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A story that didn't get nearly enough attention this past week was the 900-page report on renewable energy that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released Monday in Abu Dhabi.

To summarize the Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation's conclusions: With an investment of only 1 percent of global gross domestic product, 80 percent of our electricity could be provided by renewable sources in 2050.

That 1 percent doesn't make it cheap. We're talking a $5 trillion worldwide investment in the next decade. And then $7 trillion in the decade after that. The Schwartzman brothers, who published A Solar Transition Is Possible earlier this year, are among many who have been saying for a long time what the IPCC report says. As Amitabh Pal reminded us yesterday, another of those far-sighted people is Mark Hertzgaard, who, in 2000, wrote:

“The way to start, I believe, is for the United States to launch a Global Green Deal: a program to retrofit civilization environmentally from top to bottom--and in the process create the biggest jobs and business stimulus program of our time. Making use of both market incentives and government leadership, a Global Green Deal would do for environmental technologies in the twenty-first century what government and industry have done so well for computer and Internet technologies at the end of the twentieth: launch their commercial takeoff.”

Sven Teske, renewable energy director at Greenpeace International, and a lead author of the IPCC report, told The Guardian:

"This is an invitation to governments to initiate a radical overhaul of their policies and place renewable energy centre stage. On the run up to the next major climate conference, COP17 in South Africa in December, the onus is clearly on governments to step up to the mark. ...

"The IPCC report shows overwhelming scientific evidence that renewable energy can also meet the growing demand of developing countries, where over 2 billion people lack access to basic energy services and can do so at a more cost-competitive and faster rate than conventional energy sources. Governments have to kick start the energy revolution by implementing renewable energy laws across the globe."

Despite the claims of the fantasylanders who think climate change is a hoax and the IPCC an extremist organization, it is in fact quite conservative. The WWF's relatively recent Energy Report shows a path that could have us getting 100 percent of our electricity from renewables by 2050. I say, push for 100 percent, be happy with 80 percent.

Making the switch is doable technically and financially. But politically is another matter. Back in 1978, when I was barely into my 30s and working at the Solar Energy Research Institute (now the National Renewables Energy Laboratory), we had dreams like that found in the IPCC report. I thought that by the time I would be, well, the age I am now, the electrical grid would be running mostly on solar, wind and geothermal and some more exotic sources of energy.

Alas, politics intervened. We didn't have the Kochtopus working against us in those days. But the impact of those who opposed a switch in the U.S. approach to energy were still plenty powerful. Their spokesperson was Ronald Reagan, who parroted the line that people (like us) who supported a concerted drive for conservation, efficiency and the widespread use of renewables just wanted everybody to "freeze to death in the dark." He gutted the "soft side" of SERI and I lost my job along with scores of my colleagues. From then forward, U.S. government policy has behaved pretty much as if there is no tomorrow when it comes to energy other than continued reliance on fossil fuels. And as we see every day, politics still stands in the path of energy sanity.

If the world were to wise up and adopt the IPCC approach, WWF's approach, a Global Green Deal approach, and the 40-year objective were met, I might still be around—the number of centenarians is on the rise, after all—to see that renewably-powered world. There are some alternatives that, frankly, I don't want to be alive to see.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (183+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    navajo, Rimjob, DawnN, ericlewis0, supercereal, Tookish, crystal eyes, concerned, ontheleftcoast, twigg, KayCeSF, srkp23, hotdamn, justiceputnam, Ekaterin, Glen The Plumber, camlbacker, begone, Nulwee, greengemini, adios, blindyone, Lying eyes, scribe, klingman, side pocket, maggiejean, Ignacio Magaloni, JekyllnHyde, JML9999, sceptical observer, john07801, Jim P, belinda ridgewood, nancelot, Eric Nelson, SolarMom, nailbender, Got a Grip, squarewheel, pensivelady, soothsayer99, luckydog, Marjmar, Fishgrease, KenBee, mahakali overdrive, fhcec, My Spin, sebastianguy99, OLinda, FischFry, akmk, Ebby, martinjedlicka, Pluto, Kimberley, deMemedeMedia, citisven, retrograde, YucatanMan, lazbumm, Larsstephens, mrsgoo, rage, eeff, TX Freethinker, yowsta, Trendar, jan4insight, rl en france, freesia, peachcreek, Celtic Merlin, eastvan, Just Bob, TXdem, jtb583, Seneca Doane, Pam LaPier, KVoimakas, basquebob, ninkasi23, The Wizard, Shockwave, jennifree2bme, jmknapp, riverlover, allie123, Burned, coppercelt, ivote2004, JaxDem, blue jersey mom, missLotus, Onomastic, ItsSimpleSimon, Tasini, LamontCranston, Dom9000, frisco, orlbucfan, a2nite, One Pissed Off Liberal, gizmo59, matching mole, bronte17, petulans, gmoke, I C Mainer, CA Nana, US Blues, tardis10, PBen, TexDem, Orinoco, Joieau, claude, AnnCetera, sewaneepat, no way lack of brain, Dauphin, poligirl, glitterscale, rhubarb, ruleoflaw, BlueDragon, Loonesta, googie, Unit Zero, Matt Z, roses, Its a New Day, itzik shpitzik, Wrench44, FlamingoGrrl, Lorinda Pike, yet another liberal, LeftOfYou, Odysseus, Pat K California, Magnifico, mudslide, la urracca, cpresley, antooo, cotterperson, science nerd, TrueBlueMajority, Aquarius40, SpecialKinFlag, ewmorr, sleipner, PeterHug, badger, davehouck, kurt, nicolemm, McMeier, NoMoreLies, millwood, Rei, JayDean, offgrid, BlueJessamine, jotter, Patric Juillet, jamess, dirtfarmer, Ana Thema, Maggie Pax, WeatherDem, mawazo, Russgirl, enhydra lutris, opinionated, terabytes, ms badger, Milly Watt, MJ via Chicago, Ann Marie Brenda, Bronx59, oldcrow

    Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Thu May 12, 2011 at 09:00:11 PM PDT

  •  You want a real kick in the teeth? (26+ / 0-)

    I just heard on the BBC that Hillary was calling for more use of the Arctic because it's warming up and, this is the dental rearranging part, that should include drilling for oil.

    As soon as you have people telling other people how to live/think/behave because "god gave them authority" you effectively get dictators in funny looking hats.

    by ontheleftcoast on Thu May 12, 2011 at 09:09:27 PM PDT

  •  The Corporate Police State (22+ / 0-)
    There are some alternatives that, frankly, I don't want to be alive to see.

    Lavish fortresses of luxury surrounded by a great sprawl  of poverty, ignorance, and sickness would mean that only the rich will get to see one  hundred.

    Taking care of the planet and taking care of people go hand in hand.

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Thu May 12, 2011 at 09:13:46 PM PDT

    •  Several dystopian novels come to mind: (12+ / 0-)

      The Black Man by Richard Morgan, Neal Stephenson's Diamond Age and Snow Crash, and any Philip K Dick short story you'd like to cite.  

      We passed 1984 a while back, after all.

      My (and MB's) generation have dropped the ball.  Whether our kids and grandkids can pick it up remains to be seen.  TV has been the bane of our civilization and undoing its grip on our collective psyche is the struggle that is most critical if we are to move beyond global systemic pathology, imo.  

