Green energy meets cold reality [Reader Post]

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al gore Pictures, Images and Photos

Wind power supplies about 2% of the energy in the US and in 2009 that was expected to rise to 20% by 2030. The construction of wind farms is buoyed by the 30% tax credit for investment in them but the price for electricity generated by wind energy has fallen recently in to rates below those for electricity generated by natural gas in some areas.

Proponents of wind energy call it a “key” solution to future energy needs, unless it these farms are visible to wealthy liberals. Then they become a menace.

Cape Wind is a windmill farm approved by development by the current administration. The project is expected to cover 24 square miles, cost $2.5 billion and generate enough electricity to furnish power for Cape Cod, Nanatucket Island and Martha’s Vineyard. The project has been opposed by the Kennedy family and Walter Cronkite who said

“Our natural treasures should be off limits to industrialization, and Nantucket is one of those treasures.”

Cronkite later changed his tune when his hypocrisy became too burdensome.

Reliability of wind turbines remains an issue, as well as does life expectancy. Wind turbines were thought to have a life span of 20 years but a former chief wind turbine engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory expects turbines to last 7-11 years. The replacement of gearboxes is expensive. This expense can become problematic when repairs become necessary. I drove from Palm Springs to LA a few years ago and at least one of out of ten windmills was inoperative.

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Texas has spent billions on wind farms and has become dependent on wind power. The result of the dependency on green energy that is Texas is suffering from rolling blackouts.

Wyoming is said to have one of the highest wind power potentials of any state in the US and it is home to several wind farms. One of them, Foote Creek Rim, is located near Arlington.

Arlington, Wyoming would seem like the ideal venue for a wind farm to generate clean green energy. It has an an average annual windspeed of 31 mph with gusts occasionally exceeding 100 mph. Arlington, Wyoming also recently endured an extreme windchill of -54 degrees and put on display the effect of severe cold on metal.

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Another victim of global warming
Anthony Watts observes:

Combine cold temperatures that make steel brittle along with gusty winds, and you have a Titanic recipe for disaster.

While windmills won’t operate without wind, they will also not operate when the winds are too strong.

At higher speeds the turbines automatically shut down – a feature which allows them to withstand Wyoming’s 125-mph gusts.

In addition:

The turbines are also adapted to operate reliably in extremely cold conditions.

LOL.

DrJohn has been a health care professional for more than 30 years. In addition to clinical practice he has done extensive research and has published widely with over 70 original articles and abstracts in the peer-reviewed literature. DrJohn is well known in his field and has lectured on every continent except for Antarctica. He has been married to the same wonderful lady for over 30 years and has three kids- two sons, both of whom are attorneys and one daughter on her way into the field of education. DrJohn was brought up with the concept that one can do well if one is prepared to work hard but nothing in life is guaranteed. Except for liberals being foolish.

51 Responses to “Green energy meets cold reality [Reader Post]”

  1. 51

    JR1984

    Dr. John
    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I teach economics at a community college and I intend to use this and talk about it in my classes. I love the supporting documentation. Thanks again.

  2. 52

    blast

    Texas has spent billions on wind farms and has become dependent on wind power. The result of the dependency on green energy that is Texas is suffering from rolling blackouts.

    The outage was due to greedy operators who did not winterize their facilities and not purchasing “firm” gas contracts. 82 generation facilities knocked off line due to incompetence or gross negligence.

  3. 53

    Buffalobob

    There will be no reliable alternate energy source until be convert to butterfly farts. And that can easily be accomplished in 50 to 100 years. It’s for our children’s children’s children.

  4. 54

    Gregory_Dittman

    Oil has had it’s problems too. Just recently Canada wants to build an oil pipeline to Texas. The Canadian companies want to carry the hot oil in 1/2″ thick pipes, with much of the pipeline running along fresh water used for drinking.

    Speaking of fresh water. Did you know solar panels have to be washed? Dusts settles on them like everything else and when solar panels get dirty, they lose productivity. Putting a solar farm out in the desert might look good until you find out you need massive amounts of water to wash all those panels. I guess one could plant crops under the panels and the run off would be irrigation water. SAS has done something like that. It has sheep eat the grass that grows under the panels. The solar part of the payout for SAS is poor. It spent $5.5 million for 10,000 solar panels which can produce enough energy for 325 homes. Assume each home pays $40 a month, that’s $156,000 a year. At that rate, it would take over 35 years to break even. The biggest winner I can find from the solar power business is a company that makes solar panels. There are a bunch of businesses trying to pitch solar farms and greatly inflating the profit potential.

