Download The Tough Realities of Renewable Energy
I like the table format of the major renewable energy technologies.
Glad to hear it, George. I try to bring the major issues together without too much oversimplification. I hope I’ve succeeded here.
Hi, Craig, I also liked the organization unitizing the table format, although I had heard bits and pieces from many sources, and from you before, this neatly organized and summarized the various alternatives.
Your points are cogent, but the reality is that unless we can get our small businesses going and our economy running again, this is all moot.
My problem with renewable energy is the companies trying to make a profit every day from the Sun shining and the Wind blowing. Huge wind turbines and hundreds of acres of solar collectors are not what I consider a “GOOD THING” (Apologies to Martha Stuart.) We need to build square houses of one or two stories and a big “shed” roof with 4 ft. overhangs all around as a big solar collector for that home to use. Or a small neighborhood of homes with one or two wind turbines providing all the needed energy for the homes and the electric plug-in cars in their garages. Also the Utility Electrical Supply Grid only benefits overgrown cities, not rural homes, who can be self sustaining. (If you do not believe a home can be self sustaining and independent look at a 40 ft sailboat at Sea.) Geothermal, Hydro, and of course Nuclear seem to work on a larger scale only so administrative fees and a crew of employees dictate the “Utility” model. (But I still don’t like it.) If Natural Gas is available a diesel engine can run on the natural gas and drive compressors for refrigeration, and heat pumps for heating and cooling the home and an alternator can supplementary help charge the batteries and assist the roof top solar PV panels powering the home. The exhaust can heat the domestic hot water, and contribute to home heating on cold nights. (Sort of a hybrid system.)
Hi Dennis, Sorry to read you are not a fan of capitalism. What the He!! are they teaching our kids in college??? Sorry the word profit doesn’t sit well with you, that you and other misguideds have a problem with companies and individuals making profits.”
Perhaps you and the people you hang around with have a better way to encourage people to take the risks, work their buuts off, R&D, innovate, create, distribute, install and maintain technologies to bring things to the consumer and expand some more? Marxism is not the answer so go ahead, make our day with your better way. Peace.
Curt, the energy produced by your jumping to conclusions would give us a great supply of hot air! There are many not-for-profit utilities in this country and I hardly think they would consider themselves Marxist. Our economy is built on a model of ever-increasing GDP which is not sustainable for any country (or the planet). We have to change to a model that is sustainable and just. We have all seen (and are paying for) the failures of an unregulated free market- the middle class is disappearing along with everything that they held dear. Scared? You should be. Local energy production will be part of the solution, as will a change in consumer spending habits and values. Here’s one economic lesson they should be teaching in schools (but it has actually been banned in some). Take 20 minutes and digest this: http://www.storyofstuff.com/ Peace and anger don’t mix bro.
Curt, I believe in profiting from one’s labor, but not obscene profit taking like big-oil demonstrates. and small municipal power utilities seem to work and sell the energy at “Reasonable” prices, but the efficiency of scale seems to be a negative number when applied to public utilities.
They don’t teach much of personal values in secondary school or college these days, only ow to pass exit exams.
Some people are distressed by change & what they think may be a time of scarcity and catastrophe. To think that nothing will change is being like the ostrich who, when frightened, sticks his/her head in the sand. If we strike out boldly to create alternative energy, we are being realistic and adaptive to change. The Chinese see this clearly. They know that the future of energy lies in its alternative forms. We are going lose out in the energy future. We must be bold and act now. Invest in alternatives. Our investment will pay off.
As a member of the CoNGO Committee of Sustainable Development at the United Nations, I applaud the emergence of green businesses in the private sector. We need a paradigm shift into sustainability. We can create a win-win-win situation, where individuals, corporations and communities can all “profit” in a transformed sustainable world. Kudos, Mr. Shields for thinking clearly.
Thanks very much, Lily. Please tell us more about CoNGO.
Well presented and thoughtful. I will try to distribute this article where I can. I would like to see someone with a reputation, notoriety and charisma take up informing the public even if they are billionaires with a vested interest, just so it gets USA moving in the right direction for the future. I am fully aware of T. Boone Pickens and his plan for America. I agree with the balance of wind for electricity and natural gas for transportation, it just does not go far enough and include all the renewable alternative energy resources.
