Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air- Great Read
Old 06-28-2009, 01:12 AM   #1
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
clifp's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 7,450
Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air- Great Read

For a variety of reasons, I've gotten very interested in renewable energy recently. Unfortunately as by knowledge has grown so has frustrated with the hype/hot air generated by all sides of the discussion, which reached a breaking point yesterday.

I went to see premier of a movie called Fuel. They film makers booked the largest venue in the state and I'm sure got a couple thousand folks to attend. I knew there was a risk that would be an Michael Moore style documentary, but since I knew several of the sponsors I thought it would be reasonable. The movie was all over the place, the evil oil companies, evil car companies, evil Republicans, Katrina (the guy grew up in Louisiana so somewhat understandable), and in between his journey around the country with his bio-diesel powered vehicles. There were few interesting factoids and a couple of funny scenes. But all in it was like watching a Michael Moore/Ann Coulter performance without their cleverness or humor for two long hours. I was completely disgusted when 3/4 of the audience rose and gave the director and his film a standing ovation. So I fled without listening to the Q&A.

What is obvious to me , and I am sure 95%+ on the forum would agree, is this simple proposition. "The US and the world would be better off if the consumption of oil was dramatically reduced." It doesn't really matter what your position is on greenhouse gas, drilling in ANWAR, Nuclear, solar, conservation, Carbon cap or trade etc etc. I have yet to meet a person that is happy that US consume 20 million barrels of oil a day, and spends >$1 billion/day purchasing imported oil mostly from folks who don't like us much. I felt like Rodney King can we all just get along and instead of name calling try to find solutions?

So last night, I went looking for article that was posted on the forum a few months ago, and found it and than stumbled across this fabulous free book.
David MacKay: Sustainable Energy - without the hot air: Contents.
After spending much of last night and today reading the book and finishing all but the technical chapters, I feel better.

The author is a British physics professor and he does a fabulous job replacing adjectives like huge, (as in Nebraska has huge potential for wind farms), or gigantic (as in the US is gigantic consumer of energy) with actually quantifiable numbers. He does this both on the consumption side how much energy, your car, a flight, your house, you, and even your cat consumes, and also the supply side, how much energy could England generate from Wind, Biomass, solar etc. How much resource mostly land, but also steel would be consumed making this windmills etc. Most of the calculations are involved with the UK but he often makes estimates for the US also.

Best of all he simplifies everything into a single easily understandable unit. A Kilowatt hour, or how much energy is consumed by 40 watt bulb over 24 hours. By translating all measurements into the number of KWH per person per day, he makes it real easy to compare alternative energy ideas.

I know that most of the forum are numerically literate, but even if you don't like numbers, he uses graphs, charts, cartoons, and classic British humor to keep you entertained.

You can buy the book via Amazon, or you can download it here for free or a 10 page synopsis

Reading it is the best 2KWH I've spent in a long time.
__________________

__________________
clifp is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 06-28-2009, 07:59 AM   #2
Full time employment: Posting here.
dixonge's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Ajijic
Posts: 847
Quote:
Originally Posted by clifp View Post
I have yet to meet a person that is happy that US consume 20 million barrels of oil a day, and spends >$1 billion/day purchasing imported oil mostly from folks who don't like us much.
Interestingly enough, we import more oil from Canada, Mexico and Venezuela than any Arab state. Not that Venezuela likes us that much...

Crude Oil and Total Petroleum Imports Top 15 Countries
__________________

__________________
dixonge is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 06-28-2009, 08:12 AM   #3
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
ls99's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 4,792
A simpler version as I recall 20 or 30 years ago working with geophysicists and sitting around dinner shooting the breeze, after days of seismic work on the volcanoes, tide gauge setups, ocean bottom profiling, bathymetri, paleomegnetics sampling, etc. as they wold discuss such things (as then was called global cooling emergency and the ice age being imminent if we don't do something right now) was:

All the man made pollution could be eliminated, yet one good size volcanic eruption the size Mt St Helens would more than make up for the so called pollution savings for many years to come. Never mind another Krakatoa.

