FacebookTwitter
Hatrack River Forum Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Your Green Energy News Center (Page 2)

  This topic comprises 15 pages: 1  2  3  4  5  ...  13  14  15   
Author Topic: Your Green Energy News Center
Shawshank
Member
Member # 8453

 - posted      Profile for Shawshank   Email Shawshank         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thanks a lot Lyrhawn- thank you fo the time you put into this thread!
Posts: 980 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lyrhawn
Member
Member # 7039

 - posted      Profile for Lyrhawn   Email Lyrhawn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It's no problem at all, I'm just glad people are getting something out of it. Sorry there wasn't a post yesterday. I had it all set to go, and then my computer abruptly shut off, and I didn't feel like doing it all over again. Don't worry, you didn't miss anything huge. For today however:

The DOE (Department of Energy) has given out $375 million to three different research groups (mostly universities) for studies on cellulosic ethanol. The goal is to make it cost competitive with gasoline by 2012. I think this is a good step, and a good stepping stone to get us to biobutanol, which itself is not the final goal, but it's better than the status quo.
............................

The US Army is paying 244,000 dollars to UGM Technology to develop all electric trucks. One of the articles I meant to post yesterday but didn't was that US Army commanders were pleading with the government for renewable energy stations in Iraq. They wanted to be able to provide power to bases without having to truck in fuel in very vulnerable convoys that are easy targets for insurgents. They were turned down by the government.
................................

New survey finds Americans would drive less if gas was more than $4, but would by and large not walk, bike or take public transportation. Apparently we'd rather not go anywhere at all then not take our cars to get there. To be fair, that's because a combination of huge urban sprawl and poor public transportation outside of huge city centers like NYC makes this impractical. You can view the full survey and results here.
...................................

Here is a look on what the future development of ethanol might look like through 2020. Basically it's a long drive towards biobutanol and cellulosic ethanol.

.........................................

Edmunds video review of the new 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid. They think it's the best hybrid on the road, check it out, it's a YouTube link.
.........................................

Goldman Sachs, one of the powerhouses of Wall Street, describes here the five things they would like to see to keep the Green Sector of the economy growing, and it's spurring investment. They see the Bush Administration as a hindrance however, and hope the next President will be more open to growth.

.......................................

The USDA recently changed the guidelines for what can and can't be labelled organic food. For anyone who eats a lot of organic food, you might want to check this out.

........................................

The southwest is the fastest growing part of the US, and people are dangerously building houses at the edge of, and sometimes IN forests. Severe lack of water in the southwest (which makes its growth questionable to begin with) makes their homes extremely vulnerable to forest fire. We condemn people for building on tornado alley and near hurricane prone areas, so shouldn't we be trying to stop this behavior before it becomes another bloodbath?

....................................

To punctuate this point, read this article. There is no rain forecast for Las Angeles before September. That's insane. Vegas by the way should be applauded for their water conservation efforts. They're growing exponentially, yet managed to cut 18 million gallons of water use in that time span. We need to get SERIOUS about water conservation in drought prone zones. LA's Sierra water sources, which give it up to 50% of their daily water needs are running dangerously low as well.

.........................................

LED tube lighting here, CFLs already on the way out.

...........................................

PG&E announced a new deal today for building a new type of solar plant (on a small scale) in California.

quote:
California utility PG&E today announced deals with San Francisco solar startups GreenVolts and Cleantech America to build photovoltaic solar power plants. The projects are relatively small-scale - 2 megawatts for GreenVolts and 5-megawatts for Cleantech America - but represent a move by a major utility to use solar power stations close to urban areas to supply green energy during peak demand. To date, utilities like Southern California Edison (EIX) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SRE) have tended to contract for massive megawatt solar thermal power plants to be constructed in the Mojave Desert far from the cities they will supply. That often means billion-dollar transmission lines must be built or upgraded.

GreenVolts, which was featured in Green Wombat's Big Solar story in the June issue of Business 2.0, will build its power plant on just eight acres in Tracy, a farm town turned exurb about 60 miles east of San Francisco. The company has developed a high concentration photovoltaic technology that features microdishes that track the sun and focus its rays on small but highly efficient solar cells. Rotating platforms hold 176 of the dishes (image above). The Tracy plant goes online in 2009. Earlier this month, GreenVolts announced a deal to build a prototype power plant for Avista (AVA), a Spokane, Washington-based utility.

......................................

Edit to add:

I just found a couple new pages. A lot of my info comes from Green bloggers who all talk to each other and spread around press releases that are largely buried and never see the light of day, so often I'll see the same article on six different sites because they are sourcing it from the same parent site. But a few of my sources are print media, and those are leading me, slowly but surely, to new sites NOT from bloggers that have some info the bloggers don't. Anyway, here's some new info:

quote:
Calsunenergy CEO Alex Boyer has a tough schedule. He has to hold meetings at night because he's got science camp in the daytime.

That's because Boyer is pretty young. He goes into the eighth grade in the fall.

For Calsunenergy, however, it's not unusual. The company--which is trying to develop a concentrator for solar cells and come up with a way to convert heat generated by solar cells into usable energy--is founded by kids in grade school and junior high. CTO Shaun Boyer will be in sixth grade in the fall. The VPs of marketing and sales will start fifth grade later this year.

The company has one patent application on file and has entered the California Clean Tech Open, which gives prizes and office space to winners. Greenvolts, which has helped commercialize a solar concentrator (a concentrator focuses additional sunlight on a solar cell to increase electrical output), got its start at the open last year. Now it's signing deals.

Calsunenergy is based in Santa Clara, Calif., which sort of figures

.............................

Here is my featured article for the day.

The gist is that we for the most part use meters for our home electrical use that are 50 years old, which harken back to a time when energy was plentiful. Part of the problem is that we charge the same rate for energy during the day as we do at night. Whole power plants sit idle during the night waiting for the daytime power rush when electrical use is ramped up, and then they are shut down until tomorrow. Meanwhile at night, energy is wasted all over the grid as people sleep.

The idea to fix that is to charge less for energy during the night and more during the day at peak hours. This should spur people to use the cheaper energy at night for whatever tasks they can push back. It also brings up the issue of a programmable house, which helps reduce energy costs as well, but I'll get into that another time. Read the article, it's about big savings, both in electricity and in money for the US people.

[ June 28, 2007, 03:47 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]

Posts: 21894 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lyrhawn
Member
Member # 7039

 - posted      Profile for Lyrhawn   Email Lyrhawn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I wanted to do a separate post about the Chevy Volt and some specifics concerning it.

Currently there is a competition going on between CPI and A123 for who will get to make the LION battery pack for the Chevy Volt.

You can listen to podcasts (interviews) with the lead designers of the batteries for A123 and CPI at those links. The info from the researchers is good, though the guy doing the interviewing sounds like he couldn't possibly be less interested in the answers he is getting from what has to be a list of questions he's reading off. If I hear him say "that's terrific" or "that's interesting" one more time I'll hurt him something fierce.

Anyway, currently the batteries are still being researched, but it's far from just an idea. A123 has already invented the cells, it's just a matter of getting them packaged together into a single battery, and then getting that battery into a car. A123 thinks this could happen as early as December 2007. CPI is optimistic about their pitch because the materials for their cells are plentiful, easy to produce and cheaper to make. CPI says that the battery is already basically done, they are just tweaking the chemistry and design to meet specific specifications from GM. All in all CPI sounds a lot closer to being complete than A123, as the latter doesn't even have a prototype yet, and CPI is already steaming forward on their full sized prototype. The guy being interviewed said they certainly expect a working prototype by the end of December this year, which is optimistic. Both battery companies seem pretty optimisitic about getting a production ready battery out there LESS than a year from now, even though GM is saying a year is the goal. I think that really speaks to how aggressively GM is pursuing this technology. Both battery makers believe 15 year battery life is perfectly reasonable to expect, though CPI has said 40 years isn't out of the question.

The average life of a car is considerably shorter than that, but, having a battery that operates at that level of efficiency for that long only gives more credence to PG&E's idea to mass purchase PHEV batteries for electric storage that I talked about awhile ago, which I think will only make the cars more affordable as they are accepted in the US market, and I think that helps get the foot in the door for mass production.

As far as affordability goes, GM's North American Chairman, Bob Lutz in May said that he believes the price point for the consumer on the Volt will be less than $30,000, which I think is great news, and will make the car amazingly comeptitive, especially when combined with the proposed PHEV tax credit I mentioned earlier. The PHEV credit for the Volt would be almost $6,000 under the proposed guidelines, which would make it cheaper than some Hybrids are now. Lutz also said the car will have a range of 750 miles on a single tank of gas and a single full charge. For me, someone who literally drives less than 10,000 miles a year, I might only have to fill up once a month, or less, so long as I plug it in every night, and maybe not even that much if I charge it up every night. The idea is tantalizing.

Rest assured the Volt is far more than just a concept car. GM has already allocated engineers and funding towards making it a production vehicle, and it has a production schedule. They expect to spend 500 million dollars on the program. Frankly I have to wonder about some recent statements from President Bush. He said the US Auto industry will have to spend literally over a 100 billion dollars to drastically overhaul fuel economy standards. Yet GM can make the first mass produced viable PHEV for half a billion? Sounds like fear mongering to me.

Lutz also accused the federal government of doing nothing to help automakers, and instead were only hindering them, and I see where they are going with this. Their point of view is that we should be moving to the next big thing, away from the old fashioned ICE and on to something new, but instead, the government is forcing them to moderately increase MPG standards while offering nothing in the way of help in developing new technologies. In other words, they'd do better to offer incentives to spur a grand new R&D project on next gen energy rather than a goofy little MPG upgrade that won't get us anywhere when the average American still loves to buy gas guzzling cars. Lutz reiterated a call I've heard from many others that the government should institute a higher gas tax to reduce the demand on oil and make their investments in cleaner cars more viable, and I think he's right.

Anyway, this post's main focus is the Volt, which I think is a game changer if it lives up to expectations. I doubt I'll buy it the year it comes out (I refuse to ever buy the first year of a new model) but I will certainly be on the waiting list to get one in 2010 or 2011.

Posts: 21894 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lyrhawn
Member
Member # 7039

 - posted      Profile for Lyrhawn   Email Lyrhawn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Jeep wins top awards and a lot of respect in Europe. They made a couple diesel powered Jeeps that get great fuel economy, beating out European SUVs.

Cleaner cars have saved 5 million tons of CO2 over the last decade.

Spain a Green Energy powerhouse. Second only to Germany in wind power production, they get 27% of their national energy needs from renewables.

University of Arizona is going to lease it's giant biodome (artificial closed environment).

