Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Apr 29

Poll: What is Your Favorite Energy Source?

Posted in Energy Politics | Future Technology

Renewable Energy Our recent polls on biofuels and solar energy have shed some interesting light on the public’s opinion of these energy sources. So far, it looks like a majority people believe solar energy has great potential as an energy source, while opinions about biofuels are split almost 50/50. If you browse through our articles you’ll notice many more opinion polls posted at the bottom of each of our articles on topics like tidal energy and more controversial issues like geo-engineering. While all of these polls are great, we thought we’d dedicate a post to finding out just which energy technologies people are most excited about.

You can choose up to three energy technologies from the following list, which is automatically sorted by popularity. If you think we are missing anything please contact us to suggest another option. If you would like to add your thoughts and opinions you can always leave your comments below. Thanks for voting!

  • PeterG

    Commercial nuclear fusion will come of age by 2050. Fusion cannot cause a meltdown, and fusion doesn’t leave radioactive waste, and it doesn’t emit any carbon-based gases.

    Although solar photovoltaics can be mounted on every rooftop, the energy density available to recharge a fleet of electric buses and trucks will have to come from a serious zero-carbon-emissions power station. Same goes for all heavy industry factories.

    Since our buses and trucks and heavy industry workers will always choose to live near friends and family near the cities where the land is expensive, not in the middle of a desert where the land is sun-drenched and cheap, therefore power stations will still be required to be stationed near city fringes.

    Solar can’t deliver for recharging heavy vehicles, and powering heavy industry in real-time because the land near cities is way too expensive, and always will be. At the same time, running the electric cables from solar-generator power stations in the deserts of the world, requires long distance cable-runs, and the electrical losses to thermal energy erodes their financial returns to the point of inadequate profitability.

    The very first non-commercial full-scale nuclear fusion power plant is finally being built in Germany. The nuclear fusion power station will run for 30 minutes continuously and generate enough electricity to be self-sustaining with electricity to spare for resale (although the electricity will not be resold). After that the boys from the Max Planck Institute should be able to build continuously running nuclear fusion powerplants by 2050.

    Obviously the offices and homes of the future will be powered by solar photovoltaics in sunny locales, and by wind and geothermal in not-so-sunny locales.
    But keep in mind all the energy required to recharge our future fleets of buses and trucks, and our heavy industries.

  • Bob Wallace

    Only three?

    Solar, wind, wave, tidal, biofuel, geothermal, hydro, and perhaps some other sources are likely to be our power mix of the near/mid future.

    By combining many different sources we can minimize our need for storage and backup.

    And we’ll tie it all together with a “smart grid”, using HVDC for long range efficient power shipping.

    A factory in Ohio might well be using a mix of electricity from PV and solar thermal from southern Nevada, wind from the Great Plains and tidal from the Bay of Fundy.

    If nuclear fusion ever gets invented (it’s decades away and our needs are now) then we can decide whether to include it in the mix or even replace all the other generation systems that can serve us right now.

  • PeterG

    The nuclear fusion power station being built today (not theory) at the Max Planck Institute in Germany is as mature as geothermal and tidal and convection, but not as mature as biofuel or solar (photovoltaic/thermal) or wind.

    You may wish to read the info at the URL to confirm how advanced nuclear fusion is:
    http://www.ipp.mpg.de/ippcms/eng/presse/pi/01_08_pi.html

    A lack of advertising by the Planck Institute doesn’t mean their science is flawed. The USA have lost that technology edge, and denial is not the way to recover it.

    Biofuel = 3rd world hunger. It’s stealing from the future of the 3rd world’s children in order to buy the future for the 1st world’s children. It’s a crime of the future in the same way that nuclear fission waste disposal is a crime of the future.

    Solar photovoltaics for Ohio are only a supplementary home user option due to the winter snows in Ohio. Not suitable for commercial electric vehicle recharging and heavy industry.

    Solar thermal power (ie: centralized solar power stations) for Ohio would require an acceptance of the financial losses due to power transmission losses coming from a power station located in a more equatorial locale. But feasible today.

    The area utilization for solar thermal would be around 3000 acres (4 square kilometers) per terawatt.

    Source = 1000 acres of SEGS = 310 megawatts.
    http://www.fplenergy.com/portfolio/contents/segs_viii.shtml

    Wind power for Ohio could be generated nearby so there are minimal power losses during transmission.

    However wind power for Ohio would require 260 square kilometers per terawatt. That’s shocking compared to solar thermal power (4 square kilometers per terawatt).