Unfortunately, no one figured out how to control volcanic eruptions. They kind of do their thing independent of the environmentalists. Large volcanic eruptions are not that uncommon by the way.

When someone figures out how to stop the earth's plates from moving around (Plate Tectonics), then volcanoes will stop spewing stuff, and thus stop polluting on a geologic scale

The whole thing is kind of like one "aw $hit" wipes out ten thousand "atta boys".

IMHO climate change is real, an ongoing phenomena having been around long before humans showed up learned to make fire and come up with scientific speculations theories, and a gave it a name. Climate change is really independent of human intervention.

Unfortunately for far too many the climate change is a business to make a buck off of. The more they can stir the pot and agitate the population/politicos the more money they make. Yechh, , they disgust me.

This most recent congressional cap and trade boondoggle is another example of attempting to make money off of climate change.
__________________
There must be moderation in everything, including moderation.
ls99 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-28-2009, 08:18 PM   #4
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Midpack's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Chicagoland
Posts: 11,968
Thanks clifp, I read the 10 page synopsis and it was intriguing so I will read the long version this week. I am amazed at how rarely the complete set of facts go into discussions like this one, it's usually just those that help the author's case (whether unfounded or not) or as that author says, just a lot of "huge" and "gigantic" without much else.
__________________
No one agrees with other people's opinions; they merely agree with their own opinions -- expressed by somebody else. Sydney Tremayne
Retired Jun 2011 at age 57

Target AA: 60% equity funds / 35% bond funds / 5% cash
Target WR: Approx 2.5% Approx 20% SI (secure income, SS only)
Midpack is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-28-2009, 08:52 PM   #5
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
clifp's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 7,450
Quote:
Originally Posted by dixonge View Post
Interestingly enough, we import more oil from Canada, Mexico and Venezuela than any Arab state. Not that Venezuela likes us that much...

Crude Oil and Total Petroleum Imports Top 15 Countries
I was aware of this and put both Venezuela and Mexico in the don't like us much like us camp. (The US guns illegally being shipped to Mexico in return for their drugs is pissing off folks in both countries). So this leaves, Canada, Columbia, and Brazil as friendly country we get a lot of oil from. Looking at your list I only see ~3 million barrels of oil per day coming from countries with friendly AND stable regimes.

LS99. I am also somewhat skeptical of the need to do a lot to address climate change. IMO there are more important problems that exist today before we expand huge resource on addressing potential problems.

But even if you don't care anything about climate change. Are you going to tell me that you are content with status quo on being dependent on foreign oil? I'd suggest reading the synopsis with an open mind.

The author makes a case for the UK, which unlike the US is energy self-sufficient due to North Sea oil. I think the case is stronger for the US.
Quote:
A ten-page synopsis
We have an addiction to fossil fuels, and it’s not sustainable. The developed world gets 80% of its energy from fossil fuels; Britain, 90%. And
this is unsustainable for three reasons. First, easily-accessible fossil fuels will at some point run out, so we’ll eventually have to get our energy from someplace else. Second, burning fossil fuels is having a measurable and very-probably dangerous effect on the climate. Avoiding dangerous climate change motivates an immediate change from our current use of fossil fuels. Third, even if we don’t care about climate change, a drastic reduction in Britain’s fossil fuel consumption would seem a wise move if we care about security of supply: continued rapid use of the North Sea oil and gas reserves will otherwise soon force fossil-addicted Britain to depend on imports from untrustworthy foreigners. (I hope you can hear my
tongue in my cheek.)
__________________
clifp is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-28-2009, 09:11 PM   #6
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Northern IL
Posts: 18,264
Thanks clifp - I read the first few pages, was very impressed, and then went to the synopsis. I will get through the rest as time permits.

Some real jewels so far:

Quote:
... we debunk several myths. For example, “leaving mobile phone chargers plugged in” is often held up as an example of a behavioural ecocrime, with people who switch their chargers off being praised for “doing their bit.”

