YOU!: Fix the US Energy Crisis


by russ_watters
Tags: crisis, energy
Ryan_m_b
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Feb9-12, 03:15 AM
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Quote Quote by Topher925 View Post
This of course raises another question; is it really worth doing? Man kinds time on earth is finite no matter which way you look at it. Is it better for humanity to exist as long as possible, or to achieve as much as possible. Without the consumption of energy and pollution of the planet we would never go to Mars, there would be no LHC, and we would have to give up on our search for a theory of everything.

I think there's a practical solution somewhere there in the middle but there's no telling if we'll ever find it.
I think the interesting point to think about is if it is possible to build a clean, sustainable, high energy civilisation without going through the dirty, non-sustainable phase. I'm not so sure however we could have done a better job already, we could have converted mainly to nuclear power and mass produced renewables for example.

Inevitably we will have to convert to a clean, sustainable and high energy system. Clean because we don't want to cause any more ecological damage (for practical and aesthetic reasons), sustainable because if not we just delay the problem and high energy because we have to maintain our current level of infrastructure as well as coping with the developing world electrifying.

On the subject of growing levels and ease of renewable power according to this new scientist article the cost of solar panels have quartered in the last four years. This doesn't surprise me as in the UK there's been something of a gold rush for home solar power, a few years ago the only solar panels I saw on buildings were corporate show-offs or university institutions. Now there are solar panelled roofs everywhere, there are probably a few dozen in my small town alone. It doesn't sound like much (and it's not) but the cost is now low enough for the above average wealth family and if they keep coming down soon it will be affordable for the majority of people. Obviously there are problems with solar power like not producing power at night or on a cloudy day but it is a great supplement and an intensive for people to nail the storage problem.
mheslep
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Feb9-12, 12:47 PM
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Part of that solar expansion in the UK must be due to the UK's large solar feed-in tariff. The cost of PV panels have dropped by ~half in the developed world over the past four years, but not the installed cost and not the cost per kWh (though they too are falling), especially not in the higher latitudes. London's year round average daily insolation is ~2.7 kWh/M^2, compared to ~7-8 kWh/M^2 in Phoenix. Furthermore London gathers most of that energy during its long summer days, and in the winter collection falls off to nothing, up to 40X less than in the summer, unlike Phoenix. I agree the solution is storage as Ryan says, but currently long term storage is much more cost effective with solar thermal-hot water than PV.
Topher925
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Feb13-12, 08:18 PM
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Quote Quote by mheslep View Post
There were energy crises hundreds of years ago. People denuded the forests of Europe for fuel and building materials, and were well on the way to doing so in the Americas until Coal came along. In the early 19th century it was said that a man had to travel 50 miles from Boston center to find a tree fell-able for firewood.
I did not know this. OK, guess there's only one solution then. Massive population reduction of man kind. So who wants to start WWIII?
Topher925
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Feb13-12, 08:24 PM
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Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
I think the interesting point to think about is if it is possible to build a clean, sustainable, high energy civilisation without going through the dirty, non-sustainable phase. I'm not so sure however we could have done a better job already, we could have converted mainly to nuclear power and mass produced renewables for example.
I think converting mainly to nuclear and mass producing renewable energy farms is what we should have been doing once we realized the implications of fossil fuels. It would be nice if we could even start doing that now but things seem to be going in the opposite direction. Japan and Germany are planning on completely eliminating nuclear power and replacing it with coal for the short term. I wonder what their plan is if renewable sources don't come to fruition in the next 15 years.
mheslep
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Feb14-12, 01:18 PM
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Quote Quote by Topher925 View Post
I did not know this. OK, guess there's only one solution then. Massive population reduction of man kind. So who wants to start WWIII?
Which would do what, take the developed world back to 19th century technology and population where the answer was to mow down the natural landscape? I think the best approach is to get the developed world on the same track as the developed: trending down in energy use per head.
http://www.google.com/publicdata/exp...=1234587600000

I'd also like to see fossil fuel energy use per capita in developed countries, which must be falling even faster.
Jakoeb
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Feb28-12, 07:56 AM
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Quote Quote by mheslep View Post
Which would do what, take the developed world back to 19th century technology and population where the answer was to mow down the natural landscape? I think the best approach is to get the developed world on the same track as the developed: trending down in energy use per head.
http://www.google.com/publicdata/exp...=1234587600000