    Source = Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center = 190 square kilometers to deliver a paltry 735.5 megawatts.

    But no matter whether Ohio chooses wind over solar thermal today, Ohio will scrap all their solar and/or wind and/or geothermal/etc… power stations when nuclear fusion comes online.

    So no matter whether Ohio goes for wind / solar thermal / geothermal / tidal / etc.. Ohio needs to consider it will need to pay three times for alternative power in the next 40 years: Once to build the wind / solar thermal / geothermal / tidal / etc… power station(s). Once again to build the new nuclear fusion power station(s). Once again to decommission the wind / solar thermal / geothermal / tidal / etc… power station(s).

    Ohio will jump ship from wind and/or solar thermal and/or geothermal/etc.. to nuclear fusion as soon nuclear fusion becomes available, because:
    1) Nuclear fusion can be done locally, so there are only minimal power transmission losses – compared to the large transmission losses from remote power stations supplying solar thermal or tidal or geothermal generated electricity.
    2) Nuclear fusion will only require a few hundred square meters per terawatt, unlike solar thermal which requires 4 square kilometers per terawatt, or wind which tragically wastes 260 square kilometers per terawatt.

    In other words, the most important and ultra-critical issue Ohio needs to recognize is that if it chooses to migrate to a zero-carbon electricity source before nuclear fusion comes online (sometime before 2050), Ohio is best off choosing the one which primarily mimizes carbon emissions, and secondarily, can be commissioned and decommissioned for the absolute lowest cost.

    That makes nuclear fusion my favourite.

  • Bob Wallace

    Cool.

    In another six years or so we’re going to see if this thing can work for a whole half hour. (I’m rooting for them. I’d like to see fusion power available.)

    But geothermal – we’ve been using it for a long time. Iceland uses vast amounts of geothermal. We’re using it here in CA.

    Tidal generation is currently being tested in the real world. And it’s past the small scale prototype stage.

    Biofuel. There’s biofuel and there’s biofuel. Taking food from the mouths of starving children is wrong. Making electricity from cow and human poop is right.

    Solar thermal is (probably) wrong for Ohio. That’s why its being installed, has been installed, and is producing electricity, in places like the southwest US desert, Spain, North Africa, ….

    Read up on High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) – that’s the grid of the future that will take solar from sunny places and wind from windy places and move it to Ohio where it’s needed to run heavy industry. One can ship lots of power for very long distances with very little loss.

    Ohio will go solar/wind/tidal/wave/geothermal long before they will have the option to go fusion. They just need some steel cables stretched from places like the Great Lakes (very good wind sites) and the sunny Southwest to them.

    When/if fusion arrives we will do a cost comparison and if fusion turns out to be significantly less expensive then we’ll switch. But waiting around for fusion to arrive (remember that it’s been only 20 years away for the last several decades) ain’t likely to happen.

    We are now seeing green energy becoming competitive with “dirty” energy even without imposing a cost for CO2 release. And this is 2008. 2050 is 32 years that we’re not going to wait to see if fusion pans out. We need to switch for financial, environmental, and security reasons. We will probably be 100% built out with green energy within 30 years.

  • PeterG

    The energy density of the interim power supplies have yet to power a single heavy industry.

    Iceland’s GDP depends on their aluminum smelters, which are powered by hydroelectric means. Only the city dwellers can be powered by geothermal means.

    That’s my point. Heavy Industry needs serious power. All the things which make our lives incredible come from heavy industry, not light industry. Ie: ships, aeroplanes, trains, buses, mining vehicles.

    All of the alternative energy sources you mention are lightweight, so when they’re scaled to heavy industry (multi-terawatts), they fall far short.

    I see such the solar/wind/geothermal/etc.. energy sources as powering my fridge and my computer, but they won’t power a transonic air freighter, and they won’t power a wheat transporter ship, or an aluminum smelter.

    Unless of course I accept biofuels and third world huger is an acceptable trade-off so that I can receive my television in less than 4 months coming on a sailboat ex-Japan.

    In other words, nuclear fusion is a mandatory part of the mix, not an esoteric lab experiment.

    Since nuclear fusion is a mandatory part of the mix, it’s my favorite.

    If heavy industry could be powered by the alternatives, only then could nuclear fusion be relegated to being simply a science experiment.

    We need heavy industry – and our heavy industries will only become more and more energy consuming as we build more and more ships and planes and trains and buses.