Fighting back against sprawl - The Greening of Detroit

Treehugger.com focuses on water consumption this week. This is a podcast discussing the issue and possible solutions.

Featured article: Big Solar is coming to California

quote:
A coalition of western utilities is studying the feasibility of constructing a solar power plant in New Mexico that could generate up to 500 megawatts of green electricity. The project is being managed by the Electric Power Research Institute, a Palo Alto-based non-profit, and is being supported by New Mexico utility PNM (PNM), Southern California Edison (EIX), San Diego Gas & Electric (SRE), Xcel Energy (XEL) and Tri-State Generation and Transmission. El Paso Electric (EE) may also join the effort. The EPRI-led group will complete a study by the end of 2007 of various solar thermal technologies - which use the sun's heat to produce electricity - and then decide whether to proceed with the design, permitting and construction of a solar power station. Representatives from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratory Will participate as well as consultants from energy company Nexant and engineering firm Black & Veatch. A few large-scale solar thermal power station projects are already underway. Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric have deals with Stirling Energy Systems to generate up to 1.75 gigawatts of electricity from its Stirling dish system. Northern California utility PG&E (PCG), meanwhile, is negotiating with BrightSource Energy to provide 500 megawatts from solar power tower stations.

Posts: 21894 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lyrhawn
Member
Member # 7039

 - posted      Profile for Lyrhawn   Email Lyrhawn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I just wanted to add something about better energy meters, utility rates, and PHEVs. Call this your weekly editorial segment:

I've talked about all this before but I wanted to package it a little bit better as a pro-argument for PHEVs, energy management, pricing and renewable energy in general in case any of you ever want to use these arguments when talking with people who are skeptical about all these changes.

Now I've addressed some of our problems. One, the majority of energy plants run 24 hours a day because even though they have very small demand during the night time hours, it is actually cheaper to just run the plant and let the energy bleed off into the grid than it is to shut down the massive machines and then start them back up a few hours later. Additionally, during the peak daytime hours, more plants and more capacity has to be brought online for just a few hours a day to meet the extremely heavy needs. When even that isn't enough, you get rolling blackouts.

Two, many renewables aren't generating constant flows of energy 24 hours a day. Solar for example is really only providing power during the day, and wind has far more power generating capacity at night, but demand is low at night and that power is wasted. Likewise the power is wasted from regular plants as well.

Three, energy rates from power companies are the same regardless of whether you are purchasing that energy during peak or off-peak hours.

So what should our goal be? I think our goal, first off, should be to not have to rely on backup power plants to meet our demand during peak hours. I think we should come up with a system that is more efficient, and by that I mean uses every drop of energy that we produce so none of the waste products from that creation are created for no reason at all.

Solutions, and why this is a good thing for you the consumer:

First off, charge more for power during the day and less for power at night. It's a common practice to charge more for peak hours, it's what convinces people to go to a matinee instead of an evening show, because they want to save a little money, and movie theaters want to make labor costs during the day worthwhile.

Second, replace all those old power meters with new ones. The old ones are inefficient, and new ones will be able to record when you are using your power and will charge you at a different rate. Replacing old power meters by the way, even without new pricing or grid technology would net us a national 5-10% savings in energy. In other words, just changing the way we measure the energy we use will reduce a possible tenth of our overall need.

Third, major tax breaks for PHEV vehicles to get them into production faster and get them on the road. PHEVs, or Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicles, don't really exist yet on the market, but they will by 2009 with the introduction of the Chevy Volt. The Volt is an electrically driven car (unlike Hybrids) that can go 40 miles on a charge, but when you run out of power, the small gas powered engine will turn on and power the battery, which will then discharge and run the vehicle. It's incredibly efficient, and will save the consumer tons of money in fuel costs. Also keep in mind that if all these cars are being charged at night, they will be getting the discounted energy price, increasing their savings over a regular ICE car even more.

Fourth, make PG&E's new grid technology a national standard. We need to improve the grid anyway, it's horribly outdated, and we're getting massive losses in electricity that has to travel over great distances. It's just plain wasted, and as more applications will rely on easy access to power and less on wasteful fossil fuels, efficiently transferrable power will become necessary. Furthermore, if a PHEV can charge itself during the night and then power your house during the day, you'll be able to not only save money by using low nightly rate energy during expensive peak hour times, but that will take huge stresses off the energy industry. It also works if you're simply selling the energy back to the grid, but selling it back to the grid at a higher rate will mean you're literally getting paid to do nothing, you're theoretically leasing out your car's battery as a mini-power plant. It will also make PHEVs cheaper if PG&E's plan to buy used PHEV batteries works. What they want to do is take batteries that can no longer work in cars and put them in energy substations all over the country. Those batteries can then store the energy that is usually wasted and use it to stablize the demand during the day. It's a brilliant use of recycling, and in the process will make PHEVs more valuable and should make them less expensive to the consumer. There's an obvious drawback to this, as one wonders what the point of having an electric car is if you bleed off all the power for your house and the grid, and that's a real concern, but you can control when you sell power back to the grid or use it in your house. You can program the car to let go of energy or when to save it. So if some day you know you'll be on the go, you keep your energy, but if you're sick or taking the day off, let go of that power and put it to good use! When you magnify that behavior times the 250+ million cars in the country, it's a game changer.

With more and more renewable energy generating capacity coming online every year, with the price of wind turbines and solar panels dropping at staggering rates, and with electric cars becoming a viable reality, I think this is the crucial moment we can make a switch away from old ICE cars and not only make a big dent in CO2 emissions, but we'll do so by not just NOT wrecking the economy, but by giving it a HUGE shot in the arm. This is the kind of game changing innovation that has kept America near the top for so long, and we should embrace it while we can. The savings aren't just for corporate America either by the way. Americans, while still getting relatively cheap fuel and power over a global average, still pay a lot in their yearly fuel and energy needs, mostly because of a wasteful lifestyle. Americans could save thousands of dollars a year in this changeover, and that more than pays for the expense of making the change.

Technologically we're just about there. This isn't stuff just on the drawing board, much of it is in production or in the middle to end stages of development. I just hope we don't cheat ourselves out of the benefits our efforts have given us because we're too short sighted and too attached to the past to see the great things that are in store for us by making a change.

Posts: 21894 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Enigmatic
Member
Member # 7785

 - posted      Profile for Enigmatic   Email Enigmatic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Here is my featured article for the day.

The gist is that we for the most part use meters for our home electrical use that are 50 years old, which harken back to a time when energy was plentiful. Part of the problem is that we charge the same rate for energy during the day as we do at night. Whole power plants sit idle during the night waiting for the daytime power rush when electrical use is ramped up, and then they are shut down until tomorrow. Meanwhile at night, energy is wasted all over the grid as people sleep.

The idea to fix that is to charge less for energy during the night and more during the day at peak hours. This should spur people to use the cheaper energy at night for whatever tasks they can push back. It also brings up the issue of a programmable house, which helps reduce energy costs as well, but I'll get into that another time. Read the article, it's about big savings, both in electricity and in money for the US people.

As something of a night-owl myself, I would love this kind of pricing! (In addition to the efficiency improvements the article touts, of course.) I do wonder if businesses would resist that kind of pricing change though. For myself, I work during the day so most my appliances at home are turned off until evening hours when the computer, TV, etc get use. But for my employer, the lights, computers, heater or AC, are all on most during the day when it would be more expensive under the new pricing.

--Enigmatic

Posts: 2715 | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Juxtapose
Member
Member # 8837

 - posted      Profile for Juxtapose   Email Juxtapose         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I've only been reading bits and pieces here, but thanks all the same, Lyrhawn, for your time and effort. [Smile]
Posts: 2907 | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lyrhawn
Member
Member # 7039

 - posted      Profile for Lyrhawn   Email Lyrhawn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Enigmatic:
quote:
Here is my featured article for the day.

The gist is that we for the most part use meters for our home electrical use that are 50 years old, which harken back to a time when energy was plentiful. Part of the problem is that we charge the same rate for energy during the day as we do at night. Whole power plants sit idle during the night waiting for the daytime power rush when electrical use is ramped up, and then they are shut down until tomorrow. Meanwhile at night, energy is wasted all over the grid as people sleep.

The idea to fix that is to charge less for energy during the night and more during the day at peak hours. This should spur people to use the cheaper energy at night for whatever tasks they can push back. It also brings up the issue of a programmable house, which helps reduce energy costs as well, but I'll get into that another time. Read the article, it's about big savings, both in electricity and in money for the US people.

As something of a night-owl myself, I would love this kind of pricing! (In addition to the efficiency improvements the article touts, of course.) I do wonder if businesses would resist that kind of pricing change though. For myself, I work during the day so most my appliances at home are turned off until evening hours when the computer, TV, etc get use. But for my employer, the lights, computers, heater or AC, are all on most during the day when it would be more expensive under the new pricing.

--Enigmatic

That's true, but it might also spur them to make efficiency changes in the office to reduce costs. For example, there are a ton of little things that can be done, like changing the settings in the computers in the office so that they hibernate or standby when not in use. They could switch to more efficient lighting that uses less wattage. If they own the building or could work out something with the property owner, they could look at a wind or solar plant to install on the roof and then take in the savings all over the building, which is more of a long term investment.

As increased night time use and decreased daytime use balances out, so too would prices. The idea is to keep energy use balanced so there's less waste. And until then, people will perhaps pay attention to day time efficiency that until now they have all ignored because there was no real incentive to.

Furthermore, this should make Green Architecture even more attractive. Buildings that make better use of lighting, better water management and use electricity more sparingly are cheaper to operate, and earn back their slightly more expensive price tag quickly and earn more money for themselves than you need to invest over time. We're living with an infrastructure, and largely using behaviors that were invented and formed when energy was cheap and plentiful, and with that no longer being the case, it's time we changed the world around us and our attitudes.

Posts: 21894 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lyrhawn
Member
Member # 7039

 - posted      Profile for Lyrhawn   Email Lyrhawn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Today's articles, in a cut down abridged form, but better than the links I use on lazy days, I have some special stuff at the end that you should see, if you ignore everything else:

GM, BMW and DCX have partnered up on hybrids, and the fruits of that partnership will be felt in the fall when a two-mode hybrid version of the Chevy Yukon and Tahoe come out this fall. They will be but a few of the many hybrids coming out for the 2008 car year. The hyrbid market is on the verge of an explosion.
.................................

Gas rationing in Iran and the civil rest that follows is leading many to wonder what would happen in the US if we had to go back to gas rationing as well. For anyone who is wondering why Iran is gas rationing when they have some of the biggest reserves of oil in the world, it's because their refinery capacity is a joke, and they import more than 75% of the fuel they use, and even their pumping capacity is slowing down.
.................................