      Otoh, the world's going to end on March 21, so what are we so exercised about?  Hell, that's my wedding anniversary, so I don't have to get a card for my wife or anything.  What could be more convenient?

      "Faced with what is right, to leave it undone shows a lack of courage." - Confucius -/- "Yeah, well, the Constitution is worth it if you succeed." - Nancy Pelosi

      by nailbender on Thu May 12, 2011 at 10:09:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I was in Cairo in December. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      trumpeter, Bronx59, cpresley, Aquarius40
      Lavish fortresses of luxury surrounded by a great sprawl  of poverty, ignorance, and sickness would mean that only the rich will get to see one  hundred.
      This sounds like what I saw in Cairo.

      Republicans are dead set on making the USA part of the 3rd World, so this mght not be long coming to a hometown near you.  

      "If you are going to tell people the truth, be funny or they will kill you." Billy Wilder 1906 - 2002

      by LeftOfYou on Fri May 13, 2011 at 09:03:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Trouble is, even if you and I don't make it to the (46+ / 0-)

    century mark, there're some exceedingly special youngsters (one of whom turned six years old today), who I'd really like to think could have a chance at the joy of being present on this beautiful planet.

    And, of course, it would be kind of comforting to think that making a nuisance of myself over the state of the environment since the Santa Barbara oil spill hadn't all been in vain.

    I think six is a good age to learn how to make a solar cooker, don't you?

    I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.– Dwight D. Eisenhower

    by DawnN on Thu May 12, 2011 at 09:15:23 PM PDT

  •  A toast to your 104th. (15+ / 0-)

    and to my 85th or whatever the math says.

    Renewable energy will be great, and if we seriously reduce the global birth rate, carbon consumption, deforestation, over-fishing, water depletion, glacial melting, ocean acidification, et al in the next 40 years, we may very well be able to share that toast.

    or perhaps we will not.

    I used to write here as VeganMilitia. I let that user name pass into the history books.

    by Shuksan Tahoma on Thu May 12, 2011 at 09:15:35 PM PDT

  •  I'm seeing a lot more solar panels (18+ / 0-)

    on the roofs of private residences. They're used mostly for hot water, but the power company has to buy back any surplus energy generated. Word gets around pretty fast in the neighborhood. I would hope and expect these units to be standard equipment for new homes.

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." -Benjamin Franklin

    by hotdamn on Thu May 12, 2011 at 09:25:22 PM PDT

  •  Take It To the Owners. (5+ / 0-)

    Let's look at a trivial project, restoring the "good" Clinton economy. Nobody has a plan to restore that economy at any foreseeable time.

    Climate change by contrast, requires an extreme of government imposition on the economy that dwarfs the FDR-LBJ era's.

    Climate change is light years beyond either the authority or the power of American governance to address. Every minute spent wargaming about how to convince government to address this issue, or the inhabitants' ability to force government to do it, translates to uncountable lives and property damage lost.

    Someday democracy might be invented south of Canada. It's a noble project, an inspirational ideal, but it's immoral and unconscionable to gamble survival of civilization on it.

    Put the question to those who can answer it.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu May 12, 2011 at 09:31:45 PM PDT

  •  104 years old... I love it. Go on with (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SolarMom, Joieau, cotterperson

    your bad self...  :)

    So make sure when you say you're in it but not of it, you're not helping to make this Earth a place sometimes called Hell- Stevie Wonder

    by blindyone on Thu May 12, 2011 at 09:40:32 PM PDT

  •  China is doing this for us ... (0+ / 0-)
    •  China is taking the West for a Ride.... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      frostieb, Russgirl, tari

      I'll tell you what China is doing.

      It's making GE and other makers of renewable power that want to sell to that country to source 70% of windmills and solar panels from Chinese companies.  When GE tells Chinese bureaucrats that the know-how simply isn't there, the Chinese reply, "then Transfer the technology to Chinese companies".

      Having done so, Chinese companies move up the value-added chain, export worldwide, and take market share from US and European companies.

      When GE asks, "Why don't Chinese companies sell more windmills and solar panels domestically", the Chinese reply, "We would rather have you, the West, benefit from our technology."

      What they don't say is that they are taking the US and the West for a ride, by expropriating technology, exporting it worldwide, then having US and European taxpayers subsidize the operating costs of Chinese Windmills and Solar Panels, relative to what they'd pay for energy generated by natural gas or coal.

      As for the Chinese, they're no dummies.  They continue to construct at least one coal-fired power plant a week, as coal provides energy FAR cheaper than solar or wind.

      Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. http://www1.hamiltonproject.org/es/hamilton/hamilton_hp.htm

      by PatriciaVa on Fri May 13, 2011 at 07:41:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hmmmm... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        offgrid
        As for the Chinese, they're no dummies.  They continue to construct at least one coal-fired power plant a week, as coal provides energy FAR cheaper than solar or wind.

        Until you factor in the thousands of mining deaths in China each year, and the health costs, and the costs to the atmosphere. Knowing all this, I would say only dummies continue to build coal-fired power plants.

        Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Fri May 13, 2011 at 09:30:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Are the Chinese Dummies, then?... (0+ / 0-)

          Or are they simply doing whatever they can to ensure employment is as high as possible?

          Meteor Blades, you want me and other Dems like me to embrace climate change legislation?

          Then have Dem lawmakers mandate that China must REDUCE CO2 emissions by the same percentage as the US, and if it doesn't, the US would prohibit travel and business in that country.

          If Dems believe that climate change is as consequential a threat as many Dems lawmakers say it is, then they will include China in the equation.

          If all the Dems want is a carbon tax or Cap and Trade, then I will conclude that all they seek another revenue stream, are too cowardly to ask the Buffets and Ellison's to pay their fair share, and therefore want the working and middle-class to pay higher taxes.

          Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. http://www1.hamiltonproject.org/es/hamilton/hamilton_hp.htm

          by PatriciaVa on Fri May 13, 2011 at 10:02:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Chinas growth needs an all of the above approach (0+ / 0-)

          very simple.They now do shut down the most polluting factories, something they have not done before. This is new. This is good. Plus they will dominate the future technologies.

          Most US energy people support a similar "all of the above" approach for the US. We will, however, have to get out of nuclear power. At least certainly not expand it. Another Fukushima can happen anywhere anytime. Thus, we are left with wind, geothermal, sun, gas ... revitalizing urban living to reduce commutes, eat less, actually committing to a vegetarian life style would have a huge impact.

  •  Great idea "Windmill blades" (5+ / 0-)
  •  One thing you might remember from the '70s: (22+ / 0-)
    ...Back in 1978,... I thought that by the time I would be, well, the age I am now, the electrical grid would be running mostly on solar, wind and geothermal and some more exotic sources of energy.

    And that there wouldn't be that much of a grid as the energy would be decentralized in large part.

    Like my friend in Jersey who went geo-exchange, and now has an electric/heating bill that's 10% a year of what she used to pay. (Plus she has to wear a sweater in winter. Oh the horror! Oh the humanity!) Like my friend in upstate NY who gets most of his hot water from a passive solar tank.

    if you read the people who say "such a degree of renewable energy is impossible" they'll always exclude extensive decentralization. They'll insist we have to replace current generation watt for watt and no way else. Even in those terms, they are wrong, but decentralization buries the objection.

    And remember, the efficiencies and strategies of the 1970s are 40 years behind what we have now from sky, earth, water technologies.