    Let’s face up to the fact that nuclear fusion is not an esoteric afterthought. We need it, and we need it now, in the same way as we need solar and tidal and geothermal to power our less energy demanding consumers, ie: city dwellers.

  • Bob Wallace

    Well, a lot of mining is done with electricity, aluminum is smelted with electricity, some locomotives run off electricity. None of those things give a rat’s patoot where the power comes from.

    This year about 1% of US electricity will come from wind. And next year about 1.5% will come from wind. That new build out curve will accelerate and other green generation will come quickly on line. I expect the US to be at least 10% green within 10 years. And to progress much faster after that.

    Iceland gets over 25% of its electricity from geothermal.

    Even 32 years from now, if we do achieve usable fusion, I really doubt that we’ll be using electricity for transcontinental airplanes.

    Oh, and it looks like we will be adding sails (parasails) to our ocean freighters. Cuts fuel usage by at least 20%.

    If we can develop small, reliable fusion sources then we might see them propelling ocean transport. In fifty years. We’re likely to need some sort of liquid fuel until then and perhaps for long after for air flight.

    Fusion is only a mandatory part of the mix because you have declared it so. That don’t make it really so.

    Again, if it can actually be brought to market at a superior cost then it will push out other forms of generation. But the decision will be a financial one. Solar panels and wind mills have very long life spans and very low operating costs. Fusion will have to be inexpensive enough in terms of build out plus operating costs to compete with mature green generation.

    That’s likely to be a difficult hurdle to jump. Look how difficult it is to beat the cost of already installed hydro. Up and running plants with no fuel costs are tough competition.

  • PeterG

    Let’s talk about 100% of US electricity requirements.

    Let’s not trivialize the problem to 10% in ten years or even 30% in (say) 20 years.

    I’m principally concerned with the limits to the maximum penetration of the various technologies such as solar/wind/geothermal/tidal.

    The devil is in the scalability details, and governments are aware of what I know, and they have attributed funding to the various projects according to their expected scalability and thus profitability.

    Even though householders unanimously vote for alternative electricity power generation for themselves, it requires governments to decide on the power generation for heavy industry.

    It’s heavy industry’s “vote” which makes the uptake of alternative electricity power generation so slow, and which limits the penetration of alternative electricity power sources.

    Householders only consume a tiny fraction of a developed country’s electricity needs.

    For heavy industry, there is no compelling improvement over coal. We would have to place a price on carbon which will kill heavy industry in order to get them to convert from coal.

    That’s cutting our nose off to spite our face, and we’re not going to do that.

    ###

    Scaling Wind power generation causes a blight on the land of 260 square kilometers per terawatt. That’s an immense blight.

    Will wind power be used to power households – definitely yes.
    Will wind power be used to power heavy industry – definitely not.
    Will I make wind power, including the immense tracts of land used by the windmills into a favorite – definitely not.

    Scaling solar (thankfully) causes less of a blight on the earth than wind, and thankfully can be placed in inhospitable locations, and the power transmitted via lossy cables to more polar locales. But we’re still not jumping onto solar thermal because the cost to transmit the power cross-country is still prohibitive compared to placing a coal-fired power station next to a city.

    Will solar thermal power be used to power nearby households – definitely yes.
    Will solar thermal power be used to power remote heavy industries – definitely not.
    Will I make solar thermal power, including transmission losses, into a favorite – definitely not.

    If Iceland could scale geothermal instead of blight their glacial rivers with a hydroelectric dam, then they would have done so. But geothermal didn’t scale in Iceland to meet the demands of the aluminium smelters there, so they blighted their glacial river system instead.
    That’s serious environmental damage, and they debated it for years before they agreed that it was a life or death situation and that geothermal couldn’t be made to deliver their energy needs.

    Will hydroelectricity be used to power households – definitely yes.
    Will hydroelectricity be used to power heavy industry – definitely yes.
    Will I make environmentally unsound hydroelectricity into a favorite – definitely not.

    Will geothermal be used to power households – definitely yes.
    Will geothermal be used to power heavy industry – definitely not (Iceland didn’t).
    Will I make geothermal power generation into a favorite – definitely not.

    We are not misguided into thinking that placing turbines in the harbors can be done in ways which avoid killing fish. Millions of fish will die over the years of our rivers get “turbined”, but when it boils down to it we’d rather kill fish than breath coal dust.

    Will in-river turbines be used to power households – definitely yes.
    Will in-river turbines be used to power heavy industry – definitely not.
    Will I make fish killing in-turbines into a favorite – definitely not.