    Part of Texa’s problem is it has become too popular for the infrastructure. Power plants can only be built so fast.

  5. 55

    Greg

    It’s important to remember that renewable energy technologies are rapidly evolving with no obvious limits in sight. Cost effectiveness will rapidly improve, while fossil fuel technology has probably approached its optimal cost effectiveness already. Add to that the fact that fossil fuels will almost certainly become increasingly expensive as the gap between global demand and global supplies widens. Third-world industrialization makes that a given.

    Consider the implications of photon enhanced thermionic emission devices, for example. A year ago they didn’t exist. They’re so cheap and provide such a boost in conversion efficiency that they may quickly make solar power competetive with oil.

    I think we’d be crazy not to be placing bets on renewable energy. It’s one of the keys to the nation’s economic ascendancy, and to a prosperous and unlimited future.

  6. 56

    Doug

    Greg, I’m afraid there is an obvious limit in sight – intermittency. The problem of cheaply and efficiently banking electric power hasn’t been solved. The grid becomes unstable once more than about 10% of its power is from intermittent sources. Solar is a bit better than wind in that the intermittency is more predictable, but it’s still problematic. Costly fossil backup capacity needs to be maintained, unless you have a convenient second source that can easily be switched on and off nearby. Denmark achieves higher numbers primarily by relying on nordic hydropower as, in effect, a giant battery. Solutions like that won’t scale, especially here where hydro is already built out. For all the talk of renewable portfolios, if you look behind the numbers you see that hydro still makes up the lion’s share of the renewable power. Nuclear remains the largest source of low-carbon power we know of that we can scale up and that can provide baseload power. France has enviable emissions for its GDP, and Sweden is also on the right track. We remain mired in the past, as the “green lobby” still can’t let go of the 1970s. The result of supporting only conservation and renewables while opposing all other power sources is that we are still dependent on coal for half our power.

  7. 57

    Greg

    The storage issue is a hurdle to get over. It’s certainly not an impenetrable barrier. Hydrogen electrolysis, maybe? Molten-salt storage? Somebody is going to find the game-changing solution. My guess is sooner rather than later.

    I agree that a diversified approach to energy production makes sense. An expansion of our nuclear generating capacity is long overdue.

  8. 58

    DrJohn

    author

    @Greg: Greg

    I don’t disagree but nothing alternative competes with oil and gas for dependability and energy density. As long as the alternatives need such tremendous subsidy it’s not going to happen.

  9. 59

    John Cooper

    I read that article over on WUWT a couple days ago, and was disappointed that Anthony and many of the posters jumped to the conclusion that the failure was caused by “brittle metal”. Does nobody have eyes and a brain any more? That metal is folded up like warm taffy – hardly an indication of a brittle failure. That nice, straight opening in the column looks to me more like it happened *after* the column hit the ground – either that or somebody cut it *before* the column failed.

    No engineer worth his salt would have specified a steel for that application with a transition temperature*** near ambient, but I’m sure the lawyers will tell us. IIRC, A36 structural steel is only good down to -20F. Not sure. Regardless, that column didn’t appear to fail from brittle fracture.

    ***Transition Temperature is the range of temperatures where the material changes from a ductile fracture requiring a high-energy to initiate, to a non-ductile fracture requiring low energy.

    I suggested over on WUWT that that nice straight cut in the column at chest height might have been sabotage. Since the column might have been welded up out of plates, it could also have been a bad weld joint 48″ up from the bottom.

  10. 60

    tarpon

    What if we had spent those billions on a border fence? Think of the savings.

    Sigh, and nuclear power is so cheap and lasts so long. Even the Chinese are into the latest nuclear technology Thorium reactors. Meanwhile we are into WTF.

  11. 61

    Missy

    @John Cooper:

    The new Paul Bunyan? Gave up his axe for a cutting torch? I think you are onto something, if it fell that wouldn’t that cut be a bit bigger and not so clean? I just don’t get that little wrinkle on the bottom edge of the slice, what could have caused that?

  12. 62

    John Cooper

    Missy– Ever read The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey? These days a saboteur wouldn’t need a cutting torch like those guys and gals used – battery powered tools are ubiquitous.

  13. 64

    John Cooper

    Dr. J — I have no premise, just an observation that the collapse of this tower probably wasn’t caused by a brittle fracture.

