$467 Million for Solar and Geothermal

obama-green

Congratulations to the president for making a good decision, he has done some things well and other poorly but this is a good step.

For one, these are the two alternative energy sources that have by far the most potential.  Ignoring investment into bio-fuels and wind is very smart.

Also the bulk of the money goes towards research and development, which is important because this will allow us to perfect the technologies before putting them into widespread use.

$350 million for geothermal shows great foresight as, in my opinion anyway, this is truly a source of unlimited dependable energy.

Many will probably aygrue that this money would be better spent on some other part of the economy and as someone who has been laid off due to this recession I can understand the point.  However, this constitutes a very small chunk of the overall stimulus package and if you don’t think long term, you’re doomed to live in the past.

Plus I plan on having kids and I know they will benifit from this even if I don’t see the results anytime soon.

Bio-Fuels are bad part 3: Ethanol

ethanol is bad

In addition to causing more green house emissions in the process of creating ethanol from corn and not getting better gas mileage, apparently ethanol causes expensive damage to engines, the fuel pump in particular.  Which makes perfect sense considering that alcohol can be corrosive to plastic and rubber.

So when you see a picture of corn on the side of the gas pump, it’s a bad sign.

Detailed Article

The future of Exxon-Mobil

What will the giant oil companies of the world do when production declines and what will they do when the black gold runs out entirely?

If the Arctic continues it’s recessive trend, the Exxon-Mobils will have a brief stay of execution with new-found reserves in the former great white north, but then what?

They may use their drilling expertise to mine gas hydrates at the bottom of the ocean. I have mentioned that this is really a bad idea.

Exxon Mobil is the largest company in the world and something should be done with their equipment and employees, most of the companies are American owned anyway so we have a personal stake in the future of the oil companies…imagine having to bail them out!

So the solution is Geothermal.

I don’t know if I’ve commented on this before but I believe that Geothermal is the best renewable energy resource we have.

-It’s unlimited

-It’s constant

-Requires small overhead to convert heat energy to electric

—We have perfected the technology of drilling!

Ok maybe it’s not perfect but if there is any technology we have improved to the utmost, it’s oil drilling.  Bottom line; drilling a big hole is how we harness geothermal energy.

So there’s your future big oil, you make a profit no matter what the price per barrel but someday those barrels will be empty.

Geothermal_System_400

Top 50 renewable energy users

Some surprising ones like Pepsi, Dell, Whole Foods, Dannon are using 100% renewable energy.  This seems like a good business decision strictly in terms of long term business strategy.

Imagine the competitive advantage of having your transportation and distribution budgets not being dependent on the price of oil.

EPA Top Fifty

Interactive renewable energy map

NRDC Map

This is an interesting little tool showing the potential energy of different parts of the US.

also more on this later but

“Several types of energy resources and specific technologies used to capture these resources claim to be renewable, despite either relying on dirty fossil fuel energy resources or creating other pollution hazards in the process. Following are three often-cited resources whose proponents claim are renewable but in fact they are not:

  • Coal waste from coal mining
  • Methane gas from coal mines
  • Waste-to-Energy (WTE) facilities, i.e. waste incineration”

Multi-directional wind turbines for the home. Vertical Axis Wind Turbine VAWT

Vertical Axis Wind Turbines VAWT.  These have been around for a while but no one design or company has really taken off.

The most efficient ones are generally shaped like a helix so that it spins no matter what direction the wind is blowing.  One significant problem with the standard large windmill design is they only work well if the wind is blowing hard and steadily in one direction.  There are places with those conditions but they are not exactly abundant.

The VAWT work on a different kind of wind. They could be effective on a small scale and could be owned privately like solar panels.  The other probably more untactful use would be to put them on the top and sides of skyscrapers.

As anyone who has stood on a NYC rooftop can tell you, the wind coming up from the street is srong and constant so attaching turbines could ease the electric demand where it is most needed.

The future of energy storage

What is the best way to store energy in the long run?

and by long run I mean after all the fossil fuels have been used up.

Batteries
It is safe to say that eventually the power we get will originate as electricity whether from geothermal, solar, or wind (I exclude bio-fuels because it is not a long term energy solution and should be abandoned at some point)
Electricity isn’t very portable though, very difficult to pick up and carry. Batteries are the traditional way to store direct current but with the current design of a battery, I don’t think we have enough battery making material to hold the energy we need. There have been some developments in Supercapcitor technology that would greatly help the battery problem but I think there is probably a better solution.

My suggestion would be hydrogen.  Use electricity to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen (hydrolysis) and when hydrogen is used as fuel the only by-product is water. (I’m sure many of us did this experiment in high school)

The first element, from which all other elements descend, hundreds of times more abundant than any other substance.

Let’s take advantage.

hydrogen_gen1

Solaren and Pacific Gas and Electric take on Space based Solar Power

These two companies are implementing the proven along with some mysterious new technology to make Space based Solar economically feasible.  I wrote a post a while ago about this subject and now with a serious commitment (albeit without the space elevator), I’m very excited to see how well it works.  Have to wait until 2016 though unless California politicians decide to fast track the necessary approvals.

PGE Blog

Kite Power

kite-power2

So I will have to do some more research on the physics of wind generation but I was under the impression that the capture of wind was perfected by sailors in the last few centuries.  Who says windmills as they are designed today is the best way to harness the wind’s energy?

We are about to put some significant investment into wind energy and I wonder if it really is the best way or just tradition.

http://nextbigfuture.com/2007/10/kitegen-follow-up.html

My question about clean coal

What happens when the ground moves?

Quick background on clean coal (many seem confused by the ads):  The idea is to pump the CO2 emitted by the burning of coal underground and keep it there forever.  The underground storage containers would ideally be already existing geologic formations.

Say we found enough natural underground airtight spaces to put all our CO2 emissions, at what point does it leak back into the atmosphere? The earth’s crust will move as it inevitably does and decades of carbon emissions will go up all at once.

We should start accepting the fact that humans will eventually burn all the coal and oil and natural gas on the planet. We should strive to slow the pace at which we burn through all the life that existed before us but should also realize that we are rebooting the carbon cycle.

All the CO2 will go into the air eventually and given the extremely high costs of underground carbon storage, perhaps we should let it go up now and focus our energy on dealing with the consequences.

clean-coal

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