I'd also like to see fossil fuel energy use per capita in developed countries, which must be falling even faster.
Yeah maybe the WW3 is not a real option here. But the fact is that there's just gonna be too many of us in a couple of decades or a century. Sooner or later we're going to have force some kind of population control laws. For example in China, parents are only allowed to have one child. IMO, thats the way to go.
Ryan_m_b
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Feb28-12, 11:21 AM
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Quote Quote by Jakoeb View Post
Yeah maybe the WW3 is not a real option here. But the fact is that there's just gonna be too many of us in a couple of decades or a century. Sooner or later we're going to have force some kind of population control laws. For example in China, parents are only allowed to have one child. IMO, thats the way to go.
I doubt this will be necessary. Population booms and constant growth are a characteristic of developing countries. In undeveloped countries mortality is very high, in developed countries the need for many children, the price of raising children, widespread contraception and (most importantly IMO) equal rights for women.

All that is needed to decrease population growth to near nothing is to establish these things.
mheslep
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Feb28-12, 11:48 AM
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Quote Quote by Jakoeb View Post
...But the fact is that there's just gonna be too many of us in a couple of decades or a century. Sooner or later we're going to have force some kind of population control laws. For example in China, parents are only allowed to have one child. IMO, thats the way to go.
I disagree:
http://www.google.com/publicdata/exp...en_US&dl=en_US

Replacement birth rate is 2.1
Topher925
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Feb28-12, 11:51 AM
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Quote Quote by mheslep View Post
Which would do what, take the developed world back to 19th century technology and population where the answer was to mow down the natural landscape? I think the best approach is to get the developed world on the same track as the developed: trending down in energy use per head.
http://www.google.com/publicdata/exp...=1234587600000

I'd also like to see fossil fuel energy use per capita in developed countries, which must be falling even faster.
I was just joking about the WWIII thing. Obviously that would not be a good solution. But what do you mean by "developed" country? Are you referring to a developed country like France or a developed country like China?
Topher925
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Feb28-12, 12:01 PM
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Quote Quote by mheslep View Post
I disagree:
http://www.google.com/publicdata/exp...en_US&dl=en_US

Replacement birth rate is 2.1
Your graph only accounts for some of the worlds most developed countries, not all of them. Fact is that many researches in the field of sustainability anticipate the world population to be unsustainable around 2030.

mheslep
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Feb28-12, 12:10 PM
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Quote Quote by Topher925 View Post
I was just joking about the WWIII thing. Obviously that would not be a good solution.
Yes I know, my target was more the often expressed idea that all would be well with energy needs if the world just returned to its 18th-19th century behavior.

But what do you mean by "developed" country? Are you referring to a developed country like France or a developed country like China?
Developed, as in little or no abject poverty - France, not China.
brerabbit
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Feb28-12, 12:17 PM
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Set goals, ie:

1. Operating WarExperientialal Fusion Reactor near Hoover Dam grid by 2017 and ITER in France.

2. Ten updated Warm/Iron Fusion Reactors at Main Electrical Grid Nodes in US. 2027.

3. 75% Federal Energy Dept budget and Research Constructed to fund this effort.

4. Refunds to National Debt made if goals met by 2027.


HOW TO SAVE OUR ECONOMY
by Joe Shea
American Reporter Correspondent
Bradenton, Fla.
http://www.american-reporter.com/4,403/458.html


...And like the Internet once did, they can save the American economy - this time for good. Now there is a greater imperative than there has ever been to adopt and fund them: without such a boon, we will become a bankrupt nation, unfathomably deep in debt to China and other trading partners. Those in power have a hard, cold choice: take what the good Lord has given us in these new technologies, and abandon those that have failed and polluted this lovely planet, or die as other civilizations have, in debt, desolation and disgrace. Those are choices that separate the real patriots from the flingers of rhetoric and defenders of the status quo.

Too many people presume that putting the oil industry out of business would be a terrible thing. That's not true. With a new source of electricity that is pretty close to free, hundreds of thousands of small businesses would spring up overnight, both to replicate the technology under license and to develop new applications for it.

In turn, that would stimulate jobs for hundreds of thousands of well-educated engineers and millions of people who will assemble these devices from newly-manufactured parts. Finally, energy-intensive businesses that have gone broke on $3 gas can spring back to life without that burden of cost and maintenance.
Ryan_m_b
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Feb28-12, 12:23 PM
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Quote Quote by brerabbit View Post
Set goals, ie:

Operating Warm Experental Fusion Reactor near Hoover Dam grid by 2017 and ITER in France.

Ten updated Warm/Iron Fusion Reactors at Main Elictrical Grid Nodes in US. 2027.
Somewhat unfortunately this is highly unlikely. By 2017 construction of ITER won't even be finished yet. Also ITER is only a step towards commercial fusion, it's meant to be followed up by DEMO that hasn't even started its design phase yet.