The amount of energy saved by switching off the phone charger, 0.01 kWh, is exactly the same as the energy used by driving an average car for one second. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t switch phone chargers off. But don’t be duped by the mantra “every little helps.”

If everyone does a little, we’ll achieve only a little.

.....

Bad: Hydrogen-powered vehicles are a disaster. Most prototype hydrogen-powered vehicles use more energy than the fossil-fuel vehicle they replace. The BMW Hydrogen 7 uses 254 kWh per 100 km (while the average fossil car in Britain uses 80 kWh per 100 km).

-ERD50
__________________
ERD50 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 06-28-2009, 10:08 PM   #7
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Ed_The_Gypsy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: the City of Subdued Excitement
Posts: 5,292
Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by dixonge
Interestingly enough, we import more oil from Canada, Mexico and Venezuela than any Arab state. Not that Venezuela likes us that much...

Crude Oil and Total Petroleum Imports Top 15 Countries


I was aware of this and put both Venezuela and Mexico in the don't like us much like us camp.
And you think Canada is a friendly country? The last Prime Minister seriously suggested to stop selling oil to the US. I work in Canada. About once a month someone tells me how much they hate the US/Americans.

Mexico is dependent on us but doesn't like the US. Fortunately they are not as well organized as the Canadians.

Pray for cold fusion.
__________________
my bumpersticker:
"I am not in a hurry.
I am retired.
And I don't care how big your truck is."
Ed_The_Gypsy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-28-2009, 10:15 PM   #8
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Ed_The_Gypsy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: the City of Subdued Excitement
Posts: 5,292
Ls99,

I agree. There are geologic (and greater) forces at work.

A few years ago there was a Nova program that noted that the solar "constant" seems to have been increasing for the last 100 years (as long as that specific data is available). More radiation from the sun. That point seems to have disappeared from the public debate.

We could completely control global warming with an umbrella at the L1 Lagrange point between the sun and the earth.

Now if we are faced with global cooling, it gets a lot harder.
__________________
my bumpersticker:
"I am not in a hurry.
I am retired.
And I don't care how big your truck is."
Ed_The_Gypsy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-28-2009, 10:19 PM   #9
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Ed_The_Gypsy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: the City of Subdued Excitement
Posts: 5,292
clifp,

Thank you for the link. Gonna read it.
__________________
my bumpersticker:
"I am not in a hurry.
I am retired.
And I don't care how big your truck is."
Ed_The_Gypsy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-28-2009, 10:44 PM   #10
Moderator Emeritus
Nords's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Oahu
Posts: 26,616
Quote:
Originally Posted by clifp View Post
The author is a British physics professor and he does a fabulous job replacing adjectives like huge, (as in Nebraska has huge potential for wind farms), or gigantic (as in the US is gigantic consumer of energy) with actually quantifiable numbers.
Best of all he simplifies everything into a single easily understandable unit.
I know that most of the forum are numerically literate, but even if you don't like numbers, he uses graphs, charts, cartoons, and classic British humor to keep you entertained.
The whole subject is desperately in need of someone who can dumb it down popularize the chemistry & engineering the way that Sagan did for astronomy.

I like the way he separates options into "good" and "bad".
__________________
*
*

The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
I don't spend much time here anymore, so please send me a PM. Thanks.
Nords is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-29-2009, 06:24 AM   #11
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Midpack's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Chicagoland
Posts: 11,968
Even if climate change is nonsense and aside from the politics of oil, there is no question that oil is a finite resource relative to demand/population growth. It's not a question of when we will (for all practical purposes) run out, it's only when. Like it or not, we are going to have to find alternatives, massive changes in conservation and/or supply. Most people can't seem to see past their own generation.
__________________
No one agrees with other people's opinions; they merely agree with their own opinions -- expressed by somebody else. Sydney Tremayne
Retired Jun 2011 at age 57

Target AA: 60% equity funds / 35% bond funds / 5% cash
Target WR: Approx 2.5% Approx 20% SI (secure income, SS only)
Midpack is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-29-2009, 08:30 AM   #12
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Northern IL
Posts: 18,264
Another observation:

References, a bibliography? What a novel approach to a book dealing with climate change and energy conservation

-ERD50
__________________
ERD50 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 06-29-2009, 10:18 AM   #13
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 7,526
Guys, let's not confuse this political issue by dragging all these facts and this science and math and numbers into it. It is a hard enough issue to tackle without actually having to do any analysis.
__________________
FUEGO is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-29-2009, 10:56 AM   #14
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
ls99's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 4,792
Quote:
Originally Posted by clifp View Post

LS99. ........

