Posts Tagged ‘solar power’

Same old poop, different day…

April 7, 2009

 

 

stinky-coal-and-the-earth

 

If you have been watching any public television at all over the last several months you’d think that the oil companies are single-handedly saving the world.  Exxon, BP, Chevron and probably others, have their own little infomercials at the beginning of many PBS programs.  They claim to the working on all sorts of new alternative energy programs and conservation programs.  They also claim to be concerned about global warming and claim to be doing something about it. 

Today, however, I read in the New York Times that these ads (about solar, wind, etc) are mostly lip service.  All the big oil guys are still spending most of their money on the old stinky fossil fuels that will increase global warming, raise ocean levels and basically destroy the planet.  Thanks guys!  I’m so happy you’re doing your part to insure that we have an interesting future, to say the least.

In addition, the article states that big oil companies are just not ready to invest in these new technologies.  But it did say that the big oil companies will invest much more into these new technologies (probably, maybe) in the next 10 years.  It will be too little too late.  Again, we’re setting a great example for India and China (and we’ll be the first ones to complain about it). 

To read the entire New York Times article see:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/08/business/energy-environment/08greenoil.html?hp

 

 

JCE

Explain renewable energy to me again

November 11, 2008

atoms3_renew

OK, I thought I knew what alternative energy was and I thought I knew what renewable energy was, but now I am a bit confused.  Now I see renewable energy mentioned everywhere and the term alternative energy gone by the wayside, extinct like the dodo.  Even our government is teaching our kids what the term renewable should really mean to us.  See their website here:

http://www.eia.doe.gov/kids/energyfacts/sources/renewable/renewable.html

(and I’m sorry but this thing looks like some sort of menacing atomic weapon to me–and what is that weird cricket alien looking thing in the middle all about?)

Not really sure if a meteor struck the earth or if all the dictionaries on the planet have been rewritten, but now I’m seeing solar and wind power talked about in the same sentence as a renewable energy almost everywhere.  This is where I’m a bit confused.  To me, renewable means something that you can renew.  As far as I know the sun rises every day and the wind blows every day somewhere.  I think of renewable as something that is grown or made, used and then you grow and/or make some more (thus the renewing part of renewable) as you need it.  Maybe the rain has to renew the water behind a dam or something like that but that’s not even a good usage of the phrase.

I know I’m not the smartest guy in the world so I suppose there could be somebody out in space growing the sun and there could be somebody on earth blowing the wind around  (I do know a lot wind bags out there so it is possible).

Anyway, I consider geothermal, solar, wind, and a lot of other kinds of power to be alternative forms of energy as opposed to traditional or conventional energy sources.  So if you could help me out here I would appreciate it.  I really don’t mind and bracing new words or phrases but I like to do so when they make sense.  Does this make sense to you?

McCain-Palin 2008 Energy policies

October 26, 2008

Expanding Domestic Oil And Natural Gas Exploration And Production: “Drill baby drill” Has Been the chant of their campaign.  Drilling for offshore oil is an unrealistic fallacy.  If you look it up on the government web sites you’ll find a study by the Department of Energy that say the impact would be “insignificant.” Does it make sense to you to go after the same stuff that there’s less and less of everyday?  This isn’t gonna help our pain at the pumps at all.  All the oil infrastructure that they are talking about would take about 10 years to get up and running.  And even after it was all in it would only account for about 1% overall oil usage.  What this really means is after it’s all in place you will see about one penny less per gallon at the pump.

 

Taking Action Now To Break Our Dependency On Foreign Oil By Reforming Our Transportation Sector.

 He wants to “commit a $5,000 tax credit for each and every customer who buys a zero carbon emission car, encouraging automakers to be first on the market with these cars in order to capitalize on the consumer incentives. For other vehicles, a graduated tax credit will apply so that the lower the carbon emissions, the higher the tax credit.” Now this a good start.  But it doesn’t do anything to get the inefficient trucks and SUVs off the market and our streets.  We need to charge more at the pumps for large and efficient vehicles and less for hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

 

I like the “$300 Million Prize To Improve Battery Technology For Full Commercial Development Of Plug-In Hybrid And Fully Electric Automobiles“because I believe we shouldn’t invest in new technologies.  He does, however, put all our eggs in one basket.

 

I’d don’t like that he “Supports Flex-Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) And Believes They Should Play A Greater Role In Our Transportation Sector.  It is true that Brazil runs about 85% of their vehicles on domestic ethanol.  McCain’s proposal to get rid of the tariffs on Brazil’s ethanol that is produced from sugar canes is just another imported fuel that keeps us dependent on imports.