Sadly commercial fusion is still years away.
brerabbit
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Feb28-12, 12:36 PM
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Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
Somewhat unfortunately this is highly unlikely. By 2017 construction of ITER won't even be finished yet. Also ITER is only a step towards commercial fusion, it's meant to be followed up by DEMO that hasn't even started its design phase yet.

Sadly commercial fusion is still years away.
thanx, Ryan

I absolutely agree. ...but that is the problem. Nobody has a sense of urgency! Pres Kennedy set us us on a impossible goal to go to the moon and return on the Soviet Union urgency of Sputnik. Now the urgency is mired down but is known that we are running out of fossil fuel and the other options are filthy. We need to kick the Universities and Government sponsored 75% of their research dollars are to be spent on Fusion until the goals are met.
Ryan_m_b
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Feb28-12, 12:48 PM
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Quote Quote by brerabbit View Post
thanx, Ryan

I absolutely agree. ...but that is the problem. Nobody has a sense of urgency! Pres Kennedy set us us on a impossible goal to go to the moon and return on the Soviet Union urgency of Sputnik. Now the urgency is mired down but is known that we are running out of fossil fuel and the other options are filthy. We need to kick the Universities and Government sponsored 75% of their research dollars are to be spent on Fusion until the goals are met.
75% is a bit excessive, for all we know all that would achieve is for us to find out slightly faster that there are more obstacles that we haven't taken into account and that we are further away from fusion than we thought. Personally if we in the developed world were going to spend massive amounts of money on energy we would be better off investing in things we know that work like the latest generation of nuclear reactors, biofuel, renewables and energy reduction methods like passive housing.
Topher925
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Feb28-12, 01:33 PM
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Quote Quote by brerabbit View Post

thanx, Ryan

I absolutely agree. ...but that is the problem. Nobody has a sense of urgency! Pres Kennedy set us us on a impossible goal to go to the moon and return on the Soviet Union urgency of Sputnik. Now the urgency is mired down but is known that we are running out of fossil fuel and the other options are filthy. We need to kick the Universities and Government sponsored 75% of their research dollars are to be spent on Fusion until the goals are met.
The space race was largely fueled by fear, not ambition. That element of fear and communism isn't part of today's energy crisis. Everyone knew that the US was in an undeclared war of science with the USSR and that the development of nuclear arms and other advanced technological weapons would decide the victor. But with the energy crisis, people only care about how much cash they have to give to the Saudi's for their oil, not if they will get nuked by them. The majority of the population doesn't even think climate change is real. There's just not enough motivation form the general populous to pursue fusion at the same scale of the Apollo missions. But thats not to say that their shouldn't be.

If there was some sort of large catastrophic event, perhaps natural disasters, that could be directly tied to climate change or the energy crisis then you would probably see the government and the public show a serious interest in the situation. But we've already had massive oil spills and the warmest and coldest winter on record (depending on where you live) and all that came out of it is just some people complaining.
Ryan_m_b
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Feb28-12, 02:03 PM
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Quote Quote by Topher925 View Post
There's just not enough motivation form the general populous to pursue fusion at the same scale of the Apollo missions. But thats not to say that their shouldn't be.
Applying this to energy in general the majority of people probably do not even realise that there is an energy crisis to avoid. They may hear that we've only got X years of fossil fuels left but what they hear from the media is contradictory regarding how long left and what the alternatives are (witness the strong anti-nuclear sentiments that most western countries have).

What might change this is rising fuel costs. In the UK energy costs became a rather important political issue over the winter with several scandalous reports about the increase upon increase that consumers are receiving. A lot of the argument so far has surrounded the profit margins of the energy companies however it could be that as this trend continues eventually people put less energy into arguing about profit margins and face the inevitable issue of increasingly scarce and hard-to-reach fuels. Eventually the economic impact of this on the public may galvanise political opinion.

Regarding public opinion and politics in general on big issues I always feel that it's one of slow/no change followed by massive/quick change once critical mass of "something-must-be-done" is reached. Not enough people care and care not enough about tackling present and future energy demands for it to be a big political issue. That will change but unfortunately probably long after something could have been done to avoid hardship.
mheslep
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Feb28-12, 03:08 PM
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Yes I think the UK is the country farthest out on point and will be the one to watch as a predictor of how to proceed. North Sea oil and gas has declined substantially. The UK was self sufficient in gas a few years ago and now imports 40%. UK energy imports tripled in a 5-6 year period.


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