmmm...so who do I trust? Some dude on /. or the manufacturer of my car's engine? I'll go with the manufacturer on this one.

If you are running a normally-aspirated engine with no aftermarket performance mods, yes, your engine can compensate for lower octane by adjusting the timing to avoid knocking, which isn't terribly healthy for your engine. However, the timing adjustments necessary to run with lower octane gasoline burn the fuel less efficiently than higher octane gas.*

Fast forward to last year, when I bought a '97 Talon TSi (turbo-charged). Because of the increased engine pressures caused by the turbo, the manufacturer says I have to run premium unleaded only because the engine computer can't adjust timing enough to compensate for the lower octane.

*I tested this over the course of a couple of months with my '92 Eagle Talon (non-turbo) about three years ago. I could get ~180 miles (city) on a tank of regular unleaded and about 215 on a tank of premium unleaded. At the price of gas at the time, it actually cost me less per mile to use the premium gas because of the better mileage.

This is mentioned in the article (3, Informative)

paladinwannabe2 (889776) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800750)

Not that anyone reads those pesky things... but your concerns are mentioned.

It's not that it's energy negative- we still come out ahead- it's that it's not energy positive enough. There's a lot of other things we could be doing with that corn instead of turning it into ethanol. We are paying tax money through subsidies for something that's not going to be a long term solution. It's a waste of money and resources that could be spent elsewhere.

Re:This is mentioned in the article (2, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801344)

We are paying tax money through subsidies for something that's not going to be a long term solution. It's a waste of money and resources that could be spent elsewhere.

There is no such thing as a long term solution. Only transitional solutions.

Even all our sources of uranium will be depleted so day in the next few hundred years.

(Of course to be even more fair we will have to leave the planet to find more sources of hydrogen for fusion in tens of thousand of years, but perhaps it will be a moot point)

That said... We are faced with a short term problem of running out of petroleum oil or at least to a point where it is more expensive to extract it in less than 50 years.

The boat is sinking and even though getting on a rubber raft is not a long term solution, it is better than just jumping in the water feet first because we haven't got a real boat to get into.

Same with oil and ethanol.

Re:This is mentioned in the article (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17802052)

But, right or wrong, we are paying the subsidies for corn regardless of ethanol production. So, we might as well make ethanol out of it instead of shipping the corn off to developing countries at the subsidized prices which means that their farmers can't afford to farm their own food.

Why Corn? (1)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 7 years ago | (#17802072)

Why do we keep looking at corn when it comes to Ethanol? The short answer is that we grow way too much of it, anyway. While ethanol can be made from corn, it's not the most effective feedsource for producing it. Obviously, something like sugar is much more effective.

What bothers me every time the argument pro/con ethanol comes up is that ethanol production from cellulose materials is not mentioned. This emerging technology holds the promise of significant gains in production efficiency, allowing up to a ten-fold gain from corn, but more importantly the production of ethanol from less labor intensive crops such as grasses, and even reclamation from current waste products, such as spent wood liquor at paper mills. This technology already exists and it's just starting to be implemented.

Now is ethanol the long-term solution? Probably not, but it sure makes for a good transitional fuel until the price of fuel cells and other promising technologies become economically feasible.

Re:They're typical media (3, Insightful)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800590)

"Try telling any green environmental lefty that Ethanol is a bad thing and show them why, and they turn their nose saying, "But, but, but, but its GREEN!"

Wow, what an uninformed stereotype. Plenty of us green environmental lefties have serious issues with increasing society's reliance on industrial agriculture, and see the potential usurpation of the oil lobby by the corn lobby as a meaningless substitution. Our leaders keep trying to find new and exciting ways to supply our energy demand without examining the nature or utility of this demand. Sustainable energy will come from changing cultural attitudes regarding the worthy expenditures of energy, not a shuffling of environmental issues.

Re:They're typical media (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801178)

So break down the percentages; if 70% fit the stereotype, it works for me.

At least he didn't call you a hollywood green.

Re:They're typical media (1)

FuzzyDaddy (584528) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800870)

Do YOU think we need a change in our energy policy because of global warming?

Re:They're typical media (3, Informative)

div_2n (525075) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800896)

I've been around quite a few what I would consider hard core environmentalists and I've never gotten that impression. In fact, some of them seemed to be apprehensive about ethanol because of how they view the impact some of the corn production in the US has on the Mississippi delta--i.e. the dead zone.

Maybe I've been around some of the more logical and open minded environmentalists, but my recollection is that they seemed to think solar and wind hold the biggest promises with ethanol being good if the major issues can be worked out.

Re:They're typical media (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801050)

Try telling any green environmental lefty that Ethanol is a bad thing and show them why, and they turn their nose saying, "But, but, but, but its GREEN!"
Expect 2007 to be a big year for the government giving bundles of money to people who pretend to be environmentally friendly. But it's hardly a new idea; accusations that the Left focuses too much on good intentions, feel-good measures, and such while ignoring consequences have characterized most decent critiques of the Left for quite some time now, and gives rise to some of the claims that the left experiences a "disconnect from reality". For instance, complaints from some Libertarians [reason.com] ...

