Indeed, it is.
Ambivalent, at best, in general is my position.
To show it's not a new topic (is there any? :) ), was a discussion
subject in an engineering honors seminar during my undergrad days some
40 years ago, now...
My concern then, as now, is how does one estimate and measure the lost
opportunity cost? Who knows what some enterprising entrepreneur would
have done or where some venture capitalist or corporate R&D organization
would have put the capital that meanwhile went to chasing the current
On a more mundane level, as member of Board of a local rural electric
co-op trying to supply low-cost, reliable power to our members (almost
all production farm operations) it is becoming increasingly difficult to
do so what with the mandates for wind and other technologies that are
purely legislative-driven, not economically.
Even here in the heart of the windy country, wind farms generate only
40% of installed capacity on an annual basis with months that are only
20%. Since even if they were to operate at an equivalent capacity
factor to conventional generation the mill cost is higher owing to high
construction costs on a /kwh basis since while there is no fuel cost it
is an extremely dilute source (as is solar) when accounting for such
excess installed capacity to provide a given level of power the
effective cost is nearly double that of conventional generation on our
grid. Add to that the requirement for standby generation owing to the
variable nature of the fuel source and it is not an economic solution
for our members but we're being forced that direction by regulation and
The construction of the facilities would not be progressing in anything
at all approaching the present levels if it were not for the tax
incentives and the alternative generation percentage mandates.
Even in a small grains-producing area, the same ambivalence is present
with ethanol and biodiesel. It isn't clear there should be a mandate
unless there is an actual economic benefit overall even though it has
made some support in grain prices that effect has been very small
relative to the other global effects such as the fires in Russia and
drought and other production problems in the other major producing
areas. Of course, thrown into that mix is the hangup on trade
agreements in the past and current congress that have been strong
negatives in the export markets relative to where they could have been
It's a humongously large and complex subject not particularly amenable
to actual meaningful discussion here so I'll retire forthwith... :)
I do, however, wish to make clear that claims of nirvana need in-depth
consideration of the implications and assumptions and what are the
undisclosed support costs involved such as those of the fuel cell
project here...as many other tangible and perhaps intangible benefits as
the project may have, it's highly unlikely that w/o the ability to have
passed the cost on to another funding source the same decision would
have been reached as the cost-effective one.
On Tue, 21 Sep 2010 09:55:32 -0700 (PDT), RicodJour
Check out the raw number of lights in a school as compared to a home.
When you flip the switch in a single classroom, you are turning on
more lights than contained in a complete typical McMansion. One
On Sep 21, 1:20 pm, email@example.com wrote:
And you're source for that claim would be? Still think the $6.5mil
fuel cell facility, paid for by the taxpayers as part of the Obama
stimulus that hasn't done much stimulating, is a swell idea? These
fuel cells typically reduce energy costs by 20 to 40%. They run on
NG, not moon beams, so you still need to put fuel in them. You think
shelling out $6.5 mil to cut energy bills by 20 to 40% at two schools
makes any economic sense? The only real sense it makes is for the
recipient to cash in on the gravy train while they hand out money that
the govt has to borrow.
On 9/21/2010 5:24 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
And you can't use natural gas directly since only hydrogen can only be
used in fuel cells. Natural gas is mostly methane (CH4) so you need to
strip off the carbon atom. That is typically done by a process called
But if someone else is picking up the tab fuel cells are certainly a
it depends on the fuel cell.
Obama has ridden that horse to a lot of success. So, it works on some
folks. Just look how his TARP, stimulus, and government tax and spend
have improved the economy! I heard on the radio today that they are
standing by with more stimulus if the economy doesn't improve rapidly.
I'm sure so glad that unemployment didn't go over 8% like they
promised it wouldn't Someone pass the ipecac, I can't take any more.
On 9/21/2010 11:54 AM, email@example.com wrote:
Exactly, I have had to look deeply into the "alternate energy" space for
my job and pretty much none of it can stand on its own merit. So the
government needs to pull lots of money out of the pockets of other folks
to subsidize it.
On Sep 21, 12:26 pm, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Here's some real numbers for you and it also show who paid for the
REAL cost of this fuel cell for the elementary schools:
Utility Plant that will provide mechanical /
electrical services for new schools - Hill Central
and Clemente School - inclusion of Fuel cell for
minimizing peak electrical demands.
That's right, according to the City of New Haven, the total cost of
the "fuel cell project" was $6.5mil in federal stimulus money. How
long do you think the payback on that will be? Answer: You could
have put far less money in bonds and the interest would have paid the
electric bills forever. That helps show how economically viable it
was and should make you feel real good knowing how they spent your tax
money. I'l bet it created a few jobs somewhere along the way too.
It would take a solar collector farm the size of the Los Angeles basin
(~1200 sq miles) to supply the power needs of California, about 50 GW.
Oh, it's doable - but everybody in Los Angeles would be living in the shade.
I believe his point is not one that is relevant to technology
advancement. His point is that the total available energy from the
sun is such that even with a highly efficient solar cell to convert
all the energy to electricity, it would still take an enormous
array. I haven't verified the calculations, but I've seen the point
made before. It's like saying there is only X BTUS of energy in a
pound of coal that can be extracted regarded of how good the
if it were that close to "economically viable"(or even just "viable"),tax
dollars would not be necessary for their R&D.
he's not listening....
you also overlook the CLEANING of those rooftop solar cells.
Or storm damage,bird droppings,etc.
spreading democracy means that with many other nations similar to
ours,there will be far fewer conflicts and less human misery around the
globe. free,democratic nations are peaceful nations.
Besides,no matter how you generate electricity,it's not going to power your
Those will still depend on oil,for the foreseeable future.
Of course,there's DOMESTIC oil production and refining,if we can get
past the "progressives".
Why not subsidize the quest for perpetual motion? Blood from turnips? I
know, gold from lead!
The total energy of the sun falling on the earth (not reflected or absorbed
by the water cycle) is about 1.4Kw/m^2 at the ecliptic.
Not all of this is usable by a solar collector (ultraviolet, X-rays, etc.).
I won't bore you with the math (maths is hard), but adjusting for day/night,
latitude, clouds, and other disruptions, you'll get down to an average of
about 250Watts/meter^2. Then you have to allow for efficiency of the
collector, conversion loss from DC to AC, etc.
You'd be lucky to get to 150W/m^2. For 3,000 sq ft of shingles, you'll reap
The ONLY way to improve this number is to move the orbit of the earth closer
to the sun.
Energy "independence" is a myth, because oil is fungible.
Suppose we could develop enough oil to supply our domestic needs at, say,
Somewhere in the world, somebody will be able to deliver oil at $49/bbl. Our
domestic users will quit buying US oil and get the foreign stuff, just like
they do now. There is no shortage of domestic oil; there is only a shortage
of CHEAP domestic oil.
Now inasmuch as most of the oil we import is used in transportation,
windmills, nuclear power, and other stationary forms of power generation
won't work until we develop motors that can use stored electrical energy and
the infrastructure to supply it. No form of energy is currently available to
Only if Comrade Obama succeeds in geting Carbon Control enacted,and keeps
the nuclear power industry stifled.
"doable",but not PRACTICAL in large scale.
Or it's "doable" with a drastically lowered lifestyle.
no matter what,solar still has the limitation of only generating power
during daylight hours,with reduced output during inclement weather and
Also needs a lot of water to keep the panels/mirrors clean.
OTOH, nice,safe,clean,reliable nuclear runs 24/7/365,and provides lots of
good paying jobs.
While solar panels are and will be made overseas.
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