But even if you don't care anything about climate change. Are you going to tell me that you are content with status quo on being dependent on foreign oil? I'd suggest reading the synopsis with an open mind.

The author makes a case for the UK, which unlike the US is energy self-sufficient due to North Sea oil. I think the case is stronger for the US.
I accept climate change for what it is, and object make it a business $ source or govenment tax resource, of attempting to change it.

As for the oil supply, it does not matter to me where it comes from. If in fact it turns out that the oil supply will run out in X years. So be it. Long before that happens the business model which proves the most efficient in generating fuel of whatever type at cost that is affordable will be created. Cap and trade is not it.

Frankly there is a good bit of oil around the continental US, nothing wrong IMHO with using it up when the Middle east stops supplying for whatever reason, including running out of the stuff.

As an aside, I know of many capped wells in the Aleutians by ARCO (the name tag on the wellhead) which were there in 1974 already capped. And the lanscape around them wellheads as pristine as was the rest of the hundreds of miles of tundra. Much of which I hiked, for pay of course. Kind of like parachuting, unless i'm getting paid, I'm not jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, nor do I hike for fun.

I also think nuclear power generation is good. I had worked in a nuke generating plant at one point. San Onofre #1 to be specific. Other than the do gooders blocking new construction for the past 30 or so years, I don't see any other reason why the US has not built a lot more of them. And a lot more is what we need.

As a small aside one of jokes in the seismic world was: if you want to find a geologic fault line, just look for where the nuke plants are.

To be sure solar elecric generation is probably the least efficient method for large scale power generation. Wind is good, especially in the Kennedys' back yard. A great location but the Kennedy's object to their spoiling of the view.

By the way until you spent time in the close vicinity of wind generators, you have no ide of the nerve wrecking WHOOSH of the giant blades make. They work fine in uninhabited areas like Mohave.

So be of good cheer, don't worry, be happy.
__________________
There must be moderation in everything, including moderation.
ls99 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-29-2009, 12:26 PM   #15
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
dex's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 5,105
Quote:
Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
, there is no question that oil is a finite resource relative to demand/population growth.
No question?
Discovery backs theory oil not 'fossil fuel'

The abiotic theory argues, in contrast, that hydrocarbons are naturally produced on a continual basis throughout the solar system, including within the mantle of the earth. The advocates believe the oil seeps up through bedrock cracks to deposit in sedimentary rock. Traditional petro-geologists, they say, have confused the rock as the originator rather than the depository of the hydrocarbons.

Giora Proskurowski
Lost City
__________________
Sometimes death is not as tragic as not knowing how to live. This man knew how to live--and how to make others glad they were living. - Jack Benny at Nat King Cole's funeral
dex is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-29-2009, 12:45 PM   #16
Moderator Emeritus
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 4,929
Quote:
Originally Posted by dex View Post
The abiotic theory argues, in contrast, that hydrocarbons are naturally produced on a continual basis throughout the solar system, including within the mantle of the earth. The advocates believe the oil seeps up through bedrock cracks to deposit in sedimentary rock. Traditional petro-geologists, they say, have confused the rock as the originator rather than the depository of the hydrocarbons.
It's a bit off-topic, but of interest to some folks debating energy issues.

The abiotic oil proponents may have a point, in explaining the origin of some buried hydrocarbons, but there are some problems.

First, there is a subtle difference between hydrocarbons produced by biological processes compared to what we should get from hydrocarbons formed by non-biological means. Carbon has several isotopes, variations on the carbon atom with different atomic masses. Biological processes tend to produce hydrocarbon compounds with different isotope ratios than non-biological processes, as the different carbon isotopes have slightly different levels of biological activity courtesy of the different atomic masses.