    Edit: Take a look at the satellite photo at Mapquest: http://mapq.st/f8ItD4

    Edit #2: From the BLM page on Wyoming Wind Energy Project at Foote Creek Rim: “The turbines are also adapted to operate reliably in extremely cold conditions.” I suspect the interior of that support column – at least the bottom part where the electronic controls were probably located – was heated.

  14. 65

    Chicklet

    But, but aren’t green people in favor of a healthy planet? Don’t they want all of god’s creatures to thrive?
    What about our national treasure, the Bald Eagle?

    The American Bird Conservancy now estimates that 100,000 – 300,000 birds are killed by wind turbines each year,” said Conservancy spokesman Robert Johns.
    About 80 percent of these were songbirds and 10 percent birds of prey.

    Don’t these turbines spin in the day when the birds are busy flying around even though we need the power at night? It’s a good thing the administration has vigorously supported nuclear energy and that there are dozens of plants under construction at this moment which will provide jobs for countless Americans while decreasing the amount of cash being sent to hostile nations in exchange for oil

    Oh, sorry, dreaming again. Let’s create inner city green community organizers instead, that’ll fix the problem.

  15. 66

    jim s

    Here’s something to consider… Your typical power plant, be it coal, nuclear or whatever is rated around 1000 MW. The largest wind turbine I’ve ever heard about is about 3MW. Do the math. 333 300ft tall monsters to replace a single power plant. That doesn’t even take in the fact that those wind turbine ratings are like the EPA highway mileage sticker on a new car – they depend on the test conditions. The power you can extract from the wind depends on the cube of the wind speed. If you drop from that 30mph average to 15, now your 3MW turbine is only 375KW and you need 8 times as many of them.

    BTW, I can believe a tower crumpling like that due to brittle steel. It doesn’t have to snap off like a twig, enough of it has to fail to weaken it enough for the wind to buckle it over. But that’s just my opinion.

  16. 68

    Nan G

    @jim s:
    The combination of wind and cold can indeed fatigue steel.
    Metal fatigue is a very real and very common happening when metal is repeatedly stressed in a few different ways at the same time.
    We just so rarely allow metals to get into situations where they would fatigue because experts in metallurgy
    design each metal batch for the use they expect it to be stressed under.

    Edited to add:
    This is not new or even unusual.
    The conference report from Finland says that icing and aerodynamic imbalance can have serious
    implications on the life of wind turbines, reducing their effective
    life span by 50% or more.

    Apparently the weight of icing, coupled
    with the deteriorating effect of repeated freeze-thaw cycles,
    causes the components to wear out much faster than usual.

    -Three wind farms in the United Kingdom have already been closed
    for safety reasons, all of which were tied to cold weather that
    resulted in metal fatigue in the turbine towers.

    Many places have cold winters, some a lot colder than ours in some parts of the USA, but we
    have an unusual combinations of humidity and temperature that produces ice storms.

  17. 70

    ilovebeeswarzone

    Chicklet, hi, you have done better than what I wanted to say, on the subject,
    i went to visit a land of woods and happy animals and birds, devastated by buldozers and those wind towers being erected,giving you an eerie feeling of questionning ; Is it worth it, having to destroy in order to build such uglyness to represent and pretend to supply the humans with inneficient
    power; and on another note, having to be responsible for what they know, for millions of deaths of birds of all kinds, was not a solution for that problem thought before the building of those tower?
    are the companys being so insensitive and insensityses as to loose their focus on priorities which the earth and the water and the air and all living creatures under are no 1 in planning a project that otherwise if not met, will only bring no betterness to humans,who eventualy would have some destructives events, comed on another related event cause by their innefeciency to have thought
    of the ‘WHAT IF’ before it is put on the “DO IT”

  18. 72

    John Cooper

    Nan– Fatigue is a real possibility, but has little to do with cold weather. It has to do with crappy metal and/or poor design. I hate to bring actual engineering into this fascinating discussion, but fatigue is defined as “a decrease in usable strength under cyclic loading.” From Van Vlack’s “Elements of Materials Science”:

    In each half cycle, minute strains that are not completely reversible are produced. Close observation indicates that fatigue failure develops in the following pattern: (1) repeated cyclic stressing causes incremental slip and cold-working locally, (2) gradual reduction of ductility [Damn, there another engineering word!] in the strain-hardened areas results in the formation of submicroscopic cracks, and (3) the notch effect of the submicroscopic cracks concentrates stresses until complete fracture occurs.