Former EPA Director Christine Todd Whitman has recently said that in fact she didn't leave the EPA because she wanted to spend more time with her family, but because she could not in good conscience sign the revised rules that Cheney wrote for coal plant modifications. The change allowed coal plants to make updates without putting in equipment to clean emissions. The court has since found that the modified rules violated the Clean Air Act. My respect for Whitman has gone up, but it's still suffering from her handling of the post 9/11 clean up air quality issues, that are only now coming back to haunt us.
....................................

I think I mentioned this one before, but Waste Management is putting forward $400 million to convert 60 of their landfill sites to methane capturing power plants. Methane emissions in the US from landfills account from 34% of our total methane emissions. Capturing that and putting it to good use could go a long way towards cutting our problematic emissions.
.................................

It's almost that time of year for the farm bill. Stay tuned for future updates on this tricky subject, but the basis, from an environmentalist's point of view is that I think we need to cut subsidies to major producers, institute greener farming practices to both safeguard our farmable land and make food cheaper, while revitalizing the small farmer's place in America. More to follow.
..................................

The PHEV tax credit has been removed from the Senate version of the current energy bill. That doesn't mean it is dead, but it's on life support. Toyota has released a statement against using LION batteries in cars, this after postponing the 2009 Prius X, which was to feature a LION battery that would improve performance greatly, and which shifts focus of who will be the first to build a PHEV from scratch to GM, and maybe even Ford. Toyota says the technology is unsafe, but if you listened to the podcasts I posted a couple days ago, the battery makers themselves have some pretty in depth explanations on why they are safe with the newer technologies being introduced. Mostly I think Toyota is 1. Pissed off that people are converting Priuses to PHEVs in garages and 2. They can't make the technology work as fast as they would like and are afraid of US carmakers cracking the market before they do. So they'll attempt to stop the tax credit before they have a chance to enter the market. With the Prius X pushed back to 2009 at least (or sooner, if they decide to stick with a NiMH battery), I can understand their nervousness. According to many articles, car analysts think that with Toyota's recent soaring spike in recalls and quality issues (yeah I know we just had this discussion, but I'm not making it up, this is from the industry people), they are nervous about bringing a new technology to market before it is 100% ready.

To be fair to Toyota, some of the reason for the spike in recalls and quality is that they are producing a lot more cars than they used to be, which will inevitably lead to more problems, but that isn't the whole story. If I have the time I'll go into a bigger story on Toyota's problems, but this is a Green thread, not a car thread (despite the links between them).

Edit to add:
And I didn't know this before, but the PHEV tax credit has much more to do with CONVERTING existing hybrids into PHEVs, which is what Toyota was so uproarius about. And they might have a point. Using current technology LION batteries, it probably would be pretty dangerous, when you consider that it's taking a full year to develop the battery for the Chevy Volt, in particular because of concerns for overheating and fire risk.

Hopefully we'll see the type of PHEV credit originally envisioned. within the next year or two before PHEVs become a standard car and not an add-on
..................................

Apparently NYC has a target date of 2012 to have their ENTIRE cab fleet of 13,000 cabs switched to hybrids, from the looks of things that's largely Ford Escapes so far, probably because of the extra legroom they offer, but in the end it will be a largely diverse fleet. The changeover effort began in May.
...................................

Here is your featured article: Wow Energy has developed scrubber technology that is leaps and bounds better than anything we've had before. Could vastly reduce the emissions from coal plant stacks and other dirty factories:

quote:
Developing a cheap and effective technology to scrub clean the emissions spewing forth from thousands of factory smoke stacks around the world would go a long ways toward tackling global warming. With coal-powered utilities likely to continue mushrooming at a steady rate in rapidly developing countries like China and India, finding a way to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions has become a clear priority.

The aptly named Wow Energy may have just invented the technology necessary to help accomplish that challenging objective. Its proprietary technology, dubbed Wow-Clean, is superior to that of its competitors in one main respect: in addition to removing carbon dioxide from emissions, it also tackles sulphur, nitrogen and mercury. In recent tests conducted by a third party, Wow's technology was shown to remove 85 - 95% of heavy metal pollutants and up to 85% of carbon dioxide from emissions, compared with other scrubbers, whose technologies only removed an average of 50 - 60% of mercury from emissions.

The technology works by first cooling the emissions and then adding chemicals to allow them to be converted into water soluble, non-polluting compounds and solid particles that can then be washed out. It is highly versatile: it can be installed on coal-fired power plants, furnaces, incinerators, gasifiers, gas turbines and a bevy of other utilities.

By combining several scrubbing technologies into one, Wow-Clean is more efficient than its rivals, and cheaper as well. With costs ranging between $22 and $25 million for a typical 250 megawatt power plant, Wow's technology is about as expensive as that of single pollutant scrubbers, a clear advantage in an increasingly competitive market.

"This technology can make coal a clean and pollution-free fuel and allow industry to upgrade existing electrical generating units rather than build new, expensive and unproven power plants to supply the world's demands for clean power," said Daniel Stringer, Wow's chairman and the inventor of its breakthrough technology.


Posts: 21894 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tatiana
Member
Member # 6776

 - posted      Profile for Tatiana   Email Tatiana         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm in favor of greener energy, especially increases in efficiency, but I want to make a few things clear that might not be obvious to the interested onlooker. Lots of green energy doesn't tap into totally new energy sources, so much as move it around from place to place. For instance, hybrid and electric cars use energy off the utility grid. That's quite an expensive form of energy, which was generated at a power plant, most likely from fossil fuels. So what hybrids do is not so much save energy as move the location of the burning from a car engine to a power plant many miles away. The good thing about that is that you can control emissions at a power plant much more easily than you can at the tailpipe. The bad thing is that there are a lot of losses along the way, such as transmission losses from the power lines heating up, etc. Also, batteries are made of toxic metals. They're expensive, don't last very long, and create a huge disposal problem. For these and other reasons, I think the time of the hybrid car has not yet come. I wouldn't buy one.

I do believe we will eventually need to use some other form of power for cars than gasoline. Hydrogen fuel cells seem to have the most promise to me for the long run. However, there are significant difficulties with those as well. And once again, hydrogen is not a SOURCE of energy. There are no wells of hydrogen we are tapping. It's a FORM of energy. You create hydrogen by breaking water into its components, which requires you to add the energy that you later get back out when you burn the hydrogen in a car. The advantages and disadvantages are largely the same as for hybrids. It's inefficient but moves the place where pollution is created from the car itself to a power plant somewhere where it can hopefully be cleaned up more easily.

Though I'm very much in favor of greening our economy, I do think people need to realize the underlying realities we're dealing with. A lot of the rhetoric in green energy isn't always realistic.

Posts: 6245 | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lyrhawn
Member
Member # 7039

 - posted      Profile for Lyrhawn   Email Lyrhawn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
That's quite an expensive form of energy, which was generated at a power plant, most likely from fossil fuels. So what hybrids do is not so much save energy as move the location of the burning from a car engine to a power plant many miles away. The good thing about that is that you can control emissions at a power plant much more easily than you can at the tailpipe. The bad thing is that there are a lot of losses along the way, such as transmission losses from the power lines heating up, etc. Also, batteries are made of toxic metals. They're expensive, don't last very long, and create a huge disposal problem. For these and other reasons, I think the time of the hybrid car has not yet come. I wouldn't buy one.
Mile per mile, energy from the power plant is cheaper than getting it from gasoline. Hybrids, or converted PHEVs are one thing, but new PHEVs were are electric cars from the ground up are a lot better than your average ICE car, for many reasons. First of all, you're right, it IS a lot easier to control emissions from a smokestack, especially with newer scrubber technology, than it is to control it from tailpipes, because let's face it, all cars on the roads aren't SULEVs. Second, every month we expand our energy sources from renewables, and in the next few years especially we're going to see an explosion in solar, and more and more testing in tidal and wave as well, and more wind as prices drop for the newer transmissions and turbines. So more and more you'll be getting your energy from a green source. Third, natural PHEVs, like the forthcoming Chevy Volt, do far more than just shift the weight around of where you get your energy from. They are extrmely efficient vechicles, and don't have the energy wasting properties (well, not as much anyway) of a pure ICE. ICEs waste vast amounts of energy through a very inefficient process. Running a car off the battery with a small ICE to power the battery is different, and much more efficient. You don't waste as much energy, which results in a net decrease in fossil fuel emissions.

Third, hopefully in the coming years we can fix power line transmission losses, but it certainly hasn't been a focus lately. We aren't spending enough time or money on infrastructure, not so much something in my favor as a hopeful look at the future and an admittal of failures, BUT, part of the magic of renewables is that many of them can be spread out and be placed more locally, so you aren't buying energy from a 1000 miles away, but rather from 10 miles away. Also, hopefully in the near future people could even supply their own energy for their PHEVs, which eliminates most of the problems anyway.

Fourth, I'm a little surprised you would bring up batteries as a flaw in Hybrids or PHEVs, considering regular cars have batteries that fail just as often anyway. Besides, when PHEVs become a part of the main landscape, they will last 15 years in cars, and probably go on to serve another 10 years in power substations if companies like PG&E have their way.

I think we're at the vanguard of a revolution in cars. And while I too think it is important to recognize the potential drawbacks of Green energy, even when it is better than the status quo, I also think unnecessary negativity should also be spoken against as well. No offense Tatiana.

Posts: 21894 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lyrhawn
Member
Member # 7039

 - posted      Profile for Lyrhawn   Email Lyrhawn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Couple articles for you today:

Ford is trying hard to make up for years of laziness with regards to engine efficiency. Luckily they have some advancements in the pipeline to address this issue and make their ICEs 21st century players. Read here to find out what they have in store for us.

VersaSun and GM are bringing the first E85 fueling station to Washington DC. For the moment it's cheaper than regular gas, but few vehicles are FlexFuel and can actually use the fuel, and I have to yet again voice my disdain for ethanol from corn. We might as well keep using gasoline.

And I guess so long as we're using gasoline, it will help that Petro-Canada will be spending 25 BILLION dollars on a new oil-sands project to by fully operational by 2015 with production aimed at 285,000 barrels per day.

Sorry, this article is actually in German (a friend told me what it was and sent it to me), but the gist is that Berlin wants 15% of their traffic to be from bikes by 2015, and they are already at 12%. They credit this success with high gas taxes to discourage driving and fantastic upgrades to biking infrastructure making biking faster and easier than driving. If only we could get on board with that!

.......................

Featured articles

Al Gore has an Op-Ed piece in the New York times about the problem of Global Warming, the dangers we face, and what we should do to solve the problem.