Schumer (D-N.Y.) recently declared that the new Democratic Congress will mandate that a quarter of new vehicles sold in the use flexible fuel technology by 2010. Said Schumer: "These are things that will help the middle class and those who aspire to be in the middle class," Schumer said. Because nothing helps the "aspiring middle class" more than tacking on a few hundred (or thousand) bucks to the price of their Ford minivan.
The Democratic party has a lot of people (especially young people) with a lot of people who really want to make positive changes in the world; this sort of passion, while commendable, is primarily emotional in nature, not rational, and routinely risks falling into traps where catchy slogans take precedence over well-reasoned arguments, and being diverted by either those merely looking to profit or gain power from it.

But don't worry, the Republican party has plenty of blame for idiotic ethanol subsidies and the like. It's part of their general scheme of buying off the Midwestern states. Blah, anyway; six years in power, and what did they do with it? Built a political machine. Nice going, yo. Thanks for nothing...

Now, how was that bit at the end supposed to go like... ah. *ahemahemahemahemahem* I'M PROBABLY GOING TO GET MODDED DOWN FOR THIS ...

Re:They're typical media (2, Insightful)

simm1701 (835424) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801208)

Nothing wrong with ethanol.... that figuring out all the problems it has might solve ;)

Like the fact that transporting it more than a few miles to where it is produced removes most of the benefits

Corn is definitely a bad idea for this - the useful output is just far too small - about 5-10% of the biomass. Some interesting research has been done with certain kinds of bateria and soy plants (the whole plants stalk, roots leaves and all) managing to use 90-95% of the biomass as usable energy.

Your point is right though - if the total impact (carbon, polution, use of fossil fuels) to produce is more than the same impact it saves then doing it is worse environmentally than not doing it.

A lot of the advantages of things like ethanol don't deliver large sale benefits - need localised micro production (used sucessfully on farms for methane burning power generation) which in a lot of cases doesn't translate to real world uses.

Persoanlly my hopes are on a combination of tidal (the only non intermittant green energy source), solar where it makes sense (portugal yes, england no), hydro where possible, fision where we have to and fusion as soon as we can - the abington research looked quite promising - I just hope ITER manages to make the technology a net producer.

Re:They're typical media (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17801556)

"Here's to alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems!" -Homer Simpson

Simple solution (4, Funny)

nadamsieee (708934) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800386)

Wait for the baby-boomers to die off. Suddenly energy, housing, and jobs will become plentiful. ;)

Re:Simple solution (2, Funny)

steveit_is (650459) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800488)

Why wait? You can speed the process via the judicious use of aerosol. As a bonus, you'll make that land you bought in Indiana ocean front property. :)

Re:Simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17800546)

That might work in Europe, but in the US, immigration will more than make up for the deaths of the baby-boomers. And this is not the kind of thing you want to play around with. It can take years from the time that the first brownouts hit to additional electricity generation going online (up to 10 years for nuclear plants). If you don't plan ahead you can really get hammered (like California).

Re:Simple solution (3, Interesting)

pherthyl (445706) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801986)

You, like I did up until I saw this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enron:_The_Smartest_G uys_in_the_Room [wikipedia.org] , think that the brownouts in california were caused by not enough capacity. In actual fact, they were caused by Enron shutting down plants or exporting energy out of the state because they could make more money that way.

Read more about it here, especially the section entitled Supply and Demand http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_electricit y_crisis [wikipedia.org]

   

Re:Simple solution (1)

ranton (36917) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801160)

Wait for the baby-boomers to die off. Suddenly energy, housing, and jobs will become plentiful. ;)

Too bad all of those baby boomers had kids also. :-(

--

Re:Simple solution (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801304)

All of a sudden Hitlers ideas don't seem so bad now, huh?

Come See The World's Biggest Leap of Logic! (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17802008)

All of a sudden Hitlers ideas don't seem so bad now, huh?

When did Hitler do much waiting?

And how do you manage to equate population modeling with genocide?

Wow.

Re:Simple solution (1)

Kozz (7764) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801578)

Soylent green is people!

BTW, we're screwed (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17802108)

Wait for the baby-boomers to die off. Suddenly energy, housing, and jobs will become plentiful. ;)

You do realize that the time when the baby-boomers are expected to start dropping off coincides with the time when gene therapy and nanomedicine are probably going to be fully realized?

Long version: any baby boomers who are going to make it to their mid-eighties are probably going to be able to make it to their 110's-120's, with a much
improved quality of life. Meanwhile, our Social Security and Medicare programs are going to be paying for them this whole time, and there's not enough population to pay for it without raising taxes to over 60%. We're going to have people on retirement for half of their lives. Society is going to require a major restructuring around this, either by preventing research, preventing treatment, paying for both, or rethinking the entitlement to a country-club retirement, and all of the existing models, even the ones predicting bankruptcy, ignore major advances in medicine.

Short version: We're screwed.

Article Banned (1, Insightful)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800406)

The article is banned by the filter here at work but the answer is obvious - build more nuclear power plants.

Re:Article Banned (2, Insightful)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800482)

Agreed. Nuke plants won't fix everything--there will still be the issue of the waste--but it's certainly better than what we have now.

As for the nuclear waste: if we switched to 100% nuclear and renewable sources, it should follow that a significant amount of time and money be devoted to a permanent solution for nuclear waste. But I'd prefer we have 1,000 years to solve that problem than have 100 years or so to solve the current one. Especially as the current problem is alreay doing harm, whereas a well-run nuke plant would not.

Re:Article Banned (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800628)

The other thing about nuclear waste is that you know where it is, you don't just go pumping it out into the atmosphere and hope for the best.