    …cut to the chase…

    What is my favorite? The only power source which will power heavy industry, and that’s nuclear fusion.

    Even though it will take until 2050 to get nuclear fusion online, heavy industry will not budge from coal until 2050.

    As 2030 and 2040 approach, and as governments start to confirm they have migrated the majority of their households off coal to solar/wind/geothermal/tidal, then you’ll start to see the acceleration of the discussions re nuclear fusion start to surface in the public media, not just from my little dissertation.

  • Tom

    We are not talking about transport fuels exclusively here!

    The very notion of battery powered prime-movers is ridiculous…no where near enough power. Solar power will be used for producing hydrogen from water, to power normal internal combustion engines. Centralised energy production (even with nuclear) is very inefficient, distributed or decentralised energy production is much more desirable. Nearly every house roof can produce more electricity than is required for that house and then there are massive industrial roofs as well.

  • PeterG

    By 2050, when nuclear fusion will start becoming available, the following will also definitely be feasible.

    To make a fully functional non-combustion powered prime mover, the prime mover will be:
    1) Pneumatically powered, ie: don’t use electrical motors in the wheels, but use compressed air motors in the wheels.
    Pneumatics power some of the most powerful machines on earth, that’s proven fact, so the pneumatic technology can deliver the power to the wheels as necessary.
    2) The compressed air (for the motors in the wheels) will be stored in a reservoir between the wheels.
    3) The air for propulsion is extracted from the surrounding air, filtered, and compressed and pumped into the reservoir via an electric motor.
    4) Braking is achieved by a reversal of the airflow to the wheels thus the wheel is forced to compress air going back into the pneumatic reservoir (via a filter) ie: regenerative braking.
    5) Here’s the only part you should be concerned about technologically:
    The electric motor which compresses the air for the reservoir is runs from batteries.

    If you’re concerned that the battery energy density will not be enough to go the distance, that is only correct if you also assume battery technology will not improve, and that’s already been cast aside by Europositron, here:
    http://www.europositron.com/en/index.html

    I am not saying that Europositron will be the only company which makes such batteries, but that they will be universally available by 2050.

    The next improvement to electrical battery technology is to switch to aluminum electrode cells. The increase in energy density is 7 times the best of the current technology, ie: 7 times that of rechargeable lithium ion batteries.

    So far aluminum electrode batteries have only been able to be used in marine warfare torpedoes (ie: single shot devices) because we have not been able to develop a rechargeable version. In marine warfare the aluminum electrode batteries have 7 times the energy density of the latest rechargeable lithium ion types.

    With 7 times the energy density from batteries, and with pneumatic power and regenerative braking, a prime mover is definitely feasible.

  • Bob Wallace

    Hydrogen might be used for when we need to store large amounts of power and the weight of batteries would be an issue.

    But hydrogen is a very inefficient energy storage method. Too much energy is lost in cracking water, compressing the gas, transporting the gas, storing the gas, and converting the gas back into usable energy.

    Decentralized generation of electricity is desirable simply because generation sources are decentralized. We’ve (the US) got solar in the southwest, tidal/wave/wind along the north coasts. Other stuff all over the place.

    Decentralization also means that we don’t build as robust a national grid.

    Peter – I don’t think you realize how large a role electricity plays in heavy industry. And it just doesn’t matter where the electricity comes from as long as it’s there.

    Heavy industry doesn’t run on coal-produced steam any longer.

    And please be intellectually honest.

    If Iceland gets 25% of its electricity from geothermal then, obviously, geothermal electricity is being used in aluminum smelting. It’s all mixed together in the grid and were they to turn off the geothermal, they wouldn’t have enough power to run all their smelters.

    Wind power does not use up “vast tracts” of land. Wind farms are spread over large areas, but most of that land is still available for farming and grazing.

    Will tidal turbines kill fish? Unlikely. Those concerns were built into the design and testing to determine environment impact are underway. Mitigation, if necessary, will follow.

    Now, you are free to lay on the floor, kicking and screaming all you like, holding your breath until you turn blue, but it’s quite unlikely the world will stand still and do nothing to solve our energy problems until you’re favorite is invented sometime in the distant future.

  • PeterG

    Re: “kicking and screaming” – you’re playing the man not the ball. Get back to playing the ball. I’m not kicking and screaming, and nor are you, please move on.

    ###

    If Iceland could have powered their aluminum smelters from 100% geothermal they would have done so.