And I'll take this moment briefly to plug his new book "The Assault on Reason." It's a bit of hard read at some points, simply because I don't believe Al Gore is, ironically, a very efficient writer. He tends to repeat himself a lot, but his points are good, and more than a call to arms it is an indictment of the Bush Administration for a dozen different reasons, and he gives a LOT of sources for his information. It's worth the read.

Finally,

Scientists are working on trying to figure out what's up with noctilescent clouds, basically bright shiny clouds that aren't the Northern Lights. These clouds form in the Mesosphere and usually stay to the north or south pole, but bow they are creeping into Northern Europe. They've been spotted from space for the first time, and scientists will try and discover if this has to do with global climate change or not.

[ July 02, 2007, 12:22 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]

Posts: 21894 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tatiana
Member
Member # 6776

 - posted      Profile for Tatiana   Email Tatiana         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
No offense meant or taken. I am glad to see focus on greener technology, and I think it's really important for our future.

Regular car batteries are much smaller, of course, than hybrid or electric car batteries, and they generally last longer, so the problems with toxic waste disposal are many times worse with hybrid or electric car batteries. If utilities start using them, this will help some, but won't really solve the problem. You still have what to do with the batteries after they have dropped below the efficiency at which they're useful to the utility, and if lots of hybrids are sold, only so many used batteries can be stored and maintained by the utilties.

I am very much in favor of us doing things in a sustainable way. I just think we need to be realistic as well.

For instance, wind and tides and solar are good for niche uses, but they have their own environmental consequences and they don't make much dent in the problem. They can certainly be part of the solution, but not all by any means. 10MW here and 20 there can be a good thing, but a typical power plant generates 1000MW. So it takes 100 wind farms at 10MW each to equal that. The environmental disruption from those 100 wind plants will be significant, and probably much more than 1 power plant would create. They take up a lot of land, and disrupt wildlife, etc. Not to mention being eyesores. And because it's wind it's not as easy to control as our fossil or nuclear plants.

The most important thing we can do as consumers is be efficient. Turn your a/c off or up to 80 on the thermostat. Use the compact fluorescent bulbs, which save you money twice in the summer. Invest in double paned windows, additional attic insulation, weather stripping, and so on. Live close to where you work, or telecommute if possible. All these things result it savings for you as well as being good for the environment.

Posts: 6245 | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lyrhawn
Member
Member # 7039

 - posted      Profile for Lyrhawn   Email Lyrhawn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
With present day technology, I am forced to agree with some of your points, but only some, and many of them will be rendered moot in a couple years. But present day batteries are about to get a huge uplift with new LION batteries come online (and we're not talking decades, we're talking two years, tops). The batteries that will be used in the next generation of electric cars (which again, will be available in two years, tops) will last 15 years, and that's just to the point where they drop below 80% efficiency, and then they are still useful as secondary power storage before they are recycled. Most car batteries last what, five years on average? This is better than three times that in terms of efficiency and reducing waste. Considering there are more than 250 million regular old cars on the road, with hundreds of millions of batteries to be disposed of, moving to a better system can only help the environment. Either you aren't quite up to date on battery technology and where it's headed in the very, very near term, or you are arguing against cars entirely. I'm not sure which.

Power companies are building 500MW+ power plants with renewable energy, not just teeny tiny plants dotted all over the landscape. Control isn't necessarily an issue as far as functionality goes. When you put up a wind turbine, generally you know how much power it will average over the course of a month or even a day, and if that equals out to what they need, especially if more can be captured with battery storage, then reliability isn't so much an issue.

And yes they can be eyesores, but that depends on where you are putting them. Windfarms dotted over farmland are a financial boon to farmers, and who is really there to see them anyway? Who are they an eyesore to? And there's newer designs for wind plants coming online with zero to little environmental impact, besides, I have extreme doubts on the impact of a few bird strikes being worse than the tons of noxious fumes pumped into the air from fossil fuel plants or the tons of water that nuclear power plants use in a country with severe drought all over the place. As far as space goes, frankly, we HAVE the space, so why not use it? Why notbsacrifice space, in the world's third largest country, and in return get a healthier environment?

You're right though, certainly, in that reducing the demands we place on the energy grid are the single greatest thing that can be done to solve the problem. Maybe next week I'll do an editorial of sorts on things you can do in the home, from the simple, like buying new, better lightbulbs, to the more difficult, like home remodeling, and the middle, like driving habits, to reduce your energy load.

Posts: 21894 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Bokonon
Member
Member # 480

 - posted      Profile for Bokonon           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Tatiana:
I'm in favor of greener energy, especially increases in efficiency, but I want to make a few things clear that might not be obvious to the interested onlooker. Lots of green energy doesn't tap into totally new energy sources, so much as move it around from place to place. For instance, hybrid and electric cars use energy off the utility grid. That's quite an expensive form of energy, which was generated at a power plant, most likely from fossil fuels. So what hybrids do is not so much save energy as move the location of the burning from a car engine to a power plant many miles away. The good thing about that is that you can control emissions at a power plant much more easily than you can at the tailpipe. The bad thing is that there are a lot of losses along the way, such as transmission losses from the power lines heating up, etc. Also, batteries are made of toxic metals. They're expensive, don't last very long, and create a huge disposal problem. For these and other reasons, I think the time of the hybrid car has not yet come. I wouldn't buy one.

Not completely true on the battery front. By all accounts, they are rated at least 150,000 miles, and both Honda and Toyota have recycling plans for the batteries.

From hybridcars.com:

quote:
How often do hybrid batteries need replacing? Is replacement expensive and disposal an environmental problem?

The hybrid battery packs are designed to last for the lifetime of the vehicle, somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 miles, probably a whole lot longer. The warranty covers the batteries for between eight and ten years, depending on the car maker.

Battery toxicity is a concern, althoug today's hybrids use NiMH batteries, not the environmentally problematic rechargeable nickel cadmium. "Nickel metal hydride batteries are benign. They can be fully recycled," says Ron Cogan, editor of the Green Car Journal. Toyota and Honda say that they will recycle dead batteries and that disposal will pose no toxic hazards. Toyota puts a phone number on each battery, and they pay a $200 "bounty" for each battery to help ensure that it will be properly recycled.

There's no definitive word on replacement costs because they are almost never replaced. According to Toyota, since the Prius first went on sale in 2000, they have not replaced a single battery for wear and tear.

For a little more on recycling from HybridBlog

Hybrids aren't the end-all, be-all, but they are a completely acceptable first step, if only as a delaying move while the market sorts out the new green economy. If you are looking for a new/used car in the size of the hybrids, and can afford the premium that hybrids entail up front, I would strongly suggest doing it.

-Bok

[ July 02, 2007, 04:42 PM: Message edited by: Bokonon ]

Posts: 6962 | Registered: Nov 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lyrhawn
Member
Member # 7039

 - posted      Profile for Lyrhawn   Email Lyrhawn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thanks for the post Bok.
Posts: 21894 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tatiana
Member
Member # 6776

 - posted      Profile for Tatiana   Email Tatiana         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Nuclear plants don't use up water, of course, they evaporate it as a way of dumping waste heat. The water then would rain down again somewhere at some point. I suppose this does lower the river level but it's arguable how much over time, because of the fact that the evaporated water would most likely fall in the same river's basin, and so after a while it would reach equilibrium.

Nuclear plants produce very little in the way of pollution, compared to almost any other industrial site, and certainly compared to fossil plants. My plant is the cleanest industrial site I've ever seen, and I have worked in a lot of different industries. All power plants have waste heat, too, so they do the same thing with evaporating water to dump the heat. So when you compare nuclear versus fossil plants, nuclear are much better overall for the environment.

[ July 02, 2007, 10:55 PM: Message edited by: Tatiana ]

Posts: 6245 | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lyrhawn
Member
Member # 7039

 - posted      Profile for Lyrhawn   Email Lyrhawn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
They still use it, lots of it. I know they don't produce a lot of pollution, other than the obvious nuclear waste, but they still use a lot of water, even if it is rained down somewhere else, possibly hundreds of miles away, which does absolutely nothing for the drought stricken area they may have just stolen it from.

In a country spotted with severe drought that is only going to get worse over the coming decades, water maintenance is a serious issue. I'm not saying we can't build more nuclear plants, I'm just saying that you're going to see water usage be a major issue in the coming decades, and for power plants that we expect to function for 40 years, that's a serious issue to be considered.

Posts: 21894 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tatiana
Member
Member # 6776

 - posted      Profile for Tatiana   Email Tatiana         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Of course I'm an advocate for nuclear power, and have been since the 70s, and now I'm working in the industry so I know more about both the pros and the cons of nuclear power.

Waste is not really that big an issue. I think we're actually fortunate that Yucca Mountain has been delayed. Not the next generation of reactors, but the generation after that, will most likely be liquid sodium fast neutron reactors which will burn for fuel reprocessed spent fuel that is sitting at nuclear plants now. When our current fuel is spent, we've used up 5% of its energy, and it's dangerously radioactive for 50,000 to 100,000 years. Of course no repository can be guaranteed to sequester it that long. Who even knows what the geology of the earth will look like that far in the future? But if we reprocess that fuel and use it in fast neutron liquid sodium reactors, we can burn another 94% of the energy from the fuel, make uranium mining unnecessary, and have enough fuel for the forseeable future, and leave spent fuel with only 1% of the energy left that is only dangerously radioactive for 500 years. That is much more reasonable a time to keep it sequestered. I think we've been extremely lucky that we haven't glassified the spent fuel we have, and stuck it underground where it's unavailable for reprocessing. We're going to need that in 40 years or so when the next generation of reactors is nearing the end of its useful life.

Posts: 6245 | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lyrhawn
Member
Member # 7039

 - posted      Profile for Lyrhawn   Email Lyrhawn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
When will the next next generation of nuclear reactors be ready to go?
Posts: 21894 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tatiana
Member
Member # 6776

 - posted      Profile for Tatiana   Email Tatiana         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The reason I think nuclear is the way to go for most of our energy needs is that wind and solar just don't have the energy density we need. An analogy would be if you said to your daughter "we can't drive to school today, the car's out of gas" and she scavenged 10 D batteries out of her toys and offered them to you to make the car go instead. It's not the conversion really that's the problem, but just that there's not enough energy in 10 D batteries to back the car out of the driveway, even.

Wind and solar are awesome for the things they're good at. They just don't power cities. You're talking a whole different scale there. We need real power plants, either fossil, nuclear, or something comparable to those, and we need to be able to run them whenever the peak demand times are, and not wait around for them to be active, for the clouds to go away or the wind to blow or whatever. That is, if we want things like air conditioning, refrigeration, walk-in freezers at restaurants, elevators in high rise buildings, and so on.

