[nSLUG] Measured wattage of atom system

Jason Kenney jdkenney at gmail.com
Tue Sep 16 16:35:27 ADT 2008


Let's try to clear a few things up.  Then I promise to only complain
about the computery assertions I disagree with.  :)

>> but I don't think wind, tides and sun will be able to power our future,
>> unless we go back to using electricity like we did in the 1940's (or perhaps
>> 1910's).
> Hmm, how to approach this...
> Option 1) we won't know unless we try.  With such a sparsely populated
> country, I wouldn't be surprised if Canada were able to produce all its
> electricity from renewable sources (I'm including hydro electricity in this).
> Don't forget also that the next generation of PV solar cells might be either
> dirt cheap, or highly (75%) efficient.  If we're lucky, the generation after
> that will be _both_ cheap and efficient.

The thing about hydro power is that is a very nice way to make power.
So nice in fact, that it's more or less been tapped out.  There may be
marginal returns still to be had, but nothing of any significance that
I am aware of.

Next, I seriously hope you are not suggesting that we just convert
massive portions of our power system to solar and wind on the hope it
will be enough and work out.

The next generation of solar cells MIGHT BE more efficient?  I am
beginning to detect a pattern here...

> Option 2) The 20th century will be remember as the time of plenty.  We WILL be
> returning to usage patterns closer to those at early part of this century (per
> capita)... no choice about it (except for the elite few).
>> Electricity is going to power cars,
>> home heating,
> Man, I hope not.  Electricity is a high-grade energy; using it for heat is a
> poor choice.

Electricity is only a transmission medium for energy.  It is not a
source in itself (really, the Sun is the only source of energy we have
I believe, if you follow the chain back that far, perhaps nuclear fuel
may not be from the sun but from even earlier origins, I don't know).
Ultimately in Nova Scotia fossil fuels are still the predominant
source of energy for home heating, whether you are using coal ->
electric heat, or natural gas -> electric heat, or oil directly.  I
don't understand what you mean by "high-grade energy".

>> and lots of stuff in the future (whether hydrogen cells are involved is
>> mute, as hydrogen will be produced by electrolysis).
> 'moot'.
> Electrolysis is a darn sight better than fossil fuel extraction, which is the
> dead end being touted now.  Still, it's incredibly energy inefficient.  I've
> seen proposals for direct solar water splitting.  Very slow at present, but if
> worked on, could be miles more efficient than electrolysis.

Could be, huh.  It could also not be.  What guarantees do you have
about it ultimately being a superior solution to just using more
(standard) nuclear power for the moment?

The fact is there no hard guarantees you or anyone else can provide.
I for one am uncomfortable with betting on magic technology appearing
in the future.  The history of energy production technology has not
exactly been full of major developments in its past.  They have been
few and far between.

>   "I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I
>   hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle
>   that." - Edison to Ford and Firestone in 1931
>           (from "Uncommon Friends" by J.Newton)

That's a convenient quote, but of course completely irrelevant today.
FYI Edison did not even support AC power or motors in his day!  This
is a man who challenged Tesla to a competition where he would be
hooked up to a DC current source, and Tesla an AC one, and they would
turn up the current until one called it quits.  A fine man, that one.

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