    Then, there's this:

    Making the switch is doable technically and financially. But politically is another matter.

    How insane we must be that the thing which would actually fix a real problem is the very thing automatically counted as "unrealistic." We, as people, would not live the day with that approach, but as a nation it is now held to be bedrock reality. If it works, we can't possibly do it.

    Didn't used to find that in the US.


    Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

    by Jim P on Thu May 12, 2011 at 09:59:31 PM PDT

  •  I hope I'll be dead by then. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson

    But if I'm lucky, maybe the future will be part of my life.

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Thu May 12, 2011 at 10:05:36 PM PDT

  •  We need continuity in our policies. (6+ / 0-)

    Until we have a sustained plan that spans at last a decade or two we're never going to see energy independence.

    Worse, most current policies seem driven by how much campaign cash they'll generate and whether they'll help or hurt some politicians chances for reelection.

    We need some of that simplistic idealism of old, when people worked for the common good.  

    "The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice." Richard K. Morgan

    by sceptical observer on Thu May 12, 2011 at 10:05:45 PM PDT

  •  President Carter was correct 30 years ago (19+ / 0-)

    President Carter was correct in trying to get our country to use  20% of the energy we use from the sun.

    President Carter installed solar water heating panels on the WH roof - Reagan took them down.

    There is city in China where 88% of the energy used is derived from the sun.  The city has a Solar Museum where one of the solar panels removed by Reagan is displayed.

    I learned this in a NOVA program: Power Surge which was shown on 2011.04.20.

  •  It's only fitting since you are American Indian (17+ / 0-)

    that you would care about the future for others.

    Seven Generation style:

    "In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation... even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine.,,"
  •  No question about this problem, (0+ / 0-)

    and food security, and armed conflict.  Solutions, however, get too bogged down over values of competing states, enhanced by transnational interests.

    The only time in recent history where the human revolution occurred was in the aftermath of WWII.  Could a UN Charter be created in this age?

    It's hard to be Kantian in a world of Grotians, and to understand that the Grotian norms remain dominant for many, if not most, actors.

    In this situation, what will help bring human development?  Wish I had a clue.

  •  I'll be 102 and I couldn't agree more. One caveat (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AnnCetera, offgrid

    however.

    With hydro, keep it away from rivers where the projects will diminish our wild salmon runs and other important fisheries of the world.

    Do it right and do it in the right places.

    And let's learn to manage our energy more efficiently and for the things that really matter.

    And we might have to start taking a good hard look at policies in the world that will keep population at sustainable levels.  

    Or, I guess, we can let nature do that for us.

  •  I imagine the world will be pretty uneven (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a gilas girl, Words In Action

    ....still by 2050  --- for you to live in a world powered by renewable energy.

    But I know for sure you can get a leg up on it if you emigrate to China or the European Union.

  •  I too thought that at least solar would be a (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, lazbumm, cpresley

    regular part of the jobs I'd be bidding on. Back in the 80's installing roof panels and holdings tanks was picking up..then it just sort of ended.
    There were problems with freezing in the winter, which caused some people to have second thoughts, but re-circulation pumps were being introduced to fix that, and even ingenious convection systems that did away with the need to power the re-circulation.

    Reagan really did screw things up when he pulled those panels off the White house. It seemed to make solar a DFH thing and therefore a bad thing.

    Even better is the solar electric panel work. It was small time at first on  RV's that sit for long times & needed their batteries charged regularly. That was good for a few jobs.
    I thought that that would lead to solar electics for residential, but the jobs are expensive and few & far between.

    Hope this Energy report is the future. We need these kind of jobs & clean energy that can't be outsourced. It'll be on every roof top as a regular part of home building..at least in this old carpenters dream.

    •  stored solar (3+ / 0-)

      stored solar cracks water to hydrogen and oxygen for storage w/ only the sun. coupled to a breakthroughfuel cell which replaces the platinum as cathode and replaces it with carbon nantube technology reducing costs 25 percent , and have improved output.

       Stand alone power from the sun , night or day

      "If there is a war on drugs, then many of our family members are the enemy. And I don't know how you wage war on your own family. " Traffic

      by lazbumm on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:33:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thx for the links. Great news. Can you imagine (0+ / 0-)

        producing your own fuel for a vehicle out of your back yard? Wow.
         Storage is a tough one, yet  there are many devices that, today don't need nearly as much electricity to run. Your computer has to convert 110 AC transformed to what.. 5-12 volts DC. Phones; 1/2 my hand held drills are DC. Many households will be to re-tooling there kitchens [lol] with appliances that don't need 110 AC.
        Not having to convert will save a lot too.

        It's the future for sure. :)

      •  Hype (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nojay

        1) Using energy to crack hydrogen for storage is one of the least efficient and most expensive (round-trip) systems for energy storage possible.  The cheapest (at present day) is pumped hydro, followed by compressed air and batteries (lead-acid, molten salt, and a variety of flow batteries), etc.  Hydrogen is at the bottom of the list by a large margin.  The most efficient is batteries, followed by hydro, followed by compressed air, followed by hydrogen.

        2) The "breakthrough" fuel cell research is for PEMFCs, not SOFCs like which are used on the grid, and isn't nearly as big of a "breakthrough" as has been portrayed by the media (I can go into why if you'd like).  It's been hyped to death.

      •  Doesnt hydrogen run into the 2nd law of (0+ / 0-)

        thermodynamics?

        FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Fri May 13, 2011 at 02:20:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The military is ALREADY using solar (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric Nelson

      to stop the killing of troops moving fuel.

      No brainer - but WE the little people - the REAL TAXPAYERS - who actually pay tax?  Meh!

  •  Please read these three reports about (5+ / 0-)

    switching over to renewables and away from nuke and fossil fuels.

    http://www.lakeshorewind.org/...

  •  The momentum is shifting (6+ / 0-)

    from all sides. Ten years from now we'll be utterly perplexed that there once was a time when the world was being held up by a bunch of fossils.

  •  YoU is ancient (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane, AnnCetera

    even more than me. ug.

    I have 3 billion dollars, why should I invest in a factory to make solar panels when I can engage in currency or commodities speculation and make 10% to 30% a year.

    To reverse that mind set a few things need to happen. Starting with a couple of tax policy changes.

    FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

    by Roger Fox on Thu May 12, 2011 at 10:43:33 PM PDT

  •  I'm hoping we can count in nuclear fusion by 2050 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, GreyHawk

    Tri Alpha born out of Univ of California @ Irvine via sci fi author DR G. Benford, and UCI DR Rostocker. They are looking aneutronic fusion, proton boron fusion, so is the EMC2 Corp. in Santa Fe with the Polywell reactor.

    Aneutronic fusion, no neutrons, no waste, no meltdown, no thermal plant, direct conversion to DC electricity.

    http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/...

    FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

    by Roger Fox on Thu May 12, 2011 at 10:52:51 PM PDT

    •  Aneutronic fusion is something that's been pursued (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ruleoflaw, Roger Fox

      for years. I've got an old report about research efforts in the field from 15 or so years back by a company that was focused on it.

      It'd be a lot smarter way to utilize nuclear technology than to simply use fission or fusion to boil water and drive a steam-based generator.

      And it's theoretically scalable - something that can built smaller than some of the huge plants currently in use for fission, so it'd be a distributable power source...i.e., good for remote locations, good for space exploration, good for space / lunar colonies, good for undersea habitats...