 

His belief that “Alcohol-Based Fuels Hold Great Promise As Both An Alternative To Gasoline And As A Means of Expanding Consumers’ Choices. Some choices such as ethanol are on the market right now. The second generation of alcohol-based fuels like cellulosic ethanol, which won’t compete with food crops, are showing great potential” would make a great transition to all electric vehicles.  Any crop used for fuel would depend on powered vehicles to plant maintain and harvest them.  Today these vehicles are powered by Petroleum Products.

 

John McCain’s elimination of “Wasteful Special Interest Subsidies” is a good move.  Robert Kennedy Jr.  recently stated on a Fred Friendly’s Seminar series called “fueling our future” that gasoline prices are actually $10 to $12 dollars a gallon.  People don’t understand that the price at the pump is so low because it’s hidden in your taxes.  Subsidies to special interest groups allowed this to occur.

 

“John McCain Will Effectively Enforce Existing CAFE Standards” is a joke.  These are the mileage requirements that automobile manufacturers’ cars must meet.  They have been way too low for years and “Some carmakers ignore these standards, pay a small financial penalty, and add it to the price of their cars” which makes it even more ineffective.  The penalties have to be painful enough so the carmakers comply.  Therefore I believe John McCain’s quote that he “believes that the penalties for not following these standards must be effective enough to compel all carmakers to produce fuel-efficient vehicles” is a good policy.

 

But what he does an address is how about more and better mass transportation systems?  How about encouraging employers to push for improved telecommunications systems and encourage people to work from home as much as they can?  How about encouraging employers to take mass transportation or carpool? This would put a huge dent in our fuel usage.

 

Investing In Clean, Alternative Sources Of Energy

I like this quote “John McCain Believes That The U.S. Must Become A Leader In A New International Green Economy. Green jobs and green technology will be vital to our economic future. There is no reason that the U.S. should not be a leader in developing and deploying these new technologies.”

 

But that he was often a la-la Land. “John McCain Will Commit $2 Billion Annually To Advancing Clean Coal Technologies. Coal produces the majority of our electricity today. Some believe that marketing viable clean coal technologies could be over 15 years away.” This sounds great (sarcasm here).  Invest and another fossil fuel that’s over 15 years into the future.  What a great idea.  This would be not only of no use to us now but it would also rely on another fossil fuel.  Bad idea.

 

Protecting Our Environment By Addressing Climate Change

I also agree with the cap-and-trade idea. “That Would Set Limits On Greenhouse Gas Emissions While Encouraging The Development Of Low-Cost Compliance Options. A climate cap-and-trade mechanism would set a limit on greenhouse gas emissions and allow entities to buy and sell rights to emit, similar to the successful acid rain trading program of the early 1990s.” this is good stuff but he’s not aggressive enough on the auto industry and all other pollution sources to get their act together.

 

We need to declare war on energy waste and air pollution.  This crisis is actually worse than the economic crisis that we’re in right now.  The economic crisis will be used as an excuse not to take care of energy waste and air pollution.  This will lead to further destruction of our planet and increase the greenhouse gas problem.  We need to create a WPA type program where we take all the people that are out of work due to this economic crisis and get them busy working on wind Energy and solar energy projects that will save our planet.

 

Promoting Energy Efficiency

“John McCain Will Make Greening The Federal Government A Priority Of His Administration. The federal government is the largest electricity consumer on earth and occupies 3.3 billion square feet of space worldwide.” This is a really good idea.  It’s good to lead by example.

“John McCain Will Move The United States Toward Electricity Grid And Metering Improvements To Save Energy.” This is a really good idea that doesn’t go far enough.  We need to put huge wind farms in the central corridor of the United States and huge solar installations in the sunny desert areas of the United States.

 

As part of this policy, John McCain says “we will also need to deploy SmartMeter technologies. These new meters give customers a more precise picture of their overall energy consumption, and over time will encourage a more cost-efficient use of power.” This is also a great idea.  He does not, however, mention smart grid technology that would another great energy policy.  Smart grid technology allows the consumer to select appliances that can be turned off during the day without affecting them at all and avoid brownouts and blackouts at the same time.

Another great idea that he does not address would be another work program where people could winterize low income homes and then work their way up to middle class homes.  These homes are notorious Energy wasters.  This would create jobs were they are needed and help people that are out of work due to this economic crisis.

 

 

Addressing Speculative Pricing Of Oil

John McCain wants two find the abusers and punish them swiftly. “To make sure it never happens again, we must reform the laws and regulations governing the oil futures market, so that they are just as clear and effective as the rules applied to stocks, bonds, and other financial instruments. “ These are good ideas and should be implemented.

