Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Couple Links Related To Renewable Energy

New Solar Photovoltaic Cell Efficiency Record: 42.8%

Renewable Energy Seen As Harmful To Environment

Interesting points in each of them.

As I've said several times before, I don't think man is doing much at all compared to the sun with regards to global warming, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't look for ways to pollute less. The 2nd link had some especially interesting points, including the point that nuclear power has the smallest environmental footprint of all.

Nuclear power--good for the atom, good for global warming!

Update: here's an interesting post saying that recycling isn't as fantastic as some claim. I admit that I wasn't very impressed with Penn & Teller's "debunking" of the myths surrounding recycling, but I'm pretty convinced by the points made in the linked post. Here's a point I never hear explained: if recycling is so wonderful and saves so much (including money), why do I have to pay more for it (can/bottle redemption values, forced curbside recycling costs)? Why isn't someone paying me to take my cans away?


Ellen K said...

I think Glen Rose, here in Texas, was one of the last reactors built in the United States. It's cost overruns were historic, mainly due to lawsuits. I think we could use nuclear along with a mix of other sources, but as long as the environmental lobbies are still running reruns of Three Mile Island, it will never happen.

allen said...

As a modest exercise you might want to calculate the area of solar cells necessary to equal U.S. base load capacity - the plants that are online all the time not the peak power generating capacity. Kilowatts, or rather giga-watts, not kilowatt-hours.

That's the most conservative (naturally) figure and in no way representative of a real solar cell plant to replace current generating capacity. That would require somewhere between three and four times the surface area of PV cells and a good deal more land area then taken up by the arrays.

Basically, it's nuckin' futs to think solar will ever be more then a niche product and even there it has more in the way of limitations then its rabid fans will admit.

Right now the future's looking nuclear but I think solar power satellites may start looking more feasible in the not too distant future.

Ellen K said...

That is true about solar. If we spent more money on new storage, solar cell efficiency and battery technology, we would be better served. I will say that it would be of some benefit to have passive solar or solar water heaters in most homes. I don't see the harm and it would free up power for other uses.

Rod Adams said...


I found your blog via a comment on NEI Nuclear Notes. I appreciate what you have to say about the benefits of nuclear power and hope that you are going to participate in the effort to share information about the ballot initiative drive that Assemblyman Chuck DeVore is sponsoring.

I posted a comment about that drive on Atomic Insights recently. In brief, Assemblyman DeVore is working to overturn the virtual political ban on new nuclear power plants in California.

Just another thought for some of your readers - the most effective opposition to nuclear power is probably not from outspoken environmental groups. It most likely has a stronger basis in the desire of the fossil fuel industry to harm a strong competitor that has proven its ability to capture markets and damage the profitability of fossil fuel.

Of course, that opposition is much quieter and uses different tactics than the sign toting visible "anti-nuclear" demonstrators. They work along the lines of increasing regulations and adding taxes and fees (an applicant for a nuclear power plant license has to pay the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission $258.00 for every hour a bureaucrat spends reviewing the application.)

They also work with their purchased politicians to impose other barriers to entry and with their friends in the electric utility business to discourage them from considering the atomic alternative. They have friends in transportation (40% of US rail traffic is coal) and in materials like steel (pipelines, tankers, rail lines and coal cars are all steel products).

With a coalition of the willing like that, who needs a conspiracy? Of course, there are far more energy consumers in the world than energy producers.

If we recognize the benefits of the atom for power generation, we can break the power of the fossil fuel lobbies over our lives.

David said...

"If we spent more money on new storage, solar cell efficiency and battery technology, we would be better served"..there are tremendous efforts being made on each of these fronts. VC-backed firms as well as large established companies are working in all these areas, in addition to government-funded research. I think we're in for an exciting time in energy, in which multiple technologies will evolve and compete--for example, solar thermal as well as multiple types of solar-cell technologies--until it becomes clear which are the winners, which is going to take a while.

We can't do without coal, and we are nuts if we don't take more advantage of nuclear.

I wonder what the state of the French economy would be today if that country hadn't made heavy use of nuclear. My suspicion is that things would be pretty grim.