      •  Soviets did it in '58 (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GreyHawk

        P-B11 in  a pulse. no one has shown steady state P-b11 fusion, which Polywell is slated to do this winter with WB-8, which has already shown Deuterium scaling compared to WB-7 according to DR Park in the above link. SO we may be able to put aside the scaling issue at this point.

        Pb-11 has a resonance spike at 55 Kev, which is attainable with the current WB-8.

        FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Fri May 13, 2011 at 01:52:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  It's also questionable whether it's realistic. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Roger Fox

      Have you read the Rider papers on the subject of fusion of non-equilibrium plasmas?  They approach the problem from a non-device-specific case, only dealing with general principles.  Now, Rider's constraints can be violated in a couple ways -- for one example, if your method for accelerating protons is energy-specific (you only spend your energy accelerating lower-energy particles).  But let's just make it clear that it's far from certain that energy-producing non-Maxwellian fusion is possible.  

      Honestly, I think our best bet for fusion is HiPER.  Also there's some potential for fusion-driven subcritical fission reactors (reactors which would burn their own waste and be unable to sustain themselves without the input of the fusion reactor), although pure fusion is clearly the most desirable situation.

      •  Better to try (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roger Fox

        than to live with 300 years of radioactive contamination.

      •  Riders thesis is applicable to (0+ / 0-)

        wire grid fusors (IEC). Rider tells us why IEC wont work, but Chacons paper is applicable to a non grided IEC like Polywell, and tells us that a Polywell IEC would work.... Riders paper shows us the avenues to avoid.

        I think its becoming clear that Polywell is a non maxwellian device. DR Nebel has made the argument quite well and has convinced DR Art Carlson that Riders paper doesnt apply to Polywell.

        Bremm loses occur because of electrons being in a hgh density, high kinetic energy state. This doesnt describe the potential well in a Polywell.

        Lemme ask you this, WB-8 is twice the size and 8x the mag field of WB-7, and according to DR Park shows scaling. If the WB-8 P-B11 runs shows steady state fusion, would you be as concerned about Riders paper?

        FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Fri May 13, 2011 at 02:05:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's incorrect. (0+ / 0-)

          Rider has multiple papers, not just one.  He has one specifically on IEC, but he also has a generalized paper which deals with any non-Maxwellian fusion system (within a few constraints).  I have not read Chacon's paper to see how the two mesh.

          The problem with Polywell is the very fact that it's non-Maxwellian.  Rider demonstrates that unless you are energy-selective with your acceleration, you're either going to be a net negative or you're going to be breaking down to a Maxwellian distribution.

          Bremsstrahlung losses occur from any electron/nucleus "collisions". If you have electrons in your fusing plasma, you will have Bremsstrahlung losses.  

          Lemme ask you this, WB-8 is twice the size and 8x the mag field of WB-7, and according to DR Park shows scaling. If the WB-8 P-B11 runs shows steady state fusion, would you be as concerned about Riders paper?

          Link

  •  I'd like us both to get there, MB. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ruleoflaw

    I'm not certain that our "misspent youth" has left enough of our bodies intact enough to make it, but we should try anyway.

    I'm strongly of the opinion that hydroelectric can be made more environmentally friendly so that it would be a very attractive option.

    Celtic Merlin
    Carlinist

    Sorry I couldn't take your call. I'm using my cell phone to make pancakes. Please leave a message.

    by Celtic Merlin on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:25:00 PM PDT

    •  Hydro behaves quite well with wind (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Celtic Merlin

      ...and solar as a grid stabilizer.  

      Hydro from Scandinavia is not used (saved for later) when the wind is blowing in Denmark, and sent back when the wind calms.

      http://switchboard.nrdc.org/...

      •  You're right. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bronx59

        Hydro runs 24/7 and can be easily regulated to meet demand.  On sunny, breezy days, you can scale it back.  On those hot nights when there's not even a puff of wind, you can run it wide open.

        Hell, we'd do ourselves a tremendous favor if all we did was take the non-hydroelectric dams and convert them to produce power.  New sites are everywhere, but I want them to be enviro-friendly.

        It could done and without alot of R&D or effort.

        Celtic Merlin
        Carlinist

        Sorry I couldn't take your call. I'm using my cell phone to make pancakes. Please leave a message.

        by Celtic Merlin on Fri May 13, 2011 at 12:49:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  How? (0+ / 0-)

      How do you think that hydroelectric can be made more environmentally friendly?  I'm curious.  Are you talking low-head or something?

      Honestly, low or high head, I think we've done enough damming of our wild rivers.  :P  Rivers need to run, they need to churn, they need to dig up sediment  and carry it to the ocean.  They need to flood, they need to ebb.  They need to churn and aerate.  Damming is the antithesis to this.  I'm big on wind, on solar, on geothermal (esp. EGS), etc.  But I'm not fond of hydro.

      •  Your lack of imagination limits you. (0+ / 0-)

        There are alot of ways to harness the power of rivers and streams which do not have to create environmental harm.

        Most notably are things like water wheels, which involve no dam at all, but let's take a look at dams alone.

        Diversion of the water to a side site leaves the river alone but permits generation at the same time.  Amount of diversion is easily variable and the diverted water is returned to the river a little way downstream.

        Conversion of existing non-hydroelectric dams to power-producing sites changes nothing environmentally, but gives us clean, renewable power.

        There are also half-dams, additional bypass methods, and the use of otherwise-unused deep gorges.

        Your "rivers need to run, churn, flood . . ." statement is a wonderful Utopian idea, but impractical.  That same idea extended to wind power (wind needs to blow unfettered) and solar energy (sun should strike only trees and grass and other plants) would leave us with no renewable sources at all.  I've become far too fond of civilization to force the human race back into the 1200's.

        Hydro is our cheapest, cleanest, most scalable, and virtually uninterruptable best source of power.  Try putting your mind to an acceptable method of using it instead of spending so much time thinking of ways to thwart this valuable and clean source of energy.

        Celtic Merlin
        Carlinist

        Sorry I couldn't take your call. I'm using my cell phone to make pancakes. Please leave a message.

        by Celtic Merlin on Fri May 13, 2011 at 01:11:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, you could extend it to wind... (0+ / 0-)

          if you like completely ridiculous analogies.  The amount of wind turbines capture is tiny, they only capture from the surface layer, rivers are tiny ecosystems (proportionally)  while the wind covers a huge area, and the impact of rivers on their environment is dramatically higher than the wind for a given time period and given location.

          Not. Even. Close.

          The same applies to sun. What good is the sun doing hitting a rooftop?  Hitting a driveway?  A road?  A parking lot?  It's only doing harm.  Even in the wild, a large portion of the sun is useless or counterproductive.  In the desert, areas sheltered from the sun are where life thrives.  In the deep oceanic dead zones, solar energy is wasted because the waters are mineral-limited.

          Making bogus analogies doesn't help your argument.

          Hydro is absolutely not the cleanest nor the most scaleable.  As for scalability, most good hydro sites are already taken.  And that's taking 100% of the energy of the river's flow over the economically-harnessable segments, not the 1-2% you'd get from a little side-mounted water-wheel.  As for "clean", hydro has done immense damage to their local ecosystems (you know that the Grand Canyon used to have otters in it?), including hundreds of known extinctions (and many more unknown), and in many cases is a major GHG emitter (due to anoxic decomposition leading to methane release instead of CO2 release; one south american dam studied was found to be causing several times the GHG load of an equivalent amount of coal power  -- not counting the CO2 emissions from all of the setting concrete, which applies to any dam)

          •  You neglected to address these points: (0+ / 0-)
            Diversion of the water to a side site leaves the river alone but permits generation at the same time.  Amount of diversion is easily variable and the diverted water is returned to the river a little way downstream.

