[nSLUG] Measured wattage of atom system

Daniel Morrison draker at gmail.com
Tue Sep 16 18:57:11 ADT 2008


I just can't stay away from this discussion...! :)

2008/9/16 Rich <budman85 at eastlink.ca>:

> Just a side note - Last year there was a major discovery creating very cheap
> solar cells from sea sponges.  It was the break trough they were waiting
> for.   We should start to see more and more cheap solar cells becoming
> available in the next couple of years.

That's great!  Thanks for the news.

I will (regretfully) take a page from the opposition and note that I've heard
that time and again ("it's the breakthrough we've been waiting for!  Cheap
solar cells any day now!") and yet I'm _still_ waiting for the promised cheap
solar cells.  But if the US really does spend $150 billion on alternative
enregy in the next 10 years (as Obama promised) then it might actually happen
this time.

I hope (also) that they know how to farm/culture sea sponges.

> There was a great article in this month's Discover magazine about future
> fuels.
>
> The kite wind turbine sounds like it will be major hit - it will float into
> the upper atmosphere at 10,000 ft.  Stanford Univ has been monitoring wind
> patterns above the 30m mark, current windmill heights, and said there is a
> potential of 72 trillion watts, the entire capacity of the US was a bit more
> than 1 trillion.  The kite will address the stalls that plague current wind
> mills by adjusting its height to the flow of the jet stream.

That sounds great.  Safety issues will be a hassle ("Honey!  A 100 MW
generating station just fell on our house!") but it clearly debunks the
argument that "there just isn't enough renewable energy available".

> My opinion, I think fossil fuels are on their way out, just look at the
> price gouging.  Its almost like they sense what is coming and want to make
> as much profit as they can now.

I have had an economic theory explained to me (unfortunately I forget the
details and rationale, so grain of salt time) which suggested that the natural
tendency in (any) industry as supplies dwindle is keep prices stable (or even
lower them) in order to sell more (conserve less).  This increases short-term
profits, which in turn enables diversification before supplies run out
entirely.  I'm no expert, but my short-sighted impression is that the oil
producing nations have already made attempts to stabilize (effectively lower)
the price of oil in recent months, of course wrapping themselves in
sympathetic rhetoric (oh, the poor consumer!).

On the other hand, it does feel as though local refineries and gas
distribution businesses are quick to ratchet up prices, and slow to let them
settle again.

Turning aside to the 'revolution' thread we had earlier, I just read that:

   In 2005, the US Department of Energy published a report titled Peaking of
   World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation, & Risk Management.  Known as the
   Hirsch Report, it states (among other things) that world oil peaking is
   going to happen, and "it will be abrupt and revolutionary".  "Without
   massive mitigation more than a decade before the fact, the problem will be
   pervasive and will not be temporary".

I'm going to have to read this report, and search for critiques; it seems very
interesting.

http://www.netl.doe.gov/publications/others/pdf/Oil_Peaking_NETL.pdf

-D.



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