    For jim s: Brittle steel doesn’t “crumple”, it snaps. Try your own experiment at home with an Abba-Zabba bar. At room temperature it will just get longer when you pull on it. Take it out of the freezer and it will just snap. See the difference?

    And for Dr. J who questioned why a possible saboteur would have only brought down one tower, let me turn that question around and ask why cold weather or poor design would have only brought down one tower. Shouldn’t they all have failed if there was a design flaw or the temperature was so cold that the metal became brittle?

    I say: “Let’s wait until the engineers look over the wreckage and tell us what went wrong.”

  19. 73

    jim s

    Nan G: I believe you.. The point I was trying to make was that I didn’t believe the photo necessarily meant sabotage. I could envision a scenario where some critical piece – a joint, bolt or whatever failed for exactly that reason – repeated flexing at extreme temperature caused it to fail… then the rest of the tower just folded over without breaking. Heck, I use that technique when my hacksaw is dull…. just clamp the sheet metal in a vice and flex it back & forth till it breaks.

  20. 74

    Skookum

    From someone who has operated machinery in extreme cold; I was a little perplexed when I saw the photo of the windmill tower and its crumpled base. I can say from experience that machinery functions surprisingly well in cold temps of -40 to -50 Celsius range. Failure often occurs because of fluids not being warmed enough to have viscous properties, i.e. put the truck in gear and snap a U joint or the drive shaft because the oil on the differential is frozen solid or cause catastrophic engine failure because the crankshaft is turning through crankcase oil that is frozen and not flowing; otherwise, if proper warming procedures are followed or devised, machinery like trucks, bulldozers, chainsaws, and snowmobiles can function well. Metal fatigue and inferior manufacturing processes that allow for defects within metals will become more frequent during extreme cold. If we visualize our aircraft and their abilities to withstand cold temperatures, not to mention the space shuttle and satellites, it is far more likely there were flaws within the base metal or the design.

  21. 75

    Hard Right

    I saw where an oil rig out in the ocean failed due to a tiny crack in a support pylon. By tiny I mean about a 1/4 of an inch. After the collapse they actually found the source and determined it was a flaw in the metal. They knew it was a metal flaw because it had paint in the crack.
    For anyone that wonders how something that small could have been the cause, it was the starting point for a break caused by the flexing and twisting forces generated by ocean currents.

  22. 76

    Nan G

    I am not at all familiar with life in cold temperatures.
    BRRRRRR!!!!!
    But my dad got his BS degree in ”Metalurgy” back between WWII and Korea.
    He opened a sheet metal sho when almost all metal he bought was American-made.
    Years later the Japanese built metal plants.
    He also bought from them.
    Whether it was inferior or that the trip across the ocean did damage -whatever – he hated Japanese metal quality.
    Whenever he could he encouraged customers to use American steel.
    He worked steel, bent it, folded it, heated it and so on.
    He said there was a huge difference.

    When I was at college I took microbiology from a man who won a Nobel Prize for discovering that a microbe contributed to wing fatigue in planes.
    This microbe ”ate” metal, eventually weakening it.

    Metal is not ”set in stone,” it reacts to everything around it.
    It remembers and keeps account of the damage.
    Just like some people.

  23. 77

    John Cooper

    After poking around on the Internet, it seems like the steel of choice for wind turbine towers is ASTM A572, Grade 50, which is a “high-strength low-alloy columbium-vanadium structural steel… for applications in bolted, welded, and riveted structures in bridges and buildings.” Apparently, it has good fatigue resistance and fracture toughness down to -50F:

    Constant amplitude fatigue crack propagation behavior and variable amplitude fatigue crack initiation and propagation behavior and R-curves were obtained at room temperature and –45°C(–50°F) for hot-rolled ASTM A572 steel. Both fatigue crack initiation and propagation resistance were better at the cold temperature. SEM fractographic analysis revealed little difference in the fatigue crack growth modes with ductile striations and secondary cracks occurring at both temperatures. Final R-curve and fatigue fracture surfaces, however, consisted of ductile dimples at room temperatures and transcrystalline cleavage at –45°C(–50°F). The hot-rolled A572 steel was found suitable for –45°C(–50°F) operating temperature despite the fact that this cold temperature is in the lower shelf CVN energy region. Fatigue design based upon room temperature conditions appears to be reasonable for this steel down to –45°C(–50°F)

    In my searching around, I also found some concern regarding stresses around the “manways” (doors) in these towers. The manway isn’t visible in the photo, so I’m thinking it must be on the back side. It’s pretty clear that this tower failed in compression and just crumpled. I don’t think the cold weather was a major factor here.

