Alternative Energy: Viable?

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PeeTex PeeTex
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Alternative Energy: Viable?

ScottyJack wrote
I support solar first as it is truly the most sustainable energy source after implementing the highest level of energy efficiency possible (insulation to the max).
And I thought you were smarted than that. You look at the real cost and total life cycle foot print (which includes all those nasty chemicals required to build the damn things) and you see it is way worse than fossil. We have been sold a bill of goods with electric cars, wind power and solar.
Harvey Harvey
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Re: ACR lands the Great White Shark

PeeTex wrote
And I thought you were smarted than that. You look at the real cost and total life cycle foot print (which includes all those nasty chemicals required to build the damn things) and you see it is way worse than fossil. We have been sold a bill of goods with electric cars, wind power and solar.
I think that's an oversimplification of the facts.  It has everything to do with the process used, the country they are produced in, and he amount of chemical "waste" that is recycled.  There are some nasty chemicals used in fracking (maybe, nobody knows it's a secret!) and they are pumped into the ground so reclaiming them isn't simple.

What is the source of your info?  How would you power humanity in a renewable way?
"If it's my mountain, I'm installing a fixed grip and telling the lifties to stuff the beginners into chairs as aggressively as they have to, to keep it going full speed." —Brownski
tjf1967 tjf1967
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Re: ACR lands the Great White Shark

What does it matter. People will migrate to whatever is cheapest. It's the 70's all over. Renewable, insulation blah blah blah.  The towel heads got the picture and brought oil prices down to where it is the cheapest energy source again. We can't produce it that cheap but we will use it cause that's the American way. Things will be good gas/ heating fuel wise so people will give up on the alternatives, become dependent and start the process all over again.  The good thing that came out of the 70's was America insulating homes that's what is going to be the net positive 15 years from now . And that's all I gots to say about these
Adk Jeff Adk Jeff
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Re: ACR lands the Great White Shark

Cheap fossil fuel is like an addictive drug and OPEC is the dealer.  Or was the dealer. The one thing that's changed in the last decade is that we now have the ability to produce a much greater % of our own needs.  If the Saudis want to sell to us cheaper than our production costs, fine - we can save our resources for another day (or better yet, never need them at all).
PeeTex wrote
ScottyJack wrote
I support solar first as it is truly the most sustainable energy source after implementing the highest level of energy efficiency possible (insulation to the max).
And I thought you were smarted than that.
Exactly what is the problem with solar? Do the problems really negate the benefit of offsetting 20 years of electricity produced from fossil fuel?
All energy sources are a trade-off of one kind or another. IMO the most important thing is that we transition away from energy sources that are producing global warming.  That cycle has to be broken.  If wind, nuclear, solar, etc are a bridge of sorts in a transition from fossil fuel to an ultimately clean and sustainable energy source, then they are worth doing.  Bill McKibben got it right in this NY Times piece from 10 years ago, which dealt with the trade-offs associated with wind energy.  I also agree with SJ, the biggest gains are in non-sexy conservation and efficiency, which should be pursued first.
Yikes, major thread drift.
PeeTex PeeTex
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Re: ACR lands the Great White Shark

Here are a few articles which illustrate the point:
A 2014 article in National Geographic: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2014/11/141111-solar-panel-manufacturing-sustainability-ranking/
And another credible source - IEEE: http://spectrum.ieee.org/green-tech/solar/solar-energy-isnt-always-as-green-as-you-think
And one interesting article from a source that may or may not be credible:
http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2008/03/the-ugly-side-o.html

Depending upon your outlook of what is worse - CO2 or toxic chemicals the "way worse" words I used could be considered as too dramatic, I'll admit that. People think a solar panel will last for 30 years, that's simply not true. All it takes is a single cell failure within an a section of an array to make a large percentage of the array useless. Arrays also degrade with time. When people look at arrays they forget about the inverters that go along with them, none of the articles stated above look at the cost and MTBF and environmental impact of the inverter. Then there is the fact that when you have a large percentage of solar on the grid there is a lot of time when you can't use the energy it produces, Germany has that problem now, here is a writeup that pokes at the issues (although again you could question the creditability: http://theresilientearth.com/?q=content/germanys-solar-failure

Someday Solar may be viable, but we need to crack the energy storage problem, we need to increase the reliability and efficiency of the cells and the efficiency and cleanliness of the manufacturing process, and we need good recycling of old panels. Hydro in all it's forms is my first choice.  
Harvey Harvey
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Re: Alternative Energy: Viable?

PeeTex the article you quoted actually makes some of my points.  Better process is within reach:

"The next step, however—turning metallurgical-grade silicon into a purer form called polysilicon—creates the very toxic compound silicon tetrachloride. The refinement process involves combining hydrochloric acid with metallurgical-grade silicon to turn it into what are called trichlorosilanes. The trichlorosilanes then react with added hydrogen, producing polysilicon along with liquid silicon tetrachloride—three or four tons of silicon tetrachloride for every ton of polysilicon.