            Conversion of existing non-hydroelectric dams to power-producing sites changes nothing environmentally, but gives us clean, renewable power.

            There are also half-dams, additional bypass methods, and the use of otherwise-unused deep gorges.

            But, I understand why and will explain "why" farther down.

            Your Brazilian example is a good example of mismanagement, not a good example of hydroelectric dams.  Decomposition can be severely limited by removing the trees, etc. before the lake is created.  Even if it isn't done, there is a limited amount of decomp which can take place before the fuel for this activity is used up.

            Hydroelectric dams can last many decades.  Some which were built during the Great Depression are still operating safely today in the TVA.  But, you had to go all the way to Brazil to find something to complain about.

            Most good Hydroelectric sites haven't even been touched.  There are dozens - if not hundreds - of dams in this country which produce NO POWER AT ALL.  Converting those to hydroelectric dams would change nothing environmentally.  When you add the smaller sites which would be perfect for a hydroelectric dam to this total, the result is impressive.

            Hydroelectric dams - once in place - require no fuel to be found, mined, processed, or transported.  They work day AND NIGHT.  They work when the wind blows and when it is CALM.  They operate safely in storms, through all temperature conditions, and on cloudy days and every night.  They can scale up and down the amount of power they produce in order to meet demand and are the perfect compliment to solar and wind.  I'd prefer to not have to rely on solar and wind alone on a calm night.

            Finally, your dismissal of water wheel type generation is deplorable, but this seems to stem the "why" I mentioned earlier -- your lack of knowledge of the advancements in this technology, which is understandable given your complete disdain for hydroelectricity.

            Hydro can and will be an important part of our renewable energy future.  Get on board and help us address the few environmental issues with this method of power generation so that this clean, sustainable, and valuable resource will meet your expectations.  Hydro beats the pants off of coal and nuclear, and it provides clean power 24/7/365.  

            Celtic Merlin
            Carlinist

            Sorry I couldn't take your call. I'm using my cell phone to make pancakes. Please leave a message.

            by Celtic Merlin on Sat May 14, 2011 at 09:49:51 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's not just Brazil. (0+ / 0-)

              Brazil was just where the first big study brought this issue to light (although it's true that it's worse for tropical areas than temperate).  It's not just organic matter that was present when a dam is established that's an issue, either; organic matter influx also decays anoxically.  This is on top of the CO2 emissions from the concrete, which takes your average dam several years of operation to overcome just from that alone.

              According to the last DOE feasability assessment, if you developed every feasible run-of-the-river spot in the US (tens of thousands of them), it would only increase the US's hydro generation by 50%.  Most of the potential generation is in Alaska where it wouldn't be particularly useful anyway.  So much is in Alaska that they put Alaska separately in its own chart (Fig. 16) so as not to throw off the scale of the chart for everything else  ;)

              The overwhelming majority of dams which produce no power in the US never will produce power, as the amount generated wouldn't begin to justify the cost of the retrofit.

              Your next paragraph is a nice mix of hype and nonsense.  Your first sentence applies to both wind and solar.  Your next two ignore the following equations:

              1) Intermittent + peaking = baseload
              2) Intermittent + storage = baseload
              3) Intermittent + integrated storage (such as solar thermal heat retention) = baseload
              4) Intermittent + variable demand (energy-intensive industries, smart grid, etc) - baseload
              5) Intermittent + other type of intermittent = less intermittent
              6) Intermittent + long distance transmission with the same type of intermittent, elsewhere = less intermittent
              7) Intermittent + long distance transmission to new demand = less intermittent

              It also ignores that not all actually environmentally friendly power is not defined by wind and solar.  My personal favorite is EGS.

              Wind and solar are perfectly safe in storms the overwhelming majority of the time -- they're no more likely to fail than dams are during floods (your timing on this is amazing, given the fact that the levees in MS/LA are bubbling right now, and to save them, they're having to flood peoples' houses).  

              It doesn't matter what the technology (although some techs are definitely worse than others) -- the basic facts are that rivers are systems that turn water's potential energy to kinetic energy.  By taking the kinetic energy, you're taking the prime determining factor of the characteristics of the river.  Even if you had boxes that you could sit beside a river and using magic could capture the energy from the water without touching it, you'd still be radically altering the river's properties -- changing the temperature, the evaporation rate, the aertion, the sedimentation/erosion rate, etc -- and thus destroying its ecosystem.  Unless, of course, you only took a small fraction of its energy, but in that case, throw away that "50% more hydropower from developing all feasible resources" figure and replace it with "1% more hydropower from developing all feasible resources".

  •  Offshore wind could power 4 USAs (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, Bronx59

    From sustainablebusiness.com

    The U.S. has 4,150 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind power potential, according to a new assessment released by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

    According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2008 the nation’s total electric generating capacity from all sources was 1,010 GW.

    The nice part about offshore wind is that the best areas are near regional power grids for the biggest population centers.

  •  Might I suggest ... (14+ / 0-)

    that whether discussing "cost", you should question whether "investment" is a better term and that we also discuss (explicitly) "benefit".

    The $5 trillion ... and then $7 trillion ... and then additional money is not a "cost" but an "investment" that has a "return".

    When we say or think "cost", we see a one-way flow of resources away from us. When we hear "investment", we begin to question and think about what the "return" / "returns" will be.

    What are "returns" on this investment?

    - Reduced risk of climate change
    - More stable electrical system
    - Electricity
    - Reduced air pollution
    - Improved health
    - Distributed jobs
    - Reduced local environmental havoc from (for example) mountain-top removal, pipelines, transmission lines, pollution from smokestacks, etc ...

    Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

    by A Siegel on Fri May 13, 2011 at 03:08:21 AM PDT

  •  I will be 99 in 2050, but my kids will (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    be 66, 64, and 58. This is the world that they will inherit. I hope that they will no longer be dependent on fossil fuels. the consequences of continuing to burn oil, coal, and gas include air and water pollution, in addition to climate change and the political consequences of needing to import oil from the Middle East. While I may not be here in 2050, it is not all that far away.

  •  Heck, I'm just trying to get the entire property (6+ / 0-)

    of ours totally solar/hydro/wind by 2013.

    It's an expensive proposition, but the numbers say that if my wife and I should accomplish this, then we have a chance of "going out" with having lived sustainably in regards to our food that we grow, and energy that we generate for ourselves for at least 30 years (hopefully late 80's lifespan for both).  So far, one of the smaller solar projects is near completion (July1 target).

    It's not a major impact in the "big scheme of things", but it's all we can do:  It's a dream of ours to have our farm be a continuing educational and forever farmland conservancy long after we have "moved on".

    Hey Boehner and the Republicans: WHERE ARE THOSE JOBS YOU PROMISED????

    by LamontCranston on Fri May 13, 2011 at 04:47:06 AM PDT

  •  Holy shit! My dad worked at SERI! In Denver right? (0+ / 0-)

    I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

    by punditician on Fri May 13, 2011 at 04:51:51 AM PDT

  •  In this windmill video, 2050 is also mentioned (0+ / 0-)

    as a year by which we better have mostly renewable energy. The guy quotes Barron's investment journal, hardly a hippie rag:

    http://www.youtube.com/...