  24. 78

    ilovebeeswarzone

    John Cooper, hi, It came to my mind of mentionning where does the companys buy the raw steel, because there are steel made with recycle products by countrys who redo order from companys at a lower price to the detriment of the less effective steel that is made as new, and look new but doesn’t have the same element to get into cold or other stress in the long run, bye

  25. 79

    jim s

    Remember also the first commercial jet airliner the De Havilland Comet. It was pulled from service after they started breaking up in midair. Turns out it was metal fatigue brought on by repeated heating and cooling cycles. These concentrated the stresses at natural weak points in the design – in this case the square corners of the cabin windows. Changing to the rounded corners they use today fixed the problem… too late for De Havilland though. :-( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Havilland_Comet

  26. 80

    Bobachek

    If there was any real money to be made in green jobs, green energy etc, people in the US would already be doing it on a large scale. The fact that we aren’t tells me what I need to know about renewable energy at this point in time.

    I agree with Tarpon, if we hadn’t inserted our head up our rectum regarding nuclear energy after the 3 Mile Island incident we would have been far better off in this country. We allowed our gov’t and the tree huggers to kill off a viable source of energy for this counrty and now we are way behind the curve.

  27. 81

    John Cooper

    Mizz Bees–

    The turbines themselves were made by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, in Japan I assume. Being as the towers are such a critical component, I’m guessing they were also made in Japan, but I don’t know.

  28. 82

    ilovebeeswarzone

    John Cooper, there we are, thank you for mentioning it, and right after I was reading NAN G, comment
    about her father who was expert in metallurgy hated JAPANEESE steel for not beeing adequate to his standard, and not comparable to AMERICAN steel that was produced, and Another company in the MARIT IMES mentionning of CHINA steel being sub to their own standard
    bye

  29. 83

    Nan G

    @ilovebeeswarzone: Wrote:

    steel made with recycle products

    I live near the Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach.
    Day after day I watch our old cars, machinery, wreckage and other metal scrap being loaded and sent to China.
    Also the Philippines and the Malaysians and the Indonesians buy it.
    They do make it into new metals for sale and manufacture.

    Depending on how they deal with the vast amount of dross (the scummy non-steel stuff) during their re-refining process they might get a half-way decent product.
    But I wouldn’t want to fly in a plane made from it.

  30. 84

    Tallgrass

    As you will notice from the pictures in the related link articles two types of towers have been used in the various wind farms. A structured steel tower, assembled by “stick” construction and “pole type” towers. Both types are highly engineered and designed to very tightly specified design requirements established by rules, regulations, standards, codes, and finally good engineering judgement. In some respects these are actually legal requirements . . . since once a Professional Engineer reviews and signs the various documentation from which the wind generators are manufactured . . . they are a legal document.

    So by “design” the various parts, assemblies, finally the entire wind turbine system is supposed to last 20 years.

    Now comes the reality of the world . . . the world does not function on design . . . it functions “empirically” . . . that being the sum total of the visible, perhaps measureable, perhaps defineable, the touchable, the hearable . . . those things that can be “sensed”.

    We see a failed tower, failed blades, failed nose cones, failed concrete structures, and failed shrouds and covers . . . we all go OMG . . . the wind turbine generators we are installing are JUNK. No that is absolutely not the case at all. Failure criteria is PART of the DESIGN! So failures are not only expected they are a fact accepted in the design that failure is going to occur.

    I personally will not accept the stereotypical response . . . that one failed tower automatically makes 10’s of thousands of towers into junk. Sorry folks the empirical world does not work like that. I will not accept that the failure of one company to do adequate maintenance that causes a whole class of wind turbines they own to fail . . . is an industry wide problem with all wind generators manufactured by the same company. Maintenance organizations and manufacturers are far distant apart organizations.

    My personal perspectives are that “the wind turbines generators that exist in todays world are about as reliable as an Edsel or Studebaker” . . . they simply are not designed to be Mercedes Benz or even a Toyota, lol. That is my personal, personal, personal perspective. After all they are “Low Bidder” produced. Here is an example of this mentality, this is a joke . . . “I needed brain surgery . . . I have cancer . . . so I went to 5 different doctors . . . I got sealed bids . . . I picked the LOW Bidder!!!” But . . . he did give me a lifetime guarantee! If I died anytime during my lifetime after the surgery . . . he would do the brain surgery again for FREE!!! I felt so safe!!! LOL.