Most manufacturers recycle this waste to make more polysilicon. Capturing silicon from silicon tetrachloride requires less energy than obtaining it from raw silica, so recycling this waste can save manufacturers money. But the reprocessing equipment can cost tens of millions of dollars. So some operations have just thrown away the by-product. If exposed to water—and that’s hard to prevent if it’s casually dumped—the silicon tetrachloride releases hydrochloric acid, acidifying the soil and emitting harmful fumes."

...and...

"This problem could completely go away in the future. Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., are looking for ways to make polysilicon with ethanol instead of chlorine-based chemicals, thereby avoiding the creation of silicon tetrachloride altogether."

Maybe this is the beginning of your idea:

http://energy.gov/eere/articles/innovative-wave-power-device-starts-producing-clean-power-hawaii

TJ - cost... it depends on how you figure it.  In the short run it's always cheaper to trash the environment.

I'm for anything/everything but giving up.

"If it's my mountain, I'm installing a fixed grip and telling the lifties to stuff the beginners into chairs as aggressively as they have to, to keep it going full speed." —Brownski
PeeTex PeeTex
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Re: Alternative Energy: Viable?

Giving up is not an option. This is a moon shot problem and we never made it to the moon by wasting a lot of resources on junk science - and today we have a lot of junk science. Universities and academics are not what they were 55 years ago when we started the space program. Everybody just wants to make a buck.
Z Z
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Re: Alternative Energy: Viable?

Big solar farms in the SW where they need the power to offset the AC demand make sense.  I doubt that the solar installation in VT going up will pay off.  Most of the cell making has moved to China where I sure the environmental costs are not added to the price.

The biggest thing people don't understand is that there is no way to store electric power.  It has to be when it is produced plus it's transmission time .  The grid is not a battery it's just wires to move it around.

LED lighting should be mandated now that the costs have come way down.  

Nat Gas should be widely made available in truck stops so it could become the standard for long haul trucking.  We have so much gas in the US now but that won't be pushed until Obama is gone due to the anti fracking crowd that make up his support base.
"It is better to go skiing and think of God, than go to church and think of sport."
Artic Explorer Fridtjof Nansen
PeeTex PeeTex
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Re: Alternative Energy: Viable?

Coach Z wrote
Big solar farms in the SW where they need the power to offset the AC demand make sense.  I doubt that the solar installation in VT going up will pay off.  Most of the cell making has moved to China where I sure the environmental costs are not added to the price.

The biggest thing people don't understand is that there is no way to store electric power.  It has to be when it is produced plus it's transmission time .  The grid is not a battery it's just wires to move it around.

LED lighting should be mandated now that the costs have come way down.  

Nat Gas should be widely made available in truck stops so it could become the standard for long haul trucking.  We have so much gas in the US now but that won't be pushed until Obama is gone due to the anti fracking crowd that make up his support base.
And again - you got snookered. LED bulbs when taken over their entire life cycle cost twice as much to own and to operate, they typically are 8x the cost of CFLs but have only 3X the life and are only about 15% more efficient. CFLs do contain mercury but compared to the chemicals used in manufacturing LEDs its pretty much an environmental wash, that is, if you carefully recycle your CFLs. You could say that the 15% energy savings is worth it but I would argue that churning the economy by an effective 2X causes an overall increase in energy consumption elsewhere.

As an example, if I pay you twice what you make now are you going to bury that money in a hole somewhere. You will most likely increase your consumption, buy more shit, travel more, etc. You will put some in the bank where it gets dumped back into the economy so others can buy more shit. Looking at the cost of something is also a good way of judging its total environmental impact. Basically - if we had no economy there would be a hell of a lot less of us and we would all be nomadic herders living off the land and having very little effect on the environment. My point - follow the money, sometimes (not always) higher price means more environmental impact when you look at the whole picture.
Harvey Harvey
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Re: Alternative Energy: Viable?

I have a friend who is doing nicely with panels on his roof.  He has a perfect setup, roof angle, not trees causing shade etc. They are old now (so new ones are better I assume), he paid them off in 8 years. Actually paid them off in 3 but he had a conservation subsidy, 8 years would have been the payoff if he had paid market rates.

We put one expensive LED ($25 I think) bulb in a light fixture that is really hard to reach (need to bring a ladder to the second floor) because the electrician said it would last 10 years.  Should be interesting to see how long it really lasts. Been 3 years so far.

I agree with Coach, eviro costs aren't added to energy prices. Fossil fuels is the prime example.

Energy storage is advancing, in part due to the demand created by cell phones. Tesla is making big strides too.


"If it's my mountain, I'm installing a fixed grip and telling the lifties to stuff the beginners into chairs as aggressively as they have to, to keep it going full speed." —Brownski
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