John McCain Does Not Support A Windfall Profits Tax.  A windfall profits tax would punish the oil companies that greatly profited from the speculation.  Personally, I’d like to see those profits taxed at a higher rate and the money used for work programs and research and development into green energy technologies.  The money could also be used for the home winterization programs.  See the exact details on McCain’s website: http://www.johnmccain.com

We need leadership

October 23, 2008

Here is some food for thought. Take a look at:

 http://www.env-econ.net/2008/10/the-economic-th.html.

Simple economics principles are at work here; Supply and demand. The price of oil goes up the demand for renewable energy also goes up. Currently there’s a huge shortage of wind turbines. See:

http://www.windenergynews.com/content/view/932/43/

And it’s just getting worse. See:

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2008/10/09/turbine-shortage-delays-projects/

As the prices of oil fall and the demand for a renewable energy sources remains high, demand will fall and hopefully prices will fall as well. And then we’ll go right back to using all the oil we can and renewable energy will fade again to a distant memory.  Then we’ll sit back and enjoy a ride in our giant trucks and SUVs; fat dumb and happy.  Renewable energy falls off the radar just like it did in the past.

There are many different opinions and approaches but democracy will prevail and dig us out of this hole. As you can see, pure capitalism fails miserably when faced with this sort of issue. When we become puppets of large corporations we are doomed to a boom and bust economy. Long-term solutions and long-term thinking pays off here. Europe has had a long-term plan for a long time. United States has had no plan (and no clue) for a long time. Our plan has consists of a series of starts and stops following the rise and fall of oil prices. It looks like the heartbeat and now it’s pretty much in cardiac arrest. Much of this has been orchestrated by large automobile manufacturers, the airline industry, auto parts manufacturers, and large oil companies. As long as there have been large corporations in the United States we have been ruled by greed, collusion and shortsightedness.

D. Eisenhower

There has been no long-term plan since Dwight D. Eisenhower came up with his vision for the future and created the interstate system of superior highways that we have today. Europe on the other hand has developed a superior mass transportation system and has hardly been impacted are all by the increasing fuel prices. In the great streetcar scandal of 1947 to 1949 General Motors and eight other companies including tire and big oil companies systematically eliminated America’s light rail system. They were all found guilty and only fined $5000 each. And this is just one example of the many such secret agreements and collusions involving large corporations with great amounts of money involved. Uncontrolled capitalism suffers from an old saying that goes something like this “a fool with a plan will do better than a genius without one.”

We need a challenge with a clear goal like John F. Kennedy’s 1962 speech at Rice University in Huston Texas. He clearly stated that America was going to land a man on the Moon before the end of the 1960s. We need leadership and we need a challenge with a clear goal. We need a great leader that will demand that America become energy independent and import no energy by the end of the decade. Lobbyists for large corporations and partisan special interests should play no part in this process.

It is common sense that any finite supply of a substance such as fossil fuels will diminish as it is consumed. Eventually there will be none of it left to be consumed. As demand increases from emerging economies such as China and India and eventually the rest of the world, prices will increase and that is assured. Decreasing demand around the entire globe would be the only way to keep the prices of Petroleum Products low and stable.

Boone Pickens’s right. To me it makes sense that in very hot areas such as Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California to name a few for example experience peak energy use for air conditioning and industry on a hot sunny days during the daylight hours. This can be addressed with solar energy to avoid the rolling brownouts and blackouts that we’ve seen in California. From my experiences here in Wisconsin, the sun often shines on the coldest days and the wind blows on the cloudy days when the fronts to come through. On the hottest days a summer the sun is shining bright, it is a very hot and our conditioners are running all the time. Storing solar energy is simply an engineering problem that is being solved as we speak. Advances in thin film solar cell technology have reduced the price to about a $1.30 per kilowatt hour. The cells are rapidly decreasing in price and should reach a competitive price of a dollar or less in the near future. As for the huge solar concentrators that heat water to steam to power turbines, the superheated water generates electricity during the day. At night this hot water under pressure could be stored inside insulated tanks buried in the ground. When electricity usage is much lower during the night, the pressurize water could then released back into the system and is able to power the turbines. This generates less electricity when less electricity is needed.

The desolate an empty desert southwest would be an excellent area to install a huge expanse of solar generators. In the Midwest corridor is an excellent place where huge when farm. It is also been proposed to install a huge when generation facility in the center of the shallow plateau that exists in the middle of Lake Michigan. Wind is constant and reliable in that location. All the solutions would need distribution systems and transmission lines. This is probably the largest complaint of many utilities. But if you look at history you’ll see that when large dams, like the Hoover dam are built the infrastructure is created to supply areas where it is needed. Build it and they will come. We have to plan ahead.

Yes these projects would increase the deficit substantially. However, in the long term there would be fewer wars and much less money spent. The deficit would become a surplus and a windfall would pay off the debt of the United States.

John Eberhardt

https://johnceberhardt.wordpress.com/