  •  Thanks tipped and re'ce MB nt (0+ / 0-)

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear and loathing.

    by a2nite on Fri May 13, 2011 at 05:37:29 AM PDT

  •  2050 = 98 for me. (0+ / 0-)

    Naaah, don't want to live that long. Hope your diary bears fruit. Good one as usual and rec'ced.

    Since when have greed, stupidity, and downright lying become virtues? Since Reagan, that's when!

    by orlbucfan on Fri May 13, 2011 at 05:45:43 AM PDT

  •  And I'll turn 101 (0+ / 0-)

    assuming I'm still alive (and given my genetics, that's not likely).

    In any case, we have the necessary technology on hand now to go a long way toward making this transformation.  A large portion of the reason we don't is the long, passionate love affair between Congress and Big Oil.

    If only human nature weren't so damned predictable.

    -5.13,-5.64; EVERYTHING is an approximation! -Hans A. Bethe

    by gizmo59 on Fri May 13, 2011 at 05:48:21 AM PDT

  •  I would turn 89 (0+ / 0-)

    in 2050.  Based solely on my grandparents' lifespans I have a 50% chance of making it.  I know a lot of younger people who will definitely be around - hopefully.  Let's work to make 2050 a better time than it seems like it is likely to be.

    "We are normal and we want our freedom" - Bonzos

    by matching mole on Fri May 13, 2011 at 05:56:33 AM PDT

  •  i'll be 65-ish. (0+ / 0-)

    really, its good that you have sane goals. My entire goal in life is to either find a way to pass between realities (assuming extras exist of course) so I can find someone who knows somewhere, perhaps with magic, how to defeat my sensory processing disorder.

    I know, it sems far fetched. But for now, its hte only way i can think of that even might reduce the constant pain which makes it so no one can touch me.

    Its odd right? I know both how unlikely and petty my momentary concerns for myself are...but i have no way of ignoring it.

    I TRY to do good stuff all around the communities, but when ever sensation includes pain, youd be surprised how much you do not want to deal with anyone.

    "May whatever power they believe in show the rightwingers mercy. They have been led astray by devils with chalkboards."

    by kamrom on Fri May 13, 2011 at 06:10:01 AM PDT

  •  Entropy. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action

    A thought. Every time we make something easier through technology, are we not infact increasing system entropy? Since its what will ultimately destroy everything, we should minimize that.

    Burning Coal or gas masively increases said entropy. We are in every way hastening our demise and the collapse of totality because these damn republicans think it shouldnt be snowing in scandanavia in the winter before theres a problem.

    Sure, in the end, the increase is unavoidable. But wind and solar and dyson swarms and whatnot will allow us to minize the entropy increases, and thus, delay our inevitable heat death.

    Science is depressing, but it has supernovas so it works out.

    "May whatever power they believe in show the rightwingers mercy. They have been led astray by devils with chalkboards."

    by kamrom on Fri May 13, 2011 at 06:13:44 AM PDT

  •  In '78 you had Big Oil and Big Nuclear against you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action

    Big Oil liked the status quo (and we were just past Peak Oil in the US, but not the Middle East) and Big Nuclear helped us fight the Godless Commies™, and couldn't be troubled to make safe(r) designs.

    Big Fusion was (and still is) 25 years away.

    Big Wind was a joke (although there was lots of it in the House of Representatives) and Big Solar was installed on the roof of the White House, only to be removed by Big Reagan.

    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    -Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Fri May 13, 2011 at 06:47:13 AM PDT

  •  If Ray Kurzweil is right and you live to (0+ / 0-)

    2045, the Singularity will happen and you'll experience renewable energy, no matter when it comes!

  •  Well... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roger Fox

    I won’t be that old.

    I’m counting on fusion power plants.

    It just gets more and more interesting every decade:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

  •  I was born in 1950 so the math is easy for me. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, Meteor Blades

    In round numbers, here's where my electricity comes from today :

    65% landfill methane
    10% small hydro
    25% large hydro

    In the future, the large hydro % will drop a bit and be replaced by wind, and the % from landfill methane will grow a bit.

    At home, we heat space and water with wood but also oil. We use a small amount of propane for cooking. And we live in the boonies so we use a lot of gas for 2 Subarus.

    It's the liquid fuel use we still need to transform in our situation.

    "So, am I right or what?"

    by itzik shpitzik on Fri May 13, 2011 at 08:32:45 AM PDT

  •  The only thing that is possible for so called (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bryfry, Russgirl

    "renewable energy" is that it will always generate a lot of soothsaying - something you confess, more or less in your text.

    So called "renewable energy" - should anyone try to push it to scale - will be an ecological disaster - for mass energy density ratios reasons among other things - and the only reason that this is missed is because the industry has failed so miserably to live up to 1970's soothsaying and so remains a trivial form of energy.

    Pray tell, where is all that neodymium going to come from?    Did anyone check the solar plants after the tsunami to see if there were any leaking solvents or other chemicals after the tsunami?

    Humanity is going to get what it deserves, and speaking only for myself, as I contemplate the fact that Japan has been wiped out because of, um, radiation sickness, at least in the public mind, I am only shaking my head as my sons dream of living, not to 104, but to their 50s.  I hope, but know it to be niavely so, that they may live to be 50.

    Not a good bet.    What's going on with the climate right now and not in some fantasy future is already irreversible.

    What you will leave for the future is more than likely 450-500 ppm of dangerous fossil fuel waste in the earth's atmosphere, some of which will be generated by big talk and no realistic action.

    China at least will have the lights on and energy to run the pumps.

    •  6000 nukes will solve all our problems!!! (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      indycam, cotterperson, badger, offgrid

      ...Renewable energy advocates support megadeath!! What about baseload??!!

      I know. I've heard this a couple of times before. But thanks for contributing.

      Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Fri May 13, 2011 at 09:37:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh no, not at all... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bryfry

        I think you only think you've heard it all before.  

        What I've been hearing here - and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong - was that the only damage to the environment from high seas in the form of a tsunami involved deaths from radiation sickness.

        No lives were lost in buildings, so there is no problem with the building industry coming to an end.

        No lives were lost in semiconductor facilities, so there is no problem with the semiconductor industry coming to an end.

        No lives were lost in car plants or in cars produced in said plants, so there is not problem with the car CULTure industries.

        No lives were lost in dangerous fossil fuel leaks associated with the tsunami.

        There is something called "experimental results" and then there is something called "wishful thinking."     There is also "selective attention."

        I have NEVER, not once, in this faith based space ever implied that solving "all of our problems" is even remotely possible.

        It's not.  

        We might minimize our losses, but nothing will be solved; a great tragedy is well underway.

        Our "problems" are ourselves.     Recently I've been doing research into the hatred of science over the last millenia, into fear and superstition.    It affected Galileo, Kepler, Brahe, Newton, Einstein, Bohr, and, unsurprisingly, much of the modern world.

        Humanity does deserve what it is going to get, for sure.

        Thanks though for contributing the notion that you're secure in repeating your faith in the renewable gods.

        •  OK (0+ / 0-)
          and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong
          You are wrong , no one has said that except for you .
          You have spun out that same old tired BS filled line over and over , its spam at this point as is much of what you have to "say".