    I am not saying that their geothermal is useless, I am saying their geothermal is inadequate to power heavy industry.

    You underestimate the energy requirements for the heavy industry of today and the future – that’s your prerogative, but thankfully governments don’t.

    Governments and industry haven’t bought into your view that solar/wind/geothermal/tidal will deliver even close to 100% of their power requirements, which is why they’ve bought in heavily into carbon sequestration of their coal fired power stations.

    I’m not concerned with convincing you personally that coal is required for heavy industry and that heavy industry will onyl replace their use of coal with nuclear fusion. Your views are not shared by industrialists with the resources and decision making positions to make a difference.

    Nor am I concerned with making nuclear fusion anyone else’s favorite power generation technology, just because it’s mine.

    I am using you as a devil’s advocate so that others who read this discussion can learn about how nuclear fusion will definitely fit into the picture, as the power source for heavy industry, even if you don’t accept it.

    Fine by me. We agree to disagree, but others can learn too.

  • Bob Wallace

    Do some research Peter. Find out what government studies actually say about the potential of wind/solar/etc.

    Here, I’ll give you a boost up….

    “Thousands of new offshore wind turbines could power every home in Britain by 2020, the government announced today, as it set out new wind-energy plans.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/dec/10/politics

    And research how much carbon sequestering would add to the price of coal-generated electricity.

    Again, I do hope we get affordable fusion some day. But it’s very highly unlikely that it will come on board rapidly enough to solve current needs.

    Now, if you’d like to have the last word in this discussion, have at it. I’ve lost interest.

  • PeterG

    First let’s ensure the readers are clear that your reference is not a government report, it’s a journalist’s article.

    Despite that it backs up my points, not yours, ie:

    1) it specifically omits heavy industry from its definition of “household” energy requirements. But you missed that didn’t you ?

    2) it quotes the vice president of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Dr Sue Ion, as sayiong that “wind power could only provide about 20% of the country’s electricity to preserve grid stability.”

    ###

    My point is the same point being made by the industrialized governments of the world, ie:
    I have repeatedly stated that alternative energy will only ever be able to power households, ie: “other-than-heavy-industry”.
    I have never wavered from that point.

    Thank you for agreeing with me that solar/wind/geothermal/tidal will only ever be able to power other-than-heavy-industry activities.

    I have repeatedly stated that solar/wind/geothermal/tidal power will not power heavy industry.

    I have repeatedly stated that nuclear fusion will be required to replace coal fired power stations in order to power heavy industry.
    I have never wavered from that point.

  • buzz saw

    Thermal solar makes electricity during peak demand. That would be the best place to concentrate (get it?) our efforts.

  • PeterG

    To power the far-northern-latitudes households of the future I see geothermal as being much more reliable 24 x 7 x 365 than solar thermal, but obviously only where geothermal is available. Obviously solar thermal would need to be run over very long distances, with transmission losses, to get to the northern UK and Scandanavian countries, and Northern Russia.

    Thankfully the USA/Canada/Alaska geothermal map is “hot” along the entire west coast from Mexico to Alaska. That extends inland as far as the Rockies, and there’s a “warm” outcrop in Texas too. So only the eastern half of the USA and Canada misses out on reasonably efficient geothermal.

    So for the eastern states of the USA and Canada I also would prefer them to use solar thermal, transmitted from the southern states of the USA, along with the inherent losses. This would be perferable (to me) to blighting their land with wind turbines (ugly ugly ugly….).

    The UK and Northern European and Scandanavian countries have lucked out – they only have a tiny number of small geothermal resources to tap into.

    As a result the UK has opted for reaping the benefits of their windy shores, so the poor beggars are going to get the ugliest looking coastlines. Thousands of square kilometers of wind turbines, all on pristine coastal land. Their only saving grace is that they will soon enough be replaced by nuclear fusion reactors.

    #####

    But I just discovered that while the European Union was building the Hadron Super Collider – the USA+UK+Japan+South Korea have been building full scale mockups of their new “ITER” Tokamak Fusion Reactor which is being built in France. Their plan is to run it for 500 seconds at a time and achieve the first stable plasma which will deliver a return on electrical energy generation. See here:
    http://www.iter.org/pictures.htm

    Since ITER is only a pilot for a commercial plant it will not operate full time, but it probably could – at low efficiency. But 500 seconds is immense compared to previous designs and compared to the 30 second continuous goals of the Northern European Stellerator 7X project, here:
    http://www.ipp.mpg.de/ippcms/eng/presse/pi/01_08_pi.html

    When you consider the immense size and costs (multi-billions of US dollars/Euro) of the ITER fusion reactor, and the Stellerator 7X fusion reactor, you can see that the hundreds of millions of dollars which our governments are directing towards alternative power sources such as geothermal /solar/wind/tidal, are only short term interim measures designed to keep the householders of the world happy that they made some sort of difference, while the plasma physicists get on with the heavy industry business of SERIOUS power generation.