Unless that nuclear "waste"... (1)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800778)

The other thing about nuclear waste is that you know where it is, you don't just go pumping it out into the atmosphere and hope for the best.
Unless that nuclear "waste" is coming from coal burning [ornl.gov] plants, of course. Then you are literally pumping it into the atmosphere and hoping for the best.

Re:Unless that nuclear "waste"... (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801184)

The fact that some 'radioactive' type materials are released during normal coal power plant operation, isn't an argument against the previous poster. It's actually in favor of nuclear plants. Since as the poster said, you know where the waste is as opposed to dumping stuff into the atmosphere.


That was actually my point (1)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801364)

Typically, the choice for a new generator boils down to nuclear or coal. When certain environmental groups (of which I am a member) block the construction of a new nuclear plant, it often results in a new coal plant being built instead. The result is that instead of having our nuclear waste in a known location here on the ground, we end up spewing radioactive materials into the atmosphere.

Although I'd love to see us not need nuclear fission power, for the time being it's the better alternative.

Re:That was actually my point (1)

Alan Partridge (516639) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801972)

Most of the radioactive particles produced by coal burning power stations are contained within the ash rather than the soot. Pity the poor fuckers who live near the plants, as this ash is NOT a well managed waste product.

100 Years of Fission / Reliable Lift (3, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17802184)

But I'd prefer we have 1,000 years to solve that problem than have 100 years or so to solve the current one.

Very well put. There's only one known solution to the problem at hand, and we need to start lighting up one of these plants every two months to get the carbon problem solved - nothing else has a chance of doing it (without 'killing off the human race' as an item on the table),

Besides, we only need enough time on fission to get fusion perfected. That should take less than a hundred years. Then we only need to wait until we, as a race, consider that we have lift into space as a reliable technology. Then we just take all that old fission waste and send it into the Sun for the next generation of solar system to enjoy. And that's assuming we don't have a better solution for it by then.

But, the current course is for nothing to get done and the problem to get worse. The "environmentalist" groups seem to think that's the best course of action (scare-quotes intended) and that implementing wishful thinking is a sufficient plan.

Re:Article Banned (0)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800570)

Heh... So obvious that the dreaded N-word isn't uttered in the entire article.

Re:Article Banned (2, Insightful)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800660)

Hopefully commercial fusion becomes viable soon, removing a lot of the present objections to nuclear power. Hard to see how this will have much of an impact on transport fuels, though, without major advances in battery tech.

Not that I disagree with nuclear (pragmatically) (3, Funny)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800884)

Not that I disagree with nuclear (from a pragmatic point-of-view), but I'd like to see more self-generating forms of electricity. Things like exercise gyms that double as power generators. That way I could convert my eco-guilt into a strong exercise regimen.

Re:Not that I disagree with nuclear (pragmatically (1)

GospelHead821 (466923) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801662)

A previous poster mentioned a similar idea out of a work of fiction and your comment has a humourous angle to it. I don't see why this couldn't be a local-scale solution, though. Right now, all of the work that I do on the stationary bicycle during my lunch hour is turned into waste heat. Electricity is not my strong point, but it seems reasonable that many low-power generators could be put to some good use.

Actually, I wasn't going for humor (1)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#17802004)

I've worked out the math before, and a serious workout could generate a significant amount of electrical power. I'm a marathon runner, and the amount of electricity I might generate from my daily exercise routine would probably generate all of my electrical needs for that day, with a little extra left over. Granted, just as with ethanol, there's still a question of supplying me with calories.

Re:Not that I disagree with nuclear (pragmatically (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801862)

Start at home!

Ingredients:

(1) Suitable exercise device (treadmill, stationary bike, etc)
(1) Automotive alternator (w/ voltage regulator if it's not internal)
(1) Heavy-duty 12 Volt rechargeable battery
(1) DC Inverter (400W or better)
(1) Free weekend or two

Combine with any required hardware. Plug in TV/DVD player/Computer and work your ass off to keep that battery charged while watching your favorite movies. Battery provides temporary power for appliances while you get on and off the equipment.
=Smidge=

Not handy enough (1)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#17802102)

I suspect that if I tried that myself, I'd end with nothing more than a bruised ego (and possibly other bruised/damaged items). However, I do have a cousin who's pretty good with electronics... (I understand the theory just fine. It's the practice I ain't so good at.)

Nuclear (1)

Cheesey (70139) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801026)

I agree. It is a shame that environmentalists often oppose nuclear power, as it is still the best solution we have for generating pollution-free energy on a practical scale.

By campaigning against nuclear power stations, environmentalists have forced more fossil-fuel stations to be built. Their actions helped to prevent investment in an infrastructure for sustainable energy, and have thus furthered our dependence on dirty fuels like oil and coal.

They should have been campaigning *for* nuclear power. They should have demanded the closure of all fossil fuel stations, to be replaced with both renewable energy and nuclear power. But they couldn't see past the A-bomb and Chernobyl.

Re:Nuclear (1)

Kandenshi (832555) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801462)

I favour nuclear over current models of energy production, since it is cleaner. But you really ought to be more precise in your terminology.

Nuclear isn't "pollution-free" just pollution-reduced. There are still plenty of greenhouse gases produced during the extraction, purification of the uranium for instance. From the numbers that I (vaguely) remember looking at a few months ago, it's still a better choice.
But saying that nuclear is pollution-free is like saying that using a condom means that you wont get any diseases or a bad case of pregnant. It's just not true. Proper use of condoms/nuclear energy just reduces the odds of you having [something bad] happen later on. Nuclear doesn't guarantee a future full of roses and dancing and love, just means a less screwed up one than what we're looking at now.