If we're willing to quit building tall buildings, give up air conditioning, use iceboxes instead of freezers or fridges (assuming the ice is transported from the arctic somehow, and not frozen in an ice-house in town), and so on, then we can get by without fossil fuels and use mostly wind, tides, solar, hydro, etc.

[ July 03, 2007, 04:48 AM: Message edited by: Tatiana ]

Posts: 6245 | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tatiana
Member
Member # 6776

 - posted      Profile for Tatiana   Email Tatiana         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The next generation is being built now. They are still completing the designs, but are due to come online in the 2015 range and beyond. They represent a huge advance in safety over the existing reactor designs, but basically use the same fuel process.

The generation to be built after that is the one that will be the liquid sodium fast neutron reactors, I believe. They will probably begin coming online in 40 years or so when this next generation of reactors is nearing the end of their license period.

[ July 03, 2007, 04:49 AM: Message edited by: Tatiana ]

Posts: 6245 | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lyrhawn
Member
Member # 7039

 - posted      Profile for Lyrhawn   Email Lyrhawn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Your opinions on renewable energy sources like solar and wind do not match the literature I've read. Could you point me to some sources of information? Besides, I've never said we need to move to 100% solar and wind energy for the country. I just think they need to be a major component of whatever final comprehensive energy plan we come up with. I'm not necessarily knocking nuclear, but like you apparently think about renewables, I think it is very important that people understand the downsides and risks involved with pinning our hopes on some magic silver bullet, because the truth tends to be that they don't exist.

And what do you consider a "real" power plant?

Besides, 40 years? That's a long, long way away.

Posts: 21894 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Bokonon
Member
Member # 480

 - posted      Profile for Bokonon           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm a cautious supporter of nuclear myself (son of a naval nuclear engineer, and grew up about 10 mile from the Seabrook nuclear plant), but I think liquid sodium plants might be a hard sell. Sodium is an evil, evil substance. Extremely caustic, and of course, you open yourself up to "Chernobyl!" fears, since I believe it used sodium as a moderator. Now, I'm sure they've advanced in engineering those reactors (and I'd be interested in hearing the details), and sodium is a better moderator than water, but engineering has never really been the nuclear industry's problem; PR has been. [EDIT: It appears that Chernobyl used graphite as a moderator, so ignore that point]


And, of course, nuclear only delays the inevitable, even if it is for a millennium or so. The real magic bullet is getting energy from a source that whill exist beyond the habitability period of the planet.

I still hope we can figure out how to tap geothermal energy... It's one of the few sources of energy that work around the clock.

-Bok

Posts: 6962 | Registered: Nov 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lyrhawn
Member
Member # 7039

 - posted      Profile for Lyrhawn   Email Lyrhawn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Ask Iceland, they power their country 100% off of renewable energy, of which I think something like 90% is geothermal. They are currently working with China to help them develop their geothermal potential as well.
Posts: 21894 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Mike
Member
Member # 55

 - posted      Profile for Mike   Email Mike         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Are liquid sodium fast neutron reactors proven technology? If so, why not start building them now? If not, how realistic is the 40 year statistic? Is it like fusion, which seems perpetually 50 years away?
Posts: 1809 | Registered: Jan 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tatiana
Member
Member # 6776

 - posted      Profile for Tatiana   Email Tatiana         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Lyrhawn:
You're right that Wind and Solar are not for supplying the majority of our power needs, they just make great sense in certain situations, and are good for incremental amounts of power. That reasoning doesn't require sources, just a look at the megaWatts in the literature you cite. 10 MW here and 20 MW there can be very useful as part of "this healthy breakfast", but cities typically require thousands of MWs to operate. I just want people to keep that in mind when they are making energy decisions. The alternative to cities using thousands of MW is for us to give up air conditioning, freezers, elevators, and so on. It's really a bigger problem than that, because all industrial plants that make practically anything use large amounts of electricity for all the motors, conveyor belts, shaping and forming equipment, and so on. For instance, a paper mill will use a great deal of electricity in the woodyard grinding up trees, then churning the chips in an enormous blender to make pulp, spraying this pulp out on a rapidly moving wire mesh belt to form a sheet, etc. We'd have to give up on having cheap and readily available paper, too, and ditto with practically any other product we use. So going backwards is not really a very good option. I don't want to give up all that stuff, you know? I don't think most people do.

I guess "real" was not a great terminology for me to use, but what I meant by a that is a power plant you can crank up any time of the day or night and get a large amount of electricity, hundreds of MW, thereby. Wind and Solar because they're only available at certain times and have such small output can seem somewhat toylike by comparison. I don't mean it in a disparaging way, though. I think those sources are great for the part they play. It just seems like many people mistake that part for something that could make fossil and nuclear plants obsolete, which it really isn't.

Geothermal has potentially great amounts of energy, but it's not available in most places. Iceland happens to be an excellent spot for exploiting geothermal energy, and it's great that they do.

Posts: 6245 | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Enigmatic
Member
Member # 7785

 - posted      Profile for Enigmatic   Email Enigmatic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Power companies are building 500MW+ power plants with renewable energy, not just teeny tiny plants dotted all over the landscape.

Posts: 2715 | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tatiana
Member
Member # 6776

 - posted      Profile for Tatiana   Email Tatiana         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Bok:
It's true that sodium is nasty stuff. It burns on contact with air, which is a major downside. There have also been reactors of this type which use molten lead, too. Lead's horribly toxic, though, and has its own issues. I've got some sources on these reactors that I'll post. They are well beyond the research stage, but not in the years-of-successful-commercial-operations stage that PWRs and BWRs are at now. 40 years should give us plenty of time to get them phased in.

Posts: 6245 | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lyrhawn
Member
Member # 7039

 - posted      Profile for Lyrhawn   Email Lyrhawn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
No offense Tatiana, but I don't think you're 100% up to date on renewables in general. What you're saying just doesn't match most of what I've read on current renewable technologies, or for that matter on construction that is already taking place out west.

New wind turbines alone are 5MW powerhouses, and they build them in fields of a 20-100 or more often, when they build concentrated powerplants (as well as yes, smaller arrays spread out over distances). New sprawls of solar plants are going to be build by the hundreds of Megawatt. The power potential for tidal power in San Francisco Bay is measured in Gigawatts.

Try even going back over this thread and looking at some of the links and stories about large power plants being build with solar, wind and others. Beyond the fact that I find it nearly impossible to believe that people would spend billions of dollars on large plants that they know they can't get their money back out of, the science is really in on these things. Between focusing arrays and advanced transmissions and turbines, efficiency is way up, costs are way down, and they're sprouting up everywhere where it makes sense to put them.

Again, solar, tide, wave, geothermal, and wind, individually and as a team are not the silver bullet. They are an important component of our future energy plan, and at the end of the day I don't see why they couldn't account for 30-50% of our renewable needs at least, where feasible. The rest can come from a multitude of other places, in concert with a greatly increased efficiency standard in this country, which should help offset our demand through electric vehicles, I think in 40 years we'll already be in very fine shape.

Posts: 21894 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Bokonon
Member
Member # 480

 - posted      Profile for Bokonon           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
What worries me more Tatiana is contact with water... Sodium and water are a bad combo, it'll melt through just about anything.

-Bok

Posts: 6962 | Registered: Nov 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lyrhawn
Member
Member # 7039

 - posted      Profile for Lyrhawn   Email Lyrhawn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Back to regular updates, sorry I've been letting them go, but it is a holiday!

There's slim hope of a gas tax hike in Congress. I've reservations personally about how it will effect the poor, but by and large I love what it would do positively for Green energy and the environment in general, to say nothing of the fact that we have some of the lowest gas taxes in the world.
...............................

A Georgia ethanol plant will come online in 2008 with an evential target production of 100 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol. It will be the first cellulosic ethanol plant in the US, and will be a test bed of sorts for new methods and technologies in making CE a cost competitive method of production. I've talked at length about this subject before, but I'll sum it up with: Ethanol bad. Cellulosic Ethanol bad but much better.
......................................

McDonalds is planning to use old vegetable oil from their UK restaurants to power a fleet of biodiesel trucks that will supply the same stores throughout the UK. They say it will save 1.5 million gallons of gas a year, as well as 1600 tons of carbon.
.......................................

For the third year in a row, Subaru's Indiana car factory has produced zero waste. All of the waste products for the factory are either recycled, used as energy or reused in the plant. The area around the factory is reclaimed habitat for wildlife, and many of the vehicles produced there are PZEVs, or Partial Zero Emissions Vehicles (Vehicles that emit 90% less emissions than average cars today emit). Now that's a beautiful step towards sustainable manufacturing.
..........................................
There's a bit of a fight going on right now in the coal industry. Exec Robert Murray is saying people who don't support coal are unAmerican. He's refusing to buy any more equipment from Caterpillar, who makes a lot of heavy mining equipment, because Caterpillar joined the council for climate change or something like that, in other words, they support measures to limit carbon emissions. Meanwhile GE is happy to see the argument front in center as they promote their clean coal technology.
.......................................

I hadn't heard this before, but apparently buyers of the Hummer and Cadillac Escalade, get a $25,000 tax credit when they buy their cars because they are over a certain weight class and are considered potential vehicles for farming. It's a loophole that many in Congress want killed soon, but car dealers and makers are calling it an unfair tax hike. Frankly I think it is BEYOND ridiculous that those cars got a break, and ridiculous that GM thinks they actually deserve it.
.........................................

Mexico will spend 6 billion pesos this year to plant 250 million trees all over Mexico in an effort to replenish aquifers and reforest areas previously deforested through logging.
..........................................

The EPA is taking some heat over who they use as their experts in determining what is bad for your health and what you are breathing.

..........................................

And here's a little snippet on health problems in China from pollution:

quote:
"Beijing engineered the removal of nearly a third of a World Bank report on pollution in China because of concerns that findings on premature deaths could provoke “social unrest”. The report, produced in co-operation with Chinese government ministries over several years, found about 750,000 people die prematurely in China each year, mainly from air pollution in large cities. China’s State Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) and health ministry asked the World Bank to cut the calculations of premature deaths from the report when a draft was finished last year, according to Bank advisers and Chinese officials." See some of the "lost" details of mortality figures, by category, below the fold.

"Missing from this report are the research project’s findings that high air-pollution levels in Chinese cities is leading to the premature deaths of 350,000-400,000 people each year. A further 300,000 people die prematurely each year from exposure to poor air indoors, according to advisers, but little discussion of this issue survived in the report because it was outside the ambit of the Chinese ministries which sponsored the research.

Another 60,000-odd premature deaths were attributable to poor-quality water, largely in the countryside, from severe diarrhea, and stomach, liver and bladder cancers.

