Modern Marvels: Renewable Energy!

ikendu

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I saw this earlier this week and… Wow!
What a great one-hour program on renewable energy!
It will be re-broadcast on Sat. 9/23 from noon to 1 pm (CST) on the History Channel. Here is a link to the show:

http://www.history.com/shows.do?action=detail&episodeId=187050

Here is the description:

In the young 21st Century, two realizations are dawning on the world's population: we are hopelessly dependent on petroleum, which is only going to get more expensive; and global warming, caused mainly by our burning of fossil fuels, will impact civilization in ways that we're only beginning to grasp. Stepping in to fight both of these massive problems are the rapidly evolving technologies that harness renewable energy. We will see how air, water, earth, and fire are transformed into clean, reliable sources of heat, electricity, and even automobile fuel. We'll take an in-depth look at the most proven and reliable sources: solar, wind, geothermal, biofuels, and tidal power. From the experimental to the tried-and-true, renewable energy sources are overflowing with potential... just waiting to be exploited on a massive scale. And unlike fossil fuels, they'll always be there.
 

ikendu

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Yup. I was just listening to a segment on using poplar trees for ethanol. They grow 7 years, no plowing, no fertilizer then you harvest them. Apparently the 7 year yield is high. There are a lot of things happening with renewable technologies. We just need to continue doing the R&D and have the will to keep going.

Imported, foreign oil is choking our environment, our economy and fueling foreign terrorism.
 

Casual Flashlight User

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How much clean water is needed to grow these "biofuel" crops?

How much new farm land is needed to support the production of this fuel that will power millions of cars, trucks and other things that will use them?

How much energy (oil) is needed to process them into "super clean" fuels?

Sounds like a dead end to me.

The future ain't bright!


CFU
 

TedTheLed

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Cas,
I congradulate you on your conservation of energy not spent in researching the answers to your own questions...

what you see is what you get.
 

Casual Flashlight User

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Ted, I asked some genuine and pretty valid questions IMO...I did so in a polite non-confrontational manor...maybe you could enlighten me instead of hitting the sarcasm button.
rolleyes.gif



CFU
 

NewBie

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Interesting to note:

-Soil gets depleted of resources over time, you don't get something for nothing
-Depleted soils need fertilizer components, such as Nitrogen that mainly comes from oil now
-Depleted soils need fertilizer components, such as Phosphorous that comes from massive open pit mines.
-Trees are darker than dry soil, and stay dark most of the summer, absorbing sunlight, and causing air to warm up above them. This can amount ot a rise of 5-7 degrees celcius, just like the solar farms that also heat up the air.
-Don't forget that you also need to account for all the energy in processing the trees, producing new trees, care of trees, and also planting them.
-Many pesticides are made from oil by-products, just like plastics are

Many forget, when you use plastic, you are using oil. A purist should boycott all plastics, products in plastic packaging, besides the ones that are made from natural "renewable" plants and such- but those are quite rare.

Anything made from metals, especially Lithium, if you look into the production, the gathering of Lithium metal from the environment wreaks extreme havoc on the environment. Other types of metals like copper, aluminum, steel, have carved out mountain size mines, which also destroy our environment and animal habitat. So batteries are most certainly a major no-no.

The gross majority of our electrical power comes from burning of fossil fuels, and many states are producing power for California, and sending it to them, by burning of fossil fuels, just like they already do in California. The burning of fossil fuels in other states for california has drastically increased their pollution levels.

The other major source of electrical power is hydroelectric plants, which wreak massive havoc on a large scale, drastically altering the natural balance of large areas, both upstream and downstream. It also has a huge impact to the native fish species, which travel up and down the rivers. Fish ladders help, but there is certainly still a huge impact, to the point, that they are tearing out hydroelectric plants around the Pacific Northwest, due to pressure from the environmentalists.

The amount of electrical power that comes from solar cells is still very insignificant, in the over all scheme of things. Solar cell production is also an extremely unfriendly environmental option. Mines, electrical power, hazardous chemicals. You also have a large amount of air heating caused by the dark surface of solar cells.

Then you have roads. We have moved from concrete roads to asphalt roads, which obviously use tremendous amounts of oil by-products. Unlike concrete, asphalt is dark, and causes a very significant amount of heating of the air. Cities are creating their own micro-climates, which can be easily 10 degrees warmer than the surrounding areas, and can heat up a region around them.

Come to think of it, a lot of these problem comes from the idea of cities and the way of life there. So does the concentration of all the by-products of city life, which is harmful to our own life.