Re:Nuclear (1)

jinxidoru (743428) | more than 7 years ago | (#17802128)

Thank you. This is exactly what I have been saying for years. It's interesting to see that the environmentalists are starting to come around to nuclear finally. I wish they hadn't freaking killed the industry 20 years ago with their propaganda. We might not have the problem that we do today with Global Warming had it not been for their illogical, ridiculous FUD against nuclear.

Blogs suck. (-1, Offtopic)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800414)

Blogs suck. Especially this one. "Engineer Poet"? What, because you're both smart and creative? (Sound of ralphing on shoes.)

As for the content, I noticed one of the responders asked "what about nuclear" and EP said "see the 'Other Issues' section". Of course, there's no "Other Issues" section in his blog. It looks like this PR mouthpiece forgot how blogs work...you can't just refer to phantom documents unless you're doing a live shot for local TV; on the web people will try to look your sources.

Re:Blogs suck. (1)

div_2n (525075) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800690)

Ummm, try doing a search for "Other Issues" on that page and you'll find what he is talking about. It's clearly there.

Re:Blogs suck. (1)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800762)

Another thing that contributes to the articles 'suck' is that nobody anywhere has proposed ethanol as a source of electricity. Ethanol will eventually solve the problem of providing a high density energy source for vehicles.

Re:Blogs suck. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17800886)

The only reason ethanol is being pushed in the US is because the government is getting tired of paying the thousands of corn farmers to keep growing far too much corn, and is hoping that burning corn will convince prices to rise so they can quit giving money away to farmers who should be growing something else.

At least thats what I hope they're doing. The corn farmers have destroyed pretty much everything else thanks to their ridiculous subsidies, getting them off of their subsidies and getting food diversity back into our food chain will benefit everyone from the diabetic to the e.coli sufferers.

Re:Blogs suck. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17800876)

"Engineer Poet"? What, because you're both smart and creative? (Sound of ralphing on shoes.)


that's right, 'xxxJonBoyxxx'. what's that mean, are you one of those annoying straightedge kids who puts the Xs in their name to let everyone know they're sXe? (sound of ralphong on shoes).

jesus, of all things, making fun of someone's nick is about the lamest point you can make.

Re:Blogs suck. (1)

Critical Facilities (850111) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801040)

From TFA:
Other issues This analysis is limited to the replacement of fuels for ground transportation and electric generation. I include no energy to replace heating fuel, industrial energy consumption or several other types of essentials; some of this demand might be handled with better architecture and cogeneration, but the details are beyond the scope of this analysis. Neither do I consider the wisdom of relying entirely on biomass-derived energy and liquids to replace liquid motor fuel and fossil fuel for electric generation. Reliance on a single source risks all end-uses if the supply is interrupted. This would probably be very unwise indeed, and it appears foolhardy not to add large amounts of e.g. wind generation in the mix. The combination of battery-electric vehicles, wind farms and easily-throttled fuel cells would certainly have a total effect greater than the sum of the parts.

It looks like you and your mouthpiece have forgotten how to read. The "Other Issues" section is about 1/4 down the page. If you disagree with any of the quoted facts in the article, please, enlighten us with facts to the contrary. If, however, this article simply ruffles your feathers by not agreeing with your personal politics, don't try to disguise your Troll as an educated post, it's annoying.

Related Reading (4, Interesting)

CheeseburgerBrown (553703) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800452)

For a science-fiction cant on some of the issues raised in TFA, take a look at The Bikes of New York [cheeseburgerbrown.com] which explores a post-energy crisis near-future in which impoverished people have the option of riding stationary bicycles to spin massive underground flywheels that top up the energy needs of commercial enterprises.

I think creative solutions to electricity problems are in all our futures. Personally, I live about 75% off the grid and am looking forward to be able to afford to get all the way off -- but I need to get my roof re-done before I can even think about solar panels or mounting a wind turbine up there.

At any rate, fiction for thought.

Re:Related Reading (1, Funny)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800714)

Not a bad idea, the idle poor ( known as Chavs in the UK ) use far more than fair share of power sitting around all day, as they do, in centrally heated saunas with Trisha on full blast on the Sky box.

If we limited the amount of energy available to them they would be forced to get off their collective arses and get jobs.

Re:Related Reading (1)

aldheorte (162967) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801110)

I doubt the human body combined with a stationary bicycle is a very efficient processor of biomass into energy. Surely it would be more efficient to take a more direct route? I think this premise comes from the common notion that somehow humans magically create their own energy, rather than simply being replicating biochemical vats for the extraction of energy from food with many adaptations to find said food and perform said replication.

Re:Related Reading (1)

syphax (189065) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801372)


Humans are surprisingly efficient considering the low temperature at which we convert biomass to energy- something along the lines of 20% (based on studies of endurance cyclists, I believe- sorry, don't have time to find the source). That's not exactly good, but it's not bad compared to an internal combustion engine.

The main problem with human power is that even at the (old?) minimum wage of $5 or so an hour, and given that someone in pretty good shape can put out ~200W for a few hours, you're looking at $25/kWh, roughly 250x more expensive than typical retail. Sure, there are lower wage structures out there, but you're not going to get close.

And you thought solar was expensive?

