DailyDirt: Renewable Energy Sources Might Need Some Resuscitation

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Burning fossil fuels may never be completely replaced by alternative energy technologies, but that doesn't mean people should stop trying to develop better fuels and energy sources. There are new developments in renewable energy all the time, though unfortunately, it takes a while for energy projects to really mature and scale up. Can't wait until flying cars and "Mr. Fusion"-powered DeLoreans are commonplace.... in the meantime, here are some interesting links:
  • A cerium-catalyzed reactor takes carbon dioxide, water and sunlight and produces fuels. The prototype seems to be roughly as efficient as photosynthesis -- but it has the potential to be much more efficient. So check back in a few years to see if this technology actually pans out. [url]
  • Small scale solar power systems might work in developing countries. Off-grid electricity sounds like a nice idea, but apparently funding it isn't easy because investors don't see the profit in it. [url]
  • Al Gore says corn ethanol was a mistake, and more folks are arguing against using ethanol in gasoline. But will the corn subsidies ever end? [url]
  • T. Boone Pickens is pulling out of his wind energy project. Apparently, Pickens was trying to make a "quick buck" from it, but that's not how wind projects usually work out. [url]


  • Reader Comments (rss)

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      identicon
      Travicane, Dec 28th, 2010 @ 6:36pm

      T. Boone Pickens is pulling out of his wind energy project.

      This article is very brief and does not provide much real information.

      The comments, however, are to the point on energy policy, well written, and provide much more useful thought and information than the article itself. Looks like a good community on this topic.

      Had not run across the linked site before - I have bookmarked it. Thanks!

       

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      identicon
      alternatives(), Dec 28th, 2010 @ 7:24pm

      "alternatives" look like a failure due to the overly cheap liquid fossil fuels.

      If "economics" was as claimed - how does a gallon of liquid that takes many thousands of years and millions of dollars is cheaper than something that takes a couple of years, a cow and grass? (gasoline VS milk)

       

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        Michael Ho (profile), Dec 28th, 2010 @ 7:48pm

        Re: gas vs milk

        The gas vs milk comparison is somewhat interesting -- given that biofuels are aiming to produce gasoline-like hydrocarbons with a quick biological process.

         

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        ChrisB (profile), Dec 28th, 2010 @ 7:53pm

        Re:

        > "alternatives" look like a failure due to the overly cheap
        > liquid fossil fuels.

        "Overly"? The market decides the price of oil. Eventually, as oil becomes more difficult to extract, the price will go up and become more expensive than other energy sources.

        > If "economics" was as claimed - how does a gallon of
        > liquid that takes many thousands of years and millions of
        > dollars is cheaper than something that takes a couple of
        > years, a cow and grass? (gasoline VS milk)

        True, it takes millions of years, but that is why fossil fuels are like winning the lottery. It will only happen once. When they are gone, that's it.

         

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      identicon
      Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Dec 28th, 2010 @ 10:06pm

      “Renewable Energy” Is An Oxymoron

      Second Law of Thermodynamics, anyone?

       

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        Hephaestus (profile), Dec 29th, 2010 @ 8:18am

        Re: “Renewable Energy” Is An Oxymoron

        "“Renewable Energy” Is An Oxymoron"

        "Second Law of Thermodynamics, anyone?"

        Yeah you are right. Its not like the oil that we use in our cars, or gas we use to power or heat our houses actually is stored solar power derived from decayed plant matter ...

        ... oh wait it is.

         

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        nasch (profile), Dec 29th, 2010 @ 8:18am

        Re: “Renewable Energy” Is An Oxymoron

        Before we run out of solar energy, the earth with be incinerated as the sun expands to a red giant anyway, so solar energy on Earth (and everything derived from it) may as well be infinite. It is in no way useful or constructive to object to charactarizing it that way. If you find it amusing of course proceed, but be prepared for a lot of eye rolling. ;-)

         

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      nasch (profile), Dec 29th, 2010 @ 8:23am

      Renewable

      Burning fossil fuels may never be completely replaced by alternative energy technologies...

      There are two ways I can think of that renewables could not completely replace fossil fuels:

      1. We start burning fossil fuels no faster than they are created, ie barely at all. This would still be renewables replacing fossil fuels in every sense but the most hair-splitting.

      2. Humanity goes extinct.

      Otherwise, yes, renewable energy will completely replace fossil fuels (and fission too, since uranium is also not renewable). We just don't know when or how yet.

       

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      identicon
      md2000, Dec 29th, 2010 @ 8:46am

      What Renewable Needs

      The recent announcement about the cerium H2 production is encouraging. Most "renewable" energy resources are irregular and the biggest issue is storing the energy for future use.

      Adequate electric commuter vehicles would be practical with a more reliable battery pack; frequently deeply cycled batteries die too fast, and most hybrids limit the cycle (Toyota never uses more than 15% of the battery charge) to reduce the deterioration - thus making the weight penalty worse. A "magic" battery would help by reducing the need for a heavy power pack simply by using all available charge. Until then, no surprise that bigger cars and SUV's are the first candidates for hybrid tech.

      Home solar cells or solar cell farms would make much of their electricity in the daytime, well outside the evening and nighttime it's needed.

      The real need is for hydrogen or battery storage systems that have the capacity and endurance to do the job. Wonderful batteris made of (insert magic ingredient/process) are always just around the corner, but we still can't even get a laptop to run for a decent length of time in the real world.

       

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      Hephaestus (profile), Dec 29th, 2010 @ 9:03am

      Energy Production as the commodity, not energy.

      Europe is moving in the direction of more locally produced power. Solar panels on houses, micro turbines, geothermal, etc are all becoming more common. The building codes are being redone to require more local energy production and conservation through efficiency.

      This trend is a huge problem for the worlds centralized energy producers. Every year the energy production technology becomes cheaper. If you chart out the trend, in a couple years it becomes much cheaper to generate and store energy locally. 3-5 years after that the cost per Mwh drops to below what is needed to maintain the electrical grid.

      Local energy production and storage is what is going to be the commodity, not the sale of energy.

       

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      cennis (profile), Dec 29th, 2010 @ 2:53pm

      This was a great article until the first sentence...

       

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