          "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

          by indycam on Fri May 13, 2011 at 05:58:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  If by nukes, you mean "nuclear weapons" (0+ / 0-)

        And by "solve our problems", you mean "kill most of our population", then yes, that would work   ;)

    •  my prediction for the year 2050 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Russgirl

      is fresh clean water will become a expensive commodity,  Most people will not go directly out into the sun between the hours of 10 am to 2pm.

      The entire coast of all nations will have changed, The US will have split as to avoid collapse, ( ie the soviet union)

      Resource wars will rage all over the earth.

      and in the end, the meek shall indeed inherit the earth, because a civilization that requires more and more eventually runs up against the finite resources of a planet, and both collapse.

      Humans 100 years ago, new how to live on a piece of land cut off from the rest of the world, those trades and skills are practiced by fewer and fewer each year, and those that do are usually the poor and meek.

      When this whole civ. crashes and burns, and it will, it will be the meek, the self sufficient farmers of the third world that will be least effected, and will suddenly become the most able to adapt.

      Bad is never good until worse happens

      by dark daze on Fri May 13, 2011 at 09:43:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  China first (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PatriciaVa, cotterperson
      China at least will have the lights on and energy to run the pumps.

      http://www.theage.com.au/...

      The project, known as "China First", will mine 1.4 billion tonnes of coal in the Galilee Basin, southwest of Mackay in central Queensland.

      http://www.themoscowtimes.com/...

      Chinese Buy First Russian Coal Deposit for $90M
      04 May 2011
      Bloomberg

      Winsway Coking Coal Holdings, a Chinese importer of Mongolian coal listed in Hong Kong, said its holding company agreed to buy a Russian deposit for $90 million.

      The holding company aims to buy 60 percent of the Apsatskoye steelmaking coal deposit in East Siberia's Zabaikalsky region, about 1,000 kilometers from a rail link between Russia and China, Winsway said in a statement Tuesday. The deposit has an estimated 675 million metric tons of resources, it said.

      "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

      by indycam on Fri May 13, 2011 at 10:14:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You know... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Russgirl

      I've been reading your screeds for a few years now, and for all of your apparent scientific knowledge, you seem to have a major blind spot with respect to visionary thinking. It's a good thing that most of the scientific community doesn't operate on the "can't do" mentality that you constantly espouse.

      An old quote comes to mind:

      nattering nabobs of negativity.

      While your beloved nuclear energy plants are melting down in Japan, causing death and destruction now and long into the future, Japan's offshore wind turbines survived the earthquakes and tsunamis and are still producing power.

      My 30-year-old PV modules are still producing more than 90% of their originally rated power output, and I fully expect them to last another 30 years.

      I suggest that you get some fresh air. Maybe it will allow you to do some fresh thinking.

    •  Where to even start? (0+ / 0-)
      So called "renewable energy" - should anyone try to push it to scale - will be an ecological disaster - for mass energy density ratios reasons among other things -

      The best mass/energy density ratios in the field of electricity generation are thin-film CIGS solar cells.  They generate more power per unit of working mass than uranium over their lifespan, by a significant margin.  1kW per m^2 (reduced by capacity factor) for several decades for a couple milligrams of material is an absurd energy density.

      has failed so miserably to live up to 1970's soothsaying

      Versus nuclear, which has failed so miserably to live up to 1950s and 1960s soothsaying?  Let me tell you, wind, solar, and geothermal have dramatically expanded since the 1970s, at an ever-growing rate.  Nuclear has declined.  The only difference is that nuclear started from a base of "already out there", while renewables like photovoltaics started at a base of "just making it to the civilian market for the very first time".

      Pray tell, where is all that neodymium going to come from?  

      Pray tell, do you even know what neodymium is?  News flash: as far as renewable power goes, neodymium is only used in certain types of electric motors and generators.  It's absolutely NOT a requirement for any form of electric vehicle or wind turbine generator.  In fact, DC permanent magnet motors (the kind that use it) are largely going out of style in favor of AC synchronous motors (generally made of aluminum).

      Beyond that, the only reason we get neodynmium from China is because they've historically dumped on the market.  It can be mined almost anywhere on the planet.  There are neodymium mines in California which have been shut down for years because China undercut them.  It's a "rare" earth in name only.

      Did anyone check the solar plants after the tsunami to see if there were any leaking solvents or other chemicals after the tsunami?

      What leaking chemicals are you referring to?  The worst solar manufacture "incident" wasn't an incident at all; it was a Chinese company (Zhonggui) intentionally dumping all of their waste SiCl4 at one plant into the atmosphere instead of recycling it, in violation of industry standards and Chinese law, for years on end.  The net result was silica (sand) dust, soil acidification, and acid rain at the dump site.  Not good, but hardly apocalyptic consequences, involving many years of willful disregard for industry standards and Chinese law, to produce a tech that's on its way out (thin films like CIGS use far less overall material and no SiCl4).

      as I contemplate the fact that Japan has been wiped out because of, um, radiation sickness, at least in the public mind,

      Half the tech-reliant country is on rolling blackouts until the summer, tens to hundreds of thousands of people may never be able to return to their homes, a huge area is closed to farming, fishing, and kelp harvesting, and a massive cost now must be spent on an ongoing basis for control and containment.  But feel free to play it down if it makes you feel better.

      China at least will have the lights on and energy to run the pumps.

      China, the world's biggest solar manufacture, wind turbine manufacturer, and biggest installer of pumped hydroelectricity grid power storage?

      •  Apparently, you prefer to start with magic (0+ / 0-)
        1kW per m^2 (reduced by capacity factor) for several decades for a couple milligrams of material is an absurd energy density.

        Well, something is certainly absurd. kW/m2?! You must be kidding.

        Please learn a little physics. The solar constant is just 1.4 kW/m2 and that represents the theoretical maximum that could ever be achieved, assuming that you can harness every single photon (regardless of wavelength) and assuming that the atmosphere doesn't absorb any radiation (which it does).

        Please tell me, where can I buy one of these magic solar panels that can produce 1 kW/m2?

        Let's look at reality, shall we?

        A typical low-end burnup for nuclear fuel is about 40 GW-days/MTHM. Most reactors running today do much better than that.

        If we compare that to the stats for a "new enhanced thin-film solar cell" released by Honda this year, we see that the high-efficiency, even-more-compact solar-module design generates about 10 W/kg, on a good day.

        Thus, if we assume a 30% conversion ratio of thermal to electrical energy for the nuclear reactor, to match the energy density in the nuclear fuel, the solar panel will need to run flat out (day and night) at its peak production, for just over 3500 years.

        Think the panels will last that long? ;-)

        An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
        -- H. L. Mencken

        by bryfry on Fri May 13, 2011 at 01:10:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Come on (0+ / 0-)

          i know you aren't that stupid bryfry. That is the weight of the entire module, not the CIGS deposition. The equivalent would be including the weight of all of the concrete in a nuke plant.

          Causation was, is, and ever shall be a slippery bitch, so we're best sticking with noting the facts

          by jam on Fri May 13, 2011 at 06:22:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  OK (0+ / 0-)

            Let's consider the concrete in the nuclear plant. Let's say we use the material amounts estimated (PDF) by a professor at Berkeley for a 1970's era 1000 MW PWR. The amount of material is

            78,467 m3 of concrete (assume a density of 2300 kg/m3)

            and an additional 36,989 tons of metal.