Re:Related Reading (1)

CannedTurkey (920516) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801860)

2 words: Chinese Immigrants. You could easily cut that by a factor of 8.

A Fair Criticism (1)

CheeseburgerBrown (553703) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801398)

Different sources on the wide Web trot out wildly different facts on how much energy a human being might be able to output this way, with some claiming that one couldn't even keep a light-bulb lit while others claiming to be able to store battery power for running laptops, DVD players and even very small appliances.

Naturally, the energy isn't free: it comes from food (which is also not free). However, a person can work all day dribbling out energy as they do quality control watch on an assembly line, or they could output some of those calories to contribute to an already spinning flywheel (NB: their effort doesn't have to start the flywheel -- it's already in motion). Even if they only put out 150 watts they would be contributing to accelerating the flywheel by a small degree, or stemming the loss of momentum to friction.

In the story, such efforts are only worth nickels and dimes.

My Money Is On... (2, Funny)

ReidMaynard (161608) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800460)

..Hybrid Sweaters!

Re:My Money Is On... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17801376)

I was trying to figure that out, and I thought I was stuck on odd perspiration energy generation methods, then I realized your point:

Imagine of all the busty women wore sweaters with integral generators instead of bras. Sort of an eco-drive for your chest. Really fat people mught get eco-belts. There is, of course, the problem of energy storage. But once you cover that, the large-breasted receptionist in the background might generate enough energy just walking around the office (or going upstairs) to power her car for a portion of the commute home.

 

What!? (4, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800532)

Lengthy but well-reasoned and good reading.

Dude, what the hell is something like that doing on slashdot? I need more psuedo intellectual rants about how the RIAA is going to eat my first born!

Re:What!? (2, Funny)

trongey (21550) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801228)

...the RIAA is going to eat my first born!
It's about time they started doing something useful.

Re:What!? (1)

Cow Jones (615566) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801506)

Dude, what the hell is something like that doing on slashdot?

Here, this may be more to your liking:

What in the world is electricity and where does it go after it leaves the toaster?

Here is a simple experiment that will teach you an important electrical lesson: On a cool dry day, scuff your feet along a carpet, then reach your hand into a friend's mouth and touch one of his dental fillings. Did you notice how your friend twitched violently and cried out in pain? This teaches one that electricity can be a very powerful force, but we must never use it to hurt others unless we need to learn an important lesson about electricity.

It also illustrates how an electrical circuit works. When you scuffed your feet, you picked up batches of "electrons", which are very small objects that carpet manufacturers weave into carpet so that they will attract dirt. The electrons travel through your bloodstream and collect in your finger, where they form a spark that leaps to your friend's filling, then travel down to his feet and back into the carpet, thus completing the circuit.

AMAZING ELECTRONIC FACT:

If you scuffed your feet long enough without touching anything, you would build up so many electrons that your finger would explode! But this is nothing to worry about unless you have carpeting.

Although we modern persons tend to take our electric lights, radios, mixers, etc. for granted, hundreds of years ago people did not have any of these things, which is just as well because there was no place to plug them in. Then along came the first Electrical Pioneer, Benjamin Franklin, who flew a kite in a lightning storm and received a serious electrical shock. This proved that lightning was powered by the same force as carpets, but it also damaged Franklin's brain so severely that he started speaking only in incomprehensible maxims, such as, "A penny saved is a penny earned." Eventually he had to be given a job running the post office.

After Franklin came a herd of Electrical Pioneers whose names have become part of our electrical terminology: Myron Volt, Mary Louise Amp, James Watt, Bob Transformer, etc. These pioneers conducted many important electrical experiments. Among them, Galvani discovered (this is the truth) that when he attached two different kinds of metal to the leg of a frog, an electrical current developed and the frog's leg kicked, even though it was no longer attached to the frog, which was dead anyway. Galvani's discovery led to enormous advances in the field of amphibian medicine. Today, skilled veterinary surgeons can take a frog that has been seriously injured or killed, implant pieces of metal in its muscles, and watch it hop back into the pond -- almost.

But the greatest Electrical Pioneer of them all was Thomas Edison, who was a brilliant inventor despite the fact that he had little formal education and lived in New Jersey. Edison's first major invention in 1877 was the phonograph, which could soon be found in thousands of American homes, where it basically sat until 1923, when the record was invented. But Edison's greatest achievement came in 1879 when he invented the electric company. Edison's design was a brilliant adaptation of the simple electrical circuit: the electric company sends electricity through a wire to a customer, then immediately gets the electricity back through another wire, then (this is the brilliant part) sends it right back to the customer again.

This means that an electric company can sell a customer the same batch of electricity thousands of times a day and never get caught, since very few customers take the time to examine their electricity closely. In fact, the last year any new electricity was generated was 1937.

Today, thanks to men like Edison and Franklin, and frogs like Galvani's, we receive almost unlimited benefits from electricity. For example, in the past decade scientists have developed the laser, an electronic appliance so powerful that it can vaporize a bulldozer 2000 yards away, yet so precise that doctors can use it to perform delicate operations to the human eyeball, provided they remember to change the power setting from "Bulldozer" to "Eyeball."

[ copied from this site [leo.org] , which probably copied it from Dave Barry ]

Tell You What (1)

ruben.gutierrez (913239) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800666)

I have tons of excess electrons in my house. Ever seen the movie Cat's Eye? That's what it's like in my living room. If only I could harness that source of power...