    When you see the size of ITER, I believe you will comprehend that fusion power generation is only as far away as 2050 – at most.

  • Zach Soiney

    Yes, biofuels can be a great source of energy for us but we must use the right source. Corn isn’t the way to go, just look at Brazil. Sugar cane is a great source but the one that I recommend the most and will be the most affective is hemp. Hemp can produce over a 150 gallons of ethanol an acre! And you can get multiple harvests and it does not deplete the nutrients in the soil. This only makes sense. Now all we have to do is convince our government that industrial hemp is not a drug and that they have been wrong for years. Hemp one of the best biomass to fuel producers that there is. Corn, soybeans, rice and wheat have nothing on it.

  • PeterG

    The nasty fact is that marijuana plants can be easily hidden in commercial hemp crops, and once there are thousands of acres of commercial hemp crops, then the ability to detect the fuel sources from the drug sources is null and void.

    No one wants to employ thousands of humans to walk through crops row-by-row to find the marijuana plants. The kind of person who performs that job is going to be paid very little – and is most likely going to be paid to keep quiet.

    Until you minimize the cost of detection of a marijuana crop within a hemp crop, and until you improve the reliability of detection of a marijuana crop within a hemp crop, then hemp won’t get any further than a few shirts and shorts.

  • Zach Soiney

    Yes this is true but who cares lets just legalize it and tax the hell out of it. Look at Cali. There are worse drugs than marijuana. But the US has to step up and take action on our energy crisis. Before to long oil will be 200$ and middle class people cant afford it. And it will collapse our economy as we know it. An our government puts in plans that in 2020 we want to be 25% independent well our oil demand increase will be about that much and we will not of accomplished anything. We spend 12 billion on war and military lets spend that 12 billion on energy sources.

  • PeterG

    I think perhaps you were trying to say: legalize marijuana and tax the hell out of marijuana, but don’t tax hemp.

    Which implies that all that’s necessary to “contain” marijuana use is the threat of high prices.

    Alcohol is legal, and taxed relatively heavily, yet it still requires the addition of a TON of time and cash invested in education (“keep it minimal”) and enforcement (“or you’ll be punished”) and we all have to get randomly tested for alcohol while driving and at work too, but only occasionally.

    The same will also apply to marijuana, and any other substances which are both illegal and which impair mental function.

    Since there are already so many people prepared to ingest/breathe/etc.. marijuana and other cognition altering drugs despite their illegal nature, therefore if we were to legalize and tax them heavily, then we would also waste a lot of our communities time to education and enforcement and random testing.

    ###

    The educators and nurses of this world are only paid one level up from the minimum wage. That speaks volumes about the majority’s lack of desire to educate our children any more than the absolute minimum.

    It’s much much much harder and takes a lot more time to educate someone to manage their use of a cognitive impairing drug than it takes to give them a binary black-and-white concept of “don’t use it, it will damage your health, and you may damage the health of others, and if you do use it we will punish you”.

    Any attempt to place the considerable that additional education burden on our children, will be resisted with the utmost force.

    We also hate increasing the police-state powers of our enforcement officials and our company managers.

    Legalizing illicit drugs requires additional police and additional company-imposed drug tests because more people will use those drugs, and therefore experience their effects, and therefore have more road accidents, and cause more domestic conflicts, and make more poor decisions in the workplace.

    I don’t want to have to be drug tested every hour because someone wants to burn biofuel from hemp.

    Hemp is not going to happen.

  • Zach Soiney

    Ok Yes. We sit here and complain that our economy is in a depression. People losing houses, their livelihoods and not being able to support themselves. You want nuclear fusion so bad your like a politician. Set on one way and cant see your own impending doom in front of you. With middle class and lower class people not being able to afford to live. People low income families cant afford to send their kids to college. An I don’t know about you but I don’t have a lot of money I am trying to get a college education and it tends to cost a lot of money.