We who have been following the energy situation from all angles see choices and consequences. We can not expect the general public to understand the complexity and results of those choices. The more the general public learns and starts to understand the more informed choices they will make.
Unfortunately vested interests have and will continue to use disinformation to confuse the general public. It is a little like running a political campaign without big financing against an opponent with very deep pockets.
Thanks for the article and keep up the good work.
As usual, you hit the nail squarely on the head with this report.
Thank you, Craig, for shining a light on the political realities. Too many people expect their representatives and senators to sacrifice a political career for a moral cause without significant benefits. As long as the energy costs are too high without efficiently and reliably delivering electricity, we can’t reasonably expect more support from the public sector. The math has to make sense.
I hope you’ll clarify one point, though: A low-cost, high-efficiency clean energy technology hasn’t been implemented yet, but that doesn’t mean that such a technology doesn’t exist.
Travis: Could you please refresh my memory as to where I wrote/said that? I’m trying to think of the context. Thanks.
Certainly, Craig. It’s a paraphrase, but I’m referring to the recurring theme in your report, and in the publicity materials of your latest book, suggesting that there is no solution – that we can’t have it all, and thus we have to start making tough decisions and serious sacrifices. Some relevant quotes from this report include:
“I chose the title of this report to suggest that not everything is possible. We live in a world in which we feel entitled to abundant and inexpensive energy—yet there is no doubt that the migration to renewables comes at a significant short-term cost.”
“There is no doubt that the migration to renewables will not be possible without the support of the public sector…” support you (rightly) suggest will not be forthcoming because politicians have to reinterview for the jobs every two years, and
“how do we get elected officials to lead us in a direction that many people simply don’t want? Renewable energy is front-loaded with costs.”
“Will people agree to pay those higher prices? Will politicians even propose such ideas?”
“How does one motivate people to deal with financial pain that exists on several different levels?”
You have my full agreement that current technologies are costly and painful. As I see it, clean energy that is high-cost and low-efficiency should not be called “alternative” energy, because it’s not. It’s supplemental at best, and it doesn’t solve our problems. My hope is that in recognizing those existing failures the message doesn’t turn maudlin or pessimistic. This is the clarity I’m looking for. Just because a real low-cost high-efficiency solution hasn’t been implemented doesn’t mean that it doesn’t or won’t exist. The default answer isn’t necessarily to bite the bullet and indulge the failed technologies, betting on higher prices and political suicides to do so. Rather, we ought to encourage and foster real game changing breakthroughs. Avoid the pain altogether by creating more clean energy at lower prices. It’s only impossible – or even improbable – if we allow ourselves to settle into that thinking.
– Rebuttal to some of the assumptions in The Tough Realities of Renewable Energy by Craig Shields, Editor, 2GreenEnergy.com
– By Jim Miller
[Quoted material in black type; rebuttal in blue type; yellow, emphasis added. The article can be downloaded from http://2greenenergy.com/dl-tough-re/%5D
Solar Thermal – aka Concentrating Solar Power (CSP)
To produce power 24 hours per day requires energy storage devices, though these devices are less awkward and expensive as energy can be stored as heat and converted to electricity on demand. True as to electrical energy; but do not forget that most of the BTUs are heat which can be used for building heating, process heating, air conditioning and refrigeration, all of which makes locavore CSP much more feasible. You gotta tell the whole story.
Requires water for cooling and cleaning, which is costly to provide to areas where sunshine is most abundant (deserts). True for deserts, but even in deserts there is generally brackish water which can be used. Ocotillo, CA, is a good example which has abundant clean, fresh potable water, most of which is trucked to Mexicali, Mexico. Imperial County, CA, is a better example. Any land through which a river or canal runs is a candidate for a CSP electrical system. There are huge tracks of desert boarding the All-American Canal and the Choachella Canal.
CSP plants are capital intensive to build on a utility scale, and are generally unfeasible at smaller scale. Quite the reverse is true. Small scale CSP units are the most feasible and the large scale plants are the least feasible. See: Solar Furnace CHP System, http://solarfurnacechp.wetpaint.com/page/LOCAVORE+SOLAR+ENERGY+SYSTEM
The power transmission issue described above is even more intense here, as deserts are even more remote than other sites of dense renewable resources.
The Solar Furnace CHP system is designed to sit next to the load which it serves which is anywhere the Sun shines. The transmission cost is minimal since the energy only needs to travel a few feet and not miles.