Similar Ideas (4, Interesting)

rohar (253766) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800682)

The article has some similar ideas to our project [energytower.org] . A few comments on the article:
  • The existing agricultural system is orientated towards edible food production. Growing, handling and storing crops for energy products is an entirely different industry that currently doesn't exist in North America. Using food production numbers for energy product potential isn't very accurate.
  • If agricultural production of energy products had access to affordable and renewable energy, there is a lot more potential for increased production while improving the land as well as better use of by-products than is feasible with the current fossil fuel powered agricultural sector.

Re:Similar Ideas (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801354)

The current net from corn and soya, not processing the cellulose(Still a when, or can we do that now?) is less than 10% of the US consumption of gasoline and diesel energy. I can see that being better if you did it with energy in mind, but not the 5 times better that might be close to viable.

http://blog.sciam.com/index.php?title=fuel_change& more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1 [sciam.com]

Transitionary period for Ethanol (3, Interesting)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800730)

The real pay off for ethanol will be when a good process for making ethanol from cellulose is developed. Cellulose is just long chains of sugars, and it is just a matter of time before the chemistry becomes a reality.

In the meantime, ethanol for corn will help get the infrastructure in place.

Someone better tell China (3, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800732)

because for all the work we do it won't amount to a hill of beans if China doesn't play along. Go look at many of their cities, they look even worse than the US did at its height for pollution.

Hell, their only fix for good air during the Olympics will be to ban cars and shutdown nearby industries.

Still got to love this comment on his blog :)

"There is sufficient biomass energy to replace motor fuel and then some... if the energy is not wasted. "

Well duh. Thats the problem with his whole page, its all stuck on a BIG bunch of IFs.

but the biggest problem is turing grain crops into fuel, there are just so many uses for grain crops in everyday products that a slight increase in their pricing because of competition with fuels could force consumer prices up, masking the true cost of these new forms of power creation.

Re:Someone better tell China (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17800774)

Actually it'd help the US become more energy independant and more secure. The environmental benefits are only one aspect.

Re:Someone better tell China (1)

Alan Partridge (516639) | more than 7 years ago | (#17802118)

It'll help the US become poorer and more inefficient, more likely.

Save US From Global Warming? (-1, Flamebait)

argoff (142580) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800794)

It simply amazes me that global warmers seem to take environmental catastrophe to it's logical conclusion with an almost perfect certainly. But when it comes to bringing government micro-regulation of peoples lives to it's logical conclusion, they are oblivious and stupid. The abuse and extremes of government have already happened, are well documented, and have over 200 million confirmed deaths attributed to their name. But the abuse of environment is theoretical, few if none confirmed deaths, and is 100 years off into the future at best. Cuba has a wonderful pristine environment, but does anyone want to live there? What about Cambodia's, Po Pot's return to nature campaign where two million people were genocided. Say, if the end in itself is protection of the environment, then just how many people are will willing to genocide to save an acre of rain forest anyhow? I can prove with absolute certainty that the enviromental movement is full of shit. Why? Not from the alleded "data", but because their only solution is massive government interference of peoples lives. Checkmate. Proof closed.

THE US HAS NO ENERGY SHORTAGE. Today the US has a 400-800 year supply of coal. That could free us from the middle east, fuel all our cars, and free us from geopolitical disaster. So do we encourage it's use, no, we try to regulate the shit out of it and drive up costs thru the roof (just like with nuclear power). The energy problem is not a resource one, but a political one. The enviromental problem is not a enviroment problem, but a government one.

Re:Save US From Global Warming? (2, Insightful)

porn*! (159683) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800934)

I can prove with absolute certainty that the enviromental movement is full of shit. Why? Not from the alleded "data", but because their only solution is massive government interference of peoples lives. Checkmate. Proof closed.
Obviously you are also against the massive spell check interference in your posts.

Seriously, do you think energy conservation and looking for cleaner forms of energy are all in response to a hoax? if so you should consult your mental health professional and up your meds.

Sure coal could be used albeit not very cleanly, but do you think no one dies in mining coal?

Re:Save US From Global Warming? (1)

dlhm (739554) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801604)

When someone with a weak position tries to make a point, they usually do it by attacking someone speech or written word. Something which you have done. Are you really qualified to sum up a response by referring someone to a Mental Therapist? I would guess not, I would guess you are just a mental midget, who has no real knowledge, just wishful opinions. Do everyone a favor and educate yourself whith something other than democrat talking points.

Re:Save US From Global Warming? (1)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800980)

Agreed, but you don't want to live in a black cloud of unhealthy fumes. You really don't. NUCLEAR is the answer.
Be happy. My country banned nuclear energy in the 80's, at least you can use it.

Re:Save US From Global Warming? (1)

cybpunks3 (612218) | more than 7 years ago | (#17802088)

This article ignores the main cause of the crisis: the overpopulation which drives the demand-part of the equation. Obviously it's being ignored because there is no expedient solution, but nature will provide its own cruel solution. If we raise the bar on sustainability, unchecked population growth will only ram us head first back into a crisis. Eventually we will hit the physical limit of what technology is able to do with the raw materials of this planet. Even with nuclear, the environment will continue to suffer from the base impact of our numbers (i.e. deadzones, overfishing, deforestation). The only solution is forced population reduction. It's not pleasant and it's not politically correct, but nature is amoral. We live with certain natural limits whether we want to or not. If our population were small enough, renewable sources alone would be enough to keep us going. As it is now, our species' population size is a result of the crutch of fossil fuels, and with that pillar removed, the house of cards will fall one way or another.