The mortality information was “reluctantly” excised by the World Bank from the published report, according to advisers to the research project."

..........................................
Here's a couple featured articles on wind power advances. Given the complaints of some about wind, that it's ugly, environmental concerns over birdstrikes, and bugs getting in the way, inventors have come up with both large and small ways of making wind power a better idea.

The first is a small answer to wind energy's problem. An inventor in Australia has won a small grant to get small wind powered turbines into production. These turbines are to be mounted on tops of homes, and are of a modular design, they can be added or subtracted as needed. It's estimated that six of them could power a small home and the excess energy could be sold back to the grid. The cost of each turbine? Less than $700 a piece. That's damned impressive, and at the moment, more cost effective than solar alternatives, and much better for northeastern US homes where solar power isn't as much a possibility as it is for our western or southern neighbors. They are quiet, they really aren't that much of an eyesore, and they are cheap. Looks pretty good to me.

The second is a big answer to wind power. Same problems as above, only instead of shrinking them, we put them out to sea. We put them out to see where we can actually better predict wind patterns, more easily keep them out of heavily trafficked areas and bird migration patterns. British energy companies are talking about building giant fields of them in the North Sea to power whole cities (yeah, whole cities, big ones). The thing is, renewable energy can take up a lot of space, but we have the space! Why not use wave power and put windmills out at sea? We all live on land on a planet that is 70% covered in water! In the US we have a lot of extra space. No one is living in the desert, so why not put solar power plants out there? It's making use of dead land. If we put power plants all over the Sahara, we could power Africa and Europe with power to spare, and I don't even know how much we could power if they used the new ultra efficient cells that have just come online.

My point is, renewables are insanely adaptable. We can build a solar power plant in the desert with a 500MW capacity, or we could build a 1MW powerplant on the roof of a car factory, or we could build a tiny 100KW array on the roof of a house. We could build huge fields of turbines in the Badlands to produce hundreds of MW of power, or we could put one 5MW plant on farmland and pay the farmer, or we could put six small turbines on your roof in the suburbs, or a few vertical turbines on the roof of an apartment building in the city, or big fields of them out in the ocean. Unlike nuclear or coal, which always seem to be gargatuan behemoths that suck up resources (currently) and in the case of coal spew huge amounts of poison in the the air, renewables are reliable (yeah, reliable), they're modular, you can build them in tons of different sizes and locations to suit the needs of the client, and they are now cost effective. They're a game changer, they aren't something you can brush aside.

Admittedly, 70% of that was a bit of a rant against what Tatiana was saying, but it's still all true, and all relevant [Smile] .

[ July 04, 2007, 02:01 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]

Posts: 21894 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rollainm
Member
Member # 8318

 - posted      Profile for rollainm   Email rollainm         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Lyrhawn,
This is all really fascinating stuff. I just want to thank you for your efforts.

Posts: 1945 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lyrhawn
Member
Member # 7039

 - posted      Profile for Lyrhawn   Email Lyrhawn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Special Extra Large Fourth of July Edition today! My car is in the shop and thus I have to bike almost 10 miles to work tomorrow, so I probably should be getting extra sleep tonight, but there's a ton of new updates for you guys, many of which are related to the recent discussion we had here. So without further pause, in mixture of abridged link format and my own cliffs notes versions:

Ganges River might be gone by 2030. The Ganges is the source of water for 500 million Indians, to say nothing of it's extreme importance to Hindus. Reports blame melting glaciers that supply the river with water.

Tata Motors, the Indian car giant plants to produce and market a smaller 3,000 dollar car for India. But many criticize selling so many cars in a country where 1 million vehicles are already sold, increasing at a rate of 16% per year. Frankly I don't see how we in the West can criticize them, but on the other hand, it's wise to get them to understand the mistakes we made so they can avoid them, rather than follow our footsteps.


Environmental Protection Agency disregards the recommendations of their own scientists and proposes weak protections for our air. Adopt the Sky program takes off.

The Farm Bill this year might not be getting the same media that the energy bill is getting, but it's nearly as important. We spend tens of billions of dollars on subsidies to agribusinesses, basically huge farms that truck their foodstuffs across the entire country to your supermarker, but do little to help lead sustainable lives and help small growers. Read here for some small ideas on how to improve how we spend our money.

Alright, I'm breaking this into two posts, because it's just too much for one, so here are your featured articles for this post. They're about a few things I've been harping on lately: Bottled water, wind power, and drought:

1. I hate bottled water. You've all heard me say it before. It's unnecessarily wasteful, and in the face of a billion people around the world not having access to potable water, it's irresponsible, so say nothing of the environmental damages. A French Company has invented a new kind of plastic bottle made from memory plastic, which is smaller but still holds the same amount of water. It defies the laws of physics! Okay not really, but it weighs 3-6 grams less than an average bottle of water, and when you multiply that over the 160 billion liters of water that we consume, that's real savings.

But I wanted to emphasize this article on bottled water. It's a concise, well written article on when we started using bottled water, the consequences, and what not to do. I urge you all strongly to read it. For example, half the people in Fiji don't have access to clean drinking water, yet we bottle and ship their water over here where it's the hottest thing on the market now. Most telling I think was this clip:

quote:
And for this healthy convenience, we're paying what amounts to an unbelievable premium. You can buy a half- liter Evian for $1.35--17 ounces of water imported from France for pocket change. That water seems cheap, but only because we aren't paying attention.

In San Francisco, the municipal water comes from inside Yosemite National Park. It's so good the EPA doesn't require San Francisco to filter it. If you bought and drank a bottle of Evian, you could refill that bottle once a day for 10 years, 5 months, and 21 days with San Francisco tap water before that water would cost $1.35. Put another way, if the water we use at home cost what even cheap bottled water costs, our monthly water bills would run $9,000.

Buy a safe, reusable plastic water bottle and reuse it over and over. You'll save yourself a lot of money and you'll probably even be healthier than what comes in the bottles.

2. Even if you don't read the article, just click this link to see the picture. Drought is here to stay in America, and at the moment it's staggeringly widespread. Many cities and even states banned fireworks this Fourth of July because conditions were ripe for the starting of fires, it's just too dry. We need to get serious about water conservation all over the entire country, not just in desert areas.

3. The US is adding wind power by the thousands of megawatts this year, and added thousands last year. In 2007 we'll be generating 31 billion kiloWatt hours of wind power. And wind power is growing at a rate of 25%-30% every year. And for anyone who says that renewables are economy killers, more than three dozen companies at least are hiring as a result of the wind power boom, which means more jobs for Americans. Information gathered from the AWEA. The AWEA expects to add 3GW of generating capacity in the US this year, which is respectable for an energy industry in it's infancy.

That's all for this post, there will be another one in a half hour probably (these things take a little while to read through, type up, and double check), as your ID4 special, and it'll focus on cars mostly.

Posts: 21894 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lyrhawn
Member
Member # 7039

 - posted      Profile for Lyrhawn   Email Lyrhawn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
A Chevy Malibu hybrid has been spotted on the streets of Metro Detroit. It's yet another in a long line of GM hybrids to hit the market in the next year or two, and will share the same drivetrain as the Saturn Aura hybrid.

................................

Both France and Japan recently made announcements over new faster than ever bullet trains that have broken speed records set by the last generation of trains. Japan has plans to build full scale Mag-Lev trains on Honshu by 2030, making them the first large scale MagLevs in the world. France on the other hand seems to like their super high speed conventional trains, and with new computer assisted braking to assist in turning corners at high speeds, they might not have a lot of problems with it. Hooray for high speed rail.
........................

Chrysler has officially entered into an alliance with Chinese car company Chery to build low cost cars in China to be shipped around the world. No word yet on when they will really hit the pavement in Europe and the US, especially due to poor crash test ratings of Chery cars built to date, but with Chrysler's advanced technologies and manufacturing methods, it might not be that long before mainstream Chrysler's are rolling off Chinese assembly lines.
..............................

A Land Rover dealership in Oregon is offering carbon offsets for the first 50,000 miles for all cars bought there. The idea is that if you feel guilty about buying SUVs, this will offset your guilt as well as your carbon.
..............................

The University of Iowa has developed a new nano-sphere that will work as a much better catalyst in turning animal fast and vegetable oil into cleaner biodiesel. They believe that unlike the previous methods used, which were dangerous and used noxious chemicals, this new process will leave a recyclable catalyst, and will be much cleaner. They believe this new catalyst can be used in current plants without modification.
.............................

North Carolina University researchers have come up with a capacitor that is seven times more efficient than the current highest capacity capacitors. This might give the EEESTor battery some life, which might be a big advance in electric cars and hybrids.

..................................

Toyota hybrid sales are up 69% so far this year over 2006 sales. Sales of the Prius in particular are soaring, up 93.7% over 2006, and that is WITHOUT the tax credit that they used to get which expired this year. Some pretty staggering numbers, and maybe a good indicator of why Toyota is the number one producers of cars in the world. I still think, that even though GM's sales have plummeted so far this year, they've set up a great turnaround program for themselves over the next few years. They have a half dozen hybrids coming out in the next few years, new engine designs, new diesel designs, sales looking stronger in Europe, and the Chevy Volt is always getting good press. Which leads me to....

.............................

For anyone who still thinks that GM isn't serious about the Chevy Volt, I urge you to read this article in the Detroit News. GM has spent 4 billion dollars on advanced propulsion in the last few years, 100 million specifically on the the design for the Volt, they have hundreds of engineers on the project, they have weekly meetings on technical glitches, they have a whole design studio set up for the car, which they say is 90% designed as of right now, and the list goes on. They are serious about getting this thing on the road before the end of the decade.

Posts: 21894 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lyrhawn
Member
Member # 7039

 - posted      Profile for Lyrhawn   Email Lyrhawn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
A lot of stuff today again, I found a few more sites with information on them, so again, my daily entries will only be longer and longer, though I'm starting to really scrutinize some of the entries to give you guys the best information every day. I'm split between giving you ALL the good stuff I find and picking and choosing. If I pick and choose I figure you'll be more likely to read a more select group, rather than add 20 articles and have you skim over them, which is why I usually pick the best ones and save them for the end. Any thoughts?

The natural gas industry is scratching the back of the coal industry. Proposed cap and trade systems would severely hinder coal energy production in this country, or at least make it much more expensive. Fossil fuels users are banding together against the Green movement, and the DOE seems to be looking at clean coal and nuclear power as the answer, no mention of wind, solar, etc.

China swears they are environmentally friendly, but the facts don't seem to back them up on that one.

Not so much having to do with Green Energy, but it is an environmental interest story! Nature photographers have captured the first image of a living "smiling" bushbird. It's kind of creepy and kind of cute. Judge for yourself.