Second, an abiotic source of oil doesn't mean that we have unlimited oil. If we find every source of oil in the Earth's crust, and pump that oil, we reach a limit with abiotic oil, the rate at which the carbon compounds trapped deep within the mantle percolate upward, cool, and react to produce oil.

If we find and pump oil faster than it becomes available within the planet, whether that production is abiotic, or from cooked algae and dinosaur squeezings, we still hit a limit. That is something the abiotic oil fans often overlook. The source is largely irrelevant. The availability of oil, produced by whatever method, at depths where we can economically reach and extract it, forms the limiting case.
__________________
M Paquette is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-29-2009, 12:57 PM   #17
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
FinanceDude's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 12,484
I can't comprehend why nuclear power plants aren't being built everywhere. If it wokrs elsewhere, why not here?

Plus, nuclear, from what I understand is an EFFICIENT power, no greenhouse gasses and the only big problem is spent fuel storage.........
__________________
Consult with your own advisor or representative. My thoughts should not be construed as investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results (love that one).......:)


This Thread is USELESS without pics.........:)
FinanceDude is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-29-2009, 01:22 PM   #18
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Northern IL
Posts: 18,264
Quote:
Originally Posted by FinanceDude View Post
I can't comprehend why nuclear power plants aren't being built everywhere. If it wokrs elsewhere, why not here?

Plus, nuclear, from what I understand is an EFFICIENT power, no greenhouse gasses and the only big problem is spent fuel storage.........
I think the spent fuel problem is blown way out of proportion. In fact, I consider it a *benefit*.

Let's put it in perspective - fossil power plants spew their waste into the atmosphere, and are accused of increasing the acidification of the oceans, bleaching the corral, acid rain, particulates blown all over the world, etc, etc.

In comparison, nuclear "waste" is contained (most is kept right where the plant is, I think). And since we've only known how to work with this stuff for 60 years or so, something tells me that in another 60 years we will know how to make good use of the remaining energy there. And it will be right where we left it. Perfect! If not, we will probably have better ways to deal with it than today.

I'm not usually of the mindset to say "push the problem off on future generations", but that is exactly what we do with the fossil pollutants. You can't look at one and ignore the other. I think this is the far less of two evils, and may be good thing in the end.

-ERD50
__________________
ERD50 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 06-29-2009, 01:54 PM   #19
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
ls99's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 4,792
I often wondered why the spent fuel holding tanks could not be used via several heat exchangers to provide heat and water heating to adjacent neighborhoods.

The spent fuel stays hot (in more ways than one) for a long time. Surely there might be a cost effective way to use the heat, instead of dumping it through the cooling tower or other waste type heat exchanger.
__________________
There must be moderation in everything, including moderation.
ls99 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-29-2009, 02:50 PM   #20
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
clifp's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 7,450
Quote:
Originally Posted by FinanceDude View Post
I can't comprehend why nuclear power plants aren't being built everywhere. If it wokrs elsewhere, why not here?

Plus, nuclear, from what I understand is an EFFICIENT power, no greenhouse gasses and the only big problem is spent fuel storage.........
The book has a lengthy chapters on Nuclear Energy, in which he covers pretty much every objection. Including how many resource required to build
the things. He glossed over storage of wastes which at least in the US has proved to be a political problem. Although, from a strictly numerically view the problem seems quite manageable about a wine bottle of nuclear waste per person (in the UK) per year. One of my favorite charts in the book is death per Gigawatt which has both wind and nuclear being quite low and as he points out very small in comparison to driving deaths etc.
__________________

__________________
clifp is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air HFWR Other topics 11 05-19-2009 11:26 PM
Air Car- runs on compressed air and/or combustion samclem Other topics 53 07-19-2008 07:28 AM
New Calculator - Max Sustainable Withdrawal Rates kmarbach FIRE and Money 13 03-19-2003 01:28 AM

 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:20 PM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.