Re:Save US From Global Warming? (1)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 7 years ago | (#17802276)

A more pleasant solution would be the acquisition of more natural resources, by means of e.g. space exploration/colonization.

A couple more technologies (4, Informative)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800810)

This is a really nice piece of work. A couple of technologies that were missed are marketing mechanisms related to solar http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/solar-power-am way-way.html [blogspot.com] and fly wheels http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/saving-not-bor rowing.html [blogspot.com] , described on the Real Energy blog.

Re:A couple more technologies (2, Interesting)

drmerope (771119) | more than 7 years ago | (#17802058)

Ah. Solar. I couldn't help but notice a few years back that the city of los angeles had covered a parking lot by the Staple's Center with photovoltaics, and I often read about how it takes 20 years to recoup the cost of solar panels (less now with heavy government supports). The irony of this is that manufacturing solar cells consumes a good deal of electricity--and it turns out (I'm in the semiconductor industry) that this manufacturing cost is the bulk of the price. Meaning that not only does a solar cell take 20 yrs to pay itself back but it takes about that long to produce the electricity that it took to make!

Good news though: most fabs are built near sources of cheap electricity (hydroelectric).

But seriously, the best hope for solar is in large (and small) mirror arrays that allow the equivalent of many suns to be focused on a small (cheap) collector area ala 'Energy Innovations' the Idealab company.

But on another note. I don't think the author really understands what he is writing about. Some of his efficiency factor goals are definitely unrealisitic in the time-frame he describes. A charcoal to electricity process running at 50% efficiency is downright ridiculous.

Direct Carbon Fuel Cells are very expensive to make (require lots of electricity and other toxic chemicals) and have service lifetimes of only a few years depending on the purity of the fuel. Their efficiency is also low ~20%.

Oil? What about soil? (3, Informative)

RyanFenton (230700) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800834)

Sure - the proposal to produce charcoal will allow for some soil renewal, but to allow this process to become sustainable, we'd also have to manage our soil resources much more carefully than we have been. Oh well, one problem at a time, I guess - global warming-related climate change would likely destroy even more viable soil than this proposal (it dries quicker in some spots, erodes others much quicker), so it's certainly an improvement.

Ryan Fenton

Re:Oil? What about soil? (2, Interesting)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801188)

True, although moving to easy, more natural crops like Switchgrass will alleviate some of our problems.

Much of our soil erosion and depletion is due to the way we grow crops: in strict rows, with chemicals to kill weeds and grass. While killing weeds makes picking corn easier by keeping the rows clean, there is a lot of exposed soil under the plants.

Grasses don't have this problem and actually help to maintain or even expand soil over time, and most have the added benefit of being perennial and self-propagating.

I'm curious, though... this article only outlines crops that work in the US. What will other countries do? Will rice or other water crops work for coastal countries?

Wrong from the first sentence (1)

jamesl (106902) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801092)

One of the biggest threats the USA faces today is a serious shortage of energy.
I flip a switch and the light comes on. I bump up the thermostat and the furnace comes on. I need to drive to Toledo so I fill the tank. The stores are full of food and manufactured goods from around the world. I can order up a computer, cell phone or HDTV, have it flown in and delivered by a man in a shiny brown truck with no pain, delay or unreasonable expense.

Where's the energy shortage?

Re:Wrong from the first sentence (1)

DigitalRaptor (815681) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801944)

The threat isn't an existing energy shortage. The threat is how easy it would be for a serious energy shortage to occur.

Consider where we get our oil. Most of it comes from politically unstable parts of the world.

Why do you think Bush just asked to double the energy reserve? Because if something happens (and if he's doubling it, he thinks something very easily could happen)we'll be up the creek, sans paddle.

Try thinking long term sometime. It's amazing what a little perspective can do on a subject.

Re:Wrong from the first sentence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17802152)

Grandparent poster was thinking long term.... driving to Toledo may take a long time depending on where you start ... waiting for that shiny new electronic device to come by way of FedEx overnight takes a long time. A "long time" depends on your unit of time. Let's just hope that the flea-brain's life is lived on a similar time scale. But wait, he/she was sequestering carbon -- if she/he dies won't that a)stink and b)contribute green house gases? (Had to pull the flow back toward the original article somehow!)

Re:Wrong from the first sentence (1)

ReverendHoss (677044) | more than 7 years ago | (#17802206)

I believe the sentence refers to the fact that the US has to import so much of its energy. You and I as consumers couldn't care less, as it is a commodity. We just want the lights to come on when we flip a switch. But that's because the shortage was large enough that other sources of energy were brought in from outside the United States. Just because we're shielded from it doesn't mean it's not there.

Were there to be a major war, shutting down oil imports and other imports of energy (such as electricity from Canada, if I remember correctly) would do serious damage to our country, our economy, and our morale. Making ourselves totally self-reliant is silly from an economic standpoint, but switching over to sources of energy that can be bought from a larger number of supplying nations is a good thing. A handful of nations wouldn't be able to do serious damage to our finances if their leaders hiccup if we could just up our importation of electricity from solar from Mexico, or purchase ethanol from Brazil*.

[*] Yes, I'm aware that everything has it's drawbacks. My point is decoupling our energy needs from oil means more countries are able to compete for our energy dollar.