    So the rich keep getting richer while the poor are getting poorer. Which the wealthy can send their kids to school and get a good job while us lower class people struggle. With less jobs and higher fuel prices and cost of living this will cause the economy to collapse and cause social unrest resulting in who knows Martial law? Riots? Uprisings? Yes nuclear fusion may be promising but that’s so far a way. We need our government to step up and instead of wasting this money they need to start investing in our nation! Start subsidizing wind, solar, geothermal, tidal and biofuels to help develop new reliable fuel sources. We need to government to buy wind and solar fields so that more are developed. Have the government spend money on these products to help lower our oil demand. This in return will produce jobs and put money in to the economy.

    The inflation rate and the cost of living is so high we cant afford to waste money so we are not going to buy commodities that are not needed. So your nuclear fusion may work great but we need to focus on right now and the future. People can develop that new tech. Sure 50 years down the line may be we will not need some of these wind generators, but then at that point we may have to spend money on dismantling them, but its only money that is being spent anyway. If government looked at their spending they could invest way more money on us as a nation and improve our own country here at home rather than spend money to go to war over nothing to protect our oil interests.

    Hmm, what a waste. So if you want to sit around and wait for fusion and do nothing thats great but I myself as a average working citizen would rather not see this happen. Because if our economy fails this will not only affect us but also other nations. And at that point only the rich will thrive and we will become a much less sophisticated nation. We need to cut our oil demand not 10 yrs or 20 yrs in the future but NOW. We have to have all citizens and government participation to help do this. So do you think that we should really wait and watch our economy and nation break down before we do something?

  • PeterG

    I agree with all your points bar the final paragraph where I sense the message was that “nuclear fusion is an all-or-nothing decision, and hence should be put on ice until our more pressing problems are solved.”

    I only argue that nuclear fusion is a replacement for coal power for heavy industry.

    All of the alternative technologies, including those which I do very much dislike (wind + biofuel), are going to power our homes and light industry for many many years until fusion becomes globally available.

    So your favorite technology will definitely make a serious impact on CO2 emissions.

    But the reason why we continue to pursue nuclear fusion is because heavy industry will definitely only get “heavier”, not “lighter”.

    We will continue to make bigger and bolder and more powerful machines which dig bigger holes faster, and which build skyscrapers faster, and which fly faster and with more people onboard, and which transport more and heavier items faster – rather than simply make more of the existing planes/trains/trucks/ships/automobiles/mining machinery/farming machinery.

    We could make do with the existing types of equipment for a long time – but we won’t.

    The same motivators which drive nuclear fusion also drive heavy industry. Those motivators are:
    a) competition via technological edge
    b) population density and growth
    c) greed

    If you want to stop fusion you need to stop these three motivators.

    ###

    So I can extend your argument to say: if we don’t curb:
    a) competition via technological edge
    b) population density and growth
    c) greed
    …then we will definitely have to colonize space to save earth, or have a war which sends us back to the stone age as we can start again.

    In other words, your fears are real, but you need to address the underlying cause, not address a superficial symptom such as the development of nuclear fusion power. stations.

  • Zach Soiney

    I agree with you that Nuclear fusion will play a major role in supplying energy in the future but until the technology can become widely available it will not help us now. As we grow and spread we will use more resources and not be able to supply adequate resources to people of the world. Right now there isn’t enough food and millions are starving. Technology grows only to be outdated after billions is spent on its research and development. New tech leads to security and prosperity but greed over comes and it because a raise for money with out any morals. Things get used in the wrong way. Cern, who has created LHC proton accelerator, is trying to create black holes. Now some tech should just be left alone. But as you say technology population and greed will be the causes of ww3 and so who knows what will happen.

  • PeterG

    In low growth countries such as the USA/Europe/Canada/Australia, the commercial and domestic sectors consume the majority (> 50%) of their electricity. The commercial and domestic sectors are heavily distributed and can take advantage of low energy density forms of electrical energy transmission and distribution. These countries can replace a majority of their coal and fission power stations with solar/wind/geothermal/tidal means. But the high growth countries such as China/India/Russia/Latin America/South East Asia the heavy industry sector consumes the majority (> 50%) of their electrical energy.

    Heavy industry requires concentrated power at the site of the plant(s). Hence the majority of the electrical energy supplied within China/India/Russia/Latin America/South East Asia has to be delivered to concentrated high power consumers, and the majority of electrical energy supplied within USA/Europe/Canada/Australia has to be supplied to distributed low-power consumers.