  31. 85

    oil guy from Alberta

    I’ve worked in Arctic conditions for over 20 years. Always stay away from steel from China, India, Japan, etc. In fact, avoid all oil patch equipment from there. Lives are involved. You pay for what you get.

  32. 86

    ilovebeeswarzone

    OIL GUY FROM ALBERTA, yes, and the money involved is of millions so you don’t
    want one screw defective to ruins the product and It takes only one ,
    bye

  33. 87

    oil guy from alberta

    The bee warrior you are so right. When I pushed tools and had a say on rig design i chose:
    1) Dreco Derricks- Edmonton,Alberta
    2)Ross Hill Controls- Houston, Texas
    3)Pumps and Draw Works- Oilwell, Houston,Texas
    4)Blowout preventers and manifolds- Cameron, Houston, Texas

    Don’t sell yourselves short. You have the best steel,design and engineers. It costs a little more.

  34. 88

    oil guy from Alberta

    You give me 3 Waukasha natural gas fired engines with compatible generators and I will produce more electricity than 100 windmills with less environmental damage. OK greenies, do your math, if applicable.

  35. 89

    cml in maine

    The turbines here in Maine mostly just have blade failure, which crack and break into the other blades.

    Sadly, most people do not understand that wind is expensive, almost 20 cents per kWH wholesale minimum. Some areas are charging 30 to 40 cents wholesale, not counting markup and delivery charges of almost another 5 cents per kWh.

    Texas gives away wind for free at night. Forbes Magazine exposed this scam and that is also why T Boone Pickens dropped his huge mega wind farm.

    I produce more energy from my fuel cell power plant daily than some wind farms do in a month.

    Also, check out how the F#$8heads in Maine are blowing up ridgelines and clearcutting forests for turbines, that rarely work. The trees in those areas would absorb more CO2 yearly than a turbine would offset during a 10 year period.

    All because are last two scammy Governor’s hoodwinked the State into believing this crap is green energy.

  36. 90

    Doug

    @DrJohn:

    I’m more sceptical than Greg that a storage problem for renewable power is just around the corner. It’s taken 30 years to get from where we were in the 1970s to where we are now with PV. It takes a long time to get things out of the lab, and that’s if you’ve got the basic physics worked out. If you don’t – well, look at how long fusion power has been in research. The solutions Greg mentions are questionable – a huge amount of energy is lost trying to convert electricity into fuels, for example, so that’s a poor storage option. Molten salt and other thermal mass techniques are much more promising, as are flywheels and even batteries. In the end, expensive and questionable near-term. The best technology we currently have is pumped hydro – 30% energy loss in the round-trip, and you have to have a convenient dam somewhere nearby.

    Another problem is the sheer land area needed to power our grid entirely on renewables. It’s huge – by one calculation, an area 1/7 the size of Nevada would have to be covered in PV cells, the most efficient solar technology we know of. Is that even remotely possible? Is there even enough raw material to make all the aluminum and concrete we’d need to build that? At least with PV, we can cover existing structures and not lose any more land to energy production. But at best, it ends up a minor contributor that way. Solar thermal requires giving over land, which is bound, eventually, to lead to fights over desert ecosystems etc.

    At least with solar, the land used is not otherwise needed by us – sadly, the same cannot be said for biofuels, where enormous acreage of arable land is given over from badly-needed food production to fuel production. This is the ultimate government-spawned energy boondoggle, producing little energy net of massive fossil inputs while contributing to global hunger and slowly ruining the environment with runoff.

    Dr. John, wrt. the issues you raise of energy density, they are well-taken, however I would make the following counterpoints:

    1. With known technology, we could easily double the fuel efficiency of our private vehicles. The fleet turns over in about 15 years.
    2. We also know how to substitute nat gas for petroleum as a method of powering vehicles.
    3. We are experimenting with partial electrification, and there is good reason to think some further portion of current vehicle energy needs can be met by the grid. While the all-electric range of vehicles will necessarily be limited, a large number of everyday trips are within that range.