I think Cheney knows something we dont .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17801128)

http://youtube.com/watch?v=WK11e8_pmBU [youtube.com]

Enjoy :) Still think you are being told the truth?

End carbon emissions in 30 years (how to) (5, Interesting)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801490)

How to end US carbon emissions in 30 years without damaging the US economy:

Step 1: Build nuclear power plants. Update the designs with modern technology and give tax incentives for every new nuke plant built.

Reason: 50's and 60's technology nuke plants currently generate electricity for less money than any other technology, even coal. They cost less than a third of what oil and natural gas plants cost. With modern technology its likely we could improve safety while lowering the cost further. Speaking of safety: the worst US accident in 50 years of opererating nuclear energey plants was three mile island, in which no radiation leaked and no one got hurt.

Yes, worse accidents are possible. That means that over a long enough period of time they will happen. But weigh the rare environmental damage from a meltdown against the continuous destruction of the atmosphere by hyrdocarbon burning plants.

Step 2: With the cost of electricty driven cheap enough by nuke plants, shift to hydrogen-based internal combustion engines. With electrolysis done at off-peak hours to generate hydrogen from electricity, every home can be its own fueling station. Hydrogen burns with oxygen to make water, so go drive a steamer.

Reason: Imagine a city, maybe the city you live in, where the only air pollution is the occasional methane from peoples' farts! Nuclear makes its possible and these technologies are economical now, not just in some hypothetical future after more research.

Re:End carbon emissions in 30 years (how to) (1)

RotateLeftByte (797477) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801858)

Another forgotten method is Water Power.
My friend owns some land that has a small stream (1m wide) runnnig through it. He installed a turbine at one end of his land. He built a waterwheel and installed it at the other end where there was more head (of water).
He now generates more power than he needs and is selling it to the grid.
His neighbours are now very interested in doing the same.
This is small scale but the cost to the environment is pretty small.

Now, if you take a big river there are huge opportunities for power generation.
In the past, there were many floating water mills in London. They floated up and down on the tide and got their power from the flow of water.
There are many huge rivers(and not so huge really) around the world that could easily have floating power generation plants installed.
If we get increased rainfall with climate change then there will be more water to flow down the rivers. It is a real shame that this resource is almost totally ignored.
These will be far less of a 'Blot on the Landscape' that these erattic Wind Farms that seem to be springing up everywhere.

finally,
  Then there are Tide Mills. Look up http://www.elingtidemill.wanadoo.co.uk/ [wanadoo.co.uk]

What a simple and neat solution.
Rip out the millstones(only joking) and install a genny. Renewable energy at its best. How manny tidal estuaries are there in the World?

the asnwer to the energy crisis is in the sky (2, Insightful)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801766)

The answer is sitting in the fucking sky.

Solar energy is there waiting to be harnessed.

The smart people will setup solar farms.

your answer is incomplete... (1)

Torqued (91619) | more than 7 years ago | (#17802060)

There is still the problem of steady growth and the consumption of finite resources. Even if we come up with some new and novel way of producing/extracting energy, the exponential growth problem does not go away.

There's an interesting lecture [globalpublicmedia.com] by Al Bartlett [wikipedia.org] that covers this quite well, IMHO.

"In the summer of 1986 the news reports indicated that the world population had reached the number of five billion people growing at the rate of 1.7% per year. Well your reaction to 1.7% might be to say that that's so small nothing bad could ever happen at 1.7% per year. So you calculate the doubling time you find its only 41 years, now that was back in 1986, more recently in 1999 we read that the world population had grown from five billion to six billion . The good news is that the growth rate had dropped from 1.7% to 1.3% per cent per year. The bad news is that in spite of the drop in the growth rate, the world population today is increasing by about 75 million additional people every year.

Now, if this current modest 1.3% per year could continue, the world population would grow to a density of one person per square meter on the dry land surface of the earth in just seven hundred and eighty years and then the mass of people would equal the mass of the earth in just twenty four hundred years. Well we can smile at those, we know they couldn't happen. This one make for a cute cartoon, the caption says, "Excuse me sir, but I am prepared to make you a rather attractive offer for your square".

There's a very profound lesson in that cartoon. The lesson is that zero population growth is gonna happen. Now we can debate whether we like zero population growth or don't like it, its going to happen whether we debate it or not, whether we like it or not. It's absolutely certain people could never live at that density on the dry land surface of the earth. Therefore today's high birth rates will drop; today's low death rate will rise till they have exactly the same numerical value. That will certainly be in a time shorter than several hundred years...

In the words of Winston Churchill, "sometimes we have to do what is required." First of all as a nation we have to get serious about renewable energy. For a start we ought to have a big increase in the funding for research in the development and dispersion of renewable energy. We have to educate all of our people to understand the arithmetic and the consequences of growth, especially in terms of populations and in terms of the earth's finite resources. We must educate people to recognise the fact that growth in rates of population and growth in rates of consumption of resources can not be sustained. What's the first law of sustainability? You've heard thousands of people talking endlessly about sustainability; did they ever tell you the first law? Here it is, population growth and/or growth in the rates of consumption of resources cannot be sustained. That's simple arithmetic Yet nobody that I'm encountering will tell you about that when talking about sustainability. So I think it's intellectually dishonest to talk about saving the environment, which is sustainability, without stressing the obvious facts that stopping population growth is a necessary condition for saving the environment and for sustainability."
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