            Let's assume that this plant runs for 40 years, with an average capacity factor of 80%. I'll even add in the 1000 tons of uranium that would be required to power the plant over its 40-year life.

            During the life of the plant, it yields about 1300 kWh/kg.

            For the solar module to match that, it would have to run nonstop at full output for about 15 years.

            Solar panels don't operate like that, however. Accounting for capacity factor, and using the generous estimate of 19% usually given for solar power in Arizona, to match the nuclear plant, the solar panel would have to operate for about 80 years -- twice the assumed lifetime of the nuclear plant.

            Do you think that the solar panel will last that long?

            An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
            -- H. L. Mencken

            by bryfry on Fri May 13, 2011 at 07:51:33 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  sigh.... (0+ / 0-)

              CdTe = 0.22 g/W     http://www.ijcea.org/...
                      = 4545 W/kg
              cf      = 0.19
              Yr 1   = 7,565,455 Wh
              Life    = 15 years
                      = 113 MWh/kg

              If I did all of my math right (no guarantee on that, I'm an engineer ;) then that is about 68 times the energy density of 40 GW-days/MTHM.

              See, where I would have made my argument is whether these numbers have any actual meaning. I'm not convinced they do.

              Causation was, is, and ever shall be a slippery bitch, so we're best sticking with noting the facts

              by jam on Mon May 16, 2011 at 07:17:25 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Oh Geez ... (0+ / 0-)

                If you want to count only the active components then I should point out that each fission of 235U results in 200 MeV of energy. Since the atomic weight of this isotope is 235.044 g/mol, this means that fissioning 235U results in an energy yield of 22,800 MWh/kg, and you don't have to wait 15 years to get it all. For the record, that's over 200 times the energy density of your 15-year CdTe estimate.

                Anyhow, I agree with you on one thing: none of this matters worth squat. The economics are based on factors that haven't been touched on here, and this is more of an exercise in mental masturbation than anything else, which is why you and Rei keep moving the goal posts -- because you can.

                An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
                -- H. L. Mencken

                by bryfry on Mon May 16, 2011 at 05:58:03 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  hmmm.... (0+ / 0-)

                  I'm the one moving the goalposts? Dream on, brother, dream on. I'm gently trying to coax you into making a cogent argument.

                  Causation was, is, and ever shall be a slippery bitch, so we're best sticking with noting the facts

                  by jam on Tue May 17, 2011 at 08:26:18 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Just ignoring the mistakes jam called you on... (0+ / 0-)

          1 kW/m^2 is the amount of solar energy striking the a perpendicular surface on a cloudless day.  This is solar energy 101; the 1.4kW figure only comes in if you're dealing with space-based solar.  Now are you going to pretend like I didn't write "reduced by capacity factor"?  Or do you not know what a capacity factor is?

          •  You want to talk about mistakes? (0+ / 0-)

            You forgot the most important factor, the efficiency of the module.

            With the efficiency factored in, that optimistic 1 kW/m2 becomes 130 W/m2 or less, and that's before you account for the capacity factor of less than 20%.

            When it comes to energy density solar technology is pathetic. It relies on collecting a very diffuse form of energy, and that will always require large amounts of material and large amounts of land to get anything more than a trivial amount of energy.

            An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
            -- H. L. Mencken

            by bryfry on Sat May 14, 2011 at 06:56:01 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Wow, you want me to label everything? (0+ / 0-)

              I don't see you labelling, say, the energy efficiency of the mining  and refining process.  Either way, you've done absolutely nothing to address the issue of the energy density of thin-film solar material versus uranium.  The thickness of the active material is measured in microns.  The rest is bulk overhead (akin to the mass of the nuclear reactor facility itself).  The amount of indium, gallium, and selenium you have to mine to make a given amount of electricity is WAY less than the amount of  uranium you have to mine to make a given amount of nuclear power.  And yes, I've ran into peer-reviewed papers on this before, and would be glad to dig them up for you if needed.

              •  Whatever (0+ / 0-)
                The rest is bulk overhead (akin to the mass of the nuclear reactor facility itself).

                Look, I've already done the calculation above that included the mass of the power plant itself, in which I compared a state-of-the-art prototype of a CIGS module to an antiquated nuclear plant with 1970's-era performance (today's plants and modern designs do much better). Solar still came out a loser, requiring almost a century to match the energy per unit mass of the nuclear plant..

                Anyhow, I'm done with your nonsense. You have not produced any reliable hard numbers, and the only numbers that you have produced have been wrong.

                Goodbye.

                An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
                -- H. L. Mencken

                by bryfry on Mon May 16, 2011 at 07:32:15 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  er... (0+ / 0-)

              efficiency and capacity factor have NOTHING, I repeat, NOTHING to do with each other.

              I'll leave the derivation as an exercise for the reader... ;)

              Causation was, is, and ever shall be a slippery bitch, so we're best sticking with noting the facts

              by jam on Mon May 16, 2011 at 07:10:51 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Exactly (0+ / 0-)

                Which is why Rei looks like an idiot when claiming that, by using the term "capacity factor," he/she/it had accounted for the difference between a nominal 1 kW/m2 insolation and the actual performance of the solar module.

                There's more to the story than just capacity factor.

                An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
                -- H. L. Mencken

                by bryfry on Mon May 16, 2011 at 07:35:49 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Looked at another way (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson
    We're talking a $5 trillion worldwide investment in the next decade.

    Is about what we've spent on War in the past decade.

    I know where I would prefer my money to go.

    I'll be 93 in 2050, if I last that long.  It would be worth it, if we could do this.

    I am still learning, but the teachers often suck.

    by trumpeter on Fri May 13, 2011 at 09:14:23 AM PDT

  •  pathetic (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson

    Having no clue as to how to do it, a president asserts we will put a man on the moon before the end of that decade. AND DOES IT

    Having no real clue as how to split the atom, in a few shorts years, a team of scientist with the help of the nation , harnesses to power of the atom  IN THE 1940s without the aid of computers.

    NOW fast forward, as the world plunges toward a climatic purge of humanity, our government and govt f the world says,  even thought we have the tech, we understand the problem, we have the manpower,  Ahhh fuck it,  give us another 40 years or so to pop up some wind and solar farms.

    FUCKING  P A T H E T I C

    Bad is never good until worse happens

    by dark daze on Fri May 13, 2011 at 09:35:45 AM PDT

  •  I have little faith (0+ / 0-)

    in the ability of this country to achieve any long-term, coordinated, rational approach to the solution of any problem no matter how big or small.

  •  Future Generations (0+ / 0-)

    will judge it ERA harshly ...


    an era of Golden Opportunities -- Squandered!


    Got Time?
    Take ten, to find something else informative and fun to read. Thx.

    by jamess on Fri May 13, 2011 at 11:21:29 AM PDT

  •  MB, Thanks for bringing the IPCC report back up (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Russgirl

    It seemed to get buried under other news this week, but it certainly is a very important event.

    Reagan set us back 30 years, but we can still do this.

    I'll be 94 in 2050. See ya then. Maybe we can go out for a beer or two to celebrate!

  •  I'll only be 102. So I'll drive. (0+ / 0-)

    ecstatically baffled

    by el vasco on Fri May 13, 2011 at 12:13:11 PM PDT

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