    Therefore the best that can be achieved is that less than half of earth’s coal and nuclear fission power stations will be able to be replaced by distributed low power supplies from solar/wind/geothermal/tidal power. By the time China/India/Russia/Latin America/South East Asia growth levels off, we will have nuclear fission globally available, and that that time the heavy industry electricity supply problem will be solved.

    ###

    The fundamental problem with solar/wind/geothermal/tidal is that they do not yet (or in the foreseeable future) deliver the continuous energy density, 24 x 7 x 365, at a cost which will allow heavy industry to profit. This is primarily due to transmission losses increasing the cost of transporting the electricity generated from remote geothermal areas, solar areas, windy areas, etc… into the concentrated heavy industry areas.

    ###

    You may be considering a proposal to ensure 100% penetration of solar/wind/geothermal/tidal by pricing coal power and nuclear fission power so high, that solar/wind/geothermal/tidal become relatively lower cost. If you’re considering that, then the airlines won’t be able to afford new planes, governments won’t be able to afford new trains, mining companies won’t be able to afford new diggers and haulers, even though you have the ability to make those same planes and trains and mining diggers and haulers at the more expensive price. In other words you will have heavy industry products, but insufficient buyers for them.

    The next thing that happens is that heavy industry has to lay too many of its workforce in countries with a heavily growing population, and that leads to the type of discontent which results in WW3. In other words, we will migrate at most half of the world’s coal and nuclear fission to solar/wind/geothermal/tidal to power commercial and domestic use, and we will migrate our heavy industries from coal/fission to fusion.

    ###

    I agree we will have to limit the size of the next-gen LHC in order to limit the size of the black holes thus generated. I believe it will take the energy from a fusion generator the size of mercury to feed an LHC big enough to create a “dangerous” black hole on earth, so we won’t be able to create a dangerous black hole near earth for centuries.

  • http://www.greenenergytv.com GreenEnergyTV

    I think that right now, where our society stands as the biggest super power in the world with so many enemies, the last thing we need is to be setting up more nuclear power plants. If we could be any hotter of a topic right now as a point of interest for terrorism I would like to know how. We need to focus on things like solar and wind power. This change is not going to be instantaneous, its going to be gradual, I mean look how far the “green” world has come thus far.

  • PeterG

    Since the USA’s heavy industry power is not increasing as a percentage of its total power consumption, it is unlikely that the USA will need to add more fission power stations.

    However the heavy industries in China, Russia, India and South Korea are still growing, and since those countries have the technology resources to manage new fission power stations, they are indeed building new ones as we speak.

    Their combined population outnumbers the sum of the USA and European Union population, while their average education does not.

    This adds up to the fact that those nations have a lot of catching up to do. Their combined energy output will soon take over that of the USA (if it hasn’t already), and so by avoiding CO2 emissions their use of fission is just as important as the USA’s and Eurpoe’s migration towards solar/wind/geothermal/tidal.

    My point is that unless these nations power more of their heavy industries via fission, not coal, then at a global level, their CO2 emissions will outweigh the reductions in CO2 emissions from the USA and Europe.

    Remember that those nations won’t use solar/wind/geothermal/tidal to power heavy industry because the alternative power forms lose their cost competitiveness when power transmission losses are added to them whilst channeling sufficient power from their disparate locations into the concentrated areas where the high-power-consumption heavy industries are situated.

  • TOMAZ

    Perpetuum mobile is the best way to stop global warming. It is here and now, we don’t have to invest billions for new energy sources. The device is small, cheap, very powerfull for it’s weight and it gives unlimited sources of clean and free energy.

  • jill

    Why is this technology batacitor not available !!!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFcylXFGTgk

    If this kind of energy can be stored and released
    from this batacitor, what are we waiting for !!!!

  • Anon

    It’s pretty uncertain that fusion power will actually become a reality. A very small chance indeed. Good luck trying to copy the sun on a tiny scale.

    Hydroelectricity and nuclear power will definitely be our most important energy sources once coal, oil and natural gas run out. So far, the other “renewable” energy sources, solar and wind, aren’t really doing well. For at least the fifty years after we run out of fossil fuels we’ll rely on dams and fission.

    With several comments above noting that nuclear power is going to be unsafe in tomorrow’s society, with all the tensions, we might just have to cut down on our power usage. We’ll use what we have.

  • YBR

    I like Shai Agassi’s plan to install solar thermal collectors in the desert – make megawatts of power, 24×7. Molten salt to store daytime heat for nighttime power generation.

    THAT should put the World in a “Better Place”. Especially if the power is used to drive electric cars!


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