Phillips Electronics wants to help you save energy, and they've created a website with tons of helpful little ideas on minor switches you can make in your everyday life that will reduce your energy usage.
....................................

Think California is taking the toughest stance on climate change? California wants to reduce their emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Oregon has one upped them, and wants to lower theirs to 10% below 1990 levels by 2020. I post a week ago about northeastern states stepping up to the plate, notably New Jersey, who is calling for major cuts. California is getting the most attention because as the biggest state, with the most consumers, with the highest budget and biggest GDP (per state), they have a lot more oomph behind their legislation. When they set standards for cars, they often become national standards, because it's too expensive for mass produced cars to be made for a market as large as California, and then a separate car for the rest of us. It should be noted though that many Northwest states have banned new coal factories in their states, and California has banned the import of coal energy from outside the state. Many are calling for a mandatory minimum amount of energy that must be produced from renewables. The west is the best place to do it too.

On that same note, recently release memos show that the Department of Transportation attempted to influence state legislators in California to derail their greenhouse gas emission cap laws that Bush is currently trying to get thrown out. Looks shady to me.
.................................

The Energy Savings Trust has recently released a report titled, I kid you not, The Ampere Strikes Back! The point of the report is to highlight how much energy we expend on the digital devices that entertain us, which is often much more than we realize.
................................

The East Kentucky Power Cooperative will be paying a multimillion dollar fine for upgrading their facilities without putting in new cleaner technology. They still claim they did nothing wrong, but will pay the fine to get the matter over with. (The fine is $750,000, but they also have to pay $650 million in new pollution controls)
............................

Turkey will be building a 130MW wind farm starting next year, more than doubling their current capacity. They'll be using 52 2.5MW turbines, half the size of GE's largest model, for the project.
............................

Some Chevy news for you before I get to the featured articles of the day. Bob Lutz, had the following to say about the heavily touted Chevy Volt: "This vehicle is so important that it is getting maximum attention from all of the top Product Development leadership and from the senior people in powertrain." They're hinging a lot of their comeback on this car, even if it doesn't look like it. They've sunk billions into the technology the car is based on, and will spend billions more in the coming years. They want to be a serious player in the Green auto industry, which leads us to...

Chevy is going to ramp up their Green advertising, and to be fair, they have a lot to brag about. They have eight cars that get better than 30mpg, offer more E-flex vehicles (hey at least they are trying to roll with the punches), are the furthest US company on hydrogen fuel cell cars, the Chevy Volt, etc. etc. They want to change the perception that US automakers, them in particular, are inferior, environmentally, to Japanese cars.

I read an interview the other day that underpinned the importance of the design of the Volt. The Honda Accord hybrid is being discontinued, due to lagging sales. But the Prius is surging ahead. Analysts think that is because of the distinctive style of the car. It makes a statement, it doesn't look like anything else on the road, and it's a status symbol, not of wealth, but of commitment. The Accord looks exactly the same as its non-hybrid twin, but has a little stamp on it that says Hybrid. Designers at Chevy hope the sharp styling of the Volt will help it take advantage of the same characteristics that might soon make the Prius a better selling car than all domestic non-hybrid cars.
..................................


Here are your featured articles for the day.

Giles Belley has created a sharp looking device that you can plug all your other devices into to manage your power consumption. This device will turn off your devices if you leave them idle, to save on energy. It's pretty fancy looking too, and I think could easily be decorative as well as functional.

..................
These floor panels can reduce your home heating costs, your electric bill, and are made from recycled cheap materials. Building green can earn you more green than you might think.]web page

.................

This I thought was really cool. You remember perhaps the article I linked to a few days back about the new scanning technique that will allow environmental protection groups to better map out forests and find the best places to save? Well a computer in Tennessee has helped do the same thing. When 230,000 acres of protected land was put up for sale in Tennessee, an environmental protection group wanted to save as much as they could, but didn't know what to save. So they pooled together 150 years worth of information and a high tech computer program mapped out the most endangered areas that needed protection. They were able to save 12,000 acres, which turned out to be all that really needed protecting, thanks to this computer.


That's all for today, stay tuned for more updates tomorrow! I'm thinking about doing a special editorial this weekend about solar and wind power, and possible futures for the country.

Posts: 21894 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Bokonon
Member
Member # 480

 - posted      Profile for Bokonon           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The Honda Accord Hybrid was a car looking for a niche. It tried to be 2 things at once, and failed at both. On the one-hand, it was supposed to be a super-charged car with a V6 engine that the electric mottor added another 15HP to... Which wasn't exactly a lot. On the other hand, it was a clean hybrid... That was rated 35 highway. Not exactly a gas sipper by hybrid standards.

Oh, and it cost appreciably more than a comparable non-hybrid version.

-Bok

Posts: 6962 | Registered: Nov 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Bokonon
Member
Member # 480

 - posted      Profile for Bokonon           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Oh, and the civic hybrid, also a look-alike to its non-hybrid siblings, is selling fine. In fact, according to figures I found, it was 11% of all Civic sales this past May.

http://www.hybridcars.com/market-dashboard/may07-us-sales.html

-Bok

Posts: 6962 | Registered: Nov 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lyrhawn
Member
Member # 7039

 - posted      Profile for Lyrhawn   Email Lyrhawn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hey thanks for the link. That looks like a great site too. I didn't realize the Prius was being sold at that high a monthly rate. Amazing. I think the Escape and other cars would be selling even more too if there weren't shortages. But it takes awhile to ramp up production of newer models like that.

I think the sharp difference in look though between the Prius and say the Camry, the next best selling car, is part of the success though not all of it. The Prius still gets better fuel economy, but it's selling four times as many cars as the Camry, there's obviously something customers like more about it than the look alike brands.

Thanks again for the link Bok.

Posts: 21894 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Bokonon
Member
Member # 480

 - posted      Profile for Bokonon           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The Escape is 3-4 years old, so I wouldn't consider it new by hybrid standards. It was the 4th (or 5th, if you consider the complete Prius redesign from Toyota Echo doppleganger to "UFO" [Smile] ) hybrid out there, I think.

If you want to be a real geek you can check out greenhybrid.com. They have a real-world DB of mileage for all the hybrids. It is, of course, skewed higher than the general population since these are some die-hard hybrid types, trying all sorts of tricks to squeeze out the most MPG from their cars.

Honda's biggest problem has been marketing. They've been too content just playing second fiddle to Toyota, barely advertising the Civic, much less the Accord. Which is too bad, because the Civic is a great car that gets just as good mileage as the Prius without the complicated Synergy Drive.

-Bok

Posts: 6962 | Registered: Nov 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lyrhawn
Member
Member # 7039

 - posted      Profile for Lyrhawn   Email Lyrhawn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
What was a large post, on everything from the launch of the most efficient plane in its size (the Dreamliner) and how dams are environmentally unfriendly for all new reasons has been shortened, due to the fact that Internet Explorer blows and it not only killed my post, which was more than half done, it also killed all my links, so you get a short version which what I found to be the best stuff of the day. I'll post it in two parts, to save against IE being a punk again. Either that or it's my computer, which has been acting very, very wonky lately.

A 190MW Geothermal project is under construction in SoCal right now. Ormat Technologies recently signed a deal with SoCal Edison to purchase 50MWs of that energy for distribution. I thought this too, was relevant given recent discussions here.

A report released in January by the DOE, MIT and ?? estimated the total US capacity for geothermal at 100GW of energy. That's a serious dent in our future energy needs, and the group believes that it is feasible to take advantage of all 100GW in the next 50 years.

This estimate is based on the potential energy that could be gained from advanced geothermal generation or Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS), which will be explored over the next 15 years. It proposes turning potential geothermal sites into producing ones, through drilling and water movement using advanced drilling techniques. It's been tested in Europe and Australia with success and is a promising future technology. The needed investment cost for R&D over the next 15 years? $1 billion dollars. Chump change considering the money being thrown around right now on energy needs, and 100GW is nothing to shake a stick at. EGS is not without it's problems, like any energy production method, but it's non-polluting and requires no fuel, pretty major benefits.
.............................

153 world CEOs call for change to fight global warming
..............................

New tiny generator can create small amounts of energy from vibrations.

..............................

quote:
SCE (SoCal Edison) hopes to receive regulatory approval soon to study building new renewable transmission lines that could access between 5,000 and 10,000 megawatts of untapped geothermal and solar energy in the Southwest.

- In March, SCE launched its 2007 open, competitive solicitation for additional renewable power contracts, its fifth solicitation since 2002. Proposals were received in May, with contracts expected to be submitted to the CPUC for approval in December. Previous solicitations have secured for SCE customers 25 renewable energy contracts with the potential of generating up to 14 billion kilowatt-hours, enough electricity to serve about 2 million average homes for a year.

The actual output of renewable energy projects may be limited due to weather conditions and transmission availability.

- During 2006, SCE delivered 12.6 billion kilowatt-hours of renewable energy, 16.8 percent of total power deliveries under California's renewable portfolio standard guidelines.

...................................

Three focus articles, your highlights for the day and then I'm going to do a post on cars.

India is doing some real pie in the sky thinking on power generation, literally. They're putting major investment dollars and research effort into generating solar energy in space. It's still a long, long way off, but it's the solar Holy Grail, and they're looking for it.

In one of those small efficiency changes that I'm always harping on, we now have concrete numbers on the waste caused by leaving computers on in offices over night. The energy cost to buisnesses in the US was $1.72 billion last year, and caused the emissions of 1,381 tons of CO2. All they have to do is turn their computers off at night, or, one time, change the settings on their computers to hibernate after a set amount of time.

President Bush has one of the worst records on protecting endangered species in US history (or to be fair, since Teddy Roosevelt, when that sort of thing started to matter). Members of his own Interior Department, and animal protection groups around the country lament not only his lack of willingness to help protect wildlife, but his reversal of past progress.

Posts: 21894 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lyrhawn
Member
Member # 7039

 - posted      Profile for Lyrhawn   Email Lyrhawn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
So who is the big winner for renewables in the coming energy bill? First of all, that assumes that the bill will actually get passed, but let's pretend this is a 'what if' game. Well it looks like the big winners in the fuel market will be cellulosic ethanol and biobutanol. You've all heard me harp constantly about this too, and happily, it looks like Congress picked up on the murmurs in the Green crowd. Currently ethanol gets a tax credit per gallon, and in the current bill, cellulosic ethanol will get an additional 50 cent credit. Biobutanol will get $1.10 tax credit so long as the BB is made from cellulosic sources. All of this is great news, we need to quickly get past corn and sugar based ethanol, as fast as possible. These subsidies will be a great way to make them cost competitive, and combined with automakers producing more FlexFuel vehicles, will both ween us off foreign oil, and be more environmentally friendly than the status quo. The bill also includes big tax breaks for renewables across the board, but not nuclear or "Clean" coal.
...................................