Could it be that the way of life of the American Indian was much more advanced than we realized, and they were not such savages as many think?
 
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Diesel_Bomber

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My own reasons for using biofuels are not so much for reducing the use of oil as for reducing the use of foreign oil. I wish an alcohol infrastructure existed, I'd convert my gas powered cars in a heartbeat.

:buddies:
 

TedTheLed

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Cas,
it's just frustrating because many if not all these questions have been discussed in greater detail than you may imagine..and though the power that was at the time vowed to never remove the threads, they have been. Better a have-been than a never-was I guess..
see if you can find Darrrel's energy and electric car threads, they're full of information about the details of renewable energy, and good suggestions..

this thread was started, politely and non-confrontationally, as a discussion of a tv program about renewable energy resources.. you pretty much poo pooed every one of them, contributing only the negation of the possiblity of renewable energy, that portended "not a bright furture." ... that's pretty confrontational in an alternative/renewable energy thread if you ask me.

But confrontation is what we're here for isn't it?

switchgrass biomass;
http://bioenergy.ornl.gov/papers/misc/switgrs.html

and what about all those thousands of acres of plowed-under rainforest that are growing millions of cut flowers for us right now? That's real important. :rolleyes:
 
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Biker Bear

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CAS: What people have to get used to is the simple fact that there will NOT be One Big Answer to getting away from the use of fossil fuels. Alternatives will contribute where it makes sense for them to contribute.

There's huge amounts of cellulosic material that just goes to waste these days - that could be converted to ethanol for fuel. A lot of the impact of this technology, plus biodiesel, thermal depolymerization and so on is turing "trash" into useful fuels.

Ever notice how "weeds" can grow in a lot of places where the soil is crap and there's damn little water? We exploit those kinds of plants that need next to no support, instead of the "high maintenance" crops people are used to. Need nitrogen? That's what clover and other nitrogen-fixing plants are for. Animal waste was the original fertilizer and doesn't require the use of petroleum to make. And once the alt-fuels system gets rolling, the machines that collect and manage it will be running on ethanol or biodiesel, not petroleum.

Times change, and we'll have to change with them - but getting the petroleum monkey off our backs is entirely possible; the breakthrough from RITE and Honda only makes the future look brighter.
 

NewBie

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There are a lot of issues with EV.

Lithium gathering, mining, chemicals etc.

Kickback for buying solar setup, funded by the Taxpayer.

Kickback to automakers for EV, funded by the Taxpayer.

Kickback to solar into grid, selling power during the day, and cut rates for EV only solar folks in the middle of the night.

You'd have a huge issue if everyone adopted EV.

Then there is the battery lifetime problem, expecially with Lithium Ion. And the recycling issues.

With all the computer stuff, I'm surprised they haven't, on a large scale, allowed folks to work at home. You could network, and face to face conference as needed. Many jobs really do not require the person to be physically present.

After spending time in Berkley, with all the folks driving those huge expensive gas guzzling SUVs everywhere, I am not at all surprised with the pollution problem there. I can understand the soccer moms driving kids after school to games, but very few even had passengers.

I'd really like to see actual *real* solutions that are not borne on the taxpayer's backs, instead of feel good type stuff. Things that make sense from an overall perspective, where manufacturing, design, use, and recycling are all taken into account.

LOL, yes, I know, I'm dreaming...meanwhile, folks will do the feel good thing, which is not a solution, and often makes the issue worse.
 

Geddinight

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I saw the show that ikendu is talking about. I really liked it. It showed several energy sources that I was only a bit familiar with, such as geo thermal and sea waves. I also didn't realize some of these alternative energies had been around for as long as the show stated.

It was an interesting hour.
 

Lit Up

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Biker Bear said:
Honda recently announced a breakthrough in converting cellulose to ethanol that could make using it as a fuel much more practical than by using corn or sugarcane as a source.

Yeah, I hear that BP and DuPont are setting up a sizeable plant over in the U.K. on these principles to kind of road test it. And it's not as adverse to condensation either so it's pipeline friendly.
 

Brock

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It's all about the lesser of two evils... All of these same things can be said for ICE, and to so much a larger extent it's amazing.

NewBie said:
There are a lot of issues with EV.

Lithium gathering, mining, chemicals etc.
Steel gathering, mining, chemicals etc

Kickback for buying solar setup, funded by the Taxpayer.
kickbacks to the FOREGN oil producers, funded by the Taxpayers, the US getting involved in foreign countries politics to keep oil flowing.