Nascent technology—both a pro and a con; it’s too early to know the exact cost per megawatt, making cost accounting difficult.
True, the technology is in the paper design stage. I tried for an EPA grant to do the prototype of the Solar Furnace got past the first cut but was turned down for the grant based on a faulty peer review. Come to find out that the Radcon’s are in control of the grant section of EPA and are fighting all forms of renewable energy and many other environmental issues. We won’t know the “exact cost” until at least the prototype is built and tested, but we will know that the cost per KW is and will become less for small-scale CSP than that of fossil fueled electric plants.
As you correctly point out, the “retail cost” of fossil fuel as currently measured, totally fails to include the environmental and healthcare impact costs. If those costs were measured and imposed on the fossil fuel industry, there would be little doubt that “locavore CSP” is less costly. Included in the cost of fossil fueled electricity should be the cost of the transmission lines and the cost of the loss of energy. Electrical energy generated on the Colorado River and delivered in L.A. loses half of its energy due to the loss of heat generated by the power lines.
Biofuel: Algae and many other related approaches
There is no trajectory by which algae will turn a short-term profit, thus public investment will be required to move this along. I’ve seen estimates of cost of producing biodiesel from algal oil to go as high as $27.00 per gallon. Here again, if the true, whole cost of energy based on fossil fuel were included in the pump price or the Kw price, then the gap would narrow.
I have made a deep study of the production of algal oil as feedstock for biodiesel and found I could produce No. 2 Biodiesel for about $2.00 per gallon, except for the real estate cost. My intent was to use some rent-free land from BLM in exchange for a share of the biodiesel — a kind of share-cropping. BLM now rents land to cattle growers for about 25 cents per cow-calf per year (10 acres, more or less per cow-calf), so the cost cannot be too much. The current blockage for my algal oil project is the financing of a microwave system which breaks the cell walls of the algae and allows the oil globules to be extracted. See generally: http://algaloildiesel.wetpaint.com/. My paper on the subject is COMMERCIAL PRODUCTION OF ALGAE FOR FOOD AND FUEL
By the time this happens, onboard energy storage for electric transportation (batteries) may have advanced to the point that the need is less acute than it is currently. Hopefully, you are correct. Have you investigated Zinc-air batteries? Attached is: ZINC – AIR BATTERIES
A Few of the Big Ideas in the Technology, Economics, and Politics of Renewable Energy
10. Many people speculate that it’s just a matter of time until the American public gets tired of the casualties of the wars in the Middle East and starts to realize that this—just as every military engagement since World War II—has been about oil. See the movie “Blood and Oil,” directed by Michael Klare, a top documentarian from Amherst. At a certain point, won’t we see a demand that we stop this foolishness—simply because we’ve lost out patience for having our children blown to bits?
The Radcons of the New World Order don’t mind a bit that “our children” get blown to bits. In fact they start wars to hoover billions from the 99% to the 1%, which wars also reduces the global population and creates crisis which allows the Radcons to follow the troops into a resource-rich country and take over the oil and other natural resources, such as the Iraq war. With the propaganda machines going full-blast, and the “entertainment” industry showing car chases and more and more violence, the general public is numbed into non-action and acceptance of wars as a fact of life to be endured, but not changed.
The real fight is not between fossil fuels and renewable energy, but who controls the “full faith and credit” of the Federal Government. Since 1913, the Radcons have, through the Federal Reserve (FR), controlled the U.S. currency, which has facilitated the work of the Money Masters (MMs) to take control of all national governments and most national and global economies. See attached The Money Masters. As fossil fuels run out, the MMs will have control of most renewable energy resources, such as wind turbine fields and transmission lines. The Club of Rome has sponsored millions of Mw of solar energy generation in North Africa with heavy DC sea-bed power transmission cables supplying the EU.
The challenge we 99% face is to strip away the Radcon’s power to control the currency and natural resources. We need to provide locavore solutions to food, water and energy. See: World Plan for the Garden of Eatn’ and LOCAVORE SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM — the LRES/SCSHTLTEBSTPDRSCHP-GHG+COWFLOP System
Next time, do your homework or if you are too busy, I’ll do it for you. Congratulations on an otherwise excellent article.
Attachment: ZINC-AIR BATTERIES, The Money Masters.
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