On that same note, China, currently the number three producer of Ethanol behind Brazil and the US, wants to be on top. They're making a big push to increase production, which is the probable explanation for why grain prices have skyrocketed in China lately. Knowing this authorities are trying to get their own cellulosic movement going, so the country's foodstock isn't threatened by their growing need for fuel.
.................................

Minnesota wants to blend 20% ethanol with gasoline for sale to all vehicles. The American Motorcyclist Association is complaining, saying that no long term studies have yet been done on the potential damage that higher blends can cause to regular car engines not designed to run on ethanol fuels. Personally, I am very much with the AMA on this one. Jumping the gun on an untested fuel could damage cars for years to come, cost consumers billions, and worst of all, be extremely dangerous for the driver. Currently blends of no more than 10% are allowed (other than specific fuels like E85).
.............................

Here's a nice one, the Netherlands is offering a 500 EUR tax credit to retrofit their diesel cars with special filters to keep nasty pollutants out of the air. While it's true that diesel emits less CO2 than regular gas guzzlers, it has a lot of other harmful particulates that gas cars do not. Ford, in an act of generosity and business savvy is offering to modify all cars for...500 EUR, making the upgrade totally neutral for regular owners, and probably cornering the market on repairs for Ford. All new diesels sold in the Netherlands will be required to have the filter from now on.
.................................

quote:
Taiwan, always known to one-up the global marketplace when it comes to traffic control and street lighting, has announced that within the next three years all of its traffic lights will become LED based. The country's Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) has budgeted roughly NT$229 million ($7 million) for the project, which is set to begin in 2008, and will convert 420,000 traffic lights to the LED standard (350,000 have already been changed over). The MOEA claims the total savings in power consumption will be close to 85%. After the sweeping reform of its traffic signals, Taiwan will invest another NT$130 million to swap its street lights out for LED-based models. Nations of the world, the gauntlet has been thrown down.
LED traffic lights have several benefits. They're brighter, they need to be replaced less often which means less money spent on more bulbs, and less money spent on people having to replace those bulbs, they reduce energy costs by 85%, which both cuts energy demand (woohoo Green!) and for that matter saves the local government on energy costs.

......................................

Okay here's your featured article for cars.

Honda has had a class action lawsuit brought against it by drivers of the Honda Civic Hybrid. The claim is that drivers get drastically lower fuel ecomomy from the car than is advertised. It's a complicated issue.

Here's the article in the Detroit News.

Now back in the day, the EPA had standards for measuring fuel economy. They sucked. They finally realized after a couple decades that they weren't using real world driving practices and it was near impossible for regular people to actually hit those numbers. Under those old numbers, which Honda used in their advertising, the Civic had 49city/51hwy/50combined for fuel economy. Under their new guidelines, refined to reflect real world driving practices, the Civic gets 40city/45hwy/42combined. Keep in mind also that the Prius was rated at 60mpg, and that number has been attacked by several groups, anaylsts and now the EPA with their changed numbers.

Consumer Reports, when test driving the Honda Civic only got 26mpg in the city, which is 46% lower than the EPA estimate. Considering this car costs seven grand more than the non-hybrid version, if it doesn't get dramatically better fuel economy, it becomes something of a waste of money. John True, the man who started the lawsuit, said that no matter what he tried, he averaged 32mpg, still 10mpg lower than the revised EPA combined average.

Honda is claiming it isn't their fault, after all the EPA is the one who gave them the rating. And they rightly claim that a couple dozen things effect your fuel economy. Tired need to be well inflated, you shouldn't excessively start or stop your car, the air filter needs to be changed, cruise control needs to be used, etc. etc. So they have a point that driver use of the car can greatly effect it, but it's not widely known that more than regular cars, hybrids are very sensitive to how the driver uses the car when it comes to fuel economy.

Discovery efforts will soon begin to determine what Honda knew, when they knew it, and if they broke false advertising laws and knowingly misrepresented the fuel economy of the car. Honda I think is in a bit of trouble, they are trying to parse words with the fine print of their ads, which say both "results may vary" and "results will very." They have a point in that driving habits play a big role, but THAT big? That's a dramatic change in numbers, and considering fuel economy is the HINGE of the main advertising point for the car, I think it's an extremely valid complaint.

[ July 07, 2007, 06:32 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]

Posts: 21894 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Juxtapose
Member
Member # 8837

 - posted      Profile for Juxtapose   Email Juxtapose         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Power plant would bury greenhouse gas.
quote:
For people worried about global warming, it's one of the Holy Grails: Figuring out how to affordably take greenhouse gases and permanently store them underground.

Now, a small Northwest company says it will do just that in a coal-fueled power plant it wants to build near the banks of the Columbia River in Southeast Washington.

I saw this in the paper yesterday and thought I'd contribute something to the thread. It sounds pretty cool, but I wonder how stable liquid CO2 is.
Posts: 2907 | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lyrhawn
Member
Member # 7039

 - posted      Profile for Lyrhawn   Email Lyrhawn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I've read bit about sequestration of liquid CO2. It's already in practice in some places, Canada comes to mind. The turn capture it from the stacks of nearby power plants, turn it into a liquid, and then pump it into dying oil fields. I'm not sure exactly how it works, but it seeps into all the porous rocks and loosens up the oil which rises to the surface and increases output. When the oil field is beyond saving, they cap off the wells and seal the CO2 in there forever. But that's just one method.

I'm skeptical of sequestration on a large scale, but then I haven't read extensive reports on what kind of capacity in the US we have for basalt CO2 sequestration, what the success rates are in keeping it where we put it, whether or not it's economically feasible to do that rather than just build a renewable plant, etc. There needs to be a bit more work done I think before the jury comes in on Carbon sequestration, but at the very least, I don't like the idea of continuing with wasteful practices just because we've found a delaying action. I think too many will try to see sequestration as a silver bullet, and even that article calls it a "Holy Grail," and that will reduce the drive to build renewables. Sequestration could be part of a long term plan where coal made up a minimal percentage of our total energy production, but I can't imagine pumping literally billions of tons (trillions of pounds) of liquid CO2 into the Earth, year after year after year.

I know out in the West they are working on partnerships with algae farmers to sequester the CO2 by pumping it into tanks of water and creating algae which is later sold for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is producing ethanol. But either way it strikes me as a much more Green friendly method of sequestration. I don't want to be a downer, I merely caution you all against taking sequestration, presently, as a major solution. It's something in the pipeline that I don't think we've really come to a consensus on.

Posts: 21894 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
AvidReader
Member
Member # 6007

 - posted      Profile for AvidReader   Email AvidReader         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Lyr,

In your first post on the 7th, you have a link about US geothermal capacity. Are they saying that even if they built every geothermal station they could, they'd still only get 100 GWh?

Cause Wiki has us using 3.979 trillion kWh annually. If my math is right, that's 3,979 GWh, meaning every geothermal station could only produce 2.5% of what we use now.

I'd rather use that than coal, but I'm with Tatiana here. How much of a dent can renewables really make? How much energy do we as a country have to give up to make a significant difference, and where should we cut it?

Posts: 2283 | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Bokonon
Member
Member # 480

 - posted      Profile for Bokonon           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Well, I have averaged a little under 40MPG with my Civic Hybrid. I average between 35-40 in city, and have gotten EPA on long highway trips.

And yes, driving habits are HUGE, especially dealing with smaller engines and with inherently high MPG rates.

Look at it this way, most efficient is a percentage of a value. So if underinflated tires is a 5-10% cost, then on a car that gets 25MPG, that's 1-2.5 MPG, that's basically noise/variance between tanks. In a 50MPG car, that's 2.5-5MPG which is much more noticeable. Accelerating a lot can cause efficiency problems, and some parts of the hybrid systems can lend to inefficiencies. The autostop feature can be more inefficient because starting a car costs more then leaving it running, if the time between stop and restart is less than 5-7 seconds.

Also, the Hybrid is only 2-3 grand more than a similarly equipped Civic (The hybrid is based off the EX trim)

Maybe they did hide it, but they were using government figures...

Posts: 6962 | Registered: Nov 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Enigmatic
Member
Member # 7785

 - posted      Profile for Enigmatic   Email Enigmatic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
AvidReader, I don't think the report is saying that 100GW is the maximum that geothermal could provide. I didn't read the whole report, but from the "executive summary":
quote:
With a reasonable investment in R&D, EGS could provide 100 GWe or more of cost-competitive generating capacity in the next 50 years. Further, EGS provides a secure source of power for the long term that would help protect America against economic instabilities resulting from fuel price fluctuations or supply disruptions.
I think that the "cost-competitive" bit is probably a bigger factor in limiting the estimate to 100GW than the total amount of geothermal energy available. As technology improves so should the plants' efficiency and cost effectiveness, probably opening more geothermal possibilities in the future.

Obviously, geothermal is not going to be an overnight solution to our energy problems. But if we can get that 100GW running for the comparitive cost of building 100GW of coal or oil plants there's really no reason not to. (Except if there are specific concerns with the locations of individual plants, I guess.) 2.5% on a renewable, non-polluting source is better than 0%, IMO.

--Enigmatic

Posts: 2715 | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Glenn Arnold
Member
Member # 3192

 - posted      Profile for Glenn Arnold   Email Glenn Arnold         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Liquid CO2?
Posts: 3734 | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
AvidReader
Member
Member # 6007

 - posted      Profile for AvidReader   Email AvidReader         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
2.5% on a renewable, non-polluting source is better than 0%
I completely agree. I'm just never sure what the Green big picture is supposed to be. We can make little changes, and they're good, but I've never figured out how we're going to cut C02 emissions back to not killing the world limits. At least, not without having to give up stuff, and I'm never sure what and how much will be asked of me.
Posts: 2283 | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
theCrowsWife
Member
Member # 8302

 - posted      Profile for theCrowsWife   Email theCrowsWife         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
2. Even if you don't read the article, just click this link to see the picture. Drought is here to stay in America, and at the moment it's staggeringly widespread. Many cities and even states banned fireworks this Fourth of July because conditions were ripe for the starting of fires, it's just too dry. We need to get serious about water conservation all over the entire country, not just in desert areas.

If America got over its love affair with the flush toilet, it would save massive amounts of water every day, reduce pollution, and return nutrients to agriculture where they belong.

Compost, don't flush.

--Mel

Posts: 1269 | Registered: Jun 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
  This topic comprises 15 pages: 1  2  3  4  5  ...  13  14  15   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2