Kickback to automakers for EV, funded by the Taxpayer.
US government bailing out our automakers to the tune over 10,000 times what the government funded on all solar and other clean RE energies, again paid for by the taxpayers

Kickback to solar into grid, selling power during the day, and cut rates for EV only solar folks in the middle of the night.
This has existed long before it was ever an "EV" issue. Power companies produce to much power at night, supply and demand my friend, supply and demand. No one else wants to buy power at night so they sell it for what people are willing to pay for it, maybe we need more government involvement in the power industry? I personally don’t think so.

You'd have a huge issue if everyone adopted EV.
Unfortunately we have a even more pressing and worse issues caused by the current millions of ICE's.

Then there is the battery lifetime problem, especially with Lithium Ion. And the recycling issues.
Fortunately we have no issue with ever replacing batteries in an ICE or what to do with all that lead. I am sure a similar recycling industry would spring up if EV’s were adopted.

With all the computer stuff, I'm surprised they haven't, on a large scale, allowed folks to work at home. You could network, and face to face conference as needed. Many jobs really do not require the person to be physically present.
I am so with you there. So many of the people I work with could be working from home, heck about 1/4 of what I do I can do from home.

I'd really like to see actual *real* solutions that are not borne on the taxpayer's backs, instead of feel good type stuff. Things that make sense from an overall perspective, where manufacturing, design, use, and recycling are all taken into account.
Again I am so with you. No more subsidizing the oil industry or foreign oil producers, no more big government supporting the monopoly of automakers. You said it; we need to put an end to this I couldn't agree more.

It really comes back to the lesser of two evils. Unfortunately I believe it wil all come back to $ and nothing more in the end.
 

jtr1962

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Brock said:
Unfortunately we have a even more pressing and worse issues caused by the current millions of ICE's.
Yep. Let's start with 600,000 cancer deaths in the US alone from air pollution. Add to that a severe impact on the quality of life in most populated areas, especially in summers. At least with EVs even if 100% of the power were generated with fossil fuels, which isn't the case anyway, the pollution is contained in a few sources rather than distributed. Per unit of energy a power plant produces far less pollutants than an automobile. Better yet the impact of whatever pollution they do produce can be minimized by locating the plant in a remote area away from population centers. With ICE autos the pollution is produced exactly in the place where you least want it.
 

jtr1962

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NewBie said:
With all the computer stuff, I'm surprised they haven't, on a large scale, allowed folks to work at home. You could network, and face to face conference as needed. Many jobs really do not require the person to be physically present.
I'm with you 100% here. I see zero reason why someone has to physically travel to sit at a computer terminal. I'm sure workers would welcome telecommuting. An hour each way traveling to work is 10 hours a week of time you're not getting paid for. If you happen to drive instead of taking public transit where you can do something while traveling it is completely wasted time.

Come to think of it, a lot of these problem comes from the idea of cities and the way of life there. So does the concentration of all the by-products of city life, which is harmful to our own life.
Per capita large cities make a lot less of the wastes you're talking about. The real waste of resources is the suburban sprawl which has inflicted most of the country. Instead of having 100 families living in one 20-story apartment building on one acre of land as they might in NYC instead you'll have those same families on 50 acres of land in suburbia just for their houses. Add in about 5 to 10 times that for the roads and parking lots to service these families. Knock cities all you want but the natural world would be better off if the 300 million Americans were concentrated in about 30 NYC sized metropolises instead of spread out all over suburbia. Sure, you would still need the same area in farms to feed all these people but that's a constant regardless. Think what you wouldn't need. You wouldn't need hundreds of thousands of miles of roads going to virtually every corner of America. You wouldn't need millions of multi-acre parking lots. In fact, you wouldn't need cars at all except around farms since these large cities make things like subways economically feasible. And you could link these population centers with high-speed rail links instead of environmentally disastrous airliners, freeing up yet more land current used for airports. If we want real solutions then going vertical instead of horizontal is one of the answers. As a bonus by getting more people walking/biking/using public transit we'll reduce the obesity problem.
 

Diesel_Bomber

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Reminds me of Isaac Asimov's book The Caves of Steel.


I'd commit suicide in a week if I had to live in the city. Three days if I had to live in an apartment. A couple hours if I didn't have my cars and trucks and the ability to get AWAY from people.

A much better solution would be for the human race to get it's act together and limit it's population, before such steps have to be contemplated.

:buddies:
 
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