    Taken together, there’s good reason to think we can greatly reduce the use of petrol in our vehicle fleet. Now let’s look at some other uses for petrol: heavy machinery, long-haul freight, aircraft, and as a feedstock in chemical production. In these applications, it will be much harder to replace fossil energy. IMO, this argues for getting busy producing more of our own fossil resources now, understanding that they won’t come on-stream for some years but we will surely need them by then. Also IMO, it argues in favor of trying to more carefully husband our endowment of fossil resources, including coal, for these uses, since we don’t know of any really good substitutes.

  37. 91

    ilovebeeswarzone

    Doug, yes, why are they searching for the future when today is so in need and there is enough oil in the ground to make AMERICA dependant only on his own resources first thing, and with it create many direct jobs and so many more indirect smaller but realy important,.. this times is for self reflexion,
    not spread the reflexion on the world need when you are first getting down instead of rising.
    is in there a time to stop the world to push you AMERICANS around.

  38. 92

    Tallgrass

    Doug

    About 30 years ago I was part of a utility organization that was building a nuclear power plant in Oklahoma. There was only ever one in Oklahoma, so it is easy to do a Google and find out the name of the plant. There were two principal anti-nuclear groups that opposed this plant. Ultimately the plant was cancelled along with about 60 other plants all across the US that were in various stages of licensing and construction. Sad, truly a sad situation surrounded the cancellation of so many of the plants that today would be a major contributor to our electric power needs.

    The opposition to the plant was headed up by an organization ran by a “bunch of little ole ladies”. At the NRC Meetings held in Tulsa these little ole ladies would show up wearing their long dresses, long sleves, bonnets, with shawls and actually knit during the formal court-like proceedings held by the NRC. Of course, they never talked during the NRC proceedings, leaving that all up to the lawyers. After the meetings the ladies would talk to the press . . . explaining how nice and low stress it was to set in their homes heated with wood, reading by kerosene lamps, making homemade cookies in their wood cook stoves . . . they wanted to live a “Little House on the Prairie” lifestyle . . . and truly I expected any minute to see Pa, Ma and Laura walk into the picture. What no one really paid attention to was that these people did not live the lifestyle of which they were so strong proponents. This lifestyle of “self sufficiency” they absolutely DID not live this life at all. As with all life, all the ladies eventually died . . . they were older citizens during the late 1970’s . . . below is a link to a website that is dedicated to one of the ladies:

    http://www.carriedickersonfoundation.com/lifeAndLegacy.html

    Carrie “Barefoot” Dickerson . . . truly was the epitome of the antinuclear movement. She so truly believed that we should all live a “barefoot” lifestyle that she spent her fortune on being a proponent of a lifestyle that she did NOT live. Ultimately she died in a “Nursing Home” . . . paid for by the very people that she so hamstrung. The aspects of this stupid ladies life to this day turns my stomach.

    Organizations such as the one at the above link are responsible to a great extent for the situation we find oursleves in today.

    It is shocking to me that such topics as discussed by Doug are even remotely considered. Get this people, the worst thing that can ever happen to anyone is . . .”To have a good idea that absolutely will NOT ever, ever, ever work”. Why is this . . . “Simply because YOU never give up on it . . . it is like a utopia . . . no matter how much you WANT it . . . it can not happen, ever!” I know this personally . . . I am still PRO NUCLEAR!!! After 30 years of watching the idiots ignore a viable resouce and talk about “molten salts”, photo-volatics, solar parabolics, solar troughs, I realize that there is coming a time very soon when we may find ourselves living a barefoot existence. I already heat my home with wood!!! I have the kerosene lamps . . . but I have not been able to find a nice wood cook stove, lol. So I googled it and by golly, I might have to get me one!

    http://www.goodtimestove.com/kitchen_ranges/victorian_cooking_ranges.html

    Hum . . . 3000 bucks for a wood cook stove . . . then I have to build a “summer kitchen” on to the house . . . crap my air conditioning just went to hell too (wood cook stove in the house in the summer . . . got to be kidding right?”)

  39. 93

    John Cooper

    Tallgrass– I was an instrumentation tech at Diablo Canyon, and a Startup Engineer at Palo Verde. Those were fun times. Too bad they didn’t last.

  40. 94

    Tallgrass

    I live in a rural area . . . about 30 miles out from the city of Tulsa . . . actually only 1.5 miles away from the abandoned site of the nuclear power plant I mentioned in my previous post. I never gave up building that plant . . . and surprisingly I am seeing things that are happening in the nuclear industry that tells me the industry is seeing a rebirth . . . but sadly it will not happen until after my productive life is waning and my contribution will be minimal, if any contribution at all.

    A couple years ago, I was out in the woods near my home and I came across and old homestead place. There was a rock foundation where the house had been, a bunch of old horse drawn farming equipment, a fallen down barn and a rusty old handpump. Weirdest thing was the old handpump still worked. I pumped the old handle up and down a dozen times and felt the water build up in the pipe coming up from the well as the handle got harder and harder to cycle up and down. The screeching and squeaking of the old pump could be heard echoing in the woods for miles around. The water was clear as a bell but was not drinkable . . . the rusty taste of the ole pipe made it lock up my jaws and I walked around the rest of the morning with that rusty metal taste in my mouth. Sort of added to that deja vu perspective of having been at such a place before.

    As I walked around this old homestead I found the junk pile of discarded household and farm debris. Rusty old chunks of metal from lard buckets, cracker boxes, and smaller unidentifiable pieces of debris, some looked like those old Prince Albert tobacco cans . . . but the paint was long gone and what was left was just a flake of tin. What there was to see there in that old junk pile told me that the people that had lived there were by the standards of their day wealthy. What in the world in the junk pile could say that?

    There were laying around in that junk several hundred old paper batteries . . . batteries that were used in a radio. These people had owned a radio!!! Country people in OKLAHOMA that owned a radio were wealthy people . . . the fact that they could buy so many batteries was enough to say that they had MONEY in their pockets. Additionally there was hundreds of bottles, jars and other glass containers . . . all store bought . . . Wow . . . truly these people had MONEY. There was a few old coca cola bottles laying around . . . mostly broken ones . . . did you know that coca cola bottles used to have dates and towns that were molded into the glass bottom of the bottles? So yes, I got a really rough idea of the date the people lived in the house . . . the bottles were dated in 20’s & 30’s. This made the people even more wealthy . . . since they could afford coca cola during the DEPRESSION years.

    Why tell such a story . . . because this is what we all to a certain degree or other think. We see times before as being less stressful, happier, wealthy and content. Yet today we live a life that is . . . “punctuated by the unexpected and defined by the unexplainable”. We walk through life facing backwards . . . hind sight being 20/20 and virtually blind to the future. We rely on the previous life experiences to develop a vision for the future.

    We want to have cars that get 100 miles per quantity of a nebulous power fluid. We want electrical utopia . . . without any cost. We want to be wealthy . . . yet have no money. We search for our diamonds over the entire world and yet we need look no further than our own backyard. This folks is insanity!

  41. 95

    Tallgrass

    Hey John;

    I worked Startup at Calloway, Operations Support at Monticello, Fermi, Grand Gulf, Clinton, Perry, Sharon Harris, Fitzpatrick,Susquehana and then spent about a year at NPPO in Atlanta.

    And absolutely those were fun times . . . drag up parties were a daily thing working around the new construction/startup plants . . . never forget the one drag up party we had at Calloway when one of the crazier pipefitters showed up with his Uzi, might have been a Mac-10 and he commenced to make the “burn barrell” into a flour siffter. LMAO. That gun still scares the crap out of me, just to think about it . . . but am thinking I might have to get me one soon!!! LOL

    I started out with the utilities then went to GE and finally as an independent contractor.

  42. 96

    ilovebeeswarzone

    I realy love FA, we have the smart ones, to be able to run a super large busyness like AMERICA is,
    and with love and vision, yes I do love my BLOG IT TEACH ME SO MUCH WISDOM

  43. 97

    jim s

    Here in Michigan we have a big electrical storage facility… it’s called the Ludington Pumped Storage facility. They pump water from Lake Michigan up into a reservoir 110 ft deep, 2.5 mi long and 1.6 mile wide (27 billion gallons!) It’s mainly used for load leveling. They say it can generate 1800 MW, with a maximum flow of 33 million gallons/minute. I figured that would empty the reservoir in 13.6 hours.
    The place did have a reputation for chopping fish into chutney… at least among fishermen.

  44. 98

    ilovebeeswarzone

    jim s, hi, yes chutney, and a big potential of other busynesses think of FISH OIL,
    or VITAMINES made of, OR FISH PATTIES, the world is their limits
    to become rich.

  45. 99

    Patvann

    If OSHA says we can work all-day safely in CO2 concentrations of up to 5000 parts per million, why does the EPA’s newest argument-for-regulation claim that 350 ppm is the only “safe” concentration